Monthly Archives: May 2007

Rebrand Nation

I don’t want to get into the politics of it, but this article from Slate is a wonderful example of the mistakes that are made when you try to “REBRAND” through words and not actions.

It doesn’t matter what you SAY. It matters what you DO.

Press Releases don’t change public perception of your brand. Positive customer experiences do.

If government propaganda can’t change public perceptions, what makes you think your incredibly clever advertising can?

Smack them hard on the bottom

Companies haven’t figured out the whole user-created paradigm yet. They know it’s hot and they want to get in on it, but when they try it’s as awkward as someone’s mother trying to hang with her kids’ friends.

Take this example from Tim about Heinz Ketchup.

They asked customers to create ketchup commercials. The winner gets $57,000. — (bet it took 8 brainstorming sessions to turn out that brilliant number) — But it turns out that the commercials are awful (see some here) and there’s been a massive push back from consumers. And now Heinz has spent way too much money and time to get crap.

Here’s the deal. It’s not just letting people run free and do your advertising and marketing for you. The entire new world of marketing involves GUIDING THE CONVERSATION not just throwing something out there and hoping something comes back.

And as with most good marketing ideas these days, businesses are going to look at user-generated campaigns like this and the Chevy Tahoe SUV debacle and never get in on the game. But as with most things, when it’s done right, it will work.


We hear alot about the erosion of the power of traditional media. It used to be easy to hit a consumer. Three networks, a couple of radio stations, a newspaper and you were done. It’s not so easy now. The media audience has fragmented. It’s hard to get the massive mindshare you used to. But you know that.

So now look at places. You used to have a 50-50 shot. Consumers were either at home or at work. And that’s where we marketed. And then came along the marketing idea of the “Third Place“. It’s the place you occupy that’s neither work nor home. It could be a bar. It could be Starbucks. It could be the gym.

But what about the Fourth Place like Second Life? Or the Fifth Place like your mobile/ipod/blackberry world? Etc. Etc.

The decline of media power is nothing next to the decline of places.

As the masses become more individualized and each person occupies a niche that they’ve created either online or offline means that you’re going to have to find them before you can market to them.

So what’s the answer? The obvious one is permission based marketing and creating communities of users who want to be involved in your brand.

But what about consumers who could benefit from your offering, but don’t know it yet? They’re not seeking you out and you don’t know where they are.

That will be the true challenge of marketing in the next few years.

They’re doing what?

I was talking to someone today at a media property about an organization that I used to be involved with.

Apparently, the organization has taken an informal poll among their 70 or so employees about favorite radio stations, newspapers, TV, etc. And that’s what they’re using to decide where to spend advertising dollars.

Let me say it again just in case you lack the ability to scan backward to previous sentences.

They are basing their entire media buy on the musical tastes of 70 people who are not representative of their customer base.

And while that’s just wrong on so many levels that I don’t want to get carpal tunnel by listing them all, it happens all the time with businesses of every size.

It amazes me as I write and speak about the “new ways” to market that some businesses are not just stuck in the “old ways”, but doing the old ways wrong.

Ideas under a bushel

What do the “Las Vegas Welcome Sign“, the term “Yellow Pages” (along with the walking fingers, and the Bible have in common?

None of them are copyrighted.

Anyone can print a telephone directory and call it the Yellow Pages. Any tourist trinket maker can use the image of the Vegas sign. Anyone can print a Bible.

The trouble is not coming up with the idea. I’ve got a hundred ideas. The problem is getting the idea to spread. The more barriers (including copyrights) that you can remove to help people take your idea the masses, the better.

The lawyers are quivering when they read this. But the marketing people should be marketing, not the lawyers.

Failure for most companies comes from trying to sell the idea rather than the application of the idea. The application is where the growth, success, and the money are. Go there.

UPDATE: Elizabeth makes a good point in the comments. Certain translations of the Bible are copyrighted. (I’m a KJV guy) But it strengthens the point as well – the original Bible was not copyrighted (no lawyers in the Holy Land or in King James’ court) and people have figured out applications (the translations) that are profitable.

Tea time

Tea is hot. (rim shot)
Seriously, it’s a growing phenomenon with huge opportunities.

I’ve been invited to speak at the 2007 World Tea Expo which brings in the entire international crowd who market tea from the time it’s picked to when you drink it. This year the conference will run from June 9-11 in Atlanta, GA.

I’ll be talking about developing a marketing plan. It’s good content for anyone even if you’re not in the tea biz. Click here for more info about the World Tea Expo or click here to register.

And as always, I’m available for speaking engagements like this for your meeting, conference or private event. My keynotes, seminars, and talks are packed with ideas, relevant, fun, and full of common sense marketing. Visit my speaking page for more information about how you can bring me in to your group.


I continue to watch the attempted evolution of the McDonalds brand. It seems they to want to be the next Starbucks with all the coffee promotions they’ve been brewing lately.

McDonalds has introduced a new iced coffee drink. At least with iced coffee, they’ll avoid lawsuits from people spilling the cup in their laps. Unless they sue for frostbite instead of burns.

This is the latest in a long line of new products and store remodels that McDonalds is using to try to change the public perception of the McDonalds brand and branch out into other market segments.

I often rant that trying to “re-brand” is a pointless exercise. The brand is generated by the consumer, not dictated by the company.

For a majority of the public, the McDonalds brand still evokes the thoughts of unhealthy food, freakish clowns, and minimum wage workers. A chic coffee drink and premium chicken aren’t going to change that overnight.

And you can see the trouble they’re having in trying to change the perception. Only a few companies in the world have the money and public attention to try and pull a re-brand off. And they fail most of the time.

What makes you think you’re going to pull off a “re-brand” with your budget?