Tuesday, November 21

Cigna - TV Doctors of America

Cute video here from Cigna...infamous television doctors who are banding together with Cigna to prompt us to go see our real doctors...and get a physical exam.

And it seems to be a campaign...

Makes sense from an insurance company...preventative care will cut costs. Makes sense to use these particular actors because then the message just might break through.

Clever! What's your experience? JIM

Sunday, November 19

Honey Birdette’s Office Party Video

In a move that the CEO continues to defend, Australian lingerie brand Honey Birdette released a new video on Instagram that was met with immediate cries of being “tone deaf” amid the non-stop outings of sexually inappropriate behavior and sexual harassment we are facing now every day.

The video is called “Office Party,” and I must say that (without commenting on the actual content) the timing seems a bit off, shall we say, in and of itself.

I don’t personally feel the need to weigh in here although I do have my own personal views on the topic as an agency CEO myself and a father who has a daughter entering the work force now. If “empowerment” is the CEO’s goal, I personally think there are better ways to get there. 

Ultimately, consumers can decide if this piece of marketing is indeed “empowering” as the CEO claims, or if it is encouraging an environment of inappropriate behaviors. Consumers indeed will judge with their social voices and their wallets. And I believe that they already have.

What do you think? What’s your experience? JIM

Thursday, November 16

Delta - Hi Ho It’s Off to Work We Go


I absolutely adore this new video from Delta airlines...and I’ll admit that it’s probably because it is speaking directly to me. I am THE target here, which is why I relate to it so much. This IS my life.

I’m a crazy early riser. Always have been. It’s how I get it all done. And I’m a crazy frequent flyer. Have been for the past six years, ever since the kids went off to college. It’s how I get it all done.

Which is why this is my favorite quote of the entire video...”The ones who truly change the world are the ones who can’t wait to get out in it.”

Fits perfectly with their tagline "Keep Climbing." I will!

My aspiration! What’s your experience? JIM

Don't Let Your Butt Dominate Your Brain

“Don’t let your butt dominate your brain.” It’s a very smart saying from the Chinese culture that I recently learned about from a speaker at a conference. It really got me thinking.

So I wrote about it for EntrepreneurClick here to give it a read.

Don’t let your butt dominate your brain! Say what?  What’s your experience? JIM.

Tuesday, November 14

Salted Caramel Pepsi Joins the Latest Holiday Flavors Lineup

It seems as if the cola wars have gotten a bit more, well, salty. And sticky. And gooey. And sweet.

“Caramel meets Cola” with the new limited edition Pepsi Salted Caramel beverage. Wanna give it a try?

You better hurry, but it's only available for the holiday season, just like the newest from PepsiCo's other brand, Mountain Dew, with its Holiday Brew.

These moves could turn out to be smart thinking for brands who both exist in a category that has been slowing down. Limited Edition products bring much needed consumer attention to the biggest grocery season of the year...holiday.

Mixing and matching flavors isn't a new thing for PepsiCo and many others in the food space, and it's proving to produce results. Witness PepsiCo's food brand Lay's and their adventurous mixing.

Need I say more? Chicken and Waffles flavor in potato chips? Yup.

What's your experience? JIM

Monday, November 13


A colleague at work introduced me to this concept called “Fail Forward.”

I honestly thought it was just another buzz word, until I learned a bit more. She educated me on how it should become a way of being. I’m sold.

So I wrote about it for Entrepreneur...Click here to give it a read.

The hardest part? Accepting failure. But I’m going to try...

What’s your experience? JIM

Friday, November 10

Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Today is an iconic moment in New York history and in pop culture history for that matter. Today you can finally actually really have “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” at the original Tiffany & Co. in New York.

It’s a smart move in what’s become a trend at brick and mortar retailing...adding a dining experience to not only drive traffic but to encourage spending time on site. And what better place to not only dine, but to spend time on site...

...Breakfast at Tiffany’s!!!

Yes, the heritage retailer is opening a restaurant at the flagship location on 5th Ave in New York...the very location of the iconic film Breakfast at Tiffany’s starring Audrey Hepburn. Here’s the infamous opening scene:

You might be asking yourself, “What took them so long?!?” Indeed, that’s an obvious question.

Well evidently it took a new creative director and a newly renovated 4th floor to set the wheels in motion. As you can imagine, the motif is Tiffany blue as only Tiffany can do. As only Tiffany should do...it’s their color after all.

The only thing better than breakfast is picking up one of these little ditties on the way out:

Can’t wait to go? Me too! What’s your experience? JIM.

