Friday, December 29

Brands That Positively Portrayed Dads in 2017

Nothing makes me happier than seeing two of my worlds and fatherhood. So I can't possibly start the New Year without acknowledging a few of the brands that celebrated dads in 2017. We thank you for the amazing and positive portrayals.

McDonald's in the UK entered the holiday advertising game by showing the lengths that this dad will go to keep the holiday spirit alive...

We also saw a great dad portrayed for the holiday of Halloween...

Angel Soft gave some credit to those of us who are single dads...

Luvs continued their long-running campaign by saluting gay dads...

And finally, Dove Men+Care celebrated Father's Day by giving credit to all types of father figures...

My sincere thanks to these great brands, and all the others not represented here, for acknowledging the active role and responsibility that fathers of all flavors have in the physical and emotional well being of our children.

What's your experience? JIM

2017 Brand of the Year

Every year at the end of the year, I pick my pick for Brand of the Year. 2017 is no different, but it does seem to get harder and harder every year to just pick one. But I must, I must, I must!

(note that this is based on marketing campaign work in the US)

Mid-way through the year, I declared that Amazon was the busiest brand of the year. No doubt about that. Acquisitions, brick and mortar openings, and of course the biggest Prime Day ever (not to mention Cyber Monday's biggest day ever!). Definitely the busiest brand of the year, but not necessarily THE Brand of the Year.

And then there’s Cheetos. Love brand Cheetos. The online museum where consumers could post pictures of different Cheetos shapes was sheer brilliance. As was the pop up gourmet restaurant with a celebrity chef in Manhattan. Brilliance once again. But THE Brand of the Year...not quite.

The 2017 Brand of the Year is...Budweiser. Their work this year was iconic and dramatic, with an ongoing presence that kept it fresh and top of mind all year long. The year started with one of the most talked about ads in the Super Bowl, featuring the company’s immigrant roots. Over the summer we saw Americana cans pop up at retail. We saw real-time marketing with the Chicago Cubs World Series win, with overnight video inspired by the fans and their momentous occasion. And then later in the year, Budweiser brought back its original Prohibition recipe for a limited time to celebrate the anniversary of the end of Prohibition. And then of course, who can forget (really!) the pop culture phenomenon that was...Dilly Dilly from Bud LIght!

Every year we see great work from Budweiser, and it generally kicks off the year at the Super Bowl just like in 2017. But never, to my eye anyway, have we’ve seen such consistently creative and impactful work come from this brand or any brand really. Well done, Bud. "Born the Hard Way!"

What’s your pick for Brand of the Year? What’s your experience? JIM

Wednesday, December 27

Favorite Videos from 2017

AdWeek, one of my fav trade publications, ran its list of the most viewed videos of the year. I love year-end lists, so I thought I'd publish their list here too. Click here if you want to give it a read and a watch. Check out the likes of Mr. Clean, Kia, Samsung, and Dior, just to name a few. It's a buffet of big brand video content!

Their list got me thinking of my own, so I thought I'd send along my three favorite videos of the year. In no particular order! Note that none of these made AdWeek's while they weren't the most viewed, I do believe they were very compelling nonetheless!

First up, the RSPCA in Britain shows us why a live pet may not make a great holiday gift...

Next up, this one gets an award for parenting. #MyHeroes isn't what you think it's going to be...

I have to include the world's longest video...#EveryGirlCounts which debuted on International Women's Day...

Oh what the heck, let's throw in another one! This one from Gillette about assisted shaving gets me every time too!

I’ve just gotta do one more! I just have to show this very important Kiss Cam video from Love Has No Labels...

2017 was a great year for video content, that's for sure. Here's to more in 2018! What'll be most-watched then?

What's your experience? JIM

Facebook Came Back for the Holidays...With Christmas PJs!

Note that this is a stock photo from Google images... kids would kill me if I posted a real shot!
(This article also appears on here to read it there)

This has been an amazing holiday season. I just love New York City in December and this month has been filled with friends, family, and even some very festive snow! I can't get enough of it.

And we all received a very wonderful surprise gift this season as well...Facebook came back!

Yes, the Facebook that we all fell in love with came back. Gone are the political arguments, the ugly posts about politicians, and the sad portrayals of our condemned society. Instead, back are the posts about friends, families, and yes even some snow. And some wine. And some Christmas cookies.

