Not Smart Enough for Advertising

Advertising and marketing is filled with smart people. The assumption is that they are doing smart things.  Maybe I am not smart enough to understand what is going on with these campaigns and products.

1. Android Friends Forever: be together, not the same

Cute, amusing, well produced.  I have no idea what it means. 

2.Acura: Drive Like the Boss

I do not get why she is driving like a boss. Is she a jerk making her employees wait? Maybe.  Smart? Maybe not.

3. Freewheel: The mobile phone that isn't completely mobile

Great campaign.  Strong brand identity. Clear communication. So what could be the problem?

A mobile phone that works on WIFI only. Hmm, so it is kinda mobile. Why not just get a cheap mobile phone?

End of rant.

Up next: brands that continue to confuse and confound (Target with multiple savings apps to ensure that the consumer is confused as possible when entering the store, American Express with fee based and free cards with similar benefits, the list goes on and on.)


Branding is Back

It was nice to see some strong branding work from McDonald's (MCD), Always (PG) and Microsoft in the Super Bowl.  In the case of McDonald's and Microsoft (MSFT) my reaction was more of a "where have you been old friend," and oh "that is what you stand for."

In a world where consumers are bombarded by media, games, apps, experiences, work, family and other time demands, brand advertising is more critical than ever. It is the way we quickly understand if a brand is worthy of our time, attention and dollars.

No, you cannot substantiate it, but boy, you sure do know when a brand is lost and now found.

If you have been living under a cultural rock, here are the three commercials (the cure is a subscription to Entertainment Weekly and the Skimm).

Always #LikeAGirl


McDonalds Pay With Lovin'

Microsoft What Can You Do?

Can McDonald's Be Saved?

Today, McDonald's (MCD) replaced CEO Don Thompson with incoming CEO Steve Easterbrook. McDonald's has been on a brand slide. They seemed to have gotten lost somewhere at the intersection of quality, value, menu innovation, flavor, and health.

Can McDonald's be saved? Sure. Others are prospering in fast food.  Think Chipotle (CMG) for a winner in health and quality, and Wendy's (WEN) for menu innovation and taste.  Plus, watch the Shake Shack (SHAK) IPO scheduled for tomorrow to see excitement in the burger business.

Then I came across this picture, and you start to think that maybe a McDonald's turnaround is possible:


An immediate prescription for success leaps off the page:

  • Simplify the menu to your roots, burgers
  • Prepare a burger that is flavorful
  • Use better beef (farm raised, antibiotic free)
  • Improve appetite appeal
  • Serve the food in a more contemporary way

The answer might lie in dividing the marketing program into three components that would serve as the foundation for an annual menu development and communications plan. Something like:

  • Better Burgers (to capitalize on the trend toward gourmet burgers and return to the foundation of the business)
  • Value
  • Innovation

McDonald's has a long road ahead starting with clean bathrooms and ending with appetizing restaurants and menu innovation. I would bet an 18 to 24-month road.




Big Lou Can Get You Insurance Too

You have to love big Lou.

He has two ex-wives.

High blood pressure.

And cholesterol levels off the charts.

"Just Like You"

But "Big Lou" was able to get life insurance, and he can do the same for you.

The campaign is raw, has little tact and hits the audience right in the middle of the target.

The Big Lou campaign is a smart creation of

Why I like the "Big Lou" campaign:

Smart Targeting: Men that have trouble getting life insurance due to some medical issue.  Well defined and different from the rest of the industry. They don't promise the lowest price, just the best pricing for guys with real problems.

Great Radio: I can't wait to hear what is going on with Big Lou today.  Is he now up to wife number 3?

Granted it is not for everyone, but what guy wouldn't like.... "Did you marry a trophy wife who wants a life insurance policy three times bigger than your last two mistakes? If so, we have insurance to meet all your needs. Call Big Lou to set up an appointment".




CVS Takes A Leap

I like what is going on with CVS (now CVSHealth). They are making some smart bold marketing moves (in addition to the strategic use of big data driven coupons and promotions etc.) in a category filled with larger and smaller well run competitors such as Walgreens.

Here's my take:

Brands require some type of consumer behavior related catalyst to grow. CVS-mission-2

The bigger the trend, the more urgency is felt by a slice of the population to take some type of corrective action in order to get with the program.

