Star Trek vs Star Wars: Battle of the Brands

27 11 2008

Star Trek is a brand. Star Wars is a brand, too. (Jar Jar Binks was their “New Coke”. If the brand survived that, it can survive pretty much anything).

Like CPG brands, they compete not just in the market, but for a place in consumers’ minds and hearts. Which one wins? Check out this completely illegal digital mashup video.

I think both brands triumph here. What do you think?

The CPG Digital Marketer’s Resource Page

26 11 2008

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the day-to-day of our jobs.

But if we don’t stay smart about what’s happening in CPG, we’re not actually doing our jobs. Fortunately, there are a few billion resources out there to make it easier for us to make ourselves smarter.

Below is a completely spurious side-by-side brain scan of a marketer at a major CPG company.

The scan on the left was taken immediately before consulting these resources. The scan on the right? Immediately after.


OK, it’s time to feed your head. Dig in.







Are there great resources I’ve missed? Please let me know and I’ll update this page.

The Wile E. Coyote School of Marketing

25 11 2008

Recently, I was talking with some friends about today’s worship of measurement and ROI over all other considerations. While it’s important, it is not and never will be a substitute for judgment.

Even Young-Bean Song, Director of Analytics at Microsoft Atlas Institute cautions “What we have done well is measurement for the bottom of the funnel…clicks, conversion, sales, revenue, etc. But we’ve turned the purchase funnel into a purchase spoon.”

It occurred to me that marketing follows a predictable cycle that ought to be taught in all MBA programs, but never is. Here’s how it works:


1. Declare the last god worshipped a hopeless dead-end.
2. Forget all lessons learned; abandon anything that was working really well.
3. Find a new false god to worship.
4. Affix blindfold.
5. Chase the new false god directly over the cliff.
6. Fall to bottom of chasm. Dust self off.
7. Declare the last god worshipped a hopeless dead-end.
8. Forget all lessons learned; abandon anything that was working really well.
9. Choose the next false god to worship.
10. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.


Popular false gods include Substituting Market Research For Judgment, Creativity-At-Any-Cost, and This-Week’s-Technology-Will-Save-Us.

Bill Bernbach had it right more than 40 years ago. “Advertising is fundamentally persuasion and persuasion happens to be not a science, but an art.”

If I ruled the marketing world, I would separate the analysts from the marketers and have them both report to the CEO. The job of the marketer would be to dream and imagine; the job of the analyst would be to objectively look at the numbers.

When you put both functions in the same position, there’s a huge temptation to mix up those two tasks in dangerous ways.

ADDENDUM: When I shared this thought with my wise friend Dane Madsen, he wrote: “The only issue you have to overcome is that the quants run the finance department and they see a savings in personnel costs. Merge the position: Problem solved!”

This is what I call the Winnie the Pooh problem. To paraphrase the first chapters of the book:

HERE is Winnie The Pooh (aka “marketing”), coming downstairs now, bump, bump, bump, on the back of his head, behind Christopher Robin (aka “finance”).

It is, as far as he knows, the only way of coming downstairs, but sometimes he feels that there really is another way, if only he could stop bumping for a moment and think of it.

And then he feels that perhaps there isn’t.

Are You In-The-Flow, Or In-The-Way?

18 11 2008

Three days ago, P&G GM Interactive Marketing and Innovation Ted McConnell said “I’d really rather not buy any more banner ads on Facebook.” Why?

“Consumers weren’t trying to generate media. They were trying to talk to somebody.”

I’ve seen Ted speak a number of times at conferences, and he’s a very smart guy.

For me, he hits the nail on the head when he talks about what consumers are “trying to do”


Are You In-The-Flow? Or In-The-Way?

Repeat after me: user intent matters.

One reason TV performs so well is that because people turn to it looking for entertainment. As a user, I’ll give my attention to whatever entertains me. If what happens to entertain me is an ad, that’s OK.

Why? It’s part of what I’m doing.

