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20 posts from October 2004

October 30, 2004

Ranking Brand Loyalty

I’m not sure how much weight to much into this, but the 2004 Brand Keys’ Customer Loyalty Leader rankings have been released. Click here for a pdf of the article that ran in Brandweek. Or, click here to download the full rankings from #1 (Google) to #203 (Diet Dr. Pepper) [downloaded as a Word document] .

Of course, clicking is optional as these loyalty rankings may carry no weight at all in today’s real marketing world. I found these brand loyalty rankings to be as irrelevant as Billboard Magazine’s latest Top 50 Hot Singles rankings.

Top 20 2004 Customer Loyalty Leaders
[as measured by Brand Keys]
(’04 Rank | Brand | ’03 Rank)

1. Google (2)
2. Avis (1)
3. Verizon Long Distance (4)
4. KeySpan Energy (9)
5. Samsung Mobile Phone (7)
6. Hyatt Hotels (19)
7. Sprint Long Distance (3)
8. Canon Copiers (8)
9. Yahoo (14)
10. Miller Genuine Draft (5)
11. Ritz-Carlton Hotels (17)
12. PSE&G (15)
14. Marriot Hotels (13)
15. Swissotel (NR)
16. Discover Card (27)
17. Diet Pepsi (31)
18. Budweiser (16)
19. Motorola Mobile Phone (10)
20. Coors (20)

October 28, 2004

New Meaning to Fire Roasted Coffee


The Java-Log is the first fire log made from coffee grounds. (Yes, you read that right … used coffee grounds.) It weighs 5 pounds, burns for up to three hours, produces 3x the flames of wood, burns 7x cleaner than firewood, and costs around $3.50.

Purple Cow-ing the fire log. Nice.


Further Learning:

  • Recent story from National Geographic online
  • The Java-Log website
  • The Java-Log story [PDF] (from the Java-Log website)
  • Read a Mini-Case study about Java-Log from Entrepreneur Magazine [July2004]
  • Featured as a TIME Magazine “Cool Invention” for 2003

  • October 27, 2004

    Will the cell phone make the MLB more transparent?

    Major League Baseball (MLB) has had a long standing policy of not using instant reply to give umpires a second opinion on controversial plays. Instead, umpires will congregate on the field to discuss the situation leaving fans at the game in the dark. Following the umpire discussion, a ruling is made and the game goes on. The stadium announcer, using few words as possible, will alert fans in the stands to the ruling. But most fans at the game are still left in the dark wondering exactly what happened.

    And this is where the cell phone begins to break down Major League Baseball’s walls of opacity.

    According to an article in Wall Street Journal (sub. req'd), cell phones are bringing transparency to the traditional game of baseball. Below is a scalpel/suture abstract of the article…


    MlbFlash back to last week and Game 6 of the American League Championship Series. Eighth inning, one out, Boston Red Sox leading 4-2. Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees is on first, with Alex Rodriguez at the plate as the tying run. A-Rod hits a squibber to Boston pitcher Bronson Arroyo and then slaps the ball out of his mitt as Mr. Arroyo tries to apply the tag.

    Fans in the stands that night say they saw the disputed play as a confusing near-collision, followed by a pantomime of huddled umps, gesticulating managers and hand signals. No announcement explaining what had happened was made, they say. And no replay was shown on the scoreboard -- in fact, Major League Baseball forbids teams from showing close or disputed calls.

    Enter the cellphone.

    "Immediately everyone began dialing up friends and family to find out what had happened," says Robin Mohapatra.

    "After a minute or two, we called friends in Boston who gave us a verbal rundown of the replay," says Tom Thornton.

    "Word spread through the crowd after fans called TV-watching friends," says Andrew Howse.
    What those friends said was unambiguous: A-Rod was in the wrong and the umpires had made the right call. That might not have made Yankee fans any happier, but it did dispense with the idea that they'd been jobbed.

    And that my friends is how the cell phone is bringing transparency to the MLB.

    October 26, 2004

    Hip. And its hold on marketing.

    While reading John Leland’s Hip: The History, I was struck with how hip is, at times, connected to the backbone of marketing.

    It can be argued that the Product Life Cycle we were taught is old school and the nu skool product life cycle should eschew the Innovator, Early Adopter, Early/Late Majority mindset and instead ... redraw the Life Cycle curve beginning with the HIP evolving to the TRENDY growing to the MAINSTREAM and then milking the YESTERDAY.

    HIP > TRENDY > MAINSTREAM > YESTERDAY as the nu skool Product Life Cycle ... hmm. At least this is one idea I had while reading the introductory chapter to HIP: The History. [Click here to read an excerpt from the intro chapter (NY Times reg. req'd).]

