Friday, March 19, 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. 

Music to my ears
Sorry to anyone who has come here now looking for a free idea. A few people liked today's idea enough that they want to explore it and have asked me to take it down...

I will post a new idea next Friday. Have a great weekend.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The most interesting ad in the world

As I was watching SportsCenter last night I saw the latest iteration of the best ad campaign on television, and it got me thinking. How come the Dos Equis spots stand out in a category that should be filled with great advertising?

If you haven't seen the campaign, here's one of last year's spots. The latest can be seen on their website.

This campaign is not only interesting, but it is also effective. Last year, while the import beer category was down 11% and Corona was down 5%, Dos Equis sales climbed 12.6%. Not a bad performance considering the shambles our economy is in.

So what makes this campaign work when giants like Bud Light and Miller continue to miss the mark even though they have more resources, more money, and more muscle at retail?

While Miller Lite tries to sell a feature like "triple hops brewing" and Bud Light focuses on the functional benefit "drinkability," Dos Equis understands that we don't just drink the beer, we drink the label. What really matters is what we look and feel like when we have that bottle in our hands at a club or with friends watching the game. So Dos Equis sells us something more important, the opportunity to be interesting.

By using an archetypal character, Dos Equis has tapped into a need that exists in all of us. The need to be a hero. And they do it with such a deft hand that it doesn't feel like marketing.

Other brands have used archetypes successfully to help define them: Harley-Davidson is the outlaw, Apple is the creator, Miller High Life saw a resurgence when they tapped into the regular guy. Margaret Mark and Carol Pearson wrote a great book on this subject called The Hero and the Outlaw.

Archetypes can provide an incredible foundation for a brand and when used correctly help differentiate you from the crowd. Thanks to Dos Equis, there's proof.

Stay thirsty, my friends.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Gone fishin'

I know it's hard to believe, but pretty much everything you need to know about marketing you can learn from watching a bass fishing tournament.

The very best guys at this sport do the research on the lakes they'll be fishing, know where the fish should be and have the tools to receive constant feedback when they're on the water.

They tune their motors, boats and propellers to gain every speed advantage so they can get to the hot spots first. They cast quickly and accurately dropping their lures inches from their intended target. And as conditions change, they change their tactics, locations, and lures until they get it right, knowing full well that what works today may not work tomorrow.

And that, in a nutshell is good marketing.

Do your research, know the market conditions and develop a plan of attack.

Get into the market quickly, testing a lot of different tactics as efficiently as possible, gathering feedback along the way. When you find something that works, commit to it.

Then when conditions change (and they will) be ready to move in a different direction quickly.

Oh, there's one more lesson we can learn from the BASS pros: it doesn't matter how silly you look, as long as you win.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

It's time to pick sides

Toyota is performing a full-court media press questioning the credibility of James Sikes who claims his Prius sped out of control down the California interstate last week.

Neither engineers from Toyota nor NHTSA were able to make the car repeat its behavior nor were they able to find evidence of a malfunction. What they did say was that Sikes repeatedly and rapidly pressed the accelerator and the brake peddles. They also said there's not evidence that the pedal had any friction that would have caused it to stick.

So basically Toyota is saying Sikes lied and drove down the highway at speeds of up to 94 miles per hour for some personal gain. The fact that Sikes has a somewhat checkered past is making it easier for them. And that may be true.

It also may be true that the sudden, unintended acceleration problem is not mechanical, but a problem with the car's electronic circuitry; a computer glitch that happens at random. This would be Toyota's worst nightmare.

The Prius, like most cars, doesn't have an accelerator cable connecting the peddle to a throttle mechanism. It's essentially a computer control input that sends an electronic signal to the car's brain which tells it how fast the driver wants to go and the computer adjusts the fuel/air mixture accordingly.

If there were a problem with the circuitry it would explain Sikes' rapid application of the pedals, trying to get them working again.

So what happened on Interstate 8 last Monday?

Who really knows? All I know is that Toyota is not going away without a fight. If you believe them, they appear to be the victim of incompetent drivers and opportunistic lawyers. If you don't believe them, then they look like another intransigent bureaucracy attempting to cover their collective ass.

At this point, based on Toyota's previous behavior and the slow trickle of information that's been coming out about unintended acceleration of Toyota vehicles for over a decade, I'm leaning toward the latter.

Monday, March 15, 2010

BMW Trades Down

It is widely accepted in marketing that there are three types of benefits your brand can deliver: functional, emotional, and social. Functional benefits are what the brand does for me. Emotional benefits are how the brand makes me feel. Social benefits are what the brand does for my image. They form a kind of ladder where functional benefits lead to emotional benefits which lead to social benefits. And the higher up you go, the better it is for your brand.

Great brands have always had a strong social component. When you're seen using them, they say something about you. They are the holy grail of marketing that brands like Ralph Lauren, Rolex, Target and have built their fortunes upon. And once you own a strong social benefit, you do everything in your power to keep it.

Unless you're BMW.

Since its inception, BMW has been built and billed as "The Ultimate Driving Machine." A seemingly functional statement, but one that conveyed a great social benefit to its owners. BMW does all that work, engineering, racing, testing to produce a car so great that you must be a great driver to truly appreciate and take advantage of it.

BMW, however, has traded in their unique and defensible social benefit, for an emotional benefit that is weak and undifferentiating, joy.

How do I know that it's not differentiating? Hyundai owners look pretty joyful when they drive their first new car of the lot. Mini owners grin like idiots as they fling their cars through corners. And Jeep owners are damn happy when they reach that special destination far off the beaten path.

Joy is an emotion that I control, you don't bestow it upon me. I find joy in the situation and the moment. It can't be owned by a single brand.

BMW needs to get back to building Ultimate Driving Machines and communicate it quickly. Because Audi is doing a hell of a job filling the void created by BMW's inexplicable decision.