New Axe ad campaign trying to be the “Dove” brand for young men

71hRmSv1NvL._SL1500_The Axe consumer has grown up and now Axe wants to grow up with that consumer. When my son was 13, he started using the Axe brand. One day, I was walking past him and he asked if I wanted a spray.  I said “No, I don’t want to smell like a 13-year-old”. My son is now in University now and uses “The One” by Dolce and Gabana. Even he doesn’t want to smell like a 13-year-old. And now, Axe is showing they no longer want to be the brand for 13-year-olds. They want to grow up.

Axe has released an Ad campaign that feels a bit like Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign. (Axe and Dove are both owned by Unilever) Unilever does a fantastic job in bringing consumer insights into their work. “Masculinity today is going through seismic changes. More than ever, guys are rejecting rigid male stereotypes,” says Matthew McCarthy, senior director of Axe and men’s grooming at Unilever. “We’ve been part of guys’ lives for decades, and Axe champions real guys and the unique traits that make them attractive to the world around them. In recent years, Internet searches by men on hair tips eclipsed female in volume. Men are curious about experimenting and trying different things and are spending more time in front of the mirror. It’s much more acceptable.”

The new Axe message is “you don’t have to be perfect, just be your best self”. The ad shows various iterations of the new modern man from brainiacs to one with a big nose, from protestors to dancing in heels or dancing in a wheel chair. Whoever you are, Axe wants you to feel good about yourself and “Find your magic”. 

The challenge for Axe is that it will take time to transform. They will have to stand by their convictions should sales slip. The Axe brand did such a great job in creating that edgy, hilarious, egomaniac, sexy teenage male positioning, the reputation of Axe is deeply engrained in our minds. Here’s the type of Ad we are normally used to seeing from Axe.

This is a good start for Axe brand. It will take time to transform the brand. My hope is they they don’t give up quickly. 

At Beloved Brands, we lead workshops on Marketing Execution that can help your brand team explore their role as a leader in the process, how to write a strategic brief, how to judge and make decisions on marketing execution and then how to give feedback to the agencies. Here’s the powerpoint file:

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, we promise that we will make your brand stronger and your brand leaders smarter. We can help you come up with your brand’s Brand Positioning, Big Idea and Brand Concept. We also can help create Brand Plans that everyone in your organization can follow and helps to focus your Marketing Execution. We provide a new way to look at Brand Management, that uses a provocative approach to align your brand to the sound fundamentals of brand management. 

We will make your team of Brand Leaders smarter so they can produce exceptional work that drives stronger brand results. We offer brand training on every subject in marketing, related to strategic thinking, analytics, brand planning, positioning, creative briefs, customer marketing and marketing execution. 

To contact us, email us at graham@beloved-brands.com or call us at416-885-3911. You can also find us on Twitter @belovedbrandsPositioning 2016.081

Coke’s new Ad campaign has more fizzle than sizzle

coke-taste-the-feeling-1I have been impressed with Coke’s Marketing execution the past couple of years. I love the Coke Freestyle machines where you can customize your own drink from up to 100 options. And I have to admit loving the names on the bottle, even though I had my doubts in the beginning. All that great stuff, and yet the sales have been sluggish for the past 15 months. It’s not the activity that is at fault. It’s just that people want healthier options and Coke is now fighting against that major consumer movement away from Sugary or Aspartame drinks. Sugary cereals are going through the same crisis. But since Coke can’t “fix” the health trend, they may as well try to fix the activities–even if it’s not broken. 

With the earnings report showing that Coke’s revenue has fallen for the past 3 straight quarters, I can only imagine the CEO walking down the hall to find the CMO and say “we need your Advertising to sell more product”. 

At Beloved Brands, we believe that Advertising can only move one body part at a time: the head, the feet, the heart or the soul.Creative Brief 2016 Extract.001

Here’s a great example of a Coke ad idea called “Remove labels this Ramadan” that really touches the consumer’s soul. Even with 19 Million views, it likely didn’t sell a lot of Coke.

