Scare Tactics

October 31, 2013 — Joshua Books

Halloween has become more than costume contests and candy devouring. It is now an important seasonal marketing opportunity for brands to increase their awareness and resonance with consumers.

Growing up in the suburbs of Massachusetts, I ditched my plastic pumpkin for a pillowcase to get my Halloween candy stash. Victory during my pre-teen years, it seems, meant having the heaviest pillowcase full of goodies. Now, three years out of college, living in NYC and world traveled, I’ve taken my intellectual curiosity beyond trick-or-treating gluttony to question the rationale behind Halloween marketing campaigns.

Just the other day, I approached a cash register at a local Chipotle and caught the word “Boorito” on a sign next to it. And the copy beneath the headline read: “This Halloween come into any Chipotle dressed in costume from 4pm to close, and you’ll score a burrito, bowl, salad, or order of tacos for just $3.” I’ve never associated a holiday full of pumpkins and chocolate with guacamole and fajitas, but sure, everyone loves a discount. Plus, all of the proceeds on Halloween (up to $1,000,000) benefit the Chipotle Cultivate Foundation, “a non-profit organization established by Chipotle Mexican Grill to continue and strengthen its philanthropic […]

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The 3% Conference

October 24, 2013 — Cindy Lord

The 3% Conference was held in San Francisco last week and thanks to my forward-thinking thinking CBX bosses, I got the chance to go. For those who are not familiar with it, the 3% Conference is a forum dedicated to helping women ascend in the largely male dominated led businesses of marketing, advertising and branding. There are lots of women in the lower and mid ranks – but not so much at the top. The name “3% Conference” comes from a widely reported sad statistic that only about 3% of advertising creative directors are women. (I have to assume that this percentage applies to “Executive Creative Directors”; from my experience, the gender disparity is not as great at the CD level.)

What was especially cool about the conference (beyond all the awesome girl power, of course) was that it was not just a conference. It was an invitation to join a movement. The organizers really understand that to create change, a broad swath of people need to recognize a problem, be inspired and take action. So if you are a brand in hopes of creating a movement, consider these 3% principles:

– Choose an iconic way to show visible […]

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Nuts In New York

October 16, 2013 — Sandra Creamer

I’ve gotten into the habit of reading the New York Times Real Estate section on Saturdays as a gentle form of self-punishment, since I’ll never be able to buy a home here. Along the same lines, a friend suggested I read Joan Didion’s famous 1967 essay about leaving New York, now known as “Goodbye to All That”.

As I read the essay, I laughed and felt closer to the author because of shared memories of the names of places and brands that were part of her life while living in New York City in her twenties, which still exist. Even though Didion’s essay was published forty-six years ago, I still felt a connection to her.

What this connection reinforced for me as a marketer and strategist is that companies should think more about the association between brands, shared experiences, and location of origin as a powerful tool. It’s a trifecta and perfect storm all in one: a stronger brand connection is forged when it is linked to emotions from shared experiences and places.

One name she mentioned was Chock Full O’Nuts, a brand of coffee that originated in New York City coffee shops. It’s still around, and I felt a […]

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What Coaching Taught Me About Coaching

October 3, 2013 — David Weinberger

Before a wrestling match, I once told my younger boy – who was 5 at the time – that his opponent said he was going to take his toys from him. I’m pretty sure that’s the worst thing I’ve ever done in my life and I immediately decided that wasn’t how I would coach him in the future.

I’m one of the head coaches for our town’s youth wresting program, which includes kids in kindergarten through 5th grade. I also coach youth soccer and have coached tee ball as well. Keep in mind, I’ve never played baseball before but I’m pretty sure I could coach archery at the kindergarten level. I think back to one of the greatest sports movies of all time, Hoosiers, a movie that actually focused on the coach instead of the players. That coach knew how to get his team to perform beyond their means. What an amazing thing! You see, coaching isn’t about a coach’s physical skill, but about the motivation he provides his team.

I’ve realized that when I started coaching kids, I became a better creative leader at work. A better coach = a better motivator. I’d like to share with you three […]

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Happily Ever After Online?

September 26, 2013 — Eliza Sadler

Routine: It’s a sweet spot for brand penetration, with some brands striving to fit into consumers’ daily schedules (Facebook), and others wanting to disrupt it (like Red Bull). However, for those who are part of a couple, it’s a scary word. It can mean a rut, pending breakup, or just uncertainty about the future, and it’s something to avoid at all costs. After all, newlyweds live by their prenuptial advice: Despite being married, never stop dating. So, the pressure is on.

Slowly but surely, brands have begun to answer this call, beginning with the inception of LivingSocial and Groupon. While not specifically targeted to people in relationships, they’ve become a couple’s best friend, offering promotions that aim to get couples away from their computers and TV screens and focused on each other in creative ways. As a result, it seems the culture has shifted, and brands are speaking more directly and frankly to couples and their respective needs.

This shift is especially evident in the online dating world. At one time, dating websites were only skewed toward singles, with differing tastes and/or interests, as highlighted in my last article. Now, though, dating sites are popping up and speaking to committed […]

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The Branding of Music Festivals

August 26, 2013 — Joshua Books

Music is being consumed in a variety of ways in 2013. From set streams to podcasts and everything in between, technological advancements allow users to have unlimited access to their favorite artists in most, if not all settings. The occasions in which these collections of sonic rhythms are listened to are endless, but live performance still remains the optimal experience.

