Posts Tagged ‘Branding

06
Jan
14

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 (http://bit.ly/1gc3yWF). 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. (http://www.searsholdings.com) 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!!!” (https://www.facebook.com/kmart). 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 (http://onforb.es/1gc32bp).

However, Time reported humor is not an effective tactic for converting sales (http://ti.me/1cTMyET). 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 (http://onforb.es/1cTN7hT).

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 (http://bit.ly/1hrxzFG). With that in mind, Kmart needed a stellar season to climb out of the hole after six years of continually declining sales (http://aol.it/19XT3oU). 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. 

26
Nov
13

Starbucks: More Than Just a Cup of Coffee?

Thanks to Jordan McNamara, who is the Starbucks lover and contributor of this article.

Grande non-fat no-water single-pump gingerbread chai. That’s my current go-to drink when pulling through the Starbucks drive-thru, and I’ll admit no Saturday morning is complete without one (although I rarely make that my only weekly visit). I’ll also admit I’m a proud gold cardholder (pic), earning a free drink for every 12 purchased, and the app on my phone lets me pay, reload and track.Image

Adweek recently featured Starbucks among their “10 Brands That Changed the World” (http://bit.ly/1aqspFd), touting “they don’t merely influence our spending habits, they determine who we are.” Starbucks transformed the way we think about getting a cup of coffee, elevating it to become an affordable luxury. With sales reaching $13.29 Billion in 2012, Starbucks customers are nothing if not loyal. Paying $5 or more per drink, the average consumer visits the chain six times each month, according to Adweek. Their red Christmas cups ring in the holiday season, and terms like ‘half-caf,’ ‘grande,’ and ‘frappuccino’ have become a second language to many.

What makes Starbucks customers so loyal? As with any great brand, the answer is embedded in its culture. This culture can be defined as that intangible extra that keeps people coming back over and over. Starbucks has nailed the art of human connection, welcoming each customer in with big smiles and encouraging you to linger in over sized chairs at large tables over your cup of coffee. This personalized approach has turned buying a drink into an experience. Starbucks is a place you want to hang out with friends, study or hold a meeting, and this sense of belonging is at the heart of its brand culture. Equally important to Starbucks’ culture is Ethos bottled water, fair-trade coffee, free iTunes songs; all aspects that reinforce who Starbucks is and what the brand stands for.

ImageIn the age of technology, Starbucks has also mastered connecting with consumers beyond physical store locations. Member alerts via text and email, the Starbucks app, social media engagement and seasonal specials reinforce a sense of community between the brand and its customers. Generating an emotional response is key to reinforcing behavior and creating a devoted following, both areas where Starbucks excels. It’s not so much about the drink, but more what you feel when you’re there. Starbucks has capitalized on this feeling to turn a $.25 cup of coffee into a $5 experience—an experience that is felt in 17,500 locations in 61 countries. This sense of connectivity, this feeling, is consistent across locations.

Whether in Denver, New York or Los Angeles, each time you walk through a Starbucks door you know exactly what to expect. Your drink will be made exactly how you like it every time, which brings me to what is perhaps Starbucks’ largest branding achievement—personalization. Imagine another drive through where you can specify each detail of your order, down to temperature and ingredient amount. In an age where consumers are demanding to be part of the process, Starbucks has allowed their customers ultimate control.

What brands do you love? Tell us here! Does your brand need a makeover? Let us help at www.weiseideas.com. We will take you through our coveted navigator session to make your brand an experience.

05
Sep
13

Healthier Marketing: Taco Bell Cutting the Cord On Kids’ Meals

Fast food chains have been constantly under critique since pediatric obesity became a leading medical issue.  The convenience and favorable taste of fast food makes kids’ meals wildly popular,

Image

 their high calorie count and low nutritional value makes them highly criticized.  The unhealthy food is not the only problem.  Criti

In recent years, chains have begun to listen to health advisers. They claim to make steps toward healthier options, however, these changes might just be cosmetic, rather than a true interest in a creating healthier community.cs have long despised the marketing tactics of these restaurants, especially their relationship with children. The toy offering with each kid’s meal has been called unethical since children beg for the toy, not understanding the unhealthy food that comes along with it.

So far, Taco Bell has become the first national fast food chain to eliminate kid’s meals.  This decision was made following intense pressure from health advocates to eliminate the meals in order to promote healthier food choices for children.  However, CEO Greg Creed says that the pressure from the advocates was not the only force driving the elimination.  Creed says kid’s meals were not profitable for the company, representing only .5% of total sales, and the meals did not suit their target market of millennials.

