Some say Goldman Sachs has a brand problem. And the media pile-on includes the FT, New York Magazine, the New York Times and Rolling Stone with its oft repeated and colorful judgment of the company as a “giant vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity.” But I say, Mr. Lloyd Blankfein, light up a cigar and stick to your arrogant guns. I don’t think you have a brand problem. I think you have a brand which is working very, very well. To the chagrin of many others.
Tag: brand integrity
With reports that the oil gusher in the Gulf is nearly kaput, BP's new CEO announced Friday that the company would scale back its cleanup efforts in areas where there is no more oil. Makes sense. Still bad for the brand, though. There are two problems with which BP must contend, one situational and the other conceptual.
Could it be that BP may have a naming and branding issue? Of course it does, and their reaction might be to change their name to Amoco. But gas station owners seem to be divided. Some owners feel that the BP brand has cleaned up its image by hiring an American to run the company. And, as the Associated Press reports, others "Believe a successful turnaround with the existing brand will have a bigger payoff."
In early 2008, Microsoft Corp.'s product planners for the Internet Explorer 8.0 browser intended to give users a simple, effective way to avoid being tracked online. They wanted to design the software to automatically thwart common tracking tools, unless a user deliberately switched to settings affording less privacy. That triggered heated debate inside Microsoft.
At the heart of the Ryanair business model is differentiation of the finest and most deliberate kind. I would - in all seriousness - rank Ryanair next to Hermès or Pret a Manger in terms of brand positioning and execution. Ryanair’s brand associations centre on three key themes: low-price, no nonsense and aggression. Don’t underestimate points two and three.
Most companies are barely prepared to deal with unhappy customers who use social media to air their gripes. Now they must be ready to respond when organized entities, such as Greenpeace, wage massive campaigns against their brands using social media channels.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs addressed these issues Friday from the company's Cupertino, Calif., headquarters. His take? There's a small problem, but one that was blown out of proportion by the press. For once, it may be hard to argue with Apple's best salesperson. What are the ramifications for a brand that rarely deals with a crisis on this level? Experts agree that Apple will be just fine.
This week BP successfully recapped its ruptured oil well in the Gulf of Mexico. Test results are favorable and show that oil and gas are, for the time being, confined. This news inspires cautious optimism in the hearts of residents and spectators alike. Online, however, the social effect continues to flow across social networks and social graphs, echoing anger, hope, and the demand for resolution and prevention from BP and the Obama administration.
Apple will give iPhone 4 customers a free protective case, or "bumper," to remedy its much-publicized reception problems when the device is gripped a certain way. During a press conference July 16, aimed at quelling the controversy over the issue, Apple CEO Steve Jobs also said anyone who buys the iPhone 4 by September 30 will be eligible for a free bumper. And customers who are still unsatisfied can get a full refund within 30 days of purchase without being charged a restocking fee.
Even as the world watches to see if BP's new cap can continue to contain the oil spill, market researchers are struggling to get a handle on how deeply "gulf despair" is working its way into the consumer psyche. New data from Kantar Retail show that a majority of Americans -- 56% -- feel they have been affected by the spill, many of them in multiple ways.
The Vaseline Men Be Prepared page (with about 550 "fans" so far), offers users an avatar-tweaking application to create a fairer-skinned and spotless profile picture. The example features Vaseline spokesman Shahid Kapur, with the Bollywood heartthrob's face divided into dark and light halves with the tagline, "People see your face first."
Mr. Steinbrenner became a marketing asset who not only enhanced the Yankees' brand, but helped rebuild the U.S. Olympic Committee's brand and transformed his own personal image through TV commercials, a hosting gig on "Saturday Night Live" and signing off on the self-deprecating pop-culture portrayal of him on "Seinfeld."
It’d be an understatement to say that this has been a terrible week for Apple, and we haven’t even reached the halfway point. On Monday, Consumer Reports dealt a devastating blow to the iPhone 4 when it declined to recommend the device to consumers due to the antenna reception problem. Consumer Reports concluded from its tests that cell reception is indeed lost if you cover up the small gap between the two metal bands on the bottom right corner of the phone. The media quickly picked up the story.
What do a small chocolate maker, a global tire manufacturer, a natural-foods company and an insurance company have in common? They all believe that acting with integrity is helping their businesses perform better. The recession was caused by a culture of capitalism that was characterized by an all-consuming pursuit of profit that put integrity on the back burner and made irresponsible business practices acceptable.
I like to step back periodically and look at why companies need to go green. Besides the inherent business logic of creating value by getting leaner or innovating to solve customer problems, what are the forces propelling this movement? Understanding this explicitly can help companies think about solutions systematically.
Corporate social responsibility, or CSR, means companies aligning their values with a greater good and taking action to have a positive effect. They often do so through "cause marketing," joining forces with nonprofit organizations and focusing ad campaigns on those philanthropic relationships. Why are more companies than ever flaunting their good works this way? Partly, experts say, because they realize that their employees want to be part of a business that does more than just make money.
Last week, executives from Chick-fil-A made their annual media stop in New York to promote its spicy sandwich and in honor of Cow Appreciation Day. The goofy holiday is an offshoot of the company's long-running marketing effort that got its start as a one-off billboard that, at the time, was actually off strategy.
Did ESPN just get "mediajacked"? Come Thursday, in prime time no less, ESPN gets the exclusive. But to do it, the Disney sports network appears to have sacrificed revenue -- and even some journalistic control by letting Mr. James choose one of his interviewers -- in exchange for the ratings and buzz the event is likely to provide. Commercial revenue from the special program -- which is being called "The Decision" -- will be donated to Boys & Girls Club of America, a charity that ESPN and Disney also support.
The BP oil spill is hitting close to home for dozens of metro Detroit BP station owners, with many trying to switch brands as angry consumers boycott their businesses. Abdel Berry, owner of three BP stations, has already converted his Ypsilanti and Detroit stores to the Sunoco brand. "It's either change or go out of business," said the retail gasoline veteran.
When I started out in advertising almost 20 years ago, the firm I worked at had a simple mantra. Promise a lot. Deliver more. And we did. It was our "ad" you might say and the founder of the firm believed that every day we had to live up to that ad. If we didn't, then over time we'd fail and eventually that failure would cause us to lose many a client. I've never forgotten that lesson but alas I'm reminded every day that companies around our fine country have.
While the number of accounts that were breached in the latest incident was small—Apple said about 400 of its 150 million iTunes users were affected—it renews concerns about how well companies and individuals are protecting sensitive data.
Continuing its deconstruction of pizza marketing, Domino’s this week is launching a campaign and a contest around the idea that its pizzas don’t need photo retouching to look appetizing. In what could be considered an adaption of Dove’s Real Beauty campaign for the pizza category, Domino’s has announced that all its pizzas in TV, print and online ads will be free of any Photoshop trickery.
