Archive for the ‘Mktg – Brands’ Category

Boycott baseball (and Coke)?

April 8, 2021

WSJ: It’s a necessary “intervention”.

Had to know that this one was coming.

A WSJ op-ed, says ”Yes, Boycott baseball”:

Though he’s been absent from this column for weeks, it’s time to put Donald Trump back in play.

He’s right: Boycott baseball — and the rest of the progressives’ new corporate cancel-culture all-star team, including Patagonia, H&M, Uber, Tripadvisor, Levi’s, Blue Apron, Nordstrom and SoFi.

Why boycott them?

Because their CEOs are treating their customers like compliant saps.

Most of commercial life today revolves around one idea—promoting a company’s “brand.”

The left sees that they can generate 500 hostile social-media posts against a corporate brand over some made-up woke offense.

No dopes, CEOs who have bet their careers on millions in marketing costs, fear that their brands are  about to be destroyed by groupthink millennials who all at once will stop drinking Coke or refuse to stream baseball on MLB.TV.

Corporate cowardice is worse than ever.

I suspect the left’s professional activists are as taken aback as anyone at how the middle-aged liberals running big companies and cultural institutions swooned for wokeness. Why so easy?

The logical conclusion:

It’s time for  conservatives to organize commercial boycotts …

… to keep pandering CEOs from cavalierly dismissing half of their brand base …

…  and to save once-rational liberals from destroying themselves and pulling the rest of us down in the woke vortex.


My take:

Baseball has been losing fans by the droves for a decade or more.

From a marketing perspective, politics aside,  I don’t understand why MLB was so quick to give an eye-poke to its mostly white, mostly male, mostly working-class fan base.

I guess that MLB thinks that woke millennials will stem the attendance and TV-viewing slide and flock to America’s slow-paced pastime.

Recent research has indicated the obvious: highlight reels are “in” and couch-watching long, commercial-heavy games is “out”.

So, I’m betting the under on woke millennials saving baseball.

And, I’m betting the over on pissed off fans ditching the high-priced seats and and ungluing from their TV sets.

We’ll see…

Turning around the turnaround: JC Penney goes back to the future …

May 15, 2013

In one svelte move, JC Penney launched near-total, point-by-point repudiation of ex-CEO Ron Johnson’s attempt to turn the retailer into a chain of Apple stores. 



Let’s dissect this one …


Huh: Home Depot using a cat to up its likability …

April 25, 2013

According to BrandChannei

“Richard the Cat, a.k.a., Pundit of People, remains Home Depot’s meme of choice as the brand welcomes spring some out-of-character humor.

The orange feline follows a human family as they pursue scores of DIY projects with questionable results and predictable mishaps.”


“Everyone has elves, reindeer, Santa, but one of the biggest things followed in the social space is cats”

HD is taking a chance on the cat meme since the two are an odd pairing.

The Home Depot brand is authentic, innovative and attainable, while Richard’s cat-sona is sarcastic, superior and refined.

HD’s CMO says: “When I shared this with our leadership team, our CEO got it immediately.

We’re very lucky we have one of the hippest CEOs out there.”


Here may be the rub for Home Depot …


News Flash: Sex doesn’t sell any more … say what?

March 29, 2013

T-Mobile has ditched Carly Foulkes – the pink clad hottie that’s been the star of their ads for the past couple of years.

You’re probably wondering: why the heck would T-Mobile do that?



Blame it on the market research geeks …


Forbes: “Prof. Ken Homa says …”

March 20, 2013

Interesting piece on

Punch line: There’s added pressure for the Hoyas in the Tourney this year.

They have to avoid the unfortunate early losses of past years and go deep into Tournament in order to protect the image of the New Big East (aka. Catholic 7)


Of course, my favorite parts of the article:


What do Hangover and Duck Dynasty stars have in common?

March 19, 2013

What do actor Zach Galifianakis and the cast of “Duck Dynasty” have in common?

They could be the new pitchmen for Twinkies and other beloved Hostess snack brands.


And, there’s more to the marketing plan …


Nothing sacred: Wanna buy a (counterfeit) Pope Francis t-shirt?

March 18, 2013

According to, “New Pope Means New Brand for Catholic Church”  …

While the white smoke billowed out into St. Peter’s Square and Pope Francis was introduced to the world

…  the Catholic Church’s legal team was busy behind the scenes protecting its intellectual property.



The Catholic Church is as much a business as it is a religious beacon, and like any smart business, the Church protects its intellectual property.

Here’s how …


Ken on NPR … about JC Penney (again)

March 4, 2013

JCP reported a loss of more than $500 million … ouch.

NPR asked for my POV…

click to listen


Here’s the transcript …


Bang for the buck … err, make that $1.6 million bucks.

March 1, 2013

$1.6 million  … that’s what advertisers shelled out to be on the Oscars.

Wasf it worth it?

Here’s the AdAge recap of what some major marketers did with their time during the broadcast.

  • Chobani was a first-time Oscar advertiser with “Real is Original.” Hard to believe this was once a small Greek company.

Who else did AdAge highlight?


Name game: Just call me Oscar …

February 27, 2013

The Academy Awards show hit a ratings high of 55 million in 1998, the year of Titanic, but have been on a decline ever since.

To attract younger viewers and to reverse the trend,  the Academy made two bold moves.


OK, what was different this year?


Brand dilution: Did Chris Rock inspire Maker’s Mark?

February 19, 2013

Marker’s Mark Bourbon may have made the single dumbest marketing decision ever.

They decided to stretch short supplies of Maker’s Mark by diluting it … by  literally adding water.

The company must have been inspired by either:

(a) millions of teenage boys who replenished  their dad’s whiskey bottle by adding water after taking a swig, or

(b) Chris Rock’s hilarious minute-long bit on ‘Tussin … which is guaranteed to make you chuckle.


If you run out of ‘Tussin, no problem.

Just put some water in the bottle and shake it up.

Just like that … mo’ ‘Tussin  …  mo’ ‘Tussin

* * * * *
OK, back to the Maker’s Mark story …

By now everybody has probably heard that Maker’s Mark bourbon got themselves into a bit of a mess.

The primary cause: runaway sales.

Why’s that a problem?

Well, bourbon whiskey takes a few years to age … and a couple of years ago, Maker’s Mark management bet the under on future demand and didn’t start enough MM flowing through the distilling process.

So, Maker’s Mark can’t meet the market demand.

They can ramp up production, but the new brew won’t be ready for 6 years.

So, what did the jabrones decide to do … and why is it a problem?


Reinventing the world’s most efficient distribution system …

February 13, 2013

In the old days, I didn’t know that the Girl Scouts mission was building “courage, confidence, and character”.

I thought that they were just a highly efficient cookie distribution outfit … good marketing, highly effective sales force, and low cost delivery system.

Well, the Girl Scouts aren’t resting on the laurels.



Girl Scouts of the USA has revamped its business approach, taking innovative measures to broaden customer access and overall appeal.

These girls will stop at nothing to make their sale.


Buzz: Which brand generates the most?

January 28, 2013

According to the YouGov Brand Index annual survey, the winner is …


YouGov BrandIndex’s Buzz score asks respondents:  “Have you heard anything about the brand in the last two weeks, through advertising, news or word of mouth?”

That’s a pretty wide net – can be positive or negative – but, it is certainly a measure of “buzz”.

Here are the rest of the Top 25 … many surprises …


Axe: Wanna be a chick-magnet-astronaut ?

January 21, 2013

Punch line: Taking a page from Red Bull’s book, Axe launches a ‘Space Academy’ campaign, with a contest that sends winners on a space ship to the moon.

* * * * *

Excerpted from’s, “Super Bowl Ad Watch: Axe Challenges Red Bull With Space Mission”

Axe has made its reputation with edgy advertising that makes no bones about why it believes young men should use it — to attract women to them as if they’re sexually magnetized.


Now, the Unilever brand is pushing the envelope just a bit more in two ways: …


Ouch: Dreamliners grounded … lithium battery concerns.

