Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Highlights of My #FallBacktoReadingSeries

Last fall, because reading has been my lifelong hobby, and I wanted to know what books other people considered life-changing, I featured a series with the same questions posed to 30 marketing, leadership, and customer experience experts. The series was inspirational, informational, and amazing. If you missed any of the posts, two lists of the experts and their reading recommendations follows below. Also, something to note, which books appeared more than once during the #FallBacktoReadingSeries?

First, though, let's recall my two fave quotes about reading:

"If you give a person a book, you give him the world." ~Kristin Harmel

"For you unlock magic that is hidden within, and opening the cover is how you begin. Oh, all the worlds and the places you'll see; when you hold a book, you hold the key." ~Caroline Derlatka


Eric Jacobson:
*Compassionate Leadership: How to Do Hard Things in a Human Way by Rasmus Hougaard and Jacqueline Carter
*The Leadership Test by Timothy R. Clark, Ph.D.

Dennis Geelen:
*The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
*The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni
*Built To Sell by John Warrillow

Mitch Pisik:
*The Seven Secrets of Influence by Elaina Zuker
*The Art of War by Sun Zu
*The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli

Shep Hyken:
*The Experience Economy by Joe Pine and Jim Gilmore
*In Search of Excellence by Tom Peters and Robert Waterman
*Moments of Truth by Jan Carlzon

Joseph Michelli, Ph.D., C.S.P.:
*The Experience Economy by Joe Pine and Jim Gilmore
*The Fred Factor by Mark Sanborn
*Dare to Lead by Brené Brown

Erika Andersen:
*Good to Great by Jim Collins
*Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman
*The Speed of Trust by Stephen M. R Covey

Susan Friesen:
*The Code of the Extraordinary Mind: 10 Unconventional Laws to Redefine Your Life and Succeed on Your Own Terms by Vishen Lakhiani (for mental health)
*Dressing Your Truth: Discover Your Type of Beauty by Carol Tuttle (for personal branding)
*The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It by Michael E. Gerber (for business systems)

Rebecca Herold:
*How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
*The U.S. federal NSA/NCSC Rainbow collection of manuals on evaluating "Trusted Computer Systems"
*The Cuckoo’s Egg by Clifford Stoll

James Strock:
*The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker
*Dynamic Administration: The Collected Papers of Mary Parker Follett
*Collected Essays and Lectures by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Gail Robertson:
*The Wealthy Barber by David Chilton  
*The Tao of Twitter by Mark Schaefer
*High Performance Habits: How Extraordinary People Become That Way by Brendon Burchard

Leanne M. Dzubinski:
*If You’ve Raised Kids, You Can Manage Anything by Ann Crittenden
*Sex and the Office by Kim Elsesser
*Switch by Chip and Dan Heath

David Beaumont:
*Grit by Angela Duckworth
*Mindset by Carol Dweck
*Everybody Matters by Bob Chapman

Katherine Spinney:
*Quiet by Susan Cain
*First Break All the Rules by Curt Coffman and Marcus Buckingham
*The Renaissance Soul by Margaret Lobenstine

Stacey Danheiser:
*Strengthsfinder by Tom Rath
*Everybody Writes by Ann Handley
*The Challenger Sale by Brent Adamson and Matt Dixon

Dr. Natalie Petouhoff:
*Cluetrain Manifesto by Christopher Locke, David Searls, and David Weinberger
*The Experience Economy by Joe Pine and Jim Gilmore
*When More is Not Better by Roger Martin
*Bold by Peter Diamandis (threw in an extra!)

Suzanne Huber:
*Awaken the Giant Within by Anthony Robbins
*Super Attractor by Gabrielle Berstein
*Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott

Deborah Connors:
*Building The Bridge As You Walk On It: A Guide for Leading Change by Dr. Robert Quinn
*Conversations Worth Having: Using Appreciative Inquiry to Fuel Productive and Meaningful Engagement by Jackie Stavros and Cheri Torres
*The Truth About Burnout: How Organizations Cause Personal Stress and What To Do About It by Christina Maslach and Michael P. Leiter

Michelle Redfern:
*No Ceiling No Walls by Susan Colantuono
*Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg
*Stop Fixing Women: Why Building Fairer Workplaces Is Everybody's Business by Catherine Fox

Gregory Kennedy:
*Art of War by Sun Tzu
*Ogilvy on Advertising by David Ogilvy
*Only the Paranoid Survive by Andy Grove

Michael McKinney:
*The Unconscious Conspiracy: Why Leaders Can’t Lead by Warren Bennis
*The Age of Discontinuity by Peter Drucker

Joni M. Fisher:
*Create Your Writer Platform by Chuck Sambuchino
*Publicize Your Book: An Insider's Guide to Getting Your Book the Attention It Deserves
*Guerrilla Marketing for Writers: 100 Weapons for Selling Your Work by Jay Conrad Levinson, Rick Frishman, and Jay Larsen

Kim Scaravelli:
*Secrets of Closing the Sale: For Anyone Who Must Get Others to Say Yes! by Zig Ziglar
*You Are Here: Discovering the Magic of the Present Moment by Thick Nhat Hanh
*Atomic Habits by James Clear

Joseph Lalonde:
*How to win friends and influence people by Dale Carnegie
*48 Days To The Work You Love by Dan Miller
*Platform by Michael Hyatt

Doug Dickerson:
*Full Steam Ahead: Unleash The Power Of Vision In Your Work And Your Life by Ken Blanchard and Jesse Lyn Stone
*The Ideal Team Player: How To Recognize And Cultivate The Three Essential Virtues by Patrick Lencioni
*The 360 Leader: Developing Your Influence From Anywhere In The Organization by John C. Maxwell

Lee Goldberg:
*Telling Lies for Fun and Profit by Lawrence Block
*Adventures in the Screen Trade by William Goldman
*Storytellers to the Nation by Tom Stempel

Russel Lolacher:
*Start With Why by Simon Sinek
*The New Rules of Marketing and PR by David Meerman Scott
*How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Ludmila Praslova:
*How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie
*Out of the Crisis by Edwards Deming
*Winning with Underdogs: How Hiring the Least Likely Candidates Can Spark Creativity, Improve Service, and Boost Profits for Your Business by Gil Winch

Rosye Cloud:
*Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
*Deep Work by Cal Newport
*Antifragile by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Kevin Eikenberry:
*Flawless Consulting by Peter Block
*In Search of Excellence by Tom Peters and Bob Waterman
*The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

Debbie Laskey:
*Built to Last by Jim Collins
*Managing Brand Equity by David A. Aaker
*In Search of Excellence by Tom Peters and Robert Waterman


Eric Jacobson:
*The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien
*The World According to Garp by John Irving

Dennis Geelen:
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Mitch Pisik:
*The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli

Shep Hyken:
*The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand

Joseph Michelli, Ph.D., C.S.P.:
*A Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl

Erika Andersen:
*To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Susan Friesen:
*Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

Rebecca Herold:
*The Call of the Wild by Jack London
*White Fang by Jack London

James Strock:
*Selected Poetry and Prose by Samuel Johnson

Gail Robertson:
*The Diviners by Canadian author Margaret Laurence.

