Monday, September 23, 2013

Oh The Irony

The California New Car Dealers Association is pushing the state to investigate Tesla's advertising practices. Believe it or not, the California car dealers are mad about, of all things, false advertising...oh the irony.

The dealers have reportedly sent a letter to the California Department of Motor Vehicles requesting an investigation into "egregious violations" of consumer protection laws, specifically, Tesla's practice of including external savings such as fuel costs, incentives and tax credits into the advertised price.

Do the California car dealers have a case against Tesla?  Probably.  However, their real underlying grip isn't about misleading advertising, a field that car dealers are notoriously expert in.

Tesla is a threat to the entire dealer model because they cut out the independent dealer and sell directly to consumers.  This shift in how cars are sold would be just as revolutionary as Tesla's electric powered cars as an independent dealer is legally protected.

Car dealers have already shown that they will fight tooth-and-nail to preserve the old way of doing things.  After all, it has been very good for them.     

But Tesla has broken that barrier and there might be no turning back. If I ran another car company, I'd prefer to help lead the next revolution rather than be upended by it.

As always, thank you for reading and sharing your feedback.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

This Jolly Green Giant Should Hold The Punchline

In its latest advertisement, Green Giant goes 'X-Rated' to sell everyone the obvious story that eating vegetables is healthy.

Green Giant is trying to be funny and appeal to a younger crowd, yet, they come off completely inauthentic.

Seeing ads like this makes me leery that a lot of marketers don't believe in marketing.  Advertising isn't effective just because it's seen by lots of people; what makes it effective is that it says something meaningful and in a clear way.

Your punchline doesn't make your brand more appealing; it just makes it look like you have nothing important to say.

As for Green Giant, they settled on the idea that eating vegetables is healthy.  Who didn't know that already?  In addition, that's not a unique position to their brand. Lots of other people sell vegetables.

A more unique and meaningful claim would have been that frozen vegetables actually have more nutrients than fresh ones - which begin losing nutrients once they're picked.    

As always, thank you for reading and sharing your feedback.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Trouble With A Tribute Tweet

Wednesday was a day of remembrance; its been twelve years since the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001.

Every year on this day, millions and millions of people take to social media to pay tribute to the lives lost on that day and to proclaim that they will never forget.  However, on Wednesday, AT&T's tribute tweet was singled out and its sincerity brought into question because their tribute included an AT&T product.  They were accused of capitalizing on the tragedy.   

The image of the cellphone triggered enough outrage online that AT&T removed the tweet within the hour.  They immediately tweeted an apology; "we apologize to anyone who felt our post was in poor taste. The image was solely meant to pay respect to those affected by the 9/11 tragedy." 

I don't believe that the inclusion of a cellphone in the image was some type of covert sales operation.  I simply see it as AT&T's way of personalizing their tribute.  I think at worst, it's just a little cheesy.

So when AT&T says that "the image was solely meant to pay respect," I tend to believe them.  Yet I believe we should question their intentions on different level.  AT&T doesn't have a twitter account solely to pay its respects.  The official corporate twitter account is a business tool and marketing is one of its main functions.  It's used to generate attention and interest in the company and to deliver messages to consumers.     

I'm not saying AT&T was calculating this public relations dust up from the beginning and hoping to benefit the attention it would bring.  But I'm saying that it's straight out of the social media marketing playbook for businesses to generate attention by commenting on trending topics, which in this case, was the anniversary of an American tragedy.  Therefore, it would be disingenuous for AT&T to claim that the tweet itself was solely out of respect; whether they like it or not, there is an inherent agenda to a corporate tweet.

Social media marketers cannot forget that the intentions of corporate communication haven't changed, just their boundaries.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

If I Only Had...

a little more money, a little more time or some more help, then I could get a lot more stuff done.

While that may prove itself true, putting a negative spin on scarcity (something that we all do) can trip a lot of people up.

Try putting a positive spin on scarcity. 

Only having a little money should force you to spend it smarter.

Only having a little time should force you to use it better.

Only having a little help should force you to be accountable for what gets done. 

If something is scarce, then it's obviously of value.  And taking a positive approach to scarcity should force you discover more of that value.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Okay, Prove It

I saw this message from Hot Head Burrito on a billboard.  

On a positive note, their message is simple and easily consumable by an audience driving along the highway.

However, the marketing position they take is as bland as can be.  As a small, underdog burrito chain, their words aren't received with the intuitive credibility of a category leader, which in this case, is Chipotle.  Therefore, it's even more important for this challenger brand to substantiate their position with facts. Obviously, which burrito has "more flavor" is a matter of pure opinion.   

And yet, they somehow guarantee it.  According to their website, if "you don't love it, we will replace it for free."  It's weak marketing and the very reason why money back guarantees don't convey confidence in a product.  They actually say, "we're not sure."

I've never eaten a Hot Head burrito, but after 10 seconds on their website, the solution to their positioning problem and the answer to why Hot Head burritos have more flavor was obvious.  It's all in the sauces.  Unlike Chipotle, Hot Head offers customers 13 different sauces for their burritos and bowls.

Thirteen varieties of sauce is a real fact working in their favor.  Thus, they should pour it on their marketing campaign.

As always, thank you for reading, sharing and commenting.

Monday, September 2, 2013

A Strong Brand Cannot Be Both

For the last 15 months, investigative journalists at ESPN and PBS have been collaborating on the "Frontline" documentary, League of Denial: The NFL's Concussion Crisis, which will debut on October 8th.  The documentary investigates the impact concussions are having on the lives of NFL players and the way the league has handled player concussions.   

However, last week, ESPN, who is also partners with NFL, abruptly ended partnership and asked to remove all ESPN logos and production credits from the project.  It's widely reported the National Football League pressured ESPN to back off the project; however, the network is claiming that  misunderstandings over editorial control was the real cause of the break up.

The problem stems from duel directive at ESPN.  The network mission to deliver sports as entertainment and also to broadcast news about it creates these damaging conflicts of interest.  ESPN simply cannot promote the product of its broadcasting partner in good faith and simultaneously expect to be one hundred percent credible in its reporting of this partner.

Occasionally it might work out.  But when the stars don't align, it leads to compromises that jeopardize shipping the very best work possible.