Publication: AdWeek

The Church of the Apple Store

August 30, 2018

How Apple escaped from the doldrums of Sears to create the coolest retail space on planet Earth.

Virginia’s Tysons Corner Center, opened in 1968, was one of the country’s first shopping malls. But on May 19, 2001, it would notch another first. The line began forming in the predawn hours, as many as 500 people assembling in the darkness. After that number doubled, security guards stood by to keep the crowds from violating the maximum-occupancy laws. In time, the line stretched through the mall itself, doubling back like a serpent and pouring right out onto the sidewalk. “I have lived in this area for 17 years,” said one man. “I’ve never seen anything like this.”

Indeed, nobody had. “This” was the opening of an Apple Store—the very first one.

Opened in May of 2001, the first Apple store (top) was the culmination of the vision of Steve Jobs (inset), who’d tapped a number of retail gurus to help plan a signature space that would free Apple from its longstanding problems at the retail level.

Seventeen years later, it’s hard to imagine the retail world without these gleaming minimalist boxes of blond wood, brushed steel and astounding revenue. […]

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Can Diet Coke’s New Skinny, Rainbow-Colored Cans Attract the Millennials It Covets?

January 11, 2018

A reboot 2 years in the making

Thirty-five years after making a splash with the introduction of Diet Coke, the Coca-Cola company announced that the marquee product is getting a “full brand restage.” Starting next month, consumers who pass by the beverage case will see Diet Coke in new product dress: A skinny silver can sporting a bold center stripe whose colors correspond to four new flavors.

According to a company statement, the new look and taste are aimed at “re-energizing and modernizing Diet Coke for a new generation of drinkers.”

The most noticeable part of the rebranding will be the package design, which Coke developed with a creative assist from U.K.-based shop Kenyon Weston. Though the new cans contain 12 fluid ounces just like their older counterparts, they sport a slender profile that’s more evocative of Red Bull or Starbucks Refreshers than mom’s standby diet soft drink. (Diet Coke’s original packaging will not be discontinued; the new cans will instead be offered as an option in the existing lineup.)

While slender cans may function as a kind of subliminal cue to the low-calorie beverage inside, Cola-Cola North America’s group director for Diet Coke Rafael Acevedo told Adweek that his […]

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10 Ad Icons Who Deserve Their Own Emojis

April 28, 2016

Have you ever wished you could punctuate a group text between agency creatives with a tiny Lucky the Leprechaun or Ronald McDonald emoji, but there’s none to be found? Yeah, me too.

While it’s not likely that we’ll be seeing brand icons included on our emoji roster anytime soon (we only just got tacos, after all), there are some mascots ad executives mutually agree deserve their own tiny icons. More than just being clever or cute, translating these 10 past and present favorites into their own emojis offers up a wealth of creative ways to use them in the agency world.

1. Kool-Aid Man

“Oh, yeah!” Rebecca Lysen, Creative Director at Phear Creative, says that the Kool-Aid Man’s tagline and image makes the perfect emoji for all those moments when you want to break into the conversation because you’ve got stuff to talk about.

He would also be the welcome mat of emojis, if you will. Ashley Purdum, Phear Creative’s Director of PR, would opt to use him when someone new is added on a group text to show the team’s excitement.

2. Lefty

Dustin Longstreth, SVP and Strategy Group Director at CBX points out that Hamburger Helper’s Lefty has […]

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Laying It on Thick: Philadelphia Cream Cheese changes its marketing recipe

September 20, 2012

Most dairy brands engaged in the day-to-day battle for survival in the refrigerated section only wish they had the problems that Philadelphia Cream Cheese has. After all, the soft white brick of cheese named after the City of Brotherly Love has prospered for nearly 90 years now. Making cream cheese is extremely difficult (the careful introduction of acid-secreting bacteria is what turns milk into a solid), and Kraft is said to keep its formulas sealed in a Chicago safe. But the brand has its routine down cold. So instinctively do shoppers reach for that gray-foil wrapper with the blue lettering that Kraft now enjoys a 70 percent market share—especially sweet, considering that Americans buy $800 million worth of cream cheese every year. Sure, people may feel guilty about eating cream cheese (33 percent of it is pure fat), but since when did guilt stop people from buying something?

As it turns out, however, things are not as easy as they may look for Philly Cream Cheese—at least not when it comes to the marketing. Think about it. When your core product is an emulsified cake of breakfast food that’s hung out on the end of a butter knife for decades, […]

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Advertising’s Shock Troops

February 20, 2012

For consumers, it’s a not-so-fine line between love and disgust By: Robert Klara

Legal disputes over advertising seldom get much public attention, but a recent decision out of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia was an exception: It made headlines. In a controversial preliminary injunction, Judge Richard Leon blocked the Food and Drug Administration from forcing cigarette brands to place gruesome photos of blackened lungs and cancer-riddled corpses on its packs—a mandate that was to have gone into effect this September. Warning labels were one thing, the court said, because they were statements of empirical fact. But the proposed images, emotional and deeply disturbing, constituted “commercial speech” and as such were an effort to force a brand to advertise against itself. The FDA has since appealed, and some legal experts say that this case may well end up in the Supreme Court.

Until it does, however, the case has resurrected a larger issue that’s one of marketing’s most enduring hot potatoes: the use of explicit images to get consumers’ attention—also known as “shockvertising.”

Shock tactics have been around for awhile. Though some of the material may seem relatively tame today, the commercial featuring the 15-year-old topless Brooke […]

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New York’s Duane Reade adds In-Store Yogurt Kiosks

February 7, 2012

Regional chain goes from branded snacks to self-serve frozen yogurt.

