Join us as we explore examples of marketing excellence...and error.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Dear Coke, Thanks for the Packaging Blunder!

For those of you who haven't heard, Coke announced the other that is was pulling all of it's holiday cans off the shelves based on consumer complaints.  For the first time ever, Coke departed from its signature red can, opting for a white one instead (above) to reinforce it's committment to their fund to save Polar Bears.  Backlash blasted on social media sites from diehard red can lovers and dieters that were confused about what can to choose, prompted the decision by the Coca-Cola company. 

Of course, my marketing side just couldn't pass up the opportunity to put in my 2 cents about the situation. So here goes...

Dear Coke,
First of all, I would like to thank you for the White Can fiasco that finally knocked off those silly Kardashian’s, and all of their shenanigans, from my Yahoo news page.  I was about ready to shoot my screen.

Second, I’m sorry that your holiday packaging didn’t work out.  It was a nice try, and had it worked out, I’m sure it would have gained you some positive publicity, saved a few super cute polar bears, and impacted your annual revenue for the better. (Cause Marketing is good for that kind of thing) However, more people are talking (and blogging, and tweeting, and facebooking) about you today than they were yesterday…so it’s not all bad!

The thing is, you didn’t totally screw up. The way you monitor your social media for feedback about your product line is inspiring. You actually listened when customers ranted about how much they LOVE your red cans, think that Coke in white cans tastes weird, or have been confused into thinking the holiday can was really diet Coke. Even though I (and most thinking people) could tell the difference and actually thought your white can looked pretty cool, I’d say you deserve some kudos for actually responding to your market’s complaints.

I like you, Coca Cola.  You seem genuine and good hearted.  The fact that you are trying to save some wonderful white bears is allowing me to overlook the fact that this whole packaging debacle (and the subsequent onslaught of media coverage) could just be a brilliant marketing move; fake outcry conjured in the deep recesses of your P.R. department to draw attention to your cans…I mean cause.  Yes, I know.  I sound pretty cynical.  But you have to admit, this could be a really interesting tactic to turn the conversation towards your “mistake” and away from 74 day marriages and who wore what best. 

For what it’s worth, I like your white cans.  I think I will go buy a few before they’re gone for good.  Who knows, someday they might even be worth something on E-bay. 

Best Wishes!


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Green Bean Casserole Means Big Green for Campbells

My eating habits usually run to the natural. Normally, I am averse to almost anything that comes in a can as I prefer fresh vegetables and I usually stay away from fried foods. I feel better when I eat a balanced meal and as I get older, I realize more and more that natural grains, fruits and vegetables actually give me more energy.  Which makes the secret I am about to share very strange.

Those that know me well are already privy to the truth I am about to share. Every year they laugh at me and roll their eyes with disdain.  But I don't care....I can't help it.  I love green bean casserole.  There, the secret is out. But it doesn't just stop there. Not only do I eat it on Thanksgiving but I make sure to make enough so that I can have leftovers for breakfast  (yes, breakfast) for the next several days.  I know that's weird...but I'm OK with weird. 

This year, I decided to do a bit of digging into the history of the dish.  Like many great products, it turns out there is a great marketing story behind its success. Researchers at Campbell's Soup created the recipe to help housewives in the 1950's whip up a simple and somewhat nutritious meal with ingredients they would already have on hand.  Of course, they hoped it would also prompt additional sales of their mushroom soup.  Often giving customers new uses for a product can have amazing results.

In 1955, the Associated Press did a story on Thanksgiving and used the green bean casserole in the pictorial spread to balance the golds and oranges of the traditional foods. It caught on as a "simple to make" side dish that could also balance the colors of a holiday meal since little else on the table was green.  This use of publicity as a marketing strategy by Campbell's Soup was almost as genius as the recipe itself. 

This year, the marketing department at Campbell's Soup estimates that 30 million casseroles will be made and served this Thanksgiving. They also estimate that they sell well over $20 Million dollars worth of Mushroom soup to make it happen. 

Obviously, I'm not alone in my love for this Thanksgiving wonderfulness. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Shameless Self Promotion

The other day I posted on Twitter about an upcoming Facebook Marketing workshop I was offering to a group of 35 small business owners.  Not only did it go really well, but the local news showed up to cover the story.  If you want to see me in action, click here. 

While it's always fun to see yourself on TV, promoting myself and my availability to do marketing workshops anywhere in the country, is not what this post is about.  Instead, I want to discuss something peculiar I noticed in the news piece.  They never once mentioned the group putting on the workshop.  It was a local non-profit organization that really could have used the publicity, yet no name or contact information was given.  They certainly asked for it, I gave them everything I had thinking the non-profit group could get some much needed publicity.

In talking with the director of the non-profit after the interview aired, she mentioned that this kind of behavior seems to be a trend in the media lately.  It certainly made me begin to contemplate "why?"  Probably, like everything in business today, its about the money.  TV stations, just like newspapers and radio stations, are having a harder time selling ad space since there is a serious decline in customers watching, reading, or listening.  Someone got smart and started saying "no" to free promotion via the media. 

