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 Booking.com ... 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 stream...here'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 it...you? 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.

Tuesday, November 6

Planters: #SaveYourNuts

It's Movember...the one time each year that men all around the world stop shaving to raise awareness for men's health issues. It's a movement that's been growing year over year over year, with lots of brands getting into the action.

This year, Planters (as in the nuts brand) has gotten involved with a campaign called #SaveYourNuts that urges men to do self-exams for early stage testicular cancer. Nothing new, necessarily, but definitely a message that needs to hit repeat over and over again.

Here's the brand's video, supporting the cause and educating men on how to self-exam:

Nothing else to say. What's your experience? JIM

Monday, November 5

Gillette: Your Best Never Comes Easy

This piece of storytelling from Gillette has been out for a few weeks now, launched just when the new NFL season was kicking-off. It's an inspiring father/son/son story about twin brothers who are teammates on the Seattle Seahawks. With a lot of dedication and a whole lotta love, they reached their goals despite extreme roadblocks.

Don't want to spoil the story...but it's clearly worth a view and worth a share.

Your Best Never Comes Easy...that's for sure. Thank you Gillette for bringing this motivational story about motivation to us all. Especially to us dads.

Way to go, dad! What's your experience? JIM.

CoverGirl "I Am What I Make Up"

When it comes to branding, it's all in the tagline...at least that's what some folks say. I'd be one of the folks, at least some of the time but not necessarily all of the time. Taglines aren't always the end-all-be-all, but they can be quite enlightening, motivating, differentiating, and inspiring.

Can I tell I like a good tagline? I love writing them even more!

I love the new tagline for CoverGirl: I Am What I Make Up.

It's the ultimate in self-expression, taking control, and achieving life's goals. I love it. Here's an inspirational video to go with it:

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

Friday, November 2

Beverage Packaging for the Holidays

Two beverage giants are out for the holidays this week.

First up, Starbucks.

The Starbucks holiday cup is a big deal every year, and it's oh so fun to see the new designs. Last year left many feeling cheated when the big cup was just plain 'ole red. I thought it was clever myself, sort of a twist of holiday minimalism in a way. This year it's red again but it's a permanent cup that can get reused over and over again throughout the holidays, with a discount every time it's used. And today Starbucks is giving them away for free. Happy (sustainable) Holidays!

And then we have Coca-Cola...we've seen this before and it's back again. The label on the bottle actually pulls into a ribbon and bow for the holidays. Happy (gift-giving) Holidays!

More, we want more! C'mon beverage brands, we want more! What's your experience? JIM.

Wednesday, October 31

Getting Gritty in Philly

Sports teams love their mascots, and truthfully most of them have been around for a very long time and have become a part of the legacy of their sports franchise. It's not often that you see a new mascot emerge.

Welcome Gritty...the official mascot of the Philadephia Flyers NHL team. Here's a bit on Gritty from the Flyers website:

His father was a "bully," so naturally he has some of those tendencies - talented but feisty, a fierce competitor, known for his agility given his size. He's loyal but mischievous; the ultimate Flyers fan who loves the orange and black, but is unwelcoming to anyone who opposes his team. Legend has it he earned the name "Gritty" for possessing an attitude so similar to the team he follows.
He claims that he's been around for a lot longer than we know it, and recent construction at the Wells Fargo Center disturbed his secret hideout forcing him to show his face publicly for the first time. He has some oddities that are both humorous and strange. A number of times he's been caught eating snow straight from the Zamboni machine, and unbeknown to most, his love of hot dogs has been inflating the Flyers Dollar Dog Night consumption totals for years.
 That being said, there's no denying that he's one of our own.

That's Gritty. But is that Philly?

At first, social media acceptance was a bit slow but it seems that Gritty has now taken on a life of his own, and he's becoming a fan favorite. He's player #00 and his motto is "What the puck!" 

I have a feeling there will be a lot of Gritty costumes today in Philly, since today is Halloween after all! And I have a feeling that Gritty, or actually Gritty's team, will be making a fair amount of money on merchandise and ticket sales. That's the point, right? Well actually, it's to enhance the game experience...which does actually sell more tickets and stuff!

The question is ... Will Gritty get more gritty?
What's your experience? JIM.

Tuesday, October 30

Can Art Heal?

At this point in my career, I've worked across virtually every major healthcare therapeutic area and in almost all of those areas exercise has been a part the treatment regimen for patients. A healthy diet, regular exercise, and drug therapy has generally been the course to getting better, and brands have embraced that treatment regimen.

