Friday, June 21, 2013

Promotions should build brands

Because I own a Samsung Galaxy S3, on Monday I can download an app from the Google Play Store that will allow me to download Jay Z's new album for free three days before it will be available to the general public.

I'm sure this promotion will matter enough to some people to tip the scales in Samsung's favor if they're shopping for a new phone right now. It might also create enough goodwill with current owners to factor into their decision to choose another Samsung phone when their contract runs out and it's time to upgrade.

But as big as Jay-Z is, he doesn't appeal to everybody.

So the question becomes; for those who don't own a Samsung phone, or do and won't download Magna Carta Holy Grail, does this promotion still build the brand?

It's generated a lot of online "buzz" and PR in newspapers, TV and radio across the country. And clearly this promotion has me writing about a brand that I wouldn't otherwise, so that boost in awareness counts for something. Based on these results alone, they've probably already gotten their money's worth.

But after the excitement is over, then what?

Does aligning their brand with Jay-Z make Samsung more relevant? And does it help differentiate the brand from others?

That's the difference between a good promotion and a great one.

If Samsung can answer yes to those two questions, then it's really money well spent.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Men's Wearhouse makes a mistake

Yesterday, Men's Wearhouse announced the firing of their founder, Executive Chairman and spokesman of 30 years, George Zimmer.

Sales were up 5.1% the last quarter. 

Sales were up 4.4% for the calendar year 2012.

Profits were up over 10% to $2.55 per share.

Those are numbers JC Penney, Sears or Kmart would kill for.

So why did he get fired?

Richard Jaffe, an financial analyst thinks it might be the advertising.

“They continually rework it, adjusting how much presence do we have on George. Does he stand? Does he sit? But it’s always all about George Zimmer — his voice, his physical presence. An old guy with a gray beard may not provide credibility to the product in the eyes of a 22- or 24-year-old.”

If he's right, then the board at Men's Wearhouse is wrong.

Yes, George Zimmer is older than his target, but that doesn't mean he can't connect with them. In fact, based on the performance of the company it looks like he has.

There have been a lot of spokespeople who managed to connect with an audience that didn't look like them. Dos Equis' most interesting man in the world comes immediately to mind. Dave Thomas sold a lot of burgers to 20-somethings. Frank Purdue was the tough man who sold tender chickens to millions of moms.

If being old means you can't sell to younger audiences, The Rolling Stones would be in wheel chairs instead of on tour.

It's not about age, it's about attitude and relevance.

At a time when more and more men are dressing like boys, George Zimmer was that voice that told guys, when you're ready to be taken seriously we're here to help.

It worked.

It worked because he is authentic. It worked because he is honest. It worked because he projects the right combination of authority, empathy and confidence.

Thanks to the board's decision, we're in for a long run of one-off ads while the Men's Wearhouse searches to find a voice as effective as that of Mr. Zimmer.

I guarantee it.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Gimmicks do not sell cars

When I saw this article in Ad Age, I had just one reaction. Ugh, aren't we over this yet?

Crowdsourcing ads makes about as much sense as do-it-yourself heart surgery.

The agency loses because these campaigns devalue the very product they're selling: strategic creativity.

99.99% of all participants lose because, of the thousands who will spend hours and hours generating ideas and producing materials without compensation to enter in the competition, only one will be chosen.

The client loses because instead of having the agency spend time uncovering insights and developing ideas to build the Chevy brand and sell cars, they're knee deep in consumer-generated garbage trying to find a few gems.

I have only one question about the campaign:

How does having aspiring film makers create a commercial on the Oscars lead to higher sales?

If the answer includes the words engagement, community, conversation, advertainment or any of the thousands of other social media buzzwords, you might want to start working on a new idea.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

And the winner is...

The oh so ridiculously named Cannes International Festival of Creativity – formerly the Cannes Advertising Festival – got underway yesterday and this year's first winner is actually very creative.

Developed to help reduce the number of deaths around railroad tracks in Australia, "Dumb Ways To Die" is a campaign does everything great marketing is supposed to do.

It's disruptive.

It's memorable.

It's engaging.

It's shareable.

And best of all it's effective, reducing deaths by 21% last year.

The campaign starts with a great insight: nobody likes to be lectured to. That's what most public safety campaign do. Don't drink and drive. Wear your seatbelt. Don't smoke. Stop drinking 64-ounce sodas. All of these campaigns have one strategy; they nag, nag, nag – to the point where nobody listens anymore.

Starting with a perky happy pop melody and lyrics that are dark and disturbed, this video is impossible to ignore or forget.

Not satisfied with nearly 50 million views YouTube views. The campaign's creators worked hard to get the song played on local radio. They created a karaoke version that people have used as a foundation for their own videos. They printed coloring books and built a smartphone game for kids. And of course, they produced this fun, interactive and informative website.

It's the rare smart campaign that prevents humans from doing dumb things.

Monday, June 17, 2013

The value of profit

In the world of business, nothing is more important than profit.

If a company isn't profitable it won't be around very long.

So it's not surprising that companies work hard to manage their bottom lines, leverage resources and look for opportunities to make their businesses more efficient.

It's a pretty simple equation: value – cost = profit

The problems arise when companies believe that the only way to increase profitability is by managing the second half of the operation.

You can cut costs all you want, long-term profitability, however, is the result of building value. 

Here's why:

Someone will always make it cheaper. Someone will always offer a lower rate. Someone will always be willing to shave a few points off the margin.

Companies that last focus on profitability through value. They deliver what's important to the customer in a way that's remarkable. They invest in their systems, their people, their research and development, their infrastructure, their communities, their brands.

They know the cheapest way isn't always the best way.

Because while you can always cut your way to a quarterly profit, you can't cut your way to greatness.