Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Havaianas Beckon You To Brazil

Flip flops. 
The epitome of summertime.
Strolls along the beach.
Summer parties and picnics.
Laughter in the air.
Friends all around you.
A calm, carefree attitude.
Long days.
Longer nights.

Brand doesn't really matter.
All flip flops are created equal.
They all look the same.
They all fit the same.
You can only offer so many colors.
So, why pay more for a brand name?

This campaign changes your thoughts.
Havaianas are objects of desire. 
They beckon you to Brazil.
You smell the scents of the rainforest. 
You feel the waves on your feet.
You feel the sun warming your body.
Who would want an imitation?
Only Havaianas will do.
There is no substitute.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Goodwill Becomes "Cheap Chic"

If you're anything like me, in the past you have thought of Goodwill as a great place to drop off clothing and household items you no longer need ... and a great place to pick up a fun Halloween costume without breaking the bank.

For years, donors and retail customers represented two entirely different targets for Goodwill. But, the Great Recession has changed Goodwill's customer base a bit.  According to IBIS World, the 2,000 national stores rang up $2.8 billion in retail sales last year, up 56% in the past three years. And the household income of Goodwill shoppers has been on a steady incline.

Today, many of Goodwill's donors have become their greatest shoppers. Interestingly, while economics may have propelled them into the stores, it is the spirit of the hunt that keeps them coming back for more.

But, to solely credit Goodwill's recent success on the recession isn't telling the whole story.

Goodwill has implemented an all-out marketing campaign in recent years that has done an admirable job in both raising the profile of their stores and recreating the overall image of what's inside their four walls. So much so, that they have created a sense of "Cheap Chic," actually making shopping at Goodwill somewhat fashionable. 

Their Halloween billboard cleverly morphs the Goodwill logo into a number of Halloween characters, including the recognizable images of a mummy and a whiskered cat.

A cooperative marketing campaign with Levi's resulted in a Goodwill recommendation on Levi's tags: "Donate to Goodwill when no longer needed and care for our planet."

Affiliates in Washington DC created a Goodwill Fashionista blog, inviting shoppers to learn about and comment on different fashion trends.

Goodwill has worked hard to entice people to join the Goodwill team promising: "Our organizations are vibrant, innovative places to work, where employees are valued for their talents."

Overall, Goodwill has done what any good marketer should (but often doesn't) do ... capitalize on a market condition or consumer trend.

Drug Abuse: A Prescription For Disaster

When you think of drug abuse, chances are illegal drugs - like marijuana, crystal meth, and cocaine - are the first drugs to come to mind.  But, today's youth are increasingly turning to prescription drugs (particularly pain killers like OxyContin, Percodan, and Percocet) to get high.

According to Yahoo! Health, the rate of prescription painkiller abuse among teens rose 17% in the past year alone. Where are teens getting these drugs?  Friends, family members, and unsecured medicine cabinets.

Prescription drug abuse has become serious business. Serious enough that The Partnership at (formerly known as the Partnership for a Drug-Free America) has launched a new TV campaign focused entirely on this issue. The first ad in this two-ad campaign highlights a series of facts about the daily milestones that occur in the life of a teen.

1,147 will attempt to grow a mustache
1,068 will have their first kiss
1,480 will enter the work force
2,500 will abuse prescription drugs for the first time
And tomorrow ... some will wish they hadn't.

In the second somewhat disturbing spot, called "Surgery," the viewer witnesses a doctor conducting abdominal surgery on a patient. He closes the patient's incision and removes his surgical mask ... to reveal a young teen. As the camera pans out, the viewer sees that the teen actually conducted surgery on himself. The ad ends with a chillling voiceover: "Every year, 2 million kids play doctor by taking pills not prescribed to them."

The ads are accompanied by a Facebook site that offers help and support for parents and teens, in addition to advice on how to prevent, intervene, get treatment, and recover from drug abuse.

The Partnership at new campaign offers serious food for thought...especially for parents. But, the real question is whether this campaign will successfully reach teens and be sufficiently motivating to supersede peer pressure. 

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Nike, Nike, Read All About It!

2011 will not only bring a new year to our calendars, it will also bring a new collection of shoes from Nike.

