#BecauseICare

A foundational principle in marketing is consistency.  A brand has to develop who it is, what it stands for, and what makes it different than all the rest.  The stronger the brand identity, the greater the chance that consumers will gravitate toward that product when faced with the daunting task of choosing products at the market.   Familiarity is comforting when eleventy million choices are placed before you at Target! NIVEA has developed a brand theme around caring.  Though it differentiates its message and delivery depending on the medium and the audience, it remains committed to connecting with consumers over the … Continue reading #BecauseICare

Consumers Weigh in on What Matters Most | Lean Cuisine

In early 2014, Nestlé’s 35-year old brand, Lean Cuisine, had one foot in the grave. With a cultural shift toward less processed foods that are fresh and healthy, a brand built around frozen, diet food was anything but thriving. According to Lean Cuisine Brand Manager, Chris Flora, the brand lacked “soul” (Schultz, 2015).  Marketing had centered around the product, not the consumer, as it touted low calorie this and low fat that. Lean Cuisine sales had dropped 20% from the prior two years (Gretler & Giammona, 2015). In an effort to reclaim position in the marketplace, Lean Cuisine went dark … Continue reading Consumers Weigh in on What Matters Most | Lean Cuisine

Visual Semiotics

I am particularly interested in semiotics.  Ira Glass, popular radio host of This American Life, took the stage in Tarrytown, NY last year and I was so excited to get a ticket!  He talked about his semiotics degree from Brown University and wove principles of semiotics through the night as he talked about the art of radio and storytelling.  I loved the following definition of visual semiotics from Curtin (n.d.), Semiotic analysis, in effect, acknowledges the variable relationship[s] we may have to representation and therefore images or objects are understood as dynamic; that is, the significance of images or objects is … Continue reading Visual Semiotics

Where’s Waldo?

Though I have not been fortunate enough to participate, I really appreciate employee volunteerism.  I find these programs accretive to their organizations, particularly if they go beyond just “checking the box” to employees contributing in meaningful ways. Patagonia’s environmental internships (giving employees up to two months off to serve a purpose-driven environmental mission) are inspiring.  Also, have you ever seen what the employees at Sellen Construction Co. do?  These construction workers find ways to volunteer a few minutes of their workday to make a real difference to the children at Seattle Children’s Hospital (constructing a Waldo and moving him around the … Continue reading Where’s Waldo?

Levi Strauss | Don’t Wash Away the Blues

I have been following Levi Strauss. The clothing manufacturer has been shaking things up by telling consumers to wash their jeans… less. While most companies would want their products washed frequently (people walking around wearing your brand’s dirty jeans may be a turn off for people not yet converted to your brand, if jeans are washed frequently then they wear out sooner causing consumers to replace them sooner, etc.).  But CEO Charles Bergh said that a 2007 study that revealed the massive amount of water used to wash jeans convinced him to adopt water conservation as a cause the company should get … Continue reading Levi Strauss | Don’t Wash Away the Blues

A/B Testing as Easy as A-B-C

The online experience is critical to conversion.  A company with a superior product may find itself obsolete if it is housed in clunky infrastructure with few graphics, too many links, too few helpful resources, etc.  A/B testing can really shed light on how consumers want to experience the brand online. I read an interesting article about how Obama won the 2008 presidential election using A/B testing.  I promise, this relates. :) Obama hired Dan Siroker as his Director of Analytics.  Siroker introduced A/B testing to the campaign.  Obama was having a hard time converting visitors to his website to followers … Continue reading A/B Testing as Easy as A-B-C

Twitter | Riding the (Magic) Pony

While you might think that Magic Pony is nothing but child’s play, I assure you it is not.  As a leader in artificial intelligence and visual processing, Magic Pony Technology is well-positioned to make a significant impact on high-performance computing. Alex Hern of The Guardian says founders Rob Bishop and Zehan Wang began collaborating in 2014 on “machine learning to build improved systems for visual processing”.  Machine learning starts with a neural network (a system created to work like a human brain- artificial intelligence) being taught about attributes of images and then developing the capability to make correct inferences about … Continue reading Twitter | Riding the (Magic) Pony

Online Privacy | How Burying Your Head in the Sand Doesn’t Actually Give You Privacy

