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04/28/2004

When it Positively Has to Be?

It did not take long for FedEx to slap its name in front of its recent acquisition, Kinko's. Now we go to FedExKinko's when we get our copies and banners made and that's a mouthful.

FedExKinko's is calling itself the "office and print center". The brands share meaning in "speed" and "convenience" which reduces any underlying tension in the combination of business models. And, with over a thousand service centers worldwide, customers are already familiar with the idea of a FedEx retail location.

However, unlike the recent UPS acquisition of Mailboxes Etc. (since renamed the UPS Store), in which both brands spoke directly to the delivery of packages and information, FedEx is asking consumers to make more of a leap in perceptions. The link between logistics and delivery (FedEx) and printing (Kinko's) depends on us seeing FedExKinko's as our office center.

Time will tell. This is the sort of naming strategy one would expect to see--an interim step before, we suspect, the Kinko's brand eventually goes away altogether in favor of FedEx in a UPS Store kind of model. Whether this is the case or not, we suspect FedEx would have been better off leaving the Kinko's name as it is and doing more to educate customers on the availability of FedEx shipping at each Kinko's location, such as simply featuring the FedEx logo in the window on one of those FedExKinko's produced banners.

Posted by Michael Megalli on April 28, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (6)

04/27/2004

NEWS ALERT!

Is every bit of "news" becoming News Alert-worthy?

Used to be, the major networks would break into their normal programming only for critical events--a tornado warning, an assassination attempt, the moon launch. Today, Fox News runs a News Alert graphic every time it presents the hour's headlines. Distracting? Yes. Annoying. Also yes. Truth is, you never know whether the items are going to be newsworthy or not.

But do these graphics get us to pay attention? We've probably all taken a second look when the News Alert flashes on the screen. All of which is worth keeping in mind when developing marketing strategy and tactics: How are you adding the "alert!" to your brand story?

Posted by Michael Megalli on April 27, 2004 in Marketing communications | Permalink | Comments (0)

04/26/2004

OMORO?

We've been watching the revival of wordplay in US marketing:

Camry is "My Car".

Use Beano (food enzyme dietary supplement) and "there'll be no gas".

CIT Group (commercial and consumer finance) runs a campaign that asks us to "C It grow ...".

While this sort of wordplay has been around as long as advertising, it seems particularly relevant now that brand slogans have lost their power to inform and excite. These days, taglines seem appended to brand names out of habit, because "that's what everyone else does".

With anagrams and word play, there's a way for marketers to make their brand names and advertising messages stand out again; until enough companies use the same tactic and we are overwhelmed with their cleverness.

Makes us wonder about the future. Of course, TRW laid claim to that some twenty years ago by borrowing the T, R and W from the word "tomorrow". OMORO?

Posted by Michael Megalli on April 26, 2004 in Marketing communications | Permalink | Comments (1)

04/13/2004

Showing Up

Just got back from a couple of dazzling hours at the NY Auto Show. These shows are all overwhelming, but the auto show takes the prize.

Now as a company, we don’t do any work in the car business, but it sure is fertile ground for extremely interesting marketing work. Outside of the car show itself, I tend to think of car marketing as a never ending supply of pretty television ads replete with requisite shots of cars moving quickly through the great outdoors.

When you go to the car show, however, the whole picture changes. Right there on display is the bulk of the manufacturer’s product line. This is a pure brand experience. Not only do you witness the innovation (or lack of innovation) in the design, but you immediately are exposed to and influenced by the public’s response as well. The result is that you very quickly form an opinion about “who’s hot and who’s not” and once established, it is difficult to shake this opinion.

A few of observations:

The Mini Cooper has made the VW Beetle irrelevant – Mini does everything that the Beetle does, but without the cutesiness overhead

Cadillac’s rebirth is complete – in two years, they have been able to completely and convincingly re-create one of the biggest car brands in the world. It is extraordinary to see

The Hybrids are here – Toyota’s is winning with hybrids that are well branded and make a world of sense


Posted by Michael Megalli on April 13, 2004 in Product portfolios | Permalink | Comments (0)

04/08/2004

Mountain Dew ads

NYTs covers a really funny ad idea Mountain Dew is running in Times Square...creating billboards for two competing hotdog vendors.

