Archive for the 'Reputation' Category


Kmart’s Holiday Ad: Below the Belt or Missed the Boat?

Thanks to Jordan McNamara for contributing this article to The Side Note.

In a 2012 article, Advertising Age discussed Kmart’s shrinking presence in the low-cost retail field ( Annual sales were down, causing Ad Age to suggest the brand had lost relevance with discount shoppers. In the realm of discount stores, Wal-Mart dominates the low-price segment and Target holds the throne for hip, so where does this leave Kmart?

Over the holidays, Kmart and parent company Sears Holdings Corp. ( made a big jingle in the viral world with the release of the holiday “Show Your Joe” commercial.

Show Your Joe

Following last year’s “Ship My Pants” spot and “Big Gas Savings,” all created by agency DraftFCB, this indicates a major brand shift for the retail chain. Kmart’s Facebook page received many complaints from angry viewers, calling the ad “disgusting and not fit for family consumption” and “inappropriate for kids!!!” ( Many customers also accused Kmart of sacrificing family values and decency in exchange for cheap laughs.
Departure from their traditional ‘baby boomer’ demographic in pursuit of younger shoppers may be exactly Kmart’s intention. According to a Forbes article from last February, Kmart is focusing on improving sales within the 18-34 year old group (

However, Time reported humor is not an effective tactic for converting sales ( Although funny spots succeed at being memorable for consumers, they do not distinguish why the brand is better or what problem the product solves. “Ship my Pants” and “Big Gas Savings” have more than 30 million views combined views on YouTube, but Forbes reported 3rd quarter sales for Kmart were still down (

The Joe Boxer commercial may be the perfect example of funny, but ineffective. With more than 17 million views on YouTube, the ad has unquestionably garnered attention. However, the spot highlights only one product line available in Kmart stores rather than the Kmart brand as a whole. Plus, it lacks differentiation—what about these specific boxers make them so great? Why are they better than others? Why should I shop at Kmart for underwear? The ad does not answer any of these questions to make the brand or product relatable to the consumer. Both earlier ads by DraftFCB mentioned above do speak to benefits Kmart offers its customers, but the most effective ads connect with consumers on a deeper, emotional level.

Due to holiday shopping, fourth quarter sales can account for as much as 40 percent of annual sales for retailers ( With that in mind, Kmart needed a stellar season to climb out of the hole after six years of continually declining sales ( Numbers for 2013’s fourth quarter have not been released yet, but if third quarter sales are any indication, this ad will not be enough to sway shoppers away from other discount stores.

Kmart may have some big…er, bells, but that might not have been enough to fulfill this retailer’s Christmas wishes.

Do you shop at Kmart? Tell us what you think of the Joe Boxer ad here. Is your brand in need of an overhaul? The Weise team can identify problem areas and create a strategy to give your brand a boost in our Navigator session. Contact us. 


More than Social Media: Marketing to Millennials

Millennials: They are mobileWhile attending an emergency preparedness workshop last week, there was a robust discussion regarding the role of social media in an emergency. There were two groups of people that discounted social media.

  • First, there were those people that reside in rural areas. They argued that cellular coverage was spotty, 3G and 4G networks virtually non-existent. They needed a more reliable communication method in an emergency.
  • Second, was a distinct generational gap – the Baby Boomers in the room (born before 1964) were unanimous in denouncing the importance of social media.

Interestingly, there was a group of Millennials (born after 1984) in the workshop who were unanimous in stating the power of social media. Full disclosure: I am in Generation X (1965-1984), and in this workshop the Gen Xers were divided about the importance of social media.

The generational gap became an interesting discussion among the small group of marketing professionals. The following are the differences I see in marketing to Boomers v. Millennials.


