Sunday, December 20, 2009

Starbucks Needs a Redesign (or How Project Runway Can Save America's Favorite Coffee House from Boring Brand Syndrome)

So, similar to all of you reading this, I will be buying several Starbucks gift cards in the next few days to make up for being a lazy, last minute holiday shopper. I was just at Starbucks two days ago, before the Northeast was hit by BLIZZARD '09 (please read in loud booming local TV anchor voice), and did not pick-up said gift cards. I do not know why. It's that lazy, last minute gene. And now I can't get out of my house because the snow is literally blocking the exit and mocking me and my last-minuteness.
What I did notice on my last jaunt into my favorite coffee brewing franchise, however, was a beautiful citron green (or is it citron yellow?) mini, key chain gift card holder designed by Christian Siriano, the last Project Runway winner before the show went all Kelly Rowland and Mizrahi freaky.

Oh my God, it's f*cking snowing again. I can't believe it's snowing. Again. As I write this the snow began to fall. Really fall. Damn, last minute shopping gene.

Sorry, back to Christian Siriano's beautiful Starbucks gift card holder. The gift card holder color was such a breath of fresh design air. I picked it up and fondled it. I didn't buy it, of course, because December 18th is way too early to be buying Christmas gifts. But it was so strikingly different than everything else in the store. I wished I could tap it on the counter and the store would immediately transform into a magical, citron wonderland of modern design beauty. Then I thought to myself why Christian Siriano? Why citron? Why do the Starbucks kings not see that the brand has become...well, boring? And then I thought again...why Christian Siriano? I mean, they could have picked anyone. They have Bono singing on their promotional Christmas album for chrissakes. Jonathan Adler. Dolce & Gabbana. Anyone. Not that I'm knocking Siriano, clearly the boy has done more than anyone else on the show with his brand. But, what is going on Starbucks? Who is driving the brand development?

And I write this with all love and sincerity. I adore Starbucks. Probably more than the average Joe. I clearly spend more money at Starbucks than anyone else in the vicinity. I walk in and they light up, because they know I am responsible for the dramatic quarter-to-quarter increases in sales. They know I am why their manager gives them raises. They know I will be putting their kids through college, even if they are just kids in college themselves. I love the brand. Well, maybe not the entry into cooking breakfast sandwiches -- I did not love that. It was very smelly. Starbucks has dramatically changed the way brands think about their interaction with the consumer, with the community. She's done an amazing job. Yes, Starbucks is a she. I'm merely saying it's time for a refresh.

I know this because, yesterday, December 19th, before the unexpected BLIZZARD '09 kicked into full gear, I went into the local drugstore and saw they have a gift card wall. (Perfect.) So I dashed on over and perused the selections. There was not much to choose from unless I wanted to gift Applebee's and pre-paid telephone cards to my children. What I did find, however, was an entire section devoted to Starbucks gift cards. In the drugstore. I didn't buy any, because there are still a few days left until the "it's-Christmas-tomorrow-sweats" start to kick in and I was surprised to see how old-fashioned they looked. You know what I'm talking about -- the maroon velvet chair, brown, beige and Starbucks green. I couldn't shake the vision of my Siriano Starbucks. I wanted that beautiful, little citron key chain trinket of Starbucks joy. The feeling was intense. And as sad as it made me, I realized my Starbucks needs a redesign.

Brands age. Just like us. The trick is to keep the brand interesting. You know those old people you meet that have stories upon stories to tell, that just took up oil painting at 72, that just fell in love again; we love talking to those people. A brand works in a similar way. Years do not have to make a brand less interesting. Quite the opposite, actually. Legacy is a powerful tool in marketing. What an aging brand needs, however, is evolution and new stories. Let Siriano go crazy with technicolor. Surprise and delight loyal customers. Boring is not the same as reliable. Boring makes a brand irrelevant in a consumer's life -- a life that is always shifting and engaging and creating new stories. Brands must follow consumers and treat them to a bit of mystery and surprising turns along the way. This is how a brand remains fresh.

Be loyal to your loyal following by giving them some new stories. They'll pull up their citron velvet chair and listen for hours, no matter the weather. I'll have a tall, nonfat, no-whip mocha and sixteen giftcards. Thank you, Starbucks.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Santa Power: The Magical Mystery Machine

One of the most powerful tools available to us as marketers is mystery.

My five-year-old son won the wishbone pull at Thanksgiving this year and was overjoyed to learn that because he won, his wish would come true. The day after Thanksgiving he woke up with pure joy and excitement to see his turkey bone wish come true. All day he lurked around the house looking for his wish.


10:30 a.m. "Mom, where's my wish?" 12:00 p.m. "Mom, where's my stupid wish?" 2:45 p.m. "Do you think I need to wish again? Maybe I should change my wish" 6:15 p.m. "That turkey was an idiot."


Finally, by bedtime I realized his increasing sense of annoyance with the fowl magic demanded my intervention. "What did you wish for?" I asked. His little baby face replied with sincerity and concern, "Everyone says I can't tell or it won't come true!" "Oh, but mothers have special powers when it comes to wishes -- we are the only ones you can tell and the wish will still come true," I encouraged. "Really?" "Yes, really. It's true." I had him. "A rubber band shooter!" he whispered in excitement, his eyes growing wider with each detail. "A big, AK-47, shooter that launches rubber bands at the bad guys!" My mind was reeling, half out of concern for his violent tendencies and half for my ability to find such a toy. Do they even make guns that shoot rubberbands?!? Turns out they do. A lot. And all shapes and sizes from western style to military, to accessories packs and scopes. A lot of companies are out there manufacturing rubber band guns. But not our turkey. Of course I had to find one -- and quick -- the last thing I wanted was for him to not believe in the power of the wish.


After comparing prices online for a ridiculously unecessary amount of time (I'm talking days) and weighing the shipping wait vs. my son's innocence, I opted for the old-fashioned round of calls to local toy stores. And, hallelujiah, I found one at a local toy store in Princeton. "Hold it, I'm coming!" Home I raced with my child's dream of the magical world in my bag. I swerved into the driveway and tip-toed to the front porch, placing it gently and slightly askew, as if a magical turkey elf had heaved it off his feathered back onto the cement stair.

Days had passed since he shared his wish with me. Many days. And when I tell you he is a persistent believer, I mean each morning he reminded me that our turkey was broken and he will never trust another turkey again. He was...well... he was pissed. But on this special morning, I knew the turkey elf had visited and left his little (real little, it was actually a pocket rubber band shooter that doubled as a pen--I know, I suck) wish gift on our porch.

