Wednesday, December 26

My Favorite Blog Posts of 2019

I recently wrote about the biggest marketing moments of 2018, with Nike topping the list. Well now I'd also like to share my favorite blog posts of the year. A "year in review" of JimJosephExp, if you will ... be it about marketing, pop culture, inclusion, or fatherhood, this is what I loved talking about this year.

Here goes, counting down:

10:  Goodbye Neil Simon, and Thank You ... I credit Neil Simon's The Goodbye Girl for my love of writing. When we lost Neil, I wanted to pay tribute.

9:  I Trust You ... the three best words you could ever hear at work!

8:  Mac & Cheese in Business ... don't hide your benefits at work; put them out front and center!

7:  Apple Australia's First Dance ... a moving tribute to love, from a brand I love.

6:  Dad 2.0 Summit ... active dads are the norm!

5:  I Never Liked Father's Day ... it was never inclusive like I hope it is now.

4:  A Royal Turning Point ... our popular culture will never be the same.

3:  Oprah's Golden Globes Speech ... her words reflected what many of us feel.

2:  First Openly Gay Day as Governor ... never thought I'd see it happen.

1:  Boutique du Sophie ... she's still with us! And BTW, you can't make this up!

There you have it! Let's see what's in store for 2019! Happy New Year!

What's your experience? JIM

Biggest Marketing Moments of 2018

Every year I like to count down what I consider to be the biggest marketing moments of the year. It's fun, at least for me and I hope for you too! This was yet again another exciting year for marketing, so let's learn from it all. After all, marketing is a spectator sport!

Here goes:

10: KFC Apologizes for its Chicken Shortage ... when KFC in the UK ran out of chicken, the brand took an unusual (albeit traditional) route to make it right.

9:  Crock Pot on This is Us ... Crock Pot took the blame for a beloved television character's death, and here's how this brand handled the fiction-turns-reality crisis.

8:  This Coke is a Fanta ... Coca Cola turned hate into love, in a very brave move that caused a movement in Brazil.

7:  Gerber's New Spokesbaby ... Gerber announced its first spokesbaby with Down Syndrome. Selected for his infectious smile. Indeed!

6:  Starbucks in Crisis ... seems like we had a lot of brands in crisis this year, and Starbucks was certainly one that was in the thick of it all.

5:  Ambien's Response to Roseanne ... here's a brand who took the high road by taking advantage of a moment.

4:  Papa John's Apology Video ... it's been up and down and up and down for this pizza brand, that's for sure. Here's an up, IMHO.

3:  Dick's Sporting Goods Response ... 2018 saw many brands take a stand on socio/politico issues and Dick's was right there from the start.

2:  IHOb ... when IHOP turned its "B" upside down to promote its new burgers, social media lit up! Was it real, was it permanent?

1:  30th Anniversary of Just Do It ... probably no surprise that Nike gets my nod for the biggest marketing moment of the year! A moment that has had lasting effect on brand loyalty and company valuation.

Happy Holidays to one and all! What's your experience? JIM.

Friday, December 21

BCW Holiday 2018 Greetings

Holiday greetings to you!

At our agency every year, we create and distribute a holiday video to not only wish everyone well for the season, but also to try to capture how we are feeling in the moment ... reflecting on the year past and looking forward to the year ahead.

Here's our message for Holiday 2018:

Enjoy ... and make 2019 a completely new year!  JIM

Wednesday, December 19

Hire People Smarter Than You


Professionally, 2019 was one for the record books. I'm proud to say that I probably accomplished more this year than in any year ever (at my age!), and I probably learned more this year than any year ever (at my age!). 

I'd say that's a pretty good year! And through it all I've been reminded by one core concept over and over again: hire people smarter than me.

I recently saw a quote from the late Steve Jobs about hiring smart people. It went like this:

“It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” 

2019 was a year that brought this concept home: hire smart people and have them tell me what to do! They're the experts, so let them do their job! Such a great reminder!

Truth be told I didn't need much of a reminder because I’ve always held the belief that I should hire people who are smarter than me. I need to hire people who know things that I don’t…and there’s a lot that I don’t know. Imagine that! I’ve never been threatened by that; quite the contrary I’m actually inspired by it.

This principle is even more important now given the speed at which we operate and the amount of effort that goes into our initiatives. There’s no wiggle room, not even a tiny bit.  And there’s never enough brain power to go around, so don’t try to bear the burden all by yourself. 

Hire people smarter than you!