I will admit, I have never been overly concerned about online privacy.  Don’t get me wrong- I am not one to share my social security number or home address online, but I have had no problem using my smartphone to the fullest, even if that means checking boxes that say I agree to “terms and conditions”.  I will download the SpotHero app or use Starbuck’s Wi-Fi sans concern.  I very deliberately choose not to read the terms and conditions.  It’s time-consuming, I know what it’s going to say, I’d rather not know the particulars… In fairness, plenty of online articles … Continue reading Online Privacy | How Burying Your Head in the Sand Doesn’t Actually Give You Privacy

Is it a Bird? Is it a Plane? No- It’s Drone-vertising

Who doesn’t remember playing at the beach in the summer when a flying banner overhead directed you to the nearest ice cream parlor or crab shack? As a kid, I remember the novelty of seeing the Goodyear blimp fly overhead. I wonder if my kids would even know what I was talking about if I referred to the Goodyear blimp.  I haven’t seen one for a while, though a visit to their website indicates they are still at it, one football stadium and NASCAR event at a time. But what if you could devise an air carrier that could weigh … Continue reading Is it a Bird? Is it a Plane? No- It’s Drone-vertising

Alexa Vs. Siri | The Voice-Activated Battle is On

I am particularly interested in the Amazon Echo right now.  My husband wanted an Echo for Father’s Day and so I just ordered it this week.  I have to say, though, I had one question to him: why? It seems like just another thing to dust.  Unless I want to carry it around the house, it is likely only useful in one room of the house.  And I have to learn the language of another operating system.  Siri travels with me anywhere I go, after 5 years of having Siri I know how to talk to it, and it can … Continue reading Alexa Vs. Siri | The Voice-Activated Battle is On

Cyberpsychology | Is VSCO on the Right Side of Like?

With the rise of social media, I find myself curious about the impact of online social connectivity.  I haven’t allowed my kids to get an Instagram account until they are 14.  I worry that they will develop notions of self that are based on the images they see and how others interact with them virtually.  I want them to be more grounded in their identity and secure with their values rather than take cues from their peers virtually.  Social media can produce a level of insecurity and validation-seeking that I would prefer my pre-teens avoid.  Studies have shown that social … Continue reading Cyberpsychology | Is VSCO on the Right Side of Like?

The Internet of Things: App-t to Change Everything?

I am a dedicated anti-clutterist.  I keep my counter tops free, I think twice before buying home decor, and I get Christmas-like excited when I reorganize the pantry or clean out a closet.  I REALLY hate having a cluttered smartphone.  I put my favorite apps on my home screen and fight the urge to delete all the apps on my other screens.  That is a preface to: it takes a lot for me to download a new app. Because I know that if I want to access it, I have to scroll.  I hate scrolling. But what if someone smarter … Continue reading The Internet of Things: App-t to Change Everything?

Under a Microscope: How do Consumers feel about Micro-location Targeting?

I found myself with a little time to kill when my son was at climbing team practice last night.  The mall was across the street and so I decided to take advantage of the opportunity to sit where there was free WiFi to catch up on some articles I wanted to read.  Can you imagine how amused I was when I sat down on a sofa across from Tiffany’s to read an article on my smartphone to find an ad for Tiffany’s staring me straight in the face from my smartphone?   Proximity advertising (also known as location targeting, geomarketing, … Continue reading Under a Microscope: How do Consumers feel about Micro-location Targeting?

Geofencing

I am particularly fascinated by geofencing.  Though I knew that a company could geofence their business, I didn’t realize it could geofence another.  So if I was Caribou Coffee and you entered an area I had geofenced around Starbuck’s, I could send you an SMS with a reminder that Caribou was only half a block down the street from where you are and offer an enticing coupon. Because a company can build a geofence virtually anywhere, it can also geofence complimentary businesses.  Amit Shah, VP of online, mobile and social at 1-800-Fowers says its company has geofencedthe area around jewelry stoes that are close to their flower shops. So if you are shopping for jewelry, you might just receive a discount offer … Continue reading Geofencing

Holograms

Researchers in Japan have developed technology for holograms you can actually touch. Until now, it was “not safe to come into contact with such a holographic display, as ionized air molecules… burn human skin” (Russon, 2015). Additionally, Aerial Burton has developed technology that can emit text and images in the air without the aid of a screen.  They cite the need for getting emergency information quickly to the public as the impetus for development.  But the application of this technology for marketing purposes would be revolutionary.  Text and images mid-air that you can touch?  Will we live to see the … Continue reading Holograms

