Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Ask a dumbass.

Irene Done over at Not Billable points us to some, yes, expert advice from Steve Strauss in USA Today.

When a newspaper has a guy like this wasting ink and trees, it really makes the hue and cry about the veracity of blogs questionable. No, I'm not about to defend commission-based media billing (and before Mr. Strauss says, "Gotcha, you're an agency guy," let me note that our agency doesn't use commission-based media billing), but this guy is completely out to lunch about how things really work. Volume is just one of countless questions he ignores. Pity poor Carlos in California who is know knee deep in the launch of his "ad agency" to support his – sandwich shop? paint store? tool and die shop? – business.

Yes, the ad agency business and its billing practices are pretty screwed up. But this solution for small businesses makes about as much as sense as General Motors hiring me to be their next CEO.

USA Today should be embarrassed. The smug photo of this Strauss fellow. The research that must have included at least three minutes on Google. The advice to designate someone in the office who has, "...the most advertising know-how..." to be, "...the point person."

Who's editing McPaper anyway? Oh, right. They must have just promoted the guy who used to create all the four-color pie charts.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Welcome aboard. Now get out.

Ad Age points out that the average tenure of a Chief Marketing Officer continues to shrink. What I'd like to know is if the amount of years that a CEO hangs on to a job has experienced a similar decline. Somehow, I doubt it.

I think it's more proof that even the smartest marketing people can't help lousy products. Customers simply know too much — you can't expect them to keep buying something that's just average when there are all kinds of choices that are far superior. When a CMO can't touch just about everything, the title may as well be Helpless Little Bunny. And we all know that the typical CEO is unlikely to be the kind of person who is moved to spare a helpless little bunny.

If you're a marketing person considering that dream job, make sure you've got some power to go with that fancy title. Or better yet, get a nice iron-clad contract that ensures you'll be paid a big fat chunk of change when people find out your big brain still can't move the mediocre product. You know, the kind of package that CEOs have.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Folger's. This is for !@#$%^&* Folger's!!!

Wow. Turns out there are still some people in this business with courage.

I don't know if it's right. But I sure love 'em for trying.

Wake up and be happy.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Your brand is not your damn logo.

Especially if you're a service company. Here's a good example.

I spent a couple of weeks in Italy recently. Our flight plans included layovers in Amsterdam. (Schiphol Airport is always an interesting experience in itself. Apparently, somebody mixed up the plans for an airport with some blueprints for a shopping mall. I've actually heard that people in The Netherlands go to Schiphol just to shop. To me, the idea of going to an airport for anything other than the necessity of travel is unfathomable but apparently it goes on.)

During our first layover, we headed to the KLM lounge near our gate. Uber cool. Great furniture, fabulous bar and food area, bathroom fixtures that I'd like in my own home. Interestingly, the lounge color scheme was Deep Red instead of that KLM Royal Blue. It made me feel great to sit there and, for a moment, air travel felt damn near civilized. It made me appreciate KLM for offering such a fabulous respite after six hours in a plane. And while I hardly noticed it at the time, there was nary a KLM logo in sight.

Fast forward to the return trip. Same airport, different lounge. This time, it was of an entirely different ilk. If the lounge from our first layover seemed ripped from the pages of Dwell magazine, this one appeared to be the work of a top designer from Coceascu's Romania. Cheesy seating. Utilitarian restrooms. Drop-panel ceiling.

But that wasn't the worst of it. The KLM logo was plastered everywhere. And that less-than-pleasing Royal Blue stubbornly lodged itself in every sight line. At one time, this was some KLM marketing wonk's idea of branding. Piss off, I thought. I'm trying to gather up some sanity before I embark on nine hours inside a metal tube with four jet engines strapped to it.

The inflight magazine on KLM actually featured a piece on the lounge from our first layover. I don't have a copy to reference names, but the designer of the space had a great point regarding the red color scheme and the lack of logos. I'm paraphrasing, but it was something like this:

"People already know they're in a KLM lounge. We don't to remind them of that fact. We need to make their experience in the lounge a positive one."

The fact of the matter is that my first layover was a positive brand experience. With no logos, no corporate colors and a flagrant disregard for any brand standards guide.

It's a good lesson for all marketers, but especially for companies in service categories like hotels or retail. Slapping a logo everywhere is a crutch for lazy thinkers.