Here’s how to do just that:

Figure out your skill/knowledge gaps. While it may be hard to admit, none of us are good at everything. We all have our own special skills. I’m sure there are a few areas where you really shine, as do I. So don’t hire for those talents. Hire for the skills and experiences that you don’t already possess. Let someone teach you something new, while you teach them what you know. Think of your team as a portfolio…fill it with smart people with diverse talents that you don’t already have. It’s okay if they are smarter than you because you’ve brought them onto the team to enhance the collective strength of the group. Everyone will thank you for it.

Test for multi-tasking talent. Interviewing for prospective team members is hard. We tend to focus on the candidates’ experiences and accomplishments, and I don’t think that’s the right approach. Test to see if the candidate is smarter than you and be ready to answer with a “yes.” You want to answer with a “yes,” or you don’t want the candidate. Past experience is one aspect but being smart and being able to apply it to a new situation is another. And make sure that the candidate can multi-task. The last thing you want is a smart person who only knows one area. These days, being smart means being able to get a lot of things done with a lot of different people.

Look for street smarts, right from the start. You should redefine what you mean by being “smart,” and you should probably put that in context for what works for your business. “Smart” isn’t necessarily IQ and intelligence. I personally value street smarts and the ability to get along with lots of people. To me that’s “smart.” Combine that with a skill set that you don’t already have within yourself or on the team and you’ve got teamwork gold.
Don’t be afraid. It’s human nature to want to be the smartest person in the room. We were trained that way growing up in school. Not sure if they do it anymore, but in high school we were literally ranked according to our grades. According to being “smart.” I was number seven. Of course I wanted to be number one. We all did. But as business leaders we have to let that go. We don’t need to be the smartest person in the room anymore. We are in charge, which means we set the direction and guide the initiatives. One way to do that is to fill the seats at the table with people that are smarter than you. They aren’t going to take away your authority, they’re going to get the job done!

I probably shouldn’t have to say this, but…you won’t lose your job! Even if you work for a large organization (like I do), you won’t lose your job if you hire someone who is smarter than you and if (dare I say) outshine you! You’ll be getting your goals accomplished. You’ll be producing results. You’ll be guiding the team! You’ll be taking responsibility for the ups and the downs (with smart people at the table, there will be more ups). And you’ll be getting credit for building a successful team, setting the strategic direction, making sure that everyone stays focused, and at the end of the day…being able to spot good talent.

Need I say more? Salute to Steve Jobs. I’m hoping he’d endorsed this point-of-view.

What's your experience? JIM.

Penny & Farrah - Together in a Commercial

In honor of two of my favorite pop culture icons, one of whom just passed away this week ... I'd like to share this retro commercial for Head & Shoulders shampoo featuring the now legendary Penny Marshall and Farrah Fawcett.

I'm a marketing guy, so of course I'm going to use a piece of marketing (before they were such icons) to pay homage ...

Head & Shoulders "hates your dandruff but loves your hair."

Me? I hate to see you gone, but I love what you gave to us all. Thank you.

What's your experience? JIM.

Tuesday, December 18

Vitamin Water - No Smart Phones

Vitamin Water is running a smart (!) contest where it's challenging consumers to live without their smart phones.

Yes, one lucky winner will get $100,000 if he/she can live without a smart phone for 12 months. To apply, you simply enter via Instagram or Twitter with hashtag #nophoneforayear #contest and you just might get a chance to win.

If selected, you can still use laptops and desktops and you'll get supplied an old school cell phone ... but no smart phones or tablets.

The brand says it likes to "break monotony," and there's nothing more monotonous that keeping your eyes glued to a smart phone (apparently).

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

Saturday, December 15

"Rang Tan" from Iceland with Greenpeace

Believe it or not, this video from the country of Iceland along with Greenpeace was banned from some media channels for being too "political." Oh my, not sure I understand that but ok ... which of course, probably turned out to be a blessing because more people viewed it as a result. 30 million people. Me included. And here I am writing about it! Take a look:

I'm going to let it speak for itself, it's that good IMHO.

What's your experience? JIM.

Friday, December 14

Patagonia Donates Its Tax Savings

Patagonia has had a long held a firm commitment to saving public lands, to environmentalism, and to conservationism. And the brand has long put its money where its mouth is, including joining a lawsuit against the Trump Administration for its policies concerning public lands.

And it's doing it again.

Patagonia's CEO, Rose Marcario, recently pledged that the money that the company is saving from President Trump's tax cuts will go directly to nonprofit groups that support conservation and climate control. To the tune of $10million.

Whether you agree with the position or not, this is a brand staying true to its values, commitments, and equity. Over and over again. And, by the way, staying true to its consumers as well.