January 17, 2013

According to Reuters

The FAA has grounded Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner passenger jets while battery-related problems are investigated.

The plane has been plagued by recent electrical problems – raising concerns over its use of lithium-ion batteries.

Engineers and regulators are making checks – primarily to the plane’s batteries and complex electronics systems.


Here’s my take on the situation ….


Branding: New logos ditch the past.

January 2, 2013

Several companies launched new logos in 2012.

There were a couple of themes to the changes.

Some – like JC Penney — were trying to disconnect from their devolving legacies and present a new “fair & square” image.


* * * * *
Other brands changed logos for apparently different reasons …


Twinkies are dead … long live Twinkies.

November 16, 2012

Hot off the WSJ wires …


Hostess Brands, the maker of iconic treats such as Twinkies and traditional pantry staple Wonder Bread, is shuttering its plants and liquidating its 82-year-old business.

A victim of changing consumer tastes, high commodity costs and, most importantly, strained labor relations, Hostess ultimately was brought to its knees by a national strike orchestrated by its second-largest union …  the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers Union.

The company will “promptly” lay off most of its 18,500 employees and focus on “selling its assets to the highest bidders.”

Hostess’s remaining inventory — loaves of bread and plastic packages of cream-filled desserts — probably will be sold in bulk to a discounter or big-box store.

The company will attempt to sell its plants and its brands – think Twinkies, Ding-Dongs.

The names have decades of “deliciously retro” brand equity, and there is “pretty significant demand” for the products.

A fresh owner of the intellectual property, which includes everything from names to recipes to graphics, could revitalize the Hostess brands  with new flavors, limited-edition Twinkies, co-branded products, and  international reach.

* * * * *

Yves Saint Laurent ditching classic logo … get ‘em while they last.

November 15, 2012

Punch line: YSL’s classic logo may soon be extinct, and customers are snapping it up while they can.

Industry experts speculate that this move will actually increase the value of the classic logo and create a vintage label for the brand.

* * * * *
Excerpted from Business Week’s, “What Is The Deal With Yves Saint Laurent’s Logo?”

This week, thousands of shoppers braved rain and crowds for the annual Yves Saint Laurent sample sale.

Unlike in years past, this crowd was extra-jittery.

Since new creative director Hedi Slimane relabeled the brand “Saint Laurent Paris,” many of the fashion faithful have been worried that the company’s classic “YSL” logo will be replaced.

So shoppers are racing to snatch it up while they can.


If the old logo is indeed an endangered species, does this mean that items bearing it will go up in value?

According to the Luxury Institute, the answer is affirmative.

“YSL is making the change in a surgical way,”. They will reinterpret the classics. So yes, the classics will sell for more with a certain group of people.

The brand’s renewal, announced this summer to some disappointment among consumers, has been hard to pinpoint:

The company told reporters that the fashion house is called “Yves Saint Laurent,” the ready-to-wear collection “Saint Laurent,” and the logo “Saint Laurent Paris.”

PPR Luxury Group (which owns the brand) is very customer-centric and is working to modernize the YSL brand and improve the in-store experience.

Still, “If you run away from your classic product or reinterpret your classics … too far away from the DNA of the brand, you will fail. Period.”

While luxury brands might try to appeal to younger consumers, “even younger consumers mature into wanting the classics of that luxury brand.”

Perhaps this is why Yves Saint Laurent hasn’t completely abandoned its old signature.

“The YSL logo, created by Cassandre in 1961, will remain intact,” though  it has not yet been determined how it will be used in the future.

Edit by BJP

General Mills’ Monster Cereals’ limited availability creates continued demand

November 8, 2012

Punch line: General Mills’ Monster Cereals create a buzz for fans with limited availability.

Die hard fans of Boo Berry, Count Chocula and Franken Berry will go to great lengths to purchase the 1970’s classics, and resellers have capitalized on this, selling the boxes for 3X the price on ebay.

* * * * *
Excerpted from the WSJ’s, “Boo Berry is Big at Halloween with Kids, Hoarders and Resellers”

October is the coolest month for Roger Barr. For a few happy weeks, grocery stores stock the object of his desire: Boo Berry.


That is the berry-flavored cereal that turns milk bluish, delighting generations of American kids—and some adults, too.

The problem is that you can’t eat as much Boo Berry as you might  like.

Not long after Halloween, Boo Berry disappears from stores like an apparition.

The same affliction haunts lovers of Count Chocula and Franken Berry, the other two cereals General Mills produces for the Halloween season.

At first, the three surviving cereals were year-round familiars.

But the cereal maker cut distribution to the period from September to around Halloween in 2010.

General Mills wanted to focus on the pre-Halloween weeks to best capture the holiday excitement and enthusiasm for the products.

he company doesn’t release sales figures and won’t say whether the cereals were selling poorly the rest of the year.

One of the most amazing things about the monster cereals is the passion of the people.

Carol Shelley Thomas, a 45-year-old medical-billing specialist, for the past several years has bought 14 boxes of Franken Berry in October, enough to last until the following Halloween when more of the neon-pink cereal again appears in stores.

A quest for Count Chocula will lead Ron Macedo, a 41-year-old Toronto food distributor, across the border this month to Buffalo, N.Y., in order to buy at least 10 boxes of Chocula for himself and at least 20 boxes of Boo and Franken Berry for friends—to take back to Canada, where General Mills doesn’t market the stuff.

Many fans would love the cereals to be less elusive, but General Mills has no plans to make the three cereals available year-round.

But those who run out can turn to people like Josh Rhodes, who on eBay charges $7 per box from buyers.  Last year, he says, he sold about 300 boxes and expects to sell about 350 this year.  “Sure, I get some funny looks at the register,” says the 35-year-old Orchard Park, N.Y., resident, who buys about 40 boxes at a time for about $2 each.  “It’s worth it,” he says.

“People are willing to pay an arm and a leg for this stuff.”

Edit by BJP

Make ‘you’ your favorite brand …

October 29, 2012

Punch line: In today’s competitive job market, professionals must create a personal brand to stand out in the crown.  Using the traditional 4 P’s as a framework can help you develop a killer personal brand.

* * * * *
Excerpted from’s, “How to Create a Killer Personal Branding Campaign”

Call it self-marketing, personal branding, professional development, or any other buzzword you’d like. In any case, both finding a job and climbing the career ladder are all about investing in the business of you.


As a professional, you are a brand unto yourself.

The target market for the unique value you provide are employers who are constantly bombarded with messages from your competitors and always on the lookout for innovation.

Though the boundaries of traditional marketing no longer exist due to online media and new digital technologies, its core tactics can be reworked to guide your self-marketing strategy online.

  • Product: Be Consistent and Recognizable.  You must determine who you are as a professional and build a personal brand around your core strengths, skills and experience. What do you bring to the table that others in your industry do not?
  • Price: Know Your Value.  In addition to accounting for the value you add to an organization, you must decide what you are worth and what your bottom line is.
  • Place: Recognize Your Niche.  As a professional, you are only one person. Thus, it’s critical that you select a sphere of influence and stick with it, though it could be based on industry or knowledge base as much as geography.
  • Promotion: Communicate Your Brand.  How will you communicate your messages to the market you’ve targeted? Selecting the appropriate mediums means the difference between being heard loud and clear or getting lost in the clutter.

Whether you’re looking for a job or desire to be considered an expert in your industry, you can meet your objectives by building a brand around yourself — effectively leaving a memorable first impression and making people want to learn more about you.

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The perils of celebrity endorsements … sponsors tell Lance to peddle somebody else’s wares.

October 22, 2012

Punch line: Despite sticking by athletes during controversial times, Kobe Bryant and Tiger Woods included, Nike has dropped Lance Armstrong from his contract as the doping allegations continue.