Leanne M. Dzubinski:
*Native Son by Richard Wright

Katherine Spinney:
*The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
*All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren

Stacey Danheiser:
*7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

Dr. Natalie Petouhoff:
*To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Suzanne Huber:
*The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Deborah Connors:
*Mindfulness by Helen J. Langer

Michelle Redfern:
*Lucky by Jackie Collins

Gregory Kennedy:
*The Difference Engine by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling

Michael McKinney:
*Reilly’s Luck and Sitka by Louis L'Amour

Joni M. Fisher:
*Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton

Kim Scaravelli:
*Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

Joseph Lalonde:
*Star Wars books
*The Bible

Doug Dickerson:
*The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

Lee Goldberg:
*Fletch by Gregory MacDonald

Russel Lolacher:
*Hamlet by William Shakespeare

Ludmila Praslova:
*The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
*poetry of Robert Burns and Mikhail Lermontov
*The Soul Enchanted by Romain Rolland

Rosye Cloud:
*The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

Kevin Eikenberry:
*See You at the Top by Zig Ziglar

Debbie Laskey:
*The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
*An Enemy of the People by Henrik Ibsen
*The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli

Which books have you read from these lists? And which books are you going to check out? Much gratitude to all the participants in my #FallBacktoReadingSeries!

I enjoyed this series so much - and hope you did also - that it planted a seed for a future series. Thanks to one of this series' participants, Joseph Lalonde, who sparked the initial idea, my #SpringLeadershipSeries will begin on March 20th and continue until June 20th. Tune into #DebbieLaskeysBlog and on Twitter/X, Instagram, and Threads for details.

And in the meantime, as I like to say, happy reading!

Image Credit: Debbie Laskey.

Monday, January 29, 2024

Food Branding News of 2023

While there were countless brands that made news during 2023 due to name changes, logo changes, and entire brand refreshes, how many FOOD brands can you recall that transformed themselves?

Here's a recap of the memorable food industry brands that made marketing news during 2023:

1. Ronzoni announced that it would discontinue its star-shaped pasta. (January)

2. Pepsi announced that it would discontinue Sierra Mist, a lemon-lime flavored soda that had been available for 24 years, in favor of a newer drink to compete against rival Sprite. (January)

3. Dunkin' announced that it would discontinue a popular drink, the "Dunkaccino," a mixture of coffee and hot chocolate. (March)

4. Kraft Singles got a major makeover that featured a refreshed logo and new packaging. The redesign was to address the number one complaint from customers: "the inability to easily open the clear wrapper." (May)

5. Oscar Mayer's Wienermobile got a new name: the "Frankmobile." (May)

6. Burger King went "Hollywood" with the launch of the "Spider-Verse" Whopper on a RED bun. (May)

7. Pepsi launched its first-ever condiment called Pepsi "Colachup." (June)

8. To celebrate National Mustard Day on August 5, Skittles candy partnered with French's Mustard to create a limited-edition mustard-flavored fusion of candy called "Mustard Skittles." (July)

9. The battle for the "Taco Tuesday" trademark ended as Taco John's ended its dispute with Taco Bell. (July)

10. Rao's Homemade may be synonymous with Italian food and products, but the brand turned its attention to fashion and created limited-edition, luxury leather handbags in two styles: The Marinara and The Vodka Arrabbiata. (July)

11. Starbucks' pumpkin spice latter beverage celebrated its 20th anniversary. (August)

12. Music group Metallica launced the first-ever, guitar-shaped ice cream bar with a portion of the sales allocated toward the band's charitable foundation, All Within My Hands. (September)

13. Pringles announced a new collaboration with The Caviar Company, which paired the iconic chips with high-end caviar. The limited edition partnership was created due to the popular TikTok trend, which saw users adding a dollop of caviar onto Pringles. According to Mauricio Jenkins of Pringles, "From TikTok reviews to reality TV housewives, the nation is craving Pringles and caviar. Our partnership with The Caviar Company not only embraces the trending snacking behavior in an approachable manner, but expertly curates our beloved crisp flavors with this seafood delicacy for a Pringles tasting experience unlike one you’ve ever had before." (September)

14. Red Lobster's "Endless Shrimp" deal was so popular that it was forced to end. (November)

15. Kraft's Mac & Cheese launched a new dairy-free alternative called "Kraft NotMac&Cheese." Kraft partnered with NotCo, a company that makes plant-based foods to create the mac and cheese alternative, which was in response to the growing hunger for "better for you" products from American consumers. (November)

16. Denny's opened its first drive-thru in California. The first 100 customers received a custom mug and free coffee for a month. (November)

17. China, a nation of tea drinkers, now has more branded coffee shops than the United States, according to a report by World Coffee Portal. (December)

18. For National Cookie Day, Subway restaurants unveiled a "footlong cookie" in advance of the national launch of the oversized cookie in January 2024, when it will occupy a permanent spot on the chain's menu in all U.S. locations. (December)

And for those of you who are ice cream fans, let's not forget the pink Barbie-themed ice cream creations launched by both Cold Stone Creamery and Pinkberry to coincide with (and to promote) the summer's blockbuster!

Did these changes cause you to purchase more or less? Did these changes stand out in your mind? Were they good strategic decisions? What other food brands stood out as a result of their branding changes during 2023?

Image Credits: McCormick and Co. and PepsiCo Beverages North America.

Thursday, January 25, 2024

2023 Was the Year of #BrandIdentity Changes


Was your brand in the news during 2023? If not, don’t despair. There were many other brands that made headlines during 2023.

Here’s a recap of interesting brands that either rebranded, changed their logo, changed their name, co-branded, formed an interesting partnership, created a unique hashtag to match a campaign, changed iconic packaging, or in some other way made branding news during 2023. What stood out as memorable to YOU?


1. Museums began to re-brand ancient Egyptian remains. According to CNN, "They are among the most popular exhibits in museums worldwide, with a name so resonant, that blockbuster films have been built on it. But some museums in Britain are now using words other than 'mummy' to describe their displays of ancient Egyptian human remains. Instead, they are adopting terms such as "mummified person" or the individual's name to emphasize that they were one living people." Who says words and language don't have power? (January)

2. In January 2023, a little-known football player made news. After the nation watched Buffalo Bills player Damar Hamlin collapse on the field during a Monday Night Football game between Buffalo and Cincinnati, everyone held their breath. In an unprecedented sight, players on both teams kneeled and prayed together. Broadcasters were speechless, fans on the stands and watching on television knew something terrible had happened, and the game eventually was stopped. Hamlin recovered, but while everyone waited for news, all teams changed their Twitter profiles to Damar's name and number, and the hashtag #PrayersforDamar trended. Fans made donations to show their support, and the amount raised was $9 million. This event was even bigger than the Super Bowl. (January)

3. Queen Elizabeth's fourth child and third son, Edward, received a new title from his brother, King Charles III: the title of Duke of Edinburgh - which had been his father's title. (March)

4. In less than four months, Damar Hamlin was fully cleared to return to football. During his recovery, he visited Congress to advocate for better access to automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in schools. His survival is widely credited to the rapid use of CPR a defibrillator on the field. Damar became an ambassador for heart health and a symbol of a united nation. (April)

5. Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced the "Keep it Fresh" marketing campaign for Michigan. The campaign's goal was to show that her state offered businesses an opportunity for growth, visitors a "Fresh Take" on life, and people a home to build a rewarding life and career. (April)

6. King Charles III officially became the British monarch due to his coronation. It was anticipated that his wife would be known as Queen Consort, however, her official title became Queen Camilla. (May)

7. Johnson & Johnson's Kenvue spinoff hit the IPO market; formerly the Consumer Healthcare Division and proprietor of brands such as Band-Aid, Tylenol, Listerine, Neutrogena, and more. (May)