Sign me Up

While I have not subscribed to Birchbox, I think the premise is smart. Problem Women love variety. Women love personalization. Women love cosmetics.  Cosmetics are expensive. Solution Provide women with affordable, customized, cosmetic samples every month.  In a beautiful box.  With accompanying how-to videos that drives them to your site to further endear your brand to them.  Mark Bailey, Chemistri Group director said this about customization, This year, it’s all about me, me, me: Customisation and personalisation based on demonstrated behaviour will be critical. Customers in a more competitive climate than ever are saying know me, listen to me, don’t bombard with anything and everything but talk to me … Continue reading Sign me Up

Christmas Miracle

Do you remember West Jet’s 2013 “Christmas Miracle”? West Jet placed a virtual Santa Clause at two Canadian airports to interact with passengers in the gate area before flights to Calgary.  Though passengers thought they were interacting with Santa just for fun, West Jet staffers were secretly taking notes on the “wish lists” of passengers.  While in flight, WestJet worked at a feverish pace with retail partners to procure wished-for gifts and had them at-the-ready in Calgary where the gifts were delivered via the baggage carousel. West Jet brokered an experience for passengers… and the 44 million viewers of the video afterward.  While it … Continue reading Christmas Miracle

Shoprite | Shop right

I was at a friend’s house recently  While we were talking about the pain of grocery shopping, she literally got up, got her laptop and showed me how she buys her groceries from Shoprite from Home. She was so excited about her newfound love of grocery shopping from her computer that she PHYSICALLY showed me how she used digital coupons on the site, how it saved her orders so she could reorder products that she loved, and how it even suggested recipes for her to use based on her shopping cart.  My point is that she was no longer an idle customer- … Continue reading Shoprite | Shop right

Still Red Hot | Virgin Atlantic

  The Still Red Hot campaign launched by Virgin Atlantic in 2009 is a great example of an agency effectively using storytelling to shape brand resonance.  In 2009, when most brands were tightening their marketing belts, Virgin Atlantic airline went full throttle by launching a campaign to celebrate its 25-year anniversary. In an integrated campaign designed by RKCR/Y&R of London, Richard Branson’s airline produced the most talked about TV commercial of the year, a 90-second throwback to its 1984 launch.  Marketing Society writes, “In an industry struggling to ride out a worldwide global recession, this campaign was dubbed by Richard … Continue reading Still Red Hot | Virgin Atlantic

#Ubercade

I am a huge Uber fan and resist the temptation to write about them every week.  I think Uber is clever and disruptive and has stick-to-itiveness that personifies the American spirit.  Plus, it’s the cheapest way to get around Manhattan so I’m always in. I was driving through the city recently searching for a parking garage so I could park and then Uber around the city (yes, I do believe Uber is now a verb!).  You can imagine my delight when I found myself behind a giant MTA bus with an Uber ad plastered on the back of it. The in-your-face (literally) ad on the back of the vehicle/industry challenging it … Continue reading #Ubercade

Paper | Honda

    I love Honda’s “Paper” commercial.  I remember the first time I saw it I literally had to stop what I was doing to watch it.  It is what Sullivan would call “visually powerful”.  In fact, he says, “Let your TV concept by so visually powerful that a viewer would get it with the sound turned off” (Sullivan, 2012, p. 202).  I love the sounds in the commercial (revving engines, screeching wheels, roaring airliner), but I would totally get this commercial without it. Honda has been very successful with its commercials that focus on its brand personality: innovation.  A … Continue reading Paper | Honda

Nike

Have you seen Nike’s Soccer Stars commercial from 2015? It showcases first-person videography in a stunning way. It’s different; it sticks out. Additionally, Nike embraced images in this commercial. It correlates with Sullivan’s philosophy, “Start with images. Stay with images…The eye will remember what the ear will forget” (Sullivan, 2012, p. 201). Having said that, I personally did not care for this commercial. I wondered where the female creatives were in the development of this ad as the ad is sexist. Women were portrayed as objects (see female asking for autograph on her chest and the butt/crotch shots of the … Continue reading Nike