    To get you hip to HIP: The History, I’ve extracted a few poignant paragraphs that relate more to the sociology of marketing than to the sociology of 'Hip.' Enjoy.


    Hip as an agent of commodification …
    “If hip is a form of rebellion – or at least a show of rebellion – it should want something. Its desires are America’s other appetite, not for wealth but for autonomy. It is a common folk’s grab at rich folk’s freedom – the purest form of which is freedom from the demands of money. It is an equalizer, available to outsiders as to insiders. Anyone can be hip, even if everyone can’t.”

    Hip as an agent of reward …
    “In a nation that does not believe in delayed gratification, hip is an instant payoff. You may need years of sacrifice to get to heaven or build a retirement fund, but hip yields its fruit on contact. It is always new but never going anywhere special – a present tense reclaimed from the demands of past and future.”

    Hip as a marketing change agent …
    “Hip sells cars, soda, snowboards, skateboards, computers, type fonts, booze cigarettes, CDs, shoes, shades, and home accessories. As Lord Buckley suggested, it serves the treasury well. By bringing constant change and obsolescence, it creates ever-new needs to buy. Though it grabs ideas from the bottom of the economic ladder, hip lives in luxury. Poor societies worry about growing enough corn; rich societies can worry about being corny. Hip shapes how we drive, whom we admire, whose warmth we yearn for in the night. Its sect transforms neighborhoods from forbidding to unaffordable.”

    Hip as an agent of social marketing democracy …
    “Hip is a social relation. You cannot be hip in the way you might be tall, handsome, gawky, nearsighted or Russian. Like camp, its unruly nephew, it requires and audience. Even at its most subterranean, it exists in public view, its parameters defined by the people watching it. You decide what is hip and what is not. Hip requires a transaction, an acknowledgement. If a tree falls in the forest and no one notices its fundamental dopeness, it is not hip.”

    Hip as an edgecrafting agent …
    “Hip brings the intelligence of troublemakers and outsiders into the loop, saving the mainstream from its own limits. What’s in Williamsburg [in Brooklyn] today will be in the mall tomorrow; today’s Vice magazine or Lucha Libre Mexican wrestling is tomorrow’s Good Housekeeping or SmackDown. Like the advertising world that grew up alongside it, hip creates value through image and style. In its emphasis on being watched, it anticipated the modern mediascape, which values people not for what they produce or possess but for their salience as images. For all its professed disregard for wealth, hip would not have thrived unless it was turning a profit.”

    For more on HIP: The History, visit:

  • HIP: The History website
  • NY Times Times Book Review (reg. req'd)
  • Review in the Village Voice
  • Review in the Austin American Statesman

  • October 22, 2004

    Worthy Reads and Worthless Reads III

    I had free time over the summer and filled it with books … lots of books. The last time I read as many books over the summertime as I did this past summer, I was in the fourth grade and competing in the Fretz Park Public Library Summer Reading contest.

    While I didn’t receive any Gold Stars for reading books this summer, I did receive golden business insight which will hopefully serve me well in the days, months, and years to come.

    I'm not including all the books I read this summer in this Worthy Reads Worthless Reads (WRWR) post, just the most noteworthy of the bunch. As with my WRWR I and WRWR II, I’m rating recent reads on a five point-scale based upon the following three categories:

    IDEATION – helps me generate new ideas
    INTELLECTION – gives me a new perspective on a business topic
    MAXIMIZE – increases my current understanding of a business topic

    I am also including my Dog-Ear Score for most of the books.
    [For those needing a primer on the Brand Autopsy Dog-Ear Scoring System, click here.]


    Rules of the Red Rubber Ball (Kevin Carroll)
    Kevin is a Katalyst helping others turn personal creativity into reality. He is also a sought-after speaker inspiring folks to find excitement, passion, and purpose in their lives. Paul wrote about Rules of the Red Rubber Ball on Brand Autopsy last August and was kind enough to send me a copy. I’m glad he did. Having not been fortunate to see Kevin speak, his book reads like a pocket-sized version of what I would image his keynote presentations to be like. It’s an engaging and inspiring read.

    IDEATION – 3/5
    MAXIMIZE – 4/5
    Dog-Ear Score – n/a



    Writing the Breakthrough Business Book (Tom Gorman)
    If you are a business-minded blogger who aspires to write a business book … GET THIS BOOK. I’ve read a few books on writing book proposals and I derived the most from Tom’s insider perspective on the business of getting a business book published. He shares tips on the ins/outs of being a business book author and on what publishers look for in business book proposals that get the green light.

    IDEATION – 5/5
    MAXIMIZE – 5/5
    Dog-Ear Score – 12.9% (32:248)



    MBA in a Box (edited by Joel Kurtzman)
    The title "MBA in a Box" promises far more than it delivers. Sure, the contemporary business essays from experts and academics compiled in this book address timely topics, but the knowledge expressed is "too fleeting" and "too now" to be considered strong enough for lasting MBA-like lessons. MBA in a Box is built for now and not built to last. Furthermore, MBA in a Box over-promises and woefully under-delivers.