In one of the most dramatic green efforts in the shoe industry, Nike is set to launch the Premium Print Pack for women. The shoes in this line are actually made from recycled magazines, which are shredded and then reconstituted into ... you got it, shoes!

Three different designs will be launched under the Sail name: Khaki, Sport Red, and Birch. Each is a one-of-a-kind design and is pretreated with a clear solution to make the shoes durable and long-lasting.

As if this concept isn't enticing enough, Nike is offering this as a limited edition shoe line in just a few countries across the world.  No doubt, controlling the supply of shoes will help to entice the demand.

I love this concept, as well as the look of the shoes. Nike has done a terrific job of illustrating their environmental efforts, while luring consumers in with a positively charming new shoe.

Pampers Wishes You A Silent Night

Back from last year, comes this endearing commercial of sleeping babies ... from the makers of Pampers.

This commercial is a double-entrendre of sorts, with Pampers wishing you Happy Holidays. But, there is also the hope that your baby's bottom will remain dry throughout the night, so they rest peacefully until the sun rises.

To all of my followers, I wish you the happiest and healthiest of holidays!

Strong Bones...Compliments of Yoplait

For years, we have heard that Americans aren't getting enough calcium and that this situation is exasperated as we age. But, a recent report by the American Academy of Pediatrics reveals that a calcium deficiency is actually highest among adolescent girls. In fact, only 10% of adolescent girls consume the recommended daily dosage of 1,300 mg of calcium.

In steps Yoplait.

Now, getting the recommended daily dosage of calcium will be as easy as eating a container of yogurt. One container of yogurt will help build strong bones and will minimize the risk of developing osteoporosis in the future.

In order to  prove that the added calcium tastes just as great as the Yoplait yogurt you've come to know and love, Yoplait is giving away one million cups of yogurt for free.

To receive the new  calcium-enriched Yoplait Original flavor, just head out to their website.

Friday, December 17, 2010

VISA: Never Miss A Super Bowl Club

Meet Tom, Don, Bob, and Larry. They have never missed a Super Bowl. Ever. That means 44 times they have flown to the city where the Super Bowl has been held. 44 times, they have coughed up the cost of the ticket, air fare, hotel, rental car, and food. 44 times, they have hung out together for the whole weekend. 44 times, they have cheered for a team, oftentimes not their own.

Wow!  Now that is impressive.

Evidently, Visa thought so, too, since they created a series of commercials and a Super Bowl contest - Super Bowl Trip for Life Sweepstakes - around these four pals.

Visa did some research around this event to make sure they were scoring big with the sweepstakes idea. Results of the Visa survey revealed that they were right-on-the-money with their decision. In fact, it was downright surprising - even disturbing - what fans claimed they would miss or postpone to be in the stadium on Super Bowl Sunday.

- 77% would miss work or class
- 71% would miss their own birthday party
- 46% would postpone their vacation
- 17% would postpone their wedding (maybe indefinitely with that move!?!)
- 9% would actually miss the birth of their child!


So, get ready Visa users, because one of you will be at Cowboys stadium on February 6, 2011 ... and for as many years after as you are physically able.

Beware of Empty Cause Marketing Campaigns

Lately, all we hear is the volley back-and-forth of consumers wanting to buy from socially responsible companies and corporations proving they are socially responsible.

According to a study released by Do Good, Do Well LLC, 88% of consumers think companies should meet their business goals, while simultaneously improving the society and the environment; and 83% think companies should support nonprofits and charities with financial contributions.

It just seems like we are surrounded with messages these days about being socially responsible. That got me thinking.  Just when and where did this cause marketing revolution all begin?

So, I did a little digging and discovered that the first cause-related marketing campaign dates back to the time of World War II, with a company known as the New Haven Railroad.

New Haven Railroad was notorious during this time. They were noted for their particularly bad service, which produced so many complaints that the management of the company decided to do something about it. They hired an agency and delivered a directive to them:

"Write an ad that will make everybody who reads it 
feel ashamed to complain about train service."

