Saturday, February 27, 2010

Just a thought...

Gatorade and Tiger Woods got a divorce but don't entirely blame Tiger.

It was announced in November they were pulling the plug on the Gatorade Tiger (later rebranded Focus) line of sports drink. However, that decision was made months before his car accident and subsequent image unraveling. Therefore, financial performance of the line would be a logical conclusion.

The line debuted in 2008 and featured flavors that he personally selected: they were Red Drive (cherry), Cool Fusion (lemon lime) and Quiet Storm (grape). All of which exist in other lines of Gatorade. The only difference is a very subtle one; more electrolytes that the original formula. In addition, Gatorade Tiger followed several other Gatorade line-extensions; including, Rain, X-Factor, AM and Fierce.

Gatorade's line-extensions reflect a poor strategy that is costing them mightily.

So, in my mind, don't blame Tiger if their relationship isn't exactly how they envisioned- they would need a miracle worker to make that work.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Where's Google Going?


It's going down.

I appologize for these evil thoughts but the writing is on the brand manager's wall. Don't panic, this won't happen tomorrow and it won't even be before our own eyes. However, sometime in the future, people will wonder what happened to Google.
So tuck this article away for a bit and pull it out when all the stock analysts are suddenly bearish on Google and the all its luster has wore off.

Sound crazy?

Well, there was time not too long ago when Microsoft was thought to be the most dominant brand in the world and not even United States antitrust lawsuits couldn't slow down Bill Gates' software giant. Then it lost focus and slowly faded.

Now Google is trekking down the same trail to brand destruction.
For those of us old enough to remember the dawn of the internet, your first search was most likely done through AltaVista, Yahoo! or GoTo.com. However, these sites had to do more than just search and transformed themseleves into internet portals (for shopping, sports, news, weather, stocks etc).
Then Google came along. They just wanted to map out the entire internet. That was it.

Editor's Note: I can actually remember my first Google experience. I was in 11th grade and a computer saavy friend told me about it during a class that was in our computer lab (remember those). When the page uploaded I waited for a bit because I was expecting to be bombarded with all that other junk that come with internet search.
This narrow focus helped Google become one of the most powerful brands ever; it became a verb for internet search and was used billions of times everyday.

Now Google has line-extended themselves way beyond just search. This past week they unvield Google Buzz which is another form of social networking to compete with Facebook and Twitter. One difference is that Google Buzz will be run through a Gmail account; which is another line extension created to compete with the established Hotmail, Aol and Yahoo! mail.

There is also Google Checkout to compete with PayPal. Google Maps to compete with Mapquest. Google Earth. Google Talk for instant messaging. Google Chrome OS to compete with Microsoft software and Google's Android phone to compete with the iphone. The list goes on.


For now, the Google brand still has some pull. However, they should brand carefully because the trail to brand destruction is a one way trip.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Super Bowl Ad Review

I know it's almost 72 hours late, but I'm here with my Super Bowl ad review. Here is the one thing that I learned: most brands completely lack a real strategy (Newsflash, go figure).

But there is a real reason for this.

The Super Bowl is a rare time when advertising is not considered intrusive by the consumer; we not only accept the ads but we anticipate them, discuss them and love or hate them.

What's different about the Super Bowl? We consider Super Bowl ads as entertainment and not just another branding tactic. Therefore, the name of the game is usually be funny or get off the stage.

Thus its become a race to be most discussed the next day and strategy is sacrificed as a result.

The most obvious offenders are the breweries.

Anheuser-Busch had spots for three different brands; Budweiser, Bud Light and Budweiser Select 55. While these line-extensions already reflect poor marketing strategy, the ad's don't convey what is unique about each brand.

I particularly recall Bud Light abandoning the "Drinkability" theme for "Here We Go." Huh? Go where? It simply couldn't say less about the product.

Also I was shocked at the line-extension strategy being employed by Dove. After one of the best ad campaigns in recent memory (The Campaign for Real Beauty), they crashed the Super Bowl to line-extend the Dove brand to men...certainly, at the expense of the core brand.

However, there were some positives to the event.

The David Lettermen Show ad won all around. The shock of it swept the press off it's feet the next day but it also said a lot about the show; we're a funny late night show and we don't take ourselves real serious. Meanwhile, it provided some much needed image repair for both Lettermen and Jay Leno. Awesome.

I also loved Google's love ad. The ad was simple and tied in a universal concept: love. But I truly love it because it reinforced Google's true brand: the best search engine in the world. It wasn't about phones and all that other junk they're starting to push.

I was also struck by the Teleflora ad. Sure, it was funny; but it does a fantastic job repositioning the other flower companies. With Teleflora, the flowers are fresh, hand delivered and come in a vase. Hey, you actually learn something!

As an honorable mention, Audi. It was funny and had a developed strategy: the Greenest Car available. My only knock is that I don't think the Audi name was that memorable. In fact, a couple people I talked to didn't remember it was for an Audi because it appeared so briefly in the ad.

Want to watch them again? Then, tell me what you think? What did you like? What did you not like? But keep in mind, in branding, strategy is king.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Success...

"Success is the peace of mind that is the direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming." - John Wooden

Thus, only one person can judge your success: you.

So go out reach for your personal perfection. You'll never reach it, but you'll be amazed at how close you'll get.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Do I Still Trust Toyota?

The purpose of "branding" is to build a prospects' faith and trust in your product or service. It's marketing 101.

Toyota aced Marketing 101. The word "Toyota" stood for long-lasting and dependable cars in many minds, paving the way for the company to become the world's largest automaker, selling 8.5 million automobiles in 2008.

One of those 8.5 million cars happened to be purchased by me: a 2009 Corolla.

For the most part I am satisfied too. However, I have owned the car less than two years and last week it was recalled for the second time in months. The first recall was in the spring of 2009 where the breaks needed to be fixed to prevent an increased risk of break failure in cold temperatures.

Then 10 days ago, Toyota issued a recall of 2.3 million vehicles that may be affected by a faulty gas pedal; a problem that already resulted in casualties.

How well Toyota reacted in crisis is up for debate. They didn't completely understand the root of the problems wanted to get that correct first as to only spread facts.

However, silence can be just as devastating. The updates trickled out slowly and were cluttered with rumors and hearsay because Toyota didn't lead the conversation. And to this very moment, I have yet to receive a letter or an email from Toyota.

As consumers, we put our lives in the hands of companies everyday- from the cars we drive to the planes we fly to the food we eat. We risk it; but no brand wants to be known for reminding us of this.

If they do, faith and trust may take on a whole new meaning; one the consumer is very uncomfortable with.