Friday, June 15, 2012

What GE could have done

Yesterday I posted about GE's web series and why I think it won't be effective for the company. I just don't think there's anything relevant, unique or compelling about strapping a refrigerator in the back of a pickup and driving it to Texas to feed a fresh meal to a wildlife biologist. It doesn't solve any problem that exists in the real world.

But I hate it when people criticize without solutions, so here's the web series I would have created.

Right now in this country we have a crisis. Obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and other illnesses are on the rise in large part due to our lousy diet. People eat more and more processed food. More and more fast food. The primary cooking appliance is the microwave. Unless we change this course, we will eat ourselves to death.

The promise of GE's new refrigerator is that it keeps food fresher, longer. Well, if nobody eats fresh then this benefit isn't really a benefit. So GE should promote and teach people how to eat fresh again. Help them reconnect to real food. Help them rediscover their cooking skills. Help them learn to shop so they can buy fresh, eat well and live within their budget.

The challenge would be to do this in a way that's fun, not preachy. So sorry, no Jamie Oliver.

Find a chef that people can connect with. I'd recommend Michael Symon. He's a Clevelander, creative, funny, engaging, and different. Have him ambush people in the store who have carts full of junk food, frozen meals, etc. Then challenge them to a home cook-off. Their frozen meals versus his easy to make versions of those meals.

In the end you prove you can cook fresh for the same amount of money as processed without a lot more effort. You demonstrate that it actually tastes better and kids will eat it. And you reinforce GE's position of "keeps food fresher longer." It's also an idea that extends beyond video into advertising, events, promotions, PR and other channels.

To tie product into this, give away a refrigerator filled with fresh food to the participants and add a contest where viewers can enter to win as well.

Is it a great idea? Not yet. It needs more work but this is what you get in 30 minutes.

Is it better than the "Freshpedition?" I'll leave that for you to decide...

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Give me a reason

Here's a tip for any marketer producing "viral" videos.

We don't watch television for the ads, why would that be our primary purpose for going online?

Think about it.

We watch television for the sports, comedies, dramas, rich housewives acting badly, d-list celebrities acting badly, spray tanned New Jerseyites acting badly, and severely biased news programming.

We put up with the advertising because it pays for the content, questionable as it may be. That's not the case on YouTube. Your funny product video is just another ad, but it's not sponsoring anything nor adding any value to my online experience so I have no reason to watch. None whatsoever.

Apparently the folks at GE aren't aware of this.

A four and a half minute commercial for a refrigerator? I don't think so no matter how well produced it is.

The next time your agency comes to you and tells you they want to make wacky webisodes featuring your product, ask them one simple question: Why would anyone who doesn't work for our company watch this?

If they can't tell you, tell them to get back to work.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Unlike diamonds, brands are not forever

One of the biggest mistakes that people make in branding is they assume that their brand is what it is and will always be what it is.

In meetings with marketing people, I hear comments like:
Our brand can't go there.
Consumers won't give us permission to do that.
That's just how people see us.

Well, if you don't like where your brand is now, change it. If your brand is becoming irrelevant, update it. If your brand is getting in the way of your strategic goals, don't let it.

I know this may sound like heresy to all those brand gurus out there, but a brand is not a forever thing. We have the power to shape what the brand stands for in the consumer's mind.

Want proof?

Look no further than Hyundai. Ten years ago, it was a cheap alternative to a used car. Now it sells the Equus for $60,000+ and competes with Mercedes, Lexus, Cadillac and Lincoln.

Changing a brand's status isn't easy. And it doesn't start with marketing. It starts with having a vision for what you want to achieve and changing the product to move toward that goal. Then the marketing follows.

If you lead a brand transformation effort with marketing, people will see past the veneer and reject it.

So if you have a vision for a greater, better and different brand, begin with the product. It's the only chance you have.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Doublespeak lives

Auto mechanics are sleazy opportunists who will use every trick in the book to get you to agree to unnecessary repairs. How do I know this? That's what Jiffy Lube says in this ad.

But then I read in the New York Times that Stu Crum, Jiffy Lube's president said, "I’m not suggesting that our industry can’t be trusted, but we want to put the consumer at ease"

I'm confused. One element of your brand's communication disparages your competition while another seems to suggest the opposite.

Or does he?

After all, why would they need to put the consumer at ease if mechanics weren't sleazy opportunists?

George Orwell would be so proud.