Blog

April 2014 - PS Insights

RONALD McDONALD

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Taco Bell has just launched its new breakfast menu with a full out McDonald’s takeover. They found a bunch of guys named Ronald McDonald to offer their testimonials about why they love Taco Bell breakfast. The McDonald’s hijack has certainly gotten a lot of play and other than an ad of Ronald petting a Chihuahua and  an offer of free coffee in the morning, there’s not a lot McDonald’s can do to blunt the initiative. What do you do when challenger brands invade your turf?

ATLAS TEXTED

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Our recent blog about Steve’s son playing the Atlas Shrugged video game generated an astute reply from Tom Dusenberry: “Maybe the video game is better quality than the book. Maybe the message is that you can learn from different media including a book and a video game…Maybe the message is that paper and ink are dead in the digital world. Why labor through reading a book when you can enjoy an interactive experience that comes to life before your eyes?” Thanks, Tom. Too often we judge content by the platform it’s delivered on rather than its impact. Are you platform agnostic and content religious?

IT’S NOT YOUR FATHER’S OR YOUR MOTHER’S

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20 years ago, in an attempt to get younger buyers to consider their brand, Oldsmobile launched a campaign that killed it instead: “This is Not Your Father’s Oldsmobile.”  Young buyers said, “Oh, yes it is.” And loyal Olds buyers said, “And what’s wrong with my Oldsmobile?” Now Buick is running a campaign they call “Hmmm” and the tag line, “that’s not a Buick…” which feels suspiciously like, “This is not your mother’s Buick.” Will this spell the beginning of the end of the Buick brand? Defensive advertising is just that – defensive. What do you do to keep your product/service current and relevant?

A MOST EFFECTIVE VIRAL VIDEO

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Beyond babies and baby animals, mashups and sizzle videos are the stuff of the Internet. But some are so well done that their intention goes beyond mere entertainment or ahhh factor. We were both taken by this generic corporate video that had a terrific sales message for their business. Wouldn’t you be inspired to do business with them?

WORLD’S TOUGHEST JOB

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A smart viral video from Mullen in Boston. They posted a job titled “Director of Operations” and conducted online interviews with the 28 people who responded. We certainly agree it’s one tough job. But there are many qualified candidates. How are you using the new media to find and celebrate the best players out there…and, get some buzz for yourself while you’re at it?

THE DEATH OF US MALL

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A story on Marketplace last week featured an interview with mall developer Rick Caruso (pictured) who’s been successfully re-imagining what the mall of the future should be. His smartest observation was when he talked about his “guests.” Kai Ryssdal, the interviewer, said, “you mean your customers?” To which Caruso replied, “No, I mean my guests. My customers are the chain stores that rent from me; the people who come to shop or eat or play are my guests.” Not a new idea. But the businesses that understand it are the ones that win. How are you making your customers feel like guests?

WOW! WHO KNEW?

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Last week, Todd Pendleton, chief marketing officer for Samsung USA, took the stand to testify in Apple’s patent violation suit against Samsung. He testified—under oath—that the spectacular rise in sales of the Galaxy SIII was solely due to their marketing campaign, “The Next Big Thing Is Here.” We’ve heard of marketing officers taking credit for the phenomenal success of a new campaign, but a multi-billion-dollar 18 month growth? Gee—it looks like every marketer in the world should be bidding for the services of Mr. Pendleton. How does your marketing campaign stack up?

SERIOUS BUSINESS

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Experts are fussy about excellence. Try cracking a joke to a comedian and the best you’ll often get from them is “That’s funny.” Take it as a compliment and be glad you’re not a comedy writer. We civilians can actually laugh at a joke. Being an expert requires serious critical distance. Do you separate your appreciation of recreations from the intensity of your expertise?

MERGERS OF WEAKNESS

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The grocery business is getting smaller. Safeway and Albertson’s are two of the latest chains that are merging. To us, it’s amazing how uncreative the general grocery business has been for so many years. Annoying lighting, bad layouts, unclear signage, out of stock items, bad produce and long lines at checkout. How do you ensure that your business doesn’t become less and less appetizing over the years?

ATLAS ROLLED IN HIS GRAVE

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Steve’s younger son, Dan, is on staff at a television network—and is learning the reality that most businesses don’t really care about quality. Chatting about it over breakfast, Steve asked, “Have you ever read Atlas Shrugged?” To which Dan replied, “No, but I’ve played the video game.” We laughed twice. First when we thought he was joking; second when we found out there really is one! How do you manage the issue of quality in your organization?