Thursday, January 31

Microsoft and Jeep - Amazing Content for Super Bowl 53

The Super Bowl spots are pouring in, especially the extended versions online, and there are two that have BLOWN ME AWAY. So much so that I can't wait until Super Bowl Sunday to comment on them. So I'm not going to wait.

The first one is from Microsoft, focused on their new game controller that helps those with mobility issues to play more effectively. Because "when everybody plays, we all win."  Wow! Just love the purpose they've given to their brand efforts. Also, ever so subtly, promotes the benefits of gaming.

The other one is from Jeep, with what is perhaps one of the best pieces of film that I've ever seen. Sheer brilliance. Not a new storyline from Jeep which has been pretty consistent year to year with their Super Bowl messaging, but this is the best of the best IMHO! And you have to admire the subtle references to this American brand. And with One Republic singing, how can you go wrong?

I'm hoping that there's more to come for sure. But these two brands are setting the benchmark pretty high and elevating their brands in the process!

See you Sunday! What's your experience? JIM.

"Milk" Just Released a "Real" Campaign

The long and infamous "Got Milk?" campaign just released a new spot ... this time without celebrities but instead showcasing real moments with families. All kinds of families. Including gay dads!

So I wrote about it for Gays with Kids .... click here to give it a read.

What's your experience?  JIM

Wednesday, January 30

Verizon First Responders - The Team That Wouldn't Be Here

Just in time for the big Super Bowl ramp up, Verizon just launched a new video honoring first responders ... specifically first responders who have saved NFL players. 11 players and 1 coach, to be exact. I'm sure there are more, but these are the folks featured in this spot.

It's called "The Team That Wouldn't Be Here." Pretty cool and very inspiring. Give it a look:

It's not the first time that the brand has honored first responders, so my bet is that it's becoming a bit of a platform for the brand. Giving the brand a purpose and showing that it's part of a community is generally a good thing in my book. :)

What's your experience? JIM.

Monday, January 28

Avon Pulls Its Naked Proof Ad

After considerable backlash on social media, particularly from some very influential women, Avon apologized and pulled its advertising for Naked Proof.

The upset was essentially over the headline: "Dimples are cute on your face but not on your thighs"

Good call to apologize and act swiftly. Lesson learned here is to do market research on your messaging to make sure it resonates rather than alienates. The brand may in fact have done just that and still thought it was ok, but I still always like to try to learn from these kinds of issues. 

Marketing is a spectator sport, so we should learn from each other!

What's your experience? JIM.

Starbucks Van - Details Matter

This picture of a Starbucks van with the door open has been making the social media rounds as of late, and for good reason ... it's a good chuckle. 

But for a brand marketer like me, it makes me break out into a cold sweat because it reminds me of how important the small details are in marketing. What should be a good branding moment can quickly and easily turn into a brand #Fail. In a New York minute!

I'm taking this viral photo as inspiration to remember that the details matter, and that there is no detail too small to sweat through when it comes to brand marketing.

Details matter! What's your experience? JIM.

Thursday, January 24

KFC Gravy Candle

Love the smell of a good dinner cooking up in the kitchen? Love the smell of gravy in particular? Love the smell of KFC gravy? What say what?!?

If the answer is yes to "all of the above" then you'll think it's super smart to enter the KFC contest to win a limited-edition gravy candle, branded KFC.

You heard that right ... a candle that smells like gravy. KFC gravy...gravy that's cooking up in the kitchen.

It's all just a part of KFChill ... a growing list of brand assets that can help consumers, well, chill. One item in the collection is a soothing soundtrack of chicken getting fried in a deep fryer. Super chill.

A clear example of a brand extending beyond its core offering, creating a more holistic experience for its consumers, tied to what it's all about.

What's your experience? JIM.

Wednesday, January 23

Kia & Budweiser - Super Bowl?

It's Super Bowl advertising season, and I've already established that many a brand is deciding to skip broadcast and do something outside of The Big Game. 