* * * * *

Excerpted from the New York Times’, “Armstrong is Dropped by Nike as he Quits Role at His Charity”

A week after the United States Anti-Doping Agency made public its evidence in a doping case against Lance Armstrong, Armstrong on Wednesday stepped down as chairman of Livestrong, his cancer foundation, the organization that inspired millions fighting the disease.

The fallout from the antidoping agency’s report also prompted Nike, the company that stood by Armstrong through more than a decade’s worth of doping allegations, to terminate his contract.


“I have had the great honor of serving as this foundation’s chairman for the last five years and its mission and success are my top priorities,” Armstrong said in a statement. “Today therefore, to spare the foundation any negative effects as a result of controversy surrounding my cycling career, I will conclude my chairmanship.”

Armstrong, the seven-time Tour winner who denies ever doping, founded the organization in 1997 after he survived testicular cancer and it sold millions of yellow Livestrong wristbands and went on to partner with Nike to sell millions of dollars of Livestrong gear.

In a statement on Wednesday morning, Nike said the evidence that Armstrong had doped was so overwhelming that it could no longer partner with him. In the past, the company stood by athletes like Kobe Bryant, who was accused of sexual assault but never convicted, and Tiger Woods, who gained international notoriety for his extramarital affairs. Nike severed ties with Michael Vick when he went to prison for his role in a dogfighting ring but later re-signed him.

“Due to the seemingly insurmountable evidence that Lance Armstrong participated in doping and misled Nike for more than a decade, it is with great sadness that we have terminated our contract with him,” the statement said. “Nike does not condone the use of illegal performance enhancing drugs in any manner. Nike plans to continue support of the Livestrong initiatives created to unite, inspire and empower people affected by cancer.”

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Amex offers co-branded Wal-mart prepaid card … say, what?

October 17, 2012

Punch line: Wal-Mart and American Express take aim at the traditional credit card model to offer an alternative to lower-income consumers.

The new card will expand AmEx’s customer base while offering Wal-Mart another foray into financial services.

Blubird today, platinum tomorrow … I guess.

* * * * *
Excerpted from Reuters’, “Wal-Mart, Amex team up on card for lower-income shoppers”


Wal-Mart Stores Inc and American Express Co. have teamed up to provide financial services to customers who often do not have traditional bank accounts by offering a prepaid debit card called Bluebird.

The move will give American Express … a 4,000-store gateway to tens of millions of so-called “underbanked” households and … Walmart will get to extend its mantra of “every day low prices” to yet another sphere and come closer to achieving its years-long goal of offering banking services.

The Bluebird will allow for deposits by smartphone and mobile bill paying, with no minimum balance or monthly, annual or overdraft fees, the companies said on Monday.

“Bluebird is our solution to help consumers who currently may be poorly served by traditional banking products,” said Dan Schulman of American Express. “In an era where it is increasingly ‘expensive to be poor,’ we have worked with Wal-Mart to create a financial services product that rights many of the wrongs that plague the market today.”

Edit by JDC

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What’s your brand worth? … Ask Interbrand.

October 4, 2012

Punch line: Interbrand released its 13th annual Best Global Brands Report, giving Coca-Cola the top bid.

* * * * *
Excerpted from the New York Times, “List of Global Brands Keeps Coke on Top, and Apple Jumps Up.”


Interbrand’s 13th annual Best Global Brands report addresses the value of powerful brands — and the problems of brands whose value is diminishing. 

The report ranks what it deems the 100 most valuable brands on criteria that include:

  • Financial performance
  • The role the brand plays in influencing the choices made by consumers
  • The brand’s ability to help its parent’s earnings

Many of the ranked brands are known for dedicating time and corporate treasure to continually, if not continuously, trying to improve the results of their advertising.

Case in point is the brand that ranked No. 1 on the list for the 13th consecutive year, Coca-Cola. Interbrand estimated its brand value at $77.8 billion, up 8 percent from the 2011 report.

Although nothing lasts forever, the company will strive to keep the Coke brand relevant through innovations in how it engages with consumers.

For instance Facebook Coca-Cola has more likes, 51.98 million, than any other brand.

“A lot of staying relevant is not being afraid to take risks or do different things,” Mr. Tripodi, of Coca-Cola said. “It’s less about what you sell and more about what you stand for as a brand and company.

Eight of the remaining top nine brands changed ranks from last year, including Apple, which rose to No. 2 from No. 8, and Samsung, which rose to No. 9 from No. 17. 

Also, two brands dropped out of the top 10: Disney, which fell to No. 13 from No. 9 last year, and Hewlett-Packard, which fell to No. 15 from No. 10.

The list is dominated by technology companies.

Of the top 10 brands, five are in technology: Apple, Google, Microsoft, Intel and Samsung.  Another prominent technology company,

Facebook, entered the list for the first time, at No. 69. Facebook was among six new entrants; the others are Pampers (34), Prada (84), Kia (87), Ralph Lauren (91) and MasterCard (94).

Several brands that were ranked lower on the 2012 list compared with last year’s have been suffering setbacks.

Among them are BlackBerry, which tumbled to 93 from 56; Goldman Sachs, which declined to 48 from 38; and Nokia, which dropped to 19 from 14.

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You can slip into these sneaks for about $300 … deal or no deal?

September 12, 2012

Punch line: How do you market a pair of $300-plus sneakers? If you’re Nike, you just do it quietly. And by acting like you’re not marketing them at all.


* * * * *

Excerpted from Advertising Age, “Nike’s $300 Shoe Has the Marketing Built Right In”

Nike found itself in another controversy this week when news surfaced that it’s planning its most-expensive sneaker ever: the uber expensive LeBron X …

As the Swoosh is no stranger to controversy it is poised to combat the backlash through:

  1. Counterattack: The athletic giant hasn’t said what the final price will be for the shoe but it ripped the $315 price tag quoted by the WSJ as “inaccurate.”
  2. Word of mouth: Instead of expensive ads, Nike’s relying on word-of-mouth to build anticipation. The result: the buzz from athletes and sneaker blogs has helped score stories in every major media outlet.
  3. Product placement: Nike had the placement of all placements when millions of NBC TV viewers watched LeBron wear the shoes while leading the U.S. men’s basketball team to the gold medal in London.


One of the strongest selling features for shoes like the LeBron X is that they’re not for everybody.

In fact, Nike will only make 25,000 to 50,000 pairs which is expected to drive up prices and demand.

Edited by JDC

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Maybe sex doesn’t sell … yeah, right.

September 11, 2012

Punch line: Sex no longer sells for traditional teen retailer Abercrombie & Fitch. 

Faced with new consumers who want unique, affordable fashion, the clothing giant is seeing sales decline and shutting down US stores. 

* * * * *

Excerpted from Businessweek, “At Abercrombie & Fitch, Sex No Longer Sells


Abercrombie & Fitch’s skin-filled ads and nightclub vibe once delighted American teenagers and infuriated parents.

Today, many aren’t even paying attention.

The once-edgy retailer has lost a third of its market value in the past year as it grapples with falling sales in Europe and the U.S.

While Abercrombie blames the economy for its woes, brand consultants say it also has failed to change with the times.

Today’s teens are underwhelmed by the half-naked models and blaring, dimly lit stores.

They’re also less inclined to wear Abercrombie’s longtime uniform of pricey denim and graphic T-shirts.

Sales at non-U.S. stores open at least a year plunged 26 percent in the second quarter.

Abercrombie shuttered 71 U.S. stores in its most recent fiscal year, and in February said it will close another 180 through 2015.

Today’s teens are “radically different” from other generations … and have a bevy of options thanks to the boom in fast fashion from Forever 21 and H&M. 

Abercrombie is “positioned well to take advantage of this group’s desire to be rebellious and indie and different, because that’s what the brand is about … but right now the product mix doesn’t communicate that or facilitate it.”

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Do Olympic sponsors capture the gold?

September 5, 2012

Punch line: Corporate giants spent millions during the Olympic games with the expectation of a return on that investment.  What sales levels can Adidas, P&G, and McDonald’s expect to see after Olympics advertising?

