Thursday, November 8, 2012

The real secret to going viral

Have you ever wondered how the "Bronco Bamma" girl, Nickelback, and Keyboard Cat videos got all those views? Well wonder no more...

As with all good comedy, this is based on the truth. There are actual Click Farms out there that people use to inflate ad views, improve search rankings and fraudulently increase revenue.

One thing they won't do is increase sales. Only a relevant, differentiating and memorable message can do that, which is why you hire guys like me.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Sayonara Suzuki

Amidst all the noise in this election cycle, you may have missed this news:

First question, how many of you actually knew Suzuki sold cars, pickups and SUVs here?

Okay, so now on to the real meat of the matter.

In the New York Times, Suzuki blamed its failure on:
“The high costs associated with growing and maintaining an automotive distribution system in the continental United States,” as well as “the disproportionately high” costs associated with meeting increasingly stringent state and federal regulatory requirements.
Granted the federal, state and local laws surrounding the distribution and sales of automobiles are antiquated and make little sense given current technology. If this were the real problem, however, how were other low cost automobile companies like Hyundai and Kia able to succeed?

The reason Suzuki Automobiles failed in America is the company built cookie cutter products and failed to articulate a point of difference with its communications.

If you're going to crack into an established, competitive category, you have to be exceptional along at least one relevant dimension. You have to be famous for something.

Toyota succeeded in America because they focused on quality.

Honda gained a foothold in the U.S. because of their position of simplicity.

Hyundai has seen explosive growth thanks to the exceptional styling that adds value to their low price position.

Suzuki never stood for anything. Because of that the company is packing up and driving off into the sunset, and nobody will miss them.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The king is confused

In an effort to end the slide of the Budweiser brand, Anheuser Busch will be introducing yet another new beer next year, probably on the Super Bowl as it did last year with Bud Light Platinum.

Budweiser Black Crown Golden Amber Lager appears to be yet another attempt by the brand to crack into the still growing and profitable craft beer segment defined by such brands as Samuel Adams, Bell's, Rogue and others.

That's not to say that Anheuser-Busch InBev doesn't already compete in the category with their full or partial ownership of, or distribution alliances with brands like Shock Top, Redhook, Goose Island, Widmer Brothers, Old Dominion and a few others. This has been a solid strategy since the master brand has no credibility in craft brewing – which is what makes this new line extension a little baffling.

The Budweiser brand has some outstanding assets: distribution muscle, nearly 100% awareness, the crown symbol, "The King of Beers," a heritage in American light lagers, and more. What the Bud brand doesn't have are craft beer credentials. 

What reason do people who drink craft beers have to switch to Black Crown? What reason do current Bud drinkers have to put this into their rotation? That this is the winner of a competition between its 12 brewmasters isn't going to do it.

If InBev really wants the Budweiser brand to play in this category, they should use their size and strength to enter the category with a complete line of beers that create a cohesive presence at retail and on premise. They should create a story behind the brand that gives the new line a purpose. And, they should show how this new line complements their current portfolio. Dipping their corporate toe in the water with one beer, no matter how good it is, won't grow the brand.

This beer will only create more complexity for a brand that's already too inconsistent and confusing.