And, boy, did they deliver.
"The kid in upper 4" ran for the first time in November 1942 as a single insertion in the New York Herald Tribune. Elmer Davis, head of the Office of War Information, ordered that it be run in newspapers across the country. The Pennsylvania Railroad asked for permission to create 300 posters to hang in all their train stations. The text was read on radio stations, pinned on bulletin boards, and enclosed in letters. The ad was used to raise money for the Red Cross, to sell U.S. War Bonds, and to build morale among the rank and file of the U.S. Army. The New Haven Railroad received more than 8,000 letters espousing the virtues of their advertising.

After all this unbelievably positive publicity, what was the result?  Well, New Haven Railroad noticed a blip in sales as people clamored to get on the train (both literally and figuratively) to support World War II soldiers.

Then, the hub bub died down. New Haven's bad service continued. Consumers learned that taking a train ride on New Haven wasn't such a great experience. And the railroad went under.

It just goes to show that great advertising can stimulate trial, but it certainly can't generate repeat purchases if the product is not worthy.

If the product is a dog, it's a dog.

So, beware of all the cause marketing going on these days. Make sure that you're buying for all the right reasons.

P.S. If you are curious what the ad said, here's the copy:

It is 3:42 a.m. on a troop train.
Men wrapped in blankets are breathing heavily.
Two in every lower berth. One in every upper.
This is no ordinary trip. 
It may be their last in the U.S.A. till the end of the war.
Tomorrow they will be on the high seas.
One is wide awake ... listening ... staring into the blackness.
It is the kid in Upper 4.

Tonight, he knows, he is leaving behind a lot of little things - and big ones.
The taste of hamburgers and pop ... 

the feel of driving a roadster over a six-lane highway... 
a dog named Shucks, or Spot, or Barnacle Bill.
The pretty girl who writes so often ... 

that gray-haired man, so proud and awkward at the station ... 
the mother who knit the socks he'll wear soon.
Tonight he's thinking them over.
There's a lump in his throat. 

And maybe - a tear fills his eye. 
It doesn't matter, Kid. 
Nobody will see ... it's too dark.

A couple of thousand miles away, where he's going, 

they don't know him very well.
But people all over the world are waiting, praying for him to come.
And he will come, this kid in Upper 4.
With new hope, peace and freedom for a tired, bleeding world.

Next time you are on the train, remember the kid in Upper 4.
If you have to stand
enroute - it is so he may have a seat.
If there is no berth for you - it is so that he may sleep.
If you have to wait for a seat in the diner - 

it is so he ... and thousands like him ... 
may have a meal they won't forget in the days to come.
For to treat him as our most honored guest 

is the least we can do to pay a mighty debt of gratitude.

The New Haven R.R.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Chicago Bus Stops Are ABSOLUTely Stylin'

ABSOLUT invites people walking the streets of Chicago to wait for their bus in style, with these three alluring bus stops.

The bus stops reinforce ABSOLUT Vodka's "Drinks" campaign, showcasing new snappy vodka flavors offered by the ABSOLUT brand.

Lemon Drop, Twist, and Bloody bus stops will welcome visitors to the Windy Cindy until the end of December.

Hallmark Allows You To Become A Historian

This holiday season, Hallmark has launched a series of recordable books ... so that no matter where you are, you can be there for the special child in your life at story time.

There's an even more interesting twist to this new line of Christmas favorites. Now, you can have a treasured member of your family record a message that will last for all time. 

I have to credit my sister, Patti, with this brain child. She had my mother and father (89 and 84 years of age), along with her and husband, record Twas the Night Before Christmas for her new grandchild, Owen. 

That got me to thinking ... what a terrific way to preserve history.

As much as I have almost succeeded in deluding myself into believing that my parents are immortal, the cold hard reality is that they won't be with us for many more Christmases. What really saddens me is that it is unlikely that my grandchildren will ever get to know how great my mom and dad are and what kind of impact they have had on my life, and ultimately on their life.

But now, Hallmark has provided the opportunity for future generations of my family to preserve a piece of their ancestors forever. A living, breathing piece of our family tree. 

For me, the magic of Christmas has just come alive. And that truly makes me smile.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

To Target, Philanthropy Has Been Fashionable Since 1962

Target was a philanthropic company long before it was considered fashionable. Time and time again, they rise to the top of the list on just about every measure of philanthropy.

