Marketing Genius from Maple Creative

Marketing tips, observations & philosophy, plus a few rants and random musings - from those who practice, preach and teach marketing, research, advertising, public relations and business strategy.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Marketing and the Circus

This wonderful gem was sent to me today by friend and marketing genius, J.J.:

"If the circus is coming to town and you paint a sign saying 'Circus Coming to the Fairground Saturday,' that's advertising. If you put the sign on the back of an elephant and walk him into town, that's promotion. If the elephant walks through the mayor's flowerbed, that's publicity. If you can get the mayor to laugh about it, that's public relations. And if you planned the elephant's walk, that's marketing."

source: Reader’s Digest

Now if that's not a great explanation of the science of marketing, I've never seen one! Thanks, J.J.!!!

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Coming Up

Just finished up a great lunch discussion with Dave Pray. We had some very good discussion about the importance of voice and genuineness in social media.

Voice - is it authentic ... is it relevant ... is it coherent? Is it your own?

We've all seen those blogs or Facebook pages or Twitter presences with an unauthentic voice. Some owner or marketing director has hired a third-party to be the mouthpiece for the company on its social media vehicles. Guess what folks: you're not fooling any of us!

As a marketing professional, I will only coach and counsel my clients on social media in order to make them effective and self-sufficient. I will not write for them. I am not the voice, because I do not have the soul, or the perspective or the nuances of language.

In the weeks ahead, we have some new things coming up! Dave Pray will be guest authoring a blog post or two here. He has some great ideas cooking!

Also, we have rejuvenated the very popular "Great Ads" series from a couple of years ago. To date, there have been eight posts in this series. Tim, Erin and Laura are working on a few new ones. I have a great ad clipped and ready to post, too. If you want to catch up on our "Great Ads" series - by all means do! Be sure to comment on your faves.

Great Ads #1 - Mack's Earplugs

Great Ads #2 - Dyson

Great Ads #3 - Target

Great Ads #4 - Clinique

Great Ads #5 - United Airlines

Great Ads #6 - Schmitt Sohne Winery

Great Ads #7 - JET Mirage Nightclub

Great Ads #8 - Canon

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Great Ads #8 - Canon

Advertisement from June 2004 issue of Inc.

When I saw this I could not help but to laugh! Would this really work in a real situation? Maybe not, but Canon sure does make it believable. Even if it is something that may not really keep someone out of the seat,

Canon has done a great job here bringing real life, "everyday," experiences together with a product inclusion as a comedic relief. You can see the product, you can see what it does, you can see how well it does it, and you can see how, in this scenario, it has become the bearer of the gentleman's burden. As it produces such crystal clear images that it has accomplished it's tasked goal; "Can't Sit There." Anytime you use comedy to advertise, and do it right ...

Thanks for the good advertising theme Canon, and THANKS for the laugh!

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Small talk

I visited the Apple Web site today to discover two words on the home page, “Small talk,” with a hand holding up a tiny silver rectangle. My initial goal flew out the window (I don’t even remember why I was visiting the Apple site to begin with.) Instead, I started to click around to find out more about this shiny new product, the newest iPod shuffle. 

I already have an iPod and no need for a new one… but this little guy (and boy do I mean little) caught my attention. Not only is it the smallest music player around (the earbuds are about the same size as the shuffle itself), it also boasts the new VoiceOver feature. With the press of a button the iPod will tell you about the song you are listening to. 


I already have a fun enough time typing random phrases into text-to-speech programs… and I figure my goal will be to fill the 4GB of space with as many lengthy, foreign or oddly spelled titles as possible. (Apple claims VoiceOver will automatically select the proper language and voice for foreign titles and artists.) 

I’m not one to collect tech toys, but this one really hooked me. I’m almost ashamed of myself! In 10 minutes, I went from not being in the market for a new mp3 player to pondering whether to have my name or a small quote engraved on the back of my new iPod shuffle (I chose “A witty saying proves nothing.” – Voltaire).

Apple quickly turned me from a casual browser to a customer with their innovative products, sleek design, to-the-point copy and free shipping. Now that's genius.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Meet Laura Buckalew

Hey! I'm Laura Buckalew and I'm Skip's mentee from the University of Charleston's Graduate School of Business. I play volleyball and am also a member of the women's crew team at UC. I'm also pursing my undergrad degrees in business administration and sports administration.
At the beginning of the school year we were asked to pick an area of study we were interested in and marketing is one that I really wanted to learn more about. So with Nora Myers' help she figured that Skip would be a good match for me and she was right! I'm always eager to learn new things and with Skip's help, I'm learning so much about the world of marketing! I'm excited about learning more from the blog posts and the other things Skip invites me to observe and be a part of.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Rayovac Sticker: Straightforward or Sad?

