Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Change Or Die

A great quote from the book Change or Die

"Why do people persist in their self-destructive behavior, ignoring the blatant fact that what they've been doing for many years hasn't solved their problems? They think that they need to do it even more fervently or frequently, as if they were doing the right thing but simply had to try even harder."

If you want your career or business or relationship to change, then you will have to as well.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Getting To The Point

The easier you are to understand, the more successful you will be.  Generally, this advice applies to your product - the easier it is for people to use, the more successful it will be.

This excellent cartoon speaks to this very thing. 

Cigarette Marketing Follow Up

In December 2010, I wrote that the United States and the United Kingdom were taking two separate approaches to curbing youth cigarette smoking.  The United States pushed for stronger and more graphic warning labels on the packages while the United Kingdom pushed to eliminate the power of the brand, making the packaging generic.  

On Friday, a Federal court ruled that forcing tobacco marketers to include stronger warning labels, which would take up over half the area of a package of cigarettes, was in violation of the first amendment.

Friday's ruling directly conflicts with another Federal U.S. court's ruling, setting up for a major Supreme Court case that will rule whether the tobacco law passed in 2009 is violates the U.S. Constitution.

Interestingly, this case reopens the discussion of whether marketing messages fall under freedom of speech.      

Friday, August 24, 2012

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Too Groupon To Be True

Over a year ago, I wrote that the professional discounting brand Groupon had major flaws.  The trade off of bigger margins for more traffic has always been bad for a brand.  Customers learn never to pay full price for your goods.  Although Groupon's paying customers may not have known this at first, I knew they would eventually wise up (like these angry customers).

Now, it looks like investors in the daily deals site have finally learned this as well.

As an aside, the same thing is happening at Facebook. These examples serve as more evidence that  fundamental marketing principles still apply in the much hyped social-media world.    

Monday, August 20, 2012


Writing a compelling brand story requires a lot more than a few search engine friendly keywords.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Axe Falls Out of Lust and Into Love

The first thing I ever noticed about the new Axe body spray commercial was how beautiful the Susan Glenn character is (played by model Jessica Cook).  Her look into the camera while flashing a hint of a smile does an incredible job at grabbing the viewers attention right before the conclusion as the viewer discovers the narration is actor Kiefer Sutherland and the product flashes on screen. 

I've seen the commercial several times now and continue to be impressed with it.  I love the writing in the ad and the storyline of a crush that got away and the regret felt later on is universal.  It's also completely uncharacteristic for the Axe brand.

Is this ad a sign that the Axe brand is maturing?  It's a major move from lust to love, previously never abandoning a strategy that uses humor and innuendo to reel in young men with the simple message that wearing Axe will get them laid.  Needless to say, the poetic Susan Glenn spot is a drastic contrast to just about every Axe commercial that has come before it (See Exhibit A and Exhibit B for a limited sample).

As an adult I truly appreciate the more mature message in the Axe commercial, although as a marketer I wonder what prompted Axe to grow out of a successful strategy.   Are teenage boys no longer the core demographic? Perhaps Axe is trying to grow with the customers they once fell in love with; those once-upon-a-time teenagers that have now grown into married men but cannot help but reflect upon their days as a bachelor.  But if this ad reflects a long-term shift in strategy, then how long will the brand want grow with their aging demographic?  A focused brand borrows customers for a short time and understands that they don't get them for lifetime.

Regardless,  I appreciate the more sophisticated and reflective Axe ads and will keep a watchful eye on the impact the new strategy will have on the brand.      

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Holes In Budweiser's Patriotic Positioning

First introduced over a century ago in 1876, it's that long history of Americans drinking Budweiser which has made more than just a beverage - its achieved the recognition of being true Americana.   

The beer's American tradition was the brands' strongest defense and best offense against the wave of imported beers marketed to the American beer drinker.  But Budweiser's best asset was sold away in 2008 when the stockholders of Anheuser-Busch agreed to a foreign takeover by the Belgium-based brewer InBev.  Although the beer is still made in St. Louis by American workers, it's difficult to muster the same patriotic feeling holding a Bud in your hand when you know that it's now part of some Belgian-Brazilian conglomerate.

So Budweiser is fighting back against this perception with its new "Made In America" campaign.  The campaign piggy-backs on Budweiser's sponsorship of the Made In America Music Festival in Philadelphia during Labor Day weekend and is slated to return annually.  The music festival will feature dozens of acts alongside headliner Jay-Z, who without coincidence released a hit single last year titled "Made In America," along with collaborators Kanye West and Frank Ocean.  It would seem like the perfect opportunity for Budweiser to restore itself in the minds of the consumer as being an All-American beer.  

Unfortunately, I don't believe that's something Budweiser can really get back.  Anheseur-Busch can hammer home a patriotic message in every advertising opportunity, whether it be sponsoring a summer music festival called "Made In America,"sponsoring the United States Olympic team, or even draping the bottle in red, white and blue, but each time they do, I'm only reminded of the fact that they're not All-American anymore.

The facts are no longer with them.  Although Budweiser says can claim all-American status, when they do, we recall the summer sale in 2008 because it now triggers the implication of the opposite being true.  A common example of this is a money-back guarantee.  While marketers offer this compelling claim in an attempt to convey the utmost confidence in their product, it actually conveys a lack of confidence in it by acknowledging that consumers might find themselves dissatisfied. 

Trying to fix a known weakness by fighting against it will get brands into trouble.  Anything short of breaking off of the InBev family tree, Budweiser will still be foreign and still remind people of this every time they try to tell us how American they really are.

But Budweiser can turn this perceived weakness into its strength.  In a crowded category where every beer is fighting to be the local favorite, Budweiser's days of being the local micro-brew have long past.  And it's no longer just an American brand.  Instead, Bud is the most recognizable beer in the world and available in all corners of globe; therefore, it should position itself as the first beer of the entire world.    

Its heritage supports this position as well. It was created by Aldophis Busch, a German immigrant, who studied in Belgium (the home of InBev) and then settled in America.  Budweiser's heritage not only reflects that story of America, a nation of immigrants, but also that of a world where everyone is an immigrant in search of their own opportunities and upward mobility.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Hitch A Ride

A lot of brands, both big and small, dedicate a lot of resources to trying to go viral.  But are these resources being put to good use? 

The concept of going viral is like trying to hitch a ride to a shooting star; there both unpredictable and short-lived.  And short-lived is typically followed by soon forgotten. 

Rather than working speculating about going viral, a better marketing strategy is to consistently deliver on your promises.  

Frequency adds up; and it's far more effective than a one-time reach.