Friday, July 23, 2010

Power shifting

Hey remember that electric car that GM unveiled three years ago? You know, the one that was going to save the company from bankruptcy (oops) and lead the American auto industry into a bright, new, clean-energy future? It looks like it might actually be coming, finally.

Nice spot. My guess is the car's going to be nice as well. And at $40,000 ($32,500 after tax incentives), they're probably going to sell every one of the 10,000 they're planning on making to people who think they're doing the right thing by driving a car that produces almost no emissions. 

While it may be technically true that the car itself has a tiny gas engine that should rarely be in use, the Volt will still have a significant environmental impact. Especially since most of America's electricity is supplied by coal. 

When you plug your Chevy Volt, Nissan Leaf or any other electric vehicle into an outlet, you're plugging it into your local powerplant increasing demand for coal. We're not reducing the environmental impact of the automobile, just shifting it from the Gulf waters to West Virginia mountaintops. We're also trading tailpipe emissions for those that come from smokestacks.

I don't know which is better or worse, but I do know that until 100% of our energy is supplied by wind, solar or some other magical source (which ain't gonna happen anytime soon), there will be no "clean" car and marketing it as such, even as subtly as Chevy is in this spot, is disingenuous at best.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Logos are meaningless

Your logo doesn't mean anything until you make it mean something.

Nike's logo didn't mean athletic performance before Bo Jackson, Michael Jordan and others put the shoes on their feet and started appearing in their commercials.

Apple's logo didn't stand for intuitive computing until the products they put it on delivered on that promise.

BMW's badge didn't stand for the ultimate driving machine until the products underneath them proved themselves on the track and on the street.

Your logo only becomes meaningful through your products, your actions and your communications.

Don't worry too much about what your new logo means. Worry more about how you're going to make it meaningful.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

R.I.P. Phil Harris

If you missed last night's episode of Deadliest Catch, you missed one of the high water marks in reality television.

I was impressed by the way the producers handled the death of one of the stars of the show, treating him and his family with honesty, dignity and respect.

In an age where nothing can ever be sensationalized enough and shows like the "Real Housewives" and "Jersey Shore" turn trivial matters into international incidents, the Deadliest Catch crew managed to document this tragic moment by while showing Captain Phil's impact on his family, his crew and his friends.

But what they ultimately showed was that even in the face of tragedy, life goes on.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Sometimes looking good is good enough

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the new Huggies "denim" diapers and the response was everything from, "cute little idea" to "this is what's wrong with America."

I was pretty sure consumers would like this idea and for once, I'm right.

Huggies have sold over 2 million packages of the denim diapers, increasing their share 2% along the way. Not only that, they've managed to increase their price per unit 3.1%. Pretty good numbers in an economy that continues to drag like a tailpipe on an rusty old Corolla.

Just one more piece of evidence that the consumer is not a rational being. As if we needed any more.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Some rivalries never die

Like Michigan versus Ohio State, Ford v. Chevy and Lindsay Lohan v. TMZ, the best rivalries seem to go on on forever.

Such is the case with Pepsi versus Coke. It's been years since either has taken a direct swipe at each other and frankly, I've missed it. With both brands trying so hard to be responsible public citizens – Pepsi with its Refresh campaign and Coke with one called "Happiness" – they've been playing just a little too nice lately.

That's why I was happy to see this Pepsi spot pop up on YouTube this morning.

It's a lot of fun, does a nice job of tapping into the heritage of some of their old spots, and puts a contemporary spin on the premise. It just proves that sometimes you can find a way forward by looking back.