I've also personally felt like exercise can cure a lot of evils.

Well now, according to some, we can add art to the course of therapy as well.

Doctors in Montreal are now medically allowed to prescribe visits to the art museum as part of a prescription to health. Up to 50 visits a year for both patients and caregivers.

Makes perfect sense. We've long thought that artwork can be part of restorative "medicine" and I've seen many caregiving facilities and pharmaceutical brands incorporate some sort of art into their programs. But in my experience, I'm not sure I've ever seen doctors actually prescribe art. 

But I have a feeling we'll be seeing a lot more of it, and I have a feeling we'll be seeing brands pick up a paint brush and join in! What's your experience? JIM.

Sunday, October 28

If You Don't Respond, Someone Will Respond For You

Last week was #PRovoke18, the annual global summit from The Holmes Report. I've been going every year, and every year I enjoy it more and more.

This year I participated on a panel discussion about "disinformation." Call it lies, call it fake news, call it anything but the truth...disinformation has had dramatic effects on our popular culture, our politics, our personal lives, and our businesses.

Holmes wrote a great article about my panel...click here to give it a read.

What are your thoughts about disinformation? What's your experience? JIM

Wednesday, October 24

Starbucks First Signing Store in the US

This week Starbucks opened up its first US "signing store" in Washington DC...celebrating and making it easier for partially and fully deaf people to not only come enjoy a cup of coffee but to also find inclusive employment.

No detail is left out in this store, including artwork, uniforms, accessories and a "sign of the day."

The store was modeled after the first of its kind in Malaysia, and I'm betting we'll see more where this came from! And perhaps other types of stores that are inclusive to many other folks as well. And I bet we'll see other brands follow suit...that's what happens when you're a brand leader, and when you make attempts to be inclusive to all of your constituents. 

What's your experience? JIM.

PS - In NYC, I work right by a center that helps blind people learn how to navigate the city. I'm inspired every single day when I walk by on my way to work. I'd like to see a "Seeing Store" nearby!

Monday, October 22

Cannabis Rolling Papers in Canada

On the off chance that you didn't hear the big news...recreational marijuana is legal in Canada. Cannabis, as they officially call it.

While there have been several players vying for leadership, there are a few breakouts who seem to be capturing attention right from the start.

One is a company called Leaf Forward. To honor their launch, the brand introduced special rolling papers that have the Canadian declaration of legalized marijuana printed on them! Granted, it's small print but it's there. There to legally celebrate the legal enactment.

There's actually 152 pages, and you can read all of them in a pack!

Pretty clever. What's your experience? JIM

Friday, October 19

Selena Gomez x Puma

We've got another sneaker (or "trainer" as some would say) collab out there ... this time not with a sports star but with a singing sensation.

Yes indeed, Selena Gomez has partnered with Puma to bring a new women's line that "balances supporting your movements while complementing your style."


Not the first, not the last ... but in a sneaker culture why couldn't we have another? Exactly.
And BTW, there's athleisure too...

If you're a fan of either brand, what's not to love. Which is exactly the point. Collaborations are all about brands sharing fans to build more fans.

Who could you collaborate with? What's your experience? JIM.

Wednesday, October 17

Maximalism in Decor

I've been reading quite a bit in the last few days about maximalism in home decor.

For years, the trend has been the exact opposite: minimalism...as in clear lines, soft colors, very little clutter.

Well I'm personally on the opposite end of the spectrum with maximalism...contrasting shapes, bright colors, and lots and lots of stuff. Some say "clutter," I say "stuff." My own eclectic collection of "stuff." If you've been to my office or home, then you know I'm telling it like it is!

It's easy to see how I got here, though...life experiences across the ages. As we get older, some of us accumulate "stuff" from the years gone by. Mementos from trips, family pictures, favorite pieces of art, boxes and sculptures and figurines and lions and tigers and bears.

It's just a reflection of personal style and a life that's been lived. I see no problem with that! And in fact, it's all quite purposeful and organized. Nothing random at all about it. And btw, it's fun!

Just yesterday I honored Mr. Turk, the men's fashion designer who passed away over the weekend unexpectedly. He was a maximalist. I have a lot of his stuff too! Maximalism in fashion can be a thing too although when it comes to clothing I tend to think "one gimmick at a time."

What about you? Minimalist? Maximalist? What's your experience? JIM