8. During the summer, a new name was coined from the two titles of much-anticipated movies, BARBIE and OPPENHEIMER. According to Wikipedia, "BARBENHEIMER was a cultural phenomenon preceding and surrounding the simultaneous theatrical release of two films, Barbie and Oppenheimer, in July and August of 2023. The word is a portmanteau of the films' titles. The strong contrast between Barbie, a fantasy comedy by Greta Gerwig about the fashion doll Barbie, and Oppenheimer, an epic biographical thriller by Christopher Nolan about physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer, scientific director of the Manhattan Project, prompted a comedic response from Internet users, including memes and merchandise. Polygon described the two films as "extreme opposites," and Variety called the phenomenon "the movie event of the year." Due to the marketing buzz for both, movie-goers purchased tickets to attend both movies on the same day, something not seen with such interest in the past. (July)

9. The Twitter brand continued to evolve under the ownership of Elon Musk, and in July, the social platform's name became a single letter, X. Also, users no longer Tweeted, but instead, posted. Unfortunately, most media professionals continued to refer to the platform as "X, formerly Twitter." (July)

10. Two new terms appeared following the tragic implosion of the Titan submersible: extreme travel and dark travel. (July)

11. In a year known unofficially as the "the year of the strike," President Joe Biden joined striking auto workers on the picket line. (September)

12. By law, support animals are allowed in hotels, restaurants, shops, and more, however, "Support Alligator Wally" was denied entry into the Philadelphia Phillies baseball stadium. (September)

13. A survey by VISIT SWEDEN, a tourist agency, found that 50 percent of respondents could not tell the difference between Sweden and Switzerland, therefore, both countries decided to make a joint PSA to showcase their differences. (November)

14. The Trump International Hotel Waikiki announced that it would join Hilton and no longer have the former President's name attached to it. In February 2024, the 38-floor hotel will be called the Wakea Waikiki Beach, as part of the Hilton LXR collection of high-end resorts. (November)

15. US Steel, once the world's largest corporation, agreed to sell itself to a Japanese company. (December)

16. A painting of Oprah Winfrey was unveiled at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery. (December)


1. Nokia refreshed its logo to remind the world that it is no longer a phone company. The new logo built on the heritage of the old logo but made it contemporary and digital to reflect the new brand identity. (February)

2. Pepsi launched a new logo. (April)

3. LG refreshed its logo and will continue to use its tagline of "Life's Good." (April)

4. Smirnoff, the world's number one vodka brand, launched new positioning by championing its global campaign called "WE DO WE," to celebrate "the magic of WE that's created when different people, ingredients, and flavors come together." (June)

5. Following the Twitter rebrand to X, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) used the rebrand as a force for good in a memorable post: "Protect our wildlife, before it's too late" and included the evolution of the Twitter birds (from 2006,2007, 2009, 2010, and 2012) and ended with the letter X. (August)

6. Johnson & Johnson changed its logo. (September)

7. The NHL banned pride tape from being placed on hockey sticks, which set off a backlash from players and fans. (October)


1. Online giant, Amazon, shuttered its philanthropic arm, AmazonSmile. Customers could no longer designate a charity to receive a small portion of sales. (February)

2. Toblerone bars, which are sold in over 100 countries, can no longer be called Swiss chocolate because the brand's US owner moved some production out of Switzerland. Therefore, the Matterhorn mountain has been removed from its packaging. (March)

3. A Harriet Tubman Monument replaced a Christopher Columbus Statue in New Jersey. (March)

4. The World Health Organization (WHO) announced the end of the global Covid health emergency three years after it was first declared. (May)

5. Want to travel to the European Union? A new Europe visa will be required in 2025, called the ETIAS. (July)

6. During all the hype leading up to the Barbie movie and after the movie's release, the color pink led a cultural rally cry for women's empowerment. In addition, the large use of the color in the movie's set designs led to a global shortage of Rosco's signature shade. (July)

7. The Situation Room inside the White House was renovated. (September)

8. Amazon's Prime Video announced that it would begin including ads but would charge users to avoid them. (September)

9. In response to #4 above, the CDC announced that it would no longer distribute COVID-19 vaccine cards. Does this mean that they will become valuable collector items? (October)

10. Netflix announced that it would open brick and mortar locations. Will visitors purchase merchandise to promote its programming or simply sit on couches and watch its programs? (October)


1. Post-pandemic consumers are different. They want to do business with companies that align with their values. According to Wharton marketing professor Americus Reed, "The biggest message is to not make the mistake of thinking the brand is just simply the tagline, the logo, the colors on the website...After three years of disruption, anxiety, and worry, shoppers are no longer content to buy on price, style, or convenience. They want a deeper connection with companies." (Throughout 2023)

2. Several news organizations, such as NPR, stopped using Twitter/X due to lack of "Fake News" safeguards. And several large brands stopped advertising on Twitter/X due to owner Elon Musk's politics, handling of Twitter/X employees, and lack of content controls. (Throughout 2023)

3. GM became the top-selling car in America, retaking the title from Toyota. (January)

4. Frontier Airlines offered free flights to adopters of adorable kittens from Las Vegas. (January)

5. Hillary Rodham Clinton joined Columbia University as global affairs professor at the School of International and Public Affairs. (January)

6. As a result of the Covid pandemic, urgent care centers popped up all over. (January)

7. Leading up to Super Bowl 57, the M&M's brand made a big deal that actress Maya Rudolph would take over for the colored spokescandies, who were taking a break from their promotional duties, which always included participating in a memorable ad during the Super Bowl. In the days leading up to the Super Bowl, the name of the candy was changed, the inside of the candy was changed, and to be honest, it was hard to keep up with all the drama, But then, at the end of the Super Bowl, the spokescandies held a news conference, and all was right with the world: The candies/characters/brand ambassadors announced their return. (According to MarketingWeek: "Research has shown that, done well, there is evidence to suggest mascot characters are more likely to attract new customers, grow market share and even reduce price sensitivity.") (February)

8. Finland, the world's happiest country for the last six years, hosted a four-day happiness masterclass in June. (promoted in March)

9. Finland joined NATO, dealing a blow to Russia over the Ukraine war. (April)

10. Mattel unveiled a Barbie doll with Down syndrome. (April)

11. Tesla announced that it would advertise for the first time. (May)

12. The FinanceBuzz insurance company offered a new job with a salary of $1,000: "the official Fast and Furious Claims Adjuster." The objective was to keep track of all damages from every car crash during all 10 movies in the series. (May)

13. Mattel honored Hollywood icon Anna May Wong with a Barbie doll in its "Barbie Inspiring Women Series." (May)

14. TV game show host Pat Sajak announced his retirement will be effective following the conclusion of his 41st year on the show mid-2024. Ryan Seacrest was introduced as his replacement with letter-turner Vanna White continuing on the show until 2026. (June)

15. Meta's competitor to Twitter/X was called Threads and launched to record-setting numbers of users, alas, to Mark Zuckerberg's disappointment, the usage numbers have declined since launching, because, according to BusinessInsider, "Twitter became popular as a place to stay informed and get access to critical information. Meta wants Threads to be a hangout space for lifestyle brands and influencers instead of a newstand." (July)

16. Due to the Maui wildfires, a Hawaii tourism official said, "If you want to help,. keep your trip and travel to Maui to spend money to help fuel the recovery." (August)

17. First-of-its-kind law in Illinois enacted to penalize libraries that banned books. (August)

18. Small supermarket chain Trader Joe's announced that it would not add self-checkout lines to its stores because "they were not consistent with the store's brand culture." (August)

