Articles by Bryan K. Oekel
"Don't buy this gum. It tastes like rubber." is a favorite phrase for graffiti vandals to write on condom vending machines in men's rooms. I've seen it several times during roadside restroom breaks in various regions of the country, indicating either a well-traveled vandal with a tremendous lack of creativity or a graffitist meme of sorts. Oddly, the current campaign for Dentyne Ice gum draws a direct comparison between its product and prophylactics, highlighting the awkward moments associated with practicing safe sex and positioning the brand as prerequisite to getting it on.
Tough times for automakers have turned the industry upside down. Household names like Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Saturn and Hummer have gone the way of the dodo. Saab narrowly avoided a similar fate with a last-minute purchase by Dutch super car manufacturer Spyker, a niche player that has intriguing plans for the quirky Swedish brand. Fiat and Chrysler became strange bedfellows. And Toyota is struggling through an historic, crippling recall. But one of the more interesting outcomes of the recent upheaval within the auto industry is Ford Motor Company's sale of Volvo to China's Geely.
In December, Davis Brand Capital announced the 2009 Davis Brand Capital 25 ranking. Toyota ranked #8 overall and was the top-ranking automaker. Since the release, Toyota has issued a series of historic recalls, and the brand has suffered a precipitous fall from grace. So far, the recalls affect more than eight million vehicles worldwide, with Toyota considering still more for its best-selling Corolla. And recall-related malfunctions have caused an estimated 34 deaths since 2000 in the U.S. alone, according to government data released this week. Beyond the direct financial, legal and ethical implications of the recalls themselves, Toyota faces a crisis of consumer confidence comparable to the Tylenol cyanide murders or the Ford Explorer/Firestone fiasco. Rebuilding consumer trust will require much more than a public relations war room and marketing blitz. Toyota faces a fundamental brand challenge that extends deep into its culture, its operations and its core meaning. As the story unfolds and an embattled Toyota hunkers down for the onslaught, important lessons from the crisis are already coming to light.
New mobile applications from automakers GM, Mercedes, Ford and BMW advance the concept of branded utility in profound ways. Recent apps from these brands blur the lines between branded utilities and pure product features. And there are important implications in the auto industry and beyond.
On Monday Davis Brand Capital released the 2009 Davis Brand Capital 25, and IBM took the top spot. IBM's #1 ranking may surprise some at first glance. After all, brand is typically viewed primarily through a marketing lens, and therefore tends to be more closely associated with consumer-centric - and arguably more glamorous - companies such as Apple or Nike. But the Davis Brand Capital 25 examines brand more holistically: as a collective set of intangibles, including brand value, competitive performance, innovation strength, company culture and social impact. The following commentary and qualitative assessment of top-ranked IBM highlights the company's successful management of these five intangibles that comprise brand capital and provides context for its #1 ranking.
Google's autocomplete search recommendations have spawned a new Internet meme. And before you keep reading, let me warn you: this post could rob you of your productivity today.
The functionality of iPhones and other mobile devices represents a fundamental shift in how we view the act of marketing, further blurring the lines between advertising, research, promotions, CRM and entertainment content. As new developments continue to make digital technologies a more integral part of our everyday lives, marketers will be forced to rethink mobile marketing's currently limited role within the marketing mix.
Critiquing advertising for objectifying women is a bit like shooting fish in a barrel. Recent campaigns from Axe, Tag, Hardee's, American Apparel and others have arguably taken the degradation of women to new lows. But a new NC-17 iPhone app for Pepsi's Amp soft drink takes the proverbial cake.
The motoring and mainstream media alike have scrutinized Detroit's Biggish Two-and-a-Half ad nauseum. Both experts and the car-buying public are questioning Detroit's ability to innovate in the post-SUV cash cow, post-bailout world. And rightfully so. Admittedly, there are a few bright spots on the horizon. But the real innovation story likely won't be the much-hyped Chevy Volt or even Ford's Fit-beating Fiesta. And it certainly won't be the ridiculous idea that positioning Chrysler to compete with Cadillac will somehow save the beleaguered brand (have you seen Cadillac's sales figures, Mr. Fong?). I'm betting Detroit's next disruptive innovation will be the rebirth of Saturn.
I noticed Clear has been stealing a page from its competitor Verizon with its creative - or lack thereof. To tout its comprehensive coverage, it uses sprinkles as a metaphor.