Wednesday, February 28

Jane Walker

I’m so bummed because I forgot to bring this up in my marketing class at NYU last night. I would love to hear what my students think, so I’ll make sure to bring it up next week! We talk about the management of products vs. the marketing of brands so this is a good one to discuss!

For the first time ever, a woman will front the packaging of brand Johnnie Walker on a limited edition bottle available during Women’s History Month in March as well as International Women’s Day. For every bottle sold, $1.00 will go towards charities that support women.

Jane Walker. “Keep Walking America.”

While some heralded the marketing initiative as the “Lady Doritos of Booze,” others saw it as a simple way to support current conversations and to contribute in some way. Some saw it as an obvious marketing ploy while others saw it as a progress. This is, once again, where the consumer gets to weigh in and vote. With their voice and their dollar.

I love the strong imagery, to be honest. And there's no change to the product which there really shouldn't be. So I kinda dig it, but then again I'm a big fan of marketing, obviously.

So what’s your take? A step forward for the brand or just a way to sell more product? What’s your experience? JIM.

Monday, February 26

KFC UK Apologizes for its Chicken Crisis

The restaurant chain KFC has had a bad week in the UK. The chain ran out of chicken! Ran out of chicken? So they had to close hundreds of their stores across the country! Embarrassing?!?

In my opinion, a great way to take ownership for a problem can often be a little self-deprecating humor. And that’s exactly what KFC decided to do, with an ad in several British outlets carrying an apology and a little fun.

I mean, how can you not give a little forgiveness when you see their spirit? Well done, according to the resulting social media response.

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

Sunday, February 25

Lessons Learned from the Latest Brand Activity

I'm a big believer that marketing is a spectator sport, and there's been a lot to observe lately. But we can all learn from it!

I picked some recent activity and scoped out what we can learn for Entrepreneur magazine.

From L.L. Bean to PepsiCo to CVS. And a couple more.

Click here to give it a read. What's your experience? JIM

Thursday, February 22

Ryan Seacrest at Macy’s - When Did That Happen?

Ryan Seacrest at Macy’s? When did that happen!?!

I’m not sure how I missed this one from a couple of years back. Evidently Ryan Seacrest launched a line of men’s clothing at Macy’s called Distinction. Ryan Seacrest Distinction. Launched in 2014, but has been expanding ever since. Starting with suits and accessories and now a more casual line that came out in Fall 2017.

It’s a bit of a mix and match Garanimals (remember those!?!) concept where you can easily match up suits with shirts, ties, and other business accessories to create a look. A more formal business look.

The reviews have been mixed to my eye, with some loving the simplicity while others thinking it looks too formulaic and too much like a uniform.

Here’s a video from the 2016 line...

Ryan himself says this is how he dresses. Funny, but I don’t personally think of him as a suit guy but I guess he really is. He is certainly becoming the king of all media, so why not lend that equity into men’s attire?!? Wonder if this replaced the Trump line at Macy’s?

It must be working to still be available. Perhaps a good way to drive men to Macy’s.

What’s your experience? JIM

Tuesday, February 20

Unilever Wants to Clean Up the Internet

In yet another example where brands and corporations are working to fix a problem perhaps once left to a governing body, Unilever announced that it will no longer support digital platforms that allow fake news or that serve up content designed to promote terrorism or that is a threat to children.

Watch out Facebook, Google, and everyone else too! There’s a new sheriff in town and they’re in control of the advertising budgets.

Hard to argue that this doesn’t make sense, but somewhat new territory for a company to push such a a “safety” agenda. And they’re not the first, since P&G said something similar last year as well.


We’ve often left this kind of policing to the government...ala the FTC as an example. But it seems as though perhaps none of us are completely satisfied that anyone has done enough so perhaps it’s time for the folks who are spending the money to become the ones to make sure it’s appropriately spent in the right arenas the the right adjacenies.

Makes sense to me, especially given the enormity of the problem we now face.

Will more companies follow? I bet. What’s your experience? JIM

Sunday, February 18

Chile Takes on Iconic Characters in War on Obesity

The government of Chile is taking the country’s rising obesity crisis seriously by clamping down on the production, sales, and marketing of what it considers to be foods that are contributing to weight gain amongst its citizens.