Wednesday, November 8

Samsung Disses Apple X, Again

There's nothing wrong with a little healthy competition...particularly when it plays out in pop culture. And there's always been a lot of competitive spirit in the smart phone market, especially between rivals Samsung and Apple...which has been played out frequently in pop culture.

The latest launch of the Apple X is just yet another reason to compete, publicly. And Samsung was right there with a new spot that jabs at Apple and its popular culture phenomenon:

Check out the hair style at around marker :52!  There’s a bit of nostalgia to the piece as well, which is just fabulous and shows a sense of humor about it all. Love that.

What do you think? What's your experience? JIM

Monday, November 6

Matthew McConaughey Hands Out Turkeys

Let's face it...sometimes a good 'ole PR stunt is just that: a good 'ole PR stunt. And when it can do good at a good time of year, then I say go for it.

And that is exactly what Wild Turkey did when it had brand spokesperson Matthew McConaughey hand out 4,500 turkeys in the home town of Wild Turkey HQ just in time for Thanksgiving prep...and on his birthday to boot! Cheers! It's the sort of good will gesture that brought the community, the employees, and their consumers all together, with intense media following to bring the rest of the country into the story.

Let’s face it...handing out turkeys for Thanksgiving isn’t necessarily a new idea. But this one still feels fresh because it comes at a time when we could all feel a little good. For me, it brought me right back to what the holiday season is all about, and I needed to feel a little bit of that as we start this holiday season. Well done!

The best part is that this isn't just a one-off. This actor and this brand have had quite the relationship developing, including multiple marketing elements beyond just handing out turkeys. In fact, Mr. McConaughey is the brand’s Creative Director. Here's the latest creative spot:

Wonder what they’ll do together for the Christmas holiday season?

What's your experience? JIM

PS - Here's their "Creative Director" narrating the Wild Turkey brand story in a short film:

Sunday, November 5

Papa John’s Loses Control of Its Messaging

It’s a tough time to be in marketing, and if we ever needed more proof of that then look no further than Papa John’s Pizza.

As marketers, we talk all the time about how we can’t always control our messaging any longer. Any consumer or group of consumers can take over and alter the message, leaving your branding on the sidelines. Nor can we always control the kind of results we hope to get from our marketing programs.  Which is just partially why we have to be so careful and insightful and knowledgeable when we do send out marketing programs and brand messaging, because we can't honestly always predict where it will go.

And we have to think long and hard about every word we say, and every action we take.

Witness Papa John’s Pizza.

The CEO declared that the company is pulling out of the brand’s NFL sponsorship basically because the recent controversies have cost him pizza sales. The sponsorship was no small potatoes...advertising, promotions, retail displays, and Super Bowl contests. This was a big one, with many eyes on all of the activity.

In response, one organization in particular responded with a declaration making Papa John’s “The Official Pizza of the Alt-Right” (complete with visuals and all)...

...completely taking over the brand's messaging...

...to which then Papa John’s then felt compelled to denounce racism and hatred of all kinds. A noble move, for sure, but not necessarily messaging that they'd planned to put out there...

...which then caused another cascade of social commentary, as if the company didn’t already have enough of its brand out of its control.

What a branding mess! And please note that I'm only commenting on the branding here, all politics and social commentary aside for separate discussions, although i acknowledge that it's hard to separate.

A true whirlwind, and not where you want to be as a brand...regardless of your stand on the issues. You want to be in control of your own messaging and where it all goes at all times. You want your programs to engage with consumers, not alienate them.

The lesson learned here, among others, is to have a plan for your messaging and your marketing programs and then have a plan if you decide you want to make a change should they not take the course you intended. And then have a plan in case it turns sideways in another direction once again. And be careful and strategic at each move.

We've never seen a time when there needs to be more messaging planning ever before in marketing, particularly in our quick turn social media world.

What’s your experience? JIM,

Maybe Creativity Will Save Us

(This article also appears on HuffPost -
click here to read it there)

I recently read an enlightening article that dissected the importance of the creative arts in our culture. Not only was it an entertaining read, but it really got me thinking about our particular industry and the social/political/economic environment we currently face every day. It’s never been easy running a business and marketing it, but I feel like our collective culture these days is making it even harder.

Which is why creativity is so important...now more than ever. For our industry as much as any other.

Sure, when most people think about creativity, they immediately go to the creative arts. But it’s so much bigger than that, which is why the article struck me as being so relevant to the marketing industry.

When we think of creativity, we automatically think of painters, sculptors, musicians, dancers, etc. In our field of business and marketing, when we think of creativity we often immediately go to the writers and graphic artists that create advertising and digital/social content.