Despite being a annual advertiser, Skittles is doing a Broadway Show this time around, for example!

Another big advertiser, Kia, is also putting their Super Bowl money into another vehicle ... scholarships for those "Great Unknowns" out there. The brand is offering money to fund people's ambitions, using dollars that what would have gone into a celebrity spokesperson and giving it to every day people instead. That could potentially be a lot of money! Here's a piece of film about it, called "What If":

Meanwhile, another regular advertiser is continuing with its own "celebrity" ... Budweiser and its famous Clydesdales. Have no fear, this beloved Super Bowl tradition will be back this year! No skipping out for Bud. But this time, the famous horses will be touting the fact that the brand uses 100% renewable energy. "Celebrities" with a purpose, you might say.

Well played. And lots more to come. What's your experience? JIM.

Tuesday, January 22

SJP Recreates Carrie Bradshaw for Stella

Ah, there's that familiar music, the city sidewalk, the water in the gutter ... yes, it's Carrie Bradshaw from Sex in the City.

Only this time it's Sarah Jessica Parker recreating the character for brand Stella Artois, with a cute little piece of content supporting the brand's initiative for clean water.

I'm betting there will be more content coming, and I'm betting we'll see Carrie in the Super Bowl.

Mega-fans are going to love it, which is clearly the objective. Leveraging one strong base to build another. It just might work ... I can't help but wonder!

What's your experience? JIM

Monday, January 21

Skittles at the Superbowl?

Now that we know what teams will actually be playing at The Superbowl this year, the annual hype for all of the advertising will certainly start to kick in. I, for one, can't wait! I love it every single year.

Sure, the traditional :30 and :60 spots are fun to debate, but it's the off-broadcast activity that is often even more interesting. And we are starting to be able to count on brand Skittles to give us some good off-broadcast fodder.

Last year, Skittles didn't run a spot during the game but instead produced a full production piece of advertising for just one person (who won a contest) to see it. It's never seen the light of day except for one person! Lots of hype.

This year the brand again announced that it won't be advertising during the game, but will instead put on a thirty-minute (as opposed to :30) Broadway Show in Times Square staring Michael C. Hall with a full team of Broadway-experienced writers, directors, and producers. Tickets have already gone on sale! Lots of hype.

Can you just see the social content coming out of all of this!?!

We'll be talking lots more about Super Bowl advertising and of course once again tweeting from #SuperBowlExp. Join!

What's your experience? JIM.

Sunday, January 20

Gay Dads on the Cover of Parents Magazine

Parents Magazine just featured its first same-sex couple on the cover of its magazine. Gay dads! I literally never thought I'd see the day. So I wrote about it for Gays with Kids. Click here to give it a read.

What's your experience? JIM

Thursday, January 17

Fiji Celebrity Photobombing

Sure, everyone is talking about the new Gillette short film this week ... but the Gillette brand isn't totally monopolizing brand commentary this week. A story from the Golden Globes continues to create buzz day after day, and it's causing a bit of drama.

Evidently Fiji Water was some sort of a sponsor of the Golden Globes, with brand ambassadors carrying around trays of bottled water for guests on the red carpet. Makes sense!

One brand ambassador was particularly (and some say purposefully) aggressive in her stance as she was seen continually photo-bombing celebs on the red carpet. What a way to get your money's worth out of sponsorship dollars! Clever, actually!

A few folks were quite annoyed, stating that they weren't paid influencers so they won't take a photo with the brand in the background. Hence the continued buzz. Oh!

Lesson learned? Truth is that many a brand has tried to maximize its sponsorship money or avoid sponsorship investment through guerrilla marketing tactics. This isn't the first. Just take a look at Beats or Nike at the Olympics. This little stunt is perhaps one of the most obviously intrusive, which may be the source of the negativity. Perhaps a little more subtlety goes a long way? Something to think about! But look at us here all talking about it!