View Vs. Do

A challenge for Facebook is that people are often trying to do something. Every user knows from experience that the “in-the-flow” stuff is in the middle of the page, and the “in-the-way” stuff (the ads) is at the periphery.

Guess where users focus their attention.

I’m not saying Facebook ads are a bad idea. The targeting is really good. And, some users are on there just farting around — if we’re smart and what they’re “doing” isn’t really important, we can get their attention. Besides, if they’re on Facebook and not on TV, it really doesn’t matter how great TV is at selling: we have to be where our consumers are.

What matters about what Ted said is that you are ALWAYS better off being in-the-flow (e.g. a branded app that helps you do something) rather than in-the-way.

It’s not just about where the eyeballs are. It’s about where the attention is.


14 11 2008

Update 11/15/2008: Only a few days before the largest BitTorrent tracker will celebrate its 5th anniversary, the Pirate Bay reached a new milestone. The site now tracks 25 million peers, which is more than the entire populations of Sweden, Norway, Finland, Iceland and Denmark combined.


We’re at an important inflection point for marketing. And, it’s going almost entirely unreported and unremarked upon.

Here’s the thing. With video, consumers want “What I want, where I want, when I want.”

If the TV industry gets it right (see Hulu as a good example), we’ll have an amazing future with lots of opportunities for marketers and everyone in that food chain to do very well indeed.

brokentvIf the TV industry gets it wrong, it’s very likely that consumers will cobble together their own infrastructure. They will use torrents, peer-to-peer networks, DVDs,and whatever else they can to get “What I want, where I want, when I want”. If that happens, people will be able to get what they want for free, without seeing any advertising at all.

if that sounds impossible, ask a friend in the music business how it’s going for them today.

The technical hurdles to putting your own infrastructure together are getting lower every year, and once people get used to it there’s no turning back.

The smartest guy on this subject bar none is Shelly Palmer. If part of your job is selling things to people, I suggest you start reading what Shelly is saying right away, starting with today’s article on Jack Myers.

You should also read Shelly’s book, “Television Disrupted: The Transition from Network to Networked TV“. This is important stuff, and these are important days.

Photo Credit: The Union Forever

Why TV Isn’t Dead: Addressability

11 11 2008


For all the buzz about social media, mobile, and other forms of interactive marketing, TV remains at the center of most marketing plans.

It’s not because marketers “don’t get it”, but because they do.

TV remains the most powerful mass reach medium in history, with the ability to sell through sight, sound and motion. And it’s about to get even more powerful.

“The goal” says Michael Kubin, executive vice president of Invidi “is to be a national digital network.”

An article in Media Post (more about the deal here) says Invidi has made a major step toward that goal today. They’re being deployed nationally on Dish Network.

It’s the start of a national infrastructure for addressable TV advertising, with reach of upwards of 4-5 million Dish Network households households at launch and 14M over time. This will bring internet-like targeting (including behavioral) to TV ads, making each individual spot much more powerful and smart.

The deal also takes a step toward easing one of the headaches of creating interactive TV ad campaigns: making deals with multiple operators to create a sizeable audience. Theoretically, this creates a one-stop opportunity.

But having now worked on two interactive TV campaigns, I can say that while that’s important, it only deals with part of the complexity. 14M is a good-sized audience, but it still may not be enough for some purposes. And, even within any one operator, there are lots of differences in the capabilities of set-top boxes, etc.

If you’re thinking about experimenting with interactive TV, I’d strongly recommend Brightline. Why climb Everest without some experienced sherpas to help?

There’s a lot of investment in the targeted TV space, and a serious battle brewing among some tough competitors. You can bet your rabbit ears there’s a lot of gold at the end of this RGB rainbow.

TV isn’t dead. It’s only just getting started. Stay tuned.

Advertising Without Advertising

11 11 2008

oceansprayOK, so a novice meets his zen master in a cranberry bog.

