Saturday, December 31, 2011

Red Cross Urges You To Not Sweat The Small Stuff

American Red Cross 2011 Holiday Campaign
In a new holiday campaign airing this season, Ted Danson and Red Cross encourage you to forget all the "stuff" that stresses you out during the holidays and do something that makes a difference instead.

The :60 animated campaign builds a bit of suspense throughout the ad, leaving you wondering who is talking to you and what message they have to tell.

Finally, the pay off.

"This year, let's take a break from all this stuff and give something that means something. Give the gift of hope, help and compassion to someone who needs it most ... whoever they are." Red Cross.
The signature Red Cross red color is used throughout the ad. At its conclusion, the gifts of hope, love and compassion are placed into a box that opens into the American Red Cross red logo. 

An utterly charming campaign, with a heartfelt message.

So, visit American Red Cross this holiday season and make a donation in the name of the people on your list this year. 
Red Cross urges you to offer compassion and help to others.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Froedtert/Medical College of Wisconsin Pioneers Patient-Centered Cancer Care

"You have cancer."

Has your life ever been turned upside down by these three little words?

These words are responsible for phrases like, "Life turns on a dime" and "We have no idea what tomorrow will bring."  One day you're living your life and the next ... your life is hanging in the balance.

According to the American Cancer Society, close to 12 million people in the United States are battling cancer at any one point in time.


That equates to approximately one in four Baby Boomers.
That's roughly one-fourth of all LinkedIn users.
That's about 3% of what President Obama spent on his 2008 presidential run.
That's the number of suspected aliens living in the United States.

Even though that number is positively staggering, as the recipient of that message, you still feel like you are the only person in the world to ever have to deal with the impact of this diagnosis. You feel like no one could possibly understand what it's like to be living with this hideous creature lurking inside of you.

Intent on helping patients more effectively navigate this daunting cancer journey, Froedtert & The Medical College of Wisconsin made a bold move. They decided to look at cancer from the perspective of the patient, rather than the health care provider, ultimately redefining quality cancer care.

Their philosophy became known as The Hub Model or Patient-Centered Care. Rather than requiring the patient to move from the doctor's office to the testing lab to the place where treatment is administered, this Milwaukee-based healthcare organization had a brilliant idea: why not have all cancer treatment revolve around the patient?
Froedtert/Medical College of Wisconsin Hub Model
In 2005, they made yet another bold decision to begin construction on a new facility that would embody patient-centric care. Within three years, they would be cutting the ribbon on the manifestation of their vision. According to Froedtert's website, "The Froedtert & The Medical College of Wisconsin Clinical Cancer Center is the first cancer center in the nation built entirely around patients."
Froedtert/Medical College of Wisconsin Clinical Cancer Center
In retrospect, it looks so logical ... as brilliant ideas often do. Let's not make the patient, who is probably not feeling particularly well, deal with directions, elevators and confusing corridors. Instead, let them focus on what is most important ... getting better.

To ensure the best possible care for their patients, the Froedtert & Medical College of Wisconsin Clinical Cancer Center has a specialized team for every kind of cancer from the most prevalent to the most obscure. According to the Center, "This level of focus allows them to be completely up to date on the most effective treatments, even in today's constantly evolving cancer treatment and research environment."

The image of a crane is used throughout the facility to signify the journey a patient goes through when dealing with cancer. It embodies a sense of hope, good health and compassion.

As a 12-year cancer survivor, I cannot think of a more holistic and comforting approach to cancer than the patient-centered model brought to life by The Froedtert & The Medical College of Wisconsin Clinical Cancer Center. 

It is a wonderful example of truly understanding your target, assessing where the need gaps lie and then masterfully creating and delivering an offering that fills those gaps.


Bravo Froedtert and The Medical College of Wisconsin.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Clark Little Takes Ocean Photography By Storm

Recently, I stumbled across a phenomenal photographer by the name of Clark Little. He romanticizes the power of Hawaiian waves ... making us feel their splendor rather than their danger.

