Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year

Thanks to all 1,306 of you who've taken the time to visit my blog since I started writing it a month ago. Especially to the 100 or so of you who read it regularly. I am humbled that you find it worth coming back to.

I can only say, thank god 2009 is finally over. Here's to a smashing 2010.

There's a special place in hell...

There I was on the couch, lost in the rapture that was the Roady's Humanitarian Bowl (no, I really don't have a life) when I saw it again, the commercial for Taco Bell's Drive-Thru Diet. Are they f*#%ing kidding me? This is so bad on so many levels I just can't stand idly by and watch it go down without a comment. Okay, a rant...

First of all, it's derivative. I know some marketing guru at Yum Brands will tell you, "It's proven." But Subway got there first with Jared. They put a big fat stake in the ground and basically own this territory in the fast food category. If you want to take it away from them or at least join the party, you had better do it really well.

Which leads me to my second problem; the spot is just awful. There's no charm, no wit, no irony and nothing to make it memorable other than its utter stupidity. If you're going to do this, plant your tongue firmly in your cheek and have some fun with it. You can't bore me into believing that eating tacos without cheese will cause me to lose 50 pounds.

And that's really the biggest issue I have with this campaign. It's just not honest. "Christine" tells us she lost all this weight "by reducing my daily calories AND replacing my usual fast food with Taco Bell's Drive-Thru Diet." My guess is she cut a lot more calories by laying off the Chunky Monkey and super sized sodas. The Fresco versions of their foods are just 50 calories less than the regular versions. Hell, there's even a disclaimer on the spot that says "Not a low calorie food." So what, she was eating ten Taco Supremes a day? That's the only way she could have reduced her calorie intake by 500 on the "Drive-Thru Diet."

Look, I'm all for eating healthier. I'd love to lose 15 pounds myself. But I'm not that stupid. And maybe that's what really grinds my cojones. There are people in this world who will believe this tripe. They will eat five Fresco Tacos and wonder why they still have that Dunlop around their waist. And there is no doubt in my mind that everyone in Louisville who approved this campaign knows it.

That, my friends, is why people hate marketing.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Incredible Shrinking Brand

Aston Martin, the legendary British automaker whose DB5 was the car of choice for James Bond, announced recently that it will be marketing a new city car badged Cygnet, that strays about 5,900 miles away from its heritage of long, low, sexy designs. And while the only things that this car shares with traditional Aston Martin design are the winged badge and the iconic grille, even more troubling is what's under the skin.

This car is nothing more than a Toyota iQ with a facelift and a redesigned interior. Using the same engine, same suspension, transmission and other mechanicals, Aston Martin will sell the Cygnet for $35,000, $15k more than the Toyota. Apparently the geniuses at Graydon are not automotive historians. Back in 1981, GM tried the same tactic by taking a Chevy Cavalier and after adding leather seats, a new grille and badge, rolled the Cadillac Cimarron into the world. How'd that work out for them?

This exercise falls into the "Just because you can, doesn't mean you should" category of product development. If Aston Martin wants to create a small, efficient city car for its customers and to help improve its CAFE rating it should do so. Not buy technology from another company and try to pass it off as their own. Consumers aren't that dumb and they never were.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Save The Best For Now

Do you know who your best customers are and how much they're worth to you? Their value extends way beyond the money spent in your store or on your product. Yes, they're your most consistent revenue stream, but they're also your most important marketing tool and an infinite source of information about your product or service. The question is, what are you doing to maximize their value?

Do you have a system in place for them to tell you what they like and don't like about your product? Have you made it easy and do you reward them for telling their friends about you? And most important, have you thanked them in a meaningful way for their patronage? With so many social media tools like Twitter and Facebook, it's easier than ever to stay in touch with your biggest fans. Your customers, however, have more choices than ever these days and other businesses would love to take them from you. If you're not willing to give your best to your best customers, it won't be long until you find yourself with no customers at all.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Love Bug

I'm not sure if there's something in the water, but agencies around the country seem to be similarly infected with a need to show their clients how much people love them and their products. Today's New York Times highlights ads for Subaru, Honda, Nissan, Blackberry and others who are all on the love train. It never ceases to amaze me how an industry so full of self-professed original thinkers regularly end up at the same solution at the same time. Especially when it's a solution that seems to be so shallow and ineffective.

I know it's important to connect with consumers at an emotional level, but people won't fall in love with you because you tell them to. They fall in love with you because you fill a need at both rational and emotional level. Think of the most successful launch of the past few years, the iPhone. The ads focus on the products and what they can do for people with a personality that is charming. The same with the Mac v. PC ads. Basically it's as simple as this: Give me a reason to fall in love with your product and do it in a way that's interesting.