As he woke that morning, I called out to him to put his scooter away that was leaning on the front stair -- convenient right? Luckily, my children are horribly messy and I was able to use the motherly "clean up your toys" nagging to get him to open the door and find the magic. As he rounded the corner of the house to put away his scooter he sighted the strange little package gleaming in the morning light. "What's this? Mom, what's this?!?" It wasn't entirely recongnizable as a rubber band shooter at first (remember it doubles as a pen), but once I explained, his face filled with glee. "The turkey did it!" he said. "My wish came true!" "Yeah! Yeah! Awesome!" Oh joyful turkey, he bought it. And as I watched him jump around with childhood excitement, I thought, damn, mystery is a powerful, powerful tool. He didn't even care that it wasn't exactly the right wish, just that the wish came true.



We have this same power as marketers. Mystery is completely underutilized by brands. And as I sit around wrapping toy, after toy, after toy in the name of mystery this holiday, I wonder where are our marketers of mystery? Certainly, DumDum lollipops has it right with the mystery flavor and McDonald's with the secret sauce, but who are our current mystery providers? The closest we have are the insider sales and scavenger hunts happening on Twitter and in other social media spaces. And consumers are loving this play on possibility. Just look at the lines at the stores. More mystery equals more revenue. If I were a brand this Christmas, I would wish for more mystery. Grab hold and pull!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Rock On: Five Rocker Tricks to Social Stardom

If all brands embraced their inner rock star the economy would readjust. I was watching the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Anniversary Concert at Madison Square Garden the other night and realized all we need is Jeff Beck and Bono to solve the cash crunch. Here are tips rockers inherently exude that could radically shift a brand's presence if embraced:


  1. Get them on their feet. A good social program is inspiring. The most amazing piece of the social sphere is the interconnected sharing evolving a collective creativity. People want to share and help create and grow the brands they love. Get the people who love you on their feet, cheering for the next song, the next Tweet, the next offering from the brand.

  2. Thank the fans. "Thank you, L.A.!" So simple. So simple, yet it gets the most rousing cheer from the crowd. People want to be loved. Love your fans. Thank them. @ reply them. Give them special treats, secret sales, scavenger hunts. Please. Thank you.
  3. Don't tuck your shirt. There is a certain rocker aura that says "I'm one of you." Don't try so hard to "fit" the mold. Maybe, just maybe, if bankers took off the fancy ties, they could have fared better in the eyes of the public. The idea is to be a part of the culture in language and look and feel. Be real. Be comfortable. Be conversational.

  4. Dedicate the song. "This one's for you New York!" Set goals for the social program. Tell your followers what you plan to do. If they love you, they will help you achieve your goals. Challenge your followers to help grow a new market, then reward them when you hit a certain number of customers or followers.

  5. Have a set list. Social conversations require commitment, a beat that carries the melody. Know what you will be talking about. Calendar your social program and stick to it.

While each musician has a unique approach and style, they all follow a similar approach to performing. This, too, is the case for social media. It's not a medium to fear -- just embrace it and the songs will flow. Rock on!


Photo credit: Stephen Lovekin








Friday, November 20, 2009

The Blogger's Six-Pack

Blogging is like exercise. Commitment is key.

I've gotten a little soft around the middle of late and like the lax athlete have a plethora of excuses why I haven't been here exercising. Too busy. Work is crazy. Have to go in early. Have to cook dinner. Kids need a mommy. The Office is on. Have to find a lost kitten. Gold shares are down. You know the typical stuff. All important, but so are my abs...er, my writing.

I'm a voracious reader of blogs -- it sometimes feels a bit like lurking, when I'm reading and not writing. I feel a bit dirty. Like I'm taking something -- intellectual property from someone and using it to grow my thinking, but not giving anything back. It's selfish (damn Catholic upbringing). And I marvel at how fit these bloggers are. You should see their six-packs. Christ. I mean, "goodness" (damn Catholic upbringing). The Jack LaLannes of blogging in my sphere are clearly Edward Boches, William (Billy) Meakim, Seth Simonds, Chris Brogan, Jenny Lawson and Stuart Foster. They're committed to the plan. I think they actually even like it -- exercising everyday. And if they miss a day they're back in there harder than ever. Workin' it out. And it's them writing, not a collection of guest bloggers. I mean, I could do that, line up a series of guest bloggers to write for me. They'd be 365 days deep, standing there in their Nikes and spandex ready to get to it, to sweat it out for me. But at the end of the day, I'd still feel fat.

I need a plan and a trainer. I need the equivalent of Jillian from the Biggest Loser, someone who will scream at me when I'm being lazy and make me carry them across the gym. Any takers? In the meantime, here's the course of action for getting the blogger's six-pack:
  1. Do it in the morning. Writing in the morning will ensure it gets done before anything else gets in the way. And you'll feel great all day. Plus it doesn't interrupt with Prime Time TV. Perfect.
  2. Have a plan. Put together in writing the topics to cover for the week, even the month. Jillian will be so proud.
  3. Drink lots of water. By drinking water, you'll ensure you won't be too caffeinated (sorry, Seth Simonds) or too drunk to write.
  4. Create a community of support. Having other bloggers around to emulate and act as inspiration will keep the plan on track. Working out with a friend always helps.
  5. Set goals and celebrate achievements. Little mini hurdles will add up to big-time results. Be certain to treat yourself with a blog-reading or two for every blog post put in, I know I will.

So I'm making the commitment. Everyday. Except for maybe when The Office is on or I need to go to church. Jesus, here we go again. Crunch one, two, three...

Photo: NNDB

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Suspended Reality

There’s a moment in the creative process when everything stops.  The image of the scene hangs breathlessly in the air.  It calls out “look at me, this is it, what you need to see.”  It’s the moment of creative actualization. 

It’s what I live for.

Despite lusting after that moment, I’ve often thought it a bit odd when it happens.  I’ve even closeted the experience.  Telling you, really, for the first time.  I’m hoping there are others like me.  Or maybe I’m just suffering from some form of advertising-industry induced hallucinations.  And not the kind I used to experience in my Chelsea days in the early 90s – that’s another post.

It feels similar to when you’re in a plane hanging above the Earth.  When the movement seems to stop and the rippling water below is quiet and still.

Everything clears.  It’s just the idea.  Standing there in solitude. A creative Polaroid.

It’s resulted in some pretty killer campaigns, so despite my possible mental illness, I’ll go on inviting suspended reality. 

 

Posted via web from gretchenramsey's posterous

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Intuition Trumps Statistics




Intuition is real. Statistics are not. It’s become quite a popular practice to spew statistics through the blogosphere and on Twitter. And there’s not a client out there that doesn’t salivate when we present a good statistic (or twelve) in our Keynote. But I don’t trust a single one. Give me a statistic and I’m sure I can shoot a hole in it.

