Thursday, November 30

New Birkenstock Bed

Are you familiar with Birkenstock shoes?
I think it's fair to say that Birkenstock is a bit of a cult brand, and I'm personally a believer. While some say they're not the most attractive, they are most comfortable. And they are designed not only for comfort, but for optimized foot support, proper gait, and secure back alignment as well. Almost a bit of an orthopedic.

Partially my words. Well at least that's how I've positioned it in my mind...isn't that what positioning is all about? At least that's what I teach in my class at NYU!

Which is why if you're not a part of the brand already, you may think that this next move makes no sense. But knowing the benefits of the brand, I think it fits perfectly.
Introducing...Birkenstock Bed Systems.  Here's an influencer video about it:

Obviously, Birkenstock isn't the first brand to make these kinds of claims. But certainly the branding helps to make the case for credibility, and certainly a brand fan will take it into consideration.

Alas, they are only available in Europe at the moment. But if successful, I'm betting we'll not only see geographical expansion but also expansion into other categories where the brand benefits also translate.

Like how about matting in kitchens to help support feet and back?!? How about backpacks that conform to your back?!? This is the kind of ideation, based on a brand's positioning, that we do in my NYU class. It's great fun and a real marketing mind expander!

Let's hope Birkenstock continues doing it too!

Any ideas? What's your experience? JIM

Tuesday, November 28

UK Retailers Annual Holiday Advertising - 2017

The retailers in the UK make it an annual tradition to go all out with new advertising for the holidays every year. And their work rarely stops at just advertising since there's generally behind the scenes footage, gaming, plush toys, retail displays, and certainly social media. The advertising is just the anchor, and it's generally very good.

This year did not disappoint...from UK retail king John Lewis....

...and rival UK retail king Marks & Spencer...

Always a debate on which one is best and I always like them both! 'Tis the season. And I certainly love a good tradition from as many places as possible!

What's your experience?  JIM

Holiday Shopping Blitz 2017 - The Big Winners

Well the results are in from this year's holiday shopping blitz from 11/11, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday and the winners sales.

No surprise. There were more online sales on Black Friday than via traditional retail. Cyber Monday was the biggest online sales day ever in the US, topping last year's figure by more than a billion dollars. And the Chinese online shopping extravaganza on 11/11 produced over $25 billion in sales in just one day. The biggest on the planet, ever.

I guess this online sales thing is going to be staying for awhile. Ha! I myself didn't step foot in a retail store over the Thanksgiving weekend, but I bought a bunch of stuff online. And I surfed the sales just like everyone else. I am human after all, with a bit of a Millennial mindset I might add.

I was surprised though to see that these tiny little toys were the big hit of the day(s) this year. Sure, electronics were right up there in record sales for sure, like Nintendo Switch and Roku, but these little marvels were the really big winners:

Yes, these small little collectible toys beat out flat screen televisions of all sizes to steal the day. Who knew?!? Well, it is holiday gift giving season after all and it is all about the kids.

Perhaps the biggest winner of them all is Jeff Bezos, who's personal worth soared past a benchmark amount that I'm not even going to type here. OK, like $100 billion! Crazy. But Amazon is nailing it these days, and he's not only the driver but also one of the key beneficiaries.

It's been a big season so far, and it's just getting started. More to come for sure.

What's your experience? JIM.

Monday, November 27

What's Your Lofty Goal?

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

The new CMO at Uber recently announced that she plans to make Uber “the official ride of pop culture.”

Hmmm, interesting.

Volvo announced a year or so ago that “by 2020, no one will die or be critically injured from a new Volvo.”

Wow, amazing.

Amazon...well Amazon appears to be attempting to take over the world. The retail world, anyway, in online sales, brick and mortar sales, customized sales, grocery sales. The list will indeed go on.

Impressive, for sure.

These are three inspiring examples of three very different brands that have extremely lofty goals. They’re not in the business of just being in business today, they are setting up a future of leadership, longevity and hopefully sustained growth.

As someone who runs a business, does a lot of marketing, and is also a consumer, I find it very motivating.

For my agency, Citizen, I too set a lofty goal for my organization. “To be the best place to place your brand and your career.”

Quite simple, actually, and a guiding principle to make decisions for the future of the agency.

Which leaves me asking you the same question, “What’s your lofty goal?”

Did I get you on that one? I shouldn’t have, because you too should have a lofty goal. Especially as a small business owner and entrepreneur, you should indeed have a lofty goal that sets your future plans.

Say what? You don’t have a lofty goal yet?

I can understand why. Our businesses keep us hoping all day long, with barely a moment to stop and think. Establishing a big futuristic goal takes a lot of thinking, certainly. It’s hard to think big when you’re sweating the small stuff.

But it’s vitally important to create a long term goal for your organization, no matter how small the business and no matter how busy you are. We are always going to be busy, so we can’t possibly use that as an excuse!

A lofty goal will establish a pathway to be a true leader in your industry, setting the trends for what’s next, driving innovation, and keeping your customers engaged on your journey of progress.

You won’t be able to do any of that without stating your goal first.

So how do you get one? Can you Google search your way to it? Can you hire a consultant to write one for you? Can you delegate it to your assistant to put one together by Friday?

Hardly. Sorry, can’t go there. This is something you’re going to have to find the time and inspiration to do yourself. It’s that important.

But how do you get there?

Start with your core expertise. You can’t have a lofty goal if you can’t fulfill on it. So start with the basic core strength on which you built your business. As an expert in that field, think through how you could continually improve your skills to the point of complete market saturation. Think about how that skill could become bigger than life. Find the end of the rainbow for you, and go there! Stretch your core business to the highest element and formulate that into a goal you can live by. Never having someone be killed or critically injured in a car crash is a pretty big goal for a car brand like Volvo. What’s your lofty goal?

Look to your customers. Get to know your customers really well and figure out how to give them more than they ever thought possible. What would nirvana look like for your customers in your category? How good can it possibly get? What would be the ultimate reward for them? Figure out how you could deliver an experience for them that rockets you to the center of their universe. A completely customized, all in one location, auto-entry retail system is pretty close to nirvana for Amazon. What’s your lofty goal?

Go outside of your space. True leaders in their industries reach out far beyond the products they offer. They work hard to incorporate their brands into the very fabric of their customers’ lives and into the very fabric of how the world works. Is there a way that you can do that with your brand? As Uber becomes the official ride of pop culture they will certainly be engrained into the fabric of all of our lives. What’s your lofty goal?

This is big stuff, so you can’t do it overnight, and you probably won’t even be able to think of it overnight. It’s that big.

But if you want your company and brand to be a true leader in your field, driving innovation and adding value to your customers’ lives, then you need a lofty goal.

Start thinking tonight and you’ll get there soon. Good luck.

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

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

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’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

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 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 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 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