Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Brands That Need To Move On

Oaky… I think that we can all say in unison that the political campaign ads this year sucked.

Not just poorly written, but horrible across the board.

And the fact that the politicians and those producing the ads believe the more we see the ads, the more we will love the candidate says to me that they were likely smoking those California cigarettes!

My last Blog post cites the top trends that will rattle the market in 2011.

After all the number crunching, observations and conclusions… I have to release my frustrations of what hits my flat screen while I watch television at night.

Here are five examples of the Brands That Need To Move On!

Progressive Insurance

Okay enough of the white dressed, white faced, big red lipstick woman.

I think we need to nominate Flo for What Not To Wear!

After the premiere of AFLAC and the Duck, the insurance industry has gotten itself hooked on coming up with some icon that people will recall along with the brand name.

Even good brand equity like Allstate is getting slashed with iconic Mayhem.

The dogma of the category has become addicted to cutesy character stories.

The corporate marketing teams must have been weaned on Cap’n Crruch.

Fidelity Investment Advisors

I would love to sit in on the focus groups and watch the facilitator get the participants to like these ads.


In a time when consumers are taking charge…when trust in BIG BUSINESS is about at the same level as congress…when stock market investments translate to retirement loss…

I cannot imagine participants in a focus group saying that they search high and low for the financial consultant that will lead them on a pathway like a pup on the dog walk.

Dear Fidelity CMO… go Google your ads on YouTube and watch the Green Line parody series.



Thanks to AT&T, my tube at home receives the signal through a DirecTV dish in my backyard.

As a DirecTV subscriber, my preferred nets include HGTV, FOX News, ESPN and The Food Network. I never watch FX, SYFY or HBO Extreme.

The CMO of DirecTV must be going through male menopause. Either that or the guy has psycho underlies that are beginning to take hold.

The violence in the new DirecTV ads is niche targeting, but not sure whether that niche reached will result in much revenue. Last I heard, the jailhouses don’t offer satellite TV.

Maybe we need to really blame ourselves.

I mean, we should have seen it coming when the CMO decided to play off of the Green Bay country gal confessing to the priest about what she delivered to the neighbors who subscribed to DirecTV.

Okay, I will admit that these ads are at least better than the ones that feature the duel between the DirecTV and the Dish Network flat screen sets, but it is time to move on.


Here is my bet.

The original FEDEX 1970’s brand marketing management team has since retired and there is a new CMO that recently brought in a new ad agency.

Want to see strength in a good brand line. Text a friend and ask them what is the FEDEX brand line.

Another bet. They will text back "Absolutely, Positively Overnight.”

(The last time anything close to it was used was 1995)

Now ask them if they can describe the latest FEDEX television ad.

Third bet. They likely cannot.

That’s because the latest ads say NOTHING about neither what FEDEX does nor what the brand means.

Instead it’s a story about a guy masquerading as an exchange student in China.

Check out the 2010 FEDEX ads…

Fourth bet. The copywriters writing these ads are cousins with the Progressive copy team.

New 2011 Car Ads

Let me say right up front. This commentary is not about Kia ads. Kia is the heretical brand that is not Viagra dependent.

Instead, it’s about the new car ads for brands that run the gamut from Jeep to Audi to Ford to Hyundai.

It doesn’t matter what’s their price point or whether American, European or Asian made.

They are all about power, speed and endurance.

To get a feel for these ads, just type in “2011 Car Ads” on the YouTube Search bar and click on down the commercials that pop up.

If you don’t have time to watch YouTube… trust me, if you watch any of the bowl games in the next 3-4 weeks, you will see a ton of them.

When the client waves those $200 Million+ budgets, those ad agencies that have survived the Great Recession are the last ones to say, “enough is enough.”

Maybe when the 2011 sales don’t quite hit the sales goals, the CEOs will not just fire the agencies, but also clean house internally as well.

There Are Those That Get It

I end this Blog by saying that the T-Mobile ad is still one of my favorites.

It evoked a sense of culture, it was simple and it appealed on an emotional level.

There are brands that do “get it.”

When I saw the new Advil commercial that premiered about two weeks ago, I immediately connected with it.

Congrats to their CMO. Congrats to their creative team.

No question that it differentiated their brand and did so without one bit of copy.

I just hope that other CMOs and MBAs get it… and the Ad Agencies have the balls to tell them when they don't!

Friday, November 5, 2010

The BrandVenture 2011 TRENDCAST!

This past year, I got a chance to get out even more into the field and talk with people one-on-one.

With retail clients in our roster, I went into malls and shopping centers as well as delved deep into what is emerging on the retail horizon.

