Tuesday, October 8, 2013

marketing isn't a real thing, is it?

Dilbert by Scott Adams

My favorite panel, from any comic strip, ever, has to be this one. I love "Marketing isn't a real thing, is it?" "It's mostly guessing." Haha, that Dilbert, he gets me every time.

Of course, if you're reading this and you're a marketer yourself, you know that marketing is anything BUT guessing.

Marketing is actually a very precise science - something that only seasoned marketers - those who have failed and those who have triumphed - can truly understand.

Think back to your 5th grade science fair. What were you asked to do? First: Identify a problem. Then form a hypothesis. Next, design and perform an experiment(s). Then, collect and analyze the data. Lastly, formulate your conclusions about your hypothesis.

And class, what do we call that?
The Scientific Method

The S-C-I-E-N-T-I-F-I-C M-E-T-H-O-D.

Good job, class.

Marketing is science. Your client is your teacher, he/she brings you a problem, "Hey Kathy, we have these really great thingamajigs that nobody knows about, how can we increase our sales?"

"Hmmm," you say to yourself, "nobody knows about them, you say?" You do some more thinking and then it hits you, "I bet if we tell people about your thingamajigs, they'll know about them, and they'll buy them." There's your hypothesis.

So then you do your research and discover that the guy down the street from your client also sells thingamajigs. But your client's thingamajigs are 20% cheaper, come in 50% more colors, and your client has the ability to ship them directly to their buyers. These are your major points of difference (sometimes called your value proposition) and will later help inform your messaging strategy.

You also discover that your client's competition only promotes their thingamajigs with flyers and directory listings. So you design a marketing plan that also incorporates flyers and directory listings, PLUS e-mail marketing, a CPC campaign and social media. You design your communications strategy around several trackable entities including a rewards program, coupon redemption program and a referral program (all underscoring your client's value proposition). And you spread each of these programs across the various outreach methods - equally.

Using a tool like Intelliclick or MailChimp or even Constant Contact you can easily track the number of email opens, forwards, and even navigation to your client's website. Every time a digital coupon is redeemed on your website, or someone signs up for your referral service, this information is collected too. You make a simple separate spreadsheet to track how many paper flyers make their way into your client's store.

At the end of a month you compare and analyze the data to find out what offerings and what delivery methods were most effective. On top of selling 245 thingamajigs in just one month - your client's highest ever sales number for a single month - you conclude that not only did "telling people about the thingamajigs" prove to be a correct hypothesis, but that the most effective way to sell to people was using a digital coupon on social media, which also earned your client referrals outside of the referral program that rewards your client's customers when they tell a friend about your client's thingamajigs. Which is great, because  social media is so much cheaper than a CPC campaign, so you advise your client to scale back on the paid-for media opportunities as you go back to the drawing board to create a new hypothesis about how you can increase your client's sales and begin designing a new experiment around socially shared pop-up store events in your client's densest populated target market area.

A mad scientist like me.
In my 10+ years of experience, rising from a executive temp at a PR agency to having run my own consultancy, to directing major national brand campaigns for companies like Toyota, and even working one-on-one with celebrities like Tim Robbins and Daryl Hannah, I've learned a great deal about manipulating the formula that creates brand buzz. And because no two brands are alike, no two formulas are alike. Sometimes it takes a mad brand scientist to really elevate a brand to its full potential - someone with a keen insight, a different way of looking at this mad, mad, mad world, and with natural-born leadership skills.

Sometimes when you're looking for a marketing manager, what you should really be looking for is a mad brand scientist. You should be looking for someone like me.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

the sexiest new men's magazine to never exist

I invite you to hop a ride in my way back machine so we can look at an awesome idea that almost happened, but then didn't. And probably won't ever. The month was October. The year: 2009...the same year the bottom fell out of the economy.

Ever hear the one about the butter face? the wha?You know, the woman with those long legs, that swanky walk, sumptuous thighs, an ass that just wouldn't quit, tits out to here, a tight little middle that you just wanted to bounce strawberries off of all day...yeah? yeah?

