20 April 2011

Old Spice. Strategy. Bring It.

A new guy - this one not nearly as buff, but equally confident - gives new luster to Old Spice's Mustafa campaign. There's no shift in strategy (nor should there be), just enough of an evolution to keep things interesting and make the quick hop from appearance to fearless confidence.

As good as the original pool of OS stuff was (and it was), it's really smart, and not nearly as easy as it might seem, to make the subtle shifts required to promote a new line without bastardizing strategy or following too close that viewers get sidetracked by the foreplay and miss the new product announcement entirely.

Well done bringing the humor, while staying within the strategic guardrails.

11 April 2011

Oreos taste awesome. That's it; no, really.

I figured it was time for a reminder that keeping it simple can work and overcomplicated strategery can be a brand's worst enemy.

Here's a classic case of a really simple strategy - one that doesn't try to do any more than just bring to life that incredibly awesome, so good I just can't help myself but blurt out crazy nonsense, taste.

And since I used to walk the FCB halls back in the day, it's nice to see something funny come out of the merged Draft unit.

05 April 2011

New media goes old school.

... sickeningly smart,
it's genius.

Finally a good idea amidst a swarm of brand-hyper-friending and synthetic twittering.


24 February 2011

No time for haters. (At least not expensive air time)

I don't know where to begin in my assessment of the new Miracle Whip spot.

First, take a look for yourself and form your own opinion:

OK, let's start with the strategy, shall we? What exactly is Miracle Whip's strategy and how did it manifest itself in a spot that dedicates roughly 50% of it's precious airtime to the haters and the other 50% to the lovers?

I guess the premise here is that people who haven't yet tried Miracle Whip, thus haven't had the opportunity to decide for themselves, have been hearing all these crazy people talking about how they don't like MW; this has influenced their willingness to try the stuff, thus they need to be enlightened to this balanced perspective. Which is............ oh, which is that some people hate miracle whip, but some people love it.

Can you think of any brand in the world that doesn't have its equal share of lovers and haters? Sure, some may be less polarizing than shelf-stable, white, whipped oil solids, but still. When was the last time you saw a brand willingly feature the "other side" in all its candid glory?


But, hey, just because it's rarely or never done, doesn't mean it's not a smart way to go. Except in this case, where it just seems to be a really big miss.

I do think someone stumbled upon something interesting, though. Planners, Consumer Insights, Brand folks - someone over on the Miracle Whip smart bus had a sharp little insight that's since been mutilated. The insight that some people LOVE miracle whip and some people would never touch the stuff (also called 'polarizing') is a good one. Probably a very honest one. How about featuring the lovers, then? Say, for all 30 seconds?

If I'm a non-trier, I'm more apt to slather this stuff all over my bologna sandwich and give it a go if I see 30 seconds of people who are so in love with miracle whip they put it on their blueberry muffins, sneak it thru airport security, lace their kids' baby food with it... you know, real, true miracle whip love.

If I'm a trier-hater, you're never getting me.

If I'm a trier-lover, I love your spot and your brand even more today than I did yesterday. I want to flood your brand managers' inboxes with my story of Miracle Whip love and tell you how I think it makes an amazing base for chocolate cake icing. I want to convince your creative directors that I should star in your next commercial. I'm thrilled to learn there are more like me. We are a cult, us Miracle Whiper Snappers.

But, if I see this, no matter who I am, I feel bad for you Miracle Whip, because you just wasted a lot of money on what is actually a pretty well-produced, decently cast, nicely edited piece of film.

OFF STRATEGY for the faux mayo people.

02 February 2011

Is it time to Axe that strategy?

There's no denying Axe has a pretty consistent, some might say gratuitous, advertising formula.

It goes something like this: almost-hot guy + super-hot women + Axe body spray = instant, unstoppable attraction and animal magnatism.

It's totally unrealistic, not to mention, complete and blatant overpromise. But it works. And when I say "it works", I'm only talking about the spots' ability to resonate with their intended audience - I have no idea if it's moving product off the shelves, but hold on that for now.

With that caveat...

What they had been doing "works" because its target doesn't care about real RTBs or overpromise; they simply enjoy watching hot chicks fall for regular dudes and daydreaming it could be them if they trade in their boring cologne or body spray for magic Axe. And its free to watch.