What's your experience? JIM

Thursday, December 13

Bonobos Holiday Catalog 2018

Bonobos (as in the men's fashion brand) released their 2018 Holiday Catalog featuring men in all kinds of relationships from husbands to fathers to team mates to brothers.

"Celebrate Every Kind of Family." Here's the concept, from the brand:

"For many of us, the notion of family and being a family man has grown into something more. There’s the conventional idea, of course, but there’s also the family you choose. It could be made up of anybody — friends, colleagues, teammates, drinking buddies, or bridge partners, as long as they’ve got your back. There are many ways to be a family man, and each of them fit."

The best part for me? Aside from the amazing shot of a dad with his daughter ... the cover shows a couple in a same-sex relationship, thank you very much, presumably representing the "husband" aspect of relationships. But there's more.

This same-sex couple is later featured in the catalog with the full story of their relationship, as are other men as well. And this gay couple is positioned as "Long Haulers" because they've been together for 14 years. Amazing. Not sure we've ever seen gay men positioned as "Long Haulers," so it's nice to see that the old stereotypes are not represented here.

As a "Long Hauler" myself, I take great inspiration from their story and this catalog. And I'd like to thank Bonobos for resisting the cliches and truly representing real men in all kinds of relationships.

What's your experience? JIM.

Wednesday, December 12

Twitter #NotARetailStore

UK retailer John Lewis has made famous its annual holiday advertising. UK folks and folks all around the world look forward to the debut every holiday season.

But not John Lewis, a not-as-famous US citizen. Every year his social media feed fills up with comments about the advertising, obviously directed to the wrong John Lewis.

In a very funny twist of story, Twitter (in the UK) decided to make a holiday story out of THAT John Lewis with #NotARetailStore, paying homage to his bio on his Twitter handle.

Quite brilliant. A bit of an inside joke, but that makes it all the better.

Happy Holidays! What's your experience? JIM.

Tuesday, December 11

Virgin Voyages for Adults Only

Virgin is set to set sail in the cruising market with three new ships, slated to be in operation by 2020. The service will go from Miami through the Caribbean, and will be for adults only. Here's a video capturing the full ship experience:

The cruising industry is huge, as I'm sure you know, as all the major players try to outdo themselves with new ships and new features being launched with great fanfare. There hasn't been a new brand in quite some time, so this is a big one ... sure to be off to a great start when the ship is ready to sail.

I'm sure that the "adults only" feature will draw a big crowd. Smart.

Virgin is also planning to have the happiest crew on the seas, promising a cruising experience better than any other. We shall see.

What's your experience? JIM.

Saturday, December 8

TOMS, Again

TOMS (as in the shoes) is a pioneer in the giving space. Sure, now it seems almost automatic, but when TOMS first hit the scenes twelve years ago their concept was breakthrough.

TOMS essentially turned the Buy One Get One Free (BOGO) promotional offer on its head ... Buy One Give One. For every pair of shoes purchased, TOMS gave another pair to an under served person in the world ... a free pair of shoes to someone who can't afford it. They've now given 86 million people a pair of shoes. Wow!

And now, TOMS is doing it again with a new form of giving. The CEO, Blake Mycoskie, was so alarmed by the recent gun violence near his home in California that he went into immediate action. He's giving $5million dollars to organizations that promote gun control policies and procedures. It's yet again his way of having his brand give back.

Blake says that it's incumbent on businesses to act where lawmakers cannot. Here he is on Jimmy Fallon talking about it (where he also explains where the name TOMS came from!):

He faced backlash of course, which I am sure he was prepared for. But he also received great accolades from those who agree with his thinking, and whom I am sure will now think even more favorably about the brand. Perhaps they'll even purchase a pair of shoes, for whom another pair will be donated.

Circular giving. What's your experience?  JIM

Thursday, December 6


I was on a flight just recently (so what else is new!), and viewed this little ditty of a spot before launching into a RomCom movie. It's from ... the online travel agency. I thought it was really clever in its use of the company's employees.

You don't often see brands use their employees in such an unusual way. It's generally just talking heads. Not here. There's such a sense of adventure, freedom, and ease. So authentic. Makes you want to dive in too. I guess that's the point. I'm sure that the employees love being featured too. Makes it all so real.

Here's what the company itself says about the spot:

"We asked our employees to venture out into the unknown & discover fantastic new worlds, step out of their comfort zones in search of new adventures, make new friends & reconnect with the old ones, embrace the thrill of living and find music wherever they go. These are our stories. What will yours be?"

What will your be? Indeed!