Raised in Hawaii, Clark Little was an avid surfer known in many circles for his ability to tackle shorebreak waves head on, with little fear. It wasn't until 2007 that Clark uncovered the artistic wonder of photography, attacking the waves with a camera rather than a surfboard. At times, he puts his own life in danger to capture the unmistakable power of nature, oftentimes from the inside out.

His astounding photographs have changed Clark Little's name to a brand unto itself.

He has appeared on television shows like Good Morning America, has been exhibited at museums as prestigious as the Smithsonian, has been printed in magazines like National Geographic, has won countless awards and has commercialized his photography with the likes of Nike, Nikon, HP, Anheuser Busch, Lockheed Martin, Verizon and XS Energy Drink.

Some may say he has sold out his talent by going commercial. But, I believe it would be a shame to only offer this seldom seen beauty to a niche audience.

Take a look at a few of his incredibly powerful photographs.
Clark Little orange hued wave
Clark Little sunlit wave
Clark Little artistic waves

Friday, December 16, 2011

Dr. Dre Ad Splashes Color (and Best Buy)!

Blue Beats By Dr. Dre
Up until a few weeks ago, I had never heard of Dr. Dre headphones. But lately, they seem to be popping up all over the place: on Twitter, on TV and on the heads of celebrities.

Of greatest note, is a holiday campaign for their new Studio line of headphones, offered in a "spectrum of candy colors good enough to eat."
From the moment this ad began, I was hooked. Splashes of color explode as they hit people, in brilliant hues of blue, orange, pink, purple and red. The ad is entertaining, engaging and just plain fun to watch.

I must admit that, at first, I thought this was a SONY Bravia ad, which are famous for their use of vibrant splashes of color. But, I enjoyed this ad far more than any SONY ad I've ever seen.

There was one surprise that surreptitiously appeared on the sleeve of one of the actors partway through the ad - a Best Buy logo. Cool co-branding campaign ... it was done so smoothly that I almost didn't notice it.
Color Beats By Dr. Dre and Best Buy Partnership
Too bad my Christmas list has already been delivered ... this would have been an excellent addition!
Orange Beats By Dr. Dre
Purple Beats By Dr. Dre
Red Beats By Dr. Dre

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Brooks Brothers Asks You To "Share The Sheep"

How can you not be pulled into a commercial that has seven adorable, fluffy sheep singing Jingle Bells in childlike voices? As much as I wanted to turn away from this ad, I just couldn't do it...especially when the little guy with the blue scarf timidly stepped towards the front of the herd to shyly and hesitantly sing a solo. (He kind of reminded me of Rudolph when he was trying to hide his shiny nose.)

The ad is on the front page of the Brooks Brothers website where they encourage you to "SHARE the  SHEEP" with a friend:
Brooks Brothers Share The Sheep
This whole campaign is brilliant for a number of reasons:

- How can anyone resist singing sheep?
- Who doesn't like hearing a lively Christmas tune to help get in the holiday mood?
- Who can resist the urge to share a cute ad with friends? (Case in point, the Office Max Elf Yourself)

Plus, it's a great way to increase awareness of Brooks Brothers and to add to their prospective customer database.

Jingle bells
Jingle bells
Jingle all the way
... to the bank

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Wendy's "Where's the Beef?" Has Jumped The Cow

Wendy's "Where's The Beef?" 1984 ad
In 1984, Wendy's launched a campaign designed to get people to notice that their hamburgers were full-sized, unlike some of the other fast food chains selling burgers.

The campaign, dubbed the "Where's the beef?" campaign ran for what seemed like years (but was probably only months). It featured little white-haired ladies cackling out the words, "Where's the beef? Where's the beef?" Their tinny voices wormed their way into your ears, leaving you begging for a reprieve.
In a word, the campaign was annoying. The little old ladies were annoying.

But, just like Wisk's "Ring Around The Collar" campaign, it appeared to do its job and to do it well. People parroted the words back, successfully making Wendy's ad campaign part of pop culture.

Now, 27 years later, Wendy's is at it again. This time, though, they are using a younger, hipper, social media savvy man to spread the news that Wendy's is revamping their single, double and triple burgers.