19. Football pro Tom Brady became a strategic advisor to Delta Airlines. (September)

20. The U.S. Semiquincentennial Commission agency filed a trademark application for "America 250." Guess who will have a big party on July 4, 2026? (Answer: everyone in the USA!) This means big marketing opportunities for all brands. According to Rosie Rios, Commission Chair, "America’s 250th anniversary is about more than reflecting on our past, it’s about honoring the contributions of individuals who built this country, the innovations that put this country on the map and a man on the moon, and imagining what the next 250 years might look like for our children and the generations to come." (September)

21. Crayola, the crayon company that began in 1903, a subsidiary of Hallmark Cards, announced the launch of Crayola Flowers, an online flower shop that will sell bouquets and boxed flowers. In addition, there will be a fundraising component whereby 10-50 percent of every sale will be donated to a participating charity chosen by the customer. Nonprofit organizations will also be able to use the floral storefront as part of their own fundraising campaigns. According to Warren Schorr of Crayola, "The idea is to extend the Crayola brand into the flower industry in a slightly different way. Instead of just selling flowers when they're needed, why not unite this idea of color and creativity with spreading kindness." (September)

22. The U.S. Supreme Court finally adopted an ethics code. How effective will it be? Time will tell. (November)

23. The Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team hoped to create a dynasty by signing two legendary players: Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto. (December)

24. Tesla recalled two million vehicles to limit use of Autopilot feature after nearly 1,000 crashes. (December)

With all these changes, one wonders if brands that don’t make changes have staying power. Do logos need to be refreshed every so often? Do brand names need to change every so often? How do these changes impact brand equity and customer/fan/stakeholder recognition? These are important questions before considering, planning, and executing strategic branding changes.

What brand will make news during 2024? Another recap will appear here on this blog in January 2025!

Image Credit: Bright Pink Agency.

Monday, January 22, 2024

Recent Marketing News: Product Packaging, Brand Transparency, and More

This past week - okay, during the past few weeks - there were news stories that reflected product packaging, new product launches, personal branding, brand transparency, advertising, corporate sponsorship, and more.


While Artificial Intelligence, also known as AI, was on everyone's mind at the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, (remember, it was the word of the year for 2023 according to Collins Dictionary), one company did not want it anywhere near its brand. Tropicana, the top-selling orange juice brand, released limited-edition bottles with a slight change to its name. On the bottles, the letters "A" and "I" were removed from the name so that it showed as "TROPCN." According to a company press release, the marketing campaign highlighted the "fact that there is nothing artificial, and never has been anything artificial" in the orange juice.

Most likely inspired by the "Barbie" blockbuster film that appealed to movie fans of all ages during the summer of 2023, Mattel announced that its annual "Career of the Year" collection would feature a slate of film-related occupations including a film director, a studio executive, a cinematographer, and a movie star. 

While Barbie has worked in more than 250 professions, the annual "Career of the Year" dolls highlight positions in which women are under-represented. According to Mattel, the dolls "inspire imaginations with endless possibilities."

In 2023, Mattel's "Career of the Year" collection represented "Women in Sports" and included a general manager, a coach, a referee, and a sports reporter. And in 2022, Mattel introduced the "Eco-Leadership Team" and included a Chief Sustainability Officer, a Conservation Scientist, a Renewable Energy Engineer, and an Environmental Advocate.

Defense Secretary Austin had health scares and needed surgery, however, he did not inform his boss, in this case, the President of the United States. What would have happened in the case of an international emergency? Several days went by before President Biden was informed. (Can you imagine having a personal health situation and not informing your boss?) While brands understand transparency, this situation was a lesson in personal branding transparency. Furthermore, this situation resulted in a new procedure at the White House whereby all Cabinet Secretaries are to notify the President when they are unable to perform their duties. A memo was distributed. (Can you imagine???)

Did you hear about the door that fell off the Alaska Airlines airplane? Airplane disasters are not the news anyone wants to hear. But no one wants to hear about defects on airplanes. How can Alaska Airlines and airplane builder Boeing turn this negative news around? Time will tell with this story - it depends on the reason for the defective door.

However, once the cabin pressure changed due to the door flying off the plane, the crew attempted to close the cabin crew's door (it opened due to the change in pressure). Unfortunately, they DID NOT KNOW that the door was supposed to open and remain open. Who trains flight crews???

Golf legend Tiger Woods and Nike ended their advertising partnership that began in 1996. According to Tiger, "Over 27 years ago, I was fortunate to start a partnership with one of the most iconic brands in the world. The days since have been filled with so many amazing moments and memories...Phil Knight's passion and vision brought this Nike and Nike Golf partnership together, and I wanted to personally thank him." Does this mean that another co-branding and advertising partnership is on the horizon?

Microsoft became the most valuable publicly-traded company. Time will tell if this has any marketing consequences.


The International Olympic Committee signed Anheuser-Busch InBev as the first beer brand in the 40-year history of its sponsorship program. Corona Cero, the zero-alcohol version of the Corona brand that is ranked second most valuable worldwide in the brewing industry, will be the "global been sponsor of the Olympic Games."


What goes best with a foot-long sandwich? How about a foot-long cookie? Subway announced in a press release that its new Sidekicks menu will feature "a collection of three new foot-long snacks: a foot-long cookie, a foot-long churro, and a foot-long pretzel, all costing between $2-$3." The company partnered with Auntie Anne's to create the pretzel and Cinnabon to create the churro.

Applebee's will offer a limited number of subscription date night passes for $200. The pass will cover a year of weekly date nights starting on February 1 and ending on January 31, 2025. The pass is valid 52 times and will only cover up to $30 of food and non-alcoholic beverages. Alcohol will not be included.

Burt's Bees teamed up with Hidden Valley Ranch salad dressing to create a lip balm with the flavor of ranch dressing and buffalo wings. According to CNN, the lip balm sold out immediately.

Beginning in January, a new law took effect in California requiring schools to teach cursive writing in first through sixth grades. This is a good thing because it introduces the art of cursive writing to young people (who are always glued to their electronic devices), some may actually become fans of calligraphy and art.

What other marketing news stood out to you?

What will be the marketing buzz in the next few weeks, keeping in mind the Super Bowl ads are a only a few weeks away?

Image Credits: Tropicana and Barbie.

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Barbie Made News in 2023

During 2023, Barbie made news, actually LOTS OF NEWS ranging from recognition of some inspiring women to a blockbuster movie. This post serves as a recap and a celebration.

Mattel’s Barbie has become one of the world’s most popular dolls. Introduced in 1959, the Barbie doll owes its success to adapting to the ever-changing markets of various cultures and countries by launching Barbie dolls of shapes, colors, and sizes, and customization to the inhabitants of certain regions. Because Barbie has often been criticized for representing an unattainable beauty ideal for girls and women, the doll has evolved both in style and shape over the years.

The Barbie brand also honors pioneering women from throughout history. According to Mattel, "Barbie recognizes all female role models. The Inspiring Women Series pays tribute to the incredible heroines of their time; courageous women who took risks, changed rules, and paved the way for generations of girls to dream bigger than ever before."

Here are some interesting facts you may not know about Barbie. Her full name is Barbara Millicent Roberts. Since her inception, she has had 200 different careers. Around the world, a Barbie doll is sold every three seconds, and March 9 is celebrated each year as National Barbie Day.

2023 Career Collection - Women in Sports - September 2023:
Barbie's 2023 Career of the Year lineup honored women making strides toward equality in sports. The four featured dolls included a general manager with an official ID badge; a coach holding a playbook and megaphone; a referee equipped with headset, whistle and flag; and a sports reporter with microphone and notebook. According to Mattel, "The Career of the Year collection is an annual special release that features dolls in culturally relevant and aspirational roles in fields where women are under-represented."

