28 10 2008

There was a great quote in the most recent issue of Creativity Magazine from Virgin America’s VP of Marketing Porter Gale.  Regarding Richard Branson:  “He’s a consumer champion and he comes in and changes industries.  He’s trying to banish mediocrity.  That philosophy really filters throughout our organization.”

Mediocre marketing bugs me and it’s easy to spot.  It’s laziness with a bad font.  Sure signs of mediocrity include:

  • clip art – especially photos of busy-looking people (usually white with a token minority thrown in) dressed in suits and engaged in conversation in completely unnatural ways
  • Arial, Helvetica and Times
  • “About Us” web pages that don’t tell you a thing
  • overuse of the words “belief,” “core” and “values”
  • almost anything that is put out by the three major wireless carriers, excepting AT&T’s sidekick involvement with the iPhone

Any other culprits you want to call out?


SWYM Marketing

27 10 2008

“Personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures.” — F. Scott Fitzgerald, “The Great Gatsby”

In this morning’s OnlineSPIN post, Kendall Allen masterfully articulates what it takes to cultivate an successful brand personality in today’s digital economy.  I’ve included an excerpt here, as well as the well-chosen quote from Fitzgerald (above).

As we draft and evoke brand personality as marketers and creatives, we are in fact purposefully delivering that personality through media, touchpoints, and visual and experiential constructs. There is no doubt that gesture is involved in fostering and telegraphing brand personality. The inflections of a solid brand personality resonate every time, and the impact is cumulative — a stream of identification connects. Most people like to be shown, not told, though telling helps us along.

What this all boils down to is authenticity.  It’s one thing to talk about it, and quite another to live it.  With the ever-greater transparency of the digital age, perhaps we’re entering a new phase of SWYM marketing (say what you mean, mean what you say).  Any brands out there that you think personify SWYM marketing?

Brand America

27 10 2008





The Economist is hosting a debate with the proposition “Brand American will regain its shine.”  The question at hand is whether brand perceptions of America, at an historical low according to the Pew Global Attitudes Project, can and will be buoyed with the inauguration of a new president.  The debate is being held this Sunday, November 2nd in New York City.

This should make for a fascinating debate with at least two major topics to be addressed:

1)  Is it even appropriate to measure and take corrective action toward perceived brand favorability?  Is this akin to putting America the country in a popularity contest?

2)  Which of the two leading presidential candidates has the greatest likelihood of improving America’s brand image.  What, if anything, should they do to improve that image?

The notion of America as a brand implies we have a product and/or service to sell.  Could it be the promise of America that we are selling?

Great Story of the Day

25 10 2008

Heard on NPR this morning:  The Agriculture Magnet School on the south side of Chicago and the students who attend.  The Magnet is both a working school and a working farm (from a milking cow to a fish hatchery) where kids learn academics and enterprise.   Their farm stand earns the school an average of $300/day on the weekends.  The kids were bright enough to recognize an entrepreneurial opportunity when a customer asked to rent, rather than buy, bails of the hay that they sell.  He wanted to use it as decor for a Halloween party and then return it.  And so was born a new revenue stream for the school.  

Let’s hear it for innovation in education.

Presidential Brand Personalities

22 10 2008

Advertising Age ran an interesting, albeit light, article about Obama vs. McCain as brand personalities.  I suspect that the survey itself is deeply flawed (if they provided the brands under consideration, they de facto shrank the consideration set and prejudiced the answers) but it’s still a good illustration of the brand personality concept.

How do you see Barack Obama?


22 10 2008

MediaPost ran a good article by Karl Greenberg the other day on Mike Mendenhall, CMO of HP, and his social media philosophy.  There were some great statistics I’d like to share (lift) here:

Mendenhall used the current presidential campaign as a case in point, noting that the video “I’ve got a crush on Obama,” which was not made by the Obama campaign, has garnered some 9.5 million views. “Thirty-five percent of all Americans have watched political ads and videos online,” he says. “That’s three times more than in 2004.”

He says that according to Forrester Research, GenY is spending 30% more time online than watching TV. “This digital conversation never stops, and we need to update organizations and operations accordingly. The questions are: When do you think you are going to see new syndication models? And when do you think we will see the network environment change? As marketers, we have the opportunity to drive change within our companies because all public touchpoints impact our brands, reputation and revenue. Brands aren’t defined by campaigns, but by consumer ecosystems.”

Mendenhall made social network Twitter the poster child for how individuals can shape perception on a massive scale, and how that is shaping marketing.

“In less than two years using just 148 characters, Twitter has moved from a novel idea to a global presence: CNN uses Twitter for hurricane updates, political campaigns use it to activate grassroots support. Think of that: we are living in a world where a 22-employee company is at the center of global media.”

He noted that Facebook and MySpace reach more than 200 million active users per month. YouTube in 2007 consumed as much bandwidth as the entire Internet in 2000, he said.

“The digital conversation is a global phenomenon,” he says. “Last quarter, 70% of our revenue came from outside the U.S. with 10% from Brazil, India and China. The global population is now 6.6 billion, and only 1.3 billion have Internet access. That will grow fast, and as new users come online, they are leap-frogging into Web 2.0.

“Seventy-six percent of Brazilian Internet users are on social media, and 50% of them have their own blogs. China is the largest blogging community in the world with 42 million bloggers. The amount of digital info online is doubling every 18 months,” he says, adding that the information is overwhelming for customers. “It’s useless if you can’t get the right info to the right person at the right time.”

This should provide good perspective to any marketers wondering how we’re consuming and creating content these days.  

Marketing Nostalgia

22 10 2008

For those of us who love to wallow in tradition around the holidays (which is not easy here in San Diego), this retail season will be a breath of fresh air.  As American’s recoil economically, retailers will be courting them by appealing to their nostalgic sides.  The first sign:  Toys”R”Us is bringing back it’s old “I’m a Toys “R”Us Kid” jingle.  Full story here.  


I know it’s sick, but I might actually slow down my DVR ad-skipping if I see this one come on.  

Stay tuned for more reports that back up my prophecy.  Hooray for nostalgia.  Marketers–I’m all yours.