Other fast food chains feeling heat from health advocates include Jack In The Box which eliminated the kid’s meal option in 2007, however Jack In The Box not a national chain.  For their Kids’ meals, McDonald’s, added apples and downsized the fries. Yet the toys still remain and the kids want them. Trust me, I was specifically asked by my five year old for dinner from McDonald’s last week so he could “get a cool toy”. Which I interpret to be: a piece of plastic crap surrounded by junk food he barely likes and hardly eats. And yet McDonald’s got my money.

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According to various reports, the real reason most brands eliminate kid’s meals or add healthier options is to increase their brand image.  Taco Bell looks good to health advocates and to the public by eliminating possible deceptive marketing to children that comes from offering cool toys in meals. Also, these other options do an excellent job of bringing customers in the doors, where they usually continue to buy the unhealthier menu choices and a profit is still made.

Should brands shift towards healthier food options, even if its not for healthier reasons?  Should Taco Bell be praised for eliminating the kid’s meal, even though they are doing it for primarily fiscal reasons? Is McDonald’s still king because apples are in  happy meals and the fries are smaller, or does it really make any difference?

Tell us what you think in the comments, and head over to our Facebook or Twitter at @weise_ideas.  Be sure to visit us at at WeiseIdeas.com

19
Aug
13

Branding A Business: The Lessons We Learned From JCP’s Failed Rebranding Effort

In less than shocking news, Ron Johnson was recently ousted as CEO of J.C. Penney after a continued decline in recent sales.  Johnson came into JCP during one of the worst times for the company.  He had hoped to rebrand the retail chain in order to have it come back as a successful store, but his tactics failed to cause a turnaround in profits.

ronjohnsonLast year, when Johnson rolled out his first series of changes, we recorded our opinions and predictions.  Now that Johnson has been let go by JCP, we have noted a few things that are crucial for rebranding initiatives that Johnson seemed to leave out.

1. Research, Research, Research

The key to a successful branding is complete research.  This means analyzing the company, the consumers, the competition, and the market.  After collecting all there is to know, a company can decide on the most successful strategies to be implemented.  Most of JCP’s rebranding woes could have possibly been predicted according to their current consumer trends.  JCP severely underestimated the backlash of ditching their coupons for the value pricing system.  The company learned almost immediately how important the promotions were to current customers, which is something sales records could have demonstrated.  When in a crisis, companies should always evaluate what is working for their company versus what isn’t.  The backlash on the pricing policy change has lead us to question the validity of the research that was completed.

2. Consumer Testing Is Key

Customer is king.  If the customer does not like the strategies you are using, it will bleed through into your sales.  Consumer testing helps a company try out some of their newest tactics and get some feedback before rolling out anything to the wider market.  Judging from consumer reactions, Johnson skipped this step.  Customers were immediately annoyed by the new television commercials, and posted their negative almost immediately. jcplogo

3. Make Sure Everyone Is On Board

According to various reports, Johnson was always very mum on changes to come.  Only a few select people would know what was next for the retailer.  However, branding, by definition, is about sharing with the public the culture that is alive inside the company.  That means that every employee has to be on the same page, providing a united front in what the brand stands for.  But, with Johnson keeping everyone in the dark, workers did not know what their next attitude change had to be.

Where else did Johnson fail in his rebranding?  Or what were some of his successes?  Tell us your takeaway in the comments, and on our Facebook & Twitter!

 

08
Aug
13

Social Media Marketing: American Eagle’s Skinny Skinny Jeans Touches Millennials

Thanks to Twitter and Facebook, brand engagement is at an all time high.  Some brands have dormant accounts, rarely posting anything, while others have been able to turn their brands into personal, interactive and dynamic engagement tools.  The latter has been able to increase revenues and sales, while also building a positive brand image.  These lively accounts also provide a unique opportunity for followers, giving them exclusive information on the company, sales promotions and contests, as well as first looks at new products on the horizon.skinny-skinny-jeans

American Eagle Outfitters, a clothing store for the millennial market, was able to leverage their social media followers into customers when they brilliantly pulled off a hip, funny April Fools practical joke.  On April 1st, American Eagle made the announcement that they were producing the next big thing in fashion; spray on skinny jeans.  The “skinny skinny” jeans came in a spray can, and were going to be the tightest jeans in the market, following the trend in the millennial fashion world of skinny pant-cuts.  American Eagle produced photos of models, male and female, sporting the new jeans, as well as videos of the jeans in action.  The lighthearted joke received significant press coverage, increasing their exposure, and was a great success to their established brand image of a hip, young company with a fun side.

old_spice_internetOther brands, like Old Spice, have also been able to turn their brands into exciting sources of brand engagement.  Old Spice used their famous “Smell Like A Man” campaign model, Isaiah Mustafa, for an interactive Q&A with Twitter followers.  Followers would tweet their questions, and within minutes would receive a YouTube video response from Isaiah Mustafa and the Old Spice team.  Old Spice’s interactive accounts have made them the leader in body wash and deodorant sales.

