October 13, 2010

When a bad thing happens to a good brand.

by Isadora

Last month, the New York Times released this not very useful (but entertaining) piece of news: “Since 2000, more than 100 people who have been suspects or persons of interest in connection with serious crimes in New York City wore Yankees apparel at the time of the crimes or at the time of their arrest or arraignment.”

This reminded me of the time when I worked for a Cable TV operator. The company had an informal policy of not distributing gifts with its brands on it. That was after several incidents where the main suspect of a crime was featured on TV wearing one of the brands they represented… A kidnaper wearing a ‘Cartoon Network” cap, or a T-shirt with the “ESPN” logo on it. Every brand manager’s worst nightmare.

But what if people you don’t want associated with your brand are purchasing your product? There’s not much you can do about that. A few years ago, Burberry got in deep trouble when its signature pattern was adopted en masse by chavs. Chavs everywhere were seen wearing not only the cap, but covering everything they could find with the Burberry pattern, devaluing the brand. Eventually, the association of the brand with “people behaving badly” became so widespread, pubs and clubs across the UK were banning customers dressed in the label.
Burberry responded by removing the checked baseball caps from sale and reducing the use of the trademark pattern in their products. The company continues to launch über-stylish, pricey and exclusive collections to get its groove back. It is also cracking down on the counterfeit market and suing companies that use the exclusive check pattern for copyright infringement.

Burberry is still on the road to recovery. It’s taking the company a lot of time and money to reverse the ‘curse of the chavs”. Can this be avoided by other brands? I am not sure. Let’s say a brand is extremely successful with creating a product or image that resonates with consumers. They can pretty much be a victim of their own success, if segments of the market they don’t want to be associated with (e.g. criminals) decide to adopt it.

The Burberry case is an extreme example of bad publicity hurting a brand. How about the Yanquees? Other that Red Sox fans that sure had a chuckle on this, probably not many people found the NY Times article of any use. The Yankees simply sell more branded merchandise than any other sports franchise. It’s highly likely that a share of the public buying their stuff operates on the wrong side of the law. But that’s still a funny sound bite that might take a while to go away. And a reason not to wear your Yankees cap to meet your future in laws, if any is needed.

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October 8, 2010

When an agency says your baby is ugly.

by Isadora

During cost containment times, agencies need to be careful when providing critique to “homemade” marketing initiatives. If you need to tell marketing managers a certain ad or social network page could be better, you can be almost 100% sure they already know it.

A few days ago a representative from an online agency posted a message on one of my brands’ Facebook page. It said something like this: “Please give me a call, I can help you clean up your page, take content to a new level, increase consumer engagement…” and so on. I quickly replied to the contact provided, since I am certainly interested in anything that can help me improve the performance of my marketing dollars. However, a few seconds after that, I deleted the comment from my wall. And got very annoyed.

I can’t imagine calling somebody I have never met, and saying that I think their kid is ugly but I have a solution for it. Agencies, the same applies when approaching a potential client: Be very diplomatic and gentle, especially since that client might be doing the work herself (in a basement, with lights down to save energy…). You get the point.

Since 2008, when everybody’s budget was slashed in all industries, marketing managers have found a new challenge in implementing campaigns in what we could call a homemade, or grassroots mode.  Looking at the bright side, this has obligated folks to evaluate every dollar they invest, trying to generate the most out of it, both as short-term revenue as well as long-term brand building. We’re aware that our ads could be a bit fancier with brand new exclusive photography instead of stock images. We would also love to run an international contest linked to the next Bond movie, giving consumers a change to win a free helicopter, all documented by comments from Daniel Craig on Twitter. And let me throw in a private dinner with Craig on the mix, since this is my daydream anyway. But times are tough.

Agencies are great at providing amazing solutions to their clients. You can’t blame them for trying to help, however a certain level of sympathy is needed. There are many marketing managers out there that, with limited funds, have found inspired ways to reach their consumers – many times writing copy or designing pieces in-house. I would also bet that the crowd that managed to survive the downturn with good ideas and solid execution will come out of the crisis with larger budgets, and even larger goals. Agencies have a perfect opportunity to be nice doing this difficult time.

Instead of simply listing what could be better, offer some helpful pointers, or a low-budget solution… You can get a conversation started and a client for life.

October 7, 2010

That’s what I call a brain teaser

by Isadora

This morning I was surprised to find the status update of a discreet, classy and Czech friend saying ‘I like it on my desk”. TMI? Or maybe another case of Facebook rape, when somebody finds your laptop unattended and posts something embarrassing on your Facebook status, only for you to find out hours late when all your friends and your boss have already seen it.

But later on a kind soul looped me in on this… Ah, just a little stunt to get people talking and supporting a great cause. That sounds like fun.

The thing is, not everybody will get the memo on time. And until everybody figures out what’s going on, would you want some relative/neighbor/co-worker  getting a lively mental picture of you, your side table, or any piece of furniture for that matter. Thanks, but no thanks.

October 5, 2010

Pillsbury Doughboy VOD goes MIA

by Isadora

I am partial to baked goods and to any brand that has a very cute mascot. When I saw the Pillsbury Doughboy on my TV screen earlier this year, with on-demand programming, it was an OMG moment. How exciting was that! The content was pretty good, with easy navigation and some tasty-looking recipes. Since then, I haven’t seen this type of initiative being implemented by any other company (at least in my area). I wonder how did that worked for the brand.

October 5, 2010

Love it? Hate it? Ideological conflict over Cebu Pacific safety demo.

by Isadora

A serious issue came up when I saw this video for the first time… Well, not so serious, really.

I am not sure if I am a bit irked by it, or if I simply love it. My mom burnt a few bras back in the day for us to get to a place where (mostly female) flight attendants wouldn’t need to do things like this…

But if were a passenger on that fight… I would damn sure get up and boogie with that crew! Next time I will fly Cebu!