* * * * *

Excerpted from WSJ, “Companies Seek Olympic Legacy

The Olympics has highlighted the boost that companies can get from sports sponsorship in the short term but experts say that the real benefit is brand awareness over the long term, which isn’t so easy to quantify.

Over the past few weeks several companies have trumpeted how sports sponsorship has paid off in terms of sales, with Adidas reporting an 18% jump in second-quarter profit tied to sponsorships.


Procter & Gamble expected its sponsorship of the London Olympics to bring in $500 million in incremental sales, with the hope that a bevy of commercials around the events would propel consumers to pick up more Bounty paper towels and Gillette razors.

And U.S. fast food giant McDonald’s Corp. will receive a boost to sales with the exclusive right to sell fries at four sites around the Olympic stadiums.

“There are not that many opportunities for brands to get the massive audiences that sporting events such as the Olympics, soccer World Cup and Euro 2012 attract,” said Graham Hales of Interbrand. “The value of being associated with, say, the Olympics, definitely makes for a stronger brand but working out the financial benefit is a trickier call.”

Adidas, as the sole sportswear partner of the Olympics and with individual deals with athletes including sprinters Tyson Gay and Yohan Blake, sped away from rivals Nike and Puma to post an 18% second-quarter jump in profits thanks to its strong sponsorship deals.  The German company invested $157.1 million in this summer’s Olympics which it has already made back in the past 12 to 18 months in license product sales alone, which have more than tripled since the 2008 games in Beijing.

Procter & Gamble were similarly vague about returns on sponsorship investment. CFO Jon Moeller didn’t disclose how much the world’s largest consumer-products company spent but said that a $600 million figure floating around some circles “is not the number we are spending,” and that the company is pleased with its expected return on this year’s games.

Paying for sponsorship must be weighed up in the context of a company’s overall marketing budget.  Each sponsor pays only to be allowed to be associated with the Olympics—you don’t get much more than that for your money particularly because there is no sponsorship allowed inside Olympic stadiums.  A company must judge whether a $300 million marketing bill with no direct Olympic association is better or worse than paying $100 million for sponsorship and then $200 million to activate it.

The exercise is complicated by “ambush marketing” strategies which enable companies to associate themselves strongly with a sporting event even though they aren’t official sponsors. Nike, for example, which isn’t an official sponsor of the International Olympic Committee or the London 2012 Olympics, but does sponsor the U.S. team, launched a global TV campaign featuring everyday athletes competing in places around the world named London timed to coincide with the Olympics 2012 opening ceremony.

Awareness is not an issue for these large companies and the short-term boost to sales is not significant in their world-wide sell, but being a sponsor is definitely a benefit and justifies the cost of the sponsorship.


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Want to cut your ad budget? … Simple, be Apple.

August 13, 2012

According to court testimony in the Apple v. Samsung patent trial …

Apple no longer actually needs to do ANY advertising when it launches new products.

So testified marketing chief Phil Schiller

Instead, the company relies on these two strategies:

  • Positive media  buzz, e.g. glowing product reviews.
  • Product placement in TV shows and movies.

The media is so reliably disposed to favor Apple’s products that when the iPhone was launched in 2007, the company didn’t do any advertising during a brief period after the device was introduced in January 2007 and when it went on sale later in the year.

“We didn’t need to.”

The rave reviews of the iPhone and iPad did a better job than advertising to build buzz.

Apple also relies heavily on product placement: “We love to see our products used by stars in movies and television shows.

* * * * *
Memo to JCP CEO Ron Johnson: JC Penney isn’t Apple !

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JCP CEO: “You’re fired for not making my dumb idea work”

June 19, 2012

Michael Francis helped make Target a roaring success.  So, JC Penney CEO  Ron Johnson offered him a $12 million signing bonus to jump ships. Francis took the bait.

Bad decision …except for the $12 million … which Francis gets before the tax rates jump on Jan. 1.

Now, Francis taking the fall for Johnson’s “no sales” strategy’s failure to ignite consumer interest.

Johnson’s still claiming that his idea is fine but it wasn’t marketed right.  That there was a failure to communicate.

After all, a sleek logo and aggressive “retail list price maintenance” worked at Apple … so why shouldn’t it work at a commodity rag place like JCP?

Excerpted from BrandChannel:

J. C. Penney ousted its JC Penney brand president, Michael Francis.

Francis was hired last October “at great expense” — a whopping $12 million signing bonus — from Target.

He  is seen as taking the fall for his boss, company CEO Ron Johnson, the former Apple top retailer who oversaw JCP’s new brand strategy in January.

Johnson who championed the idea of killing coupons and sales in favor of “fair and square pricing” (a reference to its logo), so-called “month long value” and “everyday low” pricing.

JCP recently scrapped that strategy and is re-embracing the dreaded s-word — “sale.”

CEO Johnson “will assume direct responsibility and oversight of the company’s marketing and merchandising functions.”

Ken’s Take: If I were JCP, I would have fired the Apple guy and kept the target guy … eventually, they’ll fire the CEO, too … and probably promote their VP Finance to interim CEO … as soon as it becomes evident that the critical Christmas season is a bust

* * * * *
In case you missed it, I was on NPR a couple of weeks ago commenting on the JCP strategy.

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While Dems sip Starbuck’s latte, Republicans run on Dunkin’ … go figure.

June 18, 2012

Punch line:  Democrats and Republicans have wildly different taste when it comes to certain brands.  Politicians are starting to see the value in understanding these differences, and the link to voters’ decision making process.

* * * * *
Excerpted from’s, “Brand Decision 2012: Dems are from Starbucks, Republicans are from Dunkin’

America is settling in for a long summer of campaigning between the Democratic candidate President Obama and the Grand Old Party’s Mitt Romney.

News of minor flubs by candidates and those who work for them will come up at bars, barbecues, and ice-cream joints across the land (or be completely avoided, for everyone’s safety).

… Members of the two political parties don’t just disagree on their candidates. They also mostly disagree on the brands they love, though there are three that help bring them together. Next time a president wants to have a bipartisan summit of some sort, he or she might want to involve Coke, Apple, and Visa.

Both candidates and brands have never fought harder for our affection and our votes, … It’s never been more important to understand why people make the choices that they do. Brands can learn a lot by having a deeper understanding of the deep-seated connections that drive our decision-making.

Edit by BJP

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So, what’s a brand worth?

May 23, 2012

Millward Brown — a brands’ consultancy — has just released its Brand Z 2012 brand rankings and valuations (see chart below and click through for the complete list).

Apple tops their list … followed by IBM, Google, McDonald’s, Microsoft and Coke.

Sounds reasonable … but, according to Ad Age — the list re-opens a can of worms re: brand valuations.

Ad Age cites IBM as a case in point:

According to Brand Z, IBM continues its rise up the brand-valuation hierarchy, leapfrogging Google and rising to No. 2 behind Apple, its value up 15% to nearly $116 billion last year.

Omnicom’s Interbrand also had IBM No. 2 in its brand-valuation ranking released last October, up 8%, but valued Big Blue at just under $70 billion, only about 60 cents on Brand Z’s dollar.

But, the CoreBrand Brand Power ranking released about three weeks earlier, said  the value of IBM’s brand plummeted last year as it fell 18 places to No. 66 on that firm’s list.


Ad Age says it’s illustrative of a bigger problem:

The IBM case is but an extreme among many disparities the Marketing Accountability Standards Board has found in publicly available valuations of brands.

The MASB  has been trying to develop a common way of measuring what brands are worth and how those values change.

“Many of the valuators treat them as black boxes, so you don’t even know what’s in it.”

So, how much is a brand worth?

* * * * * *


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Carly goes leather: “No more Mr. Nice Guy”

April 25, 2012

TakeAway: T-Mobile reboots the its brand with an alter-ego of its well-known spokeswoman in the hopes of increasing trial.