Any of you with kids will understand that parents are forever purchasing batteries for toys. Recently, my wife picked up a package of D cell (flashlight) batteries for our kids' Smartcycle. (A great toy, by the way, which combines an exercise bike with video games.) When she handed me the package, I was taken aback by a bright yellow sticker (shown at right - sorry about the blurry photo). The sticker offered the following message:
Rayovac Lasts as Long as Energizer.

My first thought was, How sad for Rayovac! They've had to resort to a direct comparison with another leading brand of batteries to get consumers to buy the Rayovac brand. In essence, they are advertising for Energizer on their package. Even worse, Rayovac is not offering a benefit that exceeds Energizer; they're simply saying that the Rayovac battery is equal. [Well then, why not buy Energizer? Right?]

As a brief aside, I racked my brain for associations and mental reference points about batteries. Number one - I think of the Energizer bunny, which tells me that the Energizer battery just keeps on going ... and going ... and going. So, Energizer = long lasting. That's good. Second, I think of Duracell ... "the coppertop." And I am reminded of some of the great advertising that Duracell has done in recent years. So Duracell = functional superiority that equates to trust and peace of mind. As for Rayovac, I've got nothing. I guess I would perceive Rayovac to be a third-place brand in the battery marketplace. (That's just my perception, right or wrong.)

Conversely, I can understand Rayovac's approach. They don't have much to lose. Why not go with the straightforward message: our batteries last just as long as the other brand? To their credit, it is direct and easy to understand (whether you believe it, or not). And the bright yellow sticker with the black lettering (taking from the warning sign design schema) is impossible to miss!

Probing a bit deeper into all of this, I made my first (ever) visit to the Rayovac Web site. And I found, again to their credit, that the "Lasts Just As Long As" marketing them is integrated into the Rayovac home page. And on its Web site, Rayovac adds another phrase to the message ... an important one: "And Costs Less." So let's give credit where credit is due.

In my mind, the jury is still out on this campaign. My take on the campaign is tending toward "Sad" in recognition of the desperation feel of this marketing angle. But in the end, market share will be the real determinant of the success of this campaign. We'll keep watching ... and watching ....

Let's hear from you! What do you, fellow marketing geniuses, think about this new Rayovac strategy? Is it simply sad--or smartly straightforward?

PS - Mapleonian Erin Deegan reported a very clever marketing tactic for batteries. Duracell has packaged a free set of ear bud headphones with its 8-pack of AA batteries. Now that will influence some consumer decisions, especially those younger consumers who own mp3 players.

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Friday, March 06, 2009


PepsiCo is adding three new softdrinks to its portfolio as part of the company's "refresh Everything" strategy. The lineup includes a premium all-natural cola, called Pepsi Natural, to be released this month in 10 select markets, along with limited-time throwback versions in April of Pepsi and Mountain Dew. All three products will be made with all-natural sugar, and aim to take customers in a different taste direction. Pepsi has been prepping this “natural” launch since 2006 as an answer to consumers' concerns about high fructose corn syrup.

“Pepsi Natural and the "Throwback" duo give consumersthe opportunity to refresh how they experience soft drinks,” said Frank Cooper, vp of portfolio brands, Pepsi-Cola North America Beverages, in a statement. “We’re continuing to offer a variety of products across different beverage categories, with a splash of nostalgia and entirely new experiences.”

The "Throwback" idea, I don't know if I am too crazy about it. I mean it worked for Ford when they took the Mustang back a few decades in it's look and it certainly had an appeal to buyers. This is a beverage we're talking about though. People who like and buy the product, "LIKE AND BUY" the product already. Why change the taste for a few weeks. Maybe that's why it's just for a few weeks. I don't know how I feel when PepsiCo says they're offering a line of products "with a splash of nostalgia". To me that doesn't sound refreshing or desireable to stick in my mouth. How about a blast of oldness in your mouth! No thanks! Is this what the new branding and logos were leading up to? If so, then I am way more disappointed than when I thought it was just a total brand/logo overhaul.

Now for this "Natural" thing; PepsiCo seems to be trying to re-invent a "good product" into something, not so much better, but all around different! This seems to be a plan to appeal to a whole new class and life-style of consumers. With everyone scrambling to things that are more healthy and more natural, without all of the man-made additives and preservatives, this seems like PepsiCo's contribution to a new mindset of product needs. Does this seem like a good approach? Is this too risky, will it last? Will health fanatics really pop the top on sugar filled carbonated beverages and feel good about it? I've seen many beverages similar to this around trying to hone in on people who want healthy foods and drinks. They don't usually seem to be a big hit. Will PepsiCo change it all? Will it be the trademark "Natural" soda beverage that everyone will consider, or is it just another crafty mix of words on a product that is still full of sugars, albeit "natural" sugars. And what about the branding? It seems like they have taken the new brand/logos, and rather than change them, they just threw off the bad branding on another line of products. In my opinion I think we're looking at a NATURAL DISASTER!

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