    IDEATION – 2/5
    MAXIMIZE – 2/5
    Dog-Ear Score – n/a



    Wordcraft: The Art of Turning Little Words into Big Business (Alex Frankel)
    It is obvious Alex Frankel aspired to write as compelling a book on the naming business as Malcolm Gladwell did with explaining how word-of-mouth works in The Tipping Point. While not as compelling a read as The Tipping Point, Wordcraft succeeds in personalizing the game of how brands get named. His breakdown of how BlackBerry and Porsche’s Cayenne were named is bound to be fodder for college marketing classes for years to come. Good stuff.

    IDEATION – 2/5
    MAXIMIZE – 4/5
    Dog-Ear Score – 10.5% (23:218)



    Lovemarks: The Future Beyond Brand (Kevin Roberts)
    Lovemarks was a much discussed book on marketing blogs during the summer. Johnnie Moore (UK) had a whole lotta hot marketing opinions on it as did Chris Lawer. I added my two cents on Lovemarks with my book review on the 800 CEO READ Blog and with a “Peace, Lovemarks, and Misunderstanding" blog on Brand Autopsy.

    IDEATION – 0/5
    MAXIMIZE – 2/5
    Dog-Ear Score – n/a



    Secret Service: Hidden Systems That Deliver Unforgettable Customer Service (John Dijulius)
    If you are a small business owner … BUY THIS BOOK. Dijulius is much better small business owner than he is a writer. However, he shares great real-world tactical ideas for imprinting a customer-first culture in a small business. Dijulius also gives actionable insight on how to empower front-line employees, how to turn infrequent customers into frequent customers, and how to deliver remarkable customer experiences. It’s a great read for small business aspiring to get bigger and for big businesses needing to act smaller.

    IDEATION – 4/5
    MAXIMIZE – 4/5
    Dog-Ear Score – n/a



    Clued In: How to Keep Customers Coming Back Again and Again (Lou Carbone)
    If you are an executive who has been hiding out in a Tibetan monastery for the last ten years, then you are the target audience for this book. Seriously … this is a book in search of an audience. Who needs to be convinced that delivering a great customer experience is something a business needs to do? And yet, that is just what the author, Lou Carbone, does in the first six chapters. (Ahem … didn’t Pine & Gilmore clearly make the case for “the experience” with “The Experience Economy” published in 1999? Hello Lou … it’s 2004. Wake up and drink a Red Bull.) The book is horrible. Don’t bother reading it. Complete waste of my time. Don’t even bother picking it up off the shelf to look at the dust cover.

    IDEATION – 0/5
    MAXIMIZE – 0/5
    Dog-Ear Score – 0.0%

    The most WORTHLESS business book I have ever read!


    Creative Company: How St. Luke’s Became “the Ad Agency” to End All Ad Agencies” (Andy Law)
    Good book … albeit dated … nevertheless, a good book. Andy tells the story of how and why the Chiat/Day London office mutinied when Jay Chiat sold the Chiat/Day Ad Agency to TBWA in the late 90s. Following the mutiny, the London office of Chiat/Day morphed into a new kind of advertising agency … an agency in St. Lukes that has an interdependent trusting culture and is owned not by a megalithic entity, but owned fully by its employees. The book really shines when Andy recounts the fantastic story of a remote office standing up for its beliefs and refusing to sell out and join a merger with a company that didn’t share the values the London office held so true.

    IDEATION – 4/5
    MAXIMIZE – 4/5
    Dog-Ear Score – 8.3% (21:252)



    Mass Affluence: 7 New Rules of Marketing to Today’s Consumer (Brian Nunes, Brian Johnson)
    The authors have written an academic take on how marketers can appeal to customers willing to pay extra for products that are more special and more remarkable. My biggest gripe with the book is that it lacks soul. The authors are content with recommending marketing strategies that are more about finding ways to gouge consumers than to appeal to consumers. Instead of reading this book … read Trading Up (to learn about the “new luxury” consumer) and Purple Cow (to learn how to make products more remarkable).

    IDEATION – 2/5
    MAXIMIZE – 2/5
    Dog-Ear Score – 5.5% (13:234)



    We the Media: Grassroots Journalism, By the People for the People (Dan Gillmor)
    We the Media is THE most important book of 2004. Yes. You read that right – THE MOST IMPORTANT BOOK OF 2004. Open-source has revolutionized software (Linux). Open-source is revolutionizing journalism (blogging). Open-source will revolutionize marketing. We the Media is a must-read for mavens. Read it today or risk being a laggard tomorrow. Folks … I ain’t kidding … this is an important read. Do not pass go and do not collect $200 until you read this book.