Butter Face Magazine
I was prepared with original artwork (see above left), article samples and feature topics - an entire editorial calendar actually - plus a business plan, budgeting and even first year revenue projections. Other than the model who I paraded out with a bag over her head (thank you to the LOVELY Christy Clark) the cover photo was the only thing they allowed me to present. I had even shot a man-on-the-street video segment in which total strangers confirmed that "yes, I'd buy a magazine featuring headless hot bodies and great articles." But that wasn't allowed either - in fact they cut me off without allowing me to finish my pitch.
Helllooo Nurse!
BFM 6-Month Start-Up Budget
Sure, in 2009 when we did our research, 279 Magazines shuttered in the first half of the year (according to Folio). Of the 279 that folded, main category culprits include regional interest magazines, which took a dive and saw 27 titles fold, like Denver Living and Florida InsideOut. Other categories on the decline include construction, lifestyle and business with 18, 14 and 10 folded titles, respectively.

So, with inspiration from a couple of friends, I invented BFM - Butter Face Magazine. Because you're not looking at her face anyway...It was a good enough idea to get on this totally lame game show called "The Bank of Hollywood" executively produced by Ryan Seacrest.

Of course I didn't get the start-up capital I was looking for (obviously, otherwise I'd be a billionaire right now instead of looking for a job). Nope, the shortsighted judges, made up from some jerk-off modeling agent, a former pussy cat doll, a former Spelling and some other D-lister, gave $50K to a generic African-American family who wanted to start a series of workout DVDs. Oh boy, now there's an original idea. Funny...I haven't seen them on any informercials. [read show synopsis here].

I was dismissed like some insensitive bitch who hated women. Sean Patterson of Willemina Models, who had just finished lambasting me for passing judgement on what is considered "beauty," even called me ugly [read the entire transcript of the show here]. Which I laughed at....since his chief job as a talent agent is to reject literally hundreds of beautiful women.

My magazine would gladly pick up his cast-outs. And this was where I was headed. Look at how much money magazines like Maxim, FHM, Sports Illustrated, Playboy and others probably spend on notable faces. And look at how much money they rake in from advertisers.

I say: there's hundreds of thousands of beautiful bodies out there, why spend money on their faces. I know that sounds harsh, but hear me out. At the time, I could count on both hands and both feet how many of my girlfriends were trying to break into modeling and acting and were hard pressed to put together enough gigs to just pay rent.

If I look back at my budget sheet, we were going to pay $125 to each model for a half day. That's more than they'd make waitressing in an 8-hour shift at the Daily Grill, I assure you. And maybe the models were gorgeous in the face, and maybe they're weren't - it wouldn't matter because you wouldn't see their faces. It had nothing to do with beauty at all - it had to do with mystery.

We came up with a "in every issue" column idea called "Hellllooooo Nurse!" One of my friends, who helped inspire the magazine, was studying for her RN license at the time and always had great stories to share from the ER. In the sample column we had prepared for the show, "Nurse Emily", had chose to write about "Condoms: For the prevention of Baby-Mommas."

And, in keeping with the theme of practical anonymity, our feature material was going to focus on practically unknown millionaires - not NBA All-stars, or professional race car drivers, or stock market tycoons, or even the guy who invented sex toys - I'm talking real millionaires who have only slightly above average lives, but chose interesting career paths that made them rich. These are the kinds of guys we figured our readers could realistically aspire to be.

We did the research - from man-on-the-street surveys, to brand spying, to market trend analysis.

We had even picked out top potential advertisers to go after: Unilever, the parent company to AXE body spray and deodorant; Church & Dwight, the parent company of Trojan condoms, Arm & Hammer personal care products, and Nair for Men (who knew they had a men’s line); SSL International PLC, the parent company of Durex condoms and Dr. Scholl’s; Proctor & Gamble, parent company of Gillette razors, other men’s products and various pharmaceuticals; and SAB Miller & Molson Coors.

We let the following three logical assumptions guide us: 

Logical Assumption #1: A beautiful female body can sell any product to any male; a beautiful woman’s face may not.

Logical Assumption #2: If men were interested in women’s faces, what they thought, or how they felt, they’d read Cosmo, not flip the pages of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue, Hustler or Maxim.

A bright spot, if there is one, is that after the print editions folded, 43 titles continued to live on the Web.

Heck, at the time, we hadn't yet considered launching ButterFace.com (although I did buy the domain...and then let it expire). Someone else has scooped it up since. Probably Sean Patterson of Willemina Models. 

