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A Clever Take on What Brands Cannot Do for Us

24 Apr

Sorry brand marketers, but your brands cannot solve all of our lives’ problems or issues. :-)

Enjoy this slideshow by Michael Paredrakos, Strategic Planner at the Curious Brain.



When Does a Selfie Go Too Far?

10 Apr

Recently, the Boston Red Sox baseball team was honored by President Obama for winning the 2013 World Series. The tradition of U.S. presidents honoring winning teams and athletes goes back many decades.

So, what makes this year’s celebration different? David Ortiz of the Red Sox took a selfie with President Obama. Nothing wrong what that, right? So, what’s the controversy?

It seems that Ortiz had signed a promotion deal with Samsung shortly before the ceremony and the photo then became viewed as too commercial in nature — something that all presidents have frowned upon.

As reported by Tim Parry for Multichannel Merchant:

“It all seems innocent. But Terry Lefton of Sports Business Daily reported a day before the Big Papi-presidential selfie that David Ortiz had signed an endorsement deal with Samsung – one similar to the one Ellen DeGeneres signed with Samsung prior to her Oscars selfie.”

“Here’s where it gets funny: Samsung told The Boston Globe that they arranged for the Ortiz-Obama selfie. Ortiz, on the other hand, said the selfie was not a publicity stunt.”

Who do YOU believe?

Click the image to read more.


The Importance of Customer Service in Marketing to Small Firms

1 Apr

Just like their larger counterparts, small business owners expect their channel partners (especially the manufacturers and suppliers with which they interact) to provide superior customer service. They do not want to be neglected or overlooked.

According to a February 2014 study by Cargo and Toluna (as reported by eMarketer): “Nearly half (47.3%) of small business owners (SBOs) said that poor customer service was the most common mistake brands made. Marketers must make an effort to relate to SBOs: Talking at SBOs (instead of with them), as well as failing to understand their businesses, were also big no-nos, cited by 44.7% and 40.7%, respectively.”

Click the chart to learn more.


results from a February 2014 study by Cargo and Toluna suggest that marketers should pay attention to their customer service if they’re looking to benefit from such growth.

Nearly half (47.3%) of SBOs said that poor customer service was the most common mistake brands made. Marketers must also make an effort to relate to SBOs: Talking at SBOs (instead of with them), as well as failing to understand their businesses, were also big no-nos, cited by 44.7% and 40.7%, respectively.

results from a February 2014 study by Cargo and Toluna suggest that marketers should pay attention to their customer service if they’re looking to benefit from such growth.

Nearly half (47.3%) of SBOs said that poor customer service was the most common mistake brands made. Marketers must also make an effort to relate to SBOs: Talking at SBOs (instead of with them), as well as failing to understand their businesses, were also big no-nos, cited by 44.7% and 40.7%, respectively.



Enhancing Customer Satisfaction

26 Mar

Take a look at a recent interview that Evans on Marketing did with Rachel Levy Sarfin of on how companies can improve the customer shopping experience.

As Sarfin says: “The well-known adage of ‘the customer is always right’ is no longer enough to improve the shopping experience for today’s consumers. Customers hold certain expectations of their interactions with businesses, and in the Digital Age, if those expectations are not met, they will share their displeasure with thousands of people through social media.”

Click the image to read the interview.


Reducing the Chances of Credit/Debit Card Fraud

14 Mar

There is a great article in today’s New York Times by Ron Lieber. It is titled: “Consumers Not Powerless in the Face of Card Fraud.”

Lieber’s article covers:

  • Alerts and Other Tools
  • The On/Off Switch
  • Chip Cards

Click the image to read Lieber’s tips.

Art by Robert Neubecker 


Lego Mania Goes Viral

6 Mar

The Lego Movie has turned out to be quite a global phenomenon. Click the image to visit the movie’s Web site.

According to Box Office Mojo, through March 4, 2014, the movie had grossed $333,000 worldwide — $212 million in the United States and $121 million in foreign markets. And, unlike some other blockbuster movies that cost much more to make, The Lego Movie cost $60 million to produce, making it highly profitable.

But The Lego Movie mania goes far beyond the popularity of the film itself. There have been a lot of promotional tie ins (see this article, for example). And Toys “R” Us even set up special displays for Lego movie figures.

Separate and apart from the recent movie, there is also a Lego “YouTube Spotlight” with a number of “fan-made” videos based on Lego characters. Many of the videos preceded the introduction of the movie — nonetheless, they extend Lego brand recognition and continue to be highly viewed. The most popular Lego movie in the spotlight is Battle of the Brick: Built for Combat, which has been viewed nearly 17 million times.

All in all, it’s a great time for Lego.

[Note: The video below, Battle of the Brick: Built for Combat, is 27 minutes long.]


Chobani IS at the Olympics, Even If Its Yogurt Is Not

9 Feb

Chobani, a leading maker of Greek-style yogurt, is an official sponsor of Team USA at the Sochi, Russia Olympics. It has paid a lot of money for this right and is advertising during NBC’s Olympic coverage. Nonetheless, Chobani yogurt has been barred from being received by Team USA athletes at the 2014 Winter Games.

As reported by U.S. News & World Report:

The New York-made yogurt is being held up by Russian customs officers at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey due to ‘unattainable’ Russian customs certifications, according to NY Senator Charles Schumer. ‘Unfortunately, this protein-packed, New York-made food has met a serious roadblock in the Russian government, thanks to an unreasonable customs certificate and they will not allow the yogurt into the country,’ Schumer said in a release.”

USNWR’s Katherine Beard further notes that: “Another factor in play could be the continuing controversy over Russia’s much-publicized anti-gay laws. Chobani CEO Hamdi Ulukaya told CNBC Wednesday, ‘We oppose Russia’s anti-LGBT law.’ That makes Chobani the third official Olympic sponsor to condemn the laws.”

