Blog

May 2015 - PS Insights

LITERATE ICONS

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As part of our writing workshop, Steve asks attendees to write a synopsis of a classic, commonly-known story. In the past, he’s used Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” But lately he’s had to explain the plot because many people don’t know the story. Cultural diversity (or did someone say spotty education) also means fewer and fewer shared cultural experiences. We’ve been trying to find examples that everyone knows, but we’re not exactly sure what those might be other than blockbuster films. And where’s the good writing in them?

PLAY WITH YOUR FOOD

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As experienced marketers, we’ve become slightly jaded about “food beauty shots.” Whether it’s the ingredients for a quick serve burger or a wholesome at-home breakfast, we expect it to be beautifully lit, beautifully shot and, well, wholly expected. England’s Marks & Spencer, however, has been doing a foodie campaign the past two years that proves, once again, that if you look at something with new eyes, anything is possible. Do you go for what’s expected—or can you can you capture something visually delicious with “fresh eyes”?

GANGNAM STYLE REDUX

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Nickelodeon has just started running a new show called “Make it Pop” featuring three young female Asian boarding school friends. Their fashion and music come together in a new K-Pop band called XI-IQ. They, of course, are too cool for school. And the Korean pop form has now found a mainstream home on American television. How global is your reach for trends and content?

“IKEA MELTDOWN”

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We were struck by a recent article in the Wall Street Journal that discussed couples fight while shopping at IKEA. We’ve often praised IKEA as the perfect store for early life stages. But apparently, that’s exactly the problem. Early life stages bring with them the growing pains of evolving relationships. If Swedish meatballs aren’t enough to make the family feel better, what other ways should couples get in touch with their needs and desires?

 

CORD CUSTOMIZERS

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At last, one of the big TV services, Verizon, is offering channel customization beyond bloated and overly expensive packages. ESPN is suing. ESPN is also the most expensive network we all pay for each month whether we watch it or not. Finally it looks like the monopolies and duopolies of TV choice are breaking down. How do you want to customize your TV viewing?

 

PRINCIPLED APPROACH

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McDonald’s new CEO has recently announced a number of plans to turnaround their sick business. Much of the chatter centers around approach and style rather than menu and Millennials. Hmmm. It’s clear that many people aren’t “lovin’ it” these days. But, isn’t the best way to fix a business to truly be in touch with and responsive customer wants and needs?

STYLIN’

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Men’s fashion has probably never been more in style. The Wall Street Journal recently featured a story about James Corden, the newest addition to late night television (and a British import). Late night style icons are not new. But the plethora of players and different inspirational fashion styles are both reflecting and projecting a fashion sensibility that is inspiring great looks and individuality. How do you put yourself together and what messages are you looking for convey with your style?

 

NO GMO

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Chipotle just announced that its food is free of all genetically modified organisms. We salute(?) Chipotle for its leadership and commitment to better quality foods. And GMO’s have become one of the biggest issues in foods today. Yes, probably better not to have them than to have to worry about them. But isn’t this also the classic marketing case of identifying a new disease and then curing it as a motivator for sales momentum?

 

BUD OUT

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Bud Light just got a black eye for its bottle label “The perfect beer for removing ‘no’ from your vocabulary for the night.” As part of the brand’s “Up for Whatever” campaign allegedly the label went through five levels of in-house clearance before being implemented. In the face of the pervasive “No Means No” campaign sponsored by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, it seems Bud Light needs a new clearance procedure and insiders who are not tone deaf to major social issues. What do you do to make sure your messaging is brand appropriate AND also socially acceptable?

JUST LOOKING

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A few years ago, Steve stopped in a rare book store and pulled a first edition off the shelf. He turned to the owner and asked, “How much?” The owner replied, “$600.” As Steve carefully put the book back, the owner then said, “You just looking? If you’re just looking, it’s $50.” After Steve stopped laughing, he felt he had to buy something from a retailer with such an honest, smart-alecky attitude. Do you price to sell—or just to attract lookers?