Friday, November 5, 2010

Big is not a benefit

The news for Toyota was good this week as global sales and profits rose for the quarter, but not really good because all of those gains were in Japan and other Asian markets. In the US and Europe, however, where their reputation had been most damaged by recalls and accusations unintended acceleration, sales fell by 44,000 units in the quarter that just ended.

To put this in perspective Honda increased its sales by 98,811 units in the US, even with largely invisible marketing and products that are the very definition of bland. Nissan sales also increased, Ford is on a tear with sales up 15% and even GM is reporting gains of 3.5%.

When leaders at Toyota shifted their focus from building the highest quality cars and trucks to becoming the largest car maker in the world, they almost guaranteed this outcome.

Consumers don't care if you're the biggest at something, only that you're the best at the thing that matters most to them.

When Toyota's reputation for quality came into question, they lost the one thing that mattered most. And now they're paying the price.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Pizza Power

In Advertising Age this week, Al Reis, he of "Positioning" fame, writes about the downfall of Little Caesars and lays it squarely at the feet of the client who has constantly tinkered with its ad message over the past 15 years.

For the most part, it's a great piece about consistency and owning your place in the market. There are a couple of key factual errors, attributing too much of the chain's success at that time to the talented Cliff Freeman.

First Little Caesar's got the idea for two-for-one pricing from Sy LaChiusa, a Detroit marketing consultant. And, the brand's funny, off-beat personality wasn't the brainchild of Freeman, but John DeCerchio and the other talented creative teams working at W.B. Doner. Their work was awarded a Gold Lion at the Cannes Advertising Festival in 1987.

I was lucky enough to spend a year there in 1985 and learned a lot about humor, positioning and the dedication to craft that is great advertising.

Unfortunately, Little Caesar's left Doner when they accepted the Arby's business. The client, rightly so, felt it was a conflict and moved the business to Freeman precisely because they demonstrated they could continue the campaign in a consistent fashion.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

How to make more bread

This spot for Hovis bread in the UK was just awarded the top prize in the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising awards. During the time this commercial ran, sales were up 14%, profits increased $145 million and the ROI was $5 for every dollar spent in advertising.

What's remarkable about this is that it bucks many trends in the advertising industry. First in a time when more marketers are buying shorter units – 15, 10 and 5-second spots – this is over two minutes in length. Second, its classic storytelling. No hip techniques. No self-congratulatory celeb-fest. Just a great depiction of how the brand and its country have been linked over the past 122 years. And finally, it actually works delivering measurable sales results for the client.

It's the kind of advertising that got me into advertising. And something we could use more of today.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Wasting away

Research indicates that anywhere between 25 - 50% of food produced in the United States ends up going to waste. Some point to large refrigerators where food gets lost and forgotten as the culprit.

I blame The Food Network.

According to a Cornell University study most of the food that's thrown out is purchased for recipes that are never made. So clearly it's not the people who are to blame, it's the recipes.

Okay, maybe it's the people.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Happy Holidays

I still had a full bowl of Halloween candy by the front door when I saw it last night. My first holiday television commercial. It was for Macy's but apparently according to the New York Times, they're not alone in getting an early start on the season.

This is a mistake.

I know everyone is trying to get a jump on things and sell their inventory of big screen TVs before the other guy does, but it's like NASCAR and election commercials: More of something doesn't make it better. It makes us less interested.

A NASCAR season that runs from February through November means very little of it really matters. Just look at the waning attendance numbers and ratings. They even had to create the phoney-baloney chase just to try to keep things interesting late in the season. And who among us hasn't tuned out the election ads that have been bombarding us for months.

More holiday commercials only means we'll be wishing the holidays were over sooner.

Thanks for ruining my Christmas, Macy's.