The quest for better health is one of these catalysts interpreted by consumers as, I'm aging physically and I want to slow it down as best I can.  

(In this case it is also the category benefit, so smart move to try and own it before someone else does.)

This sparked a wave of related trends such as wanting to know the source of our food, coconut water, watermelon water, water that is water and many others.

Chipotle gets it. Zoes Kitchen gets it. Hain Celestial and White Wave gets it. (note to self: I have to pick up a few shares of each of these stocks)

Now CVS gets it with a leap on the bandwagon.

First the name change - from CVS Caremark to CVS Health.  Sounds clear to me.

Next the new tag-line - Health is everything.

Since actions speak louder than words, they dropped cigarettes from each store. Brave move since it has to cost some $$$.



Now it's time to market the change starting with a big outdoor splash in Manhattan's Bryant Park.

The CVS brand now has the positive mo'

Looking forward to see what they do with it.


Part of the CVSHealth Bryant Park Takeover


CVS Street Team Handing Out Red Heart Shaped Lollipops and Cigarette Boxes Filled with Candles for the 10 Years You Add Back to Your Life When you Quit Smoking


Park Handouts by the Guerrilla Marketing Team

Walgreen's it is your move.

Affiliate Summit Turns A Corner

Seth Godin recently had a post on finding your peer group. According to Seth  "it's the group of people who will push you in exchange for being pushed, who will raise the bar and tell you the truth. They are not in your business, but they're in your shoes. Finding a peer group and working with them, intentionally and on a regular schedule, might be the single biggest boost your career can experience."

Fast forward to Affiliate Summit East 2014, the sold out conference that attracted over 4,000 affiliate and performance marketers in NYC earlier this week. Think of it as a conference with 4,000 entrepreneurs, each promoting an on-line business that has similarities to your own, but that does not directly compete with what you do.

Summit had a perfect mix of large group presentations, small round-tables and networking opportunities.  Even better, everyone I met was an actual practitioner instead of the usual crowd of marketers who only know how to manage other marketers who then hire people to actually implement and measure something.  Spending even 5 minutes with experts like Sugar Rae on SEO, John Chow on blogging, Vinny O'hare for everything and Jeremy Palmer on Wordpress was worth the price of admission.

Affiliate Summit is also a barameter for the increasing complexity of the marketing industry. Every session demonstrated the need to be a subject matter expert in order to extract the full value out of the marketing channel.  The panel on Facebook moderated by Nathan Smith from Zynali Marketing Solutions and that featured  Ashley Coombe from Prosperent and Shannon Vogel from The Be Scene, drove home the point. They described the minute by minute changes going on at Facebook, with some moments of "I didn't know you could do that" discovery among the panelists themselves.

Kudos to Missy Ward and Shawn Collins for staging yet another outstanding event.



Facebook Sells Fish Oil

Confused about advertising on Facebook?

Join the club.

Here's a quick summary of my first hand packaged goods advertising experience wtih Facebook.

Post intersting content, try and attract organic "likes." Fail after Facebook stops sharing brand posts.

Plan a Facebook media buy only to be told by your media agency that all the precise targeting offered by Facebook is too expensive, and that you should target everyone since the "waste" is cheaper than precision.

Buy ads on Facebook to generate more likes because it feels good when the number goes up. Watch likes soar only to see content and contests fail to engage friends of friends. 


Facebook logo EspaƱol: Logotipo de Facebook Fr... (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Invest in technology to track it all only to see the most inane posts engage current fans. Think to yourself that you can reach more people with one airing of one well placed TV commercial with signficantly less effort while generating more impact.


Fast forward to today's New York Times which describes what happens when you work with Facebook in what they call a "publishing garage." For home gamers that's another name for a brainstorming session with agency, clients and Facebook personnel.

The client expects Facebook to provide advanced data analytics. Facebook suggests that targeting with this level of precision is too expensive, target everyone, but use ads that breakthrough, referred to as "thumbstopping" ideas. Plus use visuals. One day of brainstorming yields the "thumbstopping" visual of a grandfather pulling a quarter out of an ear. Nothing to do with fish oil, but will stop some thumbs.

 They run the "grandfather" image and it gets 18,000 likes and nearly 600 comments. Other more traditional images such as "ice and snow" which speaks to the arctic root of fish oil falls flat.

