Friday, March 12, 2010

Free Idea Friday

Ideas are easy. Execution is hard. Every Friday I will share an idea that's been rolling around in my head that I have neither the time nor the where-with-all to execute. Remember, it's free, so take it for what it's worth. 

Frozen in time
I love food. Pretty much all kinds of food, but I'm a sucker for a good frozen treat. The problem is, most of those involve a lot of empty calories. That's why I like this idea: frozen bananas covered in chocolate and other toppings.

It's a pretty simple idea actually, except for the packaging, which is where the magic lies. Instead of putting the frozen banana on a stick as most home recipes do, the wrapper works just like a banana peel so you eat it as you would a fresh banana. It could come in both dark and milk chocolate, with or without nuts. You could even hollow a channel out of the banana and fill it with peanut butter, strawberry sauce, or some other topping before coating it with chocolate.

A delicious treat that's fun to eat and has some health benefits... What's not to like?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

That pesky brand thing

I was reading Automotive News and struck by the headline "Whitacre wants more sales – NOW!"

Apparently unhappy with the pace of sales and unable to take full advantage of Toyota's troubles, GM is has fired a few top sales and marketing executives, reorganized the sales department and is considering reinstating 600 or so dealers that were scheduled to be cut from the roster.

I'm not going to argue with his desire. What CEO wouldn't want more sales? Given the fact that the products in Chevrolet, Buick, and Cadillac dealerships are as good as they've ever been, and in many cases equal to or better than the comparable offerings from Honda, Toyota, Lexus, BMW, Mercedes and Ford, the expectation is almost reasonable. There's just one problem.

The Brand (or Brands).

GM Brands have a 40 year history of disappointing car buyers. Every year they've rolled out new models promising world-class quality, exceptional performance, alluring design. I know. I wrote a bunch of ads making those claims in the '80s.

My personal hall of shame includes ads and tv spots for: the Pontiac Fiero, 6000LE, J2000, and Parisienne as well as the Chevy Celebrity, Cavalier, Corsica, Baretta and Lumina. To anyone who bought one of those, I apologize. I finally gave up and left Detroit when I was told I would lead the launch of the 1991 Caprice. Even I have standards.

After crying wolf for so long, people don't start trusting you overnight. Not unless you do something radical to demonstrate that you've really changed. I'm not sure what that is, but changing ad agencies and reshuffling the marketing department alone isn't going to get it done. That's just more of the same. And that's what has been holding GM back for 40 years.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

It's a brand, brand, brand, brand world

On Sunday night, the Academy Award® for Best Animated Short film went to Nicolas Schmerkin for Logorama.

As someone who's spent the better part of the past 28 years building brands, I found it fascinating to see the logos come to life. Heroic Michelin Men, a rogue clown, and Big Boy acting just as I'd imagine. Here's the entire 16 minute film. Enjoy.

What I found most surprising is how much this fantasy world resembles a real city.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Lawyers in mirror may be closer than they appear.

It looks like things are going from bad to worse for Toyota.

There I was, working away at my desk, listening to ESPN radio when I heard a spot for a law firm claiming to want to help victims of Toyota's unintended acceleration issues. (You can visit their website here.)

It's not surprising. After all, this isn't cash-strapped General Motors we're talking about here. This is the big payday. Toyota's pockets are as deep or deeper than any company in history. So much so, that when I was talking to a Honda executive about the opportunity created by Toyota's problems, she said they were loath to overtly take advantage of the situation for fear of retaliation when Toyota gets things fixed.

Actually, this could be good news for Toyota if they spin it right. There's one thing that the American public hates more than tone deaf auto executives, and that's sleazy, greedy lawyers. If Toyota can find a few people who have bogus claims (which I'm sure there are) and bring those to light, they may not win in a court of law, but it will certainly help them in the court of public opinion.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Dominos gets a bigger slice

Back in January, I wrote a post about Domino's new campaign and the daring strategy of dissing their old product while introducing their new pizza recipe. A lot of pundits were wondering if that was so smart. Smart or not, it appears to be working.

Since instituting the new recipe and promotion, Domino's sales are up $40 million, over 8%. Their profit for the period more than doubled, proving that fortune favors the bold.

It's early in the campaign, but those are significant results, showing that consumers are at least trying the new pie. They question is, do they like the new recipe enough to come back for more? If not, this campaign will prove another truth: nothing kills a bad product faster than a good advertising.