    IDEATION – 6/5
    MAXIMIZE – 6/5
    Dog-Ear Score – 14.8% (38:257)



    Confronting Reality: Doing What Matters to Get Things Right (Larry Bossidy, Ram Charan)
    Too academic. Too irrelevant. Too many pages. Too much like a bad Hollywood sequel. Too bad … because their first book, Execution, was too dang good. For more comments, you can read my review on the 800 CEO READ BLOG.

    IDEATION – 1/5
    MAXIMIZE – 2/5
    Dog-Ear Score – 6.6% (15:226)


    October 21, 2004

    What if "Listener Supported" meant "Listener Programmed"?

    This entry from my KUT Pledge Drive Blog seems appropriate for a duplicate post on Brand Autopsy.

    {For background purposes}
    If you listen to public radio, you’ll hear on-air announcers refer to their audience as listener supporters. Since public radio is dependent upon financial support from its listeners, it needs as many listeners to be ... listener supporters.

    While public radio stations have many mechanisms in place for listeners to support the station, they do not have enough mechanisms for listeners to PROGRAM the station.

    At KUT-FM in particular, they rely on 70% of their operating budget from listeners and businesses. However … to my knowledge … the station does not have enough systems in place to give the listener supporter more say in which programs the station airs and at what day/time the program airs.

    With that said … on the KUT Pledge Drive Blog, I posted the following blog entry…


    Okay … so we’ve heard and seen that 70% of KUT’s funding comes from listeners and businesses. And we’ve also heard that KUT has 180,000 unique listeners and 15,000 listener supporters.

    What if we, the 15,000 listeners who financially support KUT, were given the opportunity to program KUT?

    That’s right … what if we, the listener, were given the authority and the opportunity to choose which programs we want to hear on KUT and when we want to hear them? I’d say, “Right on!”

    If you had such an opportunity, which current programs airing on KUT would you keep, delete, or modify? And what programs would you add?

    I’ve taken the time to program MY KUT and if you click here, you can view MY KUT by uploading this Excel file (embedded links included). Or, you can scroll to view MY KUT programming schedule by daypart.










    You too can be a public radio “freak” and program your very own public radio station.

    To do so ... I suggest you begin by visiting this site for a long list of programs available to public radio stations and vist KUT's current program schedule. And by all means, feel free to share your programming schedules/thoughts with us on the KUT Pledge Drive Blog.

    October 20, 2004

    Seeing Evil. Speaking Evil. Hearing Evil.

    Transparent_leader_1I’m fifty pages into The Transparent Leader and am so far enjoying it and learning from it.

    Transparency seems to the business buzzword du jour and this book is maximizing my understanding and appreciation of what transparency is and how to infuse the culture of transparency in all aspects of a business.

    The author, Herb Baum (current CEO of the Dial Corporation), makes his case that sustained success in today’s competitive and ever-networked environment is dependent upon businesses, business leaders, and business employees being open, honest, and forthright about everything.

    On page 47, he sums up all the recent opaque business dealings by writing:

    "In the eighties, there was a bronze desk statue that was popular with some executives – it displayed three monkeys covering their eyes, mouth, and ears.


    The caption beneath the monkeys read: See No Evil, Speak No Evil, Hear No Evil.

    It was a sign of the times, in an old corporate landscape when what you didn’t hear or see didn’t exist, and what you didn’t say couldn’t get you in trouble. But times have changed!

    Today it’s all about seeing, saying, and hearing. Turn on any news channel and you’ll see plenty of examples of executives who didn’t see the things they should have, didn’t say the things they should have, and didn’t hear the things they should have.

    They learned the importance of seeing it all – even when it’s not good news – but they learned it too late.

    By the time they figured out how essential it is to be transparent and cultivate transparent employees, their own employees were being investigated, their documents subpoenaed, and in some cases their companies shut down."

    Herb’s* lucidity is illuminating … eh?

    * Tammy Kling should probably get the credit for the smooth writing as she is Herb's writing collaborator.

    October 17, 2004

    #1 Place for a Marketing Message

    We marketers seem to seek out any nook and cranny we find to get folks to feel better about our products.

    This nook takes the cake... the urinal cake.

    Has anyone ever kicked their drug habit influenced by the SAY NO TO DRUGS message emblazoned on a urinal mat?* Does this marketing message really have a call to action or serve as a public service message?

    Let me know if you've seen any similar 'out of place' messages... I'd love to talk more about them...

    When seeking out an appropriate image for this post I came across, a site that catalogs urinals across the world. Another great use for the internet.

    *For those who aren't familiar with urinal mats... these are strainers that sit inside the urinal bowl to basically keep rubbish from clogging up the drain – things like gum and cigarettes. They're also commonly outfitted with a urinal cake (deodorizer) holder.