Levi's annual Fourth of July campaign, Go Forth, this year focused on the theme of work and on the residents of the recession-battered community of Braddock, PA. Check out its latest campaign above and after the jump, including a spot for Levi's Workshops, inviting the public to "roll up your sleeves, get your hands dirty, and get down to work" at workshops located across the U.S.
It's inevitable that as organizations navigate the complex world of sustainability, they will experience some internal cognitive dissonance about how they operate. Nobody said it was easy to balance the competing forces of (a) the inertia of how things have always been done, (b) the desire to meet the assumed needs of customers (for, say, welcoming, well-lit rooms), and (c) new pressures and questions about environmental and social performance. But forcing your customers to confront these choices or, worse, making them do the work themselves, is not a good option.
Wal-Mart's move to eliminate 20 million metric tons of greenhouse gases from its supply chain in the next five years is impressive. It's also an example of the world's largest retailer exerting a blunt form of regulatory vigilantism.
I've just gone through a very lengthy and painful technology transfer, and I think my takeaway is this: instead of making life easier for customers, maybe a viable brand loyalty strategy is to make it harder for them? I know it sounds counterintuitive but what if marketers chose to deliver brand "engagement" as habit, routine, and as something so extensively embedded in customers' lives that it wouldn't be worth it -- or even consciously imaginable -- to ever change?
All of which raises a good question: Will the Gulf of Mexico disaster inspire innovation beyond creative protests and logo spoofs? Virgin founder Richard Branson, promoting Virgin America's new flights to Toronto, says he hopes the spill inspires at least one positive outcome: more focus on cleantech and green energy solutions.
Brands are owned in the minds of target audiences and observers have been quick to redefine BP as “broken promise.” This broken promise is likely to manifest itself in lower stock prices, lower company valuation, boycotted gas stations and decreased market share and profitability over time.
We love awards in advertising and awards motivate agency behavior and recommendations. Perhaps it is time for Cannes to have a new award. An award for the most accurate, careful and ethical use of advertising. Not PSA’s, but an award for consumer brands that have decided to take into consideration all the potential effects of their marketing and have built a plan that carefully avoids abusing the power of advertising. This would need to be the pinnacle of achievement. So what is nicer than titanium? Unobtainium? Kryptonite? Crystal? I sort of like that. Crystal clear. No blemishes. And here is what I’d like to see entered next year.
Last Friday, we broke news of a new video billboard in Times Square for Forever 21, created by Space150, in which a model appears to pluck certain people from the crowds onscreen. It seemed like a clever, fresh project--and that's where the trouble started. Chris O'Shea, a leading figure in interactive-installation design, quickly wrote to point out that Space150 project bears striking similarities to something he did last year for the BBC, titled "Hand from Above".
You've seen him in those commercials for BP. An unassuming man wearing an orange polo and wire-frame glasses approaches the camera as he walks along a generic dock and says, "I'm Darryl Willis. I oversee BP's claims process on the Gulf Coast. BP has got to make things right, and that's why we're here." Mr. Willis has been setting up and overseeing BP's claims offices in the affected Gulf Coast states -- a juxtaposition that some commentors on black-focused blogs said has undertones of racial perfidy. Nonetheless, Mr. Willis, a married father of two children, has become the most visible face of BP. Ad Age spoke to Mr. Willis via phone as he was en route from Florida to New Orleans.
Shell Oil hopes to distance itself from BP with "aggressive" campaign, dubbed Let's Go, that includes energygalaxy.com and shell.us/letsgo, plus print and TV ads. BP, meanwhile, is pursuing "risky" drilling in Alaska; based spill contingency plans on faulty U.S. data, reports the Wall Street Journal; reinstalled the cap on its damaged containment unit; rejected 900+ crowdsourced ideas from respected members of InnoCentive community; and dismissed rumors it may shed its Latin American assets. BP's new Gulf Spill chief Bob Dudley also held his first press conference in a bid to offset criticism of the company. Bloomberg Businessweek argues that America can't turn its back on BP, as U.S. executive pay czar Ken Feinberg announces he is stepping down from that role to focus on administering BP claims.
Big bank Goldman Sachs is trying to repair its reputation, damaged by charges of civil fraud and a criminal investigation — never mind an embarrassment of riches in the firm's report of over $13 billion of net earnings in 2009. So it may come as no surprise that Goldman Sachs is reportedly considering everything from an ad campaign to an appearance on The Oprah Show by CEO Lloyd Blankfein.
According to Giving USA Foundation chair Edith H. Falk, “In addition to support from individuals and foundations, some nonprofits received exceptional support from the corporate sector, which included billions of dollars’ worth of in-kind donations, particularly from information technology firms and pharmaceutical manufacturers.” This is great news, of course. But, do you have to be a big corporation to do good? From cause marketing, to grants, to buying tables at fund-raising events, businesses of all types are flying their corporate social responsibility flags by investing in their communities. And why?
The icing age may be drawing to a close. BrosIcingBros.com, a Web site closely associated with the popular drinking game that involves chugging warm bottles of Smirnoff Ice malt beverage, abruptly shut down last week. Though Diageo, the parent company of Smirnoff, would not confirm any action against the site, the company hinted at “measures” taken to defend their brand, signaling a departure from its earlier hands-off approach to the game, known as “icing,” amid increased media attention
BP PLC, under intense legal and political pressure from President Barack Obama, agreed Wednesday to put $20 billion into a fund to compensate victims of the Gulf oil spill, and said it would cancel shareholder dividends for the first three quarters of this year to offset that cost. BP said it would pay another $100 million to a separate fund to help oil-industry workers sidelined by the Obama administration's moratorium on deepwater drilling.
It's not exactly about cars, but Ford Motor's latest Sustainability Report might matter to people who are rethinking not just the products they use but the companies that make them, perhaps more so now in light of the crisis in the Gulf of Mexico.
The ongoing tragedy of BP’s well disaster makes me both sad and mad at the same time, and I’ve been trying to think if there is anything useful to learn from this difficult situation. As I’ve been reading about the tragedy, I think there are at least three things that leaders who are performing large scale innovations can learn from.
Procter & Gamble Co. is ramping up promotions for its redesigned Pampers, sales of which are holding steady despite a debate over whether the diapers might give some babies bad rashes. Over the past week, P&G has increased its spending on Internet advertising and is issuing more coupons for its new Pampers with Dry Max diapers.
They are among the World's Hottest Brands, an Ad Age Insights global report that tells the stories of 30 brands succeeding on a global, regional and local level. The goal was not to create a list of the largest global marketers or rank the brands that contribute the most to their company's market value -- plenty of others tackle those lofty questions. Rather, we sought to chronicle the brands percolating at the local and regional level; sometimes great marketing lessons can happen in your backyard, sometimes halfway around the world.
