Friday, March 30

Spike Jonze Creates a Short Film for HomePod

To my eye, the launch of Apple’s HomePod has gone down with little fanfare. At least to my eye. Admittedly, it’s hard to come into a marketplace as the third player in...especially when the first two are Google and Amazon. Even when you’re Apple. It’s hard to capture attention when others have grabbed so much already.

But perhaps now the time has come, with the release of a short film created by legendary Spike Jonze that features one of us...a presumably over-tired, over-worked, over-it city dweller who comes home to an ordinary home. She plops down on the couch, exhausted from it all. And suddenly her home (and she) comes alive, thanks to HomePod.

Take a look at it...

Granted, it’s just a piece of film. A piece of film with over 8million views already. But it’s art and it’s inspiring and it’s entertaining. And it’s certainly grabbing attention. We shall see if it captures sales too.

What’s your experience? JIM.

Wednesday, March 28

Lay's Smile Bags

Sometimes all it takes is a simple little idea to engage a whole lotta people. And that's what the new Lay's Smile Bags are all about...a simple little idea to engage a whole lotta people. I mean, who wouldn't bring a bag to a party, bbq, tailgate, tv binge, etc, etc, etc.?!? And then who wouldn't post it on social media?!?

Fun, right?!? Simple. Engaging. What's your experience? JIM.

Heineken "Sometimes, Lighter is Better"

Brand Heineken found itself caught up in the court of social media opinion this past weekend, fueled by the rapper Chance.

Quickly after releasing an ad titled “Sometimes, Lighter is Better,” All to promote its light beer as an alternate to wine.

Chance sent out a tweet claiming that the video was racist. Others quickly joined in the conversation and to the brand’s credit it quickly apologized for missing the boat, and quickly pulled the ad.

See what you think...

Keep in mind that Heineken had released a campaign last year called “Open Your World” where it brought together folks with vastly different opinions so that they could hash it out over a beer. Promoting diversity and inclusion. You can read about that one here.

A few lessons here. First, respond quickly to consumer opinions and accept responsibility. Also sure you test your messaging with your consumers before you release it, just to make sure you’re saying what you want to be saying. Just to make sure your intentions come through and to avoid any misinterpretations. And then be prepared to respond should things not go as planned no matter the case.

So what’s your take? What’s your experience? JIM.

Monday, March 26

HQ Gets Its First Sponsor

If you haven't played HQ yet, then get the app now and give it a whirl. It's a live trivia contest that runs every day at 3:00pmET and 9:00pmET. About a million people log in to play each time, and in fact at one time the app had two million people log in.

The game basically consists of twelve trivia questions announced by a (very energetic) live host. If you answer all twelve correctly, then you share the cash prize with everyone else who also answered all twelve correctly.

The cash prize is typically $2,500 so it's not big bucks, but it does vary and there have been some big prizes thrown into the mix.

Well now the game is changing. HQ just signed on its first sponsor...Warner Brothers...who will use the app to promote three of its upcoming theatrical releases. And with a sponsor in tow, HQ promises more of the big payouts. I'm betting there will be more.

It's turned into a cultural sensation, with people gathering at the promoted times to play along. In fact many are going into conference rooms to play together for the daytime version.

Great fun...and something to watch as we see others try to create their own formula.

Play? What's your experience? JIM

Saturday, March 24

AdAge - March for Our Lives

AdAge is an industry trade publication that covers the marketing agency business. It's a bit of a "go-to" for those who make marketing a way of life. I read it every day.

To support this past weekend's March for Our Lives, I was very proud to see that my industry was contributing in a very meaningful way, powered by AdAge. Proud as someone who runs an agency and proud as a father of two children.

AdAge reached out to agencies in the US and asked them to contribute creative content to run in support of the marches happening all over the country. AdAge also struck a partnership with OutMedia to get billboard space in major markets to run the creative being produced. So as students and their supporters marched, they were supported by these motivating messages.