Looks like the good old days of shameless self promotion just may be over!  Except of course in the blogging world....did I mention I am available to do speaking engagements anywhere in the country :)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Old Spice + New Marketing = Swagger

Because of this picture that a friend posted on Facebook, I found myself investigating the Old Spice website to learn more about this "Awesomeness" they are trying to enhance. 

Like most of the planet, I am a fan of the recent branding changes at Old Spice. Taking an old, worn out, "grandpa" brand and making it modern, fresh, and fun is seriously hard to do. Enhancing Awesomeness?  Excellent. This new product name and packaging concept had me cracking up.

Another thing that had me cracking up?  This t-shirt I found on their website.  For the people I know that love t-shirts & love pop culture (who doesn't, right?!?) this is a no brainer holiday gift! 

Why does all of this work?  Because Old Spice did 3 things that worked.  First, they started talking to their true target market. ("Ladies, does your man look like me?") Secondly, they stopped taking themselves too seriously and they produced a commerical that was seriously funny. Third, Old Spice found the perfect guy to be the new "face" of Old Spice. Good looking?  Yes, but more importantly he is far, far, far from being a "grandpa" image in our minds.  This forces us to begin to think about the product in a new way. 

These 3 things combined created the perfect "branding" storm that has me thinking they just might be able to pull off a product name like "Swagger!"

Sunday, November 13, 2011

McDonalds Marketing is Hot!

I am not the biggest fan of McDonalds food but I do like the occasional order of french fries and my kids love the apple dippers and toys in the Happy Meals. That said, I am a big fan of this McDonalds advertising example.  This video shows some serious creativity and innovation in selling something that is available on almost every street corner. 

McDonalds, this is hot!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Stoned: An example of excellent small business branding!

So, I have been doing some work in my kids bathroom recently which prompted several trips to Home Depot and Lowe's.  On my multiple trips I got into the habit of checking out all of the contracting businesses work trucks for signs of any intelligent life (I mean business knowledge).  While most small contractors had signs of some nature on their vehicles, many were of extremely poor quality and most did not even clearly communicate what the business did.

And that's the lesson for today.  Branding is a means of communicating to potential customers.  In order for branding to be effective, customers have to understand what you are trying to tell them.  I refer to this as Branderstanding.  Most of the trucks I saw in the parking lots of the big box stores did not get this basic concept.

One did however, which is why they are showcased above.  They followed my small business branding guide of T.E.L.L. ing a story.  The T.E.L.L. method refers to:
  • T = Title.  The name of your business should indicate what you do.  In this case, Butte Creek Stone gives us a bit of insight. 
  • E = Explanation line. With 7 words or less, REALLY explain what you do.  This can be catchy or memorable but it can also just be straight to the point.  Above, the explanation line is "Granite Fabrication & Intallation"  Perfect, I won't be calling them to install my stone patio.
  • L = Logo.  The visual element is an important part of the brand.  This example does not have a visual other than how they created the blocks to stack on top of each other, like stone might do. 
  • L = Look & Feel.  This logo looks modern, clean, and tidy.  I get the impression they are professional (maybe more so that their competitors) and their attention to detail gives me the perception that they will also treat my project (if I had one) with considerate thought. 
With branding, you have to tell your story fast...often in a split second.  If a potential customer does not get what your are trying to tell them, they don't sit around and try and figure it out.  Nope, instead customers just move on to the next message being thrown at them.  The example above, while not perfect, was by far the best example I saw sitting in the parking lot. 

I will leave no stone unturned in my quest to bring you more!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Successful Ads? Think 3 T's

These kinds of post make my day.  As a teacher, I hope to ruin...I mean, enlighten, the brains that I am fortunate enough to have in my class.  It's not that I want to forever wreck television for them, it's that I really enjoy when a student begins to understand the influence that advertising has on them. 

This post (left on the Facebook group Marketingminded used in the marketing class I teach at California State University, Chico) was left by a student after a lecture on the basics of advertising.  The lesson began by me showing several different recent tv ads and then having the class decide what type of ad they were, as well as the tone that each ad was designed with.  One of my favorites (because it has an unusual tone for its type) is this example.  After several semsters of doing this excersize, it never fails that some of my students really start to see that advertising can have a profound effect on us as consumers.  

Small business owners can also learn from these foundational concepts I teach in my marketing class.  For one, understanding that tone can influence perceptions of consumers is key.  Typical tones include humor, fear, sex, and a general emotional appeal.  In addition to humor, (see example above) fear can be impactful as well.  See a good example of how to use fear here.  However, the trick with any type and tone decision is to match it up to the target market you are trying to communicate to.  Target market is critical to successful adveritsing and should be the first...and last "T" to take into consideration.

Unfortunatley, as I point out in the post above, there are many organizations that miss the mark with their target market. Here is an example of that!  I'm pretty sure this Swiffer ad is trying to target me, but this company is so off the mark that I would rather scrub my floor with a toothbrush than buy one of their mops. Probably not the effect they were going for...

The moral of the story? If you are about to embark on some advertising, which is never an inexpensive endeavor, focus on the 3 T's I have discussed here: Target market, type, & tone...and then to make sure your ad really cleans up, give your target market a second look!