Most research is constructed. Because it’s a human product, research is controlled by opinion – usually the opinion of the guy who created the questions or poll.

Once the “data” is collected it can then be manipulated to reflect any number of your dreams or desires. I once was on the phone for more than two days with a Wall Street Journal Reporter who literally took numbers from a very popular large survey I was responsible for delivering to the media and manipulated them in such a twisted, perverted way, making impossible leaps that would shame even the most fearless free runner, to make her “compelling” point. The statistics she created were used for more than five years in various spin-off articles on the subject. Every time I would see another article I would wince and shake my head in amazement. It’s the Journal and they’ve got numbers – yes, that’s the word of God.

And then I always question the audience. How many of you reading this have taken the time to do a poll? A long poll? The kind we typically create as marketers? Most times I think we are measuring sentiment of people who are happy to get a call during the day and unless it’s a product for those with severe loneliness, I’m not sure we’re measuring the pulse of the typical American. “Yes, according to our official poll, 90% of Americans prefer watching Judge Judy to CNN, eat dinner at 4:30 p.m. and feel their sons don’t love them anymore.” And don’t even get me started on focus groups. If 100 dollars gets you to sit in a smelly room with a bunch of strangers to talk about your feelings on new gum flavors, I’m not sure I’m taking what you say as seriously as the guy who said “no.”

Why is everyone so afraid of intuition? It’s the one thing we can count on more than anything in the world. It’s a belief in the power of emotion – the power of a brand’s essential elements to tap human emotion and drive a culture. We don’t need statistics to tell us that America needed Obama. We don’t need statistics to tell us driving while texting is distracting. We don’t need statistics to tell us cayenne flavored chocolate won’t be popular. Believe in thought. Believe in emotionally charged, instinctive, battle-tested thought. That’s the opinion poll we need to read.

In our culture, our American culture, we seem to be less in tune with our creative side. Even afraid of believing in it. I’m asking for a movement driven by the creative class to herald thinking and instinct, where artists and freethinkers demand and get the same respect as a seemingly bulletproof statistic. Intuition is crafted from an environmental history of facts shaped by human emotion. It’s quite a perfect blend of observation and humanity. It’s better than a poll. I don’t have a stat to prove it, it’s just intuition.


Photo credit: C4 Chaos

Monday, October 19, 2009

British Invasion: How Mary Poppins is Responsible for my Husband's Rolling Stones Tattoo


I just emerged from the other side of a 150 page strategic document. I've been writing and writing and writing some pretty heady, serious stuff with lots of graphs and analytics to support my super heavy arguments. Ugh. Lots of writing. So, when I peek out from under my strategy rock (it's really not that bad) I do what every strategist does, I grab a fashion magazine to unwind.

But, of course, because I'm still analyzing the hell out of every word, I can't just simply enjoy the fact that red lips are back, I have to bring meaning to the trend. I put down the magazine. I glance up
to see the reflection of my paltry lips in the bookcase glass across from me. I pick the magazine back up. Reading on.

There's a lot of reference to the British in fashion. I see pages of rock-star thin, charcoal eyed-18 year-olds leering back at me, trying desperately to channel Sid Vicious. Page 42 features Union-Jack-themed handbags, while page 88 honors the Tudor look.

I look around my house and I realize it's a shrine to the British. In front of me on the coffee table is a tome honoring The Stones and catalogs from Boden, a British apparel company I love for its bold colors and quirky designs. My hallway boasts a London platform poster from WWII era, my living room shelves hold a clock also from a London train station -- maybe it knew the poster in my hallway. A picture of this Union Jack rug I've been lusting after hangs in my bedroom. I often look at that mod piece of genius and imagine Hugh Grant giddily sipping a glass of champagne on it (don't ask). My kitchen boasts a tea collection any Brit would be jealous of and a Wedgwood commemorative plate from LONDON! And I've never even been to London. Shit. What happened while I was writing that strategy document?!?

I start flipping through my fashion look-book wish book (the girls know what I'm talking about, we all have some form of this -- guys, just skip to the next paragraph-- torn out sheets of looks we love from magazines, mine are arranged neatly in a binder). To my surprise inside is a veritable shrine to the British, their fashion prowess and expertly designed flag: Chanel's Union Jack bag, Alexander McQueen's "God Save McQueen" sweater and other London Gothic McQueen beauty, Fall 2009 Tudor-inspired shirts galore.

I wonder if in London there is a strategist reading British Vogue wondering why there are so many references to America and American-influenced fashion. Is she longing for a cowboy hat and jeans the way I long for that young, London punk look? Is she standing on an American flag rug looking at a picture of John Wayne in her hallway and eating hamburgers on an Obama commemorative plate in her kitchen?

My husband announced one night he was going to get a tattoo of Mick Jagger on a cross like Jesus across his back. At Mick's feet would be his tragically beautiful bandmates bowing in disciple-like servitude. I'm pretty certain his southern mother would disown him faster than you can say "Brown Sugar" and
he would be shunned permanently from the Bible Belt and all its surrounding regions. But of all the tattoos in the world, this is the one he would want. The Brits are God to him. Or at least the British rockers.

Sorry, Prime Minister.

What's going on? Are we feeling guilty here in America because we left the Motherland? Are we all suffering from maternal guilt? Thinking some charcoal eyeliner and a "Save the Queen" canvas tote will make up for the misstep? Uh-oh. Obama has got some bigger problems then he realized. Maybe I should send him a couple fashion magazines for field research.

In all honesty, I blame Mary Poppins.

Mick Jagger photo credit: pierodemarchi

Monday, October 5, 2009

Will the Real Brand Please Stand Up?


Authenticity is an often-used term in our branding vocabulary. It's frequently the toughest thing for brands --to simply be authentic. There's a lot of discourse and deep thinking devoted to uncovering authenticity and defining brand truths. And in almost every case there's a moment in the process when it's imperative to step back and take a look from a different perspective.

I had a non-smoking professor who said he preferred sitting in smoking sections at the airport (yes, they used to exist) because the people were more interesting, more real, and had better stories. I've always used this anecdote to shape my approach to branding, to defining authenticity. What does a brand look like if polite convention is stripped away? What stories would it tell? Would it sit in the smoking section? And, if not, how can we make it more interesting to consumers based on its natural inclinations as a brand.

