Friday, July 30, 2010

A Captive Audience

It may be time to rethink the term "captive audience." Most often, when a marketer believes they have a captive audience, it usually means the audience will be held captive.

A truly captive audience simply cannot be purchased. They are earned only when a brand continually keeps its promises.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Google Follow Up

In February, I questioned Google's brand strategy, contending that it's now lacking a focus on a category. I still believe that.

Reaffirming my argument, Google is pushing to get further into social networking to challenege Facebook for the ad dollars they generate from online games like Farmville. In the article, Google CEO Eric Schmidt explains that "the world doesn't need a copy of the same thing" when asked if the site will resemble Facebook.

But the market segment is the same; one that Facebook and Twitter already dominate.

What if Google put a link to all of its stuff on its main page? It might look something like the picture below.

Google won with focus.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Numbers Game

Lots of bloggers (and folks with a website) are playing a numbers game. With the capability to be utilized from anywhere in the world, by anyone and at anytime of day, it's impossible not to ponder the incredible reach gained simply from an internet connection.

Thankfully, numbers are not my focus. I don't play the numbers game.

I don't count hits. And while I love feedback, I never track if a post is shared, retweeted or count comments. If I did, I'm sure I would have stopped a long time ago, joining all the other abandoned internet endeavors (Twitter accounts included) in the digital landfill.

Over one hundred posts later, conversation is still the goal. And little by little, I can hear it getting louder. Thank you so much.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Sharpie's Fading Strategy

When I was young, like lots of kids, I went to baseball games and tried to get autographs from my favorite ballplayers. Being in that line of work requires some tools of trade. I always carried a couple trinkets like baseball cards, balls or souvenir programs at all times. I also needed a team roster to identify the unexpected and unfamiliar signatures I received. Finally, for convenience and the sake of organization, I carried all my stuff in a backpack.

But the most essential tool was a Sharpie marker.

The Sharpie would work on every surface and was forever permanent. When I look at my collection today, it's obvious which signatures were signed with a Sharpie marker. They remain the boldest while the others continue to fade everyday.

That's exactly how Sharpie made its mark. It was the first marker to write like a pen yet still be bold and permanent. Eventually, they owned the permanent marker category (side note: don't underestimate the importance of scent marketing here).

As they have continued to expand, the lines of positioning are beginning to blur. This new advertisement even describes the product a pen and not a marketer. In addition, Sanford repositioned Accent highlighters under the Sharpie name five years ago.

While their previous tagline (Write Out Loud) still reflected the original strategy of being bold and permanent, the newest tagline reflects an unfocused, all encompassing strategy: Uncap what's inside.

Unfortunately, we used to know the answer before the question was ever asked.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Toning Shoe Follow Up

Adage is running an interesting piece about Reebok's marketing strategy. Reebok has done a great job positioning itself to dominate the female centered toning shoe market, yet the signing of John Wall is a clear sign that they still have their sights on Nike's basketball shoe dominance.

Friday, July 9, 2010

A Complete Brand Lebacle

I'll spare you the comic sans, but Lebron James might want to get ready for some more harsh words.

Not just from me however; but from sponsors. Perhaps it will go something like this- since you took your talents to South Beach, we will take our sponsorship dollars elsewhere.

For a basketball player that spent the past seven years openly discussing and carefully crafting his "global brand," he threw it all away on Thursday night. In a single moment, it was destroyed. Maybe forever.

Lebron's dream of being "global" was obviously born out of watching and growing up in the Jordan brand.

As kids, we all wanted to be like Mike. Lebron was just the only one who could be.

The Jordan brand was and still is incredibly powerful. It's been more than seven years after Jordan's last professional run yet his basketball shoes are still number one. He's still a spokesman for the Hanes brand and remains one of the world's most recognizable faces. During his playing career, Micheal Jordan was the ultimate prize for any product that he endorsed.

Most attribute Jordan's sky-high marketing value to his greatness on the court. He was a six-time NBA champion, Olympic Gold Medalist along with piling up countless records and individual honors. But the dynamic that made MJ the world's best peddler of product was far deeper than just being the world's best ball player; which is an equation that Lebron's marketing team severely miscalculated.

For a player that made a living breaking the hearts of opposing fans, Jordan was an outstandingly non-polarizing figure. On Thursday night, Lebron James drew the line in the South Beach sand and became the most polarizing athlete walking the earth. His image instantly transformed; from local hero who rescues his community to front running supervillain.

Even if Miami can mimic Chicago's dynasty days, it will be difficult to sell Lebron James the champion without selling Lebron James the narcissistic super athlete.

How will anyone forget the "King" for his calculated hijacking of television's priciest hour to announce that he's leaving his loyal subjects? The people that raised him and anointed him "King." All in the spirit of charity and giving back.

Or was it the spirit of flavored waters, second rate search engines and flimsy internet educations, I just cannot remember?

Finally, make careful note that Nike (other than a donation to the Boys & Girls Club) didn't put its name on the production. Surprising considering he's their brightest star and all alone in the sky on his big night with the entire world looking up.

Maybe they too realize that his star is about to fade.

Editors Note: For more interesting insights, I recommend this Adage story of how this came together.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A Cola Comeback?

There is a new trend in cola drinking. The producers of pop have gone old school with their product packaging and replacing the high-fructose corn syrup with real sugar. Certainly they hope that the vintage look will bring consumption levels back to old days.

Dr. Pepper is the latest to wear the look. They began rolling out the Heritage Dr. Pepper for their 125th anniversary last weekend and plan to run with it through September. It will feature six different can designs and include old tag lines "10 2 4" and "I'm a pepper."

Last summer, Pepsi was the first to introduce the "Throwback" packaging concept with its Pepsi-Cola and Mountain Dew brands. The buzz that the move generated was tremendous and the fact that it's being copied by Dr. Pepper speaks to the sales success of the move.

Despite its success, going with old school packaging is just a short term fix. And the cola companies no doubt have a long term problem. Per-capita cola consumption has been steadily declining since 2003 because of a proliferation of new drink options and the negative perception of carbonated soft drinks carry in terms of health.

However, it's very possible that the results of this experiment could lead to long term change. Although both sweeteners are identical and metabolize the same, high-fructose corn syrup simply sounds awful. And that perception problem has caused other brands to make the switch to real sugar; Ocean Spray and Gatorade made the switch to real sugar as well as Starbucks for their baked goods.

If their is a an overwhelming response to real sugar colas this summer, don't be surprised if they all make the switch to real sugar. This may be just what the doctor ordered for the cola brands.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Naming Follow Up

Names go a long way in defining brands. However, being obvious might be a bad idea for retirement communities.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

A Name Will Define A Brand

There is a new bar opening. It has a decent location; it's located on a corner lot of two intersecting city streets, however, the building is small and the parking is scarce.

But they have some competition. About a mile down the street there is cluster of bars. Two of them have a long history, have long histories and are considered to be neighborhood landmarks.

Great marketers might view this as an opportunity to differentiate and to reposition the other bars in the neighborhood. Or one could cross your fingers and hope people take a chance on a nameless, faceless bar with no recognizable story or essence to it.

Take your pick.