Friday, April 9, 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. 

Nurturing dreams for profit
Yesterday Oprah announced four shows for her new network including the format of her upcoming prime-time talk show. That's four of her 168 weekly programming hours which leaves a lot of unscheduled airtime to fill.

Frankly, there's only so much Dr. Phil one can take so here's an idea for a show that might be appropriate for her network.

Oprah's Incubator
Basically, this builds on the Oprah brand of inspiring people and giving them hope, by helping women start their own businesses.

It's a reality show shot in a communal office/small business incubator in Chicago. Women with new business ideas apply to participate. The incubator provides the chosen entrepreneurs with office space, support staff, mentoring and a small amount of working capital to help them take their business from an idea to reality.

The first show is the selection process: women present their business idea to Oprah and other business leaders. The last show is the annual report where their businesses are launched (or potentially closed).

In between, we watch these women do the hard work of launching a business, their triumphs, their failures. Each week they meet with a business expert in a particular field – marketing, sales, design, finance, etc – and apply those learnings to their start-up. Along the way, we get a voyeuristic view of all the trials and tribulations of starting a business. It's a recipe for drama, intrigue, education and who knows, maybe even an office romance or two.

So, Oprah, if you're reading, now you only have 167 hours left to fill.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Shut up and play

Tiger's back. Not just for the Masters but, in somewhat of a surprise to me, also in a new spot for Nike.

He looks contrite in somber black and white cinematography as his (unidentified) father's voice asks, "Did you learn anything?"

My answer is, "apparently not."

Tiger's rehabilitation depends not on staged press events or 30 second spots, but through his play on the course and his actions off it. He's made his statement about how sorry he is, how lost he became, but the only way he's going to regain his stature as the world's greatest pitchman is to first retain his title as the world's greatest golfer.

This spot from Weiden & Kennedy is trying too hard to make us feel sorry for Tiger, the poor billionaire who found inappropriate ways to deal with his urges while on the road. It won't work.

If Tiger is to become an effective spokesperson for Nike again, it's going to happen one shot at a time, not 30 seconds at a time.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Bad is the new good

Today, the organization Corporate Accountability International is launching a campaign calling for the "retirement" of Ronald McDonald, releasing a 28-page report that likens him to a drug dealer, pedophile and modern day Pied Piper encouraging children to rebel against their parents.

The folks is Oak Brook must be ecstatic.

Nothing can unify and ignite a fan base faster than a group calling to outlaw a favorite brand. Especially if that group comes off as a self-righteous, elite and plays into the perception that America is quickly becoming a nanny-state.

The underlying message of this campaign to the millions of people who go to McDonald's is "you're too stupid to figure it out for yourselves so we're going to take care of it for you." Not a great way to endear yourself to people you want to join your movement.

Already there are three "don't retire Ronald" fan groups on Facebook and I wouldn't be surprised to see "Save Ronald" rallies at McDonald's restaurants.

The other thing this movement does is give McDonald's executives the opportunity to go on television news programs across the country and talk about all the good Ronald has done for communities.

If you want to get rid of Ronald and convince McDonald's that marketing directly to children is bad, there's a better way to go about it than this.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

In praise of less

One of the best definitions of strategy that I ever heard is knowing what not to do. I experienced that last night at Brasa Rotisserie, a restaurant in Minneapolis.

Their focus is laser-like: natural and organic comfort foods inspired by Creole traditions.

There are four entrees on the menu. There are 3 beers on tap. The decor is simple and the restaurant itself is a former corner gas station. But just as important is what's not on the menu.
Unlike your 'neighborhood' Applebee's, there is no 47 page menu. No signature burgers. No gourmet pizzas. No fountain sodas. No paralyzing array of choice to undermine quality and make running the business hard.

If there's one mistake brands make over and over and over, it's trying to do too much in an attempt please too many.

Brasa is an delicious example of how focus is the foundation for success.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Brands go Hollywood

As the New York Times points out, movie makers are on the prowl looking for brands to star in (and help fund) their films. Getting your product in the right film can do a lot for your brand. Remember ET's affinity for Reese's Pieces?

The key is making sure you have the right role in the right film. For every Hurt Locker there are 100 awful films like Witless Protection. In product placement, as in any brand communication, quality matters. And a film is only as good as its script and its cast.

Yeah, it's fun seeing your product looking larger than life on the big screen, until it's being driven by Larry the Cable Guy.