* * * * *
Excerpt from AdAge:
“T-Mobile Talks Tough for Its Comeback, Vowing ‘No More Mr. Nice Girl’”

Carly who has starred in T-Mobile’s ads since 2010 and been dubbed by some a DVR-proof pitch personality, is trading her usual frocks for biker leather as the T-Mobile looks to halt mass subscriber defections.


“The pending AT&T deal negatively impacted customer satisfaction and brand perception in 2011, which is why we believe it is time to reinvigorate the challenger strategy and to relaunch the brand,”

Despite its smaller budget, T-Mobile ads have seemed to cut through the clutter, thanks largely to Carly, the only current spokescharacter for a mobile carrier who’s easily recognizable.

Ads featuring biker Carly are intended to equate the brand with speed which is the single-biggest thing consumers are looking for in their next smartphone.

Speed?  Yeah, right/

Edited by ARK
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Move over MJ … Nike’s ready with some Lin-kicks.

February 22, 2012

Punch line: Nike has jumped on the Lin band wagon and plans to release the Hyperfuse 2011 Linsanity PE.

Pretty catchy name, right?. 

* * * * *

Excerpted from, “With Jeremy Lin Shoe, Nike Seeks Linsane Asylum


In case you hadn’t noticed, the world has gone nuts for New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin …

Now Nike is planning to give the people what they want: to be #Linning too.

According to ESPN Radio’s blog, the shoe manufacturer is “set to release the Nike Hyperfuse 2011 Linsanity PE,” a shoe that features New York Knick’s iconic orange and blue with ‘Lin’ written in script, “sweeping across the side of the heel” …

Lin’s new shoe isn’t likely to supplant the Air Jordan in Nike history, of course, but it’s hard to imagine what will happen if Lin keeps leading the Knicks to consecutive victories — and after the inevitable end to the hot streak …

Meanwhile, Lin’s brand keeps getting larger, and not just in the U.S.

Lin — who is the first American-born player in the NBA of Chinese or Taiwanese descent — now has more than 350,000 Twitter followers and, on the Chinese version, 750,000, according to the New Yorker. The publication notes that “last week, Lin rocketed to the number-one most searched item on Baidu, the Chinese search engine.”

Edit by KJM

Walmart marks healthy options with its own “Great for you” icon

February 16, 2012

Punchline: Walmart moms want to buy healthier foods for their families, but are over-whelmed by nutrition labels and options. To simplify the buying process and promote healthier eating, Walmart has made a “Great for you” icon for its healthy products.

* * * * *
Excerpted from, “Walmart’s “Great for You” Icon Promotes Healthier Food Choices


A year after pledging to develop a front-of-pack label that would give its customers an easier way to identify healthier food, and a month after a public commitment with First Lady Michelle Obama to putting nutrition front and center in its stores, Walmart, the nation’s largest food retailer this week unveiled a “Great For You” icon to create a visual system to educate customers ..

Walmart says it will adapt to whatever the FDA’s regulations are whenever that list actually is produced, but will for now add the icon to products with lower levels of fat, sugar, and artificial additives. Plus, the seal will appear on signage in the fruits and vegetable section of its grocery area.

“It helps customers see very, very quickly what healthier choices are for them,” stated Andrea Thomas, SVP of sustainability for Wal-Mart Stores …

“Walmart moms are telling us they want to make healthier choices for their families, but need help deciphering all the claims and information already displayed on products,” said Andrea Thomas, senior vice president of sustainability at Walmart. “Our ‘Great For You’ icon provides customers with an easy way to quickly identify healthier food choices. As they continue to balance busy schedules and tight budgets, this simple tool encourages families to have a healthier diet” …

Edit by KJM.

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Don’t you dare call me the “Egg McMuffin” of anything !

January 18, 2012

Punch line: In the old days, Cadillac was the badge of excellence.  Calling something the Cadillac of its category was high praise.

Well, Mickey D. wants to fill the void with the Egg McMuffin … suggesting that this breakfast sandwich is somehow synonymous with excellence.

Based on social networking indicators, the idea is getting some traction.

Gotta make you proud to be a marketer …

* * * * *
Excerpted from, “Is This Egg McMuffin Ad the Egg McMuffin of Ads? Breakfast sandwich gets new catchphrase

Casting the Egg McMuffin as shorthand for excellence is about as odd as grouping it with healthy foods and casting it as a wholesome dietary choice.

But McDonald’s latest commercial for the breakfast sandwich does just that, starting with a girl telling a guy that he’s “the Egg McMuffin of boyfriends” and proceeding from there.

That phrase has caught on quickly, with the Boston Globe reporting on the adoption of the phrase in social media — used ironically or not — with something like 11,000 tweets and 1,200 Facebook mentions.

Check Twitter for various clever uses. It even made Craigslist, where a New Jersey residence was described as “the Egg McMuffin of 2 BR apts in downtown Hoboken.”

Returning to the ad, my favorite part is the Egg McMuffin of cars bit.

That’s how a friend of mine used to describe his old vehicle because it leaked oil and smelled gross.

click to view the commercial

Edit by KJM

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Looks like a hybrid, runs like a hybrid … it’s eAssist.

January 17, 2012

Punch line: Buick is ducking some common perceptions by calling its new LaCrosse hybrid a “LaCrosse with eAssist”.

Excerpted from BrandChannel

American consumers remain decidedly lukewarm to hybrid vehicles.

Buick is hoping to get around this obstacle by positioning its latest hybrid, a version of the LaCrosse sedan, as a non-hybrid. Instead, GM is touting the “light electrification” system it uses for the car and has come up with a unique brand name for it: “eAssist.”

“When you say ‘hybrid,’ many times that comes with baggage.”

“So for us, the focus was to put an emphasis on the car itself and what this car delivers and how technology enhances the ownership experience.

We’re selling a LaCrosse that happens to have this great [eAssist] technology.”

For example, Buick and its dealers are emphasizing: the quiet ride… and the car’s  “start-stop” capability which halts operation of the engine at stoplights, saving fuel, and then starts it up again when the driver punches the accelerator.

The LaCrosse with eAssist retains a feature that has proven popular with most hybrid purchasers: a screen on the instrument panel that helps them track …  fuel economy.”

The eAssist gauge “is a way for people to show they’ve got something unique, and they can show their friends and families.”

That’ll fool a lot of folks, won’t it?

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“Little” brands, few ad dollars … lots of awareness.

December 19, 2011

TakeAway: Small brands overcome limited marketing budgets by growing brand awareness through support of social movements, in-store experiences and work culture.

* * * * *
Excerpt from AdAge: “How Little Brands Land Big Bang for Their Buck”

Brands built with little or no media support were once relatively rare, but they’ve begun to proliferate in recent years.

From Ben & Jerry’s, Honest Tea and Lululemon, they fascinate the many marketers who must shell out millions to get noticed.

One reason is that these success stories are often built on factors that don’t usually fit with big, established brands.

For example, some are built on substantial investments in branded retail stores and the store experience, rather than media.

Others are built on the brand’s affinity with political and social movements that can be tough for big brands to embrace.

And some have been based on big investments in wages, benefits and fun cultures that keep employees happy — not the usual storyline for huge corporations.

The common thread through all these no-cost, low-cost marketing success stories is a good story, one that bears repeating and fares well both in social and PR-fueled traditional media.

Almost by definition, such stories are easier for bootstrap entrepreneurs to come by than, say, 65-year-old detergent brands.

All things considered, It’s still nice to have money ..

Edit by ARK

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Go get me a ream of Dunder Mifflin paper … really!

December 8, 2011

TakeAway: Staples uses a fictional brand name from the popular TV show “The Office” to differentiate and boost sales in a declining commodity-like industry.

* * * * *
Excerpt from WSJ: “Great Scott! Dunder Mifflin Morphs Into Real-Life Brand of Copy Paper”

Staples’ has struck a licensing deal with NBC’s parent company to launch a Dunder Mifflin brand.