Yes, indeed, those people are all creative. They exude creativity. Their very hearts and souls are all about creativity. I’ve loved working with many of them through the years.

I myself consider myself to be creative.

In my experience, these “creatives” are also the embodiment of self-expression and individuality. Their creativity gives them a platform to showcase what they are all about. They constantly prove that they are unique in their skills and their passions, and they continually bring diversity of thinking to any situation. I love having these “creative” folks on teams because they challenge the status quo and they offer divergent perspectives.

I try to do the same.

But these “creatives” are not alone in these creative traits. All of us have the ability to be “creative” in our own right, within our own roles at work (and at home for that matter).

In a marketplace that has become increasingly competitive and fast-paced, creative thinking and alternative problem solving has become a competitive advantage to stay afloat. Scenario planning is tablestakes these days, as teams need a range of skills in order to accomplish complex tasks and manage team matrices.

We all have had to learn to be “creative” to keep our jobs and our businesses in the game.

Which is why creativity is so important...now more than ever.

So yes, this is all so true, but there’s also a new phenomenon happening that is requiring creativity for a different set of reasons.

We have become increasingly less tolerant of each other and increasingly isolated in our thinking. I know this may sound like a contradiction, but while we need to be constantly changing in order to keep up, we are, at the same time, reverting back to that which makes us comfortable.

These two things are not good for diverse thinking and they are not good for business. Or for life. And dare I say for community growth.

We need creativity to break away from these recent trends that I believe are setting us backwards. We need creativity to reject mediocrity and to move into new territories. We need creativity to break the mold of what’s been done before, and we need creativity to open up our worlds to accept beyond the expected and beyond any borders that have been built.

We need creativity now more than ever to save ourselves from what’s been happening in our culture. We need creativity to problem solve and get us out of this mess. Creativity will allow us to think in a diverse way, to include the many of us in our thinking, and to solve business issues that will keep us on the leading edge.

The good news is that entrepreneurs are inherently creative and our entire economy is built on the ingenuity of the entrepreneurial spirit. As entrepreneurs, we have learned to take the unchartered path that can lead to greatness and as entrepreneurs we naturally look to what’s not been done before.

Entrepreneurs disrupt what’s not working and we include others who have talents that go beyond our own.

And perhaps that is what will turn this all around. Entrepreneurial creativity. It’s the backbone of business, with diversity and problem solving at its root.

We need it now more than ever.

Ford Creates a SafeCap in Brazil

To celebrate Ford’s 60th anniversary of offering trucks in Brazil, the company created the first ever SafeCap...a hat that helps truck drivers stay awake while driving.

The hat basically can recognize the warning signs of a driver who’s about to fall asleep... it then starts to light up, vibrate, and make sounds to alert the driver and keep him/her alert.

I’d file that under “why hasn’t anyone done this yet?!?”

But this isn’t the first innovation of this sort from Ford. Recently, Ford Spain created a baby crib that simulates the motion, sound, and light of a car ride. Now we know how babies like to fall asleep almost instantly in a car...so this baby crib simulates that soothing sensation to be used at home to help babies fall asleep without having to take them for a ride. Classic!

True mark of a leadership brand...looking to add value beyond the core products to improve their consumers’ lives. Well done.

What’s your experience? JIM

Saturday, November 4

Wag - The Uber of Dog Walking

I’ve been noticing this new app being heavily promoted on my social feed. At first I hadn’t paid any attention because we currently don’t have a dog in the family, But then after exposure after exposure after exposure, it was kinda hard to miss. I guess “they” know we used to have a dog and we are dog lovers.

So as a marketing lover I had to take notice.

The brand is called Wag, and it’s an app that lets you call up a dog walker to take your dog out for a walk. Pretty cool system. Very millennial of them — JK.

The tag line is what really got me...The Uber of Dog Walking.

Hmm. The Uber of Dog Walking. Wag is using another brand, Uber, to quickly and succinctly describe what they offer. So clearly “The Uber of Dog Walking” means that all I have to do is hit “Request” and I’ll have a reliable, local dog walker with expertise in dog walking at my doorstep within a very specified amount of time, likely just a few minutes.

The tag line serves to give consumers a visual, perceptual, and immediate since of what they are going to get from this brand...and when you are a new brand it’s super important for new consumers to get this quickly. When you don’t have an equity built on your own, it can be really fast and efficient to borrow from another equity from another brand.

And what I love most about it all is that Wag has cracked one of the hardest elements of marketing...positioning. It can take a brand years to figure out how to position itself in the minds of its consumers and in the marketplace.Wag did it in one tag line, by drawing comparison to another well-established brand.