According to Mattel's press release, "Women have been working toward greater gender equality in sports for decades, but still in 2023, women only make up 25 percent of U.S. college level head coaches, and only 30 percent of global sports participants are women. This year, our Career of the Year lineup highlights four careers in the sports industry to encourage girls to pursue involvement in sports and increase opportunities for girls as the next generation of empowered women."

In addition to this collection, Mattel announced its partnership with Voice in Sport, an online community and advocacy group for women and girls in sports, offering research, mentorship, and other resources.

Barbie Signature - Tribute Collection - Maria Felix - August 2023:
On the National Day of Mexican Cinema, the legacy of Maria Felix as one of the best actresses of the Mexican Golden Cinema was honored with a limited edition doll. Since 1943, her name gained relevance after her participation in the film, El Penon de las Animas, or translated into English, The Rock of Souls. According to doll designer Carlyle Nuera, "An incomparable beauty with ambition, intelligence, drive, and a social conscience, María Felix was a Mexican movie star whose performances in film captivated audiences across the world. She used her fame and influence to advocate for positive change across Mexican and Latin societies. Barbie honors this cultural icon with a doll that glimmers in an elegant gold and black gown and shines with ornate oversized jewelry.”

Barbie Inspiring Women Series - Celia Cruz - September 2023:
To celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, the legacy of Celia Cruz was honored with a Barbie doll. Her doll featured a stunning blond wig styled in an elegant high bun complemented by a necklace, long earrings, and distinctive gold dancing shoes.

According to Mattel, "A dazzling performer of many genres of Afro-Caribbean music, Celia Cruz had a powerful contralto voice, energetic stage presence, and a unique style that endeared her to fans from different nationalities and across generations. One of few women to succeed in the male-dominated world of salsa music, the "Queen of Salsa" performed for more than five decades and recorded more than 50 albums. She garnered more than 100 worldwide recognitions, multiple platinum and gold records, three GRAMMY awards and four Latin GRAMMY awards, three honorary doctorates, the Presidential Medal of Arts, and a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame."

Music Series Barbie - Stevie Nicks - October 2023:
To celebrate Stevie Nicks' 75th birthday, Mattel honored her with a Barbie doll. According to Entertainment Weekly, "The Fleetwood Mac frontwoman's doll features Nicks in a beguiling black dress with chiffon statement sleeves inspired by the iconic dress she wore on the album cover for the band's 1977 album Rumours. The spellbinding look is completed by a golden moon necklace, knee-length black boots, and a tambourine with cascading ribbons. Nicks' doll is part of Mattel's Music Series Barbies, joining the ranks of Gloria Estefan, David Bowie, Elvis Presley, Elton John, and Tina Turner, who have all been honored with their own Barbies."

Barbie Inspiring Women Series - Wilma Mankiller - November 2023:
Wilma Mankiller was a fierce advocate for Native American and women's rights, and the first female Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation. As a social worker, she worked to empower indigenous communities, which earned her the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1998, the highest civilian honor, from President Bill Clinton. Two of her many accomplishments included a decline in the infant mortality rate and a rise in educational achievement in the Cherokee Nation. Mattel worked with Mankiller's family and friends to design the doll, which is dressed in a turquoise dress with striping to represent the four directions of a compass: north, south, east, and west.

And of course, there was the blockbuster that appeared in movie theaters on July 21, 2023. Directed by Greta Gerwig and starring Margot Robbie, the Barbie movie definitely made its mark on Hollywood and beyond. Here is one of the movie's stand-out moments:

"Gloria's (America Ferrera) moving monologue is one of the film's most powerful quotes. Gloria describes the immense expectations and the unfair standards that females are subjected to in order to be viewed as desirable and liked by others. During the scene, Barbie has an emotional moment confessing how she feels she is not good enough for anything. Gloria tells Barbie how she is so beautiful, and it kills Gloria that Barbie doesn't think she is good enough. Gloria continues by saying, "I'm just so tired of watching myself, and every single other woman tie herself into knots so that people will like us."

What inspirational women would you like to see transformed into a Barbie doll? Tune in next January to see who Mattel honors during 2024.

Image Credit: Mattel.

Monday, January 15, 2024

Notable Deaths in 2023 and Some Personal Branding Tips

While many notable deaths occurred during 2023, we were left with a myriad of personal branding tips. Join me in learning from the legacies of these eight inspiring individuals.

With an inspiring climb from Stanford University to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to Mayor of San Francisco to United States Senator, Feinstein was the epitome of effective leadership and women's empowerment.

PERSONAL BRANDING TIP: Political service can be an admirable life mission. Embrace it and make positive change.

While music critics were never kind to Buffet, his fans embraced his "It's Five O'clock Somewhere" lyrics and beach lifestyle. His evolving brand began in 1985 and today includes restaurants, resorts, clothing, home décor, food, beer, tequila, and even a retirement community. His music was also turned into a musical, "Escape to Margaritaville," which debuted on Broadway in March 2018 and ran for 124 regular performances, followed by a national tour.

PERSONAL BRANDING TIP: If a brand's or personal brand's message resonates with fans or followers, it doesn't matter if industry critics like it.

A singer, songwriter, and actress, Tina Turner was known as the "Queen of Rock 'n Roll." She rose to prominence as the lead singer of the husband-wife duo Ike and Tina Turner before launching a successful career as a solo artist. During the 1980's, she launched "one of the greatest comebacks in music history." Her 1984 multi-platinum album Private Dancer contained the hit song "What's Love Got to Do with It," which won the Grammy Award for Record of the Year and became her first and only number-one song on the Billboard Hot 100. At 44, she was the oldest female solo artist to top the Hot 100. In 1994, she began living in Switzerland, and relinquished her American citizenship after obtaining Swiss citizenship in 2013.

Daphne A. Brooks, a scholar of African-American studies, wrote for The Guardian: "Tina Turner merged sound and movement at a critical turning point in rock history, navigating and reflecting back the technological innovations of a new pop-music era in the 1960's and 1970's. She catapulted herself to the forefront of a musical revolution that had long marginalized and overlooked the pioneering contributions of African American women and then remade herself again at an age when most pop musicians were hitting the oldies circuit. Turner's musical character has always been a charged combination of mystery as well as light, melancholy mixed with a ferocious vitality that often flirted with danger."

In October 2022, Mattel released a Barbie Signature Music Series Tina Turner Doll. As Mattel explained, "She went from singing as a young girl in her rural church choir in Nutbush, Tennessee, to becoming the legendary performer hailed as the undisputed “Queen of Rock 'n Roll.” Barbie celebrates the unprecedented music career and journey of Tina Turner. She is a Grammy-winning, chart-topping singer, and one of the best-selling recording artists of all time. The doll, designed by Bill Greening, commemorated her smash hit “What’s Love Got to Do With It,” and the design is inspired by the iconic outfit Tina wore in the music video."

PERSONAL BRANDING TIP: Tina Turner epitomized reinvention. She could have ended her musical career when she divorced Ike Turner. However, she reinvented herself, created a solo career, and became the "Queen of Rock 'n Roll."

Daughter of music superstar Elvis Presley, Lisa Marie was his only child. Although she attempted having a singing career and married four times, she never attained the type of star power her father had, but she managed his home, Graceland, and musical legacy with pride and was also a philanthropist who supported many causes during her lifetime.

PERSONAL BRANDING TIP: One does not have to define his/her/their role in the world by living in someone else's shadow. Brands can, and must, define their own roads to travel.