That's okay Sean, you can have it. I filed a copyright on the concept after the show aired. After all, I had all the collateral, budgeting, and content already written; and the idea was officially publicized as mine the minute the show aired. The first person who launches BFM or anything like it will owe me some CA$H MONEY. So, if you're reading this, and you own ButterFace.com, hire me now, and skip the legal drama. 


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Is nobody talking about the new milk radio spots???

Have you heard the new radio spots for the got milk campaign?

OMG. They blew me away. They're a brilliant extension of the long running "Got Milk?" campaign created by Goodby Silverstein & Partners. These advertisers have really done a great job keeping the campaign simple and smart at the same time.

I conducted several internet searches to see if I could find you an audio clip but haven't been successful - and thus I can't tell you what they say verbatim - but there are at least two of them and they go a little something like this:

Radio Spot 1 (in a breathy kind of woman's voice, almost like your subconscious talking to you):
Do you have milk in the fridge? Are you suuuure? You had milk last night with dinner, did you drink all the milk? Did your son have enough milk for his breakfast? Maybe you should stop at the store and pick up some milk....

Radio Spot 2 (a very manly man's voice, handsome sounding):
Is there milk in the fridge? Or should you stop on your way home from work and pick up some more milk? There was milk in the fridge last night, but maybe your wife drank it. Ha, she would do something like that, just because she knows how much you like your milk and how that would really piss you off....

Like I said, I don't know verbatim what they said, but they are both very creative and very creepy :30 spots without any other sound effects or music. For :30 seconds it's just you, the voice, and the rush of traffic (if you're driving, as I was) and a growing anxiety within you that you may be out of milk and you should probably stop at the store and pick up another quart just in case. Very effective. 

The time slots the media buyer chose to run these in were also carefully chosen. I heard the woman's voice spot at about 5:15PM on a local country station as I was headed home from work. I heard the man's voice version at around 10AM, also, on a local country station.

Now, you might be saying to yourself, "yeah, I get the 5:15PM spot, but what gives with the 10AM spot?" Aha! If you're a stay-at-home mom, chances are you're doing your meal planning on a Sunday night, and doing your hopping mid morning. So let's say you're headed to the store around 10 am and the radio spot comes on - bam - they've got you. You've already left your house, there's no going back, now you gotta get milk while you're out. And maybe you don't hear it yourself, but your husband does, because he's driving downtown for a meeting at about that time. You betcha that stay-at-home mom is getting a text on her phone at about the same time from hubby saying "hey babe, can you pick up some milk, I think we're out...of and how about brownies for dessert?" (ok, well, that's what MY husband would text me anyway. He's a huge chocolate fan.)

So anyways, not a big post. No revolutionary insights here - just wanted you to listen for this rad new milk campaign. Leave a comment if you have more information or links about it.

And if you're reading this on your smart phone away from home, you might want to pick up some milk on your way back. I think the ounce or two of milk stagnating in your jug is sour...in fact, you know it is...that's why it's been sitting there for a week...why you've taken the milk out and sniffed it twice but put the milk back into the fridge. Don't brownies sound good right now too? Pick up some milk and some brownies from the bakery. Mmmmm, ice cold milk.

ADDENDUM: Shortly after posting this I realized the radio spots are part of the "dream" campaign. I guess I had forgot that part of the dialogue. Indeed, I now recall the woman's voice saying "are you dreaming?" Read more about it by clicking here.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Free Marketing/PR Idea #1: Sponsor a Mutt-run Iditarod Team

Pound puppies. I love them. I have two of them (had two of them).


Dutch we had to put down last September at 13 years of age when it was discovered he had significant spinal deterioration and an infection that had immobilized him requiring a surgery that he would likely not recover fully from.

Wolfe is still with us and he's five.
He'll be my son's first best friend.

There have been several
celebrities over the years that have done their part to make pets a priority and champion spaying and neutering your animals or rescuing dogs from shelters. But with between 6 - 8 million dogs and cats entering shelters EACH YEAR there is certainly more work that needs to be done to educate people about the value of an animal's life and what great pets sheltered animals make.

And While Sarah McLaughlan's tear-jerking pleas to "join the SPCA with a monthly gift of $18 a month" certainly seem effective, I just wonder if someone could be doing more to benefit shelters nationwide while getting some really awesome exposure for their brand which maybe already aligns itself with preventing animal cruelty or pet adoptions.

Sarah McLachlan
Bob Barker
So I propose Free Marketing/PR Idea #1: Sponsor a Mutt-run Iditarod Team.