Now, I swear I am not looking for a Philip Morris sponsorship. In fact, I am a vehement non-smoker, but there is something brilliant in that insight. People who are true to themselves, despite consensus and common convention, see the world more clearly and are possibly more open to the adventures of life. They are more interesting. They create a legacy of stories. And that's exactly what we are trying to do as marketers, create legacy.

What if our brands were boldly true to themselves despite convention? Where would that take them? Some on a trippy ride through Crispin's creative department, yes, others possibly through Lady Gaga's closet. (The two might be one and the same.) For all, the destination is a strong place of truth and freedom.

Brands that are free are joyful and easy. And creating for them is natural and inspiring. Think of the brainstorms you've been in that sit stagnant as everyone tries to fabricate an aura that strays from the intent of the brand. I'm sure the brainstorm for KFC's "Unfried" campaign was a tough one. So, in the spirit of freedom, I've put together a smoker's lounge guide to getting to the heart of a brand:
  1. Define a lexicon. How does she speak? What's her voice sound like? Most brands have a distinct tonality and cadence to their language.
  2. Observe her style. How does she express herself? Define her cultural dress.
  3. Analyze her hopes and dreams. Where is she going? Speak to to her and understand what inspires her.
  4. Listen to her stories. Where has she been? There's something in her DNA that shapes her view of the world. Uncover this and state it simply.
  5. Get to the emotion. What moves her? Knowing this will provide the closest clues into her true self.
  6. Let her be free. Sometimes a brand just needs some breathing room. Especially under this new world order, she will follow her most devoted fans.
Put down the cigs. You're done. Now inhale and be authentic.

Photo credit: bwmw, Flikr



Thursday, October 1, 2009

Social Media is a Waste of Time and Other Reasons It's Great



In an effort to be brief, because I don't want to spend a ton of time here, I'll get right to the point. Let's take a trip through communications history and visit several turning points in our intellectual development that radically shaped our culture. I know what you're thinking, "she just said she was going to be brief, now she's talking about history and intellectual development? I don't have time for this." Indeed. It's what we hear often from clients learning about the medium -- social media is a waste of time. James Cooper, creative director at Saatchi, inspired this post and has the greatest little graphic on his blog that I think I'll use often. Thanks, James.

Now, onto the history. It might be helpful for all of us to have a guide that tracks other historically indicated colossal wastes of time, so here goes:
  1. Books: Historically, the book was seen as a threat to political power and reigning leaders used the medium to control thought by limiting or removing access. Here's some deeper information from the highly-respected and deeply-trusted social media source Wikipedia on the matter. (I do hope those of you who read my blog are in tune with my sarcasm.) As we moved through the ages, the book became a way to control gender advancement -- don't even get me started here -- where women were prevented access to certain books. The message always: books are not for everyone, there is a better use of your time. We see how that panned out.
  2. TV: Do you know there is a TV Turn-Off Week that schools across America promote each year? I verbally and physically banned this school district edict in my house. I explain each year to the bright-eyed, young teachers and their dusty, old leadership that if it were not for TV, the students in my house would not eat. Both my husband and I fuel this medium and it in turn fuels our bank account. Banning it would not be a good thing. And my kids are none the worse for wear. In fact, my son currently attends a fancy, intellectual school where there are lots and lots of books that even girls can read.
  3. Video Games: Well, 'nuff said. In fact, this guy suggests reading a book instead. Good for you, books! According to BusinessWeek, it turns out gamers might not be wasting their time at all, but are actually social, strategic thinkers. And video game sales are on the rise, increasing by over 40 percent during the five year period studied, according to reports from CES 2009.
I'm sure I'm missing other examples of time-wasters and you will all let me know what they are, possibly yoga, or that dastardly chatting with the neighbors time sucker. For now, however, let's get back to social media.

Social media is not a fad. This is a new stream of communication. Avoiding it will not only weaken a brand, but make it irrelevant.

The most exciting thing to happen in communications in decades is happening right now. We are evolving and learning and growing this platform together -- consumers and their brands -- right now. It's amazing and radically transformative to the communications landscape. It's not an aside. It's not an add-on. It's not another column on an integrated plan. It is the center of the plan -- it is the most fluid and dynamic piece of the marketing approach. Embrace the medium, help shape it, learn from it and maybe, just maybe, your brands will be so profitable you'll have time to kick back and read a book during TV Turn-Off Week!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Strategists are Method Actors


Strategists are method actors. I know a lot of you highbrow types are scoffing at this headline. "I'm not acting -- it's real immersion into the brand." No, you're acting. Here's how I know:
Yesterday I had three presentations, yes, t-h-r-e-e, on three very divergent brands: a hospital that specializes in quaternary care (that's medical jargon for serious stuff), a well-known franchise pizza brand, and a very large destination fashion brand. And it was my birthday. Oh, AND, to make it all a bit more pleasantly pressure-filled, because everyone knows I love a good challenge, it was my turn to host "Breakfast Club" at the agency -- a monthly agency-wide, themed breakfast for 60. Themed. Breakfast for 60. Birthday. Three presentations.

Getting a sense of the challenge?

I can't begin to tell you what Monday-Thursday looked like. Our shop went into mind-warp. There were papers flying, random people I've never seen before running around, food being delivered non-stop (Pitching clearly makes the average creative department hungrier. Imagine cubing that hunger). My desk was piled so high with studies, reference manuals, version 1 of deck 1, version 16 of deck 2, version 4 of deck 3...and don't forget the birthday card signed by the entire agency and those random guys running around helping this week. It was crazy. There was only one thing that got me through -- method acting.

First, Friday morning I wake up at three. I head downstairs and make the largest pot of coffee man has ever brewed. I head to the shower to prepare for my Mad Men-themed Breakfast Club. Yes, we had also decided to channel our Sixties brethren. There was a very complicated french-twist hair-do planned, because this is what every head of marketing I was presenting to that day was hoping I'd spend time doing -- a Sixties glamour-do and breakfast for 60. I looked good. Then I did this. Off I go to the grocery store to buy breakfast...oh, right, I hadn't bought anything for anyone to eat yet. Now it's 6 a.m. I'm in my sixties frock, rockin' my Betty hair, practicing my pitches in the car, warming up care of Borat (see video link above)...and I remember I just left the house without saying good-bye to my family. Remember, it's my birthday and I have young children that think my birthday is as important as theirs, that we must hold hands, dance around, celebrate and go to Build-a-Bear. Maybe they forgot and there won't be a meltdown for my husband to deal with. Onward...

Three Keynote presentations completed and loaded onto the Mac. Check. Call to make sure conference room prepped. Check. Mini pigs in a blanket. Check. Fake cigarettes. Check. Not clinically insane yet. Check.

