Innovation. Ideas. Insight.

Archive for November, 2008|Monthly archive page

You don’t need to open big to be big

In Insight on November 21, 2008 at 1:28 pm

Writing yesterday for MediaPost’s Marketing Daily newletter, Karl Greenberg cited a survey by Chicago-based consultancy Mintel that noted only one brand had a truly memorable launch in 2008, according to the firm’s just completed Seventh Annual Most Memorable New Product Launch Survey, conducted by Schneider Associates. The online survey, conducted in September, tapped 1,000 respondents ages 18 and over. That new product was the Wii Fit.

A franchise that bites

A franchise that bites

The story goes on to say, “This was a terrible year for brand-building. Terrible. Rising food and gasoline prices, unemployment, the mortgage meltdown, and the political campaigns took up most of the room in consumers’ cognitions. A full 69% of survey respondents could not remember a single new product launched this year, per Mintel. Only 22% of respondents remembered the most memorable new product of 2008, the Wii Fit.”

A terrible year for brand building? Tell that to the folks over at Twitter who saw the following Year-on-Year user increase:

Sept. 2007: 533,000 users

Sept. 2008: 2.3 million users

*Source Nielsen Online

A terrible year for brand building? Tell that to the people behind the Twilight book/movie franchise. The movie opens today in fact, and the buzz has been tremendous.

Are Twitter and Twilight “new” brands for 2008? No, but that’s my point. You don’t have to be the most memorable launch to win the race. The Schneider and Associates list from 2006 includes such things as TaB Energy, Thomas’ Sqaure Bagels and M&Ms White Chocolate Candies. I’ll take Twitter, thanks.

A big, memorable launch isn’t a negative, but it’s not the be all, end all either. Twitter and Twilight have succeeded because they built loyal followings and grew from the ground up.

Golf Digest – Excellence In Marketing Execution

In Insight on November 19, 2008 at 6:09 pm

Golf Digest is running a brilliant contest. They are giving consumers a chance to play a fantastic course – Bethpage Black – and do it with three celebrities in an effort to break 100 for 18 holes. You’d think you’d have to jump through some pretty tough hoops to land this prize. Nope. They are looking for the best six word essay. That’s right, just six words.

Brilliant for a couple of reasons. Golf Digest understands the goal of the contest isn’t to get the best essay, it’s to get the most essays, and therefore the most leads for new subscribers. Could they just have had people enter their contact info and done a random drawing? Sure, but that sets the barrier for entry too low. No, six words is genius because it gets people talking. People who may not have mentioned it otherwise, like ESPN radio’s flagship morning show, Mike and Mike in the Morning, who spent a good deal of time discussing it.

Golf Digest sunk an eagle with this and I bet they’ll get double the amount of entries they had last year for this contest (56,374 in 2008). Golf Digest nailed the Holy Trinity of marketing:

Memorable – They avoided the obvious 300 word essay or random selection

Compelling – Great, once-in-a-lifetime prize

Simple – Anybody can write a six word essay

More companies need to remember those three elements when designing marketing plans.

[/polite golf clap/]


In Ideas on November 19, 2008 at 5:51 pm

Was at a local convenience store today and saw this:


The text underneath the price says “New Item”. Really? Reese’s were created in 1928 according to the Wikipedia entry. Yeah, it’s a small thing, but the massive lack of attention – I won’t even say to detail as this is pretty integral to the promotion – and general thought is pretty disappointing.

Junta42 Content Marketing Top Blog List Update

In Ideas, Innovation, Insight on November 17, 2008 at 10:50 am

Joe Pulizzi over at Junta42 has come out with the latest edition of his Top 42 Content Marketing Blogs. I’m happy to report that Eyecube came in at number 33 – up 13 spots from the last ranking.

How is Joe’s rank different than the AdAge 150 or Brendan Cooper’s PR Friendly Index? The Junta42 list focuses on what Joe calls Content Marketing:

Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.

Search Engine Optimization is not my thing. Nothing wrong with that important field, it’s just not what I’m about. I’m a big believer in the following:

Tell compelling stories.