Baby Boomers


Advertising Method Unwelcomed Interruption Engagement
Advertising Content Features and Benefits Sincere Authenticity
Desired Response Reaction Share/Interaction
Desired Result Repeat Users Engaged Participants
Expectations Big Promises Personal Gestures
Marketing Success Consumer Co-creator
Never Return Broken Promise Corporate Shill

Marketers have figured out how to position their products and services to the Baby Boomers. However, for many, it is a new frontier in marketing to Millennials. Here are a few tips:

  • Tablets are currency to the MillennialsCompanies must develop a participation strategy in order to engage Millennials. This is not a quick fix; patience, consistency and long-term commitment are key factors to success.
  • Companies must provide a way to make Millennials look good to their peers. All you need to do is look at the way Apple markets products. The white earbuds of an iPod became an iconic symbol. If you had the earbuds, you were identified as part of the inner circle.
  • Millennials strongly desire to be part of the solution supporting a greater cause. They favor employers who actively support charitable organizations and they purchase products and services from companies that are active with altruistic endeavors.
  • Mobile presence is no longer negotiable if you are targeting Millennials. It is not just access by smartphone; they are also using tablets and gaining knowledge about your company through mobile apps.

All in all, if you want success in marketing to Millennials, you should seriously consider utilizing these four tips. Even better, when combining these tips with a reward program that provides genuine value as compensation for loyalty, you have a winning formula. Because what Millennial doesn’t like ‘free’ compensation.

Let us know your thoughts on marketing to Millennials. Share your thoughts with us on Facebook at Weise Communications and follow @Weise_Ideas on Twitter.


Healthcare Advertising: E-Cigarettes; Messaging Targets Many Audiences

The marketing of Electronic Cigarettes, the “cigarette alternative,” is becoming more aggressive and reaching larger audiences. While these devices have been available for several years, the advertising is now reaching new venues. Advertising can be seen on cable TV and is pervasive with online videos. Websites clad with sexy women in sultry positions and superhero men puffing on electronic cigs are easy to find. Adding in fun and young flavors such as bubblegum, strawberry, chocolate and peach and you have a whole fun new and sexy category of safe smoking. This ultimately creates a market for e-cigs that include non-smokers.





An article by Anthony Nagy from Business Insider discusses the advertising messages presented by manufacturers of e-cigs. I agree with Nagy’s overall assessment that the marketers are missing an opportunity to message the health benefits of the devices. If, as proponents state, it is true that this is a great alternative for those addicted to the unhealthy habit of smoking, then shouldn’t the messages tailored for smokers include this health message?

We did find one such an example:


The New York Times suggests that many of the current campaigns are reminiscent of iconic cigarette ads. Clearly those campaigns were successful and with the prevalence of online ordering, it is a strong possibility that a youth market will be intrigued and motivated by the campaigns. After all, what teenager does not want to be sexy and strong? Without the prevalence of the aforementioned health messaging, however, I wonder if the campaigns will be the first step in developing young smokers? Is it possible that e-cigarettes could the gateway to smoking real cigarettes rather than (or in addition to) the bridge to quit?

What do you think about the marketing for e-cigs? Are they reaching audiences in the right way? Will the marketing of these devices lead to a healthier society with less smoking or create a new era of people who jump from electronic cigarettes to real ones?

Share your thoughts here or on Facebook at Weise Communications and follow us on Twitter at @Weise Ideas.


Spam-free Searching: Can Blekko Seize the Moment?

Alternative search engine relies on Slashtags

Bing TV Ad - Search Engine Overload

I’ve always enjoyed the TV ads for Bing, they focus on one of my biggest frustrations with search engines – the superfluous, unrelated information delivered as search results.  Bing was the first alternative search engine focused on providing better search results. Although, once the deal with Yahoo! was finalized, it can be argued that they are courting the same advertising dollars as Google – as evidenced with the Bing PPC guidelines.

Google addressed the issue with the launch of Google Instant in September. It allows me to refine my search terms dynamically.  Now, comes a new search engine, Blekko, currently in beta. This search engine encourages the use of slashtags to reduce spam.

Basically, a slashtag filters search results by limiting the sites that are searched.  The slashtag mirrors the popular Twitter hashtag and if slashtags catch on, search could be significantly changed.

Here’s a quick example of the slashtag “/”:

If you select a topic that has a lot of content covered from many viewpoints, you can use the hashtag to identify the viewpoint you wish to find.  If your subject is “global warming”, you can use the slashtag /liberal or /conservative and get distinctly different results.

