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Posts Tagged ‘brands’

A cautionary tale for brands selling social justice.

Wednesday, April 12th, 2017

It’s a divisive time in America. There are many emotionally charged social and political issues that are constantly being discussed and debated. As demonstrated by Pepsi’s recent protest ad and almost every 2017 Super Bowl commercial, it can be tempting for brands to jump on the bandwagon and join the conversation and benefit with sales – but should they?

Using a social movement to sell potato chips or soda often is seen as an insincere move by marketers. It tends to trivialize issues that are highly meaningful to people. Saturday Night Live hilariously exemplifies and exaggerates this “absurdity of causes as commerce” in a Cheetos ad-pitch comedy sketch. The comedians or ‘Cheetos ad executives’ discuss potential advertising spots centered on current social issues like immigration and transgender issues. They also poke fun at how disconnected these executives are from the issues they’re discussing. When the executives are questioned about using transgender issues just to sell Cheetos one of them exclaims, “We care about that issue because there is a guy in our office whose son is transgendered!” Then she turns to her colleague and questions, “Or wait, is he trans or adopted?” to which the colleague replies, “Uh, he’s adopted.” She then says, “That’s right, because we don’t know anyone trans, and THAT is the problem.”

And that fake Cheetos executive is exactly right; a lack of understanding and connection to audiences is precisely the problem. Often these brands are not only using important social issues to sell products, but the higher-ups creating the ads are totally out of touch with the issues and target audience. This was clearly the case in the absurdly offensive Pepsi ad, where a can of soda delivered by model and reality TV star Kendall Jenner cheerfully ends a protest that’s reminiscent of recent Black Lives Matter protests. If only the marginalized people of America thought to bring a can of Pepsi to their protest; then all of their issues would be solved and the protest would have turned into a happy moment of unity and cheering – please

Social issues can represent an opportunity to really connect with a target audience if marketers are smart about how they do it… Clearly, Pepsi (and their ad agency) didn’t check in with anyone who was actually at any of those protests before airing the ad and it’s unlikely that there was a diverse team of any kind making these creative decisions. The lesson is simple and should be basic knowledge for any advertising, marketing or PR professional – know your audience.

Lux is a must.

Thursday, July 9th, 2015

Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Prada… oh my! In our often competitive and materialistically focused world, high-end accessories, beauty products and fashion are highly sought after. Many of us dream of designer duds and luxury goods, but as middle class consumers we worry that our presence in high-end luxury stores will be met with judgmental stares or outright dismissal.

Marketing efforts for luxury brands are specifically targeted towards affluent consumers–classified as households with an income of $250,000 or greater. These consumers certainly have an abundance of discretionary funds, however, new studies indicate that middle class as well as HENRY (High-Earners-Not-Rich-Yet) consumers are actively dishing out the dough to land the brands they desire.

According to CNBC, “Experts said they have begun to see the return of the ‘aspirational’ shopper­–someone whose income isn’t high enough to make them a true luxury buyer but still has an appetite for designer goods.”

Although middle class and HENRY consumers do not purchase luxury brands as frequently as affluent buyers, they are spending an equivalent dollar amount on individual purchases. In a survey conducted by MediaPost, the highest percentage of affluent consumers and the highest percentage of middle class consumers both spent $3,000 or more on a recent luxury purchase.

“Luxury brands lose 50% of their top consumers annually because they routinely misidentify their demographic and economic profile while also failing to create a personalized sales experience for them,” asserts Steve McClellan in his article, Luxury Brands Often Misidentify Their Target Consumers.

Despite the power in their pockets, affluent consumers only make up 1% of the market. By neglecting to engage with middle class and HENRY buyers, luxury brands are alienating a significant consumer base. It seems in order for luxury brands to survive and thrive they need to begin tending to a wider market. After all, everyone deserves to enjoy a touch of fabulousness and splendor once in awhile, right?


Ann Keeling says:

High-end luxury goods are sought after not only for the cache they can bring to the owner, but for other very important reasons – quality, durability and exclusivity. For example, while an LV bag is a significant investment – it will far outlast that Asian-made Dooney & Burke bag, not only with classic style, but with the highest quality materials and craftsmanship. For many buyers, it’s more about the way things are made and from what materials, as well as the legacy of the fashion house vs. the brand’s popularity. What would you rather have a closet full of Pay-Less shoes & H&M clothes that you throw away after one or two seasons, or a pair of classic Manolo’s and an Armani jacket that you can wear season after season, decade after decade?

Tears & Tantrums in Ad-Land

Thursday, October 9th, 2014

According to Digiday, ad agency professionals are a pretty unhappy bunch. Uwe Hook, who recently fled a 20-year agency career, reports that he could tell his peers affirmed his decision to get out of the business, writing:

Not one person questioned my decision. Everybody expressed the urgent desire to leave the agency world as soon as humanly possible. No matter who you ask, almost everybody is ready to walk away. This ‘get-out-while-you-can’ sentiment is prevalent.