In one sense, the public has never been more informed. This is the first spill that has been covered in real time, with streaming high-definition video on desktops and televisions everywhere, network anchors racking up miles flying back and forth, and throbbing info-graphics that track the mess. We can all see the video for ourselves: an angry plume that looks like hell has been breached and is sending a dark, massive emissary to the surface. But to look for clarity amid the murk is a daily riddle. The size of the spill has been a moving target, with estimates recently doubled to 25,000 or 30,000 barrels a day, even after BP stanched some of the flow.
How did paint containing the toxic metal cadmium get in about 12 million drinking glasses sold by the fast-food chain? Nobody seems to know or is willing to say publicly. It's bad enough that about 12 million potentially toxic "Shrek" drinking glasses were recalled by McDonald's last week. But what should really get people's alarm bells ringing is the fact that nobody seems to know, or is willing to say publicly, how the carcinogenic metal cadmium got into paint used to depict Shrek, Donkey and other characters.
As BP's shares continue sliding in trading on London's FTSE, its social media outreach and search engine marketing is being criticized as off the mark. Part of the problem, argues the Financial Times, is the British oil giant's "cultural failings" and "shortage of native knowledge of America and how it responds to crisis has been painfully exposed."
BP hasn't asked Twitter to shut down @PBGlobalPR, but it appears to have asked that the site comply with Twitter's terms of service, and more clearly label the feed as parody. Last night the bio of @BPGlobalPR was changed to: "We are not associated with Beyond Petroleum, the company that has been destroying the Gulf of Mexico for 50 days."
Search any of these phrases on Google: oil spill, BP, or Deepwater Horizon. Take a look at the sponsored link on top of the page. It doesn't direct you towards, say, an oil disaster recovery group or news about the spill's impact on the Louisiana economy. In each case, the sponsored link goes to BP's Gulf of Mexico response page--essentially, BP's propaganda page about the Deepwater Horizon disaster.
Let's take on the worst fears, and perhaps highest hopes, concerning how corporations will use their new rights to influence the election of candidates. (Interestingly, labor unions will enjoy the same rights, but little has been said about this -- as if unions have been loathe to influence elections in the past.) When in this debate people and the press speak of "corporations," you can be pretty sure they aren't speaking of groups like Citizens United. They are speaking of the big brand names of business. The Dow 30. The Fortune 500. The reality is, there are innumerable practical bars to prevent such corporations from using the powers of their new personhood to engage in explicit "electioneering."
Six weeks after oil began gushing into the Gulf of Mexico, BP is letting the public see live pictures from all 12 of the underwater cameras that are trained on its damaged well. There it is, streaming at all times on a panoply of Web sites, hard to miss in the lower right corner on CNN and other cable news channels: the oil gusher cam, a remarkable view of an unfolding disaster. “Among viewers, the initial reaction is shock and awe,” said Travis Daub, the creative director for the “PBS NewsHour,” which is one of the outlets that has encoded the live feeds so that any Web site can republish them. Commentators have called the images of the gusher grotesque, frustrating and simply too distressing to watch.
After turning in the worst performance in May sales among major automakers in the U.S. market, Toyota is launching a new marketing campaign (and charm offensive, led by Toyota president Akio Toyoda) to try to get American consumers thinking once again about what once made the Toyota brand so great. Two years ago it was the world's best-selling automaker. Yesterday, Toyota reported that its U.S. sales in May improved by only 7%, while its competitors reported double-digit increases over their dismal May 2009 results. Toyota execs had plenty of excuses – including the fact that they had a tough comparison with last year’s sales while domestic automakers were at their nadir a year ago. It's also hurting from consumers' fatigue with its massive program of zero-percent-interest loan incentives introduced earlier this year. But it’s clear that many potential car buyers remain leery of Toyota’s products and promises in the wake of the company’s massive safety recalls early this year. Naturally, Toyota wants to shift the conversation to more positive messaging.
If you e-mail Apple’s CEO, there’s a chance you’ll get a personal reply from Steve Jobs himself. But what happens if you write AT&T’s CEO? One inquiring customer received a legal threat. “I want to first thank you for the feedback,” said a member of AT&T’s executive response team, in a voicemail recording posted on the recipient’s blog. “Going forward I want to warn you that if you continue sending e-mails to Randall Stephenson a cease-and-desist letter will be sent to you.”
PepsiCo has come up with a novel plan to reduce the water consumption in its factories. It aims to recycle the water extracted from potatoes to run its potato chip plants in the UK. 80% of a potato is water and PepsiCo uses around 350,000 tons of potatoes annually.
As Mr. St. Angelo and several other longtime American executives tell it, a new era has arrived at Toyota. Its face is Mr. Toyoda, who this month reaches his first year as president, and by these accounts, has come to appreciate how closely Toyota flirted with disaster in the United States — and is prepared to shake things up because of it.
Facebook Inc. Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg defended the company's privacy practices and expressed regret for some of his behavior during the company's early history, speaking at the Wall Street Journal's All Things Digital technology conference Wednesday.
McDonald's France is targeting gay customers with a new TV commercial that's already burning up the Web and social networks. Responses range from kudos (for recognizing its gay customers) and snarkasm (gee, thanks for serving gay people!) to yawns (not one of their better ads, creatively) and ire (for portraying a closeted teen. Don't ask, don't eat?) Take a look and tell us what you think.
Many Four Seasons hotels have stopped displaying huge vases of fresh flowers. Others are closing their high-end restaurants on slow days. And some have begun outsourcing laundry. The moves may seem small—and many guests won't even notice them—but they are seismic for a brand like Four Seasons, which built its reputation on impeccable service and pioneered labor-intensive perquisites like in-hotel spas and free shoe shines.
Is quality important? Yes. Is Innovation important? Absolutely. Is service important? Of course. Is it desirable to be the industry leader? Sure. However, in more and more categories, as I perform brand audits, I find that large numbers of companies in many categories make these claims, so much so that the claims have become hollow.
Kentucky Fried Chicken, the serial phony immortalized in some of the most stunningly dishonest marketing efforts of the past 10 years. The chain's latest outrage is a promotion with the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, in which 50 cents is donated to the foundation for every special pink bucket of chicken purchased -- that is, for every 20 grams of sodium, every 2,500 calories, every 120 grams of fat in KFC's smallest pail. Whoa. How low can you go?
The goal was to determine a correlation between successful companies and companies that inspire their consumers, says Terry Barber, chief inspiration officer of Inspiration Blvd. "We set out asking whether companies that inspired others were more likely to connect and draw shoppers," Barber says. "We see now there's a strong link between the message consumers take away and how they act on it."
