Thursday, December 24, 2009

Do You Want To Dance? Really?

A few weeks ago at the L.A. Auto show, General Motors in its infinite wisdom decided to unveil Chevy Volt, arguably the single most important technological platform that GM has ever produced, with its very own song and dance. The result is predictably embarrassing. To such a degree that it has the potential to undermine the credibility of the car that should replace the Prius as the darling of the American Greens. Good Luck with that. Thanks to my friend and ace art director, Bill, I think we found the choreographer for the dance here.

Meanwhile on the other side of the Atlantic, Fiat felt an ambush marketing campaign for the new 500 might get it a little (ahem) exposure. I guess their frozen bikini dance contest should get the attention of the young men they hope will buy these cars. That is if they even notice the cars. As stupid as it is, this event is at least fun, intrusive and has an Italian male chauvinist feel to it. The people are upset by a tactic like this would never buy the car anyway. And while it won't play in Peoria, Amsterdam is another matter.

Wishing everyone a merry Christmas. See you next week.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Nation of Winers

I was grabbing a sandwich at the deli the other day when something new in the cooler caught my eye. So instead of having a Dr. Brown's Root Beer with my BLT, I washed it down with a Pinot Noir soda. Not bad. It's like grape soda for grown ups.

After I got home, I did a little research and found that Vignette Wine Country Soda was created 3 years ago and is made from 50% California varietal grape juice, carbonated water and natural flavors. Sounding a little too much like a marketer, Pat Galvin the founder of Vignette says, "The goal was to create a soft drink that captured a little bit of wine country magic in a soda bottle." To me this is a classic case of looking at two things that already existed but had never been put together before – wine grapes & soda – to create something completely new.

The reward for being innovative? While Coke and Pepsi are fighting tooth and nail to squeeze every penny out of a can of cola, Pat gets two bucks a bottle at retail. In the immortal words of Eric Cartman, sweet.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Plane Stupid

Here's an idea for your business. No matter how much your customers complain, don't change the one thing they hate most about it and see how long you prosper. That's essentially what the airlines have been doing for years by keeping passengers trapped on planes on the tarmac for up to 9 hours while waiting for takeoff clearances or open gates. A tip to the airline CEOs: If you wouldn't like it happening to you, your customers probably don't like it either.

Just because you have a functional monopoly doesn't mean you can treat your customers as if they don't matter. And no amount of industry spin about how this practice helps the majority of flights reach their destination on time, is going to change that. Is it unreasonable to provide food and water to passengers after a two-hour ground delay? Is it unreasonable to let them deplane after three? The airline industry needs to stop fighting the new regulations announced by the FAA and figure out a way to deal with it. How about holding a couple of gates at every airport for planes that are delayed? If the airlines had done this years ago, they could have shared the cost, and received PR boost by announcing that you'll never have a long wait on a plane again. Opportunity missed.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Saab Story

Once upon a time there was a quirky little car with its ignition key mounted in the floor between the driver’s and passenger’s seat. It was better than just about any other car in snow, because back then so few cars had front-wheel drive. And it got great gas mileage, but few people cared because gas was just 50 cents a gallon. The Saab 96 wasn’t the prettiest car in the world, but it was one of the safest. There were just enough people who thought it was beautiful and loved this car with a passion. They even loved its successors the 99 and 900. But then changes began to occur and the new Saabs got larger and more like other cars. Until finally a big giant ogre decided they needed an SUV to compete. They took an SUV other brands were using and put the Saab name on it. In just a few short years after that, what people knew of Saab was gone, because it was just like everyone else.

And when the clock strikes midnight tonight, unless a knight in shining armor can convince the ogre to set Saab free, it will cease to exist.