Saturday, July 30, 2011

Delta Goes Nuts For Cookies

A few weeks ago, I found myself on yet another airplane. In the past two months, I've racked up too many miles to count, traveling to Poland, Austria, Germany, Italy, Hungary, Boston, New York, Dallas, Charlotte, and a few others that I'm sure I'm missing.

The economic effect on the airline industry has not gone unnoticed on my travels. It has become painfully obvious that there is no such thing as a free handout. You pay to check your bags. You pay to sit in an exit row. You pay for headphones. You pay for the flight attendant to be nice to you (just kidding). You even have to pay to get a little bag of pesky peanuts.

So, it was with delight on my most recent trip that the flight attendant offered me some cookies. Free Biscoff cookies? Heck yeah!

I was so excited to dig into the cookies that I didn't notice Delta's name on the outside of the package; but, I sure noticed their name once the wrapper was off.
Very cool. Delta-branded cookies.

Delta gets an A+ ... for giving me a free snack and for practicing 360-degree branding. Hopefully, a few other airlines will read this blog and reinstitute the era of free snacks.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Baby Ronald McDonald Scares Indians

When McDonald's recently opened their first location in Kimaya Kothrud, India, they chose to announce their "birth" like any proud parent ... with a photo of the new baby.

But, unlike the baby photos I am accustomed to receiving, this photo disturbs me on several levels:

1) Do Indians know who this pure white, clown-faced child is if they are not familiar with Ronald McDonald?

2) Is this really an awareness-building campaign?  It does do a good job of announcing the birth of McDonald's; however, it does not educate Indians on the food that is available. Now, I know you may say that McDonald's is the same everywhere, but the truth is that it isn't. Certainly, there are staples like the Big Mac, but McDonald's offers regional menus to capitalize on the ethnic tastes of each unique market it is located in. This ad surely doesn't entice Indians with its regional menu.

3) Finally - and perhaps most importantly - this baby is just plain creepy. It's like a Halloween costume gone bad. Every time I look at it, I have a pretty visceral response ... and let's just say that this response doesn't exactly make me hungry.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

We All Speak The Language of McDonald's

While walking the streets of Vienna, Austria, I saw the above McDonald's ad on a billboard. I was struck by the fact that, no matter where you go, no matter what language you speak, we all speak the language of McDonald's.

Google Provides Free WiFi in Airport

I hurried to the Charlotte Airport on Friday as soon as I finished my meeting, hoping to catch an early flight back home. Unfortunately, every other business person traveling through the fine state of North Carolina had exactly the same idea. So, I found myself stuck in the airport with five hours on my hands.

Not one to sit idle, I booted up my computer hoping to tap into some free WiFi while in the airport. As I toggled over to the web, I came face-to-face with the screen below.

Fascinating - make Google your home page and access the web at the airport for free. (Truthfully, you didn't even have to make Google your homepage since the small print at the bottom of the page said: "No thanks, just take me online.")

Hats off to Google, who continually surprises with their innovative marketing techniques. Love it, love it, love it.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Poland: Dove Misses An Opportunity

While staying at a Holiday Inn in Krakow, Poland, I was surprised to see Dove shampoo and body cream wash in the shower. What a great branding opportunity!

I have to admit that I was somewhat surprised ... only because I'm used to seeing products that are either branded with the hotel name or are an upscale brand name, like L'occitane or Aveda. The thought of a mainstream product (which can easily be purchased at a local Walgreens in the U.S.) intrigued me. I must offer a head nod to Unilever on the placement of this product in a Polish Holiday Inn.

However, I must admit, I was somewhat mystified when I turned to the sink and found additional shampoo and shower gel, under the brand name Damana Fresh. First, the shampoo seemed redundant ... just how much shampoo and shower gel does a person need? But, secondly, it seemed like a missed branding opportunity for Dove. Why not negotiate an exclusive arrangement for Dove?