Can be talk about that tagline? Booking.yeah! Brilliant. Perfectly captures that feeling when you're planning a trip to go out and about exploring. Booking.yeah! Great way to differentiate against the many competitors, with real emotion. Booking.yeah!

What's your experience? JIM.

Monday, December 3

CEO as Brand Ambassador via Brand Z

Every year, my parent company releases a report called BrandZ ... it's a listing of the 100 most valuable brands in the world. You can click here to read this year's list (no spoilers here!).

The year the report included several thought leadership positions, and the group was kind enough to ask me to write one! WooHoo!

My topic? CEO as Brand Ambassador. Click here to give it a read.

Let me know what you think! What's your experience? JIM.

Dunkin' Launches New Espressos

Dunkin' (sans the Donuts) has just announced a new line of espresso drinks, for a "new and more authentic experience." A "handcrafted espresso experience." Evidently espresso drinks are now officially outpacing drip coffees in sales, so it's time to up the game. So they say.

Now granted, the brand already had espresso drinks. But they've now improved them, and they're offering new iced versions as well. And all of them positioned at a much lower price point then at Starbucks. The brand is quick to make that point too.

In the meantime, Starbucks released a holiday video that I happened to catch during a football game on Sunday. It's not often that you see Starbucks advertise, so perhaps the brand is asserting a competitive position?

I always say that "marketing is a spectator sport," and there's no better category to watch than this one!

What's your experience? JIM

Wednesday, November 28

Tide in a Box

It's been a long time since there's been this much buzz in the laundry detergent category...not to mention from the long-time industry leader Tide. A personal favorite of mine.

Tide in a box. Actually Tide in a bag in a box. With a easy-flow spout (my words).

Easy to use for sure. But also much easier to ship (probably much less damage I would imagine). And 60% less plastic. Completely e-commerce friendly.

Yes, it looks like wine in a box which many have quickly pointed out. But it couldn't be more clearly branded, and it's not the first spout ever in the category.

Easy to use, easy to ship, less plastic. Sold.

What's your experience? JIM.

Tuesday, November 27

NYPL Black Friday Ad

With all the fury over Black Friday, this one little brand (at least for me) stuck out more than most.

New York Public Library! All Books Are Free!

Brilliant. Click here to take a look at the messaging on their homepage.

Smart marketing can come from surprising places!

What's your experience? JIM.

Saturday, November 24

New Holiday Advert - Love Is A Gift

Every year, with great fanfare and fan appreciation, the UK retailer John Lewis releases (what becomes) a beloved holiday advertisement. Or "advert" as they say in the UK. I recently wrote about the 2018 version; click here if you haven't seen it.

"It's tradition!" (a wink to a chapter in my book Out and About Dad)

In a great response, a young film maker in the UK decided to do his own version. He filmed it for 50 UK pounds, and titled it "Love is a Gift." I think it's far to say that he's had as much fan appreciation as John Lewis has gotten, maybe more due to the humble budget.

Fair warning, it's a tear jerker....

Merry Christmas indeed!

Fans are calling for John Lewis to hire this young man for next year's advert. Smart idea. His name is Phil Beastall and I think we may be hearing from him again.

What's your experience? JIM

Saturday, November 17

Why I Dreaded Parent/Teacher Conferences

I'm been having great fun this season seeing everyone's posts about their kids going back to school and enjoying fall festivities. There's one thing I don't miss though: parent/teacher conferences!

So I wrote a bit about why on Gays With Kids. Click here to give it a read.

Good luck this school year! What's your experience? JIM

Thursday, November 15

John Lewis & Partners - Holiday 2018

I'm here in London this week, and it's already quite festive...the halls are being decked! It's great fun!

If you know UK retailers, then you know that it's an annual tradition to release a holiday story to help capture and elevate the spirit of holiday gift giving. One tries to outdo the other, but meanwhile I find them all to be awesome. Awesome!

The first one I've seen this season is from retailer John Lewis & Partners, and that brand never disappoints! Here's the 2019 edition, with a special UK guest performer ...

"Some gifts are more than just a gift."

Indeed. What's your experience? JIM.

Love Has No Labels - Rising

The Ad Council has been running its (now famous) "Love Has No Labels" campaign for a few years now, and I'm all for it. The campaign seeks to promote awareness and inclusion of our differences, and to highlight and celebrate our diversity (my words).

You may remember this execution of the campaign from 2016 in celebration of the campaign's one year anniversary. It gets me every time:

The Ad Council just released the newest installment of "Love Has No Labels," and it couldn't be more timely as it asks the question...why does it take a natural disaster to bring us together? Fair point. Spot on.