Since the more traditional search engines do not provide results ranked by journalistic integrity, the searcher has to wade through content returned driven from SEO-centric sites that aggregate content without regard to reputation, credibility or integrity. The flood of second-rate, SEO-driven content is an opportunity for a search engines that eliminate spam.

This leads to a series of interesting questions that will impact future marketing decisions:

  • Will Blekko gain traction outside the tech community?
  • Will slashtags impact search engine optimization techniques?
  • Will the public change behavior and type a symbol prior to searching for a topic?
  • Are the searches really better than what I can get with Google?

Blekko acknowledges that it is still in the embryonic stages. That is partially why it still in its beta stage. “This is just the beginning.  We wanted to put out a base set of features, but we can think of lots of ways to work with our users to improve search,” said Blekko CEO Rich Skrenta.

Tell us if you think there is an opportunity for a new search engine or are we already saturated, and if you think the slashtag is an innovation or just too late to make a difference. You can find Weise Communications on Facebook and follow @Weise_Ideas on Twitter.



“curiouser and curiouser!”


Ok, so Disney yanked the “Alice in Wonderland” trailer from YouTube that leaked a day early. Blogs are abuzz about the negative repercussions of Disney’s decision to pull the video until it was officially released the next day. Claims that the choice may have weakened excitement for the film’s debut, which could in turn lead to a reduced number of ticket sales and negative reviews, seem crazy to me. Here’s why:

1. Disney had planned on unveiling the trailer at San Diego’s Comic-Con International, a comic book and popular arts convention.  They crafted a traveling installation that includes wardrobe (the Mad Hatter’s hair!) and props (the infamous “Drink Me” bottles) from the movie and takes those lucky enough to get a tea party invitation on an enchanted tour of Wonderland. (Check out date for tea party tweets.) They obviously have an incredible campaign surrounding the movie’s debut. They deserved to release the trailer as planned, when they were good and ready.

2. The controversy that has brewed surrounding the YouTube yank is giving Disney more publicity than if they would have let it slide and left things be. Those who wouldn’t normally have cared about the “Alice in Wonderland” trailer are now watching it because of all the racket.

3. Tim Burton directed the film and Johnny Depp is the Mad Hatter. Everyone knows this duo is a delightfully bizarre combination of talent. March 5, 2010. I’ll be there!


Being a Choosy Twitterer could save your company’s reputation

Twitter suspended accountIn researching my clients’ competitors, I’ve come across many of their Twitter accounts. This is obviously a valuable tool in research, but it’s also proven to be quite telling in how these organizations manage their social media campaigns. Much to my surprise, it seems they don’t manage them very well.

I’ve discovered that half of the 20 or so businesses I’ve reviewed who use Twitter either don’t pay much attention to the people they follow or they use a third party auto follow service – such as the one provides – to automatically follow people who follow them. Using this laissez faire approach can tarnish an otherwise clean image, and I highly suggest against it.


Why, you ask?

Well, many reputable organizations are followed by disreputable ones, such as pornography Twitterers or over-zealous Web marketers. When an organization auto follows a pornographer, that reflects poorly on that organization – in my professional opinion. And the fact that they don’t care enough to monitor who they’re following, might be just as worse.

I understand that it’s courteous to follow back those who follow you, and I also understand that you never know if that next new follower is going to be your next big client, but a line has to be drawn somewhere. If a Twitterer who may hurt your company’s reputation starts following you, I’d strongly recommend you think twice before following them back. And if you’re using an auto follow tool because you don’t have the manpower to keep up with your new followers, I’d suggest you find some help, either with an agency or part-time employee.

Your company’s Twitter account says something about who you are and the image you portray to the world. Make sure you give your account the attention it deserves in order to build strong, quality relationships. Remember, Twitter isn’t necessarily about quantity.

What are your thoughts on auto following? Has it proven successful for you or caused more trouble than it’s worth?

Share The Side Note

Facebook Twitter More...

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,099 other followers

Weise Twitter