This spot from BBH UK plays it a little too safe with an approach that intends to deliver the exact same message, presumably against the exact same strategy, but takes 90 seconds and mutes the delivery so much, its audience is likely to miss the point and change the channel before discovering this is a spot for Axe. Check it out:

The strategy isn't the problem here...or is it? Why the decision to change the fundamental execution principles to a softer, more boring approach? If what Axe has really isn't working (and now, by "working", I mean moving product), it's time to switch up the strategy and then think about the right execution.

This looks to me like a classic case of trying to fix the strategy with the execution. tsk tsk.

Maybe being on strategy is actually OFF in this case?

14 January 2011

This brand is not for you

I've seen this Planet Fitness spot quite a bit the past few weeks. Ah, right, that's because it's everyone's favorite time of year to get in shape.

The credit cards have been maxed out, the gifts opened, the leftovers discarded, the tree down, and now, it's time to add another membership card to the wallet.

For those who haven't seen the Planet Fitness spot 100 times as I have, here it is:

Sufficiently amusing and fairly well cast in all its exhagerated splendor, but it got me thinking. About strategy, of course. What else?

The approach here is to depict the type of people Planet Fitness isn't for, rather than the kind of people Planet Fitness is for. It seems a natural sequitur here and perhaps because it's so over the top with illustration, it nearly gets away with it.

But is it a sound strategy? Is positioning your brand around who and what it isn't a smart way to communicate with whom and about what it is?

The spot ends and I have a very clear picture in my head of who I won't find as Planet Fitness. Eh hem, who I allegedly won't find at Planet Fitness. But what I don't have is a very good idea of who I will find.

The brief for this spot likely split gym-goers into two, fairly generic, groups; meatheads and everyone else. I'm a pretty dedicated gym goer and I've been a member of several of the larger gym chains. I can say with confidence there are many more types of gym-goers. (PS - every gym claims to be anti-meathead. My last gym had a "no grunting" policy. Trust me when I say, there were plenty of grunts and plenty of grunters. This sort of thing almost has the opposite impact.)

In any case, all these gyms running around claiming to be "the gym for everyone but meatheads" don't quite have a unique selling proposition. The anti-protein chugging, creatine inflated, swollen head grunting thing seems to be taken. And again. And again. And again.

So, while the spot is funny enough, I'm not sure the strategy does much to differentiate it from the rest of the six pack. (get it, six pack? just kidding)

Through no fault of creative execution, this spot comes up a bit OFF STRATEGY.

06 January 2011

What can a logo do for your strategy?

New year. New strategy. New logo.

Or, in Starbucks' case, it would appear new logo comes before execution of new strategy.

That's the area I'd like to focus on today. But first, happy new year.

For all of you who follow, you know I'm as big a Starbucks devotee as any. I commend them on most decisions, (save for the Via positioning, but despite my criticism, it seems to have become a quick success story, most likely due to over-sampling and because it's just a damn good product.)

As for the new logo, my reaction is mixed. On the one hand, I believe changing logos is one of the quickest routes to brand suicide. As a human being (not a marketer, not a brand strategist), it signals weakness. It says "we're not feeling sure about who we are so we're trying out this new look." It's like the shy kid at school who wears a totally different kind of outfit on his first day of a new year, hoping others will see him as a changed person. A cooler version of last year's nerdy kid.

From a brand strategy perspective, I think Starbucks is wise to shift its focus beyond coffee. But, the cardinal rule still applies - never take your eye off that core equity. The equity upon which you built your kingdom. In Starbucks case, that core equity, simply put, is bold, over-caffeinated coffee.

But since Starbucks is as much about experience as it is java, food is a natural part of that evolution. And not just token food, but food every bit as good and every bit as unique as its coffee. Despite some recent attempts, I'm not sure they've nailed this yet. I'm encouraged to learn a new wave is afoot.

I wonder if the new logo may have been better saved for a bit further down the road? Once some of this magic extension they've foreshadowed has been unveiled to the public? By "wonder", I mean that's what I believe would have been the better move.

They say timing is everything and in this case, I think timing may be premature. For that reason, I'm cautiously calling this one OFF STRATEGY.
(but I wish them tons of luck with it.)