"Why the Iditarod?" you ask...well...

Because the Iditarod is the world's foremost sled race showcasing the best-of-the-best sled dogs.

From the official Iditarod Web site:

"From Anchorage, in south central Alaska, to Nome on the western Bering Sea coast, each team of 12 to 16 dogs and their musher cover over *1,049 miles in 10 to 17 days. 

It has been called the “Last Great Race on Earth®” and it has won worldwide acclaim and interest. German, Spanish, British, Japanese and American film crews have covered the event. Journalists from outdoor magazines, adventure magazines, newspapers and wire services flock to Anchorage and Nome to record the excitement. It’s not just a dog sled race, it’s a race in which unique men and woman compete. Mushers enter from all walks of life. Fishermen, lawyers, doctors, miners, artists, natives, Canadians, Swiss, French and others; men and women each with their own story, each with their own reasons for going the distance. It’s a race organized and run primarily by volunteers, thousands of volunteers, men and women, students and village residents. They man headquarters at Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau, Nome and Wasilla. They fly volunteers, veterinarians, dog food and supplies. They act as checkers, coordinators, and family supporters of each musher."

As the Web site says - it's a unique challenge that showcases (extra) ordinary people from all walks of life and has an international journalistic appeal which would be great exposure for any brand.

People have a misconception that shelter dogs are somehow damaged, not smart, untrainable, used up, etc. And it's simply not true. You can train a shelter dog the same basic obedience and, so much more, as you can a purebred dog. My brother, in fact, trained his rescued Weimaraner-Lab mix to be a gun dog. Read his story here.

So here's my idea: you get a couple of well-known dog trainers paired up with a couple of semi-pro mushers who've run an Iditarod or two and you convince them to each take on a team of totally untrained mixed breeds from various shelters and groom them to be mushers over the next year and then run them in the Iditarod. Get Sarah Palin involved, get Joe Runyan onboard, and Sebastaian Schnuelle too. Pay for the training with money donated by food partner sponsors: Nutrish and Milkbone. Equipment and harnessing by Adanac, Ultra Paws or Alpine.

I can just see it now - all eyes will be on the shelter dog sled teams - a real underdog story - they'd be like the Bad News Bears of mushing.

It would draw HUGE international media attention, and whether or not any of the rag-tag teams won, getting a camera crew to document their journey from the shelter to the sled trail, would show the world how capable shelter dogs are of any task you put them to. I see a movie, a children's book deal, celebrity pet meet-n-greets, and a mad dash to shelters everywhere to adopt.

Create a website to promote the teams and to allow people to follow the pups' progress via video, twitter and facebook posts. Set up a shopping cart to sell merchandise like T-shirts, hats, dog scarfs and blankets from your favorite underdog team. Take donations. Let proceeds benefit shelters in the cities that the sled dogs come from as well as the SPCA and other national organizations.

This image appeared in a 2007 edition of The Onion newspaper (which features fictional stories) with the headline "Westminster Dog Show Finalists Form Elite Iditarod Team". 
The above image, while fictional, and featuring best-in-class purebred dogs, like what you'd see in the Westminster Dog Show, is not far off from my vision. Substitute the purebreds with mixed mutts from the Shepherd and Staffordshire bloodlines, Terriers and Poodles, Hound-Retriever mixes - heck, I'd love to see an entire team of corgis pull a sled. Those tiny little legs just waddling a mile a minute.

And I know the elements on the sled trail are harsh. I know not all dogs are bred for snowy climates. So maybe a couple of the teams are chosen as ambassadors and run just the first 5 miles.

I don't think anything like this has been attempted and I'd love to see someone give it a-go. If you're reading this, and you agree with my vision, hire me! I'll be happy to run the campaign...or the dogs...or both.

Addendum: Shortly after posting this I thought to myself...hmmm...I wonder if the reason something like this has never been done has anything to do with the fact that organizations like the SPCA don't support the event, maybe they think it's cruelty to animals. So I looked it up. And sure enough, several animal rights activists groups are against the event (not necessarily the sport). But I guess you gotta pick a side of the fence to be on, and I'm on the side of the sled dogs. I know there are casualties every year, and that's tough.  But I don't personally see sled dogging as a cruel life. Looks pretty awesome to me. Every sport has its dopers and its assholes. Look at Lance Armstrong, A. Rod, and Rashard Lewis. We can't let them be the rule, they're the exception. So I'm gonna stand behind my idea and bet that the national exposure brought by such a stunt would encourage more pet adoptions than any other celebrity-driven infomercial donation campaign. I'll let Sarah continue to help collect money for the SPCA $18-a-person-a-month one person at a time.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

ugly people should...