To me, an Advertising idea is like a magnet. When it gets too far away from the brand, it no longer moves the brand. The “share happiness” campaign was a huge umbrella idea, but likely so huge, the one thing it didn’t do is move product. 

Today, Coke announced two moves in rolling out their new “Taste the Feeling” advertising campaign. First, you will see in the work that they are clearly linking life moments with drinking Coke. Meaning the creative team was told: “we have to SELL MORE PRODUCT”. Or as I would say, the ads have to move feet.  Second, they announced they would have ONE Master Brand creative idea for all 3 Coke products, red Coke, Diet Coke and Coke Zero.

Here is the main spot Coke launched today, appropriately called Anthem.

I would say it’s an OK spot, not a great spot. For a 90 second spot called “Anthem” it lacks the emotional appeal you would expect, and it won’t really generate any viral share-ability. It has a lot of product shots, but not really the connectivity needed to move product. And I barely even noticed any Diet Coke or Coke Zero. 

To evaluate advertising, we use something we call the ABC’S, which stands for Attention, Branding, Communication and Stickiness. I’d say these score low on attention, moderate on branding, modest on communication and pretty low on stickiness. These type of spots that show a lot of consumer moments to a song usually end up as wallpaper that falls into the background of our multi-tasking lifestyle. There’s no real compelling story here.Marketing Execution 2016.055

Here’s another TV ad called “What is Coke for?”

Again, a bit generic. No emotional pull. Lots of Coke fizzle. And hard to find the Diet Coke or Coke Zero. 

The print does a better job in capturing emotion than the TV, showing how Coke fits in to various moments of your life. 

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Here’s a challenge to Coke, if you are going to name your new spot “Anthem”. make sure it is as epic as this 1971 TV ad: 

Do you think this new campaign will increase Coke’s revenue?

Here’s a workshop we run on how to get better Marketing Execution. In this workshop, we go through how to come up with an Executional brief, based on both positioning and strategy, we take you through how to judge the work and how to provide motivating feedback to your agencies.

We make Brands stronger.

We make Brand Leaders smarter.™

BBI ads for 2015.011We offer brand coaching, where we promise to make your brand better by listening to the issues, providing advice that challenges you, and coaching you along a strategic pathway to reaching your brand’s full potential. For our brand leader training, we promise to make your team of brand leaders better, by teaching sound marketing fundamentals and challenging to push for greatness so that they can unleash their full potential. Feel free to add me on Linked In, or follow me on Twitter at @belovedbrands If you need to contact me, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or phone me at 416 885 3911Positioning 2016.081

Six principles of good analytical thinking for Brand Leaders

For Brand Leaders to keep moving up, you need to be good at all parts of marketing–skills, behaviors and experiences. As you manage your career, try to close gaps in each. The key skills you include brand analytics, strategic thinking, brand planning, decision-making and execution. One of the biggest skill gaps I see is the ability to do deep dive analytics and turn it into an analytical story that can set up decisions. From what I see, most people either don’t know how to dig in or when they dig in, they struggle to tell the story from the mounds of data they have gathered.

To help challenge your thinking, here are “Six principles of good analytical thinking for Brand Leaders”

Analytics 2016.011Principle #1: Use facts to support opinions or else what you say comes across as an empty opinion that leaves a room divided.



One tool I use is the “5 Questions tool” where you start with your hypothesis and then ask “so what does that mean” 5 times, each time helping analysis move from unsubstantiated opinion to action-able insight.

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The benefit of this type of tool is it helps avoiding getting caught off guard when your senior management starts asking questions. Once you do that, I like to organize my thinking, like a newspaper (if those still exist) with a Headline, Opinion and 2-3 data points.Analytics 2016.014

Principle #2: Absolute numbers by themselves are useless. Always find comparisons.






Only when given a relative nature to something important do you find the data break that tells a story. Is 50 degrees Fahrenheit warm or cold? If it’s Ottawa Canada and it’s December 24th it HOT and it is front page news. If it’s Los Angeles on June 5th, it is COLD and front page news.