Results for MegaRed Krill Oil from Reckitt Benckiser:

- campaign runs for 8 weeks reaching 18.1 million women aged 45 and up (56% of available target audience)
- ROI - 200 (campaign earned $2 for every $1 spent on media). Data was compiled by Datalogix. (not sure how they know, but assume the Datalogix black box is accurate)
- The brand gained 1 point in share from all marketing efforts, yielding a 9.2 share (also did TV, sampling)
- ROI better than TV (although TV was running at the same time)
- TV continues to get majority of budget, but Facebook earns spot in the marketing mix for product
- Facebook earns a global role in Reckitt Benckiser advertising plans
- Ultimately, the MegaRed client decides to run video on Facebook

What The Study Proved:

-Facebook reaches lots of people and if you can reaach them with something that they will notice, anything, it can impact results. 
- Think of Facebook more like TV than a targeted medium (a conclusion that serves Facebook well since it maximizes the opportunity to draw ad dollars from the biggest pool).
- Lean toward interesting emotional visuals instead of advertising that delivers on the brand promise (pains me to say this since it goes against everything I've learned in advertising). One "grandfather" ad is worth ten benefit driven ads.

What the "Rogue Marketer" Would Have Done Differently:

-  The power of Facebook is the data. Reckitt Benckiser should have went with their first instinct.
-  Using a small sample of targeted consumers, Reckitt could have determined the actual change in buying behavior among current, marginal and consumers that buy from competitors. With this data in hand they could project the impact on the general population without paying the premiums in the long term.

I could hypothesize about why Reckitt didn't go with the "rogue marketer" approach, but that would be too cynical. Instead, I"ll just say that when selling fish oil, just know what you are getting. Also know that as far as Facebook packaged goods advertising goes, it should at minimum be considered as a way to extend the reach of the television buy using video.

A Facebook home run for packaged goods (and other) advertisers are video ads, that have something to do with the brand, that are so engaging that people take note and share.




Restaurant Shares Shocking Results - Tale of the Tape

A recent rant on Craig's list by a popular New York City restaurant illustrates the dramatic way consumer's are changing. 

The story starts with a restaurant that noticed an increase in customer complaints on review sites related to slow service and long table wait times. A consulting group was called in that quickly blamed the wait and kitchen staff for slow service and inefficiency.

Luckily, the same restaurant had some video surveillance footage from July 2004. They then compared the footage to digital video taken in July 2014.  The date selected for comparison had roughly the same number of customers (45) to keep comparisons simple.

Behavior of Restaurant Customers in 2004:

Customers walk in and are seated with menus. 3 request a new table.

Customers order in 8 minutes.

Appetizers are served in 6 minutes.

Waiters are attentive and professional.

Customers leave 5 minutes after receiving check.

Time: 1 hour 5 minutes

Behavior of Restaurant Customers in 2014:

18 of 45 customers request new table.

Phones come out before menus are opened.

7 of 45 customers showed waiters something on phone waisting 5 minutes of waiters time (asked about WiFi service in restaurant)

Waiters visited table, but customers had not opened menu yet, busy with phones

Waiters return a second time asking for order, customers ask for more time.

Time to order: 21 minutes

Food starts to be delivered in 6 minutes, same as 2004

Customers spend 3 minutes taking pics of food

14 of 45 customers take pics of food and each other

9 of 45 customers need food reheated, since it gets cold during pic taking

Customers get busy with phones after eating

20 minutes pass before check is requested when compared to 2004

Once check is delivered it takes 15 minutes longer for them to pay and leave due to focus on phones

Start to Finish Times:

2004: 1 hour 5 minutes

2014: 1 hour 55 minutes

Link to original transcript of study.

Lessons Learned for Restaurant Marketers:

  1. Mobile is changing behavior in unexpected ways.
  2. While lingering customers are a problem, it can also be an opportunity.
  3. Longer customer occasions introduce opportunities for new menu food and drink items; before the order is placed, and after the check is presented
  4. Realities of customer behavior may have new solutions. The restaurant could provide menus before customers are seated, and ask for orders earlier.
  5. Picture taking opens up opportunities for "from table" social media. Are food items presented in a "picture worthy" way?