- $138,231,699 cash donated (Forbes, "America's Most Generous Companies," 10.22.09)
- $56,000,000 in-kind donations (Forbes, "Pro Bono Meets the Public Company," 8.5.09)
- 70,000 employees donated 315,000 hours of time (Target Corporation)
- 5% of income; among the highest for any company, anywhere

For years, Target has remained relatively quiet about all they do. To them, giving is just a part of their DNA, a part of who they are.  In their minds, you take care of the people you serve and you try to make each community you're in just a little bit nicer, a little bit better.

In recent years, it's become trendy for brands to tell everyone about all the good they are doing for society. Why? Because consumers have demonstrated that they are more likely to buy from a company that is socially responsible.

Yet, when I looked at this very cool Target ad and I read the fine print, I discovered what I already knew about Target - that they are not doing this to be fashionable or to use the corporate megaphone to announce to the world that they are doing good for others. For them, being philanthropic was fashionable way back in 1962, when they made a commitment to themselves. That commitment was to donate 5% of their income to the local communities they serve .... about $3 million a week these days.

With an impressive giving history like that, we should all feel a little better about shopping at our local Target.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Coca-Cola Shakes It Up For The Holidays

Did you know that Coca-Cola actually created the modern day image of Santa Claus?

Back in the 1920s, the Coca-Cola Company was having difficulty selling its soft drink during the winter months. So, to soften the seasonality of their product, they hired Haddon Sundblom, a successful commercial artist at D'Arcy Advertising, to create an ad campaign for them.

From the late 1930s until the mid-1950s Haddon created cuddly Santas in Coca-Cola advertising that were the spitting image of a salesman friend of his. Later when that friend passed away, Sundblom stood in front of a mirror and began to paint an image of himself. Standing on Santa's side was Mrs. Claus, who looked just like Haddon's wife. Both were adorned in red and white, the corporate colors of Coca-Cola.

Haddon's image of Santa was so successful that by the 1940s, it had become the essence of Santa Claus all over the United States. 
  • He was the Santa used in the 1947 move, Miracle on 34th Street.
  • He rode the Norelco shaver in Christmas commercials.
  • He was on the front of Hallmark card after Hallmark card.
  • He even became known as the Salvation Army Santa.
Haddon's image lives on in every element of Christmas we see today. And to this day, no one - and I mean no one - has created a more endearing image of Santa than Coca-Cola.

In this year's holiday commercial, Coca-Cola brings that quintessential image of Santa back into our homes and into our lives.  Featuring the Train song, "Shake Up Christmas," Santa shakes his magic snow globe, helping to push people towards each other at the holidays. An adorable puppy slides into the arms of a delighted young boy. Two young people sitting miles apart on a bench slide towards each other and embrace. A store clerk takes an adventurous shop cart ride through the city to arrive just in time for family dinner. Santa smiles because all is well.

Open happiness ... brought to all, complements of Coca-Cola.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Pabst Takes The Blue Ribbon

“Life is art. Art is passion. Passion tastes like PBR.”

Since 2007, Pabst Blue Ribbon has run an annual art contest. Artists find creative and colorful ways to display the Past brand name in a piece of original artwork.  The highly acclaimed artist who is dubbed the winner of the contest receives a year's worth of PBR...on the house, so to speak.

In recent years, Pabst has struggled to compete with small microbreweries who seem to have popped up almost overnight all over the United States. Many have successfully created a certain mystique about their brands and their beers. As beer connoisseurs rallied to sample Indian ales, bohemian pilsners, and American lagers with kitschy names like Devil's Wit, Elliot Ness, Wreck the Halls, In-Heat Wheat, Stagecoach Smoked Porter, and Yellow Snow, Pabst Blue Ribbon fell to the wayside ... being viewed as yesterday's beer.

The Pabst Art Contest Gallery has effectively pulled all eyes back on the Pabst Blue Ribbon brand. What a terrific way to put the panache back in PBR ... and to simultaneously get consumers to participate in your brand in a lively, intriguing way. 