Give consumers tools and the opportunity to play with your brand.

Show interest in the consumers if you want them to show interest in you.


It’s pretty simple really.

Brands – Get thee to a Twittery

In Insight on November 13, 2008 at 11:13 am

Recently Warren Sukernek conducted a study of Twitter users regarding their feelings about brands getting involved in Twitter. I strongly recommend you check out the post. Here are some highlights:

  • Not surprisingly, most users (89%) agree that brands should engage their customers on Twitter.The majority also have a better impression of brands that use Twitter for customer service (81%).
  • Proper usage of Twitter however, is paramount as almost 90% of users would frown upon poor or inappropriate brand use of Twitter.
  • The power of a relationship is extremely strong on Twitter. 60% of respondents would recommend a company based on their presence on Twitter and 80% of Twitter users will reward those brands they have key relationships by being more willing to purchase from them.
  • Influencers: More than 60% of respondents have 100+ followers and almost 50% of respondents have posted more than 1000 Tweets since they signed up for the service.
  • Are you on Twitter? What about your clients? Before you can reasonably suggest they get involved you should have some experience with Twitter. Play around a little bit, have some fun. Follow a lot of people, but don’t follow people blindly. Find people relevant to your industry or your passions. The more you use Twitter, the more fun/useful it becomes.

    Cricket – the bubbling sports trend of 2008

    In TSMWIF on November 6, 2008 at 9:49 am

    Longtime readers of Eyecube (both of you) know of my interest and enthusiasm for cricket, especially as a potential trend here in America. Well, this week Sports Illustrated jumped on the bandwagon, with an article on the Washington Cricket League. Here’s a couple of interesting stats from the article:

    • There are about 50,000 active cricket players in the U.S.
    • There are 750 registered cricket clubs in the U.S.

    Ok, those numbers aren’t going to get it to surpass football or baseball anytime soon. But if you could target 50,000 people who are extremely passionate about the same thing, and are most certainly extremely under-served by the marketing community, well there is potential there.

    The Rebirth of the Cool – President Obama, Marketing and Popular Culture

    In Insight on November 5, 2008 at 2:09 pm

    The Changing Face of American Pop Culture

    The Changing Face of American Pop Culture

    Let me preface this post by stating, I am by no means an expert of African-American culture or the psyche of African-American youth. I’m just one person taking a very broad look at the landscape, making some educated guesses and throwing out some conjecture.

    It is beyond argument that over the last 30 years African-Americans have had a massive effect on American pop culture. Take a look at this list:

    Music: Michael Jackson, Run DMC, Public Enemy, P Diddy, Jay-Z, NWA

    Sports: Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Tiger Woods

    Entertainment: Spike Lee, Bill Cosby, Eddie Murphy, Denzel Washington, Tyra Banks, Halle Berry, Oprah Winfrey, Will Smith

    That’s just off the top of my head, I’m sure that list could have doubled. My point is that these people didn’t just excel in their given areas, nor were they exclusively popular with African-Americans. Rather, they fundamentally changed popular American culture. It may have started as part of African-American culture, but as a white suburban kid growing up in the 80s I can tell you that many of those listed above had a profound effect on me as I grew up.

    Now we have an African-American president-elect who, at least to me, doesn’t exactly match the common perception of African-Americans in this country (rightly or wrongly) from the past three decades. So, as a brand strategist/marketing professional, I ask myself, “How will a President Obama’s personal style shape African-American culture, and subsequently American pop culture?”

    How does popular music change with his election? Rap music, at its heart a form of protest, will surely branch off in new directions. It’s hard to imagine Ice T (NSFW), NWA (NSFW) or Grand Master Flash writing the songs they performed in a country with an African-American president. Yet, Obama is not completely divorced from this world:

    That’s a pretty savvy use of a cultural shorthand, that judging by the response of the crowd, clearly shows that Barack Obama is no cultural elitist.