I'm thrilled that my industry got involved, to bring about real change for safety in our schools. What's your experience?  JIM

Thursday, March 22

Kohler Konnect

Bathrooms just got a whole lot smarter.

Kohler (as in the bathroom king) just launched a premium line of voice activated products that allow consumers to customize their bathroom experience with the help of presets, apps, and even Alexa. Lighting, water pressure, toilet adjustments, etc. Just ask and you shall experience it all the way you like it all.

Heated toilet seat to the perfect temp anyone?

We’ve seen innovations in smart homes for quite some time now. But I’m not sure we’ve seen much in the bathroom. Pretty clever, and probably an innovation that’s been a long time in the works. We do spend a lot of time there, and we know that premium bathrooms do add value to a house's real estate value.

A great move forward not only for the personalized bathroom experience, but for the Kohler brand as well.

What’s your experience? JIM

Tuesday, March 20

Ali Cola - Colas That Match Our Skin Colors

There's a new soda brand from Germany that is causing quite the stir across Europe, making quite the global statement. It's actually a relaunch of the brand from 2012, in an attempt to counteract hate around the world.

The premise is a line of colas that are all the same on the inside, but different on the outside. Just like our skin color.

Ali Cola. Colas that come in a range of skin tones.

"Why should cola just be black? Why can't cola be pale? That's being prejudice."

Every bottle sold goes to help refugees across Europe access higher education.

Here's a video from the founder...

It's out there, that's for sure, especially coming from a soda. Making a statement and quenching thirst.


What's your experience? JIM.

Adidas Originals — Made from Ocean Plastic

This is a bit of an OMG. And a start for many more to come, I do believe.

Adidas has partnered with Parley for the Oceans. Together they take ocean plastic (pollution before it hits the seas) and spin it into a thread that they then turn into sportswear...footwear in this case. Sneakers!

"Turning a threat into a thread."


This week, the brand announced that it has now sold more than 1 million pairs of sneakers made from ocean plastic. Certainly starting a new sustainable trend.

Bravo indeed!

What's your experience? JIM

Monday, March 19

Rick Owens and Birkenstock

If you don't know Rick Owens, he's an American fashion designer from California who's look is a bit industrial, shall we say. Hot Hot Hot. Some call him the "Dark Lord of Fashion."

If you don't know Birkenstock, it's a German footwear brand who's look is a bit cool and uncool at the same time. The brand has been out for years with its own characteristic, signature look. Some call it an acquired style.

When you combine the two with Rick Owens x Birkenstock, you have an iconic brand collaboration that's sure to be a hit. Industrial chic meets unhip cool. Sort of. Kinda.

The collaboration includes three types made of three different "fabrics:” pony hair, leather, and felt. There's even a collaboration store in LA called BirkenstockBox.

I love seeing brands come together! It keeps fashion alive and perhaps even retail too! Gotta have a pair!

What's your experience? JIM.

Wednesday, March 14

Apple Australia’s First Dance

Australia recently passed Marriage Equality, one of the last nations to do so. It was a massive communal effort to persuade the vote, and it worked. And there were a lot of brands involved leading up to the historic moment, and then celebrating after wards.

Apple Australia was one of them.

Here’s a film that the brand put together as part of that celebration, highlighting couple’s “first dance.” All shot on an iPhone X....

That was the long version, but the brand also ran a series of shorts...

Well done, Apple! A brand that’s a part of our lifestyle helping to celebrate a simple tradition that now all can enjoy.

What’s your experience? JIM.

PS - In honor, I just have to post this song released before Marriage Equality was passed in America. It’s also featured in the playlist from my book.

Tuesday, March 13

Lacoste Endangered Species

The infamous Lacoste icon that has proudly had its place on the classic polo for decades now is taking a very important back seat to make a very important point.

Lacoste just launched a new limited edition (very limited edition) series where the featured icon is replaced with one of ten endangered species. And here’s the hook...the brand only produced as many shirts as their are animals left on the planet. So literally only dozens of each shirt. A total of only 1,775 shirts.