The Uber of Dog Walking.

And BTW, I’m not sure that Uber would mind. It places them in a leadership role as a category inventor and disruptor, crossing categories in the making. Just like Wag wants to do. Just like a lot of brands want to do.

What do you think? What’s your experience? JIM

Thursday, November 2

Alexa Joins Kenmore at Sears

Sears has long been known for its hard goods — appliances and tools, basically. In fact when I was a kid, that’s what my parents went to Sears for. Kenmore appliances and Craftsman tools were where it was at. Hands down.

If anything, at the time, Sears was trying hard to get people to go there for other stuff too. Like clothing and sheets and towels.  “The softer side of Sears” was born! (BTW a very dear friend of mine wrote that now infamous campaign...Bravo!)

As retailers struggle to survive these days, Sears is looking to go back to its roots and there’s still a lot of equity in Kenmore and Craftsman — dare I say more than in Sears itself.

So I took great delight, as a marketer, to see Kenmore partner with Amazon to create Alexa compatible appliances. Alexa will do your laundry now...making Kenmore a voice-enabled and connected part of your smart phone. And presumably also connected to refilling other connected products like Tide via Alexa as well.

Pretty brilliant and perhaps a save for this once very rich brand.

What’s your experience? JIM

Monday, October 30

#MyHeroes at Halloween

There’s not much for me to say on this one as the work speaks for itself ... except that this PSA is timely on a number of levels. This very special organization is challenging gender stereotypes, especially at Halloween.

“Whoever You Want To Be.” Indeed. Even at Halloween, especially at Halloween.

Of course you just gotta know how much I loved the portrayal of the dad here.

What’s your experience? JIM

IKEA Home Tour

I’ve always been a fan of mega-brand IKEA. Not only as a consumer/shopper, but also as a marketer. And I had the privilege of working on the brand for a good bit of time during my career. So as a result, I’m generally impressed with most of their marketing moves...including this latest one.

The brand just launched a new home makeover “television” series called IKEA Home Tour. It’s not really on television, but on the small screen via a website, YouTube, and other social channels. And I would argue that it borrows from the successes of the television makeover shows, making it tv quality. Brilliant. Here’s one episode:

The show features a squad of designers who each bring their own play into the game, featuring IKEA solutions of course.

In an age where all we talk about is content marketing, this is content marketing done purposefully and on brand with a huge dose of entertainment.

Agree? What’s your experience? JIM

Friday, October 27

"Gifted" Gifts All Father Figures

I watched an inspiring movie recently while on a long flight overseas. I'd not heard of the film, nor was I necessarily drawn to it, nor do I honestly know much about the lead actor...but once I watched the trailer then I knew I had to click in.

Gifted. With Chris Evans.

It's essentially a story about fatherhood, but the Chris Evans character isn't a dad. But actually he is a dad, in the real sense of what a dad really is.

And that's where Gifted ended up gifting all of us dad types, whether we are technically a father or not. This "dad" took such good care of his “daughter” through the ups and downs and hurdles of life...knowing exactly what she needed for her development, sacrificing his own needs for hers. That is nothing short of inspirational.

Was he equipped for fatherhood? No, but are any of us really equipped for fatherhood? Did he make mistakes? You betcha, just like all the rest of us dads. Was his heart and his intention always in the right place? Of course, he's a dad.

While my personal story is very different and while my husband’s personal story is very different as well, I could totally relate to the storyline and couldn’t help but think all that my husband did for our children. And I couldn’t help but think about the choices we made through the years for their development.

Gifted is a gift...to anyone playing a father role and to anyone who is taking care of the physical and emotional well being of another.

Thank you, Gifted...for the acknowledgement and for the inspiring role model. There weren’t many like this back when my kids were young and I can’t help but think that this story will help others today.

What’s your experience? JIM

PS - Smart role for Chris Evans too...expanding his brand into new genres to build our his portfolio!

Thursday, October 26

The Martha Stewart Wine Company

Is there anything that this woman can't do?!? Martha Stewart that is!

Martha has entered yet another business in the culinary field...wines. Last I reported she was in the meal delivery service so I guess wine isn't a stretch at all. She's been cooking for her audience for years so why not pair it up with some wine!?!

The Martha Stewart Wine Company. It's all online, personally selected by Martha herself. Each wine is also matched with food pairings and recipes for a perfect combo that only Martha herself could offer!

Very Martha.

There's even an intro campaign for $10 a bottle. If you become a club member, you can also sign up for regular delivery. Martha has also included gifting options as well. Of course she did!