The Notebook

I thought this ad was sweet and the message poignant.  In addition to the mom and son, I believe the agency employed an unseen character into the commercial- powerful music.  Joe Public, the ad agency, used the French singer-songwriter Woodkid’s song, I Love You, throughout this commercial.  If the images were the thread, the music was the needle to weave the commercial into an emotive tapestry.  Here are some of the lyrics you hear in the song:   I am softly watching you Oh boy your eyes betray what burns inside you Whatever I feel for you You only seem to care about … Continue reading The Notebook

My Dad’s Story

I love when a commercial knocks the wind out of you.   The creatives for this commercial used the element of surprise in such a clever way that I literally never saw it coming.  I figured there was a three-act structure in play and the conflict would emerge, but I was genuinely surprised with how intense the conflict was.  Sullivan writes about surprise, “Real surprise, the gasp you hear when you moved a viewer’s whole mind-set from one place to another and in doing so create insight and a fresh new way of seeing- that’s pretty cool” (Sullivan, 2012, p. 210).  … Continue reading My Dad’s Story

Banner Blindness

A New York Times writer, Farad Manjoo (2014) wrote,  They have ruined the appearance and usability of the web, covering every available pixel of every page with clunky bits of sponsorship. More than that, banner ads perverted the content itself. Because they are so ineffective, banner ads are sold at low prices for high volume, which means to make any money from them, sites need to pull in major traffic. I believe this is why we actively seek to not see them anymore. We are banner blind. Check out this heatmap (Nielsen, 2007) from an eye tracking study that demonstrates how … Continue reading Banner Blindness

Resistance | Sperry’s

I am a Sperry’s girl. I have a few pair in my closet that I absolutely love. However, the last time I was in the Sperry store, I was annoyed by the ads on the wall. The store had print displays of Sperry shoes submerged in water. Models actually wearing Sperry’s in the water. I thought maybe I had missed something- was there an added waterproof benefit that I wasn’t taking advantage of with my Sperry’s? Would you believe that I actually asked the clerk if the shoes were waterproof? I feel foolish admitting that I had asked- but the … Continue reading Resistance | Sperry’s

Nellie’s Free Range Chickens

Those eyes. Who could give Nellie’s chickens anything but sunshine after peering into those eyes? And how do you even make a chicken have an expression? The creative/graphics team did a fantastic job of creating a chicken with thoughts-on-the-matter in this ad. After seeing this ad, I was curious about why animals are so prevalent in advertising. We’ve wanted to ride home with the Subaru dogs home, swooned over the Budweiser horses and wanted to drink Cokes with polar bears. Why do advertisers torture us with these adorable ads? In her thesis, Braunwart shares theories by Lloyd and Woodside (2013) … Continue reading Nellie’s Free Range Chickens

The 5 “A”s of Apple

Apple has succeeded at influencing what Keller (2013) calls “customer mindset” which includes a customer’s thoughts, feelings, experiences, images, perceptions, beliefs and attitudes about a brand (p. 101). To measure how successful your brand is at resonating with customers, he suggests using the “5 As” list to measure: awareness, associations, attitudes, attachment and activity. When you see an Apple ad, you KNOW it is an Apple ad. As I watched a dozen Apple commercials today, it hit me that (with the exception of a 2015 Christmas commercial) there is an Apple product in nearly every shot of every single commercial. Most … Continue reading The 5 “A”s of Apple

All Shapes and Sizes | Levi’s Hotness Campaign

Account planning is the critical lynchpin to an effective campaign. The absence of good planning, strategy development and collaboration between client and creative will cause a campaign to fall flat. Consider Levi’s 2012 Hotness Comes in All Shapes and Sizes campaign. This campaign sought to underscore that its Curve ID jeans were flattering to all women, regardless of size. Though the ad wanted to connect with women with a diversity of body types, the models in the ads were far from diverse.     The weight and average size for an American woman is size 166 pounds, size 14 (“Body … Continue reading All Shapes and Sizes | Levi’s Hotness Campaign

