Wednesday 29 July 2009

Trial: The holy grail !

Remember the last time you tried a new brand or product - how did you feel?

Let me take you back a week
As a happy Coke zero consumer, (and an occasional Sprite zero drinker) I happened to be thirsty and needed a drink whilst shopping in Target. So on auto pilot I searched for Coke zero and couldn’t find it in the chillers by the checkout (I don’t like Diet Coke).

A sudden appearance
Now, all of a sudden I noticed diet Pepsi. Why did I notice ? Well in the last few months Pepsi has rolled out new designs across the lineup, and they just seem to attract me that little bit more, and as they were the same price as Coke I thought why not try diet Pepsi. Why am I telling you all this, well it’s because I absolutely love diet Pepsi, in fact I prefer it to Coke Zero.

I have defected from Coke zero after one trial of diet Pepsi !

The Power of New
As a brand manager this experience troubles me. It seems that my action was sparked by 3 things:
a) there was no real risk to my decision, after all I was thirsty, so I was desperate to consume anything cold and wet.
b) no incremental cost - ie diet Pepsi was the same price as the Coke equivalent, BUT
c) there was something new and interesting about Pepsi. The new packaging design made me feel different about Pepsi, it made me think differently about Pepsi, it helped interest me enough to try Pepsi.

What's going through your mind ? Do diet Pepsi know that their taste beats Coke zero ? Am I going to revert back to Coke ? Why doesn't Target have Coke Zero in the chillers ?

It feels liberating to try something new, and I guess Pepsi were counting on that simple response.ix74wmjf2r

Monday 27 July 2009 – how to refresh brand equity without alienating your consumers

As a music fan one of the sites I visit almost on a daily basis is billboard with core brand equity elements of the 'authority', and 'champion' of the music industry. It’s a great portal for sales and shipment data, charts, news, reviews and general music industry gossip. So on Saturday when I logged in – I was surprised to see a radical site redesign. Granted the old site was tired and driven by banner ad’s, but was easy to navigate and content rich.

A New Business Model

With focus on downloading music (via, I sense a change of business model – to actively generate user revenue and return visits vs. the ad driven model.

Is it the same brand?
I’m not sure that I like the new ‘MySpace’ feel which undermines the ‘authority’ brand value. The brand clearly needs to evolve and perhaps has succeeded - I have already opened a account and downloaded music (by Alexi Murdoch).

Marketing works !

This could prove to be a classic marketing case study where a brand:
a) Reinvents itself by refreshing its equity - but not straying too far (simply by adding ‘first choice’) as an additional equity element
b) Ensures it understand how to engage and retain consumers
c) Drives the top and bottom line

Bravo to the marketing folks at Billboard.

Monday 20 July 2009

Battle of the Beans - Is McCafe Better Than Starbucks ?

The Good
Having seemingly lost its way as consumers tighten their discretionary spending at last Starbucks is back and returning to their premium (coffee) experience roots via the Inspired by Starbucks brand of stores.

The Bad
For years the key characteristics of:
a) great tasting coffee, and b) a truly unique and engaging experience, have been hindered by the push behind stretching the brand into for example, cold ice filled flavoured drinks - coupled with the sense that the role of the Barista was being diminished .

To make matters worse brands such as Dunkin Donuts and McDonalds (McCafe) have successfully infiltrated Starbucks territory and spent significantly to communicate their offerings. NB in Europe McCafe’s are also nicely decked out in comfy leather seats, wooden tables, and art alongside an offering of muffins, cookies etc.

The Ugly (Truth)
Contrary to the experts at Coffee Review, my current tally is a stirring 20:1 visits in favour of McCafe vs Starbucks. Yes, I freely admit to preferring a McCafe ‘Medium’ Cappuccino vs the ‘Tall’ Starbucks equivalent.

The winning Formula
Lower McCafe price (by 50c or so) + incentive (discount coupons on ‘Medium’ size) = Starbucks disloyalty.

But with hope of the “inspired by Starbucks” franchise on the horizon, perhaps there is a way for Starbucks to win back my business.