BP was poised Wednesday morning to decide whether to move ahead with its most ambitious — and potentially most consequential — effort to plug the mile-deep gusher of oil that has been streaming into the Gulf of Mexico for more than a month.
Facebook's imbroglio over privacy reveals what may be a fatal business model. I know because my students at Parsons The New School For Design tell me so. They live on Facebook and they are furious at it. This was the technology platform they were born into, built their friendships around, and expected to be with them as they grew up, got jobs, and had families. They just assumed Facebook would evolve as their lives shifted from adolescent to adult and their needs changed. Facebook's failure to recognize this culture change deeply threatens its future profits. At the moment, it has an audience that is at war with its advertisers. Not good.
Twitter has banned third party ad networks like Ad.ly, Sponsored Tweets and MyLikes. Like the multilevel marketer who used the pretence of friendship as a recruiting tool, these ad services are all about monetizing personal relationships. Each third party ad network offers a different spin on the same basic business model: you sign up as a sponsored tweeter, and based on the number of people who follow you, you are assigned a price for referring to various advertisers in your tweets. You select from a list of advertisers, and then tweet a link to that advertiser's product, either using your own text or a message that is provided by the advertiser. Your followers click the link, and you get paid.
In this idyllic town on the north slope of Mount Hood, an autopsy on three dead rainbow trout may play a role in Nestlé SA's efforts to reverse a deep slide in its bottled-water business. Bottled water, which for years delivered double-digit growth for Nestlé, is under fire from environmentalists. They decry the energy used to transport it and the use of billions of plastic bottles, and oppose efforts to use new springs, citing concerns about water scarcity.
Any oil company finding itself in this situation would be in trouble. But there is, of course, a very specific reason why BP, of all companies, is going to suffer more spectacularly than any other from this disaster. BP, as we now all know, now stands for “Beyond Petroleum”. In the most famous repositioning case of the century, Ogilvy and Landor helped BP to change its logo, its name and its positioning to reflect the fact that the company was now actively “exploring new ways to live without oil”.
Like motherhood and apple pie, corporate social responsibility has achieved iconic status as a feel-good pursuit. Corporations around the world have embraced its charitable philosophy and created divisions devoted to its pursuit. The problem, however, is that corporate social responsibility — by design and definition — can only go so far. Because no matter how widely a firm defines its reach, and how generous its leadership grows, the primary objective of any for-profit firm in a capitalist system will still be as Friedman described it: to maximize the returns of its shareholders. Or at least not to engage in any activity that undermines those returns.
Facebook, MySpace and several other social-networking sites have been sending data to advertising companies that could be used to find consumers' names and other personal details, despite promises they don't share such information without consent. The practice, which most of the companies defended, sends user names or ID numbers tied to personal profiles being viewed when users click on ads. After questions were raised by The Wall Street Journal, Facebook and MySpace moved to make changes. By Thursday morning Facebook had rewritten some of the offending computer code
Pepsi recently demonstrated its commitment to reducing its environmental impacts up and down the value chain with two rapid-fire announcements about new initiatives. The old-school approach to greening is to focus on operations within the proverbial "four walls." But Pepsi, like other leaders, is approaching sustainability more holistically, with much greater impact.
FacebookSearch simply takes those public status updates and makes them searchable, outside of Facebook. The guys behind it Peter Burns and Will Moffat have posted a simple explanation: “This is a simple example of just how open facebook has made your information. This data is wide open, and this is one of the least scary uses that anyone will make. If nothing changes, it’s only to get worse.” There’s an interesting discussion over at Hacker News on the morality of what they are doing.
If looking at the above image suddenly inspires an unprecedented urge to grab a smoke and start puffing away, that’s because Marlboro wants you to buy their cigarettes. Or at least that’s how the conspiracy theory goes. Dutifully reported by our blogging peer, Graphicology, it turns that the Ferrari Formula One racing team is trying to sneak an allusion of the Marlboro logo through their speedy car’s new paint job in the form of an abstract bar code that supposedly resembles a Marlboro pack — a tactic made necessary due to a ban on tobacco advertising by the European Union. Fact or fiction? You decide.
It's not the kind of luck Procter & Gamble Co. was looking for, but its Dawn dish soap is one of the few brand beneficiaries of the massive Gulf Coast oil spill. Dawn launched a new ad for its wildlife rescue efforts on Earth Day and was still in the midst of a related promotional fundraiser just as the environmental catastrophe was unfolding. Earlier this week, it helped drive the point home further, shipping 1,000 bottles of Dawn to animal rescuers in the Gulf Coast, and plans to follow with another 1,000 by week's end, said spokeswoman Susan Baba.
What should you do to rehabilitate your general reputation if you are in Goldman Sachs' executive suite at 200 West Street in New York? Beset by an SEC complaint, a criminal investigation, a Senate grilling, and the resulting loss in two weeks of more than $20 billion in market capitalization, Goldman has assumed a defensive posture. This is so even though the firm just announced $3.46 billion in first quarter earnings.
Harry Winsor, an 8-year-old from Boulder, Colo., loves airplanes. He flies with his father, John Winsor, the chief executive of the ad agency Victors & Spoils, to places like Europe and Africa regularly. Recently, he began designing his own airplanes, and decided to send one such drawing to Boeing with the suggestion that they manufacture his plane.
With the consequences of the Gulf of Mexico’s oil spill seeming to worsen by the day, expressions of outrage and anguish over the disaster are mounting in the online universe. In addition to thousands of stories on the spill from traditional media sources, social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter are alight with posts from government, the oil industry and citizens around the globe.
Is there anything creepier than a big, beer-breathed celebrity athlete exposing himself in a night club and hitting on underage girls, all the while protected by an entourage of off-duty cops? Well, yes. It’s the big, corporate sponsor — Nike, in this case — that continues trying to sell product with the creep as their role model.
Saw The Joneses over the weekend. This movie has kicked up a bunch of articles about stealth marketing and who's using it. As their tagline says, They're not just living the American dream, they're selling it. Now, this isn't really a new approach, brands have been using stealth marketing for quite sometime. BzzAgent created some controversy when it first started a few years back because their agents were not disclosing the fact that they were promoting a product.
The legal and political consequences of the complaint brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission against Goldman Sachs have drawn most of the public's attention, but it is the cultural fallout that will be the more meaningful legacy of the case. The fuzzy link between a real asset like a home mortgage and a synthetic collateralized debt obligation is hard to grasp for people focused on Roth IRAs and pretax health care expense accounts. By ignoring the need most of us have to see how investments are linked to tangible assets, Wall Street generally, and Goldman Sachs specifically, have given us ample reason to believe the truth of the charges.