SHARE THIS: Your personal brand is what makes you unique. It's what sets you apart from others and helps you stand out. ~Jessica Thiefels #personalbranding #DebbieLaskeysBlog

An American actress, author, and businesswoman in the health and wellness industry, Suzanne Somers became famous in the television role of Chrissy Snow on Three's Company (1977–1981) and later as Carol Foster Lambert on Step by Step (1991–1998). She wrote more than 25 books, including two autobiographies, four diet books, and a book of poetry. She was also well known for advertising the ThighMaster, an exercise device.

While her battle for equal pay on Three's Company might have been humiliating, it was also ground-breaking. She said, "Man did I love being Chrissy Snow. I am really proud of creating that dumb blonde because she had a moral code. She was lovable. Most people don't realize that Chrissy Snow, from Three's Company, was the first feminist. I was the first one in television who asked to be paid commensurate with the men because I was on the number one show and had the highest demographics of any woman in television and yet all the men were being paid 10 to 15 times more than me. So my contract was up, I renegotiated and I was fired for asking."

ABC refused to give in to her demands, and the network slowly began nudging Somers out of the show until she was finally fired when her contract ended after the fifth season.

She didn't let television executives set her back for too long, however, and went on to a profitable Las Vegas residency before putting her entire focus toward building a fitness brand centered around one of the world's most coveted pieces of exercise equipment: the ThighMaster. Somers admitted she made almost $300 million from the device alone.

PERSONAL BRANDING TIP: Suzanne Somers was the embodiment of the saying, if you have lemons, make lemonade. She was a pioneer in women's equality and the fight for equal pay for equal work.

Half of a successful television duo during the late 1970's, Cindy Williams' alter ego was Shirley Feeney. The TV show, Laverne and Shirley, was a big hit, however, similar to Suzanne Somers and her role in the TV show Three's Company, Williams did not want to be typecast in future acting roles.

PERSONAL BRANDING TIP: Sometimes, being known as one thing or for one thing can be a positive attribute. Don't knock it.

Wife of Jimmy Carter for more than 70 years, she was an American writer, activist, and humanitarian who served as the First Lady of the United States from 1977 to 1981, as the wife of President Jimmy Carter. During her decades of public service, she was an advocate for women's rights and mental health. According to Wikipedia, "During her husband's administration, she supported his public policies as well as his social and personal life. To remain fully informed, she sat in on Cabinet meetings at the invitation of the President."

PERSONAL BRANDING TIP: Rosalyn was supportive to her husband, during their time in the White House and afterward. Support can be very inspiring.


When Ronald Reagan was running for the Presidency in 1980, he pledged to nominate the first woman to the United States Supreme Court. Once he became President, the time had come. He nominated Sandra Day O'Connor from Arizona, and the rest is history.

PERSONAL BRANDING TIP: Despite the fact that Sandra Day O'Connor was unable to get a law firm job as a lawyer due to her gender following her excellent work at the Stanford Law School (she graduated in the top ten percent of her class), she did not give up. She went to work for the San Mateo County District Attorney's office. She offered to work for no salary and without an office and shared space with a secretary. And then, as the first woman appointed to the United States Supreme Court, she had to deal with chauvinism that few can imagine during her tenure on the Court from 1981 to 2006. O'Connor said that she felt a responsibility to demonstrate women could do the job of justice. She faced some practical concerns, including the lack of a women's restroom near the Courtroom. She referred to herself as FWOTSC, first woman on the Supreme Court. Her sense of purpose, respect for her jobs, and professional demeanor throughout her lifetime led to her incredible successes. Those are qualities any brand can embrace.

After reflecting on this list, I note that more women appeared. Was this intentional, or did more women make an impact during their lifetimes? Perhaps, women are finally getting much deserved recognition for their accomplishments and impact.

What personal branding tips did YOU learn from people we lost during 2023?

Image Credit: Macky Technologies.

Friday, January 12, 2024

Marketing News of the Week: Danish Queen Margrethe, Pandas, and Starbucks

This past week, there were news stories that reflected personal branding, brand ambassadors, brand positioning, and brand storytelling.

After nearly 52 years on the throne, Queen Margrethe of Denmark made a surprising announcement in her traditional New Year's Eve speech broadcast on Danish television on December 31, 2023. While there has not been an abdication in Denmark in nearly 900 years, she said that she would abdicate her role on January 14, 2024, after a reign lasting exactly 52 years. At age 83, she will hand over the throne to her son, Crown Prince Frederik, and she will continue to be titled as "Her Majesty." After the death of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II last year, Margrethe became the longest-serving monarch in Europe.

Denmark's royals have a limited role under the country's constitution, with power resting with parliament. However, monarchs serve as important ambassadors for the country of Denmark throughout the world and also sign off on new legislation.

According to NPR, "Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that the U.S. and China must insist on peaceful coexistence and transcend their differences like both countries did when they established diplomatic relations 45 years ago this week. He also promised that giant pandas would return to the U.S., and specifically California, by the end of the year."

Giant pandas that had resided in Memphis and Washington, D.C., returned to China last year, and many feared that China would stop lending pandas to American zoos due to tensions between the two countries, so this news is exactly what American zoos, and especially California zoos wanted to hear.

Pandas are excellent ambassadors for China, pandas, and wildlife conservation.

According to USA Today, "You might want to get your hands on the winter pink "Starbucks x Stanley cup" sooner rather than later. The limited edition 40-ounce quencher released nationwide on January 4 in Starbucks stores at Target locations have already sold out...People have flocked to Target since the cup's release, arguing with one another, waiting in long lines, camping out overnight to get a chance to purchase the cup as soon as the store opened." While the cup sold exclusively in Target for $49.95, there are some on eBay starting at $200.

This type of news is not good for Starbucks. Why would a brand want to release a product that sells out immediately and causes chaos at stores?

In other marketing news, Carrefour, one of France's biggest supermarket chains, will stop selling PepsiCo products because they are too expensive. According to CNN affiliate BFM-TV, stores are displaying a sign alongside Pepsi, Lay's chips, Quaker cereals, Lipton teas, and more products that reads: "We are no longer selling this brand due to unacceptable price increases. We apologize for the inconvenience." Carrefour will also pull products from its stores in Italy, Spain, and Belgium.

What other marketing news stood out to you this past week?

What will be the marketing buzz next week? Tune in to read all about it.

Image Credits: Keld Navntoft via Getty Images (of Queen Margrethe), Katherine Feng (of the pandas), and Starbucks.

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Words and Terms that Told the Story of 2023


While many marketing and news commentators (including this blogger) have talked about the books, films, people, color, and notable deaths that made news during 2023, let's not forget the memorable words and terms that told the story of 2023.

Word of the year was AUTHENTIC, the term for something we're thinking about, writing about, aspiring to, and judging more than ever - and the word saw a substantial increase in lookups during 2023, driven by stories and conversations about AI, celebrity culture, identity, and social media. According to "Authentic has a number of meanings including "not false or imitation," a synonym of real and actual; and also "true to one's own personality, spirit, or character."

Here were the other words that stood out in Merriam-Webster's dictionary during 2023:
* Rizz
* Deepfake
* Implode
* X
* Indict

Word of the year was RIZZ, a noun meaning style, charm, or attractiveness; the ability to attract a romantic partner. The word has been credited to YouTuber Kai Cenat.

Word of the year was HALLUCINATE. The traditional definition of hallucinate is to seem to see, hear, feel, or smell something that does not exist, usually because of a health condition or because you have taken a drug. The new, additional definition is: "When an artificial intelligence (= a computer system that has some of the qualities that the human brain has, such as, the ability to produce language in a way that seems human) hallucinates, it produces false information. AI hallucinations, also known as confabulations, sometimes appear nonsensical. But they can also seem entirely plausible – even while being factually inaccurate or ultimately illogical. AI hallucinations have already had real-world impacts. A US law firm used ChatGPT for legal research, which led to fictitious cases being cited in court. In Google’s own promotional video for Bard, the AI tool made a factual error about the James Webb Space Telescope."

