Monthly Archives: February 2009

i need to stop making suggestions on this blog

come fly the friendly skies

come fly the friendly skies

Last May, I made a outrageous suggestion in a blog post with the caveat not to laugh because it may happen.

Well, it may be happening. Sure, the CEO seems a little spacey…

“Michael makes a lot of this stuff up as he goes along and while this has been discussed internally there are no immediate plans to introduce it,” Stephen McNamara said in a statement.

But the key quote there is that it has been discussed internally. And while this airline’s PR flacks are trying to put out this fire, you know it’s been discussed at every airline.

When it does eventually happen on U.S. carriers (because we know how much they care for their passengers), I will be using my 3-1-1 bottles and clear plastic quart bags for other than intended purposes as a protest.

I wonder how much the airline industry will have to mistreat customers before there’s a pushback.

does not rhyme with orange

tropicana new and old packaging

Back in with the old and out with the new for Tropicana?

The whole Tropicana fiasco fascinates me. While the new image looks very modern (and generic), it turns out people don’t want trendy OJ packaging. They want to be able to quickly pick up their favorite orange juice at the grocery.

My big question is: what was broken about the “straw in the orange” look that needed fixing anyway? The straw/orange is a nearly perfect metaphor for OJ.

It never ceases to amaze me how companies trash years of brand equity and customer familiarity just because they’re tired of the way the living room furniture looks and want to remodel.

Maybe it’s because Pepsi (who owns Tropicana) got seduced by the siren song of creatives who are more concerned with image than reality. Just a few weeks ago Arnell Group CEO Peter Arnell was singing his own praises about “the work” that is now being scrapped. Of course, these are the same people who basically just did a redux of the Obama logo and then sold it to Pepsi packaged with this garbage.

Most everybody is laying the flop at the feet of the brand team. But let’s not foget the other glaring failure of this Tropicana incident: the research. This move was run by the focus groups and had extensive market research. But then again, so was New Coke.

exposure does not equal success

I’ve often said (and blogged here) that politics is nothing more than marketing.

The district adjacent to my own just wrapped up a special election to fill a vacated state senate seat. The race was between an ambulance chasing lawyer who is a common fixture in media in the area — and another lawyer who may or may not chase ambulances but does not promote it if he does.

The ambulance chaser already had ultimate top-of-mind name awareness in the market. No matter where you live, you can probably name 2 or 3 lawyers in your market/city who have advertised their practice to this level with wall-to-wall TV spots, full page advertising, wasting money with big listings in the Yellow Pages, etc. They’ve marketed themselves to minor celebrity status. If you saw them in the mall, you’d poke the person next to you and say “hey, it’s that lawyer from the commercials”.

The ambulance chaser heavily advertised his candidacy for the senate seat with the same gusto that he marketed his law practice. I have no concrete proof, but it also seemed the frequency of his law practice ads increased during the campaign as well. All of his marketing (both campaign and law practice) was well produced and well designed by professional agencies.

The other lawyer was known in the area, but didn’t have the “minor celebrity” status of his opponent. He didn’t spend a lot of money on the campaign (in fact, he was massivley outspent by the other candidate). The marketing that he did wasn’t as well produced. He wasn’t as comfortable on camera as the other guy. And last night, he won the race.

As with all politics, there were other factors at work here (weather issues may have affected turnout, there were some skeletons in the loser’s political closet, etc), but there are two marketing thoughts that come out of this:
1)You can’t advertise your way to success
Marketing just points people to a product. It doesn’t make the sale. All the marketing in the world won’t sell a product that people don’t want to buy.

2)You can advertise too much
Those 2 or 3 lawyers in your market who are mall celebrities? You probably also see them as parodies. Market yourself enough that you keep top-of-mind awareness, but not so much that it becomes annoying.

i’m here — hope you are too

If you’re reading this in your rss feed reader, then you’ve made it with me to the new blog.

As I said in the last blogspot post, I should have done this a long time ago and really should have done it from the start. I always hesitated doing it because I feared I would lose some readers and all those inbound links from over the years. And I have lost those links and I’m sure some people will get left behind, but this needed to be done. I’m hopeful that 2009 will be a big year because of a project that I’m working on that will launch late summer/early fall (see for details)

You shouldn’t build a house on land that you don’t own. A blog on a free platform presents the same problem. What if blogger/google pulled the rug out tomorrow? The blog issue is easy to solve like I just have — but think about all the people building their online brand equity in places like twitter, linked in, facebook, and a hundred other places online. Is your entire online brand resting on something that could be gone tomorrow?

Anyway, the process of the switch was easier and quicker than I thought it would. Toughest part was that I had to manually transfer several of my old comments (pre-2006) when I was using Haloscan comments instead the Blogger commenting.