I left that title open-ended so you could fill in the blank ala Anthony Jeselnik's "Search & Destroy" sketch. It's a hilariously funny comedy bit in absolutely horrendous taste. If you don't watch the show...hmmm...you should. It's mediocrely funny in the way that Tosh.0 has suddenly become UN-funny.

But the title also refers to my previous day's post "beautiful people are better than you."

So let's talk ugly - and not just people. Did you hear? The ugliest animal on earth award goes to the Blobfish. It was announced by the Ugly Animal Society on national news outlets over the weekend.

Now, THAT, is amazing publicity. Who knew an Ugly Animal Society even existed.

To quote CNN: "goofy humans that we are, we tend to equate (what we consider) beauty with importance in the ecological scheme of things.

In fact, nature's many repugnant, repulsive -- or just very small -- denizens can be just as important for the environment's health."

Seeeee.....UGLY is important...while beauty is merely haughtily wanted, needed and desired.

You gotta love this British group, I mean, who couldn't love a bunch of kids dedicated "to raising the profile of some of Mother Nature's more aesthetically challenged children." Someone has to be their champion, right? Check out this interview.

But there is other kinds of ugly in the world.

Here's a list of the Top 5 Things I Find Ugly:

Kathy's "Top 5 Ugly Things"
5.) Toyota Prius
4.) Lady Gaga-inspired platform heels
3.) Kelly Cotrone. Coutrone. Cutrone. I don't even give a fuck how you spell it - that's how ugly this thing is - it's not worth looking up. 
2.) Bad Behavior (see also: Tiger Woods, Bill Clinton, Anthony Weiner, that trashy girl from MTV's "16 and Pregnant" who made a sex tape video, etc.)
1.) Animal Cruelty

Ok, let's talk about the Toyota Prius. Now, interestingly enough, I represented this ugly little hybrid in 2006 as the PR manager for the "Red Carpet, Green Cars" campaign in which we chauffeured top celebrities to and from awards shows in order to garner more press coverage than any other year that this campaign ran. The celebrities' preference for arriving by hybrid was supposed to underscore their commitment to an eco lifestyle. Great on gas mileage it might be, but it's still an ugly little car - and an expensive one at that.

Shoes. What happened to sensible style? I'll tell you - it went out the window the same day the pop-rock music world let Lady Gaga slither through it. Now, I have no problem with Lady Gaga herself. Go on with your bad self, girl. Just STOP wearing ugly shoes - PLEASE. Because I am not terribly fashionable, I stick to a classic look: tailored jeans and pants with silk blouses and 4" pumps with modest pointed toes. I am a huge fan of Dolce&Gabbana, ALDO, Guess, Carlos Santana, Jessica Simpson, BCBG, and a couple others. I have closets full of 4" pointed toe pumps in leather, snakeskin, print fabric, metallic, you-name-it. And it's a good thing I stock pile them because ever since Gaga arrived, I've been hard-pressed to find anything without a 2" platform, rounded toe and thick heel. UGLY. Thankfully there are signs that Gagga's novelty is finally fading out...I see the shelves have started to stock the good stuff again. In fact I just bought a new pair of pumps at ALDO the other day. The Kaziks are pretty dope.

Kelly Coutrone - self proclaimed "goth" and fashion PR maven...and by all accounts an ugly person. And I'm not talking about her unmade ashen face, or her drab black clothing; I'm talking about her ugly personality that darkens the very doorways she sulks through on America's Next Top Model. I can appreciate no-nonsense criticism as much as the next person, and granted, her job is not to coddle these naive modeling nymphs, but Jesus H. Christ on a popsicle stick, stop being such a bully. In the first episode of ANTM 2.0 "Guys vs. Girls"one of the top model hopefuls makes a very innocent comment to Kelly asking her if she was really as mean as she looks on the show and Kelly loses her mind and condemns her for being a very rude girl and continues to belittle her and correct her in her snottiest voice. I just can't believe she's a professional PR person. Neither can Wet Paint or thousands of facebookers who love to hate her.