Here were the other words that captured Cambridge Dictionary's interest during 2023:
* Implosion
* Ennui
* Grifter
* GOAT (Greatest of All Time)

Word of the year was AI, a set of technologies that enable computers to perform a variety of advanced functions, including the ability to see, understand, and translate spoken and written language, analyze data, make recommendations, and more.

As of December 2023, the most searched things on Google were "YouTube” and "Amazon." During 2023, the most searched person was Taylor Swift, and the most-asked question on Google was, "How many ounces in a cup?"

Here were some terms that arose again and again during conversations and news reports during 2023:

CHATGPT: The powerful new AI chatbot tool that has been trained on vast amounts of online data in order to generate responses to user prompts. While it has gained traction among users, it has also raised some concerns, including about inaccuracies and its potential to perpetuate biases and spread misinformation.

NEPO BABY: A celebrity with a parent who is also famous, especially one whose industry connections are perceived as essential to their success.

CONSORT: Once the United Kingdom's Prince Charles officially became King Charles III at his coronation in May 2023, his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall became known as Queen Camilla. In a branding move that surprised everyone, she dropped the word "Consort" from her title.

PETFLUENCER: A person who gains a large following on social media by posting entertaining images or videos of their cat, dog, or other pet.

SLOWCESSION: According to Moody's Analytics, despite predictions of a recession during 2023, "The more likely scenario was a slowcession, where growth grinds to a near halt but a full economic downturn is narrowly avoided."

As the famous writer Joseph Conrad wrote, "My task which I am trying to achieve is by the power of the written word, to make you hear, to make you feel - it is, before all, to make you see. That — and no more, and it is everything."

What words and terms will define 2024? Keep up with the news, and you may find some clues.

Image Credit:

Friday, January 5, 2024

"Top 10" New Year's Resolutions for Leaders

During December, I read an inspiring post entitled, "70 New Year's Resolutions for Leaders" by my friend and leadership expert (and advocate) Eric Jacobson. I wondered how many leaders make a list of leadership resolutions every January. Upon further reflection, I wondered if leaders make such a list, do they actually follow the resolutions?

There is no doubt that if a leader adhered to all of Eric's 70 resolutions, he/she/they would become an exceptional leader. But the reality is, that would be nearly impossible to find such a leader. I think sticking to ten resolutions might be hard, but much more likely. So I decided to pull out my favorite ten resolutions. 

With big applause to Eric, here are my "Top 10" New Year's Resolutions for Leaders:

1. Don't micromanage.
2. Don't be a bottleneck.
3. Focus on outcomes, not minutiae.
4. Celebrate your employees' successes, not your own.
5. Communicate clearly and often.
6. Admit your mistakes.
7. Encourage individualism and welcome input.
8. Encourage personal growth and promote training, mentoring, and external education.
9. Volunteer within your community and allow/support your employees to volunteer also.
10. Read leadership books to continue your leadership journey.

Again, much gratitude to Eric for creating his list and for inspiring me to pick ten. 

The goal of this post was to inspire you to create your own list of New Year's Leadership Resolutions with the hope that you stick to it during 2024.

Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Here's the link to Eric's original post - I highly recommend you hang it in a prominent place so that you can refer to it on a regular basis:

Connect with Eric at these links:

Check out Eric’s previous appearances here on my blog:

[1] FALL BACK TO READING SERIES – Featuring Eric Jacobson
September 25, 2023

[2] Let's Celebrate #NationalLeadershipDay!
February 20, 2023

[3] How Leadership Crafts the #EmployeeExperience
May 1, 2018

[4] Leadership Doesn't Have to Be Hard
May 3, 2016

[5] The Importance of Mentorships
March 11, 2013

[6] The Importance of Training, Customer Connections, and Leadership
March 21, 2011

Thursday, January 4, 2024

Marketing News of the Week: Snoop Dogg, Year of the Dragon, and Steamboat Willie


Once the ball dropped in Times Square, the new year of marketing news was off and running. Although recent marketing announcements were newsworthy due to their annual end-of-the-year timing: the Pantone color company announced its "Color of the Year for 2024" and TIME Magazine announced its "Person of the Year for 2023," this week's marketing news reflected the strength of personal branding, marketing campaigns based on product imagery, and brand storytelling.

Are you familiar with the rapper known as Snoop Dogg? He has evolved his personal brand from a hip-hop icon to Martha Stewart TV show pal to this week, a "special correspondent" for the upcoming 2024 Summer Olympics from July 26 through August 11 in Paris, France. He will provide his distinctive perspective on the competitions, interview athletes, and also visit historical landmarks.

Snoop explained, "It's going to be the most epic Olympics ever, so stay tuned. Let's elevate, celebrate, and make these games unforgettable, smoke the competition, and may the best shine like gold. Peace and Olympic LOVE, ya dig?"

According to Huffington Post, "Snoop has undergone a transition over the years from 1990s gangsta rapper to a family-friendly face who has co-starred in a variety show with Martha Stewart, made his own cereal, and partnered with dozens of recognizable brands."

According to Molly Solomon, President of NBC Olympics Production, "We don't know what the heck is going to happen every day, but we know Snoop will add his unique perspective to our reimagined Olympic primetime show."

Did this announcement surprise you? It speaks to the power of personal branding and the evolution of Snoop's personal brand.


The Lunar New Year will officially begin in February, but the "year of the dragon" has already begun to appear on products. Harney & Sons tea features the dragon on a special tea tin; Levi's Year of the Dragon collection includes denim tops and bottoms branded with a special red tab on the pocket and a custom leather back patch featuring dragon artwork and gold lettering; Piaget's Lunar New Year collection pays homage to the dragon; Tag Heuer released two limited-edition watches in celebration of the Lunar New Year; Swatch unveiled a year of the dragon watch; and the bakery/cafe Paris Baguette is rolling out a three-dimensional cake in the likeness of a dragon.

Will your brand add a dragon to your product packaging, marketing communications, or logo?


Effective January 1, 2024, an early version of the Walt Disney Company's internally-recognized mascot, Mickey Mouse, that was featured in the 1928 short film, "Steamboat Willie," entered the public domain for the first time.

According to CNN, "The good-humored rodent, which has been synonymous with the Disney brand for nearly a century, has grown into one of the most iconic characters in American pop culture. But since U.S. copyright law, last updated by Congress in 1998, allows copyright to be held for 95 years, Disney’s sole claim to the character has officially ended. A Disney spokesperson explained to CNN, 'More modern versions of Mickey will remain unaffected by the expiration of the Steamboat Willie copyright, and Mickey will continue to play a leading role as a global ambassador for the Walt Disney Company in our storytelling, theme park attractions, and merchandise.'"

Unfortunately, as a result, at least two horror films featuring Steamboat Willie were announced. We'll see what Disney does if/when they are released.

What other marketing news stood out to you this week?

What will be the marketing buzz next week? Tune in to read all about it.

Image Credits: Gilbert Flores/Variety via Getty Images (Snoop),, and LMPC via Getty Images (Steamboat Willie/Mickey Mouse 1928).

Monday, January 1, 2024

Top Ten Marketing Highlights of 2023

With 2023 now history, it's time for my annual “Top 10” marketing highlights post – incredible that this is my 14th post featuring annual marketing highlights.