Back in the early 1900s, there was a famous baseball player whose name was Frank “Home Run” Baker. Yet, oddly enough, the most Home Runs he ever hit in a year was 12. You might think his name is sarcastic or wonder how the heck can he get the nickname “Home Run”. Because in a relative dead ball era of baseball, he won the home run crown four consecutive seasons starting in 1911 with 11, 10, 12 and 9 home runs.  Yes Babe Ruth would hit 54 and 60 home runs less than 10 years later but the ball had changed. The absolute number of home runs does not matter–because relatively speaking, Frank Baker was the best home run hitter of his generation and deserves to be called “Home Run” Baker.

Only when given a relative nature to something important do you find the data break that tells a story. You have to ground the data with a comparison, whether that’s versus prior periods, competitors, norms or the category. Every time you talk about a number, you have to talk about in relative terms—comparing it to something that is grounded: vs last year, vs last month, vs another brand, vs norm or vs England’s share. Is it up down, or flat? Never give a number without a relative nature—or your listener will not have a clue.Analytics 2016.016

Principle #3: The analytical story comes to life when you see a break in the data.




Comparative indexes and cross tabulations can really bring out the data breaks and gaps that can really tell a story. Use the “so what” technique to dig around and twist the data in unique ways until you find the point in which the data actually breaks and clear meaningful differences start to show. This is where the trend is exposed and you can draw a conclusion.

Example of finding data breaks

  • Distribution overall held at 82% throughout the year. At the macro level, it looks like there is no issue at distribution at all)
    Distribution on 16 count fell only a little bit over the year going from 74% to 71%. Even at one layer down—the count size—there’s still very little break in the data
  • Distribution on 16 count at Convenience stores went from 84% to 38% in the last 2 months. As we are starting to twist the data, it shows a dramatic and quick drop at the Convenience channel.  As you start to dig around you might find out that the biggest Convenience Customer, 7-11, delisted the brand recently.

Principle #4: Like an Old School Reporter, two source of data help frame the story.

Avoid taking one piece of data and making it the basis of your entire brand strategy. Make sure it’s a real trend. Dig around until you can find a convergence of data that leads to an answer. Look to find 2-3 facts that start to tell a story, and allows you to draw a conclusion. The good pure logic in a philosophical argument they teach you is “premise, premise conclusion” so if you see one trend line, look for a second before drawing a conclusion.

Principle #5: Deep analysis requires slower thinking time so you don’t misjudge situation.

The best Brand Leaders know when to be a strategic thinker and when to be an action thinker. Strategic thinkers see “what if” questions before seeing solutions, mapping out a range of decision trees that intersect and connect by imagining how events will play out. They take time to reflect and plan before acting, helping you move in a focused efficient fashion. They think slowly, logically, always needing options, but if go too slow, you will miss the opportunity window.

A good tool to get you thinking in terms of questions: separate your analysis into 5 buckets:

  1. What do we know? This should be fact based and you know it for sure.
  2. What do we assume? Your educated/knowledge based conclusion that helps us bridge between fact, and speculation.
  3. What we think? Based on facts, and assumptions, you should be able to say what we think will happen.
  4. What do we need to find out? There could be unknowns still.
  5. What are we going to do? It’s the action that comes out of this thinking.

Analytics 2016.026One of the best analysis you can do is the simple “where are we” page. It has 5 simple questions that make you think:

  1. Where are we?
  2. Why are we here?
  3. Where could we be?
  4. How can we get there?
  5. What do we need to do to get there?

Before you start your planning process, take a few hours to sit down at your desk and outline a few points for each point. You will start to see how the overall brand plan flows. These 5 questions start to map out your overall analysis, the key issues, the vision, strategy and tactics. 

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Principle #6: Use tools that can help organize and force deep dive thinking in key areas.

A Force Field analysis is best served for those brands in a sustaining position where marketing plays the role of driving innovation and creativity within a box. Always keep in mind that Drivers and Inhibitors are happening now. You can see the impact in the current year. Anything in the future gets moved down to Opportunities and Threats which are not happening but could happen. Invariably, people mix this up and things that could happen move up when they really shouldn’t.