Priced above private-label copy paper, the Dunder Mifflin packages will be emblazoned with slogans such as “Our motto is, ‘Quabity First’ ” and “Get Your Scrant on,” well-known phrases from the comedy series.

The marketing deal is an effort to combat what Quill’s chief marketing officer calls a “race to the bottom in the paper business.”

The Dunder Mifflin deal is an example of “reverse product placement.”

For decades, marketers have worked to embed their brands in the plots of TV shows and movies as a way to stand out in a crowded ad market. Nowadays, they are seeing value in bringing to life fictional brands that are already part of pop culture.

Examples include Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans, a candy from the Harry Potter books, and Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. restaurants, inspired by the 1994 film “Forrest Gump.”

For Quill, which has a roughly $3 million annual ad budget, using the well-known Dunder Mifflin name is a way to draw attention to its brand without spending heavily on marketing.

Edit by ARK

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Nike tells Marty McFly: “Just do it !”

December 5, 2011

TakeAway: With a special-edition “Back to the Future” shoe, Nike helps to fundraise $9.4M for Michael J. Fox’s Parkinson Foundation.

* * * * *
Excerpted from, “Nike ‘Back to the Future’ Shoes Raise $9.4 Million for Michael J. Fox Foundation


When 1985’s Back to the Future blew the doors off of the box office – eventually generating $303.87 billion – two sequels were automatically set into motion and released in 1989 and 1990. And somewhere in there, someone got fully turned onto the joy of product placement.

Back to the Future II was particularly chockfull of brand names, including Black and Decker, Pepsi, Texaco, Mattel, Pizza Hut,  The Weather Channel, 7-Eleven, and AT&T, among others. But fans salivated most over the special shoe that Nike designer Tinker Hatfield created for the film, the Nike MAG shoe, with its glowing LED panel and an electroluminescent “Nike” for Michael J. Fox to wear as the film’s hero, Marty McFly.

Sneaker aficionados had been begging the company for years to release the same shoe to the mainstream. So in a highly-publicized eBay auction in September, Nike made only 1,500 to auction off on eBay to raise cash for Michael J. Fox’s Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. The result was $4.7 million from consumers, which a matching initiative doubled to $9.4 million.

“The enthusiasm this project ignited, and the funds and awareness the shoes generated for Parkinson’s research, are both humbling and inspiring,” Fox. “Our Foundation is truly grateful to Nike for this unique partnership that brought Back to the Future fans, sneakerheads and the PD community together in the quest to eradicate Parkinson’s from the space-time continuum.”

The first pair went to British rapper and “avid sneaker collector” Tinie Tempah, who shelled out $37,500 for the honor at a celeb auction in Los Angeles.

If you missed out and are looking to pick up some Back to the Future memorabilia while helping out Fox’s Foundation, you’re in luck. Technabob reports that auction house Profiles in History will sell off more than 100 items from the films in L.A. between Dec. 15 and Dec. 18. Part of the proceeds will go to the Foundation.

Some of the gear set to be auctioned off includes some futuristic Pepsi and Slice cans, Marty’s Mattel Hoverboard, the case from the Nike self-lacing shoes, and, yes, one of the seven awesome DeLoreans used during the filming. It would make an unforgettable holiday gift, don’t you think?

Edit by KJM.

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C’mon down: Brand USA cajoles international travelers to the U.S.

November 29, 2011

TakeAway: The NGO, Corporation for Travel and Promotion, is going to give USA a new global positioning that welcomes world travelers to ultimately drive economic growth.

* * * * *
Excerpt from AdAge: “Promoting Brand USA: America’s New ‘Awesome’ Global Positioning”

The country’s new positioning comes courtesy of the Corporation for Travel Promotion (CTP), which hired JWT to handle a global marketing campaign and to create a logo for Brand U.S.A.

The goal is to promote leisure and business travel in order to drive economic growth and job creation.

Based on the first glimpses of the CTP’s strategy, they are leaning heavily on creating content, such as this website that houses travel itineraries for different U.S. cities.

The site also links to several partners in the effort, among them: federal agencies related to tourism, transportation companies, travel agencies, and tour operators. Another major part of its push appears to be social media, with fan pages on Facebook for different cities.

It’s going to take a lot more than a few day-trip suggestions and “likes” on Facebook to get tourists.

Pew Studies in recent years have shown America’s image declining not just in parts of the world where anti-Americanism runs rampant.

The CTP is planning to launch a worldwide push in March, which it calls “the first-ever coordinated global marketing effort dedicated to welcoming international travelers to the United States.”

Edit by ARK

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DIY Shoppers…..RadioShack is Sorry!

November 23, 2011

TakeAway: RadioShack’s emphasis on  mobility products (aka. cell phones) turned away their core customers – parts & gadget buyers. Now, RadioShack is trying to get these customers back.

* * * * *
Excerpt from AdAge: “RadioShack’s Journey to Bring Back a Forgotten Customer”

In a candid presentation, RadioShack’s CMO Lee Applbaum described how the marketer abandoned its core do-it-yourself customer, in a bid to embrace mobility.

As the mobility business grew, the “signature” business, which includes things like accessories and power products suffered, falling from 38% of the business in 2009 to 32% in 2010.

Shareholders and analysts took note of decline, considering the category has very high margins, drives frequency and encourages loyalty.

Initially, RadioShack told itself that people just weren’t buying those products anymore.

But, as evidenced by the Wired article and a slew of blog posts, it quickly became clear that wasn’t the case. 

“For all the work around the rebranding, we didn’t spend ample time understanding our customers.”

Once RadioShack acknowledged the problem, it moved quickly to re-establish connections with the DIY shopper.

RadioShack began asking those consumers what they wanted, reaching out via its blog and social media. The response was swift.

A program called “The Great Create” leveraged RadioShack’s roots and attracted 110 million impressions in the first 30 to 45 days.

Edit by ARK

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I hate it when that happens …

October 28, 2011

Punch line: Hate when your chips get stuck in the vending machine? You are not alone … Kettle brand launches its first, dialogue-free, national tv campaign, inspired by consumers’ passion for Kettle’s all-natural potato chips.

* * * * *
Excerpted from, “Kettle Brand In First National TV Campaign

After 30 years of heavy reliance on word-of-mouth advocacy, Diamond Foods, Kettle Brand Potato Chips are getting star treatment with a major new campaign that includes the brand’s first national television advertising.

The campaign, themed “Nobody Likes Kettle Chips. They Love Them,” kicked off this week with national TV spots, print ads, public relations, in-store marketing, digital display ads, online video and social media ….

The humorous, dialogue-free TV spots portray fans of the batch-cooked, all natural potato chips in everyday moments in which they are eagerly anticipating satisfying their craving for the chips, only to have their hopes dashed by various glitches.

One spot shows a boy’s crushed expression as his teacher confiscates his secret bag of Kettle Chips (and proceeds to eat them herself). In another, a man at work desperately scrounges up enough change to buy a bag of the chips; his facial expression shifts from excited to gravely disappointed as the bag gets stuck in the vending machine …

The campaign’s creative was inspired by real consumers describing their passion for the chips and “the extraordinary lengths they go to during ordinary moments to get, save and enjoy their favorite Kettle Brand chips.”

Diamond Foods reports that Kettle Brand’s U.S. sales in mass retail channels increased by 6.9% during the 12-week period ending Oct. 1, per Nielsen FDMx data …

Edit by KJM

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Taking a pulse … How’s your “Facebook health”?

October 27, 2011

Punch line: While there is no magic way to gain strong consumer engagement on Facebook, a Covario study highlights the “Facebook health” of 100 leading advertisers across industry verticals. This study reveals less is more and quality counts …

* * * * *
Excerpted from, “Facebook Fans Say ‘Coke Is It’

Coca-Cola ranks as the world’s No. 1 brand in a Covario study focusing on the Facebook health of 100 leading advertisers.

Hyundai, MTV, Disney and Bayer round out the top most liked and Wal-Mart rates best for engagement.

