Friday, August 6, 2010

Because he can

Paul Stender is my kind of guy.

Most people look at an old school bus and see either scrap metal or hippie transportation. Paul looked at one and saw the opportunity to create something no one else had ever made before...

A jet-powered school bus that achieves a top speed of 367 mile per hour.

A former World of Outlaw sprint car driver, Paul turned his passion for speed into a specialty vehicle business (he's also created a jet-powered outhouse "holy crap that's fast!") and travels around the country entertaining thousands of people with his amazing machines.

So the next time someone says, "It can't be done," just remember, Paul Stender built a school bus that goes 367 miles per hour.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

What GM and Chrysler can learn from A-Rod

Yesterday, Alex Rodriguez became the seventh person in major league history to hit 600 home runs and the youngest person ever to reach that mark. At this pace he should pass Barry Bonds' record of 762 dingers in just four or five years if he stays healthy.

Yes, he's an admitted steroid user. Yes, this achievements will be questioned. But he's not being vilified. Not the way Barry Bonds is.

So what can GM and Chrysler learn from this: Apologize, shut up and perform.

Deliver great products and the past will slowly fade from memory as new generations of car buyers that weren't burned by your history of ineptitude enter the market.

Five years from now someone driving a (hopefully) world-class Chevy won't care about the unmitigated disaster that was the Citation. Just as they won't really care about A-Rod's steroid use when they put his name in the record book.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Is this your new wallet?

According to Bloomberg news, AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile are developing a system that allows you to pay for your purchases with a wave of your smartphone instead of a swipe of your plastic.

Already commonplace in some Asian and European countries, it's not hard to see why some people might prefer the convenience of using their phone to complete a transaction than dig through a purse or into a wallet for a credit card.

But if this shift happens, the biggest driver will be the credit card companies' unwillingness to compromise on fees they charge retailers and consumers. As cash and check transactions continue to decline, Visa and Mastercard have been making money hand over fist with combined profits of over a billion dollars.

Both retailers and consumers looking to lower their costs of credit will move to this system if it's cheaper, safe and convenient, which undoubtedly it will be. Unless the credit card companies find ways to operate more efficiently and learn to live with less (and I don't see that happening anytime soon), contactless payment through your smartphone will eat into the business and profits of the Visa and Mastercard saving consumers and businesses a lot of money.

And that, my friends, would be priceless.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Marketers are mad for Mad Men

On Sunday's episode of Mad Men on AMC, both Unilever and Clorox ran commercials created specifically to air during that show.

Unilever chose to put it's product "Dove" in the era and create a fictional agency around it. In my mind it's a cheap imitation of the show and though somewhat disruptive... "Hey I think the show's starting. Oops it's not. It's just a stupid ad." Ultimately it was unsuccessful because it feels like some hack who's stuck in the '60s wrote it.

Clorox on the other hand created a very funny, simple spot for bleach that is smart and timeless. And it proves that you don't have to spend a ton of money to create a TV commercial that's tailored for its environment and gets the point across.

Extra props for the media placement this week. I'm not sure that it was intentional, but the spot ran right after a scene in which Don schtupped his secretary.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Bullshit is not a cover for bad marketing.

I saw this commercial for Corona Light the other day while watching some sporting event. It struck me that it was very different from the laid back images of the Corona Extra campaign, and I wondered why.

After reading an interview with the marketing director, I'm still not sure I know.

The Times quotes Jim Sabia, executive vice president of marketing for Crown Imports as saying, "The campaign takes what consumers know about Corona Extra – vacation in a bottle – and energizes and contemporizes it."

I love it when people talk like this to justify dumb marketing moves. It's a party on the beach with beautiful young adults. This spot could be for any beer and no amount of marketing-speak can hide that.

This isn't the first time a beer marketer walked away from a well defined position in an attempt to expand and "contemporize" their brand. In the '80s Miller Lite opened the door for Bud and Coors by dumping the "Great Taste. Less Filling." spots for "It's it and that's that," A mistake they still haven't recovered from.

The "Vacation in a bottle" position is a great one. Corona has been very successful by being different from other beers. With this effort, however, they're becoming just like everyone else and giving me yet another reason not to drink their beer.