Here's where the acting comes in. Before every pitch I do this thing. This breathing thing. I don't think anyone else notices, but it calms me down and opens the file in my brain where all the cultural information is stored about the brand and the thinking I am about to present. I channel the brand culture. And we all do it. If you're a strategist or creative type reading this, you know you do it, too. You adopt the personality of the brand. You talk like it, dress like it, adopt its physical mannerisms, allude to relevant cultural icons and purposefully avoid conversations that don't play into the scene. We method act.

I've come to realize throughout my career this is what makes us good at what we do -- in order to understand deeply the issues and opportunities of a brand, we must immerse ourselves in the brand culture. We must become a part of its DNA. And only then, after we feel it, physically feel it, can we begin to think about it, can we offer guidance and concept creative. So often, we jump into creative thinking without deep experience. I'm not talking about research. I'm talking about seeing the joy of a brand in a consumer's eye. Hearing the way men argue about a brand's worth. Smelling the air outside a store. Touching the fabric on a chair inside. Our brands are human. We have to experience them physically to present their worth completely.

Great presentations are channeled through relevant, compelling and honest brand culture. Every presentation demands a different tonality filtered through the truths of the brand. When we see brands as people, it's easier to adopt their expression, lexicon and belief system. And we owe this to them.

Become a brand before you speak on its behalf. Just try not to do it three times in one day. On your birthday. Dressed as Betty Draper.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Creativity and Politics


Obama controls the creative product. Don't believe me? Have a look at history, particularly 1950 through 1960, when America lived through a similar political environment. The Bush administration representing 1950s McCarthyism secrecy and Cold War propaganda and the Obama administration representing the crucial 1960 switch to modern influence and creative expression. We are teetering on this brink of creative expressionism right now. How we use it as creatives is key. First the history lesson, care of Al Filreis thinking and Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States:
During the early 1950s there was a clash of militant economy and socialist idealism. A desire among conservatives to hold steadfast to the prosperous war economy where industry and war manufacturers saw global growth juxtaposed with a desperation among liberals to institute a new, inwardly-focused, secure life for the people. Zinn called this a reliance on a "permanent war economy." This is the division so tangible now. Bush-era control of the people and the spread of fear supplanted with Obama idealism, radical financial programming and fearless, open globalism.

Now, in advertising, we see a similar shift. Our creative community is going through this very same change. Traditionalists, or oldster advertising models, some whom held to the past and even instituted campaigns around the fear of the unknown are being replaced by seemingly radical visionaries -- actionable new thinking -- true digital leaders. The division is so tangible. Either heels planted firmly in the ground, or shoulders leaning forward into the wheel. There is no creative centrism. You're either there or not. You're either a living futurist or a faithful traditionalist.

The crowdsourcing debate of late led by creative folks such as Alex Bogusky, Edward Boches, and Crowdspring founder, Ross Kimbarovsky (now that's a commie name for you, McCarthyists!) is a key example of the virulent debate. Fear of change vs. belief in change. There will be a growing audience of believers -- think Kennedy's Camelot aura. The dream for us, however, is radical creative. A belief in possibility. An open creative environment. Agencies and clients working together to reach the moon. 1960. 2009.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Is Facebook Irrelevant?

Could it happen this fast? Is Facebook dead? Certainly there have been reports of the end of the youth movement there. And early in 2009 Time officially claimed the "old fogies" have ruined Facebook. It's not the application or audience that is wearing on me, but rather the platform. It's cumbersome and time-consuming -- and s-l-o-w. More importantly, for marketers, it's not as portable as Twitter for driving traffic to retail. And we haven't even touched on content yet...

It is not a place for thoughtful exchange. It's definitely a place to learn when your colleague has a headache and is going to bed early, that your high school acquaintance can't decide what to eat for dinner and your former colleague once liked to drink heavily with guys in Greek-lettered t-shirts. It's definitely a great place for ethnographic research of the mass consumer audience, or to learn about the daily lives of old fogies.

What's bothersome to me as a marketer, is the lag of industry understanding of the platform's irrelevance to the youth set. Most marketers still think it's a place to speak to young people. And, yet, statistics show anything but that: reports from July 2009 show college and high school user rates dropped by 20 percent, while the grey-haired audience increased by 513 percent. Yes, 513 percent. Great news for AARP, bad news for MTV.

Facebook is losing relevance certainly for millenials, but also for people who want to converse. It's become a warehouse of memories. Which is wonderful -- and needed--especially for those folks losing their memory. And it can exist beautifully like this for...ever. My argument is that it is no longer a place to market to youth. And it is no longer a place to have meaningful conversations. For that, go to Twitter. Seriously. Here's my handle:@gretchenramsey.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Here Comes the Sun


Pantone just released its Spring 2010 Color Report (Fashion Home ) in time for yesterday's opening of Fashion Week in NY. Color themes for the spring include warm brights paired with neutrals. Slightly peachy, brown undertones appear in all -- even the classic navy of spring is warmed up a notch.

What was most intriguing from the report was the influence of travel on designer's interpretation of color. Destinations such as Istanbul, Japan, London, Morocco all inspired colors of the collections showing this week.

As well, fantasy seems to be playing a role. Obvious escapes such as the beach and the reliable fashion inspiration of "safari" were cited by designers. On the more playful, whimsical front, movement influenced designs cite Degas ballerinas and the Mad Hatter's tea party as sources of inspiration.


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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Ellen DeGeneres replaces Paula Abdul and becomes American Idols’ new 4th judge!

Ellen DeGeneres replaces Paula Abdul and becomes American Idols’ new 4th judge! It's true. Amazing move on the part of the producers. And it gives the DeGeneres brand access to the millions of prime time consumers that aren't exposed to her by day. Super smart. Now, I wonder if Kara will have to take on the "crazy one" role. Or has she already...

