Friday, January 7, 2011

I love great spots

Great ads are few and far between. But this commercial for the Logitech Revue is the kind of spot that make me wish it was on my reel. No surprise it was created by one of my favorite agencies, Goodby, Silverstein & Partners.

It's based on a sound strategy: People who love TV will love the Revue because it helps them find what they want faster and more easily.

Having a star play an obsessed fan wishing he could be that star is a brilliant executional idea.

Kevin Bacon, with all his pop culture cred, is the perfect person to star in this spot. His performance is one of the best in commercials this past year. His reaction at the end? Priceless.

The art direction is terrific with all the posters, props and costumes that allude to Kevin Bacon movies.

And unlike other spots that use celebrities to gain attention, this one puts the product at the center with a great demo, so I know what the Revue actually is and does.

Is it a great campaign idea? They have yet to prove that. But it's nice that at least this one spot doesn't make me want to immediately grab the remote and change the channel like so many others.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Another (Yawn) new logo

Now it's Starbucks turn to face the critics.

They have made the strategic decision that in order for their brand to move seamlessly into all the other categories they have their eyes on, to remove the word coffee from their logo.

First off, let me state for the record that I don't hate the logo. I'm sure designers everywhere will weigh in with their opinions about losing the brand name from the mark, how removing the outer ring takes the focal point away from the shape and so on.

What Starbucks have done is taken their signature graphic element and made it the centerpiece of their visual communications. Using the mermaid and maintaining the green color honor their heritage and keep an important part of the brand story alive.

My problem is with their reasoning for changing the logo in the first place. Howard Schultz wants the company to "Think beyond coffee."

Anyone else hear alarm bells going off.

It's not that they can't offer products that stretch their current offering. They can. It's just that they have to be clear about the strategic pillars upon which those new products will be created. No doubt they've thought this through and have very smart people working on the new products with a strategic roadmap for stretching the brand, but still I've seen this movie before (Sears, Polaroid, Schwinn) and it doesn't have a happy ending.

One bit of advice as they embark on this endeavor: just because you can, doesn't mean you should.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Wisconsin is ranked #1 (and I'm not talking about drinking)

According to Global Language Monitor, University of Wisconsin has leapt past Harvard, Michigan, the University of Chicago and others to become the nation's top University.

The TrendTopper survey, described as a democratic rating system because it measures what is being said about institutions on millions of websites, social media sites and other conversations online as well as print and electronic media, supposedly reflects the opinion of the real world and assigns a relative value to the institution.

It turns out Wisconsin comes up big not just because it's a very good school (it is), but also because it's a bargain and in our challenged economy that's more important now than it was last year so it has a greater impact on the conversations.

That's the thing about brand value. It changes based on the environment. Does that mean that Harvard needs to radically change its curriculum or pricing structure? I doubt it. Does that mean that the quality of the education you get at Michigan is worse than it was last year? No.

What it means is that societal factors influence our purchasing decisions and in a tough economy price matters more.

Wisconsin is a very good school. My daughter is an undergrad there and my son will earn his Law degree from UW this spring. But when the economy improves their ranking will change, unless the administration uses this bit of good news to improve their image in other areas.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Protests or profits?

There has been a lot of howling and teeth gnashing about the TSA's new full body scanners. And while some tried to capitalize on the uproar by staging useless protests and through gratuitous media grand-standing, inventor Stephen Russell has used the furor to create a new product opportunity.

His company, Betabrand is testing a new type of underwear called Privates. They're made from a special fabric that essentially distorts the image created by the scanner, thereby protecting your privates from the ogling eyes of the TSA's finest.

I'm not sure how big this opportunity really is seeing as the scanners are only installed in a few airports and wearing this underwear may increase the possibility that you'll be pulled out of line for a more intimate search. But as always, you can count on the inventiveness of a few individuals to provide a solution to the rest of us, as long as there's potential for profit.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Got any change?

What do you make today?

What will you make tomorrow?

Years ago, IBM made business machines. Then mainframes. Then PCs. Now, they don't make anything that you or I would recognize or could buy under the IBM brand name, yet they're larger and more profitable than ever.

Coca Cola was founded as a patent medicine company, then became the world's leading soft drink brand and now has over 400 brands in its stable.

Disney was the company founded by a mouse, yet now it gets a significant amount of its revenue and profit from ESPN.

Change isn't something you can avoid. It's something you embrace. And if you're really good, change is something you drive.

As Dr. Edwards Deming once said, "It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory."