Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Top 10 Marketing Highlights of 2011


As 2011 draws to a close, it’s time for my top 10 marketing highlights list. What campaigns were great, and which were duds? What do YOU remember from the 2011 marketing reel? With a quick thanks to David Letterman, here’s my list:

Number 10:
After 25 years, Oprah Winfrey gave up her microphone as a talk show host and started her own television channel, the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN).

Number 9:
A new voice for the Aflac Duck was discovered, just a normal guy – after the celebrity who had previously been the voice of the famous duck made an inappropriate comment on Twitter and was fired.

Number 8:
Chrysler unveiled a memorable tagline, “Imported from Detroit,” during the 2011 Super Bowl TV broadcast.

Number 7:
Google launched its version of a social networking site, Google+, to compete with Facebook.

Number 6:
As a result of the Royal Wedding in London, interest surged in all products “endorsed” by the British monarchy.

Number 5:
Starbucks launched its new logo without the words “Starbucks” and “coffee” at the beginning of 2011, but nearly a year later, the change still baffles the marketing world with its lack of direction.

Number 4:
Security breaches became much too common. Some of the companies who informed their customers about security breaches included Epsilon, Sony PlayStation, Lastpass.com, Northrop Grumman, and Dean Witter.

Number 3:
Steve Jobs, founder of Apple, retired as CEO and passed away shortly thereafter. His legacy to the technology and marketing industries will be felt for many years to come.

Number 2:
When the Flip video camera appeared in 2007, it immediately gained a loyal following. It was a consumer-friendly mini camcorder that was easy to use and made everyone an instant videographer. But its adopted parent, Cisco, killed off the Flip due to the advances in smartphone video capabilities.

And, Number 1 on the 2011 Marketing Highlights List:
Coca-Cola changed the color of its classic red cans to white for the 2011 holiday season to focus attention on the plight of polar bears. But due to the huge uproar from customers, the company changed the cans back to red within a month.

Here’s to 2012 and another year of marketing highlights. Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Time Magazine's 2011 Person of the Year: Good Choice or Bad Choice?

In the words of Time Magazine, the "Person of the Year" is bestowed by the editors on the person or persons who most affected the news and our lives, for good or ill, and embodied what was important about the year."

Some years, U.S. Presidents have been chosen. Other years, celebrities were chosen. Other years, political activists were chosen. Some of the more unusual honorees include: The American Soldier, U.S. Scientists, Women of the U.S., The Endangered Earth, The Computer, Young People, and The Middle Class. Bill and Melinda Gates have been featured as well as leaders of corporate America.

Due to the number and intensity of protests seen around the world from the Middle East to Europe to the United States this past year, Time's editors chose to recognize 2011's Person or Persons of the Year as "The Protester." Was that the best choice they could have made? I don't think so. Time Magazine should have chosen Steve Jobs, who passed away during 2011.

The impact that Steve Jobs made on all of our lives is immeasurable - and it will continue to be felt for many years. He changed technology and how we interact. From the iPod to the iPhone to the iPad, we listen to music differently, use smartphones differently, and use tablets differently than we could ever have imagined. Jobs envisioned products before the public knew why we might have wanted them - and then he created them. Apple, Jobs' legacy, is driving the industry, setting trends, and helping people connect. Isn't that what affecting the news and our lives is all about?

As Steve Jobs said, "Technology is nothing. What's important is that you have a faith in people, that they're basically good and smart, and if you give them tools, they'll do wonderful things with them." Thanks for the tools, Steve.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Are there advantages in being #2 rather than being an industry leader?


Many corporate leaders aspire for their companies to become industry leaders. But there can only be one leader for each industry – or in marketing terms, there can only be one product, brand, or business that controls a category. Sure, there are exceptions, but more often than not, there is a big company setting the standard – and others follow.

There are countless reasons why companies would want to be known as industry leaders. Reasons range from setting industry prices to determining product specifications to clarifying standards for customer service. But in many industries, a large and powerful force has emerged as the #2 player who often keeps the industry leader on its toes in terms of new product development, pricing, and customer service – all in an attempt to chip away at the industry leader’s percentage of market share.