    October 15, 2004

    Putting my Mouse where my Blog is

    Last March on Brand Autopsy. I ranted and roared about having to endure KUT’s Spring Pledge Drive. (KUT-FM is Austin’s public radio station.)

    I ranted and roared not to be a gadfly ... but instead, because I am a devoted listener supporter of KUT. I felt the need to express my frustrations and to offer KUT solutions on how to better appeal to listeners for donations.

    The conversation on Brand Autopsy was lively to say the least. How lively? Read on brothers and sisters, read on. Post OnePost TwoPost ThreePost FourPost FivePost SixPost SevenPost Eight. (Dang! I was fired up … eight posts … whoa!)

    So as a devoted KUT listener, I decided to set up and moderate the KUT Pledge Drive Blog as a way to serve as an advocate for the KUT listener and to encourage more conversation between KUT and its listeners.


    My hope for the blog is to corral listener involvement / feedback and provide KUT with sound ideas and insightful comments to make future pledge drives better for everyone involved.

    Come join me as I put my mouse where my blog is.

    October 14, 2004

    Misplaced Moxie II

    Vaughn Whelan & Partners (VWPA), the Toronto ad agency in question, has taken their campaign to hijack the Molson $30 million advertising account review pitch process to the web.

    Visit and you’ll read VWPA’s twenty-two point rant on why Molson should allow VWPA to compete against the four much-larger ad agencies in the review.

    You can also watch the rogue commercial while visiting

    I still applaud VWPA’s moxie but I’m also appalled by it. Only time will tell if VPWA’s noisy actions will result in acquiring new business from advertisers.

    The E-Commerce Petri Dish

    As marketing professionals, I think we are just beginning to understand that reputation management may trump brand management. And in Monday’s Wall Street Journal, Lee Gomes wrote about how some economists are gaining new insights on how reputation can impact prices consumers are willing to pay online.

    One “eBayologist” (an economist who studies eBay) has concluded that once eBay sellers with perfect feedback rating receive their first negative feedback rating from a buyer, they begin selling less and enter, “… a downward spiral, with fewer sales and a declining reputation.”

    And an “Amazonist” (an economist who studies Amazon) concluded that, “Amazon’s customer-written reviews of books do indeed affect sales with negative reviews having more of an impact than positive ones. [This Amazonist] theorized that prospective shoppers may suspect positive reviews are some sort of shill for the author but don’t bring comparable skepticism to negative notices.”

    [Source: Wall Street Journal, "E-Commerce Sites Make Great Laboratory For Today's Economists" | Monday, October 11, 2004 (subscription req'd)]

    October 12, 2004

    Misplaced Moxie

    I applaud the moxie of Toronto ad agency Vaughn Whelan & Partners.

    But … I’d be appalled if I was a marketing executive at Coors/Molson.

    Yet another example of why the marketing/advertising profession is losing trust and respect ...

    from Steve Hall’s Adrants:

    In what is believed to be a first, Toronto ad agency Vaughn Whelan & Partners, which does not have the Molson account, placed a commercial for Molson Canadian over the weekend. It was placed, along with other marketing efforts, to attract the attention of Molson Chairman Eric Molson, Molson CEO Dan O'Neill and Adolph Coors CEO Leo Kiely. Vaughn Whelan & Partners CEO Vaughn whelan employed the tactic in a bid to win the account away from incumbent Bensimon Byrne as part of an ongoing agency review.

    The 60-second ad told the story of a Toronto bike courier who took on Revenue Canada and won after arguing his daily food bill should be deductible as fuel. In a nod to the usual beer ad, the spot concluded with the line "Respect," a patio shot with the triumphant courier, the obligatory buxom babe and the tagline "It's a Canadian Thing."

    BOOK REVIEW: Confronting Reality

    Confronting_reality_2My latest book review is up on the 800 CEO READ blog.

    Along with some other bloggers, we are reviewing Confronting Reality: Doing What Matters Most to Get Things Right.

    Here's a tease of my review ...

    Does Confronting Reality suffer from sequelitis?

    I ask because a few years back Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan wrote Execution, a business book best seller that focused on execution being THE critical element between strategic plans and their tactical outcomes. But now, the authors have come to the understanding that baking realism into a company’s business plan is more important than execution in achieving effective results.

    [Click here to continue reading my review of Confronting Reality on the 800 CEO READ blog.]

    October 09, 2004

    Dissecting the Presidential Logos


    In an Op-Ed piece for the New York Times, Scott Dadich (Texas Monthly magazine creative director) dissects the 2004 Bush/Cheney logo and the 2004 Kerry/Edwards logo. [Click to read the article and to review the comparison graphic. (registration req'd)]

    Interesting stuff.