While it started before the Christmas weekend, on Christmas Eve Facebook came back like a force of nature. My feed was full of parties, and presents, and dinners. It was so much fun, again, to scroll my feed and to stay in touch with folks from my entire life...literally from Kindergarten to my current job at Citizen. And everything in between!

But I do have to ask a question...when did Christmas pajamas become a "thing?!?" 

Now mind you, my family has been doing the Christmas PJ tradition for 20 years now; something my husband picked up from when he was a kid. So that's close to 50 years! Every year we would all open matching PJs on Christmas Eve. The idea was to make sure that the pictures of Santa's arrival the next morning would be cute. Of course back then, we couldn't post anything to social media so we merely printed them out and put them in a photo album. I still have a shot from every Christmas morning in special albums dated for each year. It's a dad thing. But I never saw anyone else doing Christmas PJs. I thought it was just our thing.

Can you imagine if Facebook was around back then? We'd have been all over it!

So thank you all for posting your Christmas pajamas this year. I brought me great delight. On FB and on IG. So I'm not sure when it all became such a trend, but bring on some more! And let's keep Facebook what it was meant to be!

And yes, we still did the pajama "thing" this year too...but my kids are now too old to let me post them in their PJs. Sigh. But we still had a lot of fun!

What's your experience? JIM

PS - But I did post this picture of another holiday tradition. Breakfast with Santa and then skating at Rockefeller Center!

Tuesday, December 26

My Favorite Blog Posts of 2017

If you haven't noticed yet, I love writing about marketing and about being a dad...and the balance of work and life. It’s this thing called life which for me blends back and forth and back around again between work, family, and friends, so I write about it constantly!

As we round out 2017, I thought I'd share the posts that I loved the most.

What's your experience? Happy New Year! JIM

10 - Trump Gets a GQ Makeover: Just plain fun, politics aside, from a continually evolving fashion brand.  had to throw in something I wrote about the year’s MOST talked about person!

9 - Pop Up Employee: We have to CHANGE the way we think about our teams, and this was the year to start doing it!

8 - Don't Let Your Butt Dominate Your Brain: Many readers commented that this was the HEADLINE of the year, but honestly it’s a great lesson learned at home and at work!

7 - #FailForward: I learned a new concept this year, and passed it along. While I’ll never be super comfortable with the concept, it really is ok to fail as long as we LEARN!

6 - "Gifted" Gifts All Father Figures: My favorite MOVIE of the year, and proof that fatherhood comes in many forms!

5 - Gay Fathers vs. Straight Fathers: My crowd-sourced piece for STAND Magazine asked a question and got a surprising answer!

4 - Play For the Person Next to You: An INSPIRING talk from the Dad 2.0 Summit I went to in San Diego, and a way of thinking as we go about our lives!

3 - Glad I Don't Have to Explain This to the Kids: This post on HuffPost voiced my biggest CONCERN of the year!

2 - Graduation Relief: Both of my kids GRADUATED from universities this year. What a relief!

1 - Argue the Other Side: My favorite LESSON from a professor back in the day has new relevance!

Monday, December 25

Top Ten Marketing Moments of 2017

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

As we reach the close of 2017, it’s always great fun to reflect back on the year’s best moments...the biggest moments in marketing that is, IMHO. So much of this year's marketing was either a response to popular culture and social sentiment, or a driver of it. That's the power of branding!

Here’s to 2017 and to all of our successes! What would make your list? What’s your experience?

Wishing you the happiest of holidays!  JIM

10 - Dove’s Alternative Facts: We saw many brands respond to the socio-political conversations of the moment, and this was one of the BEST (if not the absolute best)!

9 - Balenciaga’s IKEA Bag: Now this was THE fashion statement of the year!

8 - Cheetos Online Museum: Smart thinking to celebrate what your consumers are already doing! And one of the biggest brand WINNERS at the Cannes Lions this year!

7 - Eminem’s New CD:  If you’ve ever worked on the marketing of a pharmaceutical, then you’ll appreciate this mock drug campaign for Revival...the clues were all there! The best PHARMA campaign of the year!\

6 - Breakfast at Tiffany’s: Finally...a brand equity refresher! It’s about time. This one was my MOST READ post of the year, and made my top ten most read posts ever!

5 - Bud Light “Dilly Dilly”: When your brand makes it into pop culture like this, then you have to make the TOP ten for sure!

4 - Patagonia Sues President Trump:  I think this has to be a brand FIRST but is it the first of many to come?!?