With the number of global Facebook users exceeding 750 million, its importance as an advertising medium is undeniable and growing fast … Coke has more than 34 million fans on Facebook, which is growing at a monthly rate of nearly 3%. The brand has strong fan engagement, typically posting seven items a month on its page with each garnering more than 235 comments and nearly 1,750 “likes.”

… “Several advertisers — Bayer and SC Johnson — have built followers, but their engagement statistics are relatively low … This is a huge branding opportunity for the firms.” AT&T, Wal-Mart, Dr. Pepper and Fox have excellent engagement, but lower than expected “reach” statistics …

Wal-Mart ranks on top for overall engagement, receiving an average of 7,390 comments and 726 “likes” on every post, which far exceeds all of the other advertisers in the study.

Apple is the only company among the nation’s top 100 advertisers that does not have an official Facebook page. The top Apple listing is a user page with 188,000 followers.

The study broke out Facebook leaders by vertical industry segments, including automotive, consumer packaged goods — sundries (Johnson & Johnson), consumer packaged goods — food and beverage (Coca-Cola), entertainment and media (MTV/Viacom), financial services/insurance (American Express), pharmaceuticals (Bayer), restaurants (Wendy’s), retailers (Victoria’s Secret), technology (Hewlett Packard) and telecommunications (DirecTV) …

Having many outbound posts is not an optimization factor … less is more with Facebook and quality is what counts … The best brands at engagement obtain upwards of 750 comments and 1,500 “likes” per post.

There is no magic to the type of posts being run by successful brand advertisers. While promotions are rampant in advertiser posts, often posting generalized questions is more successful than hard promotions …

Edit by KJM

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At ripe age of 132, P&G’s first mass marketed brand gets a makeover …

October 17, 2011

Punch line: P&G launches Ivory soap in new colorful packages and with a redesigned logo, and a back-to-basics nostalgic marketing campaign.

* * * * *
Excerpted from, “P&G launches for Ivory soap

… The remake is part of an effort to breathe new life into Ivory. It comes at a time when Americans are scaling back on spending in the down economy, but are looking for little, cheap ways to pamper themselves … As P&G has focused on bigger, faster-growing brands, the white bar of soap has lagged behind its rival Dove and faced increasing competition from Dial and Irish Spring.

Ivory isn’t among the 24 brands with at least $1 billion in annual sales at P&G … but the soap that floats has a long history with the company.

Ivory was the first brand mass-marketed by P&G. It is the namesake of a P&G research and production center called “Ivorydale.” It’s deeply entrenched in American pop culture as a sponsor of early television soap operas and the first televised major league baseball game …

Ivory is where our origins are … It has a special place in a lot of people’s hearts around here. It’s incredibly important to keep it alive and growing.”

… P&G expects the new campaign to remind people why their families used Ivory in the past, and to attract new users with quality for low price …

“There is so much tail wind at our back: the economic environment, this trend of getting back to things that work, and reminding us of a time when things were a bit simpler.”

… Instead of Ivory’s usual nearly all-white packages, new ones will be more colorful. One is mostly bright blue. The new package emphasizes the 10 bars compared to 8- and 6-packs sold by most competitors with a big “10.” A simpler logo plays off the previous of the 1950s and carries the slogan, “pure, clean & simple.”

… The ads have some understated humor, calling Ivory “meticulously scented to smell exactly like soap” and pledging that “when dirt changes its formula, so will we.” …

Edit by KJM.
Thanks to DM for feeding the lead

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The top 100 brands … and the movers.

October 12, 2011

Interbrands’s has released its 2011 estimates of brand values.

First, the top 11.

I went 11 deep since  I think it’s noteworthy that Toyota gained in brand value despite the flap in the US over the alleged gas pedal problem.

Also, noteworthy is HP in 10th place …   obviously doesn’t reflect the recent turmoil there.

Rest of the list are the usual suspects.


* * * * *
Here are the biggest gainers in brand value from 2010 to 2011.

Note that VW and Audi earned nice gains.


* * * * *
And, here are the biggest losers in brand value from 2010 to 2011.

Only surprises  (to me) is IKEA and MTV.  It’s a bummer getting old …


For the article, methodology and interactive chart click here

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Shining sunlight on “vampire brands” …

July 13, 2011

Punch line: Vampire brands live off the blood of their customers … they can be (and should be) defanged by vigilant and vocal consumers.

Extracted from a published letter in the Financial Times by MSB Prof Charles Skuba.

Examples of minor customer exploitation have become too common business practices today and deserve more customer challenge.

It is lamentable that “business practices whose rationale derives from consumer ignorance and producer knowledge” are accepted today by too many executives, particularly in service industries, as convenient opportunities for fattening margins after the primary customer decision has been made.

The best brands and marketing practitioners have greater respect for their customers and work to win their loyalty at what Procter & Gamble calls the first and second “moments of truth”.

  • The first moment of truth is when the customer chooses one brand over another at the point of purchase.
  • The second moment of truth is when the customer chooses whether to repurchase after consideration of the value equation.

We will all benefit when consumers share their frustrating experiences with brands that fail this test.

Vampire brands that live off the blood of their customers are best controlled by exposure to the sunlight of customer criticism.

Ken’s Take: Social media provides a powerful way for dis-satisfied customers to spread their messages broadly and quickly.  Vampire brands beware.

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Brands: Making ghosts powerful (again)

May 2, 2011

TakeAway: Kraft is on a mission to keep its myriad products from becoming ghost brands — once-prominent pantry staples that fade into obscurity through a lack of consumer interest brought on by a lack of advertising support. 

It is common during economic downturns for marketers to see if any brands they own can be renewed or revived because it can cost less to bring ghost brands back to life than develop new ones.

To forestall that fate for other brands, Kraft executives are initiating a project called Operation Spark, meant to help consumers reconnect with products that are not part of what Kraft calls its roster of “power brands,” which includes behemoths like Planters, Oreo, Ritz and Trident.

* * * * *

Excerpted from the NYTimes, “Rescuing ‘Ghost’ Brands From Grocery Limbo By Stuart Elliott, April 12, 2011

This is also a propitious time for Kraft to assess its product lineup because consumers who are still watching their spending are eating at home more often, making them more receptive to pitches for packaged foods.

If ghost brands cannot be reclaimed, marketers usually have to give up the ghost, selling or discontinuing them to concentrate on larger, livelier holdings. For instance, Kraft stopped making its Postum grain beverage, which dated to 1895, and sold off products like Log Cabin syrups.

The brands the executives hope to keep from the ghostly ranks include the Athenos line of Greek-style dips, spreads and yogurt; dairy products that are sold in the East under the Breakstone’s name and in the West as Knudsen; and Stove Top stuffing. 

Those brands are getting new campaigns and other promotional support, including television commercials for Breakstone’s and Knudsen that began on Monday. The brands also all have new agencies. 

A central element of Operation Spark is to pair the smaller brands with creative agencies that have outstanding reputations for effective, rule-breaking advertising — and have not previously worked for Kraft.

Edit by AMW 

* * * * *

Pepsi (and everybody else) goes retro …

April 4, 2011

TakeAway: Many brands are finding that the best way to come up with a new product is to make a retro version of the old product.

Pepsi, Heinz, Hostess have all incorporated “throwback, retro” design and products into the line up. 

Studies shown that Millennials relate particularly well to retro items as it gives them a feeling of authenticity.

* * * * *

Excerpted from MediaPost, “More Retro Action: Heinz, Hostess Follow Pepsi” by Karlene Lukovitz, March 22, 2011

Everything old is new again in the world of marketing — although these days, “old” can sometimes mean the 1990s.

One week after PepsiCo made retro versions of Pepsi, Mountain Dew and Doritos a permanent part of the brands’ lineups, Heinz Ketchup is readying a collector’s edition glass bottle with a retro label, and Hostess is featuring ’70s brand characters and bringing back Twinkies’ original banana filling recipe.