Is it just me or does this campaign feel like an idea past its prime? Why take something that had become an icon back in 1984 and try to force fit into 2011? Or is Wendy's trying to tell us that their hamburgers are about as fresh as their advertising?

It feels like Wendy's has jumped the shark ... or is that the cow?
Wendy's "Where's the Beef?" Facebook Campaign
Wendy's "Where's the Beef?" New Spokesman

Wendy's "Where's The Beef?" 2011 Ad

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Lu Lu Lemon Manifesto Blankets Store Front

Lu Lu Lemon, Milwaukee
After walking by the Lu Lu Lemon store on Water Street in Milwaukee nearly every day for the last 1-1/2 years, a new site popped up a few weeks ago that took me by surprise. 

Their store front had disappeared behind a giant-sized Lu Lu Lemon company manifesto.

Admittedly, I was intrigued. Was Lu Lu Lemon's awareness so high that the store would be instantly recognized, even embraced, by those who live by the company's mantra? Or had they just committed a marketing faux pas?

As I turned this question over in my mind, I came to realize that Lu Lu Lemon and their manifesto are synonymous. You really never see one without the other.

I remember the first time I came in contact with Lu Lu Lemon. My daughter had visited their Chicago store for the first time and was so inspired by their manifesto that she purchased me a water bottle for my birthday. I loved it! A few years later, I was thrilled to see them open a store in the Third Ward in downtown Milwaukee.
Lu Lu Lemon Manifesto
How can you read the words of this manifesto and not be inspired? Some of my favorites include:

Friends are more important than money.
Your outlook on life is a direct reflection on how much you like yourself.
That which matters the most should never give way to what matters least.
Jealousy works the opposite way you want it to.
Successful people replace the words "wish," "should," and "try" with "I will."

 So, go out and do something today that scares you...

Brita Fuses Mission With CSR Program

In 2010, Americans deposited 39 billion bottles on the planet.
Do you remember the line in the movie Jerry Maguire, "You had me at hello?"

Well, the opening line of the new Brita ad certainly made me stop and take note. 

Last year alone, the U.S. used over 39 billion plastic bottles of water.

At first blush, one would think that Brita's TV campaign is rather self-serving. After all, they make water filters, which invalidate one of the key reasons why people buy bottled water. A classic problem-solution ad.

Problem: Americans added 39 billion plastic bottles to the planet last year. That's enough to stretch around the earth 190 times.

Solution: Each Brita water filter can take 300 bottles out of the equation. Simple math tells you that if 130,000 people were to purchase and use a Brita filter, we would eliminate all of those pesky water bottles from our landfills.

It sounds like an environmentally slanted ad that just adds to Brita's bottom line, right?

Well, that's what I thought too, until I took a deeper look into their current campaign:

"Brita® has teamed up with Preserve,
a leading maker of 100 percent recycled household consumer goods,
to collect and recycle Brita® filters.
Preserve’s Gimme 5 Program will transform the plastic 
from pitcher and bottle filters into new Preserve products."

While Brita will clearly benefit from consumers using their filters, they are making an investment to collect and recycle used Brita pitchers and filters.

It may not be a gargantuan step towards greenifying our planet, but in Brita's words, it is "a small step towards making a big difference."

Got to love companies that take Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) seriously.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Does Advertising On Report Cards Go Too Far?

Just how far is too far when it comes to advertising?

How about ads for CollegeInvest or McDonald's on your child's report card?

That's just what a Colorado school district recently decided to do to close the gap in their budget deficit. According to Lorie Gillis, Chief Financial Officer for Jeffco Schools:
"Facing $70 million in budget reductions over the 
next two years, we really do need to be creative." 
The CollegeInvest ad will generate $90,000 over a three-year period. In return, a 2-inch ad will be run at the bottom of all elementary school report cards three times a year. 