3 - Pepsi and Kendall Jenner: Pepsi isn't the only brand to side step their way into the court of social media opinion. But it is perhaps the biggest! Let’s all learn from this one and NOT repeat next year!

2 - P&G #WeSeeEqual: the best CAMPAIGN  this year to evolve and reflect our thinking!

1 - “The Hat” Makes The Cover of Time: the biggest marketing moment of the year by FAR...changing our world forever!                       

Thursday, December 21

You Can Be The Hero For Your Team

We are living in confusing times...but you have an opportunity to step out front and be a leader for your team. I captured some thoughts in this Entrepreneur article.

Good luck! What’s your experience? JIM

Tuesday, December 19

Eminem Pharma Launch for Revival

When Eminem launched his recent CD, Revival, in a most unusual way...he made it look like a real pharmaceutical advertisement! Seriously!

Of course the notorious musical artist left some key lyric phrases and the backwards "E"...but it still took diehard fans awhile to figure out the puzzle. The first fan to finally Solve the pharma mystery got a personal phone call from the rapper himself.

But this campaign wasn't just a billboard, it was full-on, classic, iconic, multi-channel pharmaceutical marketing complete with website, toll-free phone number, print ads, and of course a video shot in classic pharma style. My clients would be impressed! The man left no pharma stone unturned:

As a marketer who's done a TON of pharma work through the years, the accuracy of this mock campaign has me ROTFLMAO. The visuals, the pace, the casting, the scenes, the on.

While I'm not necessarily a fan of the music, I do admire the marketing work. Clever, innovative, and well done!

What's your experience? JIM

Monday, December 18

Gavin Lodge Diaper Bag for Dads

I remember the days all too well...I had two kids in diapers at the same time and going anywhere with them was a major accomplishment. The required gear was overwhelming! So of course I had to utilize every tool I could to help me out, so of course I had a diaper bag. A very traditional diaper bag of course. A diaper bag from the mid-1990's, if you can imagine that. And you can be sure that my diaper bag did not reflect my own personal style at the time. Because there was nothing else available from Toys ‘R Us or anywhere else! The bags were all designed for moms with really nothing for dads. But alas, I carried on anyway with flowered diaper bag in tow!

Well Gavin Lodge, of Broadway fame, is looking to change the gear options for dads. Or at least the diaper bag.  He's not the first to bring out dad-styled gear, but he's certainly one of a few who are upping the style game for sure!

Here's his brand new diaper bag (dad inspired), available at Barney's New York:

You’ll see some links to others as well, like from Marc Jacobs and Stella McCartney. Thank you all for bringing dads into the fold!

What's your experience? JIM

Friday, December 15

Zales x Disney = Enchanted

Truth be told, there have been many brand collaborations with Disney through the years, and there have been many in the jewelry space that’s for sure. Nothing necessarily new there. I did a collaboration back in, did I just date myself or what?!?

But I have to say that the latest from Zales titled Enchanted is quite well done, adding significant equity to the Zales brand IMHO. And I guess that’s the point with any brand collaboration with Disney.

The product is fine, I suppose, so I’m not really going to comment on that....

It’s the positioning, content, and marketing that I will comment on and it’s very well done. Building the equity of Zales while it leverages a unique emotion from Disney...being a princess. Here’s the Enchanted video:

To my marketing that pretty good stuff - mixing the emotional magic of being swept away by love along with what looks to be a consistently created line of products.

A magical combination? Surely a brand builder for Zales and that could be magical in and of itself.

What’s your experience? JIM.

McDonald’s Holiday UK 2017

It's an amazing "tradition" to see many UK brands release long-story commercials for the holidays (and if you've read my book Out and About Dad then you'll get the “tradition” thing!). McDonald’s has joined the game this year with what I think is a real winner...taking a holiday tradition and turning it into a great story about family through a multi-media interactive experience.

But it all starts with this little gem...

The film is just the first part of the experience. Families can then go online to play a game to collect carrots and share scores. Smartphone-enabled AR kicks in so folks can view dancing reindeer, presumably happy with their treats. There’s also holiday merchandise that includes sweaters and toys for gift giving.

It’s a full-on, cross-channel holiday experience that lines up well with other UK retailers like John Lewis and M&S who create magic year over year.

For me, the best part is the depiction of Dad. Bravo, and thank you!