    Dadrich is forthright is disclosing his Democratic political bent but he sets aside his political leanings to declare, “… President Bush as the frontrunner in the competition for best logo.” His in-depth analysis of the Kerry/Edwards logo reveals how its graphic design, “… displays the same inconsistency that his opponents accuse him of.”

    Below is a scalpel/suture of Scott Dadrich’s Presidential logo autopsy from his NY Times Op-Ed piece. (Enjoy.)


    Logos can be powerful, and they're all about subliminal messages. Perhaps because of my Texas roots, I have a weakness for the big and the bold, and the main 2004 Bush-Cheney logo, basically a holdover from the 2000 presidential race, fulfills my expectations. It's brash and snazzy: a field of powerful, militaristic navy blue punctuated with the four letters of his surname spelled out in white in what appears to be Folio Extra-Bold Italic letters. (Even the name of the font sounds forceful, doesn't it?)

    The effect is striking, simple and progressive. The rightward lilt of the wide, capital letters reinforces Mr. Bush's ideology while at the same time portraying a buoyant sense of forward movement, energy and positive change. The type is strong without being oppressive, nimble without being fanciful - a successful construction reminiscent of the 1992 Clinton-Gore logo. Add a simplification of the American flag - 20 stars and seven stripes - and a supportive "Cheney" in a smaller font underneath, and you've got a strong visual hierarchy that reinforces the candidate's spoken message that he is a firm and resolute leader.

    One outgrowth of the Bush logo is even better: the graphic sound bite "W," which appears on bumper stickers. Americans are conditioned to equate visual brevity with success and power. One need only look at the landscape of corporate America for confirmation: the Nike swoosh, the CBS eye, Target's bull's-eye and McDonald's golden arches. It's appropriate that Mr. Bush allowed his middle initial to work for him, and a testament to the letter's power that the opposition has co-opted it for its own use, though it is circled with a slash through it.


    A typical Kerry logo displays the same inconsistency that his opponents accuse him of. A steady visual message requires the consistent use of the same font over and over again. On a typical drive to work, I encounter no fewer than five typefaces used in as many different Kerry-Edwards logos. One is stretched out; another is condensed. One looks masculine; one looks feminine. In contrast to Mr. Bush's aggressive sans-serif font, Senator John Kerry's multitudinous font choices center on the use of thin, delicate-looking, "girlie-man" type. No wonder some voters think he's a vacillating wimp.

    Some of my quibbles would be obvious only to typography gurus. But Mr. Kerry makes other, more noticeable mistakes. Rather than distinguish his candidacy, his logo's Reflex blue background serves only as a weak echo of the president's bolder navy. Mr. Kerry's flag is free-floating and leans backward, while Mr. Bush's flag is anchored to his name and leans forward. Add to this a claustrophobic red border that prevents the eye from moving upward and onward and you're starting to see the visual poverty of this campaign.

    The American flag in the Kerry-Edwards logo is the biggest gaffe of all. Although it has the requisite 50 stars, there are five rows of 10 stars, rather than the correct arrangement of five rows of six stars and four rows of five stars. It looks like a mistake - not a stylized interpretation, like the flag in the Bush logo.

    Now, close your eyes and count to three. Look at the Kerry-Edwards logo above. What word do you see first? That's right: "Edwards." This is because the name of the vice-presidential nominee is placed beneath the "Kerry" in the same type and size, causing it to occupy more space. (And it's not just because Edwards is a longer name than Kerry; though Cheney is longer than Bush, their logo doesn't have that problem.) Talk about message confusion! The inelegant stacked Helvetica Iteration of the Mondale-Ferraro ticket of 20 years ago was almost as bad - and we know how that race ended.

    Further Reading:
  • Brand Autopsy posting | Brand Mapping the Presidential Candidates
  • October 07, 2004

    The Responsibility of Marketers


    Contrary to rumors, I am not Alex Wipperfürth’s press agent. Sure, I’ve written about and posted links to his white papers (here as well as here). But I am not his press agent. Alex just seems to say a lot of smart things I wished I had said.

    Case in point … Alex’s comments on marketers needing to accept responsibility for the consequences of our collective actions. I posted some related thoughts on this topic in my ‘What the (marketing) World Needs Now’ blog entry. But Alex digs deeper (way deeper) during an interview with (an online school of design and new media).

    In this online interview, Alex says …

    “Specifically we see a trio of substantial consequences that marketing has had on society:

    Marketing trivializes authentic culture. We reduce black culture to fashion trends. Che Guevara sells soda pop in Canada and Mountain Dew stands for defiance. Adbusters calls it "culture vulturing."