Forty years after the first Earth Day, greater pressure is being applied to brands to address environmental problems along with the problems of dirty clothes, financial services, technology, and convenient, quick-serve meals. Yes, more consumers hear the phrases "fuel-efficient," "organic,""energy-efficient," "natural," "green," and "sustainable" more these days, consumers are on to all that. They want brands to walk-the-talk, and "green" has become the cost-of-entry in many categories, making larger and larger contributions to brand engagement and loyalty.
So strong was the antibusiness sentiment for the first Earth Day in 1970 that organizers took no money from corporations and held teach-ins “to challenge corporate and government leaders.” Forty years later, the day has turned into a premier marketing platform for selling a variety of goods and services, like office products, Greek yogurt and eco-dentistry.
I'm convinced the time is now for a fresh, new -- perhaps even difficult -- conversation on trust. And like any good conversation, we need to start with many more questions than answers. Marketers in particular need to ask really hard questions. Trust is the currency of effective advertising, and yet it's so curiously evasive and increasingly murky.
The message was written in January by Irving A. Miller, then a group vice president for Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., to another Toyota staff member. Three days later, the carmaker, bowing to pressure from Congress, federal regulators and consumers, issued a recall on sticking pedals affecting millions of vehicles. The cry for action by Mr. Miller, disclosed in documents made public for the first time last week, came at the end of an extraordinary four-month period for the Japanese automaker. In that time, federal regulators say, there had been deliberate efforts by company officials to keep information about possible defects from the government.
If the aim of Nike's new ad featuring Tiger Woods was to cause confusion and skepticism, it's a hole in one. Perhaps more importantly, a survey of 600 U.S. viewers by Flemington, N.J.-based HCD Research also noted the controversial commercial's "favorability" for the Nike brand has dropped off, falling from 92% to 79%.
Tiger Woods and the voice of his late father star in a new commercial from Nike Inc., one of several new advertising pushes that suggest the golfer may be on his way to repairing his shattered image with corporate America. Nike aired Wednesday a black-and-white TV spot with Mr. Woods looking into the camera. In the background, the voice of his father, Earl Woods, seems to be talking to his son about the importance of taking responsibility for his actions.
NBC Universal planted these eco-friendly elements into scripted television shows to influence viewers and help sell ads. The tactic—General Electric Co.'s NBC Universal calls it "behavior placement"—is designed to sway viewers to adopt actions they see modeled in their favorite shows. And it helps sell ads to marketers who want to associate their brands with a feel-good, socially aware show.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said the U.S. plans to seek a $16.4 million fine against Toyota Motor Corp., saying the auto maker "knowingly hid" safety problems from regulators. The proposed fine, the maximum allowed under law against a car maker and far exceeding the previous record of $1 million, is the first linked to Toyota's recall of more than eight million cars globally for gas-pedal and sudden-acceleration problems.
The recession has affected not only consumer wallets, but also brand perception. According to a new survey by firms Landor Associates, Penn Schoen Berland and Burson-Marsteller, transparency and corporate responsibility have become far more important to consumers in a tough economy. The survey measured consumer perceptions of corporate social responsibility practices and ranked companies that are the most responsible. It found that despite the recession, 75% of consumers believe social responsibility is important, and 55% of consumers said they would choose a product that supports a particular cause against similar products that don't.
Exactly what kind of public and private behavior does it take for a brand to forsake a celebrity spokesperson? Apparently a lot more than what Tiger Woods has confessed to. There are reports today that Nike and Tiger already are back together filming TV commercials again.
It didn't take long for Julie Liu -- late 20s, smartphone-addicted, constant Googler -- to get hooked on the online review site Yelp. Where to eat Friday night? Read some reviews by random anonymous diners. Oh, that looks good. Book a table online, show up, eat. But after Liu and her sister opened Scion restaurant in Dupont Circle, they saw Yelp from a different angle. Liu said Yelp's salespeople phoned repeatedly, telling her that if she advertised on the site, negative reviews would move lower on Scion's page and positive reviews would move up.
Chinese Internet users have one less Web search option this week, but otherwise it's business as usual as the People's Republic of China uses technology and intimidation to keep citizens away from objectionable content. Following several months of strategizing and negotiations, Google finally stopped censoring its search results in China and is redirecting visitors to Google.cn to a server based in Hong Kong. There they see unfiltered results and are able to visit sites about Falun Gong, Tiananman Square, and Tibetan independence. As noble as the move might be on Google's part, it changes very little for the approximately 4 million Internet users in China who have lived with restrictions on their online and offline activities for decades.
Since March 2007, when Viacom first accused Google in a $1 billion lawsuit of profiting off thousands of unauthorized copyrighted clips that once appeared on YouTube, most of the conflict had smoldered out of public view. Once the case documents were unsealed on Thursday, all the spite roared into the open. Google attacked Viacom for chopping up e-mails from YouTube's founders in an obvious attempt to invent sinister-sounding messages. In Viacom's motion for summary judgment, the parent company of Comedy Central and Paramount Pictures railed against Google and YouTube for developing "serial amnesia" during depositions and also for failing "to preserve and produce" key documents--a no-no in civil proceedings. So, is this just legal gamesmanship, or have both sides gone too far?
It’s a lot harder to actually be good than it is to simply say you are good. Like others, I am becoming increasingly skeptical of the original Don’t Be Evil company (the one Cutts works for, in fact). Their hypocrisy on China is stunning. It’s hard to argue with the evidence Danny Sullivan laid out. Whether Google is doing business with the Chinese government in 2006 or pulling out of the market in 2010 they make the same argument that good v. evil dictates their actions.
As Google began redirecting tens of millions of Chinese users on Tuesday to its uncensored Web site in Hong Kong, the company’s remaining mainland operations came under pressure from its Chinese partners and from the government itself. The Chinese government moved on Tuesday to block access to the Hong Kong site, the use of which Google had hoped would allow it to keep its pledge to end censorship while retaining a share of China’s fast-growing internet search market.
Google Inc. may pull out of China on April 10, China Business News reported today, citing an unidentified Chinese sales agent for the company. The search engine may announce its exit on March 22, the Shanghai-based newspaper reported, citing an unidentified Google China employee. It may also reveal plans for its China workforce on the same day, according to the report.
After Pepsi's announcement earlier this week that it would stop selling the full-leaded version of its soda pop in schools around the world, I was quoted in USAToday saying that I'm cynical about its purpose (the company doesn't really sell much in schools globally anyway) and doubtful of the connection to its sales strategy (so we should celebrate its retreat from selling sweet beverages by...buying more sweet beverages?).
PepsiCo Inc. said Tuesday it will remove full-calorie sweetened drinks from schools in more than 200 countries by 2012, marking the first such move by a major soft-drink producer. PepsiCo announced its plan the same day first lady Michelle Obama urged major companies to put less fat, salt and sugar in foods and reduce marketing of unhealthy products to children. Pepsi, the world's second-biggest soft-drink maker, and Coca-Cola Co., the biggest, adopted guidelines to stop selling sugary drinks in U.S. schools in 2006.