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The best thing about the force field is you can easily take it into an action plan, because you want to keep the drivers going and overcome the inhibitors Then take advantage of the opportunities and minimize or eliminate any serious threats. It’s a great simple management tool.

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Good analytics get you to the point of “So what do you think”. From there, you will have to be a good decision-maker.

Here is our workshop on leading a deep dive business review including good analytical principles, assessing health and wealth of the brand, turning facts into insight, helping to set up strategic choices and turning the analytics into projections and analytical stories.

We make Brands stronger.

We make Brand Leaders smarter.™

We offer brand coaching, where we promise to make your brand better by listening to the issues, providing advice that challenges you, and coaching you along a strategic pathway to reaching your brand’s full potential. For our brand leader training, we promise to make your team of brand leaders better, by teaching sound marketing fundamentals and challenging to push for greatness so that they can unleash their full potential. Feel free to add me on Linked In, or follow me on Twitter at @belovedbrands If you need to contact me, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or phone me at 416 885 3911

BBI Creds Deck 2016.014

How to answer “So, tell me about yourself” in 7 seconds

Welcome to the job-hunting season.

In the modern economy, you should always be looking for a job, when you don’t have a job, and when you do have a job. I know it can be draining, but at least be constantly listening. Before you contemplate phoning your head hunter list, here’s 5 questions to help frame your thinking.

  1. Within your current company, how high up do you think you can realistically go
  2. Should you stay in the same industry or look at new verticals
  3. Should you stay in pure Brand Management or venture into a subject-matter expert type roles?
  4. How long do you want to keep working?
  5. Do you stay an employee or do you take this moment to leap out on your own?

Do your homework on your brand

From what I have seen, Marketers are better at marketing their brands and products than they are at marketing themselves. It is time to start thinking of yourself as a brand and how you will want to market yourself to get the job you want.

What is your core strength? 

While every Brand Leader claims to be a generalist, we normally each have a lead desire and lead strength:

  1. Do you like running the business and managing products
  2. Do you like marketing execution and being creative, either generating ideas or executing creativity?
  3. Are you a strategic thinker, enjoying the planning side of the business?
  4. Are you a leader of leaders, with a passion for leading people?

If you had to force yourself to choose one, which one would you pick?

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What is it that makes you unique?

There are tons of candidates on the street, many without jobs and many others who are in jobs beneath their capability. What makes you stand out. Think like a Marketer. Your hiring Manager is the target market. Think of what they want for the role, what you bring and what potential competitors bring, in order to find your unique selling proposition. When I was at the VP level looking, I realized that I was likely replacing someone they were dissatisfied so I positioned myself as a “turnaround leader”. But not every job or every leader is the same and your goal is not just to find a job, but to find the right role. Be honest in who you are.

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Take it a step further and do up your own Benefits Ladder, where you map out what the employer is looking for, what features you bring, how those translate into rational and emotional benefits. Classic marketing that we fail to do, when we are the brand.

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So now, the dreaded question:  Tell me about yourself.

Think of this like your 7 second brand speech, where you give a summation of your brand’s big idea. Here’s the tool we have created as help that answers how you define yourself, what is the primary benefit you provide and what is the secondary benefit you provide. Then wrap it up with an expected result.

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My answer was always: “As a brand leader, I find growth where others couldn’t and I create motivated brand teams that deliver great work to drive results.”  Answering all four questions within a 7 second span. But taking that further, I then lined up proof points to each part of the 7 second speech, thus becoming my 30 minute interview. I could line up 3 situations that answer the interviewers question, but then be able to tie that back to my big idea. 

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This 30 minute speech on one page can set up the stories you put on your resume or Linked In page. It can be something you review before the interview. If you want to get creative, one thing I do as a consultant is bring a laminated “brand placemat”. This would be a great tool to bypass the resume or a great leave behind for the hiring manager.

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So next time someone says “So, tell me about yourself”, you will know how to answer

To read more about Brand Careers, follow this presentation below. We have mapped out every skill and behavior your need to be successful as well as what it takes to thrive at each job level in Marketing.

