Friday, March 8, 2013

Kohl's gets caught

Somebody at Kohl's has some 'splaining to do.

On the right is the logo and poster for the indie band, Yacht.

On the left is a t-shirt Kohl's is selling.

This ain't no coincidence folks.

I have news for the designer who "created" this shirt, changing three words from the work of another doesn't make it original. It's time to start looking for a new job, if not a new career.

To the higher ups at Kohl's, if you want to do the right thing before the lawyers get involved, pay the band the profits from this shirt and a little something extra to show you're sincere. I'd recommend you do it in person in front of thousands of their fans at the Treefort Music Festival in Boise Idaho on the 23rd of this month at 7:00. 

It might be a good idea.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Branding versus fame

Building a well known company is not the same as building a brand.

Toshiba is an electronics company I am aware of. Apple is a brand.

JC Penney is a retail company that I am aware of. Walmart is a brand.

Atlantic City is a destination where I can gamble. Las Vegas is a brand.

Reebok is an athletic shoe company I am aware of. Nike is a brand.

Koss is a headphones company I am aware of. Beats is a brand.

Jim Beam is a whiskey I am aware of. Jack Daniel's is a brand.

A great brand is more than just a name I recognize. It's a name I know something about. A name I care about. A name that evokes images and associations that enhance the products to help lock its position in my brain and my heart.

Great brands stand for something and they deliver on it time and time again in their products, their policies, their actions and their communications.

That's why it's easy to become famous, but hard to become a brand.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The real purpose of marketing

In today's Ad Age, Rance Crain's pens an excellent editorial on the folly of companies that have tried to use "purpose marketing" to create advocates for their brands.

Amen. It's been a long time coming.

The "purpose" of marketing is to sell stuff. If that's beneath you, if you'd rather create art, if the thought of getting your hands dirty to help your clients make money doesn't appeal to you, there are other jobs or non-profits that could use your help.

That doesn't mean you have to produce ugly ads filled with starbursts. Nor does it mean the main tools in your marketing arsenal should be bogos and rebates.

Just find out what's important to potential customers and communicate it in an interesting way, like these guys did:

Pepsi, P&G, Burger King and others have watched their sales slide while they tried to have "conversations" with "engaged advocates" about their "their brand's purpose." In the meantime, Coke, Unilever and McDonald's and others were promoting the relevant features and benefits of their products and kicking ass.

Sell your product proudly. Let us know why it's better. Do it memorably. Do it on the web, on TV, in print, on Facebook, wherever we happen to be. If it works and we buy your product, then you have a chance for us to become something more.

There's only one way to get customers to become advocates: Sell them a great product and then treat them like they matter.

It never works the other way around.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Watered down advertising

While Anheuser-Busch fights charges in state courts across the country that it has been watering down its beer, it's waging a much more important battle in the court of public opinion.

If round one is any indication, they may want to pick a new strategy.

The ad on the right, which appeared this weekend in the New York Times and Houston Chronicle where stories appeared, is, ahem, weak tea.

The visual only reinforces the charges in the suit. Yes, the copy talks about all the water A-B donates to the American Red Cross, but we all know most people don't read the copy. If they do, however, it leaves so many unanswered questions – like why is A-B talking about water? – that people may actually go looking for the story.

Bud shouldn't ignore the story. In fact, on the PR side they're saying the right thing through their VP of brewing and supply: 
"The claims against Anheuser-Busch are completely false, and these lawsuits are groundless. We proudly adhere to the highest standards in brewing our beers, which have made them the best-selling in the U.S. and the world."
It's easy to get too clever in ads like this. Now is not the time for clever. Now is the time to clearly state that nothing is more important to the company than the quality of its products and that you would never do anything to jeopardize that.

Unless, of course, you are.