If Google Inc. decides to close the door on its search engine in China, it might open a door for Microsoft Corp. The software giant's Bing search engine is among the potential beneficiaries if Google goes ahead with its threat to close its Google.cn site amid a dispute with the Chinese government over censorship. Although Bing has struggled to gain traction in China, Microsoft has already hired away at least three people from Google's China business, after aggressively pursuing them following Google's threat, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Google Inc. appears increasingly likely to shutter its Chinese-language search engine, a step that would remove one of the last major foreign players from the world's most populous and fastest-growing Internet market. A person familiar with situation said on Saturday that Google is likely to take action within weeks. Separately, Chinese authorities on Friday told local news Web sites that Google's Chinese site is likely to close and that, if it does, the news sites will be required to use only official accounts of the situation, rather than publish stories from anywhere else, according to a person familiar with the order.
Consumers boycott brands for almost as many reasons as there are brands. If you were looking for a brand to boycott because it made deals with both the US and the Islamic Republic of Iran (and in possible violation of the Iran Sanctions Act), the New York Times provided a handy list last weekend.
Increasingly turbulent labor negotiations are threatening to knock U.S. airlines off their recovery course just as the battered industry starts to emerge from a deep recession. Airlines slashed pay and benefits over the past decade, often during stays in bankruptcy court. Now, their restive workers are pressing for wage increases, in some cases by double-digit percentages.
At our agency, the traditional approach to employee recruitment and evaluation is dead. We're firm believers that today's businesses -- small or big companies, organizations or agencies like ours -- should measure potential employees and evaluate existing ones by the core values of their brand, even more so than by conventional metrics such as experience, qualifications and education. Let me explain. Since undergoing an entire rebranding of our agency in 2008 into an "agency of exciting minds," we've made every effort for our newly defined brand attributes to bleed into everything we do. As branding experts by trade, we all know how tricky this can be -- especially when under the microscope to practice what we preach to our clients on a daily basis.
Starbucks Corp. and some other chain stores in the U.S. are finding themselves caught in the middle of a firearms debate, as gun-control advocates go up against a burgeoning campaign by gun owners to carry holstered pistols in public places. The "open carry" movement, in which gun owners carry unconcealed handguns as they go about their everyday business, is loosely organized around the country but has been gaining traction in recent months. Gun-control advocates have been pushing to quash the movement, including by petitioning the Starbucks coffee chain to ban guns on its premises.
Judging from its branding and the griping of its competitors, Apple customers are hip, aware, and enlightened, yet its shareholders recently defeated resolutions to make the company more environmentally responsible and affirmed instead their uncool unconcern about anything other than profits. There isn't just a disconnect here, but an entirely topsy-turvy arrangement.
Is it possible to have a coffee, buy a car or go shopping without saving the world? Not these days. And now you can also host a pancake breakfast, send Girl Scout cookies to the troops and shelter stray pets, thanks to a friendly corporate sponsor. In addition to the now-requisite cause marketing, brands such as Quaker, Pepsi, Prilosec and Bisquick are turning to so-called microsponsorships of a few hundred or few thousand dollars that go straight to the consumer to fund their own pet project. The most visible of these is Pepsi Refresh, in which consumers can apply for grants ranging from $5,000 to $250,000.
It's a risky strategy at best because it can result in millions of dollars worth of free publicity or it can backfire. Frankly, the new Reebok ad, doesn't seem interesting enough to have much, umm, staying power. Brands including Budweiser, Ford, Levi's and Mastercard have been accused of producing their own sub-viral ad campaigns and unleashing their PR firms to spread the word about them. Sometimes, the ads are carefully shot to look like they were done by amateurs, sometimes they are painstakingly made to look like the company's real ads.
I'm very much afraid the government has created a dangerous precedent by bailing out the "too big to fail" banks, insurance firms and auto companies. Now the marketing strategy of corporations will be to get big at any cost so that no matter how badly they screw up, the government will save their bacon. A good case in point is Delta Air Lines. Delta has gotten to be the biggest U.S. carrier by buying Northwest. But Delta wants to get even bigger by forging alliances with Japan Airlines and Australia's Virgin Blue.
Seeking $335,000 in unpaid advertising bills, Google Inc. filed suit against a small Internet site in Ohio in October. The complaint was so routine it was just two sentences long. Google never expected the response it got. Last month, the small Internet site countered with a 24-page antitrust lawsuit against Google, accusing the search-engine giant of a litany of monopolistic abuses.
From Recycling to Fair Trade and Conflict Free Material. Companies such as HP Are Doing a Great Job.
Despite there are a lot of efforts on recycling, very little of our stuff is recyclable and being recycled. I don’t think we are doing enough, designers and consumers have a dilemma, and we love nicely designed packaging but hate to see the kind of waste we’re producing. Food containers are one good example.
Akio Toyoda, the president of Toyota Motor in front of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Wednesday offering something he hopes will start to repair the company's image among consumers: an apology.
Nike recently released their “Corporate Responsibility Report FY07-09” and I was so impressed by it, I just had to share my thoughts about it. Many of you know how big of a Nike fan I am, so it’s probably not surprising that the report resonated so strongly with me. But actually, I don’t think my positive brand bias has much to do with my reaction to the report. After all, I take a very skeptical stance when it comes to corporate social responsibility because many companies’ CSR efforts lack integrity the way their brand efforts do – they emphasize the saying vs. the doing.
Google on Thursday morning set out a further defence of its system for ranking search results, as it attempted to defuse questions from Europe’s top antitrust regulator. In a new blog posting, Amit Singhal, a Google employee responsible for the ranking system, claimed the company’s algorithms produced a better quality and more relevant result than a system that involved human intervention.
When a brand goes directly after its competition in an ad, there's always a price to pay. A poorly executed competitive ad makes the advertiser look boorish; a well-executed one puts the competitor on the defensive. Audi's latest jab at BMW appears to be the latter: The ad is classy and humorous, yet gets the point across. It depicts winning and losing moments (for example, a father who beats his son in a toy car race) with the voice-over: "In every friendly little competition, there's a winner... and a loser." Audi closes with the fact that it beat BMW in three straight Car and Driver comparisons.
Geno and were having an in person chat the other day. (The one day he was in town last week, geez that guy is raking in some Frequent Flier miles). Anyway we were talking about integrity. We talk a lot about authenticity at Brains on Fire. Being who you are. Knowing what you stand for. Supporting your customer’s genuine passion conversations, not product conversations. But lately Geno and I have been rolling this notion of integrity around.