Created in cooperation with The International Union for the Conservation of Nature, the line premiered at Paris Fashion Week in February, and sold out immediately online as you can imagine. But remained around long enough to make its impact.

Classic. Iconic. Conscious. What’s your experience? JIM.

Sunday, March 11

Spectrum Innovation — Feels Very Familiar

I did some binge watching on demand this weekend and a new spot from Spectrum (my cable provider) kept popping up. It felt oddly familiar, right from the first screening.

Then I realized it was familiar because it was Ellen’s voice in the video. Ah, got it.

But no, it’s more familiar than just that. I feel like I’ve seen this before, at least on some level. Is it this year’s Microsoft commercial with Common that makes it so familiar?

No, not that. Ahhh, I know! I have to reach way back to 1993 to remember why this feels so familiar. From AT&T and their infamous “You Will” campaign. Predictions for what will come true in the future...many of which have come true!

Yes, that’s it. What’s your experience? JIM.

Thursday, March 8

Ice Cream for $.80 - Just for Women

Every one thinks that marketing is only for the big brands, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. By observing the marketing activity of the big brands, and then applying it to our own small business, we can make great strides in establishing a powerful brand equity, some engaging messaging, and a strong emotional connection with our consumers.

It’s what I talk about in my book, The Experience Effect for Small Business. 

There was a recent example coming from a small business in New York for a recent special occasion that proves my point perfectly.

In honor of International Women’s Day, an ice cream parlour in Brooklyn ran a special promotion for an $.80 scoop of ice cream. But only for women, specifically the first 50 women that entered the store that day.

Big thinking. Small budget. Strong emotional effect.

The $.80 represents the pay gap between women and men, meaning that the average woman makes only 80% of what a man makes. Hence the $.80 scoop, but only for women. Only for the first 50 women because this is a small business with a small budget joining a big conversation. And their building a powerful brand in the process.

Go SMB! What’s your experience? JIM

Pantone Color of the Year 2018

Every year The Pantone Color Institute (as in the color consultant company) announces the color of the year. The brand is quite influential in that the color of the year often ends up dictating trends in home design and fashion.

For 2017 was "Greenery," and Greenery was in fact everywhere.

So what about 2018? Back in December, Pantone decreed that it would be Ultra Violet! As in deep purple.

"Dramatically provocative and thoughtful! Meant to inspire originality..."

Ultra Violet is the color of “moving forward.” I'll buy that, we need to move forward! And I will probably literally end up buying that somewhere along the line. As in some new pillows, a sweater, or a cool watch band that I saw the other day.

Be on the lookout for Ultra Violet this year. It’s sure to be quite influential. What's your experience? JIM

Tuesday, March 6

IWD #PressForProgress

Today is March 8, 2018 and it's International Women's Day. #IWD. If last year is any indication, the brands will again be out in full force in support...likely more this year than ever before. I will be sure to report back, and if you see anything that inspires you then do please pass it along!

You too can get into the action! I'd like to highlight and promote the group's #PressForProgress social campaign that will dominate our consciousness today. To quote the group's website...

"Now, more than ever, there's a strong call-to-action to press forward and progress gender parity. There's a strong call to #PressforProgress motivating and uniting friends, colleagues and whole communities to think, act and be gender inclusive."

The campaign includes cards, posters, and widgets that you can download and print out for selfies to post on social channels. It should cause a wave of support for #PressForProgress. You can join the conversation today too. And every day! Get them here.

As a marketer, I obviously see a huge opportunity to support IWD and I'm all in. And I'd like to see all of my colleagues thrive, equally. As a father, I'm also all in as my daughter starts her career. I'd like gender parity for her and all of her peers. And everyone else too!

What's your experience? JIM.