How do you feel about the photobombing? What's your experience? JIM

PS - Here's an update. Seems our photobomber did indeed make quite the scene ... and she'll soon be acting out scenes on the daytime soap "Bold and the Beautiful"!

Wednesday, January 16

Chic-fil-A Cole Slaw Recipe

Chick-fil-A just recently announced that it's beloved cole slaw (such an odd couple of words when you really look at it) won't be on the menu much passed mid-January 2019 (oh the horror!).

So what's a brand to do to keep its loyal customers happy? Publish the recipe! Smart move!

Going to try making it at home? What's your experience? JIM

PS - I can't personally vouch for it because I've never actually had it myself!

Chick-fil-A Cole Slaw(Makes 6-8 servings)
  • 4 teaspoons vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 bags (10 oz bags) find shredded cabbage, chopped to 1/8 inch
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped carrots

Baby Shark

This one is just plain fun, and sometimes we just have to acknowledge things that are just plain fun.

Back in the day when my kids were young, the character Barney (and his show) was all the rage with kids. And his song became quite infectious, almost overnight:

Well there's a new sensation in town who is making quite the same kind of waves as Barney did back in the day. Who, you might ask ... Baby Shark!

Fun, right? Infectious, right? Can't help yourself but sing along, right?

What's your experience? JIM.

Tuesday, January 15

Gillette - The Best a Man Can Get

A tagline can be a powerful part of a brand's communication, letting its consumers know what it offers emotionally. And when a tagline stands the test of time, then you can tell that it must be pretty powerful.

Nike, "Just Do It." L'Oreal, You're Worth It." BMW, "The Ultimate Driving Machine."

Gillette, "The Best a Man Can Get."

Gillette's brand tagline has stood the test of time; I mean it's been around for as long as I can remember (and that's a long time!). 30 years to be exact! It's a powerful statement of excellence and achievement. It's the best a man can get. It's about all of us being the best we can be ... as professionals, family members, and friends.

But truth be told, a tagline shouldn't be a museum piece. A tagline shouldn't merely stand still in the test of time, because it must evolve and grow as the brand's consumers evolve and grow and as our collective culture evolves and grows.

Look at what Nike has done with "Just Do It!"

Well now the Gillette brand is turning its tagline on its heals, evolving and growing and giving it some consciousness. The brand is asking us to be "the best we can get" with a short film that addresses the #MeTooMovement, bullying, role models, and many societal issues that have recently come to the forefront of consciousness. I'll let the film speak for itself.

I'll let you decide for yourself (as well you should) about how this makes you feel. As you can imagine, the social response has been mixed. Not everyone agrees with the messaging and many feel like this is not a brand's place to make these kinds of statements. Many others have embraced it for its purpose. It's hitting the media circuit now.

I for one think it's brave for a brand to take a stand, and I for one believe that a brand should be conscious of its surroundings and should be conscious of popular sentiment. Once conscious, the brand can then decide whether or not to participate in that discussion/sentiment. Clearly, Gillette has decided to participate with "is this the best we can get?" And I'm sure the folks there knew there would be differing opinions yet still decided to take a stand. That's brand consciousness and bravery.

As part of the campaign, Gillette is also giving back with donations to organizations that are “designed to inspire, educate and help men of all ages achieve their personal 'best' and become role models for the next generation.” Check out

The Best a Man Can Get --- The Best a Man Can Be.

I welcome the conversation coming from a brand, or from anyone for that matter. As a professional, family member, and friend, I also strive to be better. And as a father, by the way. I also believe that we should all be (positive) role models for the generations to come! Including the generation we are raising right now.

What's your experience? JIM.

PS - A bit of an update: after just three days, the film has reached over 16 million views on YouTube, has been the #1 trending video on Twitter, has hit almost every media outlet (US), and I'm told that several schools have been showing it in class. 

Sunday, January 13

Pantene's New Hair Model Is One Year Old

At the ripe old age of one, this has to be the youngest hair model on record. Pantene just signed on baby model Chanco in Japan to represent the brand. And boy, I mean girl, does she have a head of hair! And a huge social following.