As part of a series of measures, the government is banning use of cartoon characters and toys to promote sales of candies, cereals, and snack foods.

Tony the Tiger was one of the first in its line of sight, along with Chester Cheetah from Cheetos. And now the government is requiring black warning labels on all products that are high in calories, sugar, and salt.

I get it, but I will say that I'm a longtime fan of Tony having worked with him for several years back in the day. To my eye, this is the most aggressive effort I’ve seen from a government panel.

Will we see this spread to other countries? What’s your experience? JIM

Friday, February 16

The Arrival of HomePod

This week we saw the arrival of Apple's much anticipated response to Google and Amazon...a home product called HomePod. Gotta love the name! Gotta love consistent branding! The brand has been in tease mode for weeks now, and now it's finally here.

Music seems to be at the heart of HomePod, as well as complete compatibility with Apple products. Perhaps the entire point of differentiation as the third player into the market.

I'm sure competitors are shaking in their boots to some extent, and perhaps that's why we saw such a strong showing by Alexa at this year's Super Bowl.

Sonos, as in the speaker system that can currently connect to Apple devices, took a different, more welcoming approach by creating a new playlist to celebrate HomePod's arrival. The welcome note had an interesting twist, however, in that it was housed on Spotify which isn't compatible with HomePod since it only plays Apple Music. Ouch.

The plot thickens.

As what seems to often be the case with the release of Apple products, consumers found a product "issue" right off the bat...HomePod can leave white rings on wood surfaces.

Easily removed, as the brand says, after a couple of days or completely avoided with a coaster (as pointed out by Gail King on CBS This Morning). There's even a hashtag already. Oh the drama.

Will it work being the third player in? Can Apple pull this off? What's your experience? JIM

Tuesday, February 13

The Dad 2.0 Summit 2018 - We Are The Norm!

I recently attended the Dad 2.0 Summit as both a speaker and a participant. If you’re not familiar with Dad 2.0, it’s a collection of Daddy Bloggers who cover, discuss, and highlight modern-day fatherhood. I’m right there with them, in spirit and sometimes in blogging too.

The Dad 2.0 Summit was an experience that’s hard to describe, for the second year in a row for me personally. I tried to capture my thoughts at here to give it a read.

I’d love to hear your thoughts either as a dad, the spouses of a dad, or the kid of a dad...a modern-day dad.

What’s your experience? JIM

Being a Perfectionist - When Done is Better Than Perfect

Ok, I’ll admit it...I’m a perfectionist. I dot every “i” and cross every “t” and I sweat every detail. I honestly think that being a perfectionist was the key to my early success. My colleagues and my bosses knew that they could count on me to get it done right, no matter what it took. I wouldn’t let anything fall through the cracks. I’m still that way to some extent. What I lacked in intelligence and experience, I made up for in hard work.

To some extent.

As the years have gone by and as I’ve worked through my career, it’s admittedly gotten harder and harder to be a perfectionist. My workload and responsibilities have expanded well past the point of being able to do it all. Being a perfectionist at this point would end up not getting it all done. And we know that’s not an option.

So what’s a perfectionist to do in this new world of endless work?

I follow the 80/20 rule...

Prioritize. Let’s face it, we all have a lot of busy work. And we can all get pretty busy with our work. So I’ve learned to prioritize the 80% of my work that is the most important and I de-prioritize (read: ignore) the 20% that isn’t really going to matter. Or at least won’t matter that day. I allow myself to let go of about 20%, and I save it for later. If later ever comes. And if it doesn’t, then at least I’ve nailed 80%, which I make sure is the most important priorities.
Get the little stuff out of the way. Along with our busy work comes a lot of little stuff. Administrative stuff. Paperwork stuff. And while it may all be “little,” it can also be pretty important. The problem is that all that little stuff clogs our mind space and occupies our thoughts...blocking our energy for the bigger issues that we also have to face that same moment. So my MO is to get the small stuff out of the way right in the beginning of the day. I cross as much of the easy stuff off of my to-do list as early as possible, leaving lots of brain space to tackle the more taxing tasks once I’ve gotten a few things out of the way. I find that this energizes me because it makes me feel incredibly productive. Productive people get the most done. With all of those new found accomplishments, I can then dig into what that really counts. And it feels good.