A few weeks ago, I attended the Jay Z and Justin Timberlake “Legends of the Summer Tour” at Fenway Park, which sported an incredible and seamless collaboration of two totally different sounds. I wondered why more artists of different genres don’t tour together. In the context of today’s music festivals, I realized they actually do.

As festival season comes to a close this Labor Day, I decided to analyze the branding strategies and consumers behind a few that I experienced this summer, and a couple that I regretfully missed. With rumors swirling that EDC NY 2014 is moving locations to the campgrounds of Winston Farm in Woodstock (1994 location), these festival productions are starting to come full circle. What is EDC NY you ask? Read on! What: A mashup  of food, drinks and music, including 85 grub makers, 75 brews, […]

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Nailed it!

August 5, 2013 — Sandra Creamer

It’s really hard for consumers to remember most product names, but when companies get it right, it can really help their product gain traction. The companies that launched the brands Swiffer, Snuggie and Fitbit all did it remarkably well.

It’s especially difficult in cosmetics, where there can be multiple launches a year in face, eye, lip and nail. When I worked in marketing for a cosmetics brand, I learned that consumers only remember the basics, like colors and shapes. For Maybelline, the iconic Great Lash was memorable because of its contrasting colors of pink and green. But names? They are hard to retain, especially with so many shades to choose from.

Most brands shy away from lengthier names, but they lose the richness and storytelling. The truth is, consumers often remember product or variant names when they touch and engage them. So how does a company solve the problem of ownable names? By enlisting brand, culture and people in the foundation of the name development.

OPI and L’Oreal are great examples of brands that have and continue to develop brand connections with consumers through unique names. OPI set the bar and others have followed. It must have been a big risk […]

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The Branding of Camp


July 25, 2013 — Rachel Kash

Hollywood has gone crazy for camp—camp TV shows, that is. A few weeks ago, two camp-centric shows premiered: the scripted Camp, a dramedy on NBC, and Summer Camp, a reality show featured on USA. In the latter, a group of twentysomethings return to their favorite place on earth to compete for big bucks. Think of it as Survivor with cabins.

It’s a goofy premise, but I was instantly hooked. I consider the summer camp of my youth to be my favorite place on earth. I went to camp for ten straight summers, from ages 7 to 16. And while my camp was filled mostly with upper middle class suburban kids who didn’t know nitty-gritty wilderness survival from Kumbaya, it was still a heck of a lot more rugged and bare bones than sleepaway camps today, they with their air- conditioned bunks, constant email communication with parents and Color War breakouts featuring celebrities like Rihanna and Jay Z.

Not surprisingly, because of their hefty price tags (upwards of $10,000 for seven weeks), camps, like universities, are becoming increasingly specialized. There are thousands of different camps out there, with offerings to suit every kind of overscheduled, helicopter-parented, gluten-free, aspiring blogger/basketball player/performance artist. […]

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What Color is Coffee?

July 3, 2013 — David Weinberger

Designing a compelling coffee program or retail coffee experience, you need to take into account the entire consumer journey. Everything from need state (Hmmm, I’m getting tired, maybe I should go somewhere to get some coffee) to decision making (Hmmm, where should I go?) to consuming (Hey, this is good coffee) and connecting (I like those folks at Irving Farms). Depending on how you analyze the journey, there could be dozens of touchpoints along the way that each need to be carefully planned. To illustrate this, let’s look at one of them.

We’ll focus on something simple. The cup. A coffee cup can be an important tool and appears at a few points along a consumer journey map. Seeing someone with a cup on the street. Seeing the cups stacked in the store. Holding the cup and drinking the coffee, which may even involve reading the cup.

Does a cup design affect the consumer’s coffee experience? Of course it does. A coffee cup is an interesting thing. It’s a package but you don’t buy it while it’s on the shelf. It doesn’t need to compete on shelf with other coffee cups. It’s a purchase reinforcement. It’s like when you buy […]

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Stars, Stripes and Cannolis

July 3, 2013 — Lucila Tessi

We’re celebrating a birthday this week. That’s right, it’s the anniversary of the good ol’ US of A’s independence. It’s a celebratory time when Americans get together and share a strong national ethos of patriotism. It’s a time for questions like, hot dogs or hamburgers, where to see the fireworks and whether or not to take Friday off from work.

But while I was pondering these important questions along with the rest of the nation, something interesting on TV caught my eye. Between all those insanely annoying 4th of July discount mattress spots, the Fiat commercial got me to rewind, watch again and really think about what I had just seen.

Let me quickly remind you that Fiat was reintroduced back into the U.S. in 2010. They adopted  the course of using celebrities as a shortcut to popularity, showing us people like Jennifer Lopez, Pitbull and even Charlie Sheen (which was either a genius or half-witted decision). And while it’s evident that they’re trying to capture the attention of Millennials, with those spokespeople, they’re clearly struggling to find their image and what they stand for.

Fiat’s latest, very strategically timed commercial, portrays Paul Revere galloping through town exclaiming to the […]

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