Male Cosmetics Communication : Losing their bearings?

How lame ! Selling skin care products by talking about “engineering” and showing gears and ball bearings. Good for Androids perhaps.

TUMI needs DASH not SPLASH

Tumi is a brand which built itself on truly superior and differentiated product i.e substance. Early adoption by celebrities, associated PR , premium pricing and selected distribution gave the brand enough sizzle for it to become reasonably aspirational especially for business travelers. For a while it was a bit like the Ford model T- you can have it in any color as long as it is black.

The brand clearly needed some more ‘dash’. There have been some good “dash” initiatives like Add an Accent on the core Alpha range (shown below). This is in line with the brand architecture ( black and a touch of red) and exactly what was needed- a touch, an accent.

However some other initiatives ( shown below) have perhaps gone over board. They are likely to confuse the core consumer and dilute the brand core.

Inspiration to do it right exists within the category in RIMOWA. They have stuck to their core – the grooved (corrugated aluminum) exterior and a product anchored around toughness and strength -but added bright colors, accents and lighter materials via the LIMBO and SALSA range to complement the core TOPAS range.

Desperate STARBUCKS !

Instead of enhancing the core in-store coffee experience STARBUCKS is dissipating its energy ( and brand equity) trying to max out sales per square foot by pimping overpriced Instant brew coffee (in-store as well as in that purveyor of fine goods-Walmart)  and Tea. Beginning of another round of poor results, if not the end. They should have learnt from Nespresso on how to boost consumption as well as premiumise the brand. Mr Schultz, what happened to authentic quality??

Crowd sourcing keeps gathering Moss

Even more signs that this is going to be a big part of the future.

2 extracts from the post “Future of advertising” at www. fastcompany.com

1. GeniusRocket  is nothing more than a bare-bones website that crowdsources broadcast-ready TV ads from a pool of loosely vetted talent from Poland to Guam. A CMO accustomed to handing over millions of dollars to an agency for a campaign designed around a single spot can now hand GeniusRocket $40,000 — and get seven spots, each of which will be syndicated on 20 web platforms for tracking, testing, sentiment analysis, and wide distribution. GeniusRocket gleans a 20% to 40% commission, and the rest goes to the creators. “It seemed like an interesting, cost-effective way to get some new creative ideas,” says Marshall Hyzdu, the Kraft brand manager who hired GeniusRocket. “We fell in love with one spot.

2. Former Crispin Porter + Bogusky exec John Winsor recently opened Victors & Spoils in Boulder, Colorado. Victors & Spoils has virtually no staff and “operates on the principles of crowdsourcing” — currently the most vilified term in the agency world. Since its launch last year, Victors & Spoils has lured marketers at General Mills, Oakley, Virgin America, and Harley-Davidson, which just ditched its agency of record of 30 years. “Many agencies are hanging on to this idea that creativity is theirs to own and sell,” says Harley CMO Mark-Hans Richer. “[Victors & Spoils] offered a great place to start versus sitting across from a creative who spent weeks crafting the perfect idea and gets upset if you want to change a word.

Hotel search made simple

I wonder how much time people in the hotel industry spend on designing the physical properties.

Little bit of time on the front of the virtual property might not be missed.

Why don’t  we have a homepage like this yet from any of the major Hotel brands?


Infact the aggregator sites ( Hotels.com, Hotzebra etc)  do much better and Holiday Inn is not bad either.

Marriott : from bad to worse

Spotted the new Marriott campaign yesterday at Hong Kong airport. I have pilloried Marriott twice before in this blog. This time it is so bad, there is no need to waste any space analyzing it.

Enjoy the brilliance of gems like :  “Habitat of the Wildly successful”,  ” Where the Driven go”,  ” Highly functional and dynamic like you”…..and the website mentioned at the bottom has no link to the campaign !!

Bad strategy, Bad execution, Bad Integration

Toshiba: The Cacophony of Consensus

Asian companies often pride themselves on a non-confrontational, consensus building management style. Here is proof that consensus can create cacophony for consumers (and not much for the bottomline). Toshiba makes fine laptops. However their communication singularly and consistently  fails to land a  big singular point.

The example shown above (with my comments against the white background) is just one of the many from their hall of fame, which keep gracing global weeklies. Fine footprints of at least five departments (marked in blue text) can be seen on this work of art.

I can almost hear the “eager to get promoted” marketing manager ask the boss: “Sato San, What would you like to add to this ad ?”.

China : Factory to Studio?

Read my assessment of China’s  prospects of moving from being a factory for cheap goods (and  code) to becoming an origin point for new products, designs and business models.

http://www.ddb.com/yellowpapers/

Sony: Making us believe again ?

If you are watching the FIFA matches, you can’t miss the new SONY ads prominently displayed on the boards near the sidelines. SONY has ditched “like no other” (which was never used on the entire product range) to embrace a new unified brand concept “Make. Believe”.

There is a very elaborate explanation on the website of the concept. The thinking is quite clear and well captured in this quote from the CEO : “SONY is a technology company with an intimate understanding of creative possibilities of content. SONY is a content company with an intuitive grasp of technology. No other company has both”.

It seems the strategy is about positioning the brand as one which empowers consumers to dream, imagine, experience, create (make) great content with the help of Sony’s products and technologies. So far so good.

However, the only strategy the consumer sees is execution and the execution in this case i.e the sign-off line “MAKE. BELIEVE” is just not inspiring and intuitive enough. One can argue that taglines alone don’t make a brand and SAMSUNG has been growing at break-neck speed without a brand tag line ( although the latest one : “Turn on tomorrow” is quite nice). The launch cinema and TV execution (shown below) however is even more ordinary.

SONY as a brand needs as much inspiration as it can find on all fronts- product as well as communication. It desperately needs to regain its salience in the consumers’ minds. It was a leader brand, and now it is not. A series of mis-steps have made it an also ran in the key categories it competes. It no longer dominates the markets and minds, the way it used to 5 years back.

Perhaps an integration of the new strategy with “.like no other” which was a powerful statement of leadership, would have been more interesting. Something like “Create/play/connect/imagine …Like no other” wherein the first word refers to what that particular product range offers.

We need more belief. This is just make believe stuff (pun intended).

The Wisdom of Imitation

No supply issues on the Iphone 4G in China. The new Iphone 4G is already out in China. The cloned one, that is.

It is easy to complain about the cheap knock-offs which Chinese factories keep churning out. Perhaps there is a bit more behind it than the desire to make a quick buck.

The term “Shanzai” and ‘Shanzaism”, often used for such products, although literally meaning “Mountain Village or Stronghold” today symbolizes anything that imitates something famous. According to Li Zonggui, a professor at Sun Yat-Sen University in south China’s Guangdong Province, Shanzhai represents non-mainstream ideas and innovations, and is also a new way for common people to express what they want.

Well maybe there is also a  connection between this imitation streak and Confucius philosophy, if one goes by the quote below.

On a cheeky note..maybe the Chinese authorities can use this philosophical under-pinning to explain this culture of imitation to the Western trade representatives, next time the issue of IP protection is raised.