Posted by Michael Megalli on April 8, 2004 in Marketing communications | Permalink | Comments (2)

04/07/2004

Youth Volvo

I was walking to the office from a meeting this afternoon and I saw a group of the new Volvo S40s near Astor Place. They were there on the last stop of a nation-wide tour to promote the new line and its wagon cousin the V50. Needless to say I stopped to talk with one of the drivers and to hear a little about the new line.

Volvo is doing some really interesting stuff from a marketing perspective. In fact, it seems like most car companies have put some more fuel in their marketing tanks recently. Obviously these new cars are an effort to get away from the safety conscious soccer mom crowd which has traditionally been drawn to the brand and to get some of the spendy Gen X/Y crowd. The ads -- subtly co-marketed with Xbox -- are probably a little too young and too rough for this crowd, but they are an intriguing departure.

Auto show next weekend. Look for many automotive posts and pictures.

Posted by Michael Megalli on April 7, 2004 in New product launches | Permalink | Comments (0)

04/05/2004

Fortune-telling and the marketer's task

Looking for an example of how hard it is to market technology products in a fast changing and capricious world? How about the--until now--theoretical battle between music download and temporary music subscription?

The music download model is the one that is more familiar to us. Services like Apple's iTunes allow you to download digital music files which you then own and use as you see fit (as long as you don't share them with your friends).

Things are about to get a bit more complicated however. Cnet ran a story last week about a new technology called Janus that would enable a kind of "renting" of music files by enabling the expiration of files after a certain amount of time.

The question then becomes: will people want to pay a little less for something that they only use temporarily? After all, music is different from videos where there is a precedent for renting media either from the video store or an online service like Netflix: people are still much more interested in keeping a "music collection".

The problem is not much of a problem for anyone except marketers at online music services (like Napster) or at device makers (like Samsung) who have to decide if and how to market the new technology. Of course, there is no way of knowing how the market will react to the service, and everyone involved must suspect that people will not want to pay for something that will eventually just disappear.


Posted by Michael Megalli on April 5, 2004 in New product launches | Permalink | Comments (0)

04/02/2004

Hold the Gmail

By now you have certainly heard about Google's 1 Gig email service, Gmail. Yesterday there was some question about whether or no the whole thing was a hoax. Today the question is: is this a good idea?

CNET's Charles Cooper has an great piece today which describes Google's fairly worrisome intention to use keyword search within a users email box to serve up contextual advertising. Cooper makes the excellent point that the launch of the Gmail service is a move against Microsoft and that Redmond will be "holier than the Pope" in sticking to a hardline on privacy in its email service.

Posted by Michael Megalli on April 2, 2004 in New product launches | Permalink | Comments (0)

Don't Touch the Pinstripes

Ah, springtime and baseball is in the air. Today's NYT has an interesting snippet of controversy around the Yankees/Devil Rays season opener in Japan this week.

Apparently MLB had seen fit to allow Ricoh to advertise on the players uniforms and Commercial Alert, a non-profit group which monitors advertisers has complained to commissioner Bud Selig. The letter to Selig is quoted in the article and has a particularly stinging line of argument: "You are the trustee of a legacy. Do you really want to pass along to those who will come after us an item of tarnished and compromised commercial goods?" Ouch.

I agree that baseball players should not become billboards for consumer products. There is something disturbing and wrong about the idea. Baseball is big business and no one should be surprised when it acts like big business. But like any business, baseball also knows its customer base -- the fans -- and I would be very surprised if we see ads on any uniforms reappearing any time soon.

Posted by Michael Megalli on April 2, 2004 in Marketing communications | Permalink | Comments (0)