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Fashion Thought Leadership


J.Crew is pushing hot and heavy towards owning America's fashion thinking. A few months back the brand brought Jenna Lyons, SVP of women's design, out of the closet in a big way to lead the brand's style conscience and move product.
The "Jenna's Picks" campaign pulls together elemental pieces for the season -- the must-haves -- for the J. Crew lover and serves them up in simple block-like guides sent through email or plastered like a shining shrine to commerce behind the counter at any J. Crew store. The issue, or clever marketing move, is that not all J. Crew stores are carrying all of Jenna's picks. So the J. Crewaholic must go to the larger, "better," J. Crew to access the product immediately, before it's all gone! Brilliant, really.
Jenna is on a media tour, educating the masses on the whimsical J. Crew style. And her advice is good. Simple and direct. A "do this, not that" approach to dressing. Here are her tips for men's dressing:
(By the way, in full disclosure, I just bought a ton of stuff from J. Crew for Fall. You'd think I'd be above the marketing machine. Damn.)
Rules of Style: J.Crew's Jenna Lyons
The creative director on vintage watches, slim jeans, and the horror of pleats
By: Men.Style.Com
May 27, 2009
  1. There's nothing sexier than a blazer, a tie, and jeans. And yet most men can't put it together; they either end up with a suit and tie or jeans and T-shirt. Try taking half from one look and half from the other. Chances are you'll get something a little bit cooler.
  2. Men don't shop enough. Being current has everything to do with finding the place you want to shop, whether it's J.Crew or Tom Ford. You have to get off your duff and get out there, because styles evolve. Certain things are classics and they do stay, but men need to keep updating their wardrobe, because change is subtle. For example, denim is getting slimmer. If you're wearing jeans from two years ago, they probably don't look current. Get a new pair of jeans.
  3. Overplucked, overdone men are frightening to me. Women want a man who looks like he takes care of himself but doesn't look like he thinks about it more than she does.
  4. A pressed shirt signals work mode. But a washed-cotton shirt automatically makes you feel more touchable, more approachable. It's effortless. However, if everything is washed—that's not interesting. When washed is paired with a blazer and a tie, it looks amazing.
  5. Most men don't have a clue about tailoring. They hate to ask for directions and they hate to ask if something looks good on them. Learn to ask the salesperson. Ask a woman. Great tailoring always makes guys look better.
  6. Get dressed, then change one element. With a suit, wear a pair of Converse, or take off your dress shirt and put on a chambray button-down instead. You can also do the reverse. Try khakis rolled up with wingtips. Tweaking one thing is an easy way for guys to modernize an outfit, even if they don't know what the hell they're doing.
  7. Three subjects are off-limits to my husband: my mother, my ass, and my age. The worst thing you can do to a woman is to make her feel like she's not beautiful anymore. The best thing is to pay her a compliment.
  8. What women notice are the shoes and the watch. Go for understated elegance, whether it's a vintage Rolex or a classic Timex or a watch that was your grandfather's. It's the same with shoes. I love a pair that look like they've been resoled 10 times.
  9. A giant shirt is not cute. If it feels overly comfortable, it probably doesn't look so good. A simple fit test is to check your shoulder seam. It's designed to be on your shoulder line—not somewhere near it.
  10. We don't need you to be perfect. What we do need is for you to look a little bit more pulled-together. And no pleats, please, not ever, ever, in your life. Ever.


http://www.jcrew.com/AST/Browse/WomenBrowse/Women_Feature_Assortment/Jennaspicks.jsp

Friday, September 4, 2009

Nightmare.

In 2001, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey was a client of mine at MRM Gillespie. The Port managed the World Trade Towers. Part of our job for the Port was to promote the Towers -- to drive traffic there -- make them more of a destination. They wanted the everyday worker and families of Lower Manhattan to visit more, shop the retail stores, enjoy lunch there. Throughout the summer we promoted a live music luncheon series that took place between the two towers; we also held a children's festival for Lower Manhattan between the towers. A few weeks prior, my son, husband and I were there enjoying the space, the silence, the beauty. Looking up at the beautiful sky framed by the soaring spires and stretching up with them to the sky. That was August.

On the morning of September 11, I boarded the New Jersey Transit Train on my way into the City. For some reason my credit card wouldn't work. The portly fellow at the Trenton Train Station I've chatted with many mornings for years said he is having trouble connecting -- the credit cards aren't working. I took my bags and headed down the stairs to the platform. I think I have cash. Yes, cash. Ticket. Perfect. We started on our way. Then stopped. And waited. And waited. Something's wrong. Reverse. Please get off the train. Take your belongings. Get off the train. We are not approved to go in to New York. When? We're not certain. When will we know? They won't answer. There's no communication. Back upstairs. I could hear the hearts beating.

Everything poured out slowly like a gentle, flowing surreal dream. The sun streamed through the large windows. A crowd gathered around a small TV with a wire-hanger antenna shaped like a diamond. "What is it?," I say to a young, brown-haired man with a tattered leather briefcase. "What's going on?" He doesn't look at me. "Look. It's the Tower." Through the fuzzy screen I see the tower smoldering. I reach out for it. Someone looks at me to see if I can help. The man with the tattered briefcase answers his phone. "We're under attack," he says. "They just bombed the Pentagon." I go back to the TV. I have to focus there. My head is having trouble. I hear my name. It's been an hour. I hear my name again. My husband is running across the train station. He looks panicked. "You're here," he says. "Thank, God. You're here." "Something's going on with the Towers. We've got to go." We head home.

We have a large screen TV at our house. It was way too big for the room. The Towers fill my den. There is smoke everywhere. I try calling work. I can't get through. I try calling. I can't get through. I'm holding my husband's hand tightly. And then it goes. The South Tower explodes into a ball of gray. What is happening? No! I'm screaming. No! No! I reach again for the TV. I try to hold it up. I try to hold up the tower. My face is wet. Tears are streaming. No! My son is so confused. "Mommy, are you OK?," he says through Peter Jennings voice. I hear him, I do. But. I can't speak. I run to the bathroom and get sick. I can't breathe.

Several hours go by. They're gone. The towers are gone. Burning. I stare at the screen -- my shirt is wet. Where is everyone? I get a call finally from work. We have to get emergency messaging together for the families of the Port Authority. The entire media relations team was in the building. I sit down to write. "All families of Port Authority employees please call the hotline for information." I call the TV stations. Give them the correct number. They were all in the building.

Two days ago, I saw DDB Brazil's ad for WWF. I lost my breath. A nightmare. All those planes. The rumbling. I felt myself reaching for the City again. I got sick. Again.