Perfectly in line with her brand. Give it a try? What's your experience? JIM

Lord & Taylor Goes to WeWork

The news of WeWork taking over the Lord & Taylor 5th Avenue location put New Yorkers into shock. Yet very few of them had been to the retailer in years.

Sign of the times?

There was a time when Lord & Taylor WAS NY retail. Now WeWork IS entrepreneurs.

Sign of the times?

You betcha. Click here to read my post on HuffPost.

What's your experience? JIM

Tuesday, October 24

SKYY and Absolut Team Up for Marriage Equality

"It's time to put our differences aside and embrace diversity."

Two arch rivals in the spirits category came together this week to support marriage equality at a critical time in Australia.

SKYY and ABSOLUT together each jointly launched the same social media campaign in the midst of a public vote in Australia's High Court meant to measure how the public feels about Marriage Equality. These two brands are sharing their opinion to join the conversation in a positive way.

"The SKYY'S the limit when we have ABSOULT equality."


In this case, two voices is certainly better than one, especially when it ties to the voices of many. So why not join forces to put some good into the world? Why not put competition aside and join hands? Why not join in the effort ourselves?

It's not easy for competitors to support and acknowledge each other, so this campaign is a great show of pride and humility...as well as a sense of what's ultimately more important in the world.

Now this isn't the first time that either brand has gotten behind the gay community. ABSOLUT has a long history so this joint campaign comes from a supportive heritage.

And SKYY too...most recently with an interactive program called "Cheers to Equality" in Australia as well.
These brands are showing us that we can all come together on this one! Let's show them a little support of our own!

What's your experience? JIM

Budweiser Pre-Prohibition Beer

Just in time for the holidays and just in time to celebrate the repeal of Prohibition (the date is December 5th for all you history buffs), Budweiser just released a Pre-Prohibition beer that is, yes, higher in alcohol content, but more importantly (for me as a marketer) carries imagery of a bygone era before Prohibition restricted beer sales. As one of only a few brewers around back then and still around today, Budweiser certainly has the license to play in this space.

Budweiser 1933 Repeal Reserve. The best part, and the most legit, is that it’s based on a brand recipe actually used back in the day. The day before Prohibition. That’s kinda cool in my brand book.

To kick it off, the brand is partnering with Lyft in New York to give lucky riders a taste of the brew along with a tour of Prohibition-era landmarks in The City. As a New Yorker, I’m a bit curious to tell you the truth.

Get ‘em while they’re hot, as they say, because they’re only available for a limited time. Hopefully, not because we are facing another era of Prohibition. These days you never know!

What’s your experience? JIM

Sunday, October 22

LEGO - The Women of NASA

Yet another brand, thankfully, is embracing STEM careers for women. And this is yet another good one! This brand is putting it right into the heart and soul of its brand, right into the product itself.

Introducing the LEGO Women of NASA. WooHoo!

The new products are three mini NASA sets, if you will, featuring hugely successful women who have advanced NASA initiatives in the US including Sally Ride, Margaret Hamilton, Nancy Grace Roman, and Mae Jemison. Real women, real scientists, put into LEGO figures/toys!

What I love about this STEM initiative is that it puts the concept tangibly into the hands of boys' and girls' play. And that has to be effective in encouraging later career choices, with equality and diversity!

BTW, this was a crowd-sourced idea submitted into the LEGO innovation lab by a consumer! The brand takes ideas all the time and allows a voting system to determine which ones come to market. This one made it, as well it should!

LEGO has a long history of playtime open minded-ness, diversity and inclusion, and this is just the latest...an intrinsic part of their brand.

Well done. What’s your experience?

PS - STEM stands for careers in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics sectors. STEM!

Thursday, October 19

Gay vs. Straight Fathers - Is There a Difference?

STAND Magazine (a magazine for men who give a damn) asked me to explore what makes gay fathers different from straight fathers. Hmm.

I figured the best way to explore that would be to ask some gay fathers. So I crowd-sourced my response. Click here to give it a read on STAND.

What do you think? What's your experience? JIM

Wednesday, October 18

Is Your Brand Struggling with Millennials?

Ok so this isn't the first article ever written about marketing to Millennials. And it won't be the last. But it is my first one for Entrepreneur, and perhaps my last.

Click here to give it a read.

What's your experience? JIM

Tuesday, October 17

Pariah Men's Underwear

There's a new line of men's underwear out there that is looking to change the world...the men’s health world that is. The brand's aim is to help provide men's healthcare to those underserved and under-informed and to specifically educate about testicular self-exams with the ultimate goal of eliminating testicular cancer.