The wave rolls in every day at noon Manhattan time. It gathers invisibly, out in the digital netherscape. A few minutes before the hour, the online retailer Gilt Groupe blasts out an e-mail, and a hush falls over many a workplace, as phone calls are cut short and spreadsheets minimized. Gilt Groupe is in the business of selling high fashion at deep discounts, and as you might deduce from the company’s name, with its Frenchified “e,” it presents itself as an exclusive club. In reality, that’s just artifice—Gilt is a viral-marketing phenomenon. During the hour after its weekday sales kick off, between noon and 1 p.m., the company claims, its site is visited by an average of roughly 100,000 shoppers. For that time, it might as well be the most crowded store in New York.
Ben & Jerry's says it's diving headlong into Fair Trade, and that by 2013, all of its flavors in all of its markets will be converted to Fair Trade Certified ingredients. And observers expect that the ice-cream brand's pioneering move will usher more consumers into the still-fuzzy Fair Trade fold -- and force other brands to follow.
Toyota Motor Corp. President Akio Toyoda vowed Wednesday to tighten quality control management by personally leading a new global quality-control task force. But he said he doesn't plan to visit the U.S. to appear at congressional hearings scheduled for Feb. 24 in Washington on the company's safety record. In his third news conference in less than two weeks, Mr. Toyoda emphasized the progress made in fixing the braking systems of hybrid cars that have been recalled in Japan.
Google made a whopper of a mistake. There's an old saying "fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice shame on me". Google's new Buzz service now falls under that probationary truism, as it has become embroiled in a privacy mess. Google officially launched its Google Buzz service -- a social networking-like RSS feed which drew from Picasa, Flikr, Twitter, and Gmail only last week. Many observers worried that the service might suffer similar problems to Facebook, which raised a lot of uproar over privacy changes, and a year ago had to publicly apologize after putting users' purchases off-site (with partners) in their feeds. Not so, said Google. The search giant insisted that it would "do no evil" as its motto goes, and would protect its customers.
Toyota Motor Corp.'s U.S. arm said Friday that its dealers have received the parts and training needed to fix accelerator pedals in recalled vehicles. In a statement, the world's No.1 auto maker by sales volume said the repair requires 30 minutes of work. It also said it has begun mailing letters to the owners of recalled vehicles. "Nothing is more important to us than the safety and reliability of the vehicles our customers drive, and we are determined to live up to the high standards people have come to expect from Toyota over the past 50 years," said Jim Lentz, president and chief operating officer of Toyota Motor Sales.
Toyota Motor Corp. said Thursday that it is investigating the computer-regulated braking systems of all other hybrid models, such as the Sai and the Lexus HS250h luxury hybrid sedan, following complaints about its Prius hybrid model. Toyota said that the recent brake problems in its smash-hit Prius hybrid gasoline-electric vehicle involved computer software used in automated systems and said it did not try to "cover up" the glitch.
Toyota Motor on Monday said it would begin fixing accelerator pedals in millions of recalled vehicles this week, with some dealerships staying open around the clock to speed the process. The company said its engineers have developed and “rigorously tested” a remedy that involves reinforcing the pedal to eliminate excess friction. It said it had an “effective and simple” solution for current owners; dealers will install a steel reinforcement bar into the pedal assembly to reduce the surface tension that could cause it to stick.
Toyota said Friday that its recall of eight models in Europe could include up to 1.8 million cars, pushing the total number of vehicles affected by problems with floor mats or gas pedals to more than 9 million worldwide. That is nearly as many vehicles as was sold by all automakers in the United States in 2009.
I believe a brand is a driver and compass for the organization – it focus and aligns all decision-making and it guides what we do/don’t do and what we say/don’t say. Having a clearly articulated brand strategy ensures everyone who works on our brand shares one clear, consistent, common understanding of what our brand stands for and how it competes. And this, in turn, helps them align their behaviors and decision-making with the brand so that it is delivered through every touchpoint with the outside world.
We have seen several epic marketing wars: The Cola War of Coke vs. Pepsi, The Beer War of Budweiser vs. Miller, The Mouthwash War of Listerine vs. Scope and The Battery War of Duracell vs. Energizer. But they all fail in comparison to the money and firepower currently being expended in the Cellphone War between AT&T and arch-rival Verizon Wireless. Last year AT&T and Verizon Wireless spent a combined $4 billion in advertising to blast consumers with 615,000 television commercials. Yet, despite the incredible sums spent and the enormous volume flooding the airways, most consumers are still confused.
As Toyota’s problems mounted in North America with the announcement of a halt to sales and manufacturing of the bulk of its cars, commentators in Japan fretted Wednesday that the automaker’s problems could seriously hurt the reputation of the rest of Japan’s manufacturing sector. “Toyota’s reputation for safety is in tatters, and it is inevitable that its image among consumers will suffer,” the Sankei Shimbun daily said.
After an interview, it's surprising that only about 60% of candidates send a thank-you note (an even smaller percentage sends them after visiting with a recruiter). Aside from being an expression of good manners, a short note expressing interest can go a long way toward promoting a person's candidacy. Of course, much has been written about thank-you notes in terms of job seekers. But I wanted to tackle something that, to my knowledge, has not been suggested before: Interviewers should send them to candidates, as well.
On Dec. 13, Accenture decided to end its six-year sponsorship of Tiger Woods. The next day, Roxanne Taylor, the global consulting firm's chief marketing officer, presented the concept for a new ad campaign to Chief Executive Bill Green. Amid salacious headlines about the golf superstar's alleged extramarital affairs, the new campaign, based on an idea Accenture's ad agency already had on hand, was put on a fast track. It would replace images of Mr. Woods with a lineup of animals pictured in ways designed to jibe with Accenture's longstanding slogan: "High Performance. Delivered."
Google’s stunning declaration that it would stop cooperating with Chinese Internet censorship and consider shutting down its operations in the country ricocheted around the world Wednesday. But in China itself, the news was heavily censored. Some big Chinese news portals initially carried a short dispatch on Google’s announcement but that account soon tumbled from the headlines and later reports omitted Google’s references to “free speech” and “surveillance.”
UBS AG Tuesday issued an employee code explicitly banning staff from helping clients cheat on their taxes, as part of the Swiss bank's effort to restore its reputation after a messy U.S. probe into hidden offshore accounts. "We do not provide assistance to clients or colleagues in acts aimed at deceiving tax authorities," according to the code, which is prefaced with remarks from UBS Chairman Kaspar Villiger and Chief Executive Oswald Grübel. The code, which also addresses issues such as financial crime, competition, confidentiality and diversity, is meant as a response to wrongdoing in UBS's U.S. offshore arm, which has since been shuttered.