#HairWeGo is right!

What's your experience? JIM.

Friday, January 11

Cubesats Create Giant Ads in the Sky

Here's a new word for 2019: cubesats. Cubesats are small satellites that orbit the earth, performing certain functions like research for example. Because they're small, presumably they are easy to get up there into space in multiples. Cubesats.

Well it didn't take long for marketing to figure out how to use cubesats too. In Russia, a few brands have been using them to create ads/logos in the sky to look like constellations. Brands like McDonald's and KFC for example.

Intrusive I know. But when used at the right time, could have pretty interesting applications.

What's your experience? JIM.

Thursday, January 10

Mastercard Drops Its Name

Starbucks dropped its "Coffee," and Dunkin' dropped its "Donuts." Strategic business decisions.

And now along the likes of Apple's apple and Nike's swoosh, Mastercard has dropped its name from its logo to now be nameless. Strategic business decision?

Let's face it, there aren't many logos that are recognizable without a word and Mastercard's logo is recognizable. And ownable. So why not be bold and be a leader and be unique?

Turns out there's an even bigger strategic reason for the name drop ... the company is repositioning itself as a "digital payment company" and the "card" in Mastercard is a bit, well, old school.

Well now it makes perfect sense to me. It's not just a logo's much bigger...something only a leader would be able to do.

What's your experience? JIM.

Wednesday, January 9

Kendall for Proactiv

Many of us in business live (and die) by a simple premise: under promise and over deliver.

Under promise and over deliver. When it comes to marketing, we are all better off by over delivering on what we tell people we will do. It makes for a successful brand. Never disappoints.

We saw a good example with Kendall Jenner and Proactiv this week, at least according to the social media reaction to her brand activity.

It all started with a big promise from Kendall's mom, Kris Jenner, who sent out a post over the weekend announcing a soon-to-come announcement from Kendall where she will showcase her struggles and her vulnerabilities to the world like never before.

Whoa. Seemed like it was going to be something big. Or at least that's how social media read it.

Turns it that the announcement is that Kendall is the latest spokesperson for Proactiv, because she too has suffered from acne.

Now acne is no small issue, I can tell you that from personal experience and from years of marketing many an acne brand. Acne is a big personal struggle and it makes anyone extremely vulnerable. It's a big deal and it's a big deal that one of the biggest models in the world is talking about her personal struggle with it.

The problem is that Kendall isn't the first to speak out about acne and she's not the first spokesperson for Proactiv. Justin Bieber, Britney Spears, Adam Levine, etc etc. So the drama of this particular announcement from Proactiv didn't live up to the expectation that was set. According to social media's reaction, it didn't live up to Kris's promise.

Despite the true severity of acne, the promise was bigger than the delivery. A good lesson learned for us all in marketing.

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

Tuesday, January 8

LVMH Hotels Adds Hotels to the Luxury Experience

While there are other brands that also define the space, LVMH and its brands are luxury. Louis Vuitton, Dior, Moet ... these brands define luxury every season.

Well the LVMH portfolio is about to add hotels and hospitality to its luxury roster, with an acquisition that will significantly give it impactful presence in the industry (beyond the few properties it already has including Bulgari Hotels).

Yes, LVMH is set to acquire The Belmond Hotel Group which owns several luxury properties including Cipriani in Venice (have you been there ... lux).

According to LVMH, "The future of luxury goods is in luxury experiences." Indeed.

What's your experience? JIM.

Sunday, January 6

Changing Tables in Men's Restrooms

Progress! Grass-roots progress! 

New York State is now requiring men's public restrooms to have a changing table! For years, dads have been saying that it's almost impossible to change their baby's diaper in a public facility. Thanks to some legislation written by a gay-dad Senator from New York, that's no longer an issue in New York. 

The photo above went viral last year, with many more to follow, showing the real (and ridiculous) struggle.

Thank you New York! Hopefully other states will follow!  Bravo!

What's your experience? JIM