So, Chobani really is at the Olympics: The ban on the yogurt has gone viral, giving tremendous free publicity. Chobani has gotten praise praise for being courageous enough to take a public stand (although there are some critics of its position). And Chobani is running ads during Olympic programming — such as these.



While Samsung Rises, Sony Falls

7 Feb

We’ve written a lot about the remarkable rise of Asian powerhouse Samsung Electronics, most recently just last week. But we’ve also reported on the decline of another Asian powerhouse (former??), Sony, and asked this question about nine months ago: What’s Ahead for Sony? Does the Future Include Electronics?

Well, we’ve now gotten an answer from Sony, with its announcement that it would be exiting the PC business (by selling this division) and spinning off its television business. Yes, the company that created the breakthrough Vaio PC and the Trinitron TV is moving away from these businesses after years of disappointing results. What do YOU think Sony should do next?

Here are excerpts from Sony’s Press February 6, 2014 release:

“Sony has been aggressively implementing a reform strategy across its electronics business. In the imaging, game, and mobile businesses that Sony identified as the three core businesses that would drive the growth of its electronics business, Sony has made significant progress in executing this strategy. Sony has launched high value-added products that bring together the best of Sony’s technological strengths and introduced new market-leading platforms and business models. At the same time, Sony identified PCs and TVs as businesses for which profitability improvement would be a key priority and implemented various reform measures. The reforms executed within the TV business have significantly enhanced its operational structure and product competitiveness. However, Sony now anticipates its target of returning the TV and PC businesses to profitability will not be achieved within the fiscal year ending March 31, 2014.”

“Sony and Japan Industrial Partners Inc. (“JIP”) today concluded a memorandum of understanding confirming the parties’ intent for Sony to sell to JIP Sony’s PC business currently operated under the Vaio brand. As a part of the business transfer to JIP, Sony will cease planning, design and development of PC products. Manufacturing and sales will also be discontinued after the Spring 2014 lineup to be launched globally.”

“Sony has been engaged in various cost reduction initiatives for the TV business. These initiatives include enhancing LCD panel-related cost efficiency and rationalizing R&D expenses, while also strengthening product competitiveness and operational efficiency in order to improve marginal profit ratio. Due to these measures, losses from the TV business,  are now anticipated to be reduced to about 25 billion yen [$25 million] in FY13.” As a result: “First, Sony will shift its product mix and focus on increasing the proportion of sales from high-end models. Sony plans to reinforce the company’s leading position in the 4K market by strengthening its product lineup while also bolstering its 2K models with wide color range and image-enhancing technologies. In emerging markets, Sony will aim to harness market expansion by developing and launching models tailored to specific local needs. Second, Sony will accelerate and broaden its on-going cost reduction and operational improvement measures, focusing attention across all functions relevant to the TV business. In addition, to help transform this business into a more efficient and dynamic organization, optimized for the current competitive business environment and fully accountable for its operations, Sony has decided to split out the TV business and operate it as a wholly-owned subsidiary. The targeted time frame for this transition is July 2014.”

Take a look at this Wall Street Journal chart to see Sony’s operating profit trends by sector.


Advertising at the End of the Super Bowl? Have an Ad That’s Viral!

3 Feb

Until last night, many of the recent Super Bowl games have been close. This makes advertisers VERY happy. Why? Because the viewership of the game stays high and ads in the latter part of the 4th quarter still reach well over 100 million viewers.

But what happens when the Super Bowl is a blowout — and the score is 36 to nothing with about 3 minutes to go in the 3rd quarter? This is where being a smart advertiser pays off, and “leaking” Super Bowl ads prior to game day pay off.

So, here’s a short quiz: Were you still watching Super Bowl XLVIII at the two minute warning of last’s night game? If yes, what was the lead ad during the commercial break? [No cheating by looking below. :-)]. HINT: It was the ad with the most views on YouTube before the game began — with more than twice as many views as any other Super Bowl ad. As of game time, it had 36 million views! The next two commercials combined had 30 million views.

Keep in mind, the advertiser carefully planned to run the commercial during the break for the two-minute warning. It was anticipating a tight game and a huge audience. It chose this time spot!!

By releasing the ad on the Wednesday before the Sunday game, the advertiser not only created a lot of buzz; the ad instantly went viral. And in today’s critique of Super Bowl ads, it has consistently ranked among the three best.

Here’s the ad — Budweiser’s “Puppy Love”:


Too Many Brands Not Keeping Up with Social Media Activity

29 Jan

Millions of companies have passed the first threshold with social media. They are in the game by having Facebook, Twitter, and other social media accounts; and many operate their own blogs.

However, lots of companies have not successfully passed the second threshold with social media. They are not active enough with their accounts and sometimes disappoint people with their slow or non-respsonse to online comments/requests. And these companies are missing out on big opportunities!

Consider these observations from eMarketer:

“Social media has become a critical channel for brands looking to connect with consumers, but it looks like many followers aren’t getting the attention they expect, according to data released in December 2013 by Sprout Social. Between Q3 2012 and Q3 2013, Twitter grew its Monthly Active User (MAU) base from 151 million to 218 million—a 44% year-over-year increase. Facebook saw a 17% rise in MAUs, from 955 million to 1.15 billion. Collectively, the two sites grew 20% to hit 1.42 billion MAUs.”

“However, user engagement, such as messages that required a response or attention, was growing nine times as fast as Twitter and Facebook combined. How are brands keeping up? Results indicated they were not: Average brand response rates for both Twitter and Facebook dipped below 20% year over year.”

Click the chart to read more.





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