What do you remember from the 2023 marketing reel? What stood out as marketing innovation, and what will go down in history that was as memorable as Apple’s 1984 Super Bowl ad? Without further ado, let’s get to it!

With a nod and thank you to David Letterman for the format, here's my list:

NUMBER 10: During 2023, the Twitter brand continued to evolve under the ownership of Elon Musk, and in July, the transformation was the name to a single letter, X. Also, users no longer tweeted, but instead, posted. How can the new name be effective as a single letter? Will this Twitter/X name change become a timeless branding case study for marketing students like "Intel Inside" was? Unfortunately, for Musk, most media professionals constantly referred to the platform as "X, formerly Twitter."

NUMBER 9: In March, the annual Academy Awards took place, but the buzz was not about the awards, but instead, a famous part of the event preceding the show where the celebrities show off their fashion. Instead of a red carpet, a different color carpet was installed outside The Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. According to ABC7, "For the first time in six decades, Hollywood's biggest night is not rolling out the red carpet. The celebrated carpet will be a champagne color. We chose this beautiful sienna saffron color that evokes the sunset, because this is the sunset before the golden hour." I guess we cannot refer to the pre-event festivities as "walking the red carpet" anymore.

While stamps featuring King Charles III's face are now officially on sale to the British public, the new stamps feature a significant break from the past: None of the stamps include a crown. According to royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams, "His preference for a simple image is more contemporary. The Queen wore a diadem and the image of her was internationally recognized. In a different age, the King has wisely chosen a more human image." Even King Charles thinks about personal branding and his image. (April)

NUMBER 7: Promoted as Amazon's philanthropic arm and also a significant sub-brand, AmazonSmile launched in 2013 and was a way for users to donate a portion of their sales toward their favorite charities. The appealing tagline read: "You shop. Amazon gives. Support your favorite charity every time you shop." According to CNN, "Amazon will shut down its SMILE charity donation program on February 20, 2023, as the company cuts costs and rethinks its strategy. AmazonSmile donated a small percentage of sales made on eligible purchases to a charity that shoppers chose. In total, $500 million has been donated since the 2013 launch." Will you miss this easy way to donate to your favorite charity? I definitely will. (January)

NUMBER 6: Museums are now re-branding ancient Egyptian remains. According to CNN, "They are among the most popular exhibits in museums worldwide, with a name so resonant, that blockbuster films have been built on it. But some museums in Britain are now using words other than 'mummy' to describe their displays of ancient Egyptian human remains. Instead, they are adopting terms such as "mummified person" or the individual's name to emphasize that they were one living people." Who says words and language don't have power? (January)

In April, the barcode turned 50. According to CNN, "The barcode, the rectangle of thick and thin parallel lines seen on nearly every grocery product, package, piece of luggage, and prescription bottle is turning 50 years old. Since its inception, the Universal Product Code (UPC) has become the most prevalent tracking tool for products around the world. Billions of items are scanned everyday around the world, and the laser-powered technology behind UPC's has changed the retail industry in particular." The birthdate of the barcode is celebrated on April 3, 1973, because that was the day that the IBM version created by senior engineer George Laurer was approved as the industry standard. Laurer received no royalties. The first item scanned with a barcode was a package of Wrigley's Juicy Fruit chewing gum for $1.39. Years later, the Smithsonian added a replica of the gum to its exhibition on the history of the barcode.

NUMBER 4: In September, the number 25 was significant because three well-known brands celebrated their 25th anniversaries.

How many of us remember Alta Vista, Ask Jeeves, or any of the other search engines that existed more than two decades ago? Well, Google survived and has even entered the English lexicon by becoming a verb. Many of us simply say "Google it," when we don't know something. Google is a great case study for marketing students.

When the Harry Potter series written by J.K. Rowling first appeared, the fantasy and magical plot quickly became a favorite of both children and adults. While it's hard to believe that Harry Potter was first introduced in a book, due to the movies and theme parks created in his honor, the books were so beloved that they inspired both children and adults to embrace reading as a hobby.

Many of us signed up for movie DVD's via mail delivery in Netflix's early days. That service ended in September, however, Netflix has evolved into a TV channel alternative with its streaming service and award-winning content.

NUMBER 3: Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte (PSL) celebrated its 20th anniversary. According to the brand's website, "Since its introduction in 2003, the iconic beverage has had an influence on the coffee industry, pop culture, and everything in between. The Pumpkin Spice Latte is Starbucks most popular seasonal beverage - having sold hundreds of millions of PSL's - and is enjoyed by customers around the world. In 2022, Merriam-Webster officially added pumpkin spice to the dictionary, defined as a mixture of usually cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and often allspice that is commonly used in pumpkin pie." (August)

NUMBER 2: In July, people descended on theaters everywhere to watch the Barbie movie directed by Greta Gerwig and starring Margot Robbie. Here is one of the movie's stand-out moments: Gloria's (spoken by actress America Ferrera) moving monologue is one of the film's most powerful quotes. Gloria describes the unfair standards that females are subjected to in order to be viewed as desirable and liked by others. During the scene, Barbie has an emotional moment confessing how she feels that she is not good enough for anything. Gloria tells Barbie how she is so beautiful, and it kills Gloria that Barbie doesn't think she is good enough. Gloria continues by saying, "I'm just so tired of watching myself, and every single other woman tie herself into knots so that people will like us."

Related to the marketing buzz surrounding the Barbie movie that lasted for months leading up to the movie's release, including plot-less trailers and a plethora of merchandise ranging from clothing to shoes to nail polish to dog clothing to martini glasses to recliner lounges (just to name a few), was the power of the color pink plus the run on the actual color itself.

According to Smithsonian Magazine, "While building out the set for the new live-action Barbie movie, designers used so much of one particular shade of fluorescent fuchsia paint that they contributed to a global shortage," reported Chloe Malle for Architectural Digest. The bright pink hue used on the set was made by Rosco, a company headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut, that manufactures entertainment-friendly products ranging from paint to projection equipment to flooring.

In other related Barbie movie and marketing news, another movie opened the same day, Openheimer, so a new term was created. According to Wikipedia, "Barbenheimer was a cultural phenomenon preceding and surrounding the simultaneous theatrical release of two films, Barbie and Oppenheimer, in July and August of 2023. The word is a portmanteau of the films' titles. The strong contrast between Barbie, a fantasy comedy by Greta Gerwig about the fashion doll Barbie, and Oppenheimer, an epic biographical thriller by Christopher Nolan about physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer, scientific director of the Manhattan Project, prompted a comedic response from Internet users, including memes and merchandise. Polygon described the two films as "extreme opposites," and Variety called the phenomenon "the movie event of the year." Due to the marketing buzz for both, movie-goers purchased tickets to attend both movies on the same day, something not seen with such interest in the past.

And finally, drum roll please...

NUMBER 1: The Hollywood TV and film industry came to a complete stop during 2023. Both the writers and actors were on strike for a good portion of the year. While both strikes were eventually settled, and both groups returned to work in October (writers) and November (actors), new shows and films were still a figment of the imagination as the year came to a close. From a marketing standpoint, all advertising for blockbuster films did not happen, and advertising for new and returning TV shows did not happen. This was a significant chunk of change that went unspent for ads and red carpet events. Can Hollywood recover? Only time will tell, but thankfully, we can expect to see ads and red carpet events promoting new shows and films in 2024.

What would you add to this list? Here's to 2024 and another year of marketing highlights. Happy New Year!

Image Credits: Twitter/X, Barbie film, and Royal Mail via The Scotsman.