Thursday, December 22, 2011

A fine demonstration

Product demonstration ads are often boring and expected. Not these ads from Grey Advertising for the Pilot EXTRAFINE pen.

They do a great job of advertising's two most important jobs: Grabbing your attention and proving a point.

Well done.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Innovation lessons from Christmas past

Back in the day, Sears used to produce its "Holiday Wishbook" a big, thick catalogue filled with all kinds of wonderfulness for everyone in the family. These were the latest, coolest, must have gifts for the season.

Looking back at the Wishbook from 1975 has me wondering, "What were we thinking?"

Actually, as a marketer and innovator, it's pretty instructive.

The best innovations strike an emotional chord with the user.

Hot new products are often driven by technology.

Sometimes you can put a new twist on an old favorite.

Great ideas are often borrowed from pop culture

And don't forget, kids of every age are always in a hurry to grow up.
I hope you'll find these tips helpful in your innovation program for the upcoming year.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The third m of marketing

For decades marketing has focused on two key elements, the medium and the message. What we tell consumers about our products and where we tell that story are both incredibly important. Our media choices, however, have exploded over the past decade and how we interact with media has changed. It's time to add a third layer to the strategy...

The moment.

Watching an episode of Parks and Recreation on an iPhone in an airport is different from watching it on the couch in your living room. Receiving a tweet when you walk into a store is different from reading a newspaper ad at the breakfast table (okay, that's not a fair comparison since no one reads newspapers anymore).

It's not just where your message is delivered, but when. What frame of mind is the person in? What else is going on around him? With smartphones, tablets and 4G connected laptops, we're receiving marketing pitches 24 hours a day. Just as telemarketers were excoriated for calling during the dinner hour, there are better times than others to deliver your message based on who you're talking to, where you reaching them and what you're selling.

Take a moment to understand the moment before you send out your next communique.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Saab dies a second death

Two years ago, Saab was dead. Until Spyker worked out a last minute deal that has kept the brand on life support while looking for someone with deeper pockets to help resuscitate the ailing company. Unfortunately, the only place where that kind of money is still flowing is China, and GM isn't about to hand over all the technology it put into Saab cars since they purchased it in 1989 to a nation of thieves.

A lot of people are making GM the bad guy in this. But they're protecting their intellectual property from a culture and country that doesn't know how to spell piracy much less respect its meaning.

Saab's demise actually goes back a lot further than its sale to GM.

Never able to fully fund its own ambitions, Saab has had a number of bad marriages throughout its lifespan, including a 10 year tryst with Fiat that began in the late '70s. Over the years, Saab products have shared platforms with brands that include Alfa Romeo, Opel, Subaru and Chevrolet.

This lack of consistency and vision has cost the brand in the past two decades. Nothing that Saab has produced since it replaced the 900 was particularly unique or interesting.

I always had a soft spot for the brand after driving a Model 96 from Washington, D.C. to Vermont in the late '70s, and was genuinely interested in it when I went shopping last year. But Saab's inability to find its rightful place in the automotive landscape, to have the discipline to define its core purpose and maintain its differentiation from other cars, finally caught up with it.

And what was once a very nice niche brand is no more.