In My Country

In my country, gas and electric lawn mowers will be shunned. That will make lawns smaller. Which will make house lots smaller and a little closer together. Which will make them closer to the city. Which will make metro freeways shorter and narrower. And people will know each other better. And, well, you get the idea.

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Gettin Real at Whole Foods

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My Geek Guilty Pleasure

May your display never fade

Oh 12C, how I adore thee. Was there ever a more smart looking and elegant calculator designed? The landscape profile, the gold trim, the blue function keys that promised mysterious powers. Stacking, running, NPV and Delta %. It was the IBM mainframe in a handsome vinyl case. It made finance and budgets sexy.

12C Turns 30

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Earth Spin

The planet really needs a new press agent, ad firm, and some really good spin doctors. For years I’ve been trying to figure out how we went from the 1970s (yea!, Earth Day) to the 90s (Global Warming sucks) to now where Congress recently switched back from bio degradable cups and plates to styrofoam. More significantly, a majority of Americans now believe that the threat of climate change is exaggerated or untrue, and most of them seem to be in Congress. God help us. Or I guess, that’s actually the plan now.

Maybe the problem lies in the fact environmentalists make lousy marketers. Lovely people environmentalists, but gosh they can be boring at times. And their intuition about framing an issue or picking a rallying cry seems to leave something to be desired. Exhibit A, this article 1% FTP Adin the WSJ recently.

Contrast this to the Right Wing marketing machine. I don’t know if Republicans are inherently anti-environment. I mean heck, the first real political conservationist was Teddy Roosevelt. And while I’m no linguist, one would think that to be a Conservative would imply the root: To Conserve. Maybe better to keep the earth as is, in case we need it later? Alas, the environment was rather innocently landed on as a convenient boogeyman for the right. By getting people to be against something, you can make them for something else, namely your re-election and the huge bags of money you will be handed by those that are stealing from the people’s shared treasure and turning it into private treasure. Evil, but smart. It’s very clever when you can get the populace to vote their own economic disinterest and still get them to thank you for it. And the marketing has been damn good. Environmentalists (sounds like terrorists) were once hailed as non-partisan do-gooders along the lines of a Susan G. Komen supporter. Today, they are left-wing, liberal nut job tree-hugger, granola eating cartoon characters that hate America.

There is some hope from the marketing world. It seems puny in comparison to the minds and money marshalled against it, but 1% For The Planet, for one,  is putting a new face on things. 1% FTP encourages businesses to give 1% of their revenue to the environment. They also have a sense of humor!

It’s time to take the (gardening) gloves off and do a little respectful, polite and factually based battle with those that wish the planet, and therefore all of us, ill. Or better yet, we could just hire Frank Luntz.

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Zen Marketing

Zen Gateway

Lake Champlain from the Trail

Big winter this year. Lots of snow, which I love. And when it snows, this is where I go. Out the back gate and into Red Rocks Park. 90 acres of trees, trails and amazing views.

I don’t charge my clients for the time I spend out there. That wouldn’t feel right. But it is, in fact, where most of the real value is added. When I’m wrestling with something challenging, it seems to come untangled out there as I glide along.

Inspiration, epiphany, or sometimes just a soul cleansing sweat.

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Will Market for Beer

We need to bring back rhyming in copy. Who can resist it?

I’m a Scot. So I like a good value when it can be had. The other night I had to make an emergency milk stop at our superdupermarket. As I was rounding produce and bee-lining toward dairy, a beer box power stack caught my eye. A PBR (Pabst Blue Ribbon) 30 Pack for just $15. That’s like…well it’s less than a buck a beer! Now, truth be told, I’m actually a beer snob. I like my 90-minute IPAs, my Cascade dry hopped ambers, and a good hearty porter. My wife, on the other hand, is from Iowa. She likes her coffee and her beer to be…well, more Iowan, which is to say, like making love in a boat (look it up). To keep a happy and healthy marriage, I keep a ready stock of her favorite North American lager, Labatt Blue, on hand. Yet, I was still a little taken aback when I arrived home with my prize bargain and she dismissively said “PBR? Who’s gonna drink it?”

