Audi’s Visual Hammer. An opportunity missed.

In 1990, Audi hired my Dad to help them revive the brand in the U.S. after the 60 Minute segment that nearly destroyed the brand. I remember the case well and was curious about what his exact ideas for Audi were so I dug up a copy of his report. Al’s advice: "Don't try to fight a bad perception......

Social Media is a Tactic not a Strategy

It’s the headline of our times “Brand X Moves to Social Media.” It’s the hottest trend in marketing with executives from the corner offices at Coca-Cola to the front lines at the local barber shop talking up Twitter, Foursquare, Groupon and Facebook. Since the Great Recession hit, we have been forced to do more with less and what better way to accomplish this than with social media. Compared to traditional advertising, a social media campaign is cheap. But is it effective? It all depends.

Crazy for Consumers? RIM is insane.

What is RIM doing wrong? Why don’t people appreciate RIM’s BlackBerry brand, profits or growth? Because they are fighting the wrong battle. They are focused on the wrong target. BlackBerry has been chasing the consumer instead of chasing its less-sexy business customer. Why it is that companies that have great success and profits with business clients feel the need to ditch them for the fickle, finicky and thin-margined consumer?

Coupons, Groupon and Cocaine

These days marketers are going in exactly the wrong direction. The recession has caused a lots of companies to panic. And when companies panic, they print coupons and throw up sale signs. Look in your mailbox, your email inbox or your newspaper and you will see what I mean. Everybody is having a sale.But does this coupon-sale-discount strategy work? Coupons and discounts do one thing every well. They teach consumers that your regular prices are too high. A lesson consumers learn very quickly. Once they think your regular prices are too high, they won’t buy from you until given a discount. And desperate companies are too quick to oblige.

BP has a Brand Problem

BP talked the talk but never walked the walk. Like many companies in unpopular industries, BP launched a massive advertising campaign to put a little lipstick on the oil pig. Advertising is not very good at changing strongly-held perceptions, but in BP’s case it actually worked. However, the “holier than thou” tone of BP’s advertising placed the company on a perilously high green pedestal it was sure to fall from.

Domino’s Should Apologize

Everybody knows the rule. When you do something wrong, you say you are sorry. As a society we love to scold but we also love to forgive. But how, when and why you say you are sorry also matters. Say it when you don’t have to and you create guilt where it may not have existed before. Domino’s goes out of its way to portray its guilt and lack of action for decades. And in the process mocks the stupidity of its customer base.

Starbucks is Shooting Itself in the Cup

Starbucks latest offensive isn’t against McDonald’s or Dunkin’ Donuts it is against itself. And if Starbucks weapon is as successful as it says it will be then they could be shooting themselves in the cup. It’s an insane idea for the world’s leading gourmet coffee chain to set-up a blind taste test in its own stores that it hopes it will lose. Losing a taste test devalues the loser as much as it praises the winner.

The Pitfalls of Misdirected Packaging

Never overlook the power and importance of packaging. It is the last chance for a consumer to say yes or no to your brand. You may have done an excellent job with your brand name, PR, word-of-mouth and advertising, but if that last piece of the puzzle (the package) doesn’t fit into the consumer’s mind, you are out of luck. No sale.