    Obama’s love of basketball is well documented, and in him you see a return to the Michael Jordan/Magic Johnson era. A pre-Allen Iverson era. I want to be careful here not to make a judgement on the the personal character of late-90s to current NBA players, merely on their cultural choices (clothing, tattoos, etc.). I’m not judging that either, merely pointing out the difference in styles. It’s interesting that Obama’s rise parallels that of players like Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, Chris Paul, Greg Oden and a new generation of team-oriented players that are some of the leading lights of the NBA.

    Ultimately, pop culture is a pendulum, a counter-balance that swings from the social messages of Run DMC to the party style of the Fresh Prince of Bel Air, back to NWA and back again to Sean “Puffy” Combs. From John Carlos and Tommie Smith to Michael Jordan; from Allen Iverson and Dennis Rodman to Tiger Woods. 

    My hunch is that brands like Benjamin Bixby and music groups like TV on the Radio will grow in popularity birth-of-coolas a post-racial trend continues. To be sure, these brands already existed, Barack Obama did not create them. He’s merely a high profile example that will legitimize and highlight those individuals and brands the mainstream has not yet fully embraced.

    On another level, one of the Obama’s qualities most often praised was his calm, cool demeanor, especially when others around him seemed to be behaving erratically or thinking tactically instead of strategically. President-elect Obama is a cool guy. That’s not the only desirable quality a person or brand can have, but it is, especially in a politician a pretty compelling one. And Obama’s is a smart cool, not a Fonz from Happy Days cool.

    As Obama appears on even more magazines and TV shows, his personal style will become clearer in the months ahead. It won’t be a complete departure from exising African-American culture, but it may put the spotlight on a facet that many Americans haven’t seen before.

    More on the IDEA Conference

    In Insight on November 5, 2008 at 10:23 am

    I’ve posted about a couple of the presentations I really enjoyed from the IDEA Conference last week. For more, check out PSFK’s review as well as Ad Age’s own review, Nine Ideas from Ad Age/Creativity’s IDEA Conference.

    A final caveat – I’m happy to spread the word for the people./groups that were at the IDEA conference, but that’s no substitute for attending an event such as this.  To be honest, in the past I’ve gone to very few of these things. But this year I went to Pecha Kucha New York, was a volunteer organizer for Interesting New York, and attended IDEA. I’d even count checking out likemind as time well spent. Sure, you can learn something by reading about these events, but the visceral experience of being there in person can’t be replicated.

    The thing I found most surprising was that cost was most certainly not a barrier to entry. Pecha Kucha was $7 I think, Interesting was $35. The next time an event like that pops up – and if you look hard enough there are probably several happening every month in a city near you – make a commitment to checking it out. It will be worth your time.

    Alinea’s key to success: Different + Excellent = Remarkable Experience

    In Ideas, Insight on November 3, 2008 at 4:12 pm

    Another speaker at the IDEA conference, Grant Achatz, is the chef/owner of Alinea in Chicago, one of the best restaurants in the country. His message to brand marketers: Break down your challenges to their smallest parts and ask if there is a different way of doing things.

    Hey, where's the tablecloth?

    Hey, where's the tablecloth?

    Here’s a great story he told:  “Why do all fancy restaurants have tablecloths?  Because they use crappy tables.  They’re cheap materials, they’re rickety, they have tablecloths to hide the tables. So they asked, ‘what if we remove the table cloths?’ ‘What if we use really great tables and make that a focal point – the stage in a culinary theater?’

    I’m paraphrasing a bit, but you get the idea.  Grant and his team took a look at the status quo and decided it could be done a different way. Not, “let’s use red tablecloths instead of white” different, but “let’s completely flip the paradigm” different.  He went on to describe another half dozen examples of how they re-interpreted what a top flight restauarant is supposed to do, and each one seemed brilliant.

    The brilliance was in the simplicity. They didn’t over-complicate thing, they made them easier, smarter, simpler. Sure, that sounds easy, but here’s the key – they were done with a fanatical dedication to detail and excellence. Anything less than the best is unacceptable to Grant. Now that’s not easy, especially in the restaurant business, where it’s easy to cut corners.

    So the next time your faced with a marketing problem, see if you can attack it with that double-edged sword: completely different and excellent. I’m guessing that combination works, and works well, most of the time.