Skip to main content


Showing posts from December, 2008

Inspiration in seat 1B

I shared a flight yesterday with Alan Simon, the Chairman and CEO of Omaha Steaks. What an inspiring guy. Omaha Steak is a nearly 180 year old family business. How many companies can claim that? Although Alan has since turned over day to day management to his 52 year old son, he still makes the commute from Orange County to Omaha twice a month because he loves the business so much. He finds the time to give back to the community by being on the boards of two universities. And he seems to know more about media technologies than most people half his age -- including me! But the biggest delight was sensing I was meeting a man with the mischievous humor of a teenager. It made having to fly on a Sunday afternoon worthwhile.

Marketing in a recession: Message from the front lines

A few weeks ago I conducted a marketing survey of senior executives across a range of businesses such as automotive, pharmaceuticals, toys, home remodeling, consumer electronics and retail. I wanted to learn if there were common themes in the way a diverse group marketers was navigating the current recession (depression?). Not surprisingly, all marketers are hurting and nearly every segment of their business is down. Lack of credit is affecting consumers and businesses alike. High priced premium segments, which seemed unaffected at first, have caved. Consumers are saving money by trading down to a lesser alternative or waiting for deep discounts on the products they desire. B2B purchases are drying up as companies cut CapEx budgets. There is a “slash and burn” mentality to marketing budgets. But there are some bright spots as well. Products and services that appeal to the consumer’s “cocooning” instinct – e.g., entertain at home, family games – are showing some resiliency. Toys rec

Creating heroic brand narratives

I am intrigued by the art of storytelling in helping marketers create more meaningful and lasting brand identities. Stories help us understand. They convey meaning. And in an increasingly overwhelming and fast-moving world, meaning trumps information. If we step into the way-back machine and return to our English Lit classes, we might remember that stories are built on several essential elements, including archetypal characters, the hero's journey and resolution of conflict. Archetypes are the universal characters that form what Carl Jung called our collective unconscious. Over the millennia, we became hardwired to instantly recognize the meaning of archetypes like the outlaw, hero, ruler, jester, temptress, innocent and the everyman. Defining and expressing brands as archetypes may be more powerful than the traditional brand personality statement in creating a deep connection with consumers. The "hero's journey" was first defined in Joseph Campbell's b