From global trend tracking sources to the new release of the Yankelovich Monitor, there are trends emerging the will fuel innovation success in 2011 and beyond.

The economic challenges of the last few years have made long-term impact on how key generational groups like Boomers, GenXers and Millennials move through their life-stage experiences.

Here is an overview of the 2011 TRENDCAST TOP 10…

1. The Power Of The Grass Roots – The November election not only showcased the power of the grass roots; it was another set of reinforcements of consumers taking back control. Perhaps ignited by the Bank of America credit card revolt, there is a power shift taking place as you read this. From YouTube to Blog Posts, word-of-mouth has grown from a form of commentary to a new version of mass media. With the national election looming in 2012, the new power of the people will not go away.

2. The Qualification Of Value – The past marketing mantra of good quality product and service is no longer receiving blind consumer acceptance. Likewise, low price alone does not lead to immediate sales. With consumer savings on the increase, the demand for demonstrated quality will become magnified beyond the Groupons and Sunday coupon inserts of 2010.

3. Family Management – Where technology has changed the way that we manage the home, the economy has changed the way that many households manage bearing kids. From when to have them to how to pay for them to what to do with them…financial issues are now impacting the Millennials as they quickly move into their child-bearing years and postponing the kids is moving full speed ahead into 2011.

4. The Greening of The Eco-Class – The nicknaming of Whole Foods as Whole Paycheck has moved from the organic tomatoes to the new luxury line of dining, housing, décor and automotive brands. The redefined consumer mindset has driven the high price points of produce sold at the weekend farmer’s markets. The empowerment of going green is quickly defining a new high-income eco-class that will pay the premium price of a neutral carbon footprint left by the eco-friendly designer shoes!

5. Personalized Celebration – While we will continue to celebrate birthdays, wedding anniversaries and the conventional holidays, a cross generational mix is now celebrating a customized set of new anniversaries and achievements like holding onto a job for a year, a clean bill of health, the kids finally moving out of the house and improvements in the credit scores! It is opening up opportunity for restaurants, hotels, Champaign merchants, florists and online greeting cards!

6. The Parental Transition of Service – Thanks to the likes of AT&T, Comcast and the mega-banks, the mass packaging and programming of customer service is quickly leading to customers abandoning their brands. And thanks to the Boomer parents and their Millennial kids, the need for the surrogate parent drives who we seek out to manage the purchase experience hands-on before, during and after engagement. The new model of service sought will impact everyone from the travel agent to the personal banker. The mechanics and personality of service that cements brand loyalty will emerge as a market transformer in 2011 and beyond.

7. Recast Entertainment – The article in this morning’s edition of the Wall Street Journal talked about the new growing decline of cable subscribers as well as folks ”dishing the dish.” Last year’s TRENDCAST Trans Tech was right on target with what is now being labeled as the High Tech “Cloud.” In 2011, the impact of the Internet and the “at our finger tips” smart phones will recast everything from the channels of access to the entertainment format of what we previously called “broadcast” programming.

8. High Touch Gaming – The early sell-out of the 2011 Super Bowl ad time provides a snapshot into the increasing popularity of competitive sports and personal achievement. From amateur leagues to college games to professional teams to the virtual world of Wii, both players and fans are able to compete and win…something that posts limited outcomes at best in the real world of business, romance and work.

9. Heath Care Tune-ups – Just like we bring in our cars to get that oil change and tune-up in 30 minutes or less and then hit the road for another 20,000 miles, technology is quickly moving medical care into the same mode of thinking. However, in 2011 time impact of computer robotics, bio-engineering and minimally invasive treatments will reach the tipping point. Serious threats of the past spanning the spectrum from cardiac to neurological to cancer will be treated quickly and effectively as the automotive tune-up. The result? Watch how the classic retirement option gets literally thrown out the door by the emerging Baby Boomer “senior” market group!

10. The Outing Of The Home – Any of you living in those “mid-century” historic homes who think that the sliding glass door is just retro cool will be surprised that a close comparative will become an in-the-now trend of 2011. The name might change from sliding glass doors to sliding glass walls, but as the roof-over-the-head square footage continues to shrink, outdoor living space is becoming hip and fun. In 2011, we will see outdoor living space move from urban chic to mainstream just like granite counters became as accessible at IKEA as they were among the high-end design teams. Outdoor kitchens and showers are old news as everything from media rooms to overnight sleeping space is moving outside under the stars.

If your mind is spinning, that is good. There are opportunities to tap and strategies to employ.

If you want more information about the trends, the stats behind them and how they are influencing brands like yours, call me at 404.245.9378 we can set up a time to review in more depth.

Businesses that embrace the change will not only survive, but also excel!