I suspect there's some hidden detail that I am not privy to that explains this brand mismatch. Because knowing the likes of Unilever, it's unlikely they would miss this branding opportunity.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Germany: Adidas Travels in Style

Tired of walking the streets of Munich, Germany? Now, you can travel in style with Adidas.

Adidas (pronounced Ah-dee-dahz) is a German-based company, along with rival Puma. What better way to promote the heritage of your brand than to move throughout the tourist area in Munich?

I'm sure this product endorsement doesn't hurt Adidas' marketing budget all that much. Yet, it is simple and effective.

And so you ask - did I take a ride? No - I chose to tour the city on a segway instead. All in all, it was a fascinating experience.

Germany: Apple Transcends Language Barrier

While in Munich, Germany on Friday I saw the above ad on the side of a fabulous old historic building. Interestingly, the building was being renovated, so a sheet was placed over the entire side of the building ... then an artist's rendition of the building was pictured, along with the iPad 2 ad. Very clever.

In this ad, Apple chose to use the universal language of visual images. The only words that viewers saw were iPad 2. A visual of the product and a rainbow of different colored cases was shown beneath it.

It would appear that Apple has transcended language and cultural barriers. Regardless of what country you come from, we have all become accustomed to the common language used by Apple in their advertising ... a white background, a colorful product visual, the Apple logo, and the brand name of the product being advertised.

How many brands can you think of that can eloquently sell their products around the world, without any copy? It's quite a feat.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Five Years Later, Apple Still Thinks Different

An advertising student of mine recently shared this 2006 Apple ad with me. I had never seen it before, but still found it relevant, as well as inspiring.

First of all, what a great ad. I even got goosebumps watching this .. seeing visual images of the late greats, like Martin Luther King, John Lennon, and Ghandi. I love the line, "...because the people who think they are crazy enough to change the world, are the ones who do."

Secondly, thank you Apple for validating all the creative people out there that have felt like a "round peg in a square hole" at some point in their lives ... or for some of us, who feel like this just about every day of our lives.

Third, even five years later, this ad still embodies the mission of Apple to think different, to push the boundaries of everyday convention, to go where no one has ever gone before.

This ad reminded me of the Joshua Walters video on being "just crazy enough." Sometimes, we look at that person with the purple hair, the young lady that marches to a different drummer, the individual with an interesting sense of personal style or a way of looking at things that is one or two steps out of synch with the rest of the world, and think, "What an odd person!" or "Why are they dressed that way?"

To me, Apple's ad is telling all of us not to admonish this unique individual, but instead to celebrate them and to recognize that the next great idea may already be taking seed in their mind.

To that, I say Hallelujah!

By the waz, if you personally identify with this ad, I would recommend Daniel Pink's book, "A Whole New Mind; Why Right Brainers Will Rule The Future." It is a great read, validating that there is a place in our world for all the creative thinkers.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Samsung Soars in Austria

As I stepped out of Vienna International Airport this evening, the above image was the first sight that met my eyes. My driver was moving to his car so quickly that I barely had time to snap this picture. But, despite my less than stellar picture taking, this nontraditional advertising grabbed my focus from the moment I stepped outdoors (where it was only 18 degrees Celsius - what's up with that?).

I must admit my curiosity was piqued. Was this tower a place of business, did it serve some other purpose, or did it serve no purpose at all? I had to find out.

My searching led me to this YouTube video, which explained all. It actually is an airport control tower ... one of the tallest ones in Europe, to be exact. My continued searching helped me realize that what I saw this evening was actually quite boring to what the tower sometimes reveals to air travelers.

I wasn't able to find the cost of this tower or the strategy behind why Samsung constructed it, but according to Wikipedia (the finest authority in all the land), nearly 20 million passengers visited the Vienna International Airport in 2010.

Maybe that's all the eyeballs Samsung needed to justify the cost of this nontraditional advertising tactic. I must say ... it worked for me.
Sue Northey - Find me on