Fast Company

30 03 2009

A recent article in AdAge pointed out that Fast Company is actually growing in ad revenue and placement while nearly every other magazine is hurting. Kudos, Fast Company. Well-deserved. As the article’s author Larry Dobrow keenly observed: “Indeed, Fast Company is the only business publication, in print or anywhere else, that makes answering the question ‘Why does this matter?’ its defining purpose.”

And that’s why I’m adding Fast Company to my “Brands I Love” list. Because they made it so I actually like reading about business now.


The Newest Clothing Category

27 03 2009

I was just putting away my laundry when I realized an entire new segment in men’s clothing had emerged and I hadn’t even noticed it.

One by one I was folding my underwear. Not the 100% cotton tighty whities and pinstriped boxers my Dad might have worn. Those wear out, tear, fade. No, these were synthetic blends in toxic colors and patterns, cut in all different styles. If I was marketing them, their brand characteristics would include “sporty,” “fun,” “youthful.” And that’s when it dawned on me. These aren’t underwear. These are man’s panties. Manties.

Men, we’ve been tricked again by those clever marketers and now we’re paying $25 bucks a pair. Ah, well. At least we can pretend we’re sporty, fun and youthful when we get dressed in the morning.19under6001jpg

19 02 2009

I just completed a survey for M Squared Consulting Group that was gauging my beliefs about the past and present economy for consultants.  The last question asked if I had any predictions for economic trends.  I made three predictions, one of which was the “emergence of micro-economies where small communities will band together to help themselves out…”

And then I read this great little story in AdAge about an unemployed copywriter-turned-blogger.  Erik Proulx is turning his site Please Feed the Animals into a job market for people just like himself.

Bailout, Shmailout.  This is the kind of chutzpah and resourcefulness that is going to resuscitate our economy.  Way to go, Erik.

Starbucks’ New Role

15 01 2009

Starbucks is extending its “third place” status (work, home, Starbucks) to become the new community center.  Don’t believe me?  Check out it’s new ad campaign, “I’m in.” 

Starbucks Pledge Card







According to the AdAge article “Starbucks Push Will Encourage Community Service,” Starbucks is partnering with the nation’s largest volunteer organization, the Hands On Network, to launch the “I’m In” campaign.  They will be encouraging its customers to pledge at least five hours of community service this hour.  

It seems to me that Starbucks’ strategy extends beyond a simple halo effect and piggybacking on Obama’s rallying cry for volunteerism.  They are positioning themselves as a hub within communities, connecting people with other people in need.  The new community center.  This is a brilliant move for a brand that lost its soul years ago.  It will be interesting to see if Starbucks meets their goal of 1,000,000 pledged hours of volunteerism and if they can reinvent themselves as an essential element of local neighborhood life.

On Target

14 01 2009

The Target commercials “Brand New Day” are spot-on when it comes to understanding the new houshold economics.

They get that every purchase is now a serious economic decision so the benefits have to be front and center.  This goes for everything, no matter how basic.  Nowadays, a $9.99 DVD purchase and a $2.99 box of microwave popcorn are a much easier sell when framed as a “night at the movies” because you’re providing consumers with a lower-cost alternative to something they already are doing or might want to do.

Ad Age ran a nice piece today titled “Can Moms Save Us from the Recession?.”  It details some of the psychology behind household purchase decisions as made by today’s Mom.  Link to it here.   The parallels between these findings and the new Target ads are pretty obvious.  Nice work, Target.

Marketing Luxury in a Recession – Part II

5 01 2009

A month ago I posted about the challenges that luxury brand marketers will face in this new economy.  A new report from Karl Greenberg in Marketing Daily backs this up.  The gist of the article:  

Brands will have to make their messages simple, honest and clear, says Landor Associates analyst Susan Nelson. “Non-essential product features that encourage consumers to trade up will be even less successful than usual,” she predicts.

I wonder if our local Bloomingdale’s will be restocking its store with “essentials” after clearing out its previously over-priced, bejeweled hoodies with 70% markdowns?

New Year’s Resolution

31 12 2008

I admit it.  I like new year’s resolutions.  There is something about compulsively wiping the slate clean and starting fresh that really appeals to me.  It also aligns with my love of year-end, top 10 lists.  

In 2008, I decided to move from adopting resolutions to adopting a guiding theme for the year.  2008 was all about “The Year of Living Fearlessly” which got off to a bang with an unintended visit to a Brazilian nude beach.  2009’s theme is “Being Different Matters.”  I am not talking about different for different’s sake, but rather the authenticity and value that come from being yourself.  This will have personal implications for sure.  It will also resonate with my client work as I continue to help people and businesses differentiate themselves meaningfully in an ever-more competitive marketplace.

What’s your theme for 2009?