We all get the point. The tsunami was immense when comparing the number of lives lost. But this is too close for us. We lost colleagues, friends, family members. The images are too powerful. For those of us close to the City, for those of us who lost people, for those of us...for all of us...the images are too powerful. They weren't just buildings. They were America.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WRFZxIX2O3I#watch-main-area

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Bob Saget Effect

People like to be surprised. I'm talking full-on, cigar-smoking, curse-slinging Bob Saget surprised. I just watched his roast on Comedy Central and I got to thinking that we could build an entire marketing theory class around this guy. Forget Madonna, this guy is the King of re-invention. Although, I'm not certain he is actually re-inventing anything -- just revealing himself. First, let's just reflect for a moment about this photo shoot:




They really loved that sweater. "Bob, let's get a close up of you in that acrylic number. Yes, hand on cheek, gently... not too masculine...perfect...and a little semi-smile, just a bit, not too much...no teeth...yes...yes... Got it!" So, what's so fabulous is that this guy was actually acting. He really was acting. All through the Eighties -- laughing at little twin babies who can't talk so well, hugging awkward teenage daughter, paltry jokes, semi-smiles. Eight years of this. AND we haven't even begun to talk about America's Funniest Home Videos. Which is known by the entire South as AFHV. It actually is known by the acronym -- and Saget is the God of the acronym to the most conservative faction of our global society. He may be the best actor of our time. I'm gonna go out on a limb and say he is. He is the best actor of our time. Because he's a dirty old man. A dirty, dirty, lover of spandex-wearing Hollywood hotties, dirty old man. Or maybe that's an act, too. Jesus. He's the Einstein of pop culture. And he's funny. Surprisingly funny. Dirty and funny.

Now, what does dirty and funny have to do with advertising, you might ask? Or maybe you are not asking, in which case you probably work at Crispin, Porter and Bogusky, or some scary little shop down a back alley in Las Vegas. Well, it has to do with surprising your audience. We love to discover something new about our brands. We love little unexpected presents. We love secrets, discovery and mystery. The best brands offer engaging new products, hidden campaigns for the most zealous of supporters, operational solutions, brand experiences beyond reason. They surprise us. Over and over again. It's the Bob Saget Effect. I'm not suggesting you run out and make a Keynote about the Bob Saget Effect, unless you have some really liberal clients -- like Hugh Hefner liberal -- but I do believe we should embrace this thinking when our brands seem tired and our consumers even more so. Just peek beneath the acrylic sweater. Just a bit, not too much...

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Opinionists


Bloggers are not journalists. They are opinionists. And in my opinion, more powerful in many ways. In the latest Neilsen Global Online Consumer Survey, more than 70% said they trust consumer opinions posted online...from people they don't know. That's huge. Now, I'm not knocking Katie Couric. Well, maybe I am -- or at least her make-up artist -- what is with all that eyeliner? But the truth of the matter is people believe their peers. Possibly because they feel they have nothing to gain from a complaint or recommendation. There is no intention other than to help the online community form an opinion. Bloggers, reviewers, commenters are the rock stars of the written word. The new pushers. Or as Trendwatching reported in its most recent trend report: the new advertisers.

And they are only going to get more powerful as the mobile web becomes more mainstream. Offering opinion is now, and will become even more so, a way of life. Check out ShoutIt or Yelp for a mobile review app. Here's a review of the review app: http://www.appstoreapps.com/2008/08/16/shout/.

And reviewing is immediate. Twitter is the most acceptable and definite quick source of reviewing available today. As marketers, we should jump on Twitter quicker than you can say "tweet." Forget expensive research, just sit with your brand on Twitter one day. Follow the crowd -- see where they take your brand, what they believe, hear their opinion.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

All Together Now: How to Not Suck at Crowdsourcing

I was just reading a bit of Twitterly chit-chat about crowdsourcing. I'm begining to feel a bit like I'm reliving my existential days at Penn--crowdsoucing thought about crowdsourcing. Good. God. For neophytes, crowdsourcing is the mass undertaking of an assignment to meet a business goal. Simple. Or is it? The most difficult thing about crowdsourcing is not the actual call to action, but rather the willingness of the individual to give up control. And by individual I mean CEOs, CMOs and the brand officers that "protect" the image. Trust is really the most perplexing piece of the crowdsourcing puzzle. Getting clients to the place where opening their brand up to collective thought may be the biggest hurdle. Great brands will thrive on this new world order of crowdsourcing. Trust will open the brand to its most innate evolution -- one driven by truths and built by believers. Consumers not only own brands now, but shape their reputation. Every day. On Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Wordpress, Blogger (knuckle-punch)...could crowdsourcing be replacing advertising? It's free thought commerce. A collective advertising agency. What could be better? For more on the crowdsourcing revolution read Jeff Howe's blog -- he's the guy from Wired who coined the term: http://crowdsourcing.typepad.com/cs/.

Heathrow Airport installs Alain de Botton as writer in residence - Springwise

Super cool. Wrters are taking over the world! Heathrow Airport installs Alain de Botton as writer in residence - Springwise

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Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Power of One

One of my most loyal followers is a popular Daddy Blogger -- William at www.poopandboogies.blogspot.com. We've been discussing the power of the individual in communications. Clearly this is the new model of conversation -- I've heard fancy marketer types talking about "dialogue" replacing "one way" advertising. But I'm not certain it's as clear and simple as that. Sorry Wharton. Coming from a deep public relations background and being a former reporter myself, I am intimately familiar with the ethics of journalism. And ethics are not the first consideration of this new Everyman empowered communications landscape. It's almost as though "dialogue" is a less than acceptable term among some of the superstars of the blogosphere. A beautiful example provided by William: http://kalisah.blogspot.com/2009/08/it-would-be-obscene-misuse-of-power.html. What we have are opinion columnists, intensely more powerful than former advertising models, because we know these opinion leaders "personally." We trust them. We trust them and their recommendations. Finding that one gem of opinion may be our first goal as marketers here on out. Where blog relations becomes less an "add on" to the marketing plan and more the lead strategy. And certainly agencies are doing it -- mostly boutique PR firms with maverick CEO clients that believe in the focus there. It is not the norm. Not yet. Imagine what an advertising campaign would look like focused entirely on seducing one person. A TV spot for one. A glossy magazine buy for one. A signature series of events focused on one. Bloggers, not celebrities, getting the swag bags. That one voice. That powerful one voice.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Infectious Idealism


I often talk about optimism with clients. It seems, especially in the past year or so, with the dismal news emerging from the grey corridors of Wall Street, there is an acceptance of negativity. Today on a call with a research team, I asked why they were focusing solely on measuring negative impressions of the brand we were setting out to measure. "Don't we want to know what moves people, what stirs and inspires them about this brand?," I urged. I had to explain myself several times before they understood I was looking for good marks for the brand, positivity, dare I say,... joy! I've always been moved by those who can see beyond sadness to correct perception and literally change the world. Ted Kennedy was one of those people. He is an inspiration, a prince of possibility, a force in optimism. In his honor, I urge everyone to believe in the possibility of their brands. Brands are very personal stewards of emotion -- we invite them into our lives -- they have the power to improve and change thinking. Brands with soul. Brands with infectious idealism.
http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=5266977n

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Eco-Outdoor



Super cool new Outdoor tools. Moss. Mud. Friendly to Mama Nature and will make you look like that super hip creative thinker you know you are. Could it be the end of vinyl?