ALDI

Ashley Peterson writes, “Right now, ALDI’s target market focuses on an older demographic as they find the stores easy to navigate (Barclay, 2015). However, millennials appear to be leading food trends. What do millennials want? ‘Local, craft, and fermented foods, and big international flavors. Millennials also want connection and community, which stores can foster with seasonal events, tastings, and cooking demos,’ (Barclay, 2015)”. Oh, the challenges facing grocery retailers. Depending on where you live, you might have access to an independent grocery store, a regional chain, a national supermarket chain, a warehouse club, or a niche grocery store or chain. … Continue reading ALDI

fitFlops

Have you heard of FitFlops? If you have never heard of this company, perhaps you should buy a pair of fitFlops to help you with “research” (shameless excuse to buy a new pair of shoes?). According to Lara Caughman, “FitFlop is a privately held company based in London that manufactures and markets shoes for women, men and kids. The company was launched in 2007 as the brainchild of Marcia Kilgore. The brand positions itself as having shoes that are both cool and comfortable.”  Here is a video from fitFlop.   My opinion? The video and felt like fitFlop was trying to tell … Continue reading fitFlops

Liberty Bottleworks

Water bottles. If I were a cursing woman (which I’m not) I would curse them. Mostly because I invest hard-earned money in them only to have my kids leave them on the baseball field or drop them, rendering them useless. I may have melted a few in the dishwasher as well. You may have guessed by now that I usually purchase cheap plastic ones. I’ve seen the shiny metal ones at Target; they beckon me to come buy them but I refuse. I know the eventuality. Having said that, there seems to be a strong market for reusable metal water … Continue reading Liberty Bottleworks

I Scream, You Scream, We all Scream for Ice Cream

Blue Bonnet, Blue Bell, Blue Bunny. Why did the dairy aisle adopt blue as the team color? Brands have figured out they must promote meaningful experiences with their customers. Brands must develop long-term strategies for winning market share. It is the reason, for instance, celebrity endorsements don’t always work. It seems that Blue Bunny’s long-term strategy for resonating with their target market is nostalgia. The brand retains the original blue bunny logo and the packaging has a touch of whimsy to it. For instance, the swirls on some of the novelty ice cream packages remind me of the Moon Pie packages, … Continue reading I Scream, You Scream, We all Scream for Ice Cream

Seeing is Believing | Zenni Optical

The optical retail industry is exploding right now. Thanks in part to millennial celebrity fashionistas like Taylor Swift, Hunter Parrish, Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling, glasses are in. Big time. Cat eye, keyhole, aviators, butterfly, flat-tops, wayfarers. Glasses are the new shoes- form over function, self-expression accessory, style storyteller (Milnes, 2015). Millennials looking to express themselves have four sources for purchasing eyewear. Independent Eye Care Professional Millennials may have gone with Mom or Dad to the local optometrist in town. Because of familiarity and a relationship of trust, he/she may continue this tradition of seeing the same independent optometrist. Buying eyewear … Continue reading Seeing is Believing | Zenni Optical

Feel. Do. Think.

Due to its current merger, Kraft Heinz must use corporate PR/internal communications to strategically reach their employees and assuage worries and concerns over the merger.  Employees can be the most influential brand advocates a company has; it must understand the various employee segments it has and tailor messages that will inspire them and strengthen the employee-employer relationship. Questions that should be answered by an employer about its employees are offered by Willard (2008): §  How do they live at work and what do they care about? §  What are they feeling right now and what emotions do you want them … Continue reading Feel. Do. Think.

Business in a Bubble

Any legitimate business must operate with risk.  A business in a bubble does not exist. I would analogize modern businesses to the “adventure playgrounds” (like the one in Berkley, California) where kids go to “build creatively” using “earth, fire, water and lots of creative material” (“Adventure Playground”, n.d.).  At these playgrounds, kids use real saws, nails and hammers.  There might even be a fire the kids have to work around! The philosophy here is that kids can’t fully develop without play that tolerates some level of risk. Aren’t businesses the same?  If a business wants to be creative and reach … Continue reading Business in a Bubble

A Little Yik, A Little Yak, Some Say a lot of Ick.

Technology can be the bane of an organization’s existence or an effective tool to propel its brand.  Sometimes it is both.  Are you familiar with the story of Colgate University- how technology, PR, and an issue collided to create a perfect storm for a small university community? In 2014, a few minority Colgate University students formed a group, Colgate University Association of Critical Collegians (ACC) in an effort to bring the issue of diversity to the forefront of administrators’ minds.  Their goal was to raise awareness of the university’s lack of diversity (70% white student population) and microaggressions experienced by minority … Continue reading A Little Yik, A Little Yak, Some Say a lot of Ick.

