Friday, March 2, 2012

Fiat #Fail

It's official. 

Oliver Francois is no longer the marketing genius he proclaims himself to be. With this spot all credibility he had from approving the Eminem Super Bowl ad is well and truly gone. 

Somebody needs to acquaint Mr. Francois with the word strategy. 

First there was Fiat as icon. Then there was JLo. Then a hot babe, a dweeb and cup of cappuccino. And now Charlie Sheen.

If his goal was to be wildly inconsistent and incredibly irrelevant, he succeeded.

I get that the Abarth is supposed to represent the dark side of the cute li'l 500, but Charlie Sheen may be the single most unlikeable celebrity this side of Snooki. His smirking mug at the end of the spot doesn't make me want to buy a Fiat, it makes me – in the immortal words of Rick Santorum – want to throw up.

It's time for Chrysler/Fiat to put somebody in charge of marketing who doesn't think a drug-addled, self-absorbed d-lister is an appropriate spokesperson.

Thursday, March 1, 2012


What fuels your ideas?

Are you reading the same papers and journals every day? Are you watching the same news shows? Visiting the same websites? Listening to the same music? Sitting in the same chair? Eating the same breakfast?

You don't have to be different to create something new. You just have to experience different things.

The more of the world you experience, the better chance you'll have of creating something new.

So the first step in creating something new is breaking out of your same old world.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Mapping innovation

There is very little that is truly new in this world. Almost every innovation is created by taking something we already know and combining it with something else we already know.

That's what Cameron Booth did in creating this awesome map of the U.S. Interstate Highway system.

By taking two things we're very familiar with and putting them together in a way that's never been done before, he's created a map that is not just incredibly useful, it's also a lot of fun to look at.

Nicely done.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A new campaign with nothing new to say

In attempting to reposition itself, Jaguar asks the question "How alive are you?" and compares its cars to electric fans, old televisions, coal fired locomotives, MRI machines and a whole host of other heartless, non-automotive machines.

The obvious implication here is that Jaguar automobiles are machines with a pulse looking for drivers with a pulse. Performance cars that are more than their specifications. Luxury cars designed for people who love to drive. Got it.

Now, one question.

How is this position any different from those of BMW and Audi?

Having sold just over 12,000 cars last year, Jaguar needs to stand for something and stand out.

Here's a thought. Jaguar is a company rich with history. Deep in that history the phrase, "Grace. Space. Pace." was used to sum up what the company stood for. Something about those three words still feels right today.

Where BMW positions itself as the Ultimate Driving Machine and Audi uses technology like Quattro and LED headlamps to differentiate its brand of performance, Jaguar could use the concept of "Grace." as it's differentiator.

First, it's very British. Afternoon tea, Saville Row, Wimbledon and the monarchy all have a sense of grace that separates them from the institutions and traditions of other countries.

Second, grace doesn't preclude performance. You can still kick someone's butt and do it gracefully. Sean Connery's James Bond is a prime example.

Third, grace suggests style, something that Jaguar's products have in spades. Long elegant lines, meticulous interiors, and tastefully appropriate trim set their cars apart from others in the category.

Finally, no other brand in the category can own this space the way Jaguar can.

How do you execute it? That's the hard part. But nobody ever said good marketing was easy, and this new campaign just feels too easy for me. It's time for the team at Jaguar and Spark 44 to dig deeper and come up with a campaign that both honors the heritage of the brand while moving it forward at the same time.

This campaign does neither.

Monday, February 27, 2012

An open letter to Nabisco marketing

Dear Wheat Thins brand management team:

I hate it when other people make me look stupid. (I really don't need any help.)

That's exactly what you did last Thursday night when Steven Colbert announced that you were his new integrated sponsor.

I'm not sure which genius on your team at Nabisco thought it would be a good idea to send a brand guidelines memo along with a box of crackers to Mr. Colbert. If you were expecting him to do anything other than make fun of it, maybe you should have watched the show, say, once.

The problem isn't with the brand guidelines memo. I've written a few. They're all jargon-filled missives about brand archetypes, personality, values, ideal customer profiles, symbols, usage occasions and the like. And really, yours isn't that bad.

Brand guidelines are important for the team creating the ads, websites and promotions. But do you know who they are not important for? A comedian like Colbert whose whole schtick is based upon biting the hand that feeds him.

Sending him that memo was like putting a lame barasingha in a tiger cage.

Now everyone knows we marketeers are navel-gazing twits who write incomprehensible sentences like "Wheat Thins keep you on the path to, and proud of, doing what you love to do, no matter what that is."

The brand guidelines are in place so you, Mr. Brand Manager, don't align yourself with comedians like Colbert – or anyone else on Comedy Central, a channel dedicated to making fun of everyone and everything on God's green earth – if you don't want to become the butt of his joke.

If you even thought there was a chance Mr. Colbert was going to leak the contents of your memo and put 17 Wheat Thins in his mouth – really, if you watched the show, you'd know that chance was about 99.99997% – you should have looked for another Sponsortunity.

I hope we've all learned something here today.