Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Don't overlook the details

Michael Jordan + humor + a continuing TV campaign = a promising ad -- but please get the other guy a pair of pants that fit!

Hanes has done several significant things promotionally to benefit their brand:
  • sign Michael Jordan as a spokesperson
  • drop Charlie Sheen as Jordan's sidekick (reportedly to avoid any linkage to Sheen's persistent negative press)
  • developed a lasting humor-based campaign to promote the benefits of their product as well as highlight Jordan
If this is how Hanes make you look, maybe he should try Fruit-of-the Loom...
After all that, why not give the actor in the current ad a pair of pants that fit?  His pants are stretched so tight that the white liner on the front pockets show, the front of the pants have a very unflattering pull and the pockets are puckered. While some viewers would recognize the problem is with the pants, others might not. The question is why take the chance when a little more attention to detail would have made the issue a non-starter?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Opening a new range of apps

Square mobile payment app blends software and hardware

The Square Mobile Payment System is early on the curve of a new wave of applications for phones (iPhone and Android) and other mobile technologies like tablet PCs (iPad, etc.).  These emerging apps go beyond current ones as they integrate hardware into the systems.

Plugging Square's hardware into a device's audio jack allows the user to use the app to pay by credit or debit cards, gift cards and prepaid cards.  These payments can go to businesses or individuals who also have Square.
Crystal ball
A couple things will be interesting to watch for:
  • When will consumers adopt these types of apps?
  • How quickly will businesses adapt to the such new apps?
  • When will other types of apps that integrate hardware be offered?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Rapping rodents phat for Kia

Rapping hamsters boost image but without product improvement, how long will it last?

Unlike many businesses, 2010 has been good to Korean automaker Kia.  Sales were up 15% through October -- on pace for a record year in sales.  The company has benefited from a "perfect storm" of circumstances:
  • a bad economy
  • offering a line of low priced vehicles (approx. $8,000 lower than  competitors)
  • public acceptance of rapping hamsters in a television campaign (see below)

The big question...
With product quality sliding in consumer-based rankings (from 15 to 25 place in a recent J.D. Powers  survey), how long will the rodents be able to prop Kia sales up?   In the long-term, it is hard to imagine consumers trading vehicle quality for a formulated image.  American auto buyers have shown in the past that even low prices cannot make up for a poor vehicle (remember the Yugo?).

The current good sales situation offers time for Kia to get their product "house in order".  It will be interesting to see if they take advantage of it.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Geico, Helzberg co-op advertising

Seemingly unrelated pair of companies team in TV ad

Perhaps you have already seen the television advertisement that blends both Geico Insurance and Helzberg Diamonds (a retail jewelry store chain).  At first nod, these seem like an odd duo to pair up in a promotional effort.  However, upon a bit deeper review, a connection between the firms comes into focus.

The Berkshire Hathaway connection
Both firms are part of the holdings of Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway.

Properly done, joint advertising can make a great deal of sense by stretching promotional budgets in this time when companies are seeking greater productivity in operations, manufacturing, and now advertising.

Characteristics of potential co-op promotional partners
The cooperating firms:
  • are not in the same industry (except for special circumstances like public service announcements, support of causes and events, etc.).
  • seek similar customers.
  • are willing to have the other's brand image "rub off" on to their own.
Note: video of the ad will be added when available.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Power of a brand part II -- Call of Duty: Black Ops

Increasing brand positioning via association (to a video game).

In an earlier post, the integration of Apple's iPad into a product offering to increase product brand position via association with the iPad was discussed.

Now the popularity of Call of Duty: Black Ops is being used by Jeep in an attempt to influence prospective buyers.  If there is any surprise, it might be that the COD: Black Ops brand would be deemed so attractive to enough of Jeep's target market.  Jeep's consumer research would be interesting to see.

                                                                             Jeep Wrangle Call of Duty: Black Ops Edition

Sunday, November 28, 2010

If video game can scan body -- what could be other uses?

No TSA-like body scan.  Rather scan of "outer body" only.

The Xbox 360 Kinect video fitness game Your Shape Fitness Evolved has the ability to scan user bodies as they participate in exercise routines. During exercise, the game monitors for pace and proper body positions (below).

With this type of technology already in homes...
When might online clothing stores offer at home personalized body scans that allow consumers to "try on" clothing in virtual dressing rooms that link specific body shapes/dimensions to actual clothing sizes and styles (that the retailers have digitized as well)?

Friday, November 26, 2010

iPad's growing ecosystem

More businesses are integrating iPad into their offerings -- and hoping to attach their products to iPad's high brand positioning.