The zen master says: today you must learn how to advertise without advertising.

It’s no joke.

Ocean Spray is running its first-ever holiday TV special, “Cranberry Christmas.” in December on ABC Family. The special will be entirely “commercial-free”.

Yet since Ocean Spray IS cranberries for most people, it will function as a half-hour commercial for Ocean Spray aimed at Moms and Grandmoms at home with young kids.

It’s the most brilliant piece of targeted zen meta-communication I’ve ever heard about. Well done, Ocean Spray.

P.S. On the downside, the special features two new songs by Barry Manilow. If the special had managed to eliminate two Barry Manilow songs from the world, it would have been perfect.

Don’t Dream It, Be It: The Velveeta Manifesto and Marketing In Hard Times

10 11 2008

In hard times, poor marketers have a million excuses.

“My brand is too old-fashioned to do anything cool”. “My budget is too small”. “I’d be an awesome marketer if I could only work on a really hot brand”.

frank_tattooWhy not do something great right now, today?

In the immortal words of Dr. Frank N. Furter, “don’t dream it, be it”.

(Immortal? Really? Yes. The Rocky Horror Picture Show is the longest running release in film history.)

Velveeta is, perhaps, not the world’s sexiest brand. And I’m guessing they don’t have the biggest budget ever.

Bad marketers make excuses. Good marketers make progress with any brand, in any economy.

Here’s what Velveeta is doing right.

The Velveeta Casserole Challenge Blogger Campaign

Kraft is running a challenge that asks five top Mommy bloggers (Suburban Bliss, Miss Zoot, Confessions of an Apron Queen, My Wooden Spoon and Livin’ With Me!) to use Velveeta to create casseroles for four for under $10. The recipes appear online through Nov. 23, where visitors can vote for their favorite.

Why is this a great idea? What lessons can we learn from what they’re doing?

Focus On What You Can Control

You can’t control when the economy will get better. You can’t control what people will buy, or won’t buy. You can’t get twice as clever with your positioning and market research and double your results. When the economy turns sour, it’s time to focus on the fundamentals.

Velveeta can help feed a family of four for $10. That’s not a glamorous promise. But it’s simple and clear. And for a lot of families it’s hugely relevant.

Velveeta was born in 1928 and was barely a year old when the stock market crashed and The Great Depression hit America. If this was a brand that didn’t know how to deliver value, it couldn’t have survived. This campaign taps into what’s fundamental about the brand.

bloggersIt’s fair to say that a value message focused on recipes ain’t exactly revolutionary stuff for a food company. And this effort won’t pick up any medals at awards time. But, presented in a fresh and contemporary way that leverages Moms talking to Moms about what matters, it’s very smart business.

Don’t Believe The Hype

“Newspaper and TV journalists see their industry shrinking daily, reinforcing their tendency to see the economic glass as half empty—and draining.” —Paul Maidment, editor,, in an interview with eMarketer

The age of always-on news means that the same stories get beaten into the ground relentlessly. Watch CNN for more than an hour, and you’ll be looking around for your suicide pistol. Ignore the news, and focus on your brand and the opportunities that exist NOW.

Look For The Win-Win

In a tough economy, it’s hard for Kraft to put growth numbers on the board. But it’s also true that in a tough economy, it’s hard for Moms to put something interesting on the table.

There’s a win-win staring you in the face for this brand, if you’re paying attention. Good for Kraft for keeping their eyes open.

Find The “Blessing In The Broken-ness”

My wife’s uncle is a priest. He’s always reminding us to “find the blessing in the broken-ness” — in other words, in everything bad that happens there’s always — always — an opportunity to find a gift.

What new opportunities has this bad economy opened for your brand? Velveeta can help feed a family of four for $10. What can you do for your customers? How can your brand really, truly help somebody with a big problem they have right now?

Anybody can look like a genius in good times. The best marketers deliver when times are bad.

Why not do something great right now, today?

Don’t dream it. Be it.