Friday, November 19, 2010

How not to succeed in business

Driving home yesterday, I saw this sign in Escanaba, Michigan and I don't think it's a good sign long-term for that business.

Maybe the owner is trying to be ironic.

What it says to me, however, is "I want to make sure I have something for everyone." Even corn dogs.

I think we all know how this story will end.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Flying for coffee

It's not often a friend's work gets so prominently featured in a national TV spot. Especially when that work is flying kites.

Craig Wilson has been flying kites professionally since the 1980s as a photographer. His images provide amazing aerial views that are very difficult to capture by any other method. Take a look at some of his work on his website.

While his photography skills aren't on display in this commercial, his kite flying skill are.

It just goes to show that when you're great at something, you never know where it will take you.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Like father like daughter

Heritage can be an important part of a brand. It's important that Levi's are the product of the wild west. It's important that Ferrari has its roots in Formula 1 racing. And, it's important that Wendy's was founded by Dave Thomas.

So important in fact that the brand has wandered aimlessly in the 8 years since his death. You could tell from his performances in his commercials that Dave wasn't much of an actor. He was first and foremost, a product man. And as such his sincerity came through. If anything he represented the anti-McDonald's making the square burgers to order. Wendy's always seemed to be focused on quality rather than trying to crank out as many burgers as possible.

So now Wendy's advertising agency is tapping into that heritage by creating new spots that feature Dave's daughter and the namesake for the restaurant, Wendy.

It's not a bad spot. She has the same awkward folksiness as her father. The opening reminds you of the original promise of the brand. And the new product looks as though it will deliver on the promise.

Will this spot reenergize the franchise? Probably not. While she's definitely sincere, the spot's a little flat. And they can't open every commercial with a bromide from Dave. We'll see if she grows into the roll as her father did. If not, they'll be looking for yet another campaign in the next few months.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

And in a surprise to no one...

For those of you who've been sitting on the edge of your seat waiting for the announcement, Chevrolet Volt was just named Motor Trend's car of the year.

This ranks right up there with the sun rising in the East each day in terms of predictability. Sure, if they wanted to give it to an alternative fuel vehicle, they could have given it to the Nissan Leaf, but GM was not going to let that happen.

The success of the Volt is too important to the company's image to have an award this well known go to another electric car. So they bought it.

In case you're not aware, in automotive circles, it's well known that the Car of the Year Award goes to the highest bidder; the company that's willing to commit to the most aggressive marketing plan in both the magazine and for the award.

So you'll see pages of Chevy and GM ads gracing the pages of Motor Trend and its sister publications. You'll see the trophy plastered in ads (I found out through a post on GM's facebook page). I have no doubt the TV spot is ready to rule the airwaves this evening.

It's absolutely the right thing for GM to do. And frankly the Volt is an interesting enough car to deserve this award. It's just not the independent validation of excellence that Motor Trend claims it to be.

Monday, November 15, 2010

A bite of passion

On Saturday morning my wife and I went food shopping. We spent too much time in line and more money than we had planned, yet left feeling enriched.

That's what Zingerman's Delicatessen is all about.

Their mission statement reads, "We share the Zingerman's experience selling food that makes you happy giving service that makes you smile in passionate pursuit of our mission showing love and care in all our actions to enrich as many lives as we possibly can."

Every aspect of our experience lived up to that promise. From the young man who expertly explained their new holiday roast coffee as he offered me a sample cup to the woman behind the deli who hand-sliced the pancetta and Serrano ham to the woman at the register who upon seeing me purchasing the owner's new book on bacon, told me that Ari was at a table in the restaurant and loved to sign his books.

Zingerman's is what great retailing is all about: founded on a love of the product, offering knowledge-based service, in an environment where you can't help but stumble upon one wonderful thing after another, where the experience adds value way beyond the product sold.