Ok, kinda makes sense coming from a men’s underwear brand. Keep going...

It's called Pariah underwear. And while the imagery is very sexy and very “underwear," the message is uniquely clear for the skivvy category: make sure you don't suffer from testicular cancer and support the brand that helps you get there.

Each package comes with an educational pamphlet and each item sold contributes 50% of the sale price to research. So $5.00 from a $9.95 brief goes to researching a cure for testicular cancer (and other men's health issues). Not bad.

Plus the product has a "new" technology called CLEANCOOL that helps to eliminate odor.

I'm sold on Pariah. What's your experience? JIM

Monday, October 16

Race Case

I was traveling recently with a colleague in Italy, and he snapped (with permission) this pic of a gentleman on something called a Race Case. It’s a roller bag with a scooter built in, so that not only do you not have to carry your luggage through the airport but you can also scoot through the long corridors to make your flight.

Pretty ingenious, I must say. Turns out that the gentleman was the inventor. Wow!

And it’s available via Suit Supply, a men’s clothing retailer that I also just recently discovered. Have partaken in that brand yet, but I will. I have my eye on a vest there! But I digress, here’s their sales video for Race Case:

Want one? I kinda do! What’s your experience? JIM

Friday, October 13

Angel Soft - Single Dad

Now admittedly, the product mention is a bit forced. Sorry to say. But I have to honor and acknowledge how the Angel Soft brand features a single dad. Truthfully, while a bit forced, the “soft and strong” thought isn’t so far off, nor is the bathroom as central hub of the house far off either.

No matter what, though, this brand is celebrating a single dad doing things that single dads do, and do well. 

Thank you very much! “If you’re doing it alone, then you have to stay strong.”

As someone who has been there and done that in a time when no one would acknowledge it, I am thrilled beyond belief to see brands, many brands, show that men too can care for their kids. In many many ways. In ways once thought only reserved for mom. In many ways all by themselves.

Bravo, Angel Soft.

Take a look —

Way to go, dad!

What’s your experience? JIM

Jean Jackets

I saw a billboard for Calvin Klein jean jackets in LA last week and it stopped me in my tracks.

My first real purchase as a working young adult was a Calvin Klein jean jacket. It must have been something like 1979. I had started working at JCPenney at the local mall, and I saved up a couple of paychecks to buy this jean jacket I had admired. I coveted that jean jacket for years. It stood by me for four years of college at Cornell and then my first adult job in Boston. It still hangs in my hallway closet as a reminder of what it’s like to work for something you really want.

As the years went by, I bought a Levi’s jean jacket which I also still have, a G Star jean jacket which I also still have, and a D&G jean jacket which I also still have.

I don’t wear any of them because jean jackets sadly fell out of style. But I still covet them all.

I’m happy to say that I think the jean jacket may be making a come back.

What do you think? Can I pull them out of the closet once again? Does 1979 meet 2017?

I think so. But oddly, or not so oddly, styles seem to change just slightly enough that you need to buy new. A new Calvin Klein jean jacket?

Nah, I’ll still to vintage. It’s a bit more me.

What’s your experience? JIM

Wednesday, October 11

Men's Shorts at Work?

There's long been a debate whether it's ok for men to wear shorts to work, so I've tried to solve for it via crowd-sourcing and posting on HuffPost.  

It’s a bit of a long answer to a short question, if you will.

Give a click here to give it a read.

What's your experience? JIM

Tuesday, October 10

New Billboards on the Vegas Strip Offer Thanks

"What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas" is perhaps the best brand tagline or brand positioning or brand promise of all time. At a minimum, it's right up there with the best of them. And Las Vegas as a brand has been incredibly consistent through the years, offering a guilt free experience unlike any other.

As the brand says, "we are there for you."

Well now it's time for us to be there for the brand. A new series of billboards have appeared along The Strip and in other key places around the city to offer thanks for the support given to the city during the recent horrific and violent event there.

In these billboards, gone are the vibrant colors and the provocative messaging. But simply a clear ask of continued support.

So well done. And I know the support continues to pour in.

What's your experience? JIM

Monday, October 9

Social Media Responds to Marketing, Once Again

This week we've seen yet another brand receive swift social media reaction to their marketing efforts. Swift isn't even the word as it started in a social media minute and then created a groundswell of activity that overtook the brand messaging. 

This time it was Dove, who released a social media ad that many deemed inappropriate.

It's not the first time that this has happened to a brand, but it's becoming increasingly obvious that it won't be the last. Actually this is the new normal for us and as marketers we have to learn to be proactive and be prepared.