Happy Holidays! What’s your experience? JIM

Wednesday, December 13

Mister B&B Enters the Market

I always find it fascinating to see a brand enter a category, reinvent it, and then constantly shape it.

Airbnb completely reinvented the “hotel” category, not only in what a “stay” looks like but also how travelers book a stay.

We’ve studied Airbnb in my NYU class quite a bit and there’s an exercise that I like to do where we brainstorm how a brand disruptor could continually expand their brand either into other categories or other parts of their current category. But sometimes it isn’t the brand originator who does the expanding and shaping...sometimes other brands come along and take the work the originator created and build a unique business based upon it.

Which is exactly what Mister B&B has done.

Mister B&B created an “Airbnb” for gay travelers, but they are no way affiliated with Airbnb. It’s a completely new brand building off of what Airbnb has done. They’ve just taken that model and reshaped it for a specific kind of traveler who might be looking for specific travel needs. Like safety, or non-discrimination, or meeting like-minded individuals.

And BTW, I love the name! And by the read of their tagline, "#1 gay hotelier in the world," it looks like they're off and running!

It’s quite brilliant, actually, and makes me wonder why Airbnb didn’t do it themselves. In fact, in one of my NYU classes the students came up with this very idea...along with doing Airbnb for singles, couples, families, etc. Specific needs for specific travelers.

Could be Airbnb doing all of these or it could be new competitors. Either way, I have a feeling we’ll be seeing a lot more of these kinds of brands entering the space.

Mister B&B! Welcome! What’s your experience? JIM

Tuesday, December 12

Patagonia Sues President Trump

In what might likely be a first ever for a brand, Patagonia has joined a consortium that is suing President Trump (his administration) over disagreements concerning preservation of land including the area Bears Ears which was just recently added to the protected list by President Obama.

I’m not commenting on the politics here...that’s for other folks and for other blogs. I’m just commenting on the branding.

Sure, we know that companies and brands spend a considerable amount of time lobbying for their interests in Washington, DC, and Patagonia has certainly not made secret its interests in environmental protection. It’s at the heart of its brand, actually.

But I’m not sure I’ve even seen a brand actually field a lawsuit over an issue where both sides appear to be on insurmountable opposite sides.

And for the first time ever to my eye, we are seeing a social media war break out across the two sides as well. A war of social words, so to speak, which is making it very public how both sides feel. No doubt about that. And both sides are rallying their support groups as a result.

I don’t think we’ve ever seen this in branding and marketing! This is a brand really fighting for what it believes in, publicly and politically, and a government administration using social media to fight back.

The visual block on their website, pictured above, says it all.

Is this where branding is going now? Sign of the times? What’s your experience? JIM.

Bud Light “Dilly Dilly”

Sometimes it just works, but you can never really guarantee it. Sometimes a brand puts a piece of creative out there and it hits pop culture status. Sometimes. But you can never really guarantee it.

Bud Light is certainly enjoying some of that magic this very moment, that’s for sure.

Dilly Dilly!

“Dilly Dilly” has become a “thing,” running seemingly nonstop through NFL and college football games. We’re seeing memes and t-shirts and posts all over the place. Aside from sheer exposure, why has it caught on so much? Maybe it’s the Game of Thrones feel? Maybe. But what does “Dilly Dilly” mean? Is there something hidden from history?

Maybe one of the sequels will help us to figure it out...


Turns out that it doesn’t really mean anything at all, and that’s pretty fabulous. In these turbulent times, perhaps it’s ok just to have something fun out there. Not everything has to be so deep and meaningful and controversial.

And perhaps that’s exactly why it’s become such a part of pop culture so quickly this fall.

Looks like we might be seeing a bit of “Dilly Dilly” in the Super Bowl too...

Just plain fun. What’s your experience? JIM.

Friday, December 8


Continual innovation is the gateway to long term business success and market leadership. When you can invent a category and then continually evolve it, then chances are you’ll be continually bringing value to both your customers and your stakeholders.

But you’ve got to think ahead...think ahead of what’s beyond possible in this very moment.

Where are you going to take your business and brand next?

Which is exactly what Uber is attempting to do with one of its recently announced aspirational innovations...UberAir. Think of it as an Uber ride in the sky, which is exactly what it is.

Sorta Jetson-like, and “closer than you think.”

But who better to bring it than Uber?

Also love the modern depiction of and dad. Thank you for that too.