    Marketing is responsible for youth's loss of innocence. Early sexualization. Warped values. Damaged self-esteem. These are just a few effects that critics charge consumerism with. Whether we are talking A&F selling underwear to pre-teens labeled with words such as "wink wink" or "eye candy" or NYC spas offering back-to-school waxing specials, things have gotten a bit out of hand, don't you think?

    Marketing has prioritized consumption over citizenship. After the tragic 9/11 attacks, President Bush told a nation of anxious Americans to continue on with our daily lives, to continue shopping. This remark was received without scrutiny. Implicitly, we understood that the greatest responsibility as Americans is not to vote, but to buy.

    That also explains how companies like General Mills get away with incredibly inappropriate school programs: 'Learn about geysers by biting into this fruit snack.'

    Where am I leading with this? We as marketers have a responsibility to act with heightened awareness and to enter into a dialogue with our critics and disillusioned consumers. This is not an appeal for marketing regulation of any kind. The last thing I am trying to do is to gag creativity, to start playing it safe.

    But I do suggest a heightened awareness on the consequences of our actions in marketing. To add a simple criterion to how we evaluate creative submissions: IS IT APPROPRIATE?”

    [From: "How to Hijack Your Brand" - an interview with Alex Wipperfürth.]

    October 06, 2004

    Wake Up Radio

    Howard_stern_2Sirius is finally getting serious about making headway into XM Radio’s leadership position by paying $500 million over five years to get Howard Stern to defect from terrestrial radio to Sirius satellite radio.

    To say this is a wake-up call for terrestrial radio is an understatement.

    On the Radio Marketing Nexus blog, Mark Ramsey provides excellent insider commentary on Howard Stern’s defection to Sirius satellite radio.

    Mark's first post provided an initial analysis and included this poignant comment …

    This is a sad day for terrestrial Radio. Howard's announcement means not only that Radio will be losing one of its notorious shining stars, it also represents a signal to up-and-coming and established talent: The grass is greener - and the creative freedom greater - in Satellite Radio. At a time when Radio has a tough enough time generating positive buzz - let alone positive momentum - this is a harsh body blow.

    Mark’s second post is a three-point wake-up call manifesto for traditional radio. Snippets of the three-point manifesto include:

    Manifesto Point 1: We must make Radio an attractive place for funny, creative entertainers to work
    Even now, where is Radio's Ali G? Where is our Conan O'Brien? Where are all the funnymen and funnywomen? Are we on their radar? Are they on ours? What are we doing to attract talent? We must seek out these people. We must take a chance on them. We must do so at the highest levels of the largest broadcast groups. Now.

    Manifesto Point 2: We need to keep the talent happy when we have it
    To be sure, Infinity did an outstanding job of defending and supporting Stern during his darkest hours (and Morning Shows everywhere noticed), but not all talent is so lucky. Why should any talent work for a company that doesn't support, encourage, and reward them? There's a reason HBO won 32 Emmy's and ABC won 7.

    Manifesto Point 3: Remember, we're in the entertainment business
    There would be no Soprano's without David Chase. There would be no Sex and the City without Darren Star. There would be no Jerry Seinfeld Show without Jerry Seinfeld. If we as an industry don't open the doors to talent, recognize talent, nurture, respect, support, and reward talent, then Radio will have left its best days behind. We will become The History Channel and some other medium will be HBO.

    And the Marketing Blogs Multiply ...

    Here I go again copping PSFK’s blog.

    Courtesy of PSFK, AdLand has assembled a “Best Of” collection of 70+ advertising, marketing, branding, and public relations focused blogs. Better yet, they give some commentary behind each recommended blog.

    Thanks Adand for including Brand Autopsy in your list.

    Oh yeah … AdLand also has a page listing over 470 blogs focused on advertising, marketing, branding, and public relations topics. Have fun rifling through these blogs.

    Same Product. Different Packaging.

    LubarsDavid Lubars, BBDO’s new creative director, was profiled recently in this acerbically written article for New York magazine.

    The author, Mark Gimein, definitely infused his cynical slant in his profile of Lubars and in his perspective on the state of advertising today. But Lubars didn’t do himself any favors by supplying Gimein with quotes that paint him as being the new guard of the old guard.

    It is clear from the article that Lubars is not ready to admit traditional advertising is on the endangered species list. Lubars’ take on advertising is not really any different from his old school predecessor.

    In my eyes, Lubars comes off as "Same product. Different packaging." He, along with his old school advertising executive predecessors, are desperate to maintain the control the advertising world once had over consumers.

    Enjoy the article … it is a worthy read.

    [Article surfaced via the PSFK blog.]

    October 05, 2004

    30 Seconds Street

    In July, Clear Channel announced a plan to cut radio commercial time to no more than 15 minutes of ads per hour and no more than six ads in a row. And now we learn Clear Channel is using its formidable weight to sway advertisers to use 30-second spots and not 60-second spots. Seems Clear Channel believes bad ads are causing radio listeners to change channels.

