Friday, June 25, 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. 

This is a simple one, inspired by the efforts of John Isner whose match with Nicolas Mahut at Wimbledon was the longest ever in tennis history, spanning three days and more than 11 hours. Barely able to stand on Wednesday evening after 8 hours of tennis, he willed his way to nightfall and came back the next day to win the match 6-4, 3-6, 6-7, 7-6, 70-68.

His effort reminds me of the Thomas Edison quotation: "Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up." 

How close are you to success? 

Give up now, and you'll never know.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The 50% Solution

Do you want to follow the status quo of your category? Keep fighting for the same customers with similar products to your competition? That's what most businesses goals set us up to do.

"We want to grow sales 5% this year."
"We want to increase our margin to 15%."
"We want to grow our market share by 3%."

Those are the kind of goals that are typically written into annual plans. They're rarely met because they don't inspire innovative thinking. Most people figure they can achieve those goals by doing things a little better. Selling a little harder. Shaving pennies here or there.

If you want to break out from the pack and do things differently, set goals like this:

"We will beat Adidas." 

That was Nike's goal when they were a fledgling company and Adidas was the global gorilla. Everyone thought they were crazy.

Sometimes crazy works. Don't ask for a 5% improvement. Ask for 50%.

Setting unreasonable goals creates unreasonable thinking. And that's what you need to generate transformational ideas. You throw out the "rules" of the category and change the way business is done. 

So before you start your next planning session, ask yourself. What goal could I set that would be so outrageous, yet so inspiring that if we were to achieve it, would completely revolutionize the category.

Just a little something for you to chew on this morning.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Spirit Airlines Campaign Crashes

How dumb can you be?

At a time when BP is being hammered for its insensitivity to the millions whose lives have been affected by the gulf oil disaster, Spirit Airlines creates banners like this for its website.

Apparently the marketing geniuses at Spirit didn't piss off enough people with their decision to charge for carry on bags. They had to make fun of the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history.

I've written some stupid ads in my day. But usually someone at the agency or the client had the good sense to ask, "uh, Harvey have you taken your medication today?"

This campaign at this time is simply unforgivable.

If I were the CEO of Spirit, I would fire my marketing director and issue an immediate apology, while offering to transport any relief supplies to the gulf states for free. Maybe, just maybe then they'll be able to survive the PR disaster this campaign will cause.

Attached is an email blast sent out by spirit for this campaign. Subtle, huh?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Detroit Advertising Suffers Another Blow

After 13 years, Mazda has hit the gas and Zoom-zoomed out of Detroit leaving Doner, another former employer of mine, in its wake.

While this news certainly doesn't bear the magnitude of Chevy pulling up stakes after 91 years with Campbell-Ewald, it's still disheartening. Another good advertising agency filled with good people will have to burn a lot of midnight oil to replace 20% of their revenue or be forced to cut back and layoff staff.

In my one year at Doner I learned a lot from some very talented creative people including John DeCerchio, Gary Wolfson and Debbie Karnowski. They taught me how to be fast, smart and funny. I can still remember an 80+ year old Brod Doner hanging around the agency at 10 in the evening, making sure the team I was working on had everything we needed for a new business pitch the next day. There was always a lot of passion inside the wall of that shop.

As for Mazda, the work they created was good, but never reached iconic status. "Zoom-Zoom" and the decision to position Mazda as the sporty Japanese import made a lot of sense. Especially given that Toyota was focused on quality, Honda on being simple, Subaru on AWD and Nissan was still struggling to find its footing.

I owned a Mazda 6i a few years ago and loved it. The car satisfied my inner Andretti with just enough oomph in its three liter V6, the quick shifting manual transmission, and solid handling. When people asked me what it was and how I liked it, I always felt like I was driving the best kept secret in mid-sized sedans. It seemed like the marketing could be doing more for a product that was that good.

And that's probably why Mazda is on its way to WPP today.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Where the money goes

This year marketers will spend $25.2 billion online, nearly 15% of all marketing dollars.

That's an incredible amount of money for a medium that barely existed ten years ago. From websites to banner ads in context text links, social media campaigns, viral efforts and more, the promise of accountability and the ability to track consumer behavior and interaction with marketing campaigns has been the big lure. But is it really happening?

Sure we can track clicks, see who visited our websites, measure tweets, create e-coupons, etc. to get some understanding of peoples' behavior on the web, but good marketing has always been more than that.

It's about building preference, not just through functional benefits and price promotions. Great brands create memorable experiences with emotional benefits. They light a fire of desire in the hearts of consumers. If you're not doing that with your online communications, then how much long-term effect is it really having.

In the early 1900s, John Wannamaker the department store pioneer said, "Half the money I spend in advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don't know which half."

I'm not sure we've come very far in the 100 years since.