Hook told Digiday that the demand for constant results is getting ad men (and women) down. “Innovative work is cut immediately because you don’t know how it’s going to perform. So you just repeat what you did last year.”

Ann Keeling, our president, wrote last month for the Business Courier about how morale can take a hit in today’s pervasive, often difficult client/agency dynamic. But the fact is that ad execs are some of the best-compensated creatives in the business, with the opportunity to work with some of the world’s most iconic brands in the realm of new media and ideas. How can one be so miserable with those kinds of opportunities?

As one agency employee put it, most of the problems come down to maniacal, Type A personalities, “moody creative types” and “bipolar strategists” that are hell-bent on “masochistic perfectionism” and make sure everyone around them is as well. “We all need therapy,” she said.

Or maybe just an attitude adjustment.

Ann Keeling is traveling. Her commentary will return next week.

The Shark Week Advertising Phenomenon

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

Ready to plan your next beach vacation?? In the aftermath of The Discovery Channel’s hugely popular Shark Week, it isn’t too hard to imagine that the amount of beachgoers frolicking in the waves are in decline.’ However, it might be possible that certain brands are on upswing thanks to this past week’s spectacular. And not just shark repellent.

The Discovery Channel turns into a blockbuster media house, producing outrageous, terrifying, and ‘jawesome’ moments to share on their annual week-long program at the start of August. The network’s publicity for the event has been top notch, including promotions across social media channels, especially the campaign starring ‘Snuffy the Seal’. The creative and humorous ads have helped the network deliver the highest rated ‘Shark Week’ Wednesday Night, yet another record for The Discovery Channel’s series, leaving scientists cringing, but everyone else yearning for more.

Many brands have capitalized on the longstanding series that just celebrated its 26th year. Companies such as Tide, Doritos, The Weather Channel, Volkswagon (a sponsor of the series), JELL-O, and seafood distributors have incorporated the national phenomenon in their own advertising efforts.

Volkswagen presented viewers with a 360-degree view of the action around an underwater cage a-la Beetle Convertible. Doritos displayed their chips as a mock-shark fin. JELL-O spent the entire week sharing Pinterest worthy recipes throughout their social media networks creating Shark Week inspired JELL-O dishes.’ Tide’s campaign’s gory message: ‘We get out blood, too’ was wildly popular. Even supermarket chain, Kroger, ‘used’Shark Week as a campaign to encourage seafood purchases with the image of a shark and the words ‘you’re gonna need a bigger cart’.

Many’smaller brands tied’Shark Week in their own publicity efforts. Although not all trending topics are worth incorporating into an advertising campaign, it can be a successful method if a brand can both represent its image and its customers. Shark Week was undoubtedly a topic many brands invested the time and energy to find relevancy and connection with consumers. In the week following, it appears several were able to successfully and safely navigate the waters.

Apples and Oranges

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

Last week, Chevrolet announced their ‘strategic’ plan to market its new Corvette Stingray to Porsche buyers as well as buyers of other high-end European automobiles such as Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz. This begs the question: do they understand the delineation between the domestic and the European car buyer?

General Motors’ Chevrolet is claiming there is a substitute for Porsche ‘ the all-new 2014 Corvette Stringray, which will hit showrooms in the fall. In the meantime, Chevrolet is employing a yearlong marketing strategy to launch their new convertible. The first phase occurred last fall and included posting four videos on YouTube in addition to camouflaging a version of the sports car in the Gran Turismo 5 video game. Chevrolet continued to drive interest by unveiling the Stingray at the Detroit Auto Show on January 13 and handing the keys to a torch-red Stingray to Super Bowl XLVII MVP, Joe Flacco, in New Orleans. The final phase will begin this fall as advertisements are placed in high-profile sports programs and theaters.

While both Corvette and Porsche are celebrating their 60th anniversaries this year, their buyer demographic couldn’t be further apart. According to Advertising Age, the average Corvette owner is 55 years old versus the average Porsche owner who is 48 years old. But what they aren’t considering is how these individuals differ in what is important to them and their general approach to life.

The Porsche brand possesses a timeless style and a strong sense of refinement with underlying standards for power and performance while the Corvette represents a symbol of American power and success. European car manufacturers have carefully crafted an experience that sets the standard for their audience at every communication touch point, from direct mail, to print ads, to digital assets to the showroom and salesperson experience. The Porsche buyer has already ‘made it’ and doesn’t have anything to prove. The Corvette buyer wants to impress.

Chevrolet is completely missing the mark if they truly believe that the European up-market auto-phile will have the slightest interest in a domestic sports car like the Stingray. The attention to design detail, authenticity and craft are second to none in European auto brands. GM will never be a European car so why are they trying crack a nut that just isn’t crackable?