Monday, March 5

Walmart's Big Oscar Night

I just gotta say that this year's Academy Awards was one of the best in years. I just loved the range of one filmed dominated and there were lots of diverse winners. Loved it.

And while there were several big brand sponsors as usual, there were a few big standouts and one of them was Walmart. This is the second year of Walmart's three-year sponsorship deal, and they did not disappoint. Walmart brought it on so many levels...creativity, entertainment, and women!

The brand actually hired three female directors to each conceive and produce a spot, and then the brand featured them all throughout the broadcast. It was like a buffet!

Here's the one from Dee Rees, featuring Mary J. Blige!

And then there's one from Melissa McCarthy, my personal favorite of the three. But then again I love a good diva in training. And an underdog story!

And then finally, the one from Nancy Meyers in true Nancy Meyers style.

All three spots are called "The Box" to bring attention to Walmart's delivery program in competition with Amazon I would imagine. And I imagine this work, which will be repeated often after its debut last night, will bring a lot of attention to the business.

Well done. What's your experience? JIM

Friday, March 2

Dick's Sporting Goods - Their Statement

I'm sure we've all seen the recent brand/company activity surrounding what I will loosely call "gun control," including a statement from Dick's Sporting Goods which is one of the major gun retailers in the US.

I'm not here to comment about "gun control" or any of the issues surrounding the topic. That's not what my point of view is about here. I'm talking about marketing and branding and communications. And what Dick's did this week was brilliant...from a marketing, branding, and communications perspective.

In a public statement, Dick’s admitted that they had sold a gun, not one of THE guns, to the Parkland shooter back in November 2017. And now they were changing their policies.

So what was so brilliant? The took responsibility. They put their message out there proactively, before someone else put it out there for them. They then outlined what they were going to do about it.  Before anyone else told them what to do about it.

They took control of their brand and their messaging.

Taking responsibility is a key tenet of great branding, engaged marketing, and effective communications. As is controlling your own messaging. Dick’s showed us that this week.

And of course those who agreed and disagreed then weighed in and will ultimately support the brand or not. And that is their prerogative as consumers.

What's your experience? JIM

Thursday, March 1

Diesel Knock-off on Canal Street

Every week in my marketing class at NYU, the students bring in an example from the week that they’ve observed in marketing. It’s always a fun class discussion.

There was an especially great one this year, especially if you’ve ever worked in fashion.

The Diesel brand did a pop up installation off of Canal Street in Manhattan featuring merchandise that appeared to be knockoffs. If you’ve ever been to that part of Manhattan, then you know it’s infamous for being able to find knockoff merchandise of major fashion labels. Louis Vuitton bags being just one example.

Shortly after the installation opened, the brand announced in social media that in fact this was authentic Diesel fashion items and the place instantly lit up. Of course, being Fashion Week in New York didn’t hurt the instant attention!

The best part? Notice that the brand even misspelled it’s own name...Deisel! Brilliant.

What I like most about this marketing tactic is that it confronts head-on one of the most serious issues in fashion...protecting your designs and your trademarks. It’s nearly impossible, and in this bold move Diesel proved the validity of owning your own work.

Tiffany brand recently went through the issue when it won a lawsuit protecting the term “Tiffany Setting” for diamond rings. The brand argued that they own that term, and I would agree! Others can still sell the design, but they can’t call it a “Tiffany Setting” unless it’s being sold by Tiffany’s.

And just a few years ago, Louboutin shoes won the right to one red soles on women’s heels. Not an easy feat (!) when many other fashion brands were also incorporating red into their designs. But the brand won the right to exclusively use their color red on their soles.

These arguments are not easy to win by any means. The fashion business is loaded with one brand insprining another, that’s for sure. So protecting your proprietary designs is nearly impossible. Diesel put that right out there, right at Fashion’s biggest moment of the year, and I think it was quite clever.

What’s your experience? JIM.

And it just me, or did Fashion Week come and go so quickly this year that we hardly noticed? And I live in New York! Maybe it’s just me...