Friday, March 27

A New York Winter

No offense, it's not often you see a healthcare provider with a sense of humor. I've worked in and around healthcare for my entire marketing career, so I can say it!

But this was a killer winter for those of us in New York and the entire Northeast. So it's very fitting that a member of the New York community would tackle the winter with a bit of a's either laugh or cry at this point.

With a real benefit in the making.

See for yourself in this very clever advertising for NYU Langone Medical Center

I can relate. What's your experience? JIM

Thursday, March 26


The latest in my series on marketing planning over at Entrepreneur is all about building in flexibility.

Give a click here if you'd like to give it a read.

What's your experience? JIM

Wednesday, March 25

Evolving the Coca-Cola Packaging

I've always loved package design...from being a young kid to my first marketing job at Johnson & Johnson to right now. I love package design and I love to see it evolve. I love the subtlety of it all.

Which is why I've been watching with great delight the slowly evolving packaging of the Coca-Cola line around the world. With a portfolio that gets more and more broad, it's just as much art as it is science to balance unified branding with flavor/type differentiation. No small feat, especially when you're an icon.

Here's the old packaging, at least here in the US:

With a few tweaks that are rolling out over the next few months:

No big deal you might say? Well, when you think about how the cans are displayed at retail and you think about how people hold the cans when they are drinking them, maybe it is a big deal.

There is similar evolution happening in Northern Europe:

But with more interesting use of color in Spain:

It may seem confusing on the surface, but these kinds of changes require a great deal of thought and strategy, not to mention logistical coordination to get it out in the market. These are the kinds of subtle, continual changes that brands need to make to stay current and up-to-date.

I find it all so fascinating, as subtle as it may seem. Will it get me to buy more? Maybe not, but it makes the brand feel fresh for some reason. That's the beauty of an continually evolving package design.

What's your experience?  JIM

Sunday, March 22

Are Consumers Still Consumers?

This article also appears on Huffington Post, 
to read it there then simply click here!

I’ve been in consumer marketing for my entire career, and I’ve been obsessed with understanding consumer behavior from day one.

I was classically trained to think of my customers as consumers…consuming the products and services that I offer to them. They not only consume the products literally into their bodies or into their homes but also into their lives. It was put into my marketing consciousness from my first days at Johnson & Johnson as a summer intern during grad school. It’s been a part of me ever since.

But I’m beginning to think that I have to change how I think.

Yes of course our consumers consume our products and services. They brush their teeth with our toothpaste, they drive their children to soccer practice in our cars, and they swallow our medicine when they’re suffering from a health issue. They consume our products.

In the process, they interact with our packaging, navigate around our websites, and shop off of our retail displays. They also consume a wide range of information as they seek to consume our products.

But with the advent of social media, they do a lot more than just consume our products.

They participate in our brand.

When we post a picture on Facebook, they share it with their friends. When we tweet compelling information that will add value to their lives, they retweet it to their followers. When we upload a video to YouTube that makes them laugh, they view it, and comment on it, and share it…hoping to make people just like them laugh too.

Consumers participate in our brand.

And in doing so, we learn from them. They tell us what they think when they share, retweet, comment, and view. We get a glimpse into what’s important to them, beyond just what our product delivers. We start to see what guides them every day, and we thank them for letting them into our lives.

Our brand changes as a result. We adapt to their lifestyle and to their desires. We even change our products to better meet their needs. It’s a social form of co-creation that marketers have never seen before.

Which is why I don’t think we should call them consumers anymore.

Sure, they consume our products but they are so much more important that to us than just that.

They participate in our brand, keeping it vital and relevant in their lives. They make our brand, well, our brand.

So we should stop calling them consumers…we should call them participants.

Brand Participants.

There you go!