http://www.ecologicalpromos.com/2008/06/eco-graffiti.html

Monday, August 24, 2009

Crispin VW Cause


Dear Crispin,
I'm sorry you lost the VW account. I am most concerned about what will happen with the Routan crisis. Is it for love? No. Babies for the love of German Engineering scares me. Will the new Agency of Record take on this cause? I do hope so. Is there a petition somewhere I can sign? Please let me know.
Yours in motherhood,
Gretchen

P.S. I read in Ad Age that this campaign was too smart for people. Boy, will they be surprised when they discover it's real. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xDZSxFLcMVg

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Fear is Killing Creativity


We are creating advertising in one of the most radically transformative times in advertising history. Recently, I've heard clients say they "can't afford to fail -- not now." "Failure is not an option." And what's evolving from this paranoid state --this "challenged" economy-- is safe advertising, laden with pricing, sales messages and desperate tonality. Now, more than any other time in recent history, we have an opportunity to unite for dramatic creative, emotionally charged, delivered by social systems of friends inspiring thought and action. Humankind has turned inward for reflection, connection and discovery -- we must tap this. The time is now. Clients with the bravery to speak in very human terms, on truly emotional levels will win, will win big. Clients who brave the new social world online will enhance not only their sales, but their legacy. If you don't have a creative mobile program, a vibrant social media space, a dialogue where consumers live, opportunity is escaping--new media is not experimental -- it's exponential. Down with fear. Embrace the thought of failure -- it means you are moving, risking, changing perception, shifting the landscape. Welcome to the world of risk-takers.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

sisomo - TV Ads & Viral Video

Beautiful spot by Saatchi on the 250th Anniversary of Guinness. I'm not even a certified beer drinker, but damn this makes me want to drink a Guinness.
sisomo - TV Ads & Viral Video

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Friday, August 21, 2009

Marable encourages graduate students to examine their academic environment - Archive

I found an article I wrote on racism while a reporter at Penn. I love the language of "deconstructing whiteness." Marable is so ridiculously smart.
Marable encourages graduate students to examine their academic environment - Archive

Websites are Cool

Here are a few sites that rock new thinking. This one posted below from BooneOakley is entirely on YouTube:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Elo7WeIydh8

And this one from CPB is a beta:
http://beta.cpbgroup.com/

Crazy. Keep on truckin'.

I think I'm in love with Alex Bogusky

My husband knows. In fact, he's encouraged it. What I love is what he's most criticized for -- humor. When I was at McCann we had these little cookies at client meetings that said "Truth in Advertising" with Rodin's The Thinker embossed on top. They were so damn serious. Who'd have thought a cookie could be so dramatic. Great line, sure, but what about compelling emotion by not taking advertsing so seriously. Alex wears this wig -- I'm not sure I understand why, but it's funny. I imagine he would have looked great embossed on the McCann cookie. More on Alex later I'm sure on my FB page.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Queen of Pop


OK, so after I posted this morning about Lady Gaga I started feeling guilty for saying nothing about the passing of Michael Jackson. I don't know how it's relevant, other than I think as someone responsible for being current on pop culture I should have probably mentioned the passing of the King of Pop on my blog before posting shiny neon rave bracelets from Lady Gaga. I have mixed feelings about him for sure with all that little boy love and such, but that wasn't what kept me from posting. I guess I'm just kind of thinking he has existed outside reality for so long that maybe his death doesn't seem real to me (btw, to read some funny postings about death visit The Bloggess: http://thebloggess.com/). Again, that last link is probably not appropriate. I do love the man's music and he clearly has influenced a lot of the sounds and talent we've seen over his lifetime, as well as broken down racial barriers. Thank you, Michael, and I'll be sure to post more about you after I play the Matching Game with my five-year-old son who is tugging on my leg right now. But, you'd probably approve of that distraction.

Gaga for Gaga


OK, I've got a bit of an addiction right now to Lady Gaga. Ben, please no comments here. It's quite serious...and could be battling for the number one spot over my Starbucks obsession. My addictions are a bit different than most in that what appeals to me goes beyond product into marketing expertise. Starbucks, hands down, has led us into the coffee lair through brilliant marketing strategy. I won't talk about that here--there are hundreds of books you can read on that subject. Let me rather turn to our new popdiva, Gaga. I just happened to visit her site this morning http://www.ladygaga.com/splash.aspx and found Lady Gaga gear. A batwing hoodie, retro shades, stickers and this glow braclet...we're brainstorming some gear over at Oxford Communications and this just cements it for me.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Death of Canned Goods?


Could it be? As local farming and home gardening become the new darlings of food creation, is the canned good on the outs for good? Ad Age is reporting a loss in market share during the recession. http://adage.com/article?article_id=137436 This is significant when compared with depression-era adherence to the canned good. Maybe, just maybe, our palettes have evolved beyond tomatoes in tin?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Starts With Apple


My five-year-old son, Dylan, is trying to learn the alphabet. You can tell he is raised in a creative house because his "Apple starts with A" is a sleek, silver number on a glass desk, not the red one you can eat the neighbor kid across the street is referencing. What's interesting is that he is inverting the phrase..."A starts with Apple," as if the entire English language was founded on Apple design principles. I love Apple as much as the next guy, but this kid reveres the brand.

Check out this amazing Apple App wall that pulsates every time someone buys an app: http://is.gd/YjqQ. Dylan's head would explode if he saw this!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Twadvertising


Have you all spent some time on Twitter? It's super simple conversation. I think I'm in love. In my line of work those who converse best win. Share of voice. Thought leadership. Messaging. Ugh. At the end of the day, all we want to do is get the point across simply, succinctly and with emotional impact that will change the way people behave. I've always been drawn to people who are direct or quick witted. If you're direct with a quick wit, please tweet @gretchenramsey. So in thinking about pop culture, I realized some of the best lines are tweets:

I love you.

You had me at hello.

Buy one, get one free.

I'm thinking Twitter will lead to less copy, as our desire for prose wanes. Less copy. I love you.

Hara Juku Girls Are Fun


Fashion is fun. Tokyo is fun. Nice little piece of art by Uniqlo here http://www.uniqlo.com/uniqlo1000/map/.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

What?!?! How did Adam lose?


If the Queen performance didn't prove that music needs Adam Lambert, I don't know what will. He's a lead showman that can step right into Mr. Mercury's shoes. How did he not win? Was there a bank of insurance agents and grandmothers voting? Kris has a lovely voice, no doubt, but those weird, uncomfortable faces he makes when he sings should have kept him out of the finals. Regardless, thank you Simon for finding Adam. Long live the king!

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