In a manifesto-like e-mail message sent last month to all Google employees, Jonathan Rosenberg, a senior vice president for product management, told them to commit to greater transparency and open industry standards. Rather than hoard knowledge to exploit it, he wrote in “The Meaning of Open,” share it and watch Google and the entire Internet prosper. With the Chrome browser, however, Google’s inclusive principles are being put to the test: a new version of the browser allows, one might even say encourages, users to stop Google ads from appearing. How Google got to such a position speaks to the inherent dynamism (or is that chaos?) of business on the Internet.
As carefully crafted brand images go, it's hard to beat Toyota's. Over a generation or so, Toyota (TM) built its reputation — and U.S. market share — on dependability, at a time when General Motors, Ford Motor and Chrysler couldn't shake being identified with lemons. The Japanese automaker initially built its lineup around fuel-efficient cars, while Detroit was focused on gas-guzzling SUVs. Mostly non-union Toyota opened U.S. plants and promised no layoffs for permanent workers. Detroit, meanwhile, laid off employees by the thousands and shuttered dozens of UAW-represented plants. But Detroit's nemesis lately has suffered through its own run of bad press, much of it involving a consumer hot-button: vehicle safety.
Toyota is one brand that can’t wait to leave 2009 behind. As Abe Sauer wrote just last week regarding its recall of some 4 million vehicles due to an accelerator problem that was responsible for a dozen deaths: It can promise "it won't happen again," but... Well, it’s happened again, and there’s a painful yin and yang relating the two recent sets of problems. Last week’s news involved cars that kept accelerating. This week’s involves cars that suddenly stall – like while you’re cruising along the interstate, or navigating an intersection, or (in theory) as you’re trying to cross some railroad tracks as an Amtrak Acela barrels toward you. Last week’s news made Corolla and Matrix owners sigh with relief when they learned their models didn’t have the acceleration troubles. Guess which two models were affected by this week’s news?
Cadbury is up for grabs, and as we have been following, it looks like like Hershey and Kraft Foods are hungry for a takeover. Kraft has been at the center of the multi-billion struggle with no signs of giving up, though Nestlé is considering placing a rival bid for the chocolate company, which may incite a hostile reaction from Kraft. Regardless, Cadbury knows who the true power-players are.
Hundreds of Holiday Inns may soon have to change their names. InterContinental Hotels Group PLC is ready to strip the brand next year from as many as 300 of the 2,700 Holiday Inn hotels owned by franchisees in North America if those properties don't undertake the brand's $1 billion overhaul by Feb. 1. IHG, based in the U.K., started its overhaul of Holiday Inn two years ago in a bid to "contemporize" the 57-year-old brand and weed out older, poorly performing hotels.
Bucking the rewards-cutting trend at some organizations, PepsiCo has announced the expansion of its global recognition program. The beverage and snack giant announced, last week, that it has created the “Chairman’s Circle of Champions” to reward the company’s top operations associates around the world. The new award program focuses on backend employees for their strong performance in areas such as safety, job performance, service and even people skills. Recipients will be recognized for their accomplishments at a three- to four-day event in New York where they can also receive training to enhance their work performance upon their return. Top leaders from the company will give presentations and breakout sessions will be held. Winners will also go on tours of the city and the trip will culminate with an awards ceremony.
A few weeks ago, I had lunch with a friend prior to an evening speech. After some small talk about life, the universe and everything, our conversation naturally turned to the abysmal U.S. economy. “Things are really tough right now,” she explained. “I’ve tried to get everyone to understand the importance of branding in this very difficult environment, but I don’t think they get it. In fact,” she added. “Our customers hate that word.” “What word?” I asked. “Brand?” “Yea. The non-profits we work with have a real aversion to the whole notion of branding. I guess they don’t really understand the concept and how it applies to them.” They’re not the only ones.
This morning, Seth used his much respected blog to reveal the news about Brands In Public. If you missed it (and if you did, you should really adjust the volume on your Internet), Brand in Public was designed to show the world just how much Seth cares about your brand. Yep, he loves you so much that he has sent his team of goblins out to register your Brands in Public company page for you, fill it with scraped content (blog posts, tweets, Google News, Trends, etc) and then lock it down so that you have absolutely no way to touch or control it. Unless you pay him.
Customer support is tactical, a cost-center, and the clean-up-kids at the company. Well, that’s the mentality that needs to change. Instead, customer support can be strategic, a value center, and proactive towards customer needs. The lines between marketing and support continue to blur, as customers share their experiences (most recently, Dooce vs her Whirlpool washing machine) the support experience she has becomes a PR task. Support organizations must quickly evolve as customers connect to each other –and share their stories –using social technologies.
Southwest Airlines has just announced that it will charge $10 for passengers who want to board its planes early, which means after the more expensive Business Select and mileage award ticket holders have already grabbed their seats. This is first class seating, in everything but name. I wonder what it does to the Southwest brand?
Here is a tale of two businesses. There is good news and there is bad news. Let's try and stay positive. Good news first. Hiscox, the insurance company, announced some impressive results last week - a 30 per cent increase in pre-tax profits in the first half of the year. The company has outperformed most of its rivals at a difficult time. Something is going seriously right. I trawled through my paperwork and found the notes from a conversation I'd had with Bronek Masojada, Hiscox's chief executive, some time ago. The topic for that conversation had been the rather abstract concept of the "employer brand". You might not feel that an employer brand would have a great deal to do with your decision to pick company X over company Y to insure the contents of your house. Indeed, you might feel that the term is a typical example of business's unfailing ability to invent grand-sounding but ultimately flaky jargon. Secretly, you might not really know what an employer brand is at all.
Creating a product, service, or brand experience is a puzzle where all the pieces need to be present... and neatly fit together. If you recall some of the best experiences of your life - whether a vacation, a business meeting, or a retail/restaurant experience - I'll bet what made it so great was that "everything came together."
"Next in line!" shouts the counter person in the fast food restaurant. If you're the customer, the impersonal language of the server says that you are nothing more than the next 'cheeseburger-do-you-want-fries-with-that?" order. But go down the block to another fast food establishment and you'll find employees who have been trained to ask, "May I help the next guest, please?" For thousands of companies that depend on the instant impressions created during these Moments of Truth between employee and customer, the words that employees use are more than just language. How your employees speak with your customers is, quite literally, your brand brought to life.
Salmonella. Drug violence. Now swine flu. You think Mexico's development and tourism marketers are having a few sleepless nights? Only this nightmare is real.
You read it here first, back in June 2007: "The real risk for innocent is the sell-out. Indeed, my money goes on Coke to be the one who swallows Innocent." Last week came news confirming that innocent had sold its soul, or at least 20% of it, for a cool £30million.
Let's not forget that social media does not - and cannot - exist in a vacuum. It's not as if your brand can overcome a litany of other deficiencies just because you're engaging customers on Twitter, or blogging every day. If your product or service is inadequate, social media won't fix that, it will highlight it.