The execution is actually a short film, but here's the trailer:

Love is the answer. Love is indeed blind. Love Has No Labels.

What's your experience? JIM.

Tuesday, November 13

Advertising Week - Video of Our Session

We had an amazing experience at Advertising Week this year in New York. I've long been a supporter and a participant, but this year was something special as our first year as BCW.

In case you couldn't be there or in case you missed the live's our session on Pioneers and Innovators where I interviewed guests from Patagonia and Bank of America. Kinda fun, I have to say.

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

Monday, November 12

"No Matter What" from Calum Scott

Music heals. The song No Matter What from Calum Scott is a great example.

In his song, Calum Scott commemorates his journey of coming out...specifically with his parents.

I am so grateful that people like Calum Scott are sharing their stories in their own way. We all should share our own story, in our own way. Whatever way that is. The more public the better. The more it gets shared, the better.

I myself have shared my story, in my booked called Out and About Dad. In my book, I talk about how I wish there had been stories like this one from Calum when I was dealing with my own issues. Perhaps my journey would have been easier. I wrote my book in the hopes that others' can have an easier time as well.

Music heals. So does sharing our common experiences. So share yours too.

I ask of you...What's your experience? JIM

So please share! What's your experience? JIM.

Saturday, November 10

First Openly Gay Dad as Governor

Jared Polis, the new governor of Colorado
As the mid-term election results continue to roll in, we're seeing more and more stories of inspiration. It's been "a rainbow wave" as Van Jones says. We've seen more women, more color, more religions, more LGTBQ ... we've seen more diversity win elected posts than ever before. And, politics aside, it's inspiring.

I don't care what anyone says, it's inspiring. At least to me. And some of it hits quite at home, to be honest, so of course I would find it inspiring.

I'd like to point out one example: Jared Polis, the newly elected governor of Colorado. He's married to a man and he's a father of three. And he's the first openly gay dad to become a governor in the United States.

If only there had been these kinds of role models when I was raising my two children, not as a governor but as an openly gay man. It was hard, because there were very few of us around. It was hard, and I'm not ashamed to say it twice. I could have used some inspiration back in the day. And just like Jared, I got a lot of, shall we say, "comments."

But "comments" aside, I raised my two kids and they are happily and successfully pursuing their own lives now. I'm hoping that Jared inspires others like them, and also inspires other gay dads to find their own successes, raising their children and pursuing their careers.

Congratulations, Jared! And thank you.  What's your experience? JIM.

PS - Jared's win is also posted on Gays with Kids, if you'd like to read about him there.

Friday, November 9

Planters NUT-rition Recommended by Men's Health

When I discovered the Planters #SaveYourNuts campaign for #Movember the other day, I also came across this little product from the brand...NUT-rition. As in, nuts for nutrition. Clever.

One particular SKU from the product line stuck out at me: the one recommended by Men's Health magazine. It's a special combination of ingredients known to be useful to men's health. So Men's Health tagged it. With #SaveYourNuts on my mind, I immediately went there, but in actuality this product is for overall men's health, not just the #SaveYourNuts kind of men's health. I think Men's Health knows that.

It's a smart "partnership" of a known media authority recommending a product that fits perfectly well with its editorial content suited to the needs of its readership. It's roots are likely The Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval from back in the day.

I'll buy What's your experience? JIM.

Wednesday, November 7

Encouragement to #GoVote

"I voted" was the fashion statement of the day yesterday ... I was personally jealous that I didn't get to wear my sticker until after 8:00pm. The day was just too busy so I had to skip my normal 6:00am vote for 6:00pm and hence stood in a very long line. But that was ok, I was thrilled that there was even a line at all and even more thrilled that I too voiced my opinion.

Early accounts say that this year's mid-term elections voter turnout was a "high water mark." My personal experience confirms that. I'm thrilled to see that people care and that people are acknowledging that their vote counts.

We certainly had plenty of encouragement. The hashtags were active all day long.

Including Google's doodle...

Many many companies gave their employees the time they needed to go vote, including those who specifically joined #MakeTimeToVote, a movement led by Patagonia (who also closed shop for the day).

We saw brands all day long drop their own messaging for messages of support to go vote...

Even an unlikely brand like Steak-umm jumped in with this tweet: 

if for some strange reason
you need a frozen meat company on twitter
to tell you to vote in order to do so, then here: go vote

No matter which way or the other, the point is that people got out and voted. And lots of people, organizations, and brands were supporting our democracy in action.

#AndThatsThePoint. What's your experience? JIM.