 

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, we promise that we will make your brand stronger and your brand leaders smarter. We can help you come up with your brand’s Brand Positioning, Big Idea and Brand Concept. We also can help create Brand Plans that everyone in your organization can follow and helps to focus your Marketing Execution. We provide a new way to look at Brand Management, that uses a provocative approach to align your brand to the sound fundamentals of brand management.

We will make your team of Brand Leaders smarter so they can produce exceptional work that drives stronger brand results. We offer brand training on every subject in marketing, related to strategic thinking, analytics, brand planning, positioning, creative briefs, customer marketing and marketing execution.

To contact us, email us at graham@beloved-brands.com or call us at 416-885-3911. You can also find us on Twitter @belovedbrands.

Positioning 2016.111
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How to use your brand’s core strength to win

There are four options for what CORE STRENGTH your brand can win on: product, promise, experience or price. Many brand leaders have their marketing strategy wrong, when it comes to aligning everything behind the right strength. 

  • Product: your main strategy should focus on being better. You have to invest in Innovation to stays ahead of competitors, remaining the superior choice in the category.
  • Promise: your strategy should focus on being different. To tell that story, you need to invest in emotional brand communication. You want to connect consumers on a deep emotional level with the concept.
  • Experience: your strategy and organization should focus on linking culture very closely to your brand. After all, your people are your product. As you go to market, invest in influencer and social media that can help support and spread the word of your experience.
  • Price: focus on efficiency and drive low-cost into the products you sell and high turns and high volume. You have to be better at the fundamentals around production and sourcing.

Here’s a simple little game that we play with executive teams. We provide them with 4 chips against the 4 choices of product, promise, experience or price. They have to put one at the highest competitive importance, two at the mid level and then force one to be at the low level. Try it and you will be surprised that your team struggles to agree. You may also find that you are at one strength now and figure it is time to shift your brand marketing to become focused on something else. 

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Product Brands

With Product Brands, your main strategy should focus on being better. You have to invest in Innovation to stay ahead of competitors, remaining the superior choice in the category. Here, it works to focus on rational advertising that makes sure you re-force with consumers that you are the best. However, in a crowded market, it has become increasingly difficult to win on product  alone—as many brands are operating in a parity situation. Two great product brands are Five Guys with the best burger and Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse who has a unique cooking technique that products the best steak. These brands talk mainly about the great product. In fact, looking at the Five Guys brand, they have almost completely let go of experience or pricing. The restaurants are almost run down, and the price of a 5 Guys burger is about twice the going rate. But the product is absolutely amazing and is drawing fans in droves across the world. For years, Proctor & Gamble pushed this strategy at every opportunity across Tide, Ivory, Pampers and Always. But technology gaps have closed they have been forced to switch some of their brands to focusing more on being different and less on being better. The problem for product type brands is they struggle to be emotionally engaging and while consumers might love the product, they do not necessarily love the brand. While you can run an amazing business this way, if a competitor catches up to you on product or if you wish to move your loyal base into other products, it is not as easy as being a concept or experience brand.

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Promise Brands

With Promise Brands, your strategy should focus on being different. To tell that story, you need to invest in emotional brand communication. You want to connect consumers  on a deep emotional level with the concept. Brands in this space include Apple who builds around the concept of simplicity, Virgin stands out in new categories by challenging the status quo and generally accepted ways of doing things and W Hotels combine the nightlife feel, so you never have to leave the Hotel. With these brands, they still need to make sure that the product delivers at a level expected within the concept. If it fails to deliver, there may be a sense of hollowness to the concept that brings the brand down. Instead of calling these loved brands, I call these brand lust, where our initial feelings are the same as love, only to be disappointed by the product experience.