Be proactive: make sure you do the research you need, with your consumers, to make sure the message you intend to distribute is exactly what is likely to be received. You can never know enough about your consumer and you can never spend too much time making sure your marketing is right. Get the culture and the sentiment right, and make sure your work aligns with prevailing sentiment. Do your homework before, during, and after development of any messaging particularly if it has the potential to be sensitive.

Be prepared: as marketers, social media commentary about our brands is now a given. It's not a matter of "if" but "when." We should actually be flattered that consumers are paying such attention to our activity. So be prepared for it with a comprehensive monitoring program to catch the comments early and have a plan outlined ahead of time about what you will do when it happens. Because it will happen.

The net outcome is that you and the brand will have a better chance of staying in control of the situation and in control of the messaging delivery. As you had likely planned! And if you know your consumer and your brand well, hopefully you will stay out of crisis mode.

What's your experience? JIM

Can't Be Everything To Everyone

There's a simple rule in marketing and probably in life too ... you can't be all things to all people. Something I wrote about for Entrepreneur.

Click here to give it a read.

What's your experience? JIM

Thursday, October 5

Yes We Can ... And Must Do Now

I recently wrote a piece for The PR Council about brands giving back to humanity. Particularly timely these days.

Click here to give it a read.  JIM

Friday, September 29

Will & Grace Returns

The beloved Will & Grace is back...and given my personal history with it, I just had to write about it! Give a click here to read it on Gays with Kids.

What's your experience? JIM

Wednesday, September 27

Fred Segal, Back Again

First time I stepped into Fred Segal in Santa Monica, years ago, I was enamored. Love at first sight. I had never been to a retail experience quite like it. Circa 2004. The whole notion of a boutique within a boutique with all these fresh niche brands was so alluring. I was in.

Through the years whenever I was in LA I would try to stop into either the LA or Santa Monica location. But if I'm to be honest, the destination started to lose its luster so I wasn't quite as excited with each visit.

Evidently, if I have the story straight, the company was going through some changes and perhaps losing its way a bit. A bit sad, as I am a shopper and a lover of brands. Fred Segal was a unique concept brand and I didn't want to see it fade away. I loved how it showcased brands I couldn't find in other places so where would that happen now?

Well now it's back, at the corner of La Cienega and Sunset...which many consider the corner of the universe. I generally stay along the Sunset Strip when I'm in LA so I wouldn't necessarily argue.

The brand is back, fresher than ever. I paid a quick visit on my way to a client dinner this week. I wanted to pay my respects to this iconic experience, so to speak. While I didn't have a lot of time to shop this time around, I'm sure I'll be paying some bills in the future.

What's your experience? JIM

Tuesday, September 26

Decor Meets Retail Meets Chocolate

You know the saying...like a kid in a candy store. Which is exactly what it must feel like as an adult walking into the new candy store in LA inspired and designed by iconic designer (and my personal favorite) Kelly Wearstler.

It's called Compartes and it's in partnership with renowned chocolatier Jonathan Graham. It's a melding of gorgeous package design with inspired retail design for a sight that satisfies the senses before a single bite into chocolate. And I'm sure the chocolate isn't so bad either.

In my book, there's nothing wrong with candy going adult and upscale. While not the only sophisticated candy store of its kind, this new creation proves the point.

Home decor meets retail experience meets chocolate bar. What's your experience? JIM

Flipping Out Over This Gay Dad

This season of the reality show Flipping Out shows Jeff Lewis and his partner Gage become dads.

Such a great opportunity to showcase gay fathers in a positive light. But they missed it.

I shared my take on it on Gays with Kids. Click here to give it a read.

What's your experience? JIM

Friday, September 22

GE Puts STEM into the Grand Central Constellations

Ok, there are marketing stunts and then there are marketing stunts. This is a good one.

Grand Central Station in Manhattan has been home to its constellation ceiling since 1913. It's quite a New York scene if you've ever seen it. Go see it.

Well this week GE gave it a new twist by re-arranging the constellations to celebrate pioneering women in STEM fields as a way to encourage today's young women to pursue such careers.

BTW - STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics. I can never remember the "M!"

The "stunt" has a limited engagement, but hopefully unlimited impact in inspiring young folks (men and women) today.

I know it did me. What's your experience? JIM.

Thursday, September 21

Target Goes Private with its Labels

For quite some time, we've known Target to be the place for affordable fashion. In fact, the brand kinda sorta invented the notion of designer labels at affordable prices with exclusive collaborative lines.

Think Isaac Mizrahi, Missoni, Calypso. To name a few from back in the day. Infamous and very successful.

