Friday, October 17, 2014

Apple's social strategy is its products

Recently, Christopher Heine, digital editor of Adweek was quoted on Smartbrief as saying "It's really hard to figure out what Apple's social strategy is -- if it has one at all."
This comment stems from the fact that unlike most companies, Apple doesn't have a legion of ninjas, commandos, wizards and rockstars tweeting, posting and instagramming inane content for them all hours of the day and night. Instead they decided to drop a few hundred grand on a promoted tweet for the iPad Air.
Rather than manufacturing news, here's Apple's social strategy: They manufacture remarkable products their owners love to talk about.
Just because a brand doesn't talk about itself on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram doesn't mean it doesn't get talked about on those platforms. And in the end, what is more valuable, Samsung telling everyone how cool they are, or Apple users telling everyone how cool their iPads, Macbooks and iPhones are?
Yeah, I thought so.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The penalty of idiocy

The Cadillac ELR is a fine car. Not great, but not bad at all. It's comfortable, well-appointed and drives nicely. If you're looking for a luxury electric, you should test drive it. But that's not the point of this post.

This post is about the god-awful spot that launched this pretty good car.

By now you've probably seen it. The all-too-proud American mocking others for their work ethic (or lack thereof). But in case you haven't, here it is.

First of all, Cadillac is not expecting to sell too many ELRs, especially given that this electric sled will set you back $75K. So being polarizing isn't necessarily a bad thing. It's just as important for a brand to know what it doesn't stand for as what it does.

The ELR is a statement car, one that's supposed to halo the brand. Unfortunately with this spot they've made the statement that the Cadillac brand is all about "me." Egoistic, self centered, arrogant and unapologetic.

GM's PR team have argued that the spot is about success, but that's not the message one takes away from the wink and sneering use of French at the end.

I think somewhere in their misguided heads, the creative team at Cadillac's new agency, Rogue, thought they were updating this classic and brand-defining print ad from 1915 for a new generation.

If  that's the case they whiffed badly.

It's one thing to voice your objection to the critics. It's another altogether to poke fun at other people and cultures.

In doing so Cadillac has alienated the very people they are hoping will buy new ATSs, CTSs, SRXs and ELRs; BMW, Audi, Mercedes and Jaguar owners.

It's time for Cadillac to admit their mistake and pull this spot.

"N'est-ce pas."

Monday, March 3, 2014

How one digit cost Sears a customer

Last Saturday, I bought a new clothes dryer at my local Sears and scheduled delivery for this past Friday. I even paid an extra $10 to narrow the delivery window from eight hours to four. As one would expect, Sears sent me an email during the week to confirm my request.

After prepping my basement, unhooking the old dryer and clearing a path for the delivery guys, they didn't show up.


It turns out the sales clerk wrote my phone number down wrong. Instead of 467-2166, they had 469-2166. So when they called to confirm delivery, they didn't reach me.

While a quick search of any of the white pages web sites would have immediately revealed my correct number – remember, they had my name and address – they couldn't bother to take that extra step. So rather than do that or just put the appliance on the truck and at least attempt to deliver it as promised, they decided to leave my dryer in the warehouse and wait for me to contact them.

So there I sat, waiting for four hours Friday morning for my dryer. There was no email saying, "Hey, something's wrong..." just silence. So at 11:45 when there was no sign of the delivery guys, I decided to call the 800 number in the email.

When the customer service rep relayed my correct phone number to the delivery guy, he finally called back about 1 PM and essentially blamed me for the delivery since the phone number was incorrect, telling me I had to call customer service again to reschedule.

Sears spent around $500 million in marketing last year. A pittance compared to Walmart's $2.6 billion, yet still a sizable amount. It doesn't matter how much they spend, however, if they can't change the culture.

When it comes to brand building, everything matters. The in-store experience, the web presence, the customer service, the delivery experience. Sears wasn't exceptional on any dimension and failed miserably at the last. After the dryer actually was delivered a day late, they added insult to injury by leaving trash at the end of my driveway.

So who won't be shopping for new appliances at Sears when they remodel their kitchen next year?

Yep, you guessed it, the Briggs family.