What’s your experience? JIM

Thursday, December 7

GANT’S Couple Thinkers

The brand GANT has done a considerable amount of work as of late reinventing its being. Probably makes sense given the fact that it got its start in 1949 and a lot has changed since then.

“Never stop learning” is the brand’s motto, and I for one try to live that way too.

In an effort to keep us all on that learning curve, GANT launched a new content series on YouTube that tackles six different big-time topics for us to advance and learn from.

It’s called “Couple Thinkers” and although hosted by a married couple, each episode features a learning expert in the topic du jour like sustainability, space, and philosophy among others.

Very in keeping with where the brand wants to continue to go, and likely very in keeping with the consumer it attracts. Each episode is nearing over 1.5 million views so folks are paying attention.

Here’s episode one titled, “Can real food feed the world?” We also get to meet the very engaging hosts for the first time as well.

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

Wednesday, December 6

Six Seconds, Sixth Grade

I recently wrote an article for HuffPost about what's been happening with our collective marketing attention spans. The latest example being the NFL using six seconds television advertising for this football season. Six seconds for a tv commercial! That’s worse than 140 characters! Or is it?!?

Click here to give it a read, and let me know what you think. Perhaps there are some lessons learned for your brand?

What's your experience? JIM.

Sherpapa - A Brand for Dads

First of all, before I say anything...I just love the brand name: Sherpapa!

Matthew Morrison of GLEE fame recently had a baby, and he's self-admittedly labeled himself as a "present and protective" father. A Sherpapa! I love it. I would have characterized myself that way back in the day too. Well, actually, I would still characterize myself that way to this day even though my kids are in their twenties and starting careers of their own.

But Mr. Matthew is taking it a step further with a business proposition...gear for those fathers who consider themselves present and protective. A man after my own heart as this was something I would totally do if I didn't have a day job.

The brand is called Sherpapa, presumably for Sherpapas.

1. A strong family leader; a protector of children's futures and their world.

2. A term of endearment for a beloved father or grandfather.

There’s something there for all the dads, from what might be considered a diaper bag to baby carriers. All in cool dad designs, at least to my eye. Pretty fabulous, and very dad like. Something I would have cherished when I was raising my kids as there really were very few if any brands recognizing a dad’s role in raising the kids. Back then, no one gave any acknowledge to us Sherpapas out there!

Thank you, Matthew, from one Sherpapa to another!

What’s your experience? JIM

Monday, December 4

Barbie’s First Hijab

I've always admired brand Barbie as it has long led the way in keeping itself contemporary and relevant. And it's latest move is in keeping with that heritage.

Barbie just recently launched the first Barbie doll to wear a traditional hijab, modeled after famed fencer Ibtihaj Muhammed. This amazing athlete has broken massive barriers as the first U.S. Olympic athlete to compete wearing a hijab.
We first saw the new Barbie with Muhammed at the recent Glamour "Women of the Year" Summit. A striking resemblance and another first for the brand. And for this inspiring athlete too.

I'm continually impressed, as a marketer and as a dad.  What's your experience? JIM

Sunday, December 3

RSPCA - Pets for the Holidays?

The British Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals just released a holiday video that is capturing people's attention right at gift giving season. Basically, the organization is asking folks to think twice about buying pets as holiday gifts. For good reason...

Very well done and a very important message. I know myself as a dad back in the day, every year we would debate getting the kids a puppy for Christmas (the mere thought brought big smiles) but we'd always postpone. One day we finally did it, but not as a holiday gift but after the Westminster Dog Show as part of our full family's responsibility. The kids were a part of the planning and preparation process, so as a result our dog was always their dog too. Their sibling, actually.

Thank you RSPCA for this wonderful reminder today.  

What's your experience? JIM

Friday, December 1

Hershey's Gold

New product introductions are the lifeblood of marketing and branding. Keeping your offering fresh to your consumers is just one way to keep your brand fresh in their minds.

Well today brand Hershey's sent us all a not so subtle reminder with their first new product since 1995 labelled under the heritage Hershey's brand name.

Hershey's Gold.

I'm not sure that this is much about product innovation per se, as much as it is about deliciousness and keeping the brand active in the hearts, minds, and wallets of consumers.

The website is full of color and vibrancy, that's for sure...and it also announces the brand's support for the US Olympic Team, presumably to help them win some gold medals. Score!

"Ever wonder what gold tastes like?" Evidently it's peanuts, pretzels, and carmelized creme!

What's your experience? JIM.