Friday, January 21, 2011

Enough already

They've been waiting for four years, while they watched AT&T reap massive rewards from their exclusive deal with Apple for the iPhone. And even though it's been all over the news, you didn't think Verizon would let this moment come without mentioning it.

I'm actually surprised at the restraint Verizon showed with this one. No claims to have a superior experience because of their faster network or better coverage. Just a simple statement and a bunch of really nice images.

I know a lot of Verizon customers who are waiting for the 10th. I know a lot of unsatisfied AT&T iPhone users who are waiting for the 10th. Right now they don't need to do a lot of selling to create demand.

We'll see what their spots look like in a year.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Psst, hey bub, wanna buy a restaurant?

Yum! Brands announced yesterday that they're putting two of their less successful restaurant chains on the auction block, A&W and Long John Silvers.

I have just one question. Who in their right mind would want to buy them?

What do either of these brands offer of value?

A&W is not a cheap and convenient as the larger national chains like McDonald's and Burger King. And it's not as good and interesting as regional players like Culver's and In & Out Burger. Sure, there's some equity in their root beer and drive in heritage, but it's been so poorly managed over the years, that it's practically meaningless.

And Long John Silvers? Bad fried fish in a pirate themed environment. Yeah, that's worth investing in.

The cost to resurrect the image of these brands (if that's even possible) would be astronomical.

My guess is that they won't be around for long. Both will be purchased by another restaurant chain for the value of the real estate and converted into a place where people actually want to eat.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Sorry mom

Great brands are exclusive. They project a very clear picture of who they are for and who they are not.

Nike is for the participant not the couch potato.

Southwest Airlines is for the common man not the fat cat executive.

And Dead Space 2 is for teenagers not moms.

This campaign uses the principle of exclusion to create desire in a much more powerful way than if it had shown a bunch of kids gushing about how cool it is. What teenager with even just an ounce of rebellion in his soul can watch the disgust with which the moms react to the images of the game and not want to play it?

Taboo is a powerful force. It worked for cigarettes, alcohol and rock & roll. It'll work for Dead Space 2 as well.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

It never ends with the product

As Steve Jobs gets ready to take another leave of absence from Apple, it's a good time to reflect on the remarkable success that the company has had since his return.

Since a moribund Apple bought NeXT computers in 1996 and reinstated Jobs as CEO, its success has been undeniable. From the iMac to the Macbook, the iPod, iPhone and iPad it's been home run after home run. And while people point to the products – their design and functionality – as the reason for the company's success, that's really not the case.

Apple really started to take off when it discovered the power of the ecosystem. iTunes and their App store are responsible for billions of dollars of profit for the company and more importantly taking the device from a nice to have periphery in someone's life to an extension of one's personality that you can't live without.

By focusing on the entire experience instead of the device, Apple sold its Mp3 player for a significant multiplier over the competition. The same is true for the iPhone and iPad, but the competition is tougher now.

Blackberry and Android have adopted this model and are coming on strong. Everyone is learning that it's not just enough to create a device that can do things. It's critical to develop a whole system that makes it easy to do things.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Audi misses the mark

There's something wrong with this commercial.

It's not the positioning. Audi has defined their brand of luxury as more active, more modern and less ostentatious. It's works well against the old school image of Mercedes and the '80s yuppie baggage still being carried around in every BMW.

It's not the quality of the production. The filmwork, CGI, voice over, music are all spectacular.

It's the concept. Using the children's classic "Goodnight Moon" as the inspiration for this spot is completely out of context with the Audi brand. It has nothing to do with the fundamental idea that Audi is "Truth in engineering."

I know the idea is to create contrast, but by the time you actually get to the A8 the tone has been set and there's no dynamic shift at the climax. The color, the texture, the pacing of the spot should shift from the warm, stuffy world of old luxury to a sleek, fast, active environment with the A8 as the star.

Instead it's just more of the same and the focus is on design details that don't have a lot to do with engineering. Door lock, a multifunction display, LED driving lamps are all interesting, but not differentiating.

This car is better than that. Hopefully the next spot will focus less on the 'concept' and more on the truth of the car.