These developments come a week after PepsiCo announced that it is making sugar-formulated (no high-fructose corn syrup), retro-packaged Throwback versions of Pepsi and Mountain Dew … permanent, year-round parts of the brands’ portfolios.

The retro phenomenon — also being seen in a wide variety of nonfoods categories (think Nike’s Playoff Air Jordan 13 Retro athletic shoe and Disney’s revival of the “Tron” franchise) — is being driven primarily by marketers’ realization of the power of “authenticity” among Millennials, in particular.

Retro is very cool with 20-somethings, because it ties in with their desire for simpler, cleaner, more authentic lives. … they see nostalgia as a way to differentiate themselves.”

“Millennials thrive on interconnectedness, but highly value authenticity, particularly ‘real’ ingredients as opposed to ‘chemical stews.’

At the same time, boomers feel a rose-colored yearning for the days when life was less complex.”

Edit by HH

Ken gets a makeover … now, a“babe-magnet”

March 30, 2011

 Not me, silly …. Barbie’s “arm candy” in toyland.

I missed that Barbie dumped toy Ken in 2004, ending a 43 year relationship.  For the past 10 years, the jilted Ken toiled in obscurity.

Well, he’s back.

Mattel brokered a reconciliation between Ken and Barbie as part of its brand-marketing, sales-recovery strategy.

Ken’s remake has boosted the brand’s sales to $1.25 billion in 2010

* * * * *

Excerpted from: BW Magazine, “Why Ken Is the New Babe-Magnet in Toyland”  February 10, 2011 BW Magazine

The world’s most famous plastic couple – Ken & Barbie — is getting back together.

Ken’shandlers revamped his image, giving him a Justin Bieberesque makeover complete with floppy locks, skinny jeans, and graphic T-shirt.

That landed Ken a scene-stealing part in Toy Story 3, restoring him to his previous status of pop culture icon.  The filmmakers cast Ken as a vain, leopard-print-wearing metrosexual. In one scene, Ken cries: “I’m not a girl’s toy.”

Ken now has his own Facebook page and Twitter feed (sample tweet: “Weekend Ken-fession: I may have knocked somebody over while walking and playing Madden on my iPhone this morning. My bad.”).

Beaming with confidence after his big-screen debut, Ken won his ex back with professions of love on big-city billboards and ads in Us Weekly. One message: “We may be plastic, but our love is real.”

Despite Ken’s breakout movie role and his growing ranks of Twitter followers, his future depends, as always, on the woman he loves.

He’ll stay in the spotlight “unless he does something to really upset Barbie.”

Marketers Return to “Good Ole Days” Strategy

March 18, 2011

TakeAway: With the economy still a long way from recovering, marketers are turning to an old strategy to reconnect with consumers.

Recent ads from automobile and even bourbon companies aim to reach the average Joe via the theme of shared values 

Advertising that makes an emotional appeal to consumers is by no means a new trick to advertisers or their agency partners, but it’s easier said than done. 

One of the classic, textbook examples of marketers who excel at this is Coca-Cola, which isn’t selling bottles of Coke, per se, but “8- and 12-oz. bottles of happiness.” 

In tough times, the strategy may be even more critical as cash-strapped consumers are more likely to spend money on brands that closely align with their personal values.

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Excerpted from WSJ, “Marketers Embrace ‘Values’ Pitch in Tough Times” By Elaine Wong, February 17, 2011

The two-minute Chrysler “Imported from Detroit” commercial is full of values-laden phrases. There are the obvious descriptors like “hard work” and “conviction” as well as adages that inspire awe and determination, such as: “It’s the hottest fires that make the hardest steel.” Or, thought-provoking questions like, “What does a town that’s been to hell and back know about the finer things in life?” All statements that are meant to encourage consumers to take a second look at Chrysler by prompting them to reconsider their values.

Another one of Detroit’s Big Three, General Motors, which also advertised in the Super Bowl, has been running a campaign for the last four months to promote its new lineup of Chevrolet vehicles, including its Volt electric and Cruze compact cars. A 60-second “anthem” or anchor television spot takes viewers through Chevrolet’s historical past, as well as a brief look into its future. “One hundred years ago, Chevrolet sprang bolt by bolt, car by car, out of the very best America had to offer: ingenuity, integrity, optimism,” the voiceover says.  There is also a subtle plug at Chevy’s “deep” history: “This isn’t just any car company. This is Chevrolet. And the strength of our nation can be found in every car and truck we make. That’s why today, tomorrow and on into a bright future, we can proudly say, ‘Chevy runs deep.’”  The strategy is a bit different from the past, when Chevrolet marketed its vehicles via a “hard sell” kind of approach–i.e., “We’re an American brand, you’re an American consumer, therefore, you should buy our products.”

The shift stemmed from this insight: “While consumers want us to succeed, they don’t want to spend their hard earned money on us just because we’re made in the U.S. and are a U.S. company.” A better approach was to focus on the emotional reasons behind why Americans buy Chevrolets.

Edit by AMW

Keds Steps It Up … to Kick It into Gear

March 9, 2011

TakeAway: Keds is repositioning itself and wants to remind people that it is an iconic brand. 

The buildup of artist collaboration and partnerships over 2010 culminates in the 2011 “How Do You Do?” campaign, which will encourage the target audience to create and collaborate, and emphasizes the idea of Keds sneakers being a canvas used to express that creativity.

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Excerpted from WSJ, “A Campaign to Introduce Keds to a New Generation” By Tanzina Vega, February 22, 2011

Drivers who see a 32-foot shoebox rolling down the highway over the next few weeks should not be alarmed. The large white box is part of a new national marketing campaign for the sneaker company Keds.  The campaign, called “How Do You Do?,” is intended to reach millennials by taking the shoebox on wheels on a cross-country tour of college campuses. The campaign is also part of an effort to reposition the Keds brand, which has existed since 1916.

Since 2009, the company has been laying the foundation for that awakening by revamping the Keds Web site and participating in partnerships with designers and outlets like Alice and Olivia, Jeffrey New York and Richard Chai. Keds has also joined with the Whitney Museum of American Art on the Keds Whitney Collection, where artists like Jenny Holzer, Laura Owens and Sarah Crowner created limited-edition designs of the canvas sneakers, which were sold in Bloomingdale’s in New York City.

The company also created the online Keds Collective, where artists and designers could create their own versions of Keds to be sold on the company Web site. Users can also design their own Keds sneakers by customizing each of the 15 parts of the shoe, including details like the tongue binding, eyelets and laces.

A print campaign that began in 2010 was the next step in reintroducing the brand to the millennial demographic, defined as optimistic, collaborative, open and diverse. The ads featured groups of people doing things like building a sustainable garden on a rooftop.

Inside the shoebox, visitors will find two touch-screen maps of the tour where they can watch videos about the local artists, retail outlets and charity organizations that Keds is working with in each city. On another wall, users can see a gallery of Keds shoes inspired by each city on the tour schedule.  Outside the shoebox, visitors will see activities that expand on the “How Do You Do?” campaign slogan. For a section called “How Do You Do Keds?” students will be able to customize their own sneakers using a touch-screen kiosk, and can purchase the sneakers from the shoebox. The kiosks will also promote a shoe-design competition called “How Do You Do Your City?” which will run through the month of March.  The winner of the competition will get a $1,000 prize and a $5,000 donation to an arts-based charity. Keds is also sponsoring a segment called “How Do You Do Charity?,” where users will be asked to post messages on Twitter, using the symbol #HDYD, describing what inspires them about their city. The company will donate $1 per post to a local arts-based charity in each city, up to a predetermined maximum.

For each city in the tour, Keds has teamed up with local artists who will use the sneakers as a canvas. The slogans for each of the city stops will reflect the city name, as in “How Do You Do Austin?” and “How Do You Do New York?” For a concurrent promotion — “How Do You Do Art?” — local artists will create a mural on an eight-foot canvas inspired by the postings on Twitter using the tag #HDYD.

Edit by AMW

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