School administrators justified the advertising on the basis of the two organizations having similar missions. CollegeInvest is an arm of the state government which administers 529 college savings programs. According to Angela Baier, Chief Marketing Office for CollegeInvest: 

"We have similar missions. CollegeInvest is all about education. 
It seemed like a win-win for both of us. 
I really view it as a public service announcement because we're a
non-profit and it's helping families that obviously have children."

 While Colorado may be able to claim a loose connection to a nonprofit organization that focuses on education, other school boards have been far less concerned with making this tie, printing advertising from companies like McDonald's.
In these days of shrinking budgets, school districts have had to make some rather difficult decisions about everything from the subjects they offer to the technology they buy to classroom size to staffing.

If advertising on report cards allows a school to buy 10 more computers or to continue to teach French or to keep a few more teachers employed, is it necessarily a bad thing?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

U Rah Rah Buffalo ... Or Is That Verizon?

Aggie Football / State Farm Insurance
Have you noticed lately how every professional and college sports team seems to be selling out to the highest bidding brand?

What has happened to the days of old ... the days when branding your favorite sports team was more than enough?

I have no doubt that the added revenue to the sports program (especially at the collegiate level) is a big coo, but I must admit that I find it somewhat distracting when I am listening to a coach talk about his team's performance to see brands like Verizon, Toyota and others winking back at me from the TV screen.

What is the goal here ... to walk away remembering the Iowa Hawkeyes or to walk away remembering Alliant Energy?
Iowa Hawkeyes / Alliant Energy
Buffalo Bills / Verizon

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Westin Hotels Promise "A Better You"

Westin Hotels & Resorts is currently capturing the hearts and minds of prospective travelers with its For a Better You ad campaign ... a campaign that promises that its guests will leave feeling better than they felt when they arrived at the hotel.

The most visual of the ads in this campaign is the "Heavenly Bed" ad, which features a woman at rest on a bed of balloons. The ad is bathed in white, promoting a sense of serenity and peace. The balloons themselves leave you with a sense of floating on air ... a perfect setting for a heavenly bed. Of the four ads in this campaign, the message in this particular ad is the easiest to instantly grasp and understand.

According to Brian Povinelli, Global Brand Leader, Westin Hotels & Resorts:

"Westin's entire brand positioning stems from our mission of helping our guests better themselves. The campaign is designed to illustrate how we do this in ways that our competition doesn't and to reinforce the premium experience Westin delivers."

The other ads in the campaign, while visually arresting, do not appear to communicate their intended message quite as quickly or as eloquently as the "Heavenly Bed" ad.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Sears Allows Customers To Pick Weekly Sales Items

Sears People's Picks Holiday Promotion
This morning, I was listening to the radio when I heard a Sears ad talking about the products that shoppers had picked to go on sale this week.

What? Did I hear that right?

It turns out I did. Each week, customers can sign on to the Sears website and vote for their favorite deal in nine different categories: Him, Her, Trendsetters, Teens, Techie, DIY-er, Sports Fan, Kids and Chef. On Friday, the winners are announced and shoppers can cash in on the savings online or in the store.

I love, love, love this idea. Talk about putting your customers and their needs and wants first. Plus, it adds a bit of fun and intrigue to holiday shopping.

Well done Sears.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Black Friday Could Have Small Businesses Giving Thanks To Google and American Express

Small businesses rejoice!
- Are you a small business that would love to extend the reach of your business?
- Do you think your small business has a big story to tell?
- Are you handy enough to film a short video?

Well, then the current promotion being sponsored by Google and American Express is right up your alley.

Together, they have launched a program called, "My Business Story." Small businesses are encouraged to create a video which talks about the following:

- The role their business plays in their community
- The superb customer service they offer their clients
- An innovative angle that differentiates their small business from competitors

Tell your story on YouTube and you might just be one of 36 lucky winners to win a $5,000 online ad campaign (search, banners, videos) free of charge. Even better, your business will be featured on the front page of YouTube on 11/25, more commonly known in the shopping circles, as "Black Friday."

Now that's something to give thanks for.

Check out the details of this promotion at their website and on the video below and, be sure to get your entry in by 11/15.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Has Freedom of Speech Gone Too Far in the U.S.?