Know when done is better than perfect. I’ve also come to realize that there are diminishing returns when it comes to perfection. It’s far more important to get something done than it is to try to make it perfect and potentially never finish it. 80% just might be enough so that it gets done. I find that the extra 20% is often not that meaningful. So settle for 80% and move onto your next priority. Now don’t get me wrong...sloppiness and incomplete isn’t going to solve anything either. But we all know that sometime all that extra effort doesn’t pay off if it means delays and the inability to get the rest done too.

Spend a little time planning. Here’s where I’m going to flip the ratio. You should spend about 20% of your time planning your time and organizing your activities. I keep extensive lists and I am crazy organized. I know where all of my files are located and I know exactly what I need to get done every single day and every single week. And I really do get it done, because I’ve planned it out and I’ve organized my resources. You’ll be amazed how much time and energy that a little planning can save you. And good planning also allows me to multi-task because I know exactly what I’m doing and where everything is located. It’s pretty fabulous, actually. That 20% allows me to efficiently get the 80% that I’ve prioritized done.

Feeling overwhelmed? Can’t see through your lists? Got too much to do to be perfect? #Same. Just follow the 80/20 rule and you’ll get it all done...or at least what’s most important.

Makes sense? What’s your experience? JIM

Brands Stray from Their Origins - Chobani, Ben & Jerry's, Nestle

We’ve seen a lot of brands stray from their core offerings lately, presumably in an effort to grow. But does it make sense? Does it destroy their heritage and soften their expertise. The answer lies in the opinions of the consumer, and definitively varies from case to case.

Like Chobani for example. Known for Greek yogurt. Kind of "invented' the Greek yogurt category, bringing innovation for the first time in awhile. Well it just launched a non-Greek version, a more classic version, called Smooth. Trying to expand its presence in a dominant grocery category. Why not? Critics say it’s an innovation step backwards, and not becoming of the step forward that the brand offered originally. What’s your experience?

Then we have Ben & Jerry's (and Haagen-Daz for that matter)...known for ultra-indulgent ice cream, right? Just launched their own non-dairy versions, perhaps to compete against Halo Top who appears to be stealing away a lot of attention. Why not? The brand has already come up with variations to the original, so a non-dairy version fits in just fine says many a fan.

And then we have Nestle, the fourth largest candy maker in the world, who announced it will no longer be in the chocolate business. And has been doubling-down on coffee and vitamins (recently bought the company who owns the Garden of Life brand), as it prioritizes its portfolio to focus on growth sectors. Why not? Having a clear vision of what you want the company to stand for isn’t such a bad thing. But how could Nestle not sell chocolate? That’s potentially a hard pill to swallow.

There was a time when it was hard for a brand to jump out of its core product offering because it was so strongly positioned that way...but as attitudes and behaviors shift, it becomes more and more important to continually shift a brand's presence in the market to align with opportunities. Flexibility has become key to growth. It just depends on why and how, right? Why not?

What do you think? Non-Greek Chobani? Non-dairy Ben & Jerry's? No Nestle chocolate? What's your experience? JIM

Sunday, February 11

Small Business Can Learn a Lot from Super Bowl 2018 Advertising

Tired of talking about the Super Bowl advertising yet? Not me...not by a long shot! My #SuperBowlExp Twitter Party wasn’t even enough!

But the Super Bowl isn’t just for the big brands. I think Entrepreneurs and Small Business Owners should pay particular attention, TTYTT. There’s a lot to me learned that can apply to any size much so that I wrote a piece about it for Entrepreneur Magazine.

Click here to give it a read.

What’s your experience? JIM

PS - If you still can’t get enough, then you can listen to the podcast I did with The Holmes Report, chatting about this year’s advertising. Click here!

Friday, February 9

Gerber’s New Spokesbaby with Down Syndrome

One of the most infamous baby brands on the planet has just announced its next “spokesbaby,” and he’s the first one for the brand who has Down Syndrome.

Lucas! Absolutely adorable!

He was chosen among 140,000 babies for “his expressiveness and winning smile,” proving for sure that “every baby is a Gerber baby.”

Absolutely fantastic! Makes me love the brand even more...exactly the point.

What’s your experience? JIM.

