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Showing posts from April, 2008

Introducing the washing machine of TVs

Today's Wall Street Journal quotes the vice president of brand marketing for LG Electronics as saying, "If you go to Best Buy, you can't tell the difference between any of the TVs; even to me, I cannot tell which is LG. They all look the same." (I doubt that was on the list of talking points prepared by his PR team, but I respect his candor.) Why do the major TV set makers allow this steady commoditization of their business to continue? Sony Electronics was a client of mine several years ago. Sony Wega TVs (pronounced, oddly enough, "vega") were the industry benchmark because they were based on an innovative and proprietary picture technology that offered customers a clear reason to pay more. (This built on a heritage of picture quality that started with the Sony Trinitron.) Sony's minimalist silver boxes also set a new design standard with a look that has now become common. But much has changed over the years. Low price offerings from LG,

Happy Earth Day

To mark Earth Day I thought I'd give some props to our partners at Applied Materials . Applied is the global leader in nanomanufacturing technology (literally the manufacture of structures on an atom-by-atom basis). The solutions it provides its customers are responsible for the production of virtually every new semiconductor chip and LCD flat panel display. The same nanomanufacturing processes used in these fields are now being applied to the manufacture of solar panels and energy efficient glass. Applied's stated mission is to help create a cleaner, brighter future. It's hard to not like working with them. Here's a glimpse of some recent work we've created with them.

Should you innovate during a recession?

That's the question that seems to be popping up in business media. What a silly question. Yes we should. Customer, marketplace and competitive dynamics are moving too fast to make standing still anything less than a corporate death-wish. The recent issue of Business Week got the story right. Great brands project a sense of infectious momentum that comes from continuous improvement and innovation. Innovation does not have to be whiz-bang, bet-the-ranch new products like a Wii or an iPhone. Innovation can take the form of small, but meaningful, improvements in the customer experience, such as Target's color-coded pharmacy bottles. It can be the result of continuous improvements in the customer experience as practiced by Google, Amazon and Toyota. (Toyota, while credited for the market-changing Prius , more often than not wins by innovating new business processes that improve its ability to meet customer wants and needs.) Or it can take the form of a smart cross-promo

Technology is the new car

My recent post about plug-in luxury got me thinking about the role of technology in our lives. And it hit me -- technology brands are the new car. Throughout the last century the automobile stood for freedom, mobility and joy. Hitting the open road expanded our horizons and put a bigger world within our reach. Cars represented modern life at its best. But that was then. Cars lost this sense of child-like wonder as they grappled with grown-up issues such as safety, fuel economy and global warming. Today it is technology that defines modern life. Technology liberates. It connects. Each new smart phone, wafer-thin laptop or lifelike home theater system joyfully proclaims that today is better than yesterday. Technology brands are the new car. I wonder what would happen if a car company decided to behave as a technology brand. Not just loading up cars with whiz-bang tech features. But to truly embrace (or re-embrace) the sense of joy and liberation and optimism that we seek i

How many USPs can you fit in a Buick?

I was pondering this question while reading a recent Buick print ad. The headline declares that Buick is "the craft of modern luxury." The themeline declares that a Buick enables you to "drive beautiful." And the space between these two ideas is filled with yet another idea -- "QuietTuning." If you ask me, quiet seems to me to be the differentiating brand idea -- Buick provides the luxury of silence. Words like modern and beautiful are simply marketing blather. This ad illustrates the need for marketers to embrace relevant and unique selling propositions and not try to be all things to all people. It also illustrates the need to stop creating advertising by committee.

Plug-in luxury

Labeling a brand as a "luxury" product is too generic and narrow. True luxury brands have a specific point of view on the type of luxury they provide. Laid back and casual? Old world pedigree? Exclusive and indulgent? Modern and savvy? Hyatt is not a luxury brand by any traditional definition. But I was extremely impressed on a recent stay in the chain's Hyatt Place brand by their choice to feature a "Plug Panel" that enables guests to connect their laptop, iPod or digital camera to the 42" flat-panel TV. This tech concierge is a form of luxury. It makes the stay more comfortable and personal. It also shows keen customer insight and thoughtfulness. The car companies are increasingly using technology as a form of luxury. Lexus has been on the leading edge of this for years. And, finally, marques like Jaguar (a past client) are using technology instead of wood and leather as a way to convey a premium brand image. Check out Jag's ne

Damn right the website's fun

PS: I went to Canadian Club's website and used the app they've created to let people customize their own "damn right" ads. Here's my Dad with his life-long groupie.

Damn right it sells.

I've been a fan of Canadian Club's "damn right" campaign from my first sighting. It's audacious and completely counter-intuitive. Selling an out-of-date brand to younger customers is not easy. So I was really glad to read the Ad Age article reporting that the campaign is increasing sales and reversing years of downward spiral. The insight is so simple: you're dad was a lot like you my friend, going out, pounding drinks and looking to score. But he did it with style. The line is perfect -- "Damn right your dad drank it." It's always good to see a client rewarded for embracing a bold idea. Kudos to BBDO and the brand managers at Canadian Club.