Thursday 16 July 2009


Remember the Time ?

So did President Obama’s visit to Ghana help build the Ghana brand ? If yes what can you remember ? Well, a CNN search of ‘Ghana’ today (Thursday July 16th 2009) shows perhaps the message decay has already set in, and the lead story is about a charity that donates used computers to village schools . Great stuff, but what does brand Ghana actually stand for ?

What’s great about Brand Ghana

From the CNN reports I give top marks for clearly identifiable core values of democracy and independence, and a solid brand character of passionate, proud, and hopeful. However, with no clear overall equity – and no real executional elements Im left a little disappointed.

Execution, execution, execution…

Yes there were merchandise and memorabilia (sold locally of course)and even official songs but without a video there’s no chance to generate the 3m+ views that eg the United Breaks Guitars song has achieved on Youtube. The missed opportunity here is develop a visual identity that could travel the world and lodge in peoples minds.

Visual Brand icons

Simple question - from this event what will the international consumer (ie viewer) take away ?

As awareness slips, a simple distinctive visual identity would help recollection. I’m not saying its easy to do, but two great recent examples :
1. Michael Jackson’s memorial service silver glove and aviator shades
2. fireworks and the singing girl from the Beijing Olympics

Unfortunately for Ghana, from president Obama’s trip, all I can clearly remember is, well President Obama in a suit....

Saturday 11 July 2009


I’m not an advocate of negative marketing, but after reading the story "United Breaks Guitars" a Smash Hit on YouTube! (as reported on MSNBC) , a contentious thought came to mind - that there could be ‘a gap in the market’ for a new marketing career path - namely sabotage marketing !

Don’t buy it huh, well hear me out…..

1.In the above case United Airlines get lots of coverage and can use it to show how they will learn and improve, and Dave Carroll (the inconvenienced customer) will get some belated compensation.

2.After all we have recently seen a number of cases of very smart and highly impactful ‘crisis management/turnarounds’ to handle negative publicity following inappropriate staff behavior at Domino’s (as reported on Fox) and a chicken shortage at KFC

3.Although I’m not suggesting it was a premeditated strategy in the above examples, the results are impressive. What would stop a brand thinking ‘aha’ perhaps we ‘stage’ a negative experience as a way to build a viral ‘turnaround’ story.

4.That’s why I argue that there’s a gap in the market for the ‘sabotage marketer’, their sole job would be to actively and purposefully stuff up - and yes annoy consumers!

For those inclined - some sabotage marketing tips:

a)have a ready made press release, b) get your CEO Youtube response recorded, and of course - c) your Twitter apology posted, and d) fingers crossed either Wolf Blitzer or Anderson Cooper cover you on CNN.


Typing the phrase ‘sabotage marketing’ into your search engine produces descriptions not as extreme as the way described in point 4 above…..but you never know, so keep your eyes peeled and let me know if you find any concrete examples.


Ever since discovering the ‘Lovemarks’ concept from Kevin Roberts (CEO of Saatchi and Saatchi) ie a brand that generates loyalty beyond reason, I have been weighing up potential candidates of brands that I am unreasonably loyal to, and so the inaugural Global Marketeer nomination goes to NESPRESSO.

The Pro’s: (captivating brand experience)

Nespresso has won my heart because it gives me a delightfully captivating experience each and every time I need it. I’m fanatical enough to visit a store everywhere I travel, and so be it Barcelona, Stockholm, Geneva, Frankfurt or New York, I’m left in awe at how they excel at deliveing a perfect brand representation of style, indulgence, and premiumness in each location. Add to this incredible on line work, eg this new Swiss website gives me access to their ‘experts’, providing yet another level of fascination to what Nespresso means to me.

The Con’s: (waiting for new product launches)

The low point is that new products are launched later in the US vs Europe - I’ve had to wait to get my hands on a new Citiz Machine. Although they’ve been missing out on my coffee capsule sales for the last 3 months, I don’t think they’re hurting right now - despite the current economic crisis sales are up : +20% . These girls and guys are damn good at marketing.