Thursday, February 8

Super Bowl 2018 Advertising - Podcast with The Holmes Report

Every year after The Super Bowl I do a podcast with industry legend The Holmes Report. This year I did it with the newest member of their editorial staff, Diana. Boy, I’m glad I was prepared because she asked me some good questions! But she was great fun to chat with. I mean, who doesn’t like chatting about this stuff!

Click here to give it a listen, and tell me what you think.

What were your Super Bowl 2018 favorites? What’s your experience? JIM

Wednesday, February 7

Super Bowl 2018 - Some More Gems

This was THE gem of the night!

By now we've talked about this year's Super Bowl advertising probably way too much...but I can't help myself. Even last night in my NYU class we broke down about six of the spots and chatted about brand vs. product advertising. Budweiser Water, if you will, versus Jeep (or was that really product advertising?!?). And I even chatted about the advertising with The Holmes Report for their annual podcast.

But besides all the biggest hits and misses we've been reading about and discussing, there were some other gems that are worth noting even if they didn't make many people's lists.

Coca-Cola. While not their best showing to date, I would like to give Coca-Cola a shout out. Most brands stayed clear of any political messaging, which was quite the opposite of last year's showing. But Coca-Cola did stay true to brand with a message of diversity and inclusion that might not have been as strong as in prior executions, was still worth a smile. "To act the same would be mundane. That's why there's just one me."

T-Mobile. This spot didn't make many people's lists at all, and truthfully it suffered in comparison to its rival's entry from Verizon which made many a top three. And while it never really connected to the brand's reason for being, I have to say that I love the sentiment of the copy. I had kinda forgotten about it to tell you the truth, but when I revisited it in class as an example of a brand trying to elevate its brand equity, and I found new found respect. "New come with open minds and the extinct that we are equal. You are unstoppable."

The NFL. I'd be remiss not to mention most people's top pick from the NFL. It was fun, it was frivolous, and it didn't take itself too seriously. Which at this point in our lives and with this sport, we need a little levity.

Alexa. A final shout-out to Alexa and Amazon and Jeff Bezos (who knew the man could act?!?). This initial spot during The Big Game grabbed our attention but then continued on into the night with additional cuts...the mark of a good campaign. And when Apple started its own HomePod pods, Alexa still kept shining through.

Oh what a night! Sorry, but I'm going to keep talking about it! At least until The Academy Awards (JK).

What's your experience? JIM

Tuesday, February 6

Surrounding the Super Bowl with Gillette (and others)

Not all of the brand activity for the Super Bowl came in the form of :30 television advertising during the actual game. Not by a long shot. If you’ve ever been to one of the “Big” games, then you know there’s a buffet of brand activations on site to hit the crowd and to spark social media activity...and to ignite influencers. Our agency had more than its fair share of that!

And some of the brand activity came in online too. Like the Mercedes work that I wrote about earlier in the week. Their  “Last Fan Standing” game gave away a car for the one fan who exhibited the most stamina by activating an app for the entire length of the game. BTW, I wonder who won?

Budweiser certainly had one of the best spots of the night with “Water,” but it still delivered on their Clydesdales tradition by showing horses in their stables on a Clydesdale Twitter cam! That came at exactly 7:15pmET, and Twitter was on fire!

Mucinex kicked in right after the game, announcing that Monday is the biggest sick day of the year! For sure. But if you really are sick, then take Mucinex!

But in all honesty, the best work came before the game in all the pre-game run up. I’m a bit biased being a dad and I’m a bit biased in that I love all of the work that Gillette does for dads. This new campaign combines football with fatherhood with gratitude with family pride...showing dads watching their sons play their first NFL game...

Here’s another one...

“Your big days are Dad’s big days.” Got that right!

What’s your experience? JIM.

Monday, February 5

Super Bowl 2018 - Best Product Benefits

Truth be told, and I am guilty of this myself, we tend to gravitate towards marketing (and particularly video/advertising) that is emotionally based. We're looking for that feel good, because we want to feel good about a brand. But truth be told, some of the best marketing is when consumers fully understand the core product benefits of the brand.

And there was some really good product benefit advertising during the Super Bowl this year, even if it may not have felt that way.

Jeep. Perfect example, the "anti-manifesto." Rather than tout a "greater human truth," the brand simply showed how it performs in all terrain. Very visually persuasive...