Moms think marijuana candy has crossed the line.
If you are an American, you live in one of the best countries in the world ... a country characterized by personal freedoms that extend beyond those offered in just about any other place you could call home.

But, there are times those liberties extend a bit further than some people desire. Take the Freedom of Speech guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution, for example. While we raise our children espousing the virtues of freedom of speech in our nation's classrooms, are there times when people push the line on these liberties?

Recently, candy shaped like marijuana has been showing up on store shelves across the country. These candies are marketed under names like, "The Pothead Ring Pots," "Pothead Lollipops" and "Pothead Sour Gummy Candy."  A group of Buffalo, NY moms believe that the manufacturer has crossed the line and are questioning whether retailers should be allowed to sell candy shaped like marijuana to children. They allege that illegal substances should not be positioned as something fun for children to eat.

According to Fox News, parents contend that while the candy does not contain anything illegal, "its marijuana leaf, the word "legalize" and a joint-smoking, peace sign-waving user on the packaging is not only in poor taste but an invitation to try the real thing."

This debate conjured up images of the candy cigarettes I had as a child. On the few occasions that we were able to talk mom into buying us a pack, I must admit that I felt pretty grown-up smoking my fake cigarettes. Of course, that was at a time when the dangers of cigarette smoking were only just being exposed; so, one could argue that they were perceived as fairly harmless.
Candy cigarettes
Remember the old Joe Camel cigarette ads? If you're in your 20s or younger, probably not, since the Federal Trade Commission determined in 1997 that the image of Joe Camel was designed to appeal to children under the age of 18 and, thus, violated federal law. Now, the only place you'll rub shoulders with Joe is in antique stores or museums.
Joe Camel ads banned in 1997 by FTC
Or what about this: do you think it's acceptable that pro-rights protesters demonstrate with graphic images of late-term, illegally aborted babies at family fundraising events? Whether you are pro-rights or pro-choice is not the issue here ... should young children be exposed to these images? And, from a marketing standpoint, why would you advertise at an event filled with families who obviously chose to bring their babies into the world rather than abort them?
Pro-Life protestors show graphic images of late term abortions.
All of these examples are only made possible because of the innate rights of Americans to exercise Freedom of Speech ... a very special freedom that makes America the Land of Opportunity for millions of new immigrants each year.

What do you think? Do these examples fall comfortably within our Constitutional rights as Americans? Or have they crossed some invisible line that demonstrates we have gone too far as a country? Just how far is too far?

I'd love to hear your opinions.

The Gerber Generation ... Flip Book Style

When you think of iconic brands in America that stretch back over the decades, Gerber is one that will inevitably be mentioned. Sometimes, you'll even hear Gerber's name surface in pop culture, as in: "He's so cute - he could be a Gerber baby!" -or- "Look at those cute little Gerber cheeks he has!"

But, while a legacy brand has much to offer in the way of history, it can also conjure up images of being "old-fashioned" or "my mother's brand." That's okay, if your mom is still the primary target for the brand; but, in the case of Gerber, newborns and toddlers grow up (rather quickly, some say), ushering in a whole new generation of Gerber babies every few years.  So, in order to remain relevant to today's families, Gerber has to make sure that their message is still meaningful.

I'm sure some version of this very discussion occurred at Gerber as they set out to create a new television campaign designed to contemporize their brand.

Their most recent campaign treats you to a flip book style of all different, shapes, sizes and colors of Gerber babies. Do you remember what flip books are? According to Wikipedia:

"A flip book or flick book is a book with a series of pictures 
that vary gradually from one page to the next, 
so that when the pages are turned rapidly,
the pictures appear to animate 
by simulating motion or some other change."

What I found particularly endearing about this visual flip book is that the copy and pictures are in synch with each other.