By any measure, Apple's iPad is a successful product on its own.  However, it is increasingly being used by businesses as part of their product offerings.  As much as the iPad might actually improve these products, the biggest benefit might be linking the iPad to the products... if consumers think so highly of the iPad, maybe some of the "love" will rub off.

NOTE: This goes beyond merely adapting current offerings for the iPad -- although iPad apps for existing products are extremely popular.

Some recent examples:
  • The owner's manual for Hyundai's Equus model is an interactive digital owner's manual on the iPad that comes with the luxury car. See the magazine advertisement below.
  • Delta Air Lines has installed 200 iPads in their gate area at New York's JFK International Airport. Delta customers can use the iPads for entertainment and to order food at airport eateries.
  • News Corporation is developing a new digital newspaper centered around the iPad. The Daily is scheduled for an early 2011 launch. 
Apple continues to reap the rewards for their great products.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Kohl's Happy ThankSaving... just a bit tacky

Happy ThankSaving ???

Thanksgiving traditions -- the Macy's Parade, NFL football, time and dinner with family, and giving thought to the blessings of life.

Now Kohl's is adding a new one... the Happy ThankSaving sale. 

A television, newspaper, social media and web campaign.

Surely their marketers can do better.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Humor without sacrificing customer image

To differentiate themselves from competition, two long-running television ad campaigns focus humor on things people dislike about their industries.

Some things about banking consumers dislike:
  • hidden bank fees
  • treating new customers better than current ones
  • not giving all customers full information
  • fine print
Some things about buying and owning stocks consumers dislike:
  • impersonal service
  • high fees
  • feeling that best interest of investor is not broker's priority
  • lack of information and support
So how do Ally Bank and Scottrade deal this such dislikes?  By using humor to highlight such common negative perceptions against their own brand positions.

Ally Bank Commercials

Scottrade commercials

One final thought... note that neither ad campaign used their customers as the butt of the joke (see the August 26, 2010 post). 

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Why would anyone want to be like them?

It might be funny but who would want to be like these people?

It is an aspect in some advertising that has been bothersome for some time (refer to my October 10, 2008 blog entry) and I still don't get it.

Why do some companies portray their customers as clueless (or worse). If this is the way people who do business with a company are, why in the world would anyone seek to be like them?

If this is how Netflix customers are, I'd rather read a book!

Progressive has effectively used humor in other ads in their "Flo" campaign... but why make customers act like this?

The point is not to be too picky or lack a sense of humor. But does humor have to be at the expense of customer image?

The next blog post will give examples of advertising campaigns that effectively use humor without sacrificing customer dignity.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Retro comfort factor

In these challenging economic times, companies give consumers "comfort" via retro offerings

It's comfort food without the calories... products that remind one of the "good ol' days". Here are a few more recent examples. There are many more.

ThinkGeek's retro style blue-tooth headset (handset?):

Pepsi's temporary return of the retro can labels (even with "real sugar"!):

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Proudly showing your age

Promoting the idea that a company is strong and stable by showing you've been around a long time.

Prudential's new ad campaign seeks to assure consumers of the company's strength and stability by highlighting how long the firm has been around.

Highlighting the changing logo:

Television advertisement

Friday, August 20, 2010

Is your packaging doing enough?

Going a bit beyond product protection, promotion & display

Packaging is an often under-utilized aspect of marketing. It is designed to protect products during shipping, act as a "billboard" in a store to attract attention, and to aid in store display (stacking, hanging, etc.).

Some businesses are finding ways to use packaging to add a bit more customer value and act as a differentiator from competitors . While some can be more substantial, many are smaller in nature. Here are a couple of examples:
  • Sun Chips (from Frito-Lay) offer chips in 100% compostable bags.

  • 1800 Tequila having its lid measure a shot (turn it over to fill up the lid).

Could your packaging be doing more?

Sunday, January 3, 2010

If you can't beat them, copy them

Subway's Jared casts a big shadow over fast food industry

Taco Bell's new promotional campaign featuring the weight loss of Christine shows that, even in business, imitation is also the greatest form of flattery.

Haven't we heard this before?
Using careful selections from the Taco Bell "Drive-Thru Diet" menu, Jared... oops... Christine lost 54 pounds.

What's next?
Cinnabon? Haagen Dazs? creme brulee? Ghirardelli Chocolate?
We could only be so lucky!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Marketing the start of a new year

Finding marketing opportunities in calendar events

The new year is only a half-day old but marketers have already begun integrating the start of 2010 into their marketing efforts in areas including pricing,

HTML e-mail featuring special pricing

Web site -- new product features

Television advertisement -- special event re: product

Wait 'til next time
Obviously it is too late to take advantage of New Year's Day 2010.... but the calendar has many other days that might become part of a successful marketing campaign.