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Experience Brands

With Experience Brands, your strategy and organization should focus on linking culture very closely to your brand. After all, your people are your product. As you go to market, invest in influencer and social media that can help support and spread the word  of your experience. Wells Fargo bank offers comfortable banking, Ritz-Carlton uses impeccable customer service to really separate itself, Emirates Airlines who take service to new heights (and prices accordingly) and Starbucks creates an escape with indie-music, cool servers, leather chairs and a touch of Europe. Each of these brands operate in high commodity type businesses, yet they each use precision based service guided by tight service values that line up to a brand purpose.core strength.004

Price Brands

With Price Brands, your strategy has to focus on efficiency and drive low-cost into the products you sell and high turns and high volume. You have to be better at the fundamentals around production and sourcing. Use call-to-action type advertising to help keep the turns very high. McDonald’s of the 1970s perfected this model, but we’ve since seen Walmart take it to the next level. You might not like all that Walmart does from an ethical point of view, but it’s on strategy and helps you get toilet paper cheaper. What consumers don’t notice at Walmart is their obsession with retail turns. On average Walmart sells through their stock within 28 days, compared to other retailers who might average 100 days. You rarely see slow-moving items and rarely see clearance items. Brands like Uber, Amazon and Netflix have combined an amazing experience at a very low-cost. These inventive brands have recently figured out ways to use technology to eliminate a lot of waste in the value chain.

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So, what is your strength you will win on?

Below is our Beloved Brands Workshop we run on Strategic Thinking:

We make Brands stronger.

We make Brand Leaders smarter.™

We offer brand coaching, where we promise to make your brand better by listening to the issues, providing advice that challenges you, and coaching you along a strategic pathway to reaching your brand’s full potential. For our brand leader training, we promise to make your team of brand leaders better, by teaching sound marketing fundamentals and challenging to push for greatness so that they can unleash their full potential. Feel free to add me on Linked In, or follow me on Twitter at @belovedbrands If you need to contact me, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or phone me at 416 885 3911

BBI Creds Deck 2016.014

The consumer has changed dramatically. Have you changed enough?

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Marketing has changed dramatically and if you are not changing with it, then you will not be able to unleash the full potential of your brand nor will you be able to unleash your own full potential as a Brand Leader. When I say that Marketing has changed, people think I am about to talk about the change in media options over the last 15 year, with the opening up of digital, social and search. Sure, that has changed the way we do things, but is really at the surface level. Starting at the turn of this century, we began witnessing a deeper underlying change happening with consumers, who have begun rewarding those brands who exceed their expectations, who have gravitated towards brands that treat them as though they are special, and who have become loyal to brands that open up and establish a higher purpose worthy of connecting with.

Consumers ended the last century tired of the crap that brands kept promising, jaded by the tricks brands used to get them to buy, leaving them feeling burned by over-promise and under-delivery. Consumers now want and expect more. Consumers want to be appreciated and they are willing to love the brand that will treat them like they are the only person that matters. Everything a brand does, should start and end with the consumer in mind. Brands are shifting from fighting for a space in the mind of the consumer to fighting for a place in the consumers heart. It is about becoming one of the favorite parts of the consumers’ day, not just pure product performance. The change in media is merely an enabler to the underlying change, but not a driver. The best brands of today are loved.The media options have had a dramatic influence on the consumers lifestyle–the number of messages, multi-tasking and being tired of being burned. The change in the consumer should drive your Media Planning more than the change in media

  1. Consumers see more brand messages than their brains can handle. 
    • In the year 2015, consumers see up to 7,000 brand messages every day. The fastest thing our brains now do is reject advertising messages. The digital ads on every website you visit, at the top, on the side, on the bottom, drop down boxes. Whenever you turn on Facebook, every google search you make. Take the subway and see hundreds or drive to work and see the same. We now surf messages quickly and only engage in a few each day. Life was much simpler in the last century when consumers saw a few billboards on the way home from work, had dinner and watched Seinfeld on TV seeing a few ads each night. But, in the current world, your consumer is being bombarded by brands. Are you doing anything to change the way you approach consumers to ensure you are gaining their attention?
  2. Consumers are constantly multi-tasking—driving, walking, talking.
    • Even with 7,000 messages a day, consumers are barely watching. FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) means people are constantly multi-tasking. I rarely watch a TV show without my laptop or phone nearby. Most people sleep beside their phone and read updates as soon as they awake. Even with