New Yorkers are persnickety about everything, even their frozen yogurt— a substance that, like espresso, is essential for sustaining life in a big city. But with the retro-chic Pinkberry blooming all over town, how likely is a Prada-wearing, iPhone-toting Manhattanite to stop for self-serve frozen yogurt at a drug store? That’s exactly what Duane Reade is about to find out.

The 50-year-old regional chain has announced it will begin adding self-service frozen yogurt kiosks to select stores, complete with topping bars. “This is part of a bigger strategy,” said Joe Magnacca, president of Daily Living Products for Walgreens, which purchased the 250-unit Duane Reade in 2010. “We’re looking at our business differently and evolving into a health and daily-living destination.”

Only a few years ago, such plans would have sounded crazy. Founded in 1960, Duane Reade had a decades-long reputation for dingy stores and surly service. (In 2007, the actress Martha Plimpton famously said in an interview that going to Duane Reade is “a journey into the heart of darkness.”) But Walgreens’ purchase of the chain in 2010 prompted a course correction.

After introducing its own line of branded snacks […]

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Perspective: Baby, It’s Cold Outside

November 17, 2011

Marketing a workaday product like antifreeze requires the help of a credible endorser—but boy, has that definition changed…

The hardworking folks who manufacture the 108 million gallons of antifreeze produced annually in the U.S. have had the same marketing headache for the last 74 years. Most Americans simply don’t think about antifreeze. (When they do, it’s probably not about any particular brand of the stuff.)

Ever since 1937, when domestic automakers first poured ethylene glycol down radiator pipes to keep liquid-cooled engines from freezing, drivers have pretty much taken the chemical compound for granted. This is why antifreeze brands have historically devoted a lot of thought to the selection of the right product endorsers–people who can speak to the reliability, efficacy, and overall importance of that iridescent green liquid.

In 1947, for the marketers at Prestone, the man for that job was East Orange, N.J., Fire Department Chief Charles A. McGinley, shown in the ad on the right. Did it matter that none of the readers of The Saturday Evening Post had any idea who he was? No, it did not. The 61-year-old had been a fire chief for 17 years. His job was to save lives–and he used Prestone […]

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Adweek: Banquet in a Box

August 25, 2011

Frozen meals are miracles of convenience—with a dollop of denial

If we could please get the sniggers out of the way first, there’s an important thing that needs to be said about TV dinners. They’re unique in the world of branding for exemplifying not one but two separate miracles. In case you’re having a tough time believing that, check out the 1962 and 2011 ads here. The first miracle? Why, technology, of course. The second: a means to achieve an unprecedented level of denial of the first. Hey, good marketing can do that for you.

A little history might help to start. Frozen foods dropped into compartmented trays for later reheating has been around since the 1940s under brand names like Strato-Plates and Jack Fisher’s FrigiDinners. But it was C.A. Swanson & Sons that would read the market perfectly. In the postwar years, not only were harried moms looking for guiltless disentanglement from the home-cooked meal, but also TVs had replaced the dinner table as the family social locus. (When the ad at right ran in 1962, there were nearly 49 million households in the U.S.—and 90 percent of them had TV sets.) Through a clever melding of food coloring, […]

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Adweek: “Purple Tampons. Why Not?”

August 9, 2011

A cynic would say that no plain white surface can last long these days before some brand turns it into a marketing vehicle. But what if that surface belongs to a tampon, feminine pad, or panty liner? Off-limits territory, right?

Well, no. Last March, Kimberly-Clark’s Kotex brand introduced U by Kotex, a line of feminine-care products in a staggering range of psychedelic patterns and neon colors, and it’s been pushing the limits ever since. The tactic is working. K-C just announced that Q2 2011 sales in its personal-care division were up 7 percent to $2.3 billion.

“It’s another opportunity to push this category that’s traditionally been institutional and clinical-looking,” said Kristi Bryant, design manager, Kimberly-Clark.

Now comes the latest peg: a limited-edition “Designer Series”—assisted by New York brand-design consultancy CBX—featuring still more riotous color explosions in patterns including polka-dots, stripes, clovers, and various curlicue thingies: “Poptimistic,” “Boho,” and “Freestyle” for the pads, and a tampon called “Punk Glam.”

Kotex also recently sponsored an online design-your-own feminine pad contest that resulted in over 11,000 submissions ( Girls adorned liners with peace signs, umbrellas, strawberries, and argyle over leopard skin. One submission bore the name, “Peace Love Period.” Winning designs […]

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Adweek: “The Burdens of Fatherhood”

June 16, 2011

Why do Americans buy Dad such cheap, boring Father’s Day presents?

According to the 2010 Census, there are 70.1 million fathers in the United States. And this weekend, the majority of them will undergo a highly curious annual rite. Under the beaming gaze of their progeny, they will tear the wrapping paper off some of the dullest gifts in America. No offense to the brands that make socks, neckties, or mugs inscribed with golf jokes, but Father’s Day confirms one of marketing’s sadder truths: When it comes to gift giving, Mom rakes in flowers, perfume, and jewelry, while Dad gets…whatever he gets.

Thanks to marketers’ penchant for measuring everything, there’s proof of this paternal neglect. While Americans spent an estimated $16 billion on Mother’s Day gifts this May, they’re expected to spend only $11 billion on Father’s Day. Mothers received 139 million greeting cards; it’s expected dads will receive 94 million. And while the average Mother’s Day present cost $140.73, most people admit they’ll drop less than 100 bucks on dad—often shopping in a discount store and usually buying a “practical” gift. Automotive stuff and gardening tools rank among the top 10.

“We’ve noticed this trend,” says Kathy […]

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