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3rd ANNUAL SUMMER QUIZ

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  1. Which weighs more—a pound of feathers or a pound of lead?
  2. What do you call a boomerang that won’t come back?
  3. What do you call Santa’s helpers?
  4. Which blog is taking its annual August vacation?

Answers: 1) They both weigh a pound; 2) A stick; 3) Subordinate Clauses; 4) PS Insights. See you in September.

WAR IS ANTI-SOCIAL

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The British military is having trouble recruiting young seamen and women to join the submarine service. Seems they’re unwilling to give up social media during the six months they’re deployed—underwater and out of touch. How are you engaging Millennials in an era where they’re unwilling to disengage?

CLEAN

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  We have been positively struck by the latest Panera advertising promising that every item and ingredient in the store will soon be clean. We hadn’t heard the expression clean food. But its meaning is pretty obvious and its point of difference relative to virtually all fast feeders and family restaurants out there feels pretty compelling to us. What are you doing to make your offering as positive as it can be?

DOGS AND COWS

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 MetLife is killing Snoopy and the cows are in trouble at Chick Fil-A. New marketing directions call for bold moves. But MetLife and Snoopy (as odd a combination as that may have seemed 30 years ago) has been both iconic and differentiating for the insurance brand. (And who’s gonna climb a ladder and paint out the blimp?) The genius omnipresent cows selling Chick-Fil-A with their disruptive presence and line “Eat More Chiken” put Chick-Fil-A on the map and built a big business. Just saying. Both investments paid off big time for the brands. New investment will be very expensive to reach such cultural icon status. When do you make bold moves for your brands – and what do you sacrifice to get there?

SPECIAL OLYMPICS

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The first batch of Olympics commercials have started running—and they’re more of the same usual suspects: Athletes competing ads. Athletes training ads. Athletes when they were kids ads. Athletes failing and trying again ads. Yawn. But an unusual spot from Britain’s Channel 4 for the Rio Paralympics caught our eye with corny music and the most extraordinary range of athletes you’ve ever seen. How do you find ways to stand out from the crowd?

 

SCARY BUNS

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Paul went shopping for hamburger buns recently. In reading the ingredients, he found the words “genetically altered ingredients” on more than a couple of the options. Ouch…Hey, it’s bread, here. In an era of terrorism and Zika is it too much to ask that the simplest of our foods are close to healthy, if not healthy sounding? What do you do to make your brand as wholesome as it can be?

GOOD SHAVE

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What’s the value of a great ad campaign? How about $1 billion. That’s what Unilever just paid for the upstart startup Dollar Shave Club. There was nothing new in the idea of cheap, disposable razors – people have been using them for years. But with a sassy, smart-aleck campaign  Dollar Shave was able to build a following, become the #2 razor brand in America —and build their owners a lifetime retirement plan. It’s another lesson in how effective an original ad campaign can be. How do you delight your customers to build disruptively powerful brands?

SQUEAKY WHEEL SERVICE

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There’s a sneaky form of customer service we call “Squeaky Wheel Service” and we had a perfect example of it last week. We phoned to cancel a home security service and their recording gave instructions on how to ship the device back to the manufacturer. Annoyed at having to incur that expense, we called the billing department and simply said, “We’d like a UPS shipping label to send your equipment back.” Without any questions or explanations, the operator pleasantly took our information and eMailed us the free return shipping slip. Hmm. Satisfied us—but how many customers end up paying the freight themselves? How do you balance operating expenses against good customer service?

BRAND IT!

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40 years ago when Ed McCabe did his groundbreaking campaign for Perdue Chicken, the marketing industry learned an important lesson: “Anything can be branded.” Before Perdue, chicken was…chicken. Like ice cubes. And firewood. But as new concepts and companies shake up and reshape every industry, it appears the best way to ensure survival is going to mean brand it…and make people believe that your product has a meaningful point of difference that warrants the brand name. There are lots of quality electronics brands out there and lots of beautiful jewelry. But we feel so much better carrying our Apples and wearing Tiffany. How are you creating new brands and polishing your current ones?

TEAM ARROW

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In recent years agency holding companies have cobbled together talent across disciplines into captive agencies to manage brands for 360˚ campaigns. The latest is WPP’s dedicated agency, Team Arrow for Target. Target is such an iconic brand and has been a game-changer in brilliant retail advertising. This is a big win for WPP. We hope the great work continues. What do you do to ramp up and customize your offering to win big prizes?