Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Cockfighting...What NOT To Do!

My “weekend getaway” mountain cabin is finally under contract.

In the present day real estate market that’s like winning the lottery.

One of the aspects of the mountain community that I will not miss is the cock-fighting farm.

Although, cockfighting seems to be the new marketing forum for a number of firms.

Case in point…hospitals in the healthcare field.

I won’t name names, but I will simply say that the two players I am going to highlight are essentially the only two hospital options available to residents of the community where they are located.

One of these players paid BrandVenture a good amount of money to help them assess market perceptions, evaluate positioning options and develop a 5-year brand-building plan.

In taking on the assignment, we went out into the community and spoke with residents, business owners, physicians and community leadership.

It was refreshing to hear all of those audience groups talk about the emotional experiences that they found delivered by our client and how those experiences differentiated the hospital from what the competitor across town provided in their “system of healthcare.”

We completed our work and were actually moving ahead on some really great advertising creative that tapped right into the heart of the emotional chords of their experience offering…no pun intended!


The hospital CEO retired and a new guy was hired.

The new CEO is barely 40 and came on board from a smaller hospital in Florida.

The CEO at the other hospital is a Baby Boomer that has been in the business about twice as long.

The new new CEO of the hospital never returned a single phone call we made and I will put some money on the table, never read any of the work we completed.

At first, we took it personally. But that did not last long.

Within a week after the new CEO came on board, the talk of the town was that he was making all the staff wear different uniforms color-coded by department.

Should we say, the new CEO was not well-liked by those working “the line.”

What then followed was a set of ads declaring “we are better than the other hospital in town” ads touting their new machines, their certifications and their awards.

Oh…and the new CEO used that four-letter C-word of healthcare marketing that the other hospital had in its newspaper ads and billboards.

The word that consumers say has been so overused and abused in healthcare that they don’t believe any claim of it.

And what did the other hospital CEO in town do?

Welcome to the cockfight!

The ads tout that they’re each #1.

Others declare new awards and certifications.

One of the ad series features a picture of a machine.

Other ads feature pictures of staff teams standing in front of machines.

Each new ad set declares “we are bigger and better”… and of course “we care”.

The other hospital’s ad running in today’s newspaper claims to be “a Primary Certified Stroke Care Center from The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations.”

Wow. That’s an emotional differentiator! And certainly one that Joe will remember when his wife Joanne is having a stroke!

At least “we care” is easier to say!

Not that I have direct observation of an actual cockfight, but It’s like watching those cocks strutting around crowing and ruffling their features in the fields where those mountain farmers have them housed!

Cockfighting is not limited to healthcare or to smaller size companies.

Think about the AT&T versus Verizon ads. Think about the GM versus MINI Cooper Ads. Think about the Coke versus Pepsi ads.

Why am I sharing this story in the blog-logue?

Because when brands do this, it spells opportunity for the brands that “get it” and raise the bar above the cockfighting.

Something tells me with this being an election year, there will be a lot of political ads to watch from which we can learn what not to do!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Pass Me Another Glass Of That Two Bucks Chuck!

I have decided to either write a new cookbook for work-a-holics living in the budget age or launch a new cooking show on YouTube.

Either way, I am creating some great meal options that are easy to make...and dirt cheap.

Last week I ate out of my home only twice for dinner.

The first place I went was to Captain D’s. The second place was Outback.

It really wasn’t all that long ago when I ate out nearly every night complete with a nice glass of wine or two.

A good friend of mine in real estate set down a new law with her husband that any wine, beer or martini would be consumed at home before they headed out for dinner.

I told her about Two Bucks Chuck and she became an instant fan.

An online newsletter called “Nutrition Unplugged” recently posted the top trends emerging in the restaurant business.

One of those trends, titled “Upscaling The Downscale” hits right on an emerging market change.

The article specifically explains the trend as “consumers trading down in order to trade up” and cites gourmet burgers as an example of the trend in force.

I know this… the Captain D’s fried fish and shrimp meal complete with fried okra and fresh green beans was so good that I was describing the great taste for the $6.99 price to all of my Facebook friends as I ate it!

The reason I tell the story here and the emerging market change is bigger than just what we eat.

It’s hitting where we shop, what we drive, how we decorate, when we travel and why we work.

Most of time when I shop WalMart it’s packed. Most of the time when I shop any of the department stores its not.

Good friends are trading in their Bimmers for Jeeps and Hondas.

I see more store brands in grocery carts.

Sure…despite what the press says, we are in the heart of a recession.

But unlike the past where we will emerge with more secure jobs and return back to charging up the credit cards and aspiring to live the lavish lifestyle, current generations know that that paradigm is gone.

Case in point… if you have never seen ReadyMade Magazine, go down to your nearest grocery store or bookstore and buy it.

I have written about the magazine in this Blog-logue before.

It is emerging as the Millennial Generation's Better Homes & Gardens… although, Better Homes & Gardens is quickly embracing the Millennials as well with a new format and featured columns.

ReadyMade Magazine is all about how new singles, couples and family homesteaders (note I did not say home-owners!) are embracing life on a budget.

It showcases DIY alternatives, stretching the dollar and how to make more from less.

Where Boomers embraced peace and love, the Millennials are embracing each piece of whatever they can get and love finding ways to do so spending less.

Boomers climbed the corporate ladders. Millennials head over to Home Depot and build their own.

By the way, Home Depot is running full-page ads in the current issue of ReadyMade Magazine for their store brand paints.

To combat corporate accusations and downright hate, BP went out and spent a bunch of money on a fancy image television commercial.

It didn’t make it on air more than a week.

It wasn’t what they said, it’s how they said it and how much they spent in doing so.

The new commercials are more like YouTube videos and they've been running for the last two months or so.

Some BIG BUSINESS marketing management cocoons are finally getting it, but a vast majority still haven’t even captured a glimpse of it.

I may be taking a risk in saying that these changes are not temporary, but I will.

Baby Boomers who thought they would enjoy their retirement years will likely continue to work…even when the economy improves.

GenXers who refuse to cut the umbilical cords with their kids will soon be coughing up the cash to send their kids to college.

And the Millennials… well they are the ones fueling everything from ReadyMade Magazine, DIY TV, Property Virgins, Home Depot, McDonald’s Café Coffee, Old Navy and the revamping of Better Homes & Gardens Magazine.

And just as the Boomers clung to their 1960's Peace Movement and changed the marketplace...the Millennials, who are just shy of the same size, cling to their DIY-Budget Bound destiny.

While we are in the heat of the 2010 Hot Georgia Summer… I can already tell you that the observations made in this Blog-logue will be the foundation of the upcoming 2011 Trendcast.

Now pour me another glass of that Two Bucks Chuck.