    [Hey Clear Channel … could it be BAD RADIO is driving listeners to change stations? But that’s another blog for another day.]

    The Wall Street Journal reported, “… some advertisers are balking, dubbing the plan Giving you less, charging you more. In the radio industry, a 30-second spot typically costs about 80% of the price of a 60-second pitch: Advertisers usually figure they might as well spend the extra cash and get a full minute. And advertisers, it turns out, don’t like having to cram their message into half the time they’re used to."

    To help advertisers make the switch from 60-second spots (where advertisers have time to tell a story) to 30-second spots (where advertisers must be disciplined to supremely focus their message), Clear Channel has created a new unit, Creative Resources Group, to help advertisers produce better and more effective 30-second radio commercials.

    [Great. The company responsible for producing BAD RADIO is just the company I want to produce “good ads.” But that’s yet another blog for another day.]

    I suggest radio advertisers and the Clear Channel's Creative Resources Group read Hey Whipple Squeeze This. In this book, Luke Sullivan (author, advertising maven, and current Creative Group Head at GSD&M), offers his battle-tested advice for making better radio spots. Luke has specific advice on how to make a better 30-second radio commercial.

    If a 60-second spot is a house, a 30 is a tent
    Thirties are a different animal. If you think you’re writing sparely for a 60-second commercial, for a 30 we’re talking maybe 60 words. Thirties call for a different brand of thinking, It’s a lot like writing a 10-seond tv spot. If your thirty is to be a funny spot, the comedy has to be fast. A quick pie in the face.

    Here is an example of a very simple premise that rolls itself out quickly.

    ANNOUNCER: We’re here on the street getting consumer reaction to the leading brand of dog food.

    VOICES ON THE STREET: Yellllllchh! Aaaarrrrrgh! Gross! This tastes awful!

    ANNOUNCER: If you’re presently a buyer of this brand, may we suggest Tuffy’s dog food. Tuffy’s is nutritionally complete and balanced and it has a taste your dog will love. And it a dollar less per bag, it comes with a price you can swallow.

    VOICES ON THE STREET: Yellllllchh! Aaaarrrrrgh!

    ANNOUNCER: Tuffy’s. A doggone good dog food.

    The following is more advice on creating better radio ads from Luke Sullivan's excellent book, Hey Whipple Squeeze This.

    There is no law that says radio has to be funny.
    If you want to stand out in this medium, try something other than humor. It may not work, but you should at least try.

    Make sure your radio spot is important or scary or funny or interesting within the first five seconds.
    If your spot’s not interrupting music, it’s probably following on the heels of a bad commercial. Your listener is already bored. There’s no reason for him to believe your commercial’s going to be any better.

    Write radio sparely.
    Unless your concept demands a lot of words and fast action, write sparely. This allows your voice talent to read your script slowly. Quitely. One … word … at …. a … time.

    You’ll be surprised at how this kind of bare-bones execution leaps out of the radio. There is a remarkable power in silence. It is to radio what white space is to print. Silence enlarges the idea it surrounds.

    October 01, 2004

    Ketchup, Blinking, and Malcolm Gladwell

    Malcolm Gladwell can write. He writes silly good. He could write about ketchup and keep me enthralled.

    In fact ... he did just that for the New Yorker a few weeks ago with the article, The Ketchup Conundrum: Mustard now comes in dozens of varieties. Why has ketchup stayed the same?

    Ketchup_1As a marketer, I was spellbound by the story Malcolm told of Jim Wigon’s attempt to purple cow ketchup.

    Malcolm writes, “The rise of Grey Poupon proved that the American supermarket shopper was willing to pay more --in this case, $3.99 instead of $1.49 for eight ounces--as long as what they were buying carried with it an air of sophistication and complex aromatics. Its success showed, furthermore, that the boundaries of taste and custom were not fixed: that just because mustard had always been yellow didn't mean that consumers would use only yellow mustard. It is because of Grey Poupon that the standard American supermarket today has an entire mustard section.

    And it is because of Grey Poupon that a man named Jim Wigon decided, four years ago, to enter the ketchup business. Isn't the ketchup business today exactly where mustard was thirty years ago? There is Heinz and, far behind, Hunt's and Del Monte and a handful of private-label brands. Jim Wigon wanted to create the Grey Poupon of ketchup.”

    Click here to read the entire KETCHUP CONUNDRUM article.

    Blink_4And if you are interested … Malcolm’s newest book, BLINK: The Power of Thinking without Thinking, is set to be published in January 2005. The book is based upon a New Yorker article he wrote in 2002 titled, The Naked Face. (And yes … this article is a worthy read.) You can read more about BLINK in this blog post.