It seems that this fashion season Target is going back to being a bit more private...as in launching their own lines of private label fashions for the whole family. They're bringing in house, so to speak, with new brands exclusive to the retailer.

They are all "new and only at Target:"
- A New Day for Women
- Goodfellow & Co for the Guys
- Project 62  for Home
- Cat & Jack for Kids

All brought to life in this little ditty:

I must say, well done. And yes of course I love the theme song as any child of the '70's would, not that this is targeted to children of the '70's. Maybe the children of the children of the '70's. But I digress.

Brilliant move, really, when you think about how millennials think about brands and fashion. It's less about the brand and more about the fashion. Disposable fashion that might only last a season but leaves room to go out with friends and family.

Good move, Target! What's your experience? JIM

Home Depot Company's Coming

I received this catalog in the mail, snail mail that is, and couldn't believe it was from Home Depot.

Home Depot! As in the racks of lumber and the rows of lightbulbs! These are the kinds of images I've come to expect from the Home Depot that I know and remember:

Not these kinds of images:

Entertaining? Table top? Home accessories? Looks more like Martha Stewart or Williams-Sonoma has come to town, rather than Home Depot!

Upon further digging in, I noted that most of these items, if not virtually all of them, are available really only via the catalog or online presumably (definitely presumably) through partner brands/sites, etc. Not necessarily in the store. Not a bad business model, though, as there are certainly others who have found success in this model :)

Amazon effect?

And of course, as with many online retail models these days, you can always order online and pickup at store.

Just in time for company! Just in time for holiday and holiday spending. Exactly the point. What's your experience? JIM

Wednesday, September 20

The Death of the Toy Store?

(this article also appears on HuffPost - click here to read there)

The news of Toys 'R Us going into bankruptcy brought back so many memories for me. While it's not the first time we've heard the business was in trouble, it did make me realize that the toy store of lore is no longer alive.

And that's a little sad.

When I was a kid growing up in Syracuse, NY, we went to THE toy store. It was in a round building and it was chock full of toys and bikes. No electronics back in my day. Then when I started my career in marketing on Johnson's Baby Products, Toys 'R Us was one of our biggest clients. I was marketing baby wipes at the time (can you imagine me kid-less at 26 marketing baby wipes) and the retailer had a big section of diapers and wipes. I was there all the time.

Then when I had kids of my own, my credit card was constantly swiping out at Toys 'R Us as a weekend destination and also at FAO Schwarz for holiday and summer road trips into New York City. Toy stores were magical and mystical, and it was such a treat to take the kids there. I was hoping to go back again with the next generation of my family some day.

But then along came Walmart and Target and other retailers offline and then on that simply ate the toy stores' lunch. Clearly the small business owners couldn't keep up but evidently the big toy guys struggled too.They evidently couldn't survive the pricing and convenience of the likes of these giant retailers and then of course the Amazon effect.

It's a bit sad, if I am to tell the truth. But it's a good lesson learned not only in proper financial management but also in staying relevant to your consumer and to the times. Keeping up not only with the competition but also keeping one step ahead of the needs in the market. Creating an in store experience, and online for that matter, that matters to shoppers. And experience that they can't live without rather than simply a toy that's a click and a ship away. The toy store brands needed to be better destinations than that.

There's the miss. And a watch out for all of us marketers.

What's your experience? JIM

Monday, September 18

Genetic Testing at a Football Game?

Branded parternships and sports -- it's the stuff that games are made of. We are used to Coca-Cola, Budweiser, and any other brand promoting its goods on-site and on-air at football, baseball, and soccer stadiums. No problem, and in fact sports and brands kinda go hand in hand if I'm to be honest. Or at least the brands known to partner with sports.

But an unusual partner popped up at the game yesterday in Baltimore: Orig3n Genetic Testing.

What say what?!? Testing your genes at a football game? Not Levi's jeans but your own genes!

Yes indeed, brand Orig3n was on hand at the Baltimore Ravens game yesterday handing out genetic tests to fans...and in fact encouraging them to take the test on site and drop the "swabs" in bins to be tested and reported back.

The brand offered tests on three genetic markers...with the ability to go online and do more.

And this just in...this isn't the brand's first football collaboration. Oh no. The company partnered with the San Francisco 49ers last year, for a multi-year effort to collect medical data to advance their scientific studies. Fascinating to see science, marketing, data collection, user engagement, and football all coming together. Whoa.

Certainly makes all that soda and beer promotion seem a bit, well, 2016.

What do you think? Game to do some genetic testing at a game? What's your experience? JIM