Here is a collection of some of my favorite pieces of PBR artwork!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Master Card Street Art Is Priceless

For those who live in Washington D.C. or Atlanta, taking the train to work has just become a bit more interesting.

A partnership between MasterCard and SunTrust Bank hopes to convince consumers that a new MasterCard branded Check Card from SunTrust will provide them the financial freedom they need to buy just about anything they want, whether it's a technologically advanced digital camera, a cool tricycle for their kids, barbells to get in shape, or a fancy new pair of high-heeled shoes.

Interestingly, this street art goes beyond merely entertaining passersby. Most of the displays have scannable bar codes which, when scanned, immediately take the consumer out to a microsite to take advantage of the "Overwhelming Offer" of the day. This new check card also allows consumers to go to a special website where they can shop for a variety of items at a 20-30% savings.

I wonder how many people have tried to crawl up on that tricycle to have their picture taken? I would be tempted....

Note: Thanks to MediaPost Publications for the head's up on this campaign.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Like A Good Neighbor, State Farm Shouldn't Be There

Let's all sing along, "Like a good neighbor, State Farm ...."

I bet you finished that sentence without even thinking about it, right?

State Farm Insurance has promised you they would be your good neighbor for as long as I can remember. Their commercials evoked feelings of caring and support and always being there when the unexpected occurs.

That is, until recently, when their new campaign broke.  And, boy, what a departure they have made from their past.

State Farm's new ad campaign takes their brand down a completely different path. Or in my opinion, down a cold, dark alley.

Some choice lines of copy include:

"I told you you were too close, but nobody ever listens to me.  No, no, no, no, no. Who does that? Back their car into another car?  You know what? You make my head numb. I can't even .... uh!"

At this point in the commercial, her companion begins to sing, "Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there" in an off-key, half talking-half singing voice. And - presto - the State Farm agent magically appears, in between the two ... as if to act as a mediator.

As the agent promises to take care of the accident, the woman asks for a new boyfriend. Suddenly, her boyfriend is shirtless, with ripped muscles hanging out for all to see. When he asks the agent to return the favor for him, his girlfriend is magically transformed into a sexy woman, who is scantily clothed in a low neckline shirt and short shorts.

This is one of the few times in my life that I am actually speechless. State Farm has completely turned their brand on its head.  What a departure from the neighborly feel-good ads of the last decade!

Maybe they were trying to be funny.  But, that begs the question, why would any insurance company want to turn an auto accident into a joke?

I'm stumped.

You just watched the commercial - please share your thoughts on what you think State Farm Insurance was trying  to do with this ad...

Jimmy John's Delivers ... Again

We all know that Jimmy John's has a quirky sense of humor. Sometimes the humor causes a bit of a smirk; at other times, we feel an outright laugh bubbling up out of nowhere.  Such is the case with a commercial I just saw yesterday.

The commercial opens with a woman in the height of labor. She screams, "Where's my husband?" as she clearly struggles to handle the pain of childbirth.  Going through labor pains without her husband by her side, she laments, "What am I going to do now?" As if to answer her own question, she grabs her cell phone and begins to dial.

Expecting the voice of her breathless husband, we are welcomed instead to a cheery hello of "Jimmy John's" on the other end of the phone.

As her Jimmy John's order is delivered to the hospital room just moments later, the nurse says,

"Now that's an impressive delivery!"

Ba-da-bing. Ba-da-bing.

Ah, but it's not over quite yet. Her husband hurriedly skids into the room just moments later, to excitedly ask, "What did you have?"

Her answer?  "Turkey sub, no mayo. What I always get."

On cue, the newborn baby cries.

Ah, it might be a little slapstick but I love how Jimmy John's freaky fast delivery is juxtaposed into the  delivery of a baby.  Humorous while simultaneously communicating the brand essence. Nice.

Super Bowl Survey

Sunday, December 5, 2010

No Tongue-Lashing For Ice Breakers

You're watching NFL Sunday ... the extra point is kicked ... it's good!! 

And, now a word from our sponsors.

The commercial that comes across the screen brings to mind images of the opening ceremony of the Olympic winter games.  A bunch of people all dressed in white passing a large white object around.  Then, the object goes up into the air and lands squarely ....