Heinz in Greenfield Village

Using principles of psychology can aid a brand.  This has certainly been the case for Heinz as it has developed into a leader in the prepared foods industry.  My family toured Greenfield Village at the Henry Ford Museum last year.  One of my favorite parts of the tour was seeing The Heinz House, the boyhood home of H.J. Heinz and the home where Heinz first began his food processing and packaging business.  The home was moved to this location in 1957, presumably because it provided a great opportunity for Heinz to connect with a broader audience in a meaningful way.  … Continue reading Heinz in Greenfield Village

Credibility

The importance of communication studies to PR lies in its ability to add credibility to its brand.  Though advertising has its place, PR functions to establish credibility outside of itself.  Steve Cody of Inc. magazine writes, “Advertising continues to embrace an antiquated, top-down, inside-out way of communicating. It reflects senior management’s view on what a consumer or business-to-business buyer should think is important” (as cited in Wynne, 2014).  PR, on the other hand, is earned media.  Because it has been verified by a third party, it is perceived as more believable.  In fact, a Nielsen study commissioned by InPowered in … Continue reading Credibility

The Problem with Barnes & Noble

Quinn (2013) asserts that companies should aim to do more than merely sell their products.  They should educate their consumer base about the solutions their products provide.  For instance, as manufacturers of beds, Leggett & Platt were only talking to consumers about beds.  Quinn writes, “This was irrelevant…What they wanted to know was how a mattress would impact their sleep, sex lives, and overall quality of life” (Quinn, 2013).  Once they made this determination, they created a Sleep Geek community to educate their sales team about what consumers cared most about and then developed customer-centric solutions. When I think about … Continue reading The Problem with Barnes & Noble

Packaging as Theatre

“Packaging can be theater, it can create a story.” – Steve Jobs An article was published last week in Packaging Digest that discussed what consumers want in beauty packaging.  The author named several packaging trends that resonate with consumers. First, consumers want packaging that dispenses 100% of the product.  Examples of packaging that accomplishes this are: airless dispensing systems, pump-on-tubes, plastic bag-on-valve, springless, dual-chamber airless and even airless jars (Luttenberger, 2015).  We as consumers want access to 100% of the product we buy whether it is toothpaste, lotion or shampoo. Second, multi-functional packaging is high on the list of consumer wants.  Multi-functional … Continue reading Packaging as Theatre

How to Create a Point of Difference…

It takes a lot to make toothpaste standout from store shelves.  I am a grab-n-go customer in the dental hygiene aisle and hardly think about the brand.  I do prefer tooth gel over toothpaste and find it a pain to have to search high and low on the package to determine if it is paste or gel.  A persuasive point-of-difference for me is the approval of the ADA.  I would bet that most commercially sold toothpastes are fine for my oral health, but having the ADA stamp on the box makes me feel better.  I think people appreciate when an … Continue reading How to Create a Point of Difference…

Over the Moon for Moon Pies

The fourth-generation, family-owned Chattanooga Bakery has been making MoonPies, since 1917.  An Appalachian coal miner told a traveling salesman from the bakery that he wanted a big snack to eat at work, a snack as big as the moon.  The bakery started selling the s’more like snack one month later.  Tory Johnston, vice president of marketing at Chattanooga Bakery said, “Our brand has always been known as the ‘working man’s lunch” (as cited in Green, 2014). Though MoonPies are now sold at many major retailers, consumers can depend on finding them at Cracker Barrel and Walmart.  These retailers have access … Continue reading Over the Moon for Moon Pies

Sorry, Not Sorry

After a fatal wreck caused by Cost Condordia off the coast of Italy in January 2012, Carnival elected to compensate the Costa Concordia customers. After refund and reimbursement for travel expenses a 30% discount on future travel was Carnival’s way of compensating passengers. This was certainly cold compensation given what the passengers had endured.   When I did an online search regarding customer compensation for problems experienced because of a product/purchased experience, I thought I would find a scale or an average amount of customer compensation based on purchase price, etc.  What I found was surprising. Nothing. What I did find was … Continue reading Sorry, Not Sorry