Bad Behavior. Enough said. You people are disgusting.

Animal Cruelty. Have you seen the latest scandal to make it's way around the social mediasphere? Wal*Mart (and other retailers) just pulled a toy dead dog/roadkill (that I'm assuming it was carrying as part of their Halloween props and decor merchandise). The "toy" featured what looked like a skinned and bloody dog tethered by a chain and with a tire track running through the middle of it. I love scary gory movies. I love Halloween. I love haunted houses and costumes. I do not love animal cruelty or anything that hints at it. What was Wal*Mart thinking? What was the sculptor thinking who molded this awful prop? This thing was ugly all the way around. The most beautiful part was the product being taken out of production altogether.

So go out there marketers, branders, PR pros and make ugly things beautiful in the way only you can do.

* * * * SPOILER ALERT * * * * 

In case you didn't do it yet...if you type "ugly people should" into your google search browser, your top 3 returns are:

"...should die"
"...shouldn't breed"
"...shouldn't have kids"

I blame the beautiful people for making these the top three search returns. Damn beautiful people, why you gotta be so ugly?

Monday, September 16, 2013

beautiful people are better than you

The "ugliest woman in the world," Lizzie Velasquez.
One People's "most beautiful women in the world," Scarlett Johansson.
It's often said that "beauty is in the eye of the beholder..." but that's kind of a lie. Some people are definitely more beautiful than others. Some flowers are definitely more beautiful than others. Some buildings, even, are definitely more beautiful than others. Why? Because of symmetry my dear Watson, symmetry. We are pre-programmed to accept perfect symmetry as beautiful - whether we're conscious of it or not.

Throughout our entire lives we will obsess about beautiful things. We want beautiful things. We need beautiful things. People, cars, clothes, homes, etc. Beautiful people are used to sell the beautiful things we obsess about.

It's a disturbing admonishment, I'll admit. What's even more disturbing is how we down play our obsession with beauty. We even try to turn ugly things into beautiful things by marketing them as a reinvention of beauty or as new and "different" beautiful things.

My son, H.W.
So where do we get this obsession with beautiful stuff? I'm not exactly sure but even my six month old son is obsessed with beautiful things.

And today I noticed something very interesting.  My son, pictured at left, is a beautiful kid. I'm not just a biased parent either. Everyone tells me this. Strangers at the grocery store, the mall, out on a stroll, his pediatrician, and his agent - yes his agent - all exclaim the same thing, "omg what a Gerber baby!" They comment on his eyes, his smile, his chubby little thighs and they even ask to touch him.

Neighbors joke that his first words are going to be "you're so fucking cute" because it is the most iterated phrase in a six-block radius.

But last week H.W. got a DOCband - or a helmet - to correct some severe head molding that occurred in utero. Despite strangers' insistence that his head looks "fine" and that he's "the cutest baby in the world," his slightly mis-shappen head really bothers me and I am embarrassingly obsessed with perfection so we got him a device to make him more beautiful.
H.W. with DOCband

He'll have to wear this band for 23 hours a day for probably the next three months. And since putting it on, I've noticed a significant drop off in attention. Just today, on a stroll to my neighborhood Starbucks, I passed at least 5 strangers on the street, and another dozen or so in the cafe itself. Normally they'd have looked at my darling baby and gushed all over him. But this time, with his helmet on, not a single person looked. Well, they tried not to look, but I noticed sideways glances stolen from the corners of their eyes as they passed.

It didn't bother me, but I thought it was funny. I thought it was funny in the same way I've noticed my own son discriminate against less attractive people when we're out in public.

Flying to Reno last month H.W. showed a clear preference for the pretty long-haired brunette airline stewardess; while the obese woman, with oily hair sitting a couple rows behind us, and trying to engage him in a game of peek-a-boo, just made him turn his head.

My hope for the DOCband is that it will shape my son's head and lessen the severity of the somewhat sharp "corner" the top right part of his skull still has from birth. I see it as my obligation as a parent to give my son every advantage possible in life.

Having a weird-shaped head can't be good for your career (unless you're hoping to have a career as a character actor in scary movies) or your dating life and it sure won't help him book modeling jobs. Nope, pretty people have it easier, that's for sure. 

But are beautiful people actually better people? I doubt it. Although advertising wants you to think that they are. If you look at advertising, beautiful people are smarter, they're better housewives, better pet owners, better drivers, and better cooks. They have better jobs than you. Better homes, better cars, better clothes and take better vacations.

