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December 2014 - PS Insights

GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK

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Be with friends. Be with family. Be with yourself. Make the holidays mean something to you. Which is our way of saying, “See you January 5th — and the best end-of-year ever to you and your families.

CHRISTMAS, BRITISH-STYLE

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Ah, Christmas! When Hollywood releases all its Academy Award contenders, corporate America runs unlimited sales, and a few smart marketers still try to catch the real spirit of the holidays. Sainsbury got military re-creators in England to stage some extraordinary WWI trench scenes and re-staged the All-Quiet-On-The-Western-Front “Christmas Truce,” racking up over 15 million views so far in the process. Waitrose has gone a little more low-key, but still found a way to touch the hearts of audiences as a youngster learns the triumphs and tragedies of making gingerbread men. How is your company celebrating the true spirit of the holidays?

TRAVEL PRO

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Beth Ziesenis, writing in Speaker Magazine (yes, there’s a magazine for professional speakers) has a great article, “10 Tech Travel Tools Every Speaker Should Know”. They’re great tips—for all business travelers, not just speakers. While we’ve known about Hipmunk, SeatGuru and FlightAware for a while, some of her tips—especially TripIt—were a revelation. How do you make travel easy and hassle-free?

THE TWO-MONTH YEAR

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Hollywood has moved to a two-month year. Used to be, you could reliably depend on a handful of good movies all year long. Now the strategy is to load the potential award-winners in Nov/Dec and the quality blockbusters starting Christmas day. The result is a dearth of good films most of the year—and not enough time over the holidays to catch the ones you really want to see. It’s no wonder the movie industry is performing so poorly. Are you competing where (and when) all your competitors do—or are you hunting for overlooked opportunities?

VALUE vs WORTH

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Disney’s performance this past quarter was impressive—fueled by major box office hits. Its value is largely the result of its worth. The difference? Michael Eisner and Bob Iger unlocked the company’s value and made it hugely profitable; but it was Walt Disney’s unceasing (and insistent) demand for excellence and enthrallment that built the foundation of value upon which the whole company is based. Do you only measure the profitability of your company—or do you also value it?

WHOSE ENGLISH IS IT?

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English has always been a fluid, dynamic language. The Middle English of Beowulf is unreadable unless translated. The “Modern” English of Shakespeare needs to be increasingly annotated to be understood. Today, the curious mashup of shortened phrases and emoticon-style abbreviations is hurling us towards a Post-Modern English that our parents won’t understand. (Do you know “CU@*$” is texting for “See you at Starbucks”?) Is this good or bad? We think it depends on whether you’re an old-speaker or new-speaker. The real question is: How are you talking to your target audience and are you effectively communicating to them?

SELF-PROMOTION

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Our story last week about the advertising agency John St. reminded us how willing agencies are to market everything…except themselves. Many years ago, Geer, DuBois ran an outstand self-promotion campaign in which the office cleaning people praised how creative they were and how hard they worked. It was stand out stuff. Now the the low cost of digital production and ready access to viral media is allowing more and more agencies to self-promote. Personally, if we were running a new business pitch, we would make every candidate agency submit a commercial for themselves. How do you promote yourself in this new viral era?

VILIFIED

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There’s nothing more uncool than being obvious in trying to be cool. And Abercrombie & Fitch has gotten its comeuppance. From hot bodied sales clerks and homo-erotic catalogs, the brand has finally been caught up by mega rejecters. Core consumers no longer want to wear the brand’s icons, they don’t want to pay the high prices and they are turned off to the “beautiful-people-only” image the brand projected. What do you do to be cool but inclusive?

NOTHING NORMAL ABOUT IT

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Pushing your brand in new directions is never easy. GAP made a huge misstep trying to “fix” their brand with an ill-conceived logo redesign. Now they’re back with an intriguing commercial campaign directed by Sofia Coppola. They’re classic Sofia Coppola spots: enigmatic and low key, featuring an odd assortment of heroes trying to act normal at their parents’ holiday gatherings. The tagline is “Dress Normal” prefaced with, “you don’t have to get them to get them GAP.” It’s a little unclear. It’s a little counter-intuitive. It may be a colossal failure (Paul) or a surprise holiday lift (Steve) for the brand. Either way, points for courage. How willing are you to push the edges of your brand?

MORE THAN VACUUM CLEANERS

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Electrolux, the Danish household products manufacturer, has stepped up the action from its sleepy perception of vacuum cleaner manufacturer with a global competition to come up with state of the art household products that may be improving our lives in and out of home in the near future.  These clever products are buzz-worthy perception changers for brand Electrolux. What do you do to take your quiet brand perception and give it a mega boost?