It is clear that when used for its purpose, social media networks of brands can produce increased revenue and brand perception.  Social media is able to bring brands closer to their consumers and reinforce a continued brand experience.

What do you think of American Eagle’s April Fool’s gag?  Was it a positive use of brand engagement like Old Spice’s?  Let us know in the comments section, as well as on Twitter at @weise_ideas and Facebook!

01
Feb
12

Retail Marketing and Branding Strategy: Will JCP Get it Right?

Well the reviews are in, and we don’t like the new JCP commercials promoting their coupon-less store, which begins today. In fact, apparently most people like commercials of screaming women. Infact, according to the KYPost:

…but the website Consumer Affairs says it has received dozens of complaints in the past week from viewers annoyed by the ad.

The ads promote the fact that JCP will no longer be tied to its overbearing amount of coupons.  And this was not just in the TV commercials, but online as well. According to the NY Times,

Posters and images on the Facebook page urge shoppers to say “No!” to coupons and other gimmicks. The campaign will inform consumers that Penney plans to hold a dozen sales each year; last year, Mr. Johnson said at a news conference, there were 590 promotions. The average customer visited Penney four times a year in 2011, he added, “so the customer ignored us 99 percent of the time.”

As of today the new brand starts and the promotions will end. Will JCP get the rest of the strategy right?

ImageFirst there is the new logo, which clearly reflects the American flag. My guess is they may have their fourth new logo in four years coming in 2013.

Then there is the new pricing strategy. Everything is always 40% off (or something like that). This will make it easy for competitors to undercut prices, but if their customer service is great and the “experience” is good, will you pay for to get it from JCP? Businessweek calls it a risky strategy that has failed for many other brands.

There is also a new catalog. OK, I have to admit – I LOVE the new catalog. The cover and internal pages are impactful and beautiful. Hopefully the quality will remain high after the first few months. The February edition is a wonderful inaugural version.Image

I interviewed a sales associate at a local store and she said the new return policy (they will take anything back whenever) and higher-end products (coming soon) will make JCPenney more like Nordstroms. I’m not convinced of that, they have a long way to climb to be another Nordstroms, but all improvements are good.

Today we should start seeing Ellen DeGeneres promoting the NEW JCP. Hopefully she will not be screaming at you.

What do you think about the branding changes as JCP? Will YOU be more motivated to shop there? Do you believe the new brand will promote increased sales?  Tell us about it here.

 

22
Jun
11

Brand Advocates make the Best Endorsers

Are you in love with your car? How about customizing it? Considered color-matched exterior mirrors with your headphones? You are not the only one who loves their car with passion. One of my favorite brands, MINI, ran an outdoor campaign last month in Berlin that brought to life an unconventional marketing idea. MINI is a unique brand which truly allows buyer to express their unique personality.

KLLD global lead agency for BMW group has developed a new campaign for MINI, inviting millions of fans of the car from around the world to become part of the MINI family. This is a brilliant campaign because ir creates a personal experience for buyers, like the tagline says, “It’s Personal. Be MINI.”

In this campaign, brand users got the chance to be in a MINI ad campaigns. Participants were invited to enter MINI Photo Box, clamp on a pair of vibrantly colored headphones and select their favorite model from the MINI family with color-matched exterior mirrors. There were four colors and four models to choose from: the MINI Hatch, MINI Convertible, MINI Clubman and MINI Countryman.

Next, participants appeared in real-time on a video screen together with their photo and personalized MINI model. The MINI campaign was set up overnight on May 16 and continued until May 29 at the intersection of Kurfürstendamm and Joachimstaler Straße in Berlin. The campaign also ran simultaneously with a Facebook launch. (LINK TO:)

“With our ‘It’s personal’ campaign, MINI fans interact individually and authentically in an urban environment,” says Julia Hartmann, MINI Brand Management. “Through the personal configuration of the model, along with their choice of colors, we encourage them to express their personality – in front of friends and a global audience.” This unconventional guerilla marketing campaign was set to reach more than two million people on location and over 1.8 million MINI Facebook fans.

What do you think about making brand users into stars of an advertising campaign? How would it help your business get more attention? Share with us on Facebook at Weise Communications, follow us on Twitter @Weise_Ideas.

Thanks to Duysal Ekinci for her help in this blog post.




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