All the posts made it except one from two years ago that came over as a draft for some reason. All the comments came except 3. I have no idea what 3 they were. I hope they weren’t profound observations.

And all the old labels/tags came over as categories. It will be a joy to clean those up.

Thanks for coming along to the new digs.

the last blogspot post

It’s something that I should have done a long time ago, but this weekend, I am biting the bullet. Effective 7-feb-2009, I am moving the Shotgun Marketing Blog to a new location at my business site at

If I am fortunate enough to be included on your blogroll, I would appreciate you updating the link on your blog.

If you subscribe to my Feedburner feed, you shouldn’t have to do anything. I will give this post a few hours to go through the feed and then I will switch feedburner to the new address and publish another post from the new blog. If you haven’t seen another post from me in your feed reader by Sunday morning 2/8, then please resubscribe at the new location.

If you have subscribed to the Blogger atom feed, then please subscribe either at feedburner
or the new site’s feed

I will also be exporting all 400+ posts from the past 4 years here to the new site. That may cause hiccups on some of your feeds. If it does, I apologize in advance.

I will see you across the river. Hopefully

the chickens eat mice wearing red shorts

It’s one of my major mantras. Brand does not equal logo. Brand is an emotional relationship with a product or service.

Too many times companies just slap a logo onto something and say they’re selling a brand.

Today’s Exhibit: Disney Eggs — Regular incredible edible eggs that have been stamped with a Mickey Mouse, Lightning McQueen, or other Disney character.

While on the surface it’s silly, it will probably work on the primary purchase level. The true decision maker on the grocery trip (the kids) will see the packaging and make someone buy them. However, the brand exposure won’t last beyond that unless the kid eats his eggs hard-boiled.

The real trouble is that brand extensions are like crack cocaine — once you start you can’t stop. When you dilute a brand like Disney so much that you’ve gone to raw agricultural goods, you’re severely damaging the brand.

rubbing pelvic region with pumpkin

There’s a fine line between publicity that makes people notice you and publicity that makes people think you’re an idiot.

The kids at Peta like to cross that line on a regular basis.

From suggesting that Ben and Jerry’s replace cow’s milk with human breast milk in its ice cream to the campaign to rebrand fish as “sea kittens”, it seems that Peta has been wackier than usual lately.

But Super Bowl “big game” ads bring out the truly stupid in every organization. Apparently part of Peta’s Super Bowl “big game” media strategy each year is to get their spots rejected by the network. (but unlike GoDaddy, Peta actually wants to be rejected. It’s exposure with no ad dollars spent!) Last year, they got creepy with their arch-enemy, the Colonel. This year, NBC’s advertising standards department rejected Peta’s ad(maybe nsfw) because the ad basically was just several shots of women who appeared to be pleasuring themselves with fruits and vegetables.

And after Nipplegate, you just can’t have that sort of thing in the Super Bowl “big game” unless you count Bruce Springsteen’s crotch (hope you didn’t have the 3-d glasses on) or if you’re a Tucson Comcast subscriber.

Obviously, Peta is being outrageous just to get the attention. But after a few times of generating “false outrageousness” — you just become a laughingstock. And then people stop paying attention to you at all.

maslow’s business strategy

I had no blog posts last week. I also had no power. I had no heat. Each day, I fought windmills. Finding a place to keep the family warm. Cleaning up from where the trees crashed into the house and all over the yard. A nightly battle to keep my pipes from freezing — while during the day in an ironic twist — I was also trying to keep a deep freezer and fridge cold.

We’re OK now. The mess has been cleaned up. Appliances are sucking energy off the grid. Insurance people will visit. Life is returning to normal. While there was a part of me that enjoyed the challenge of keeping everything going in less than optimal circumstances, it occupied my entire life last week and other non-essential things got pushed down the list of priorities.

It’s something to keep in mind as we enter what appears to be either a real or perceived downturn in the economy.

You’ve probably heard of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs which basically gives a stairstep / pyramid order of what a human needs to exist and be productive. The base consists of your personal physiological needs and sense of safety. Until those basic needs are met, the higher level functions of creativity, problem solving, and higher level thinking aren’t that strong.

People say that a down economy is a great time to start a business. But, is it?

As people are just trying to keep their heads above water, they may not have what it takes to make a successful venture. Until they have that sense of security and safety, they’ll have a hard time finding the creativity and problem solving skills to start something new.

So just as I’m currently in the process of Y2K-equiping the house for the next time the power goes off — maybe you should start planning your marketing and business plan for a worst case scenario while you’re still snug and secure. The best time to build a lifeboat is before you get in the water.