Rocket Mortgage. Finances can get very confusing very fast. The brand proves to us that it cuts through the clutter and explains things in plain English...

Febreze. Humor can sell, we know that. But this brand makes it very clear what its product offers, especially to those throwing Super Bowl parties...

All great, inspiring examples of product-focused advertising albeit within a creative cover.

Did I miss any from this year's Super Bowl? What's your experience? JIM

Super Bowl 2018 Advertising -- My Picks

It's not often I can personally say this..."What a game!?!" As someone who doesn't necessarily love football but who has a history with the city of Philadelphia, it was a great pleasure to see the team win. And the intensity of the game certainly made it easier to get through four quarters of advertising, which is what I am here to comment about!

While the game was intense, I'd say the advertising was somewhat safe. Excellent, but safe. I honestly thought we'd see much more commentary on the state of our collective souls, but I think advertisers heeded the call to stay clear of politics and social issues and keep it lighter, even when some told a greater message than the brand itself.

Tide. Wow, Tide owned the game, I must say. With multiple spots and a fav character from Stranger Things, Tide has now implanted in our heads that if the clothes are clean then it must be a Tide ad! The brand borrowed imagery from classic Super Bowl advertising so that virtually every ad is a Tide ad. Fun! And lasting. Here's the long version...

Doritos and Mountain Dew. This brand mashup got a lot of buzz when it first previewed and it stood the test of going live on the Super Bowl, breaking through the clutter. Who doesn't love a lip synch contest, especially if we get to see Missy Elliott!?! Blaze vs. Ice...

Toyota. Some brands did go to the more serious side, but with great success. We saw the usual suspects of car brands, but none did as well as Toyota with their sponsorship of the 2018 Paralympics. "When we are free to move, then anything is possible." The mix of inspiring support along with a nod to their own product line made for exceptional advertising. Not to mention the amazing music and "good odds" storytelling...

Verizon. The surprise of the night came from Verizon, who honored first responders by featuring survivors who called to thank those who saved them from tragedy. It's a wow, with a perfect tie to the brand and what it offers. Bravo...

I could go on and on...but I'll save some more picks for the rest of the week so stay tuned!

What are your favorites? What's your experience?  JIM.

Thursday, February 1

Crisco and PornHub with the Philadelphia Police

Just like Crock Pot, brand Crisco found itself thrust into the news albeit in a very different way.

In an effort to keep Philadephia Eagles fans safe, the police department used Crisco to grease the city’s telephone and lighting poles so that zealous fans couldn’t climb them and get hurt. Or hurt others. Crisco responded by sending sugar cookies to the police department in a show of appreciation. Awww.

Well it turns out that the Crisco didn’t work so well, so for Super Bowl weekend the police are trying another unbranded method. No offense to Crisco.

Of course brand PornHub (often a Super Bowl advertiser itself) offered the police department another solution in the form of its (ahem) a very cheeky tweet (which I won’t show here). The police appropriately responded with an infamous double facepalm. Well played.

Just a little branded fun right up to the Big Game.

What’s your experience?  JIM.

PS - We’ll be following all the Super Bowl advertising activity during The Big Game on Twitter at #SuperBowlExp. Join us...with sugar cookies :)

Is Mercedes at the Super Bowl 2018?

As brands, we’ve time and time again that you don’t have to be at the Super Bowl to reap the benefit of the Super Bowl audience. There’s so much activity surrounding the game before, during, after, and online that as brands you don’t have to pony up $5million for a :30 spot.

And that’s exactly what Mercedes is doing with its classic re-do of “last fan standing.” Remember that gig when the last person still touching the car wins the car? Well now we have the online downloading the Mercedes special app, you can win a new car if you’re the last person to keep your finger on the moving car for the entire game.

Sounds nearly impossible but when you think about how many screens most people have open while watching a television event, maybe not so much.

Here’s the trailer...

“All you need is a phone, a finger, and focus.” Perhaps not so easy during a frenetic Super Bowl party!

Give it a try? What’s your experience? JIM

PS - We’ll be following all the Super Bowl advertising during the Big Game on Twitter at #SuperBowlExp. Join us! I’m sure we’ll be talking about this lip synch battle between Doritos and Mountain Dew (both PepsiCo products)...