Brand perceptions run deep. Interestingly, Pabst was the first beer her father offered me 21 years ago, when I first made his acquaintance in Ft. Dodge, Iowa. So I guess PBR was her dad’s beer and therefore not drinkable in her estimation (and she likely missed its recent retro revival with twenty-somethings that made it cool again). I decided to give her a taste test. PBR vs. the Blue. I figured that she would be able to pick it up pretty easily just from familiarity with her beer, even if deep down she actually liked the PBR as well or better. And as expected, she picked the Blue immediately and indicated that the richer finish and complexity were dead giveaways. Only problem was, she picked the PBR.

It’s what I love about marketing. Human emotion and preconceptions meet reality. And reality is clearly overrated.

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The Marketeers of Echo Park

Here’s an interesting WSJ article that illustrates very vididly something that we’re always on about here at Pure Marketing. If you want a big brand – better to use a rifle than a shotgun when it comes to targeting. Pleasing everybody by throwing everything but the kitchen sink in rarely works. Most often, it pleases no one. Better to find a real bullseye and nail that and then wait for those evangelists to spread it with everyone else. We’ll see if that works with this critically acclaimed book. My guess is that it will (especially if Oprah likes it). Call us if you want to sharpen the focus on your brand.

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I Left My Lunch in San Francisco

Today we’re reporting to you live (with 2 day tape delay) from the 2011 Fancy Foods Show in San Francisco. The weather has been beautiful and the show floor is a potpourri of chocolates, nuts, cheeses, cured meats, flavored popcorns, infused olives and so much more. I do believe there are now officially 30,000 different brands of olive oil in the world, making finding the white space in that category a little challenging. I mean how much more virgin can you be? The answer is none, none more virgin. Anyway, I ate well and never managed to accidentally snarf anything that required me to deftly regurgitate it into a napkin and casually discard it in the waste bin while simultaneously carrying on an enthusiastic conversation with the proud founder of whatever sea salt, hazelnut, mold covered dog breath flavored shrimp kernels she was hawking. So I’ve got that going for me, which is nice.

Best in Show: Aside from my client Grafton Village Cheese and the Greek Yogurt place that was using Greek rent-a-babes in tight black dresses as spokespeople?…hmmm, I would have to go with Toffee Taboo for its magical power to get me to circle back to the booth two times to get more of the milk chocolate and impossibly large almond pieces in it.

Worst in Show: I would have to go with Blk Water “Taste the dark” which is water, but dark colored and infused with Fulvic acid. We got the pitch. Fulvic is a mineral that is mined, somewhere, and is nature’s most powerful antioxidant.  And because it is the smallest molecule known to man (I might need to fact check that one) it speeds the absorption rate of water. I don’t know about you, but I’ve always been super frustrated about how slowly I can absorb water. Well, okay, I guess not always, but I sure am now, now that I know it should be alot faster. Despite its miraculous properties, Fulvic lacks some sex appeal as molecules go, so I do suggest they take a little creative license with the molecule naming. And, oh yeah, it tasted like something the dentist would give you. So maybe throw a little artificial flavoring in there, as long as it doesn’t slow the absorption rate. That’s key.

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Et Tu Howard?

So Starbucks has finally taken the logo plunge. Years after they began to dabble in everything from publishing, ice cream and even furniture – in one brief ill-considered reach –  they are trying to officially broaden the brand to, well, anything.

“We’ve allowed (the siren) to come out of the circle in a way that I think gives us the freedom and flexibility to think beyond coffee.” says Howard.

So the obvious model here is Apple which stopped being Apple Computer a few years ago when they successfully became loved for lots of other cool techy things. On the other hand, is Starbucks giving up their core identity? Personally, coffee has replaced sex, ice cream, pets and people as my favorite (and most loyal) companion. I kind of like being reminded that coffee is really at the heart of the brand, even if I’m buying the Starbucks breath mints for my coffee breath. And I don’t mind buying a Harley Davidson T-shirt that says Harley Davidson Motorcylces, in fact that’s kind of why I want the T-shirt.

So, I put it to you loyal readers, what say you? Good move or bad?

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Atlas Rides

Like many college students, I tried Rand a few times. But I didn’t inhale…too much. Hey, who doesn’t want to live free on the earth, and have our potential limited only buy the scale of our dreams, etc. etc. If only my neighbor wasn’t such an unenlightened SOB. Maybe just a little regulation…

The author here does a great job of covering this fasincinating perrenial political powderkeg. What’s the relevance to marketing? Some legendary brands are built on libertarian impulses. Harley Davidson, Playboy, and Marlboro come to mind.

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