Say hello to the Gerber Generation:  babies wave
They have some big news to share:  arms are spread wide
The nutrition children get in the first five years:  faces soiled with food
Can affect their health forever:  clapping hands
Think about that:  point their finger to their head
Together, we can create a healthier generation:  flex muscles
And it all starts with you:  point to you

Great campaign. Every time I see the ad, I notice something new ... and even if I didn't, I am enraptured with all the smiling faces of the adorable babies and toddlers. Gerber has extended this campaign to Facebook, the Gerber YouTube channel, and their website

Now, maybe when you think of the Gerber brand, you will think of happy, healthy children who are redefining the next generation of Gerber kids.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Giant Lego Man Washes Up On Florida Beach

Giant Lego Man Washes Up On Florida Beach
Florida beach visitors lift giant Lego Man
Ahhh ... a relaxing day on the beach. Can you feel the warm sun beneath your toes as you stroll the shoreline?

But, wait ... what is that bobbing in the water? Could it be .... could it be a GIANT LEGO MAN?

Believe it or not, that is exactly what recently happened at Siesta Key Beach in Florida. An eight-foot-tall, 100-pound fiberglass man washed up on shore.

Now, I must admit that I immediately gave a high five to the other PR professionals at Branigan Communications. I mean, we may not have been the team that came up with this great idea for the Lego brand, but we must recognize brilliant work when we see it, right?

Wrong. Well kind of wrong.

It was a brilliant PR stunt, but the culprit was not Lego. Rather, this stunt was brought to beach-goers, complements of a Dutch artist named Ego Leonard.

When contacted by email, Leonard replied to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune:

“I am glad I crossed over. Although it was a hell of a [swim].
Nice weather here and friendly people.
I think I am gonna stay here for a while.” 

Leonard has extended his campaign to both Twitter and Facebook. Additionally, his website shows a partially obscured Lego man, whose face is covered by a big green apple.
Interestingly, this is not the first time this has happened. Other Lego figures have washed up on beaches in both Holland and England, in 2007 and 2008.

Fascinating viral campaign.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Citgo Helps You Feel Good When You Fill Up

A few days ago, I was filling my gas tank when I happened to look up at the pump. The ad displayed there intrigued me on several different levels. I'm happy to say that I found it far more inspiring than the "Simplify Your Life" campaign which they aired in 2010.

I loved the mosaic gas can filled with images that begged to be examined. Its call to action was simple ... visit When I did, I learned that Citgo has donated thousands of gallons of gas to charitable organizations. What a great gift-in-kind donation for nonprofit organizations who are trying to trim their operating costs.

Research study after research study demonstrates that consumers are increasingly turning towards companies that deliver quality products and are good corporate citizens. But, here's the $6 million question ... will this ad encourage consumers to buy their gas at Citgo?

In my own personal case, my unequivocal answer is yes. I like the idea of feeling good when fueling up.

Shedd Aquarium Brands Jelly Fish Exhibit

Shedd Aquarium Jelly Fish Exhibit
Recently, I visited the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. It was a day filled with vividly colored, unusually shaped fish swimming through larger-than-life aquariums. The jelly fish exhibit was alluring and mystical, mesmerizing visitors with their delicate tendrils gently floating through the water.  It was a day filled with inspiration and visual stimulation.
But, interestingly, it was also a day filled with brands and marketing.

The first brand that entered the scene was Target, advertising their Field Trip Grants program. This ad was not particularly surprising, since Target's support of schools and museum field trips is fairly well known.
Target Field Trip Grants Program at Shedd Aquarium
But, then the corporate sponsors started piling up, as we moved from room to room. Abbott, Bank of America, Coca-Cola, CommEd, Toyota, Walgreens ... a list of blue chip brands that hung from numerous banners scattered around the aquarium with pride.

Abbot / Bank of America
Toyota / Walgreens
Coca-Cola / CommEd

What a great way for a nonprofit institution to help fund special exhibits which might not fall within their normal operating budget. With nearly 2 million visitors to the Shedd each year, these brands will get more than their fair share of eyeballs during the duration of the Jellies exhibit.  And, in return, we all get to witness the magnificent beauty of these delicate creatures that live under the sea.

Shedd Aquarium Jellies Exhibit
Rather ugly yellow fish at Shedd Aquarium
Shedd Aquarium Sea Horse

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