And that's why we want to be them. Because beautiful people are better than us.

When was the last time you saw the image of the "ugliest woman in the world" trying selling perfume? Don't know? How about the last time you saw an image of Scarlett Johansson trying to sell you perfume? She is currently the Dolce & Gabbana "The One Desire" fragrance.

So whether that's true or not, don't take beauty for granted. If it weren't for beauty, we would have no reason to want to better ourselves. Heck, if it weren't for beauty, half of us woudn't have jobs. The next time you see a beautiful person don't hate them because they're beautiful, take time to appreciate all their beauty has done for you. After all, to quote Jewel, "she is pieces of you."

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

go ahead, ask me what day it it...



Before getting laid off, and over a couple of pints with co-workers, I had threatened to come into work on my last hump day dressed like a camel. Alas, my employers made my last day of work a Tuesday. 

GEICO's new campaign "Get Happy, Get GEICO" has been running now since last year when they rolled out with Gallagher at the supermarket smashing fruit. According to GEICO's wikipedia site there are now 12 of these campaign spots running. By far my favorite has to be the Hump Day Camel. 

GEICO does an amazing job of running multiple campaigns at the same time without ever obscuring their message or value propositions. You've got the GEICO Gecko, the "Get Happy" commercials, Maxwell the Pig, and the Cavemen. Not all brands do this so successfully. And honestly, I bet if I polled 1,000 people today, more than 75% of them have at least called GEICO if not actually switched. I called GEICO back in 2007 during their relatively uncreative "15 minutes could save you 15%" campaign. In the end, they couldn't save me 15%...they couldn't even save me 1%. I was better off with the agency I had. 

Another favorite insurance seller's campaigns I am fond of are the AllState "Mayhem" spots. But, I must admit, I just had to google "Mayhem + insurance + commercial" in order to remember what insurer ran those ads. AllState runs another campaign alongside these, it's the one featuring that black guy with the deep voice as part of their "Connected" campaign. The two campaigns are running at the same time and they're anything but connected. And the brand isn't identifiable through either of them. 

Unlike GEICO, AllState doesn't stick to a singular message, they keep coming up with cute gimmicks, but they seem to be trying on several identities, too, which creates inconsistency, and that's where the brand identity gets lost. 

Then there's that spot with the big offish looking guy who is supposedly a French Model (bonjour).

I had to look this campaign up too - turns out it's for State Farm - as part of their "State of Disbelief" campaign.

I also like several of the Famers commercials that make up their "Smarter" campaign.

And how can you forget their jingle - We Are Farmers! Bum Ba-Dum Bum Bum Bum Bum - this saves them from obscurity. If it wasn't for that jingle, I would have had to google them too.  But between All State, State Farm and Farmers I get confused. So while they're making great commercials, they're not doing as good of a job branding them.

Another insurer, Progressive, does a great job branding. Anytime I see Flo I think Progressive. You could show me a blank box in white blue and orange and ask me what product I associated it with and I'd say Progressive. Do I like their commercials? Eh. I think they've grown pretty tired now. Maybe they should try sticking Flo in another roll (not as Flo) but as someone else. Her face is very identifiable with the brand. And they should keep the color branding. They just need a whole new direction. It's no longer feeling very "progressive" to me.

"So what?" you're probably saying right now...the what is: because of the number of channels now capable of delivering us marketing messages, consistency and repetition are key in branding your image into the conscious minds of your target audience. Look at all the ways you're exposed to media messages on a daily basis: TV commercials, radio commercials, billboards, print magazines, newspapers, in-app ads, email, text mssg,  movie theatre previews, social media, etc.

Public Relations pros used to tell their clients it takes the "power of 3" to make an impression in your customer's mind. Meaning  your customer must see or hear your message at least three time before remembering it. Then that number ticked up to 7, then 12, then 24...I'm not even sure how many impressions a brand must now make before it's consciously registered with its target audience. But it's a fuck ton.

I don't know anyone who has a fuck ton of money right now. So its best you be judicious about where your spend your money. I highly recommend spending it on building consistent brand identity through clever marketing campaigns that you can pull through each medium - from a billboard over the 405 fwy to a shareable youtube spot. 

Now, get back to your hump day. And celebrate responsibly.