Friday, February 28, 2014

What the uncommon have in common

There are a lot of lists of the best restaurants in the country. The food magazines have them. Zagat has one. 

And then there's this list from Yelp. 

Created by mining the data from their site using a combination of ratings and number of reviews, this list features everything from hot dog shacks to Michelin Star restaurants. It's so diverse that at first it's hard to make heads or tails of this list. 

But read a few of the reviews and you realize there are a few common threads in all of the eateries on the list. 

They're all remarkable.
They each have a point of view.
Their points of view extend beyond the food into everything they do.
They don't compromise.

If you want to create a business and a brand that customers rate as the very best, you could do worse than emulate these restauranteurs.

I think I might need to do some field "research" to gain a deeper understanding of this topic.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Jack and Frank

Celebrity endorsements are often forced and feel disingenuous, like when Tiger Woods was a spokesperson for Buick. Did anyone believe he really drove one?

This, however, is the kind of endorsement, I can endorse.

Frank Sinatra drank Jack Daniel's on stage. Every night.

He wasn't paid to do it. No marketing guru scripted his line "Nectar of the gods, baby." It was what Frank believed and how he lived. It's a very cool and authentic part of the brand's heritage, one that's still relevant today.

Jack Daniel's is smart to remind us of Ol' Blue Eyes' love of their liquid and leverage this association to enhance the timelessness of the brand.

It proves that sometimes you can move forward by looking back.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Walmart takes back America after wrecking it

Walmart was founded by Sam Walton, a smart, hard-working former Ben Franklin store franchisee who knew that through superior logistics, he could drive cost out of the system and offer goods a lower prices, thus helping people buy more of what they need.

A World War II veteran, Mr. Walton also made a concerted effort to offer American-made products in his stores, identifying domestic manufacturers who could deliver goods at or below the price of products that were made in Japan, then the worlds low-cost production center.

Somewhere along the way, Walmart went from focusing on selling low-cost American-made goods to the lowest cost products it could find no matter where they were made. This led U.S. manufacturers to move production to lower cost labor markets like Mexico, China, Indonesia and South Korea, which in turn led to the collapse of entire manufacturing sectors in the U.S. like textiles and electronics. Walmart's policies have also been a major contributing factor to wage stagnation to the point where good factory jobs: once a ticket to the middle class, now barely pay a living wage.

I'm not saying this migration of labor and stagnation of wages wouldn't have happened without Walmart, but their policies and practices certainly were a contributing factor to the pace of change.

That's why I find this new "Investing in American Jobs" ad campaign a little disingenuous.

I also find it ironic – and a little tone deaf – that the sound track for this ad, was outsourced to the Canadian band, Rush.

Other than that, this is a fine ad.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Got milk? Not anymore.

Okay, I don't want to come across as one of those old farts who decries every change, so I'll state for the record that I believe as good as it has been, after 20 years the "Got Milk" campaign has become stale and invisible.

It was definitely time for a new campaign – or at least a major overhaul based on a new strategy to help make milk more relevant among a population that has more beverage choices and more information about the choices they're making.

I'm not sure, however, this is the campaign that will make us all suddenly rush to the store and start buying gallon after gallon of the white stuff.

This campaign doesn't tell me anything new or make me feel anything I haven't already felt about the product. Protein, vitamin D, calcium; yep milk is full of good stuff. We know that.

Like the guy who replaces the John Elway or Peyton Manning, this campaign has a very high bar to live up to.

It doesn't.

If you want to replace a legend you have to be more than ordinary – and this campaign with its focus on functional benefits paired with trite imagery and a visual gimmick – is just that.