Here are some famous industry leaders followed by the #2 players in their industries:

  • Coca-Cola vs. Pepsi (soft drinks)
  • Hertz vs. Avis (rental car agencies)
  • iOS vs. Android (operating systems)
  • Google vs. Bing (search engines)
  • Ford vs. Chevy (trucks)
  • McDonald’s vs. Burger King (fast food hamburgers)
  • Duracell vs. Energizer (batteries)
  • Home Depot vs. Lowe’s (home improvement warehouses)
  • Ritz-Carlton vs. Fairmont (five-star hotels)
  • Mozilla Firefox vs. Microsoft Internet Explorer (web browsers)

However, something interesting has happened with many #2 companies. Many #2 companies have used their #2 status as a selling point and competitive advantage. The fact that they are #2 or the little guy (think, David vs. Goliath) resonates with consumers, customers, and prospective customers. Consider Avis and its tagline: “We're #2 – We Try Harder.” Avis may not be the biggest car rental agency, but its ads and theme stick out. Consider the Energizer Bunny – who doesn’t think of the pink bunny when a wireless mouse or keyboard needs new batteries? And while the golden arches of McDonald’s appear on almost every corner around the world, Burger King’s constant advertising and emphasis on bigger and cheaper hamburgers have developed a large following.

So the next time your leadership team asks, “Why can’t we be number one?” Explain that there are advantages to being #2. One advantage to being #2 is the ability to create unique product specifications and/or packaging since no one expects you to be different. Consider the recent uproar when Coke launched its main product in white cans versus classic red cans – there was such an outrage that the white cans were removed from store shelves within a month of their launch. Other advantages include the ability to tweak pricing, the ability to align or partner with totally unconventional companies or brands, and the ability to change packaging or advertising just to see how consumers react.

Without the responsibility of being the industry leader, you have more leeway to appeal to new customers. Depending on how creative your marketing initiatives are and how well they are implemented, you may develop a more brand loyal following than the leader in your industry.

Check out these great quotes about COMPETITION:

In the words of Sir Richard Branson, “We know that people in Australia love the idea of both Impulse and Virgin Blue getting up and adding a bit of competition, and it’s fun to be able to deliver it.”

In the words of Linus Torvalds, “I don’t try to be a threat to Microsoft, mainly because I don’t really see MS as competition. Especially not Windows – the goals of Linux and Windows are simply so different.”

In the words of Henry Ford, “Competition, whose motive is merely to compete, to drive some other fellow out, never carries very far...But when a business ceases to be creative, when it believes it has reached perfection and needs to do nothing but produce – no improvement, no development – it is done.”

In the words of Jacob Kindleberger, “Don't knock your competitors. By boosting others, you will boost yourself.”

In the words of H. Gordon Selfridge, “Get the confidence of the public and you will have no difficulty in getting their patronage. Treat them as guests when they come and when they go, whether or not they buy.”

Monday, December 5, 2011

Has your logo gone square?

There has been an unintended consequence of social media that has flown under the radar. With all the social media and networking sites popping up, companies and individuals have the option to add logos or photos to their profiles, also known as avatars. However, the only option for the large majority of sites is a small square.

But there is a problem. Most logos don't easily fit into a square. Can you imagine the Coca-Cola swirl inside of a square? And what about the entire word Google spelled out? These wouldn't fit into a square very easily without negatively impacting the core brand identity.

To solve this problem, some companies have created a square logo from the first initial of their name. Others have gone so far as to create a new logo that they launched as part of their overall social media initiatives. Others have tweaked their logos so that they fit into a square shape, but they may not be very easy to read. At the end of the day, you may ask, is all of this additional work worth the effort? The answer is a resounding YES.

With so much attention paid to social media (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Google+, LinkedIn, Flickr, and countless peripheral and industry-specific sites), whatever appears in those little square logo boxes reinforces a company's or individual's brand. No one wants to see an egg profile in Twitter or a blank blue head shot profile in Facebook - these mean that someone just doesn't understand the world of social media.

So what did you consider when making your logo go square?