Wednesday, April 26

Balenciaga's "IKEA Bag"

After chatting about Jeff Koon's new line for Louis Vuitton, it seems all too appropriate to also comment on this new bag from Balenciaga.

Although retailing for over $2,000, it strikes a noticeable resemblance to the classic bag from IKEA that retails for $.99.

Now while Balenciaga has not publicly made the connection, certainly IKEA has with this cute little ditty that seems to be in response:

I've gotta say as a recurrent and loyal user of the IKEA bag for just about everything (I lived with them when my kids were younger), I love the new Balenciaga bag too. The only thing I love more is the ad from IKEA...because of their sense of humor and their sense of their own placement in our world of pop culture.

Bravo on all fronts. What's your experience? JIM.

Tuesday, April 25

Burger King and Google

This is kinda sorta an update post from yesterday's commentary about McDonald's and Coca-Cola, and how the brand used "search" as a vehicle for compelling brand messaging.

This time we're talking about rival Burger King and search guru Google, and a piece of advertising that the Burger King brand created in order to interact with the viewers' Home device via Google (note the capital "H").

It's a pretty timely show connectivity of messaging and to use search to educate on product features. Kinda sorta like what McDonald's did with Coca-Cola.

But I'm not sure folks appreciated the Burger King version as much. Google disabled the functionality within hours, and Wikipedia had to lock the Burger King filing to stop the immediate hacking that started.

All in a day...a marketing day that is.

What's your experience? JIM.

Monday, April 24

McDonald's and Coke

So many people reached out to me last week to tell me about this new campaign. And yes, of course, it came up in my integrated marketing class at NYU when we talk each week about new marketing activity of interest.

This one has a lot of interest.

Why? Because it's rooted in such an urban myth actually. And it never states the brand name -- a shocker given the magnitude of this particular brand name. And it links our known search activity/obsession to this brand's messaging, using one mega brand to help another, working to drive traffic to a retail establishment...

(there are actual a few videos, but I'm just posting one) this case McDonald's. With better tasting Coke! Wow! No small fact that much of the QSR (quick service restaurant) industry profits come from beverage sales, so no small surprise that they'd use this beverage mega brand to drive traffic. With a "known" product benefit: better tasting Coca-Cola. Hmm.

It's quite brilliant, don't you agree? What's your experience? JIM.

Friday, April 21

What We Can Learn From United

Normally I would say to get out in front of a brand crisis. “Take the lead and control the messaging,” is the advice I would normally give to a brand facing an issue in reputation management.

But in the case of United Airlines and their recent woes (as well as some other brands), I instead say to take a step back. Sure, there should still be communication on a timely and proactive basis, because “going dark” in these situations wouldn’t be a smart move. But on a parallel path, I would recommend that any brand take a step back and examine its policies and procedures to try to stop these kinds of issues from forming in the first place.

“Taking a step back” isn’t just for big brands in crisis. Anyone who manages a brand can apply this thinking. Here are some thoughts:

Examine Your Policies:  We are finding lately that company policies are potentially creating these situations of conflict. With different policies in place, perhaps these conflicts wouldn’t be happening. Maybe that’s purposeful, but if that’s not the case then the company should examine and potentially change those policies in question. In some cases they may just be outdated, or not in line with newly evolved norms for an industry. Take a hard look.

Align Them With Your Brand Offering: While reviewing those company policies, make sure that they still align with what your brand is all about. If not, then change them. And perhaps even more importantly, make sure they align with your customers’ expectations. If not, then make a conscious decision about making them align. For example, if your brand is all about supreme customer service and your customers have high expectations, then your policies had better put your customers’ needs first. I would always advocate putting your customers first.

Train Your Employees: Stating the obvious here, but it’s vitally important to not only let your employees know about said policies, but also train how to enforce and flex them. They should be given a certain amount of latitude in how they apply them. We’ve seen how much strict adherence can create situations that can damage the brand. Give your employees some space and let them become brand ambassadors as well as policy enforcers. Let them make their own good decisions.

Marketing is a spectator sport. There’s a lot to be learned watching the activity of other brands, particularly when it comes to upholding your image and reputation. 

We’ve been learning a lot of that lately.