Wait, what is this? Where does it land?

On a tongue. Inside the mouth of a pleasantly attractive woman who smiles as the sensation cools her taste buds with icy cool flavor crystals.

Pretty cool. (Both literally and figuratively.)

Friday, December 3, 2010

GM: We All Fall Down ... But Some Fall Harder

Two years ago, the federal government made a controversial decision ... to offer bailout money to Detroit automakers to help them get back on their feet. General Motors received $9.4 billion; Chrysler received $7 billion; and in a surprise move, Ford refused any bailout money from the government.

While I don't claim to even remotely understand the world of finance, media sources like Fox have reported that GM's April repayment of their bailout loans was not obtained through car sales, but rather was repaid with money that GM withdrew from yet another TARP fund at the Treasury Department.

Whether this is true or not really isn't what's rubbing me the wrong way. It's the latest TV commercial that GM began airing Thanksgiving weekend. 
The spot begins with images of people that have been defeated - a knocked down boxer, a rocket that explodes upon takeoff, a catastrophic motorcycle crash, a weakened Popeye listlessly floating to the bottom of a lake.

Then ... triumph.

Popeye eats his spinach and his muscles instantly grow. a rocket bursts from its launching pad as it heads for the stars, Harry Truman triumphantly holds up a "Dewey Beats Truman" newspaper. The super reads:

“We all fall down. Thank you for helping us get back up.”

Let me start by saying that as ads go, it's a good one. Goodby, Silverstein & Partners delivers a poignant message very effectively ... we have all suffered at the hand of defeat at some point in our lives.  Often, through sheer grit and determination, as well as the support of those around us, we pick ourselves up off the ground, stare adversity in the eye and prove to ourselves and the world that we are not quitters and we cannot be defeated.

So, it really isn't the ad per se that I have trouble with. Rather, what angers me is the money that GM spent on this advertising, as well as the message it sends - we'll take your taxpayer dollars and then spend millions thanking you for that handout.

Is it just me or is this a paradox of the worse kind?

The Feds stepped in to help GM and Chrysler because they believed it was in the public interest of our country to save Detroit. They preserved jobs for tons of UAW workers, as well as for all the suppliers that serviced that industry.  The government didn't ask our opinion before giving all this money to GM and Chrysler. My guess is that if this decision had been put to a vote, many citizens would have voted it down. So, maybe GM should be thanking the federal government, not us.

Plus, let's be real ... typically when a company mismanages their way into failure, they are forced to deal with the consequences of their own actions. They file for bankruptcy, figure out when went wrong, fix it, and move on or close their doors. All without a penny from the U.S. government.

So maybe we should be thanking Ford for getting back up ... all on their own.

Starbucks: Go Fly A Kite

Starbucks has launched an intriguing campaign this holiday season. The ad opens with graceful snowflakes falling from the sky. Person after person looks to the sky, intrigued by the cornucopia of interesting snowflakes that seem to be floating everywhere.

And then the perspective changes. You learn that they're not really snowflakes. That is, they're not snowflakes created by Mother Nature. These are man-made snowflake kites that are being flown by people.  As an increasingly larger number of onlookers gaze upon these kites, you find yourself drawn to the kite strings, the unique shapes, the happiness that seems to be multiplying as more and more kites fill the sky.

What's amazing is that you have no idea whose commercial this is ... and you really don't care. It's just so enjoyable to hear the "Snow Days" music in the background and to watch the graceful and delicate snowflakes create artistic splendor in the sky.

In the last few seconds of the ad, a super comes up, declaring: 

"You know when the holidays are here. Share in the first taste of the season." 

Three fabulous beverages - peppermint mocha, caramel brûlée latte, and gingerbread latte - appear on the screen, followed by the URL link to Starbucks 12 Days of Sharing site.

The site itself is worth looking at. Secret doors open to reveal 12 days of sharing - five cents of the cost of a special beverage goes to The Global Fund to help fight AIDS in Africa. You can also find out the seasonal beverages that are brewing and share a story or a wish that you may have.

Share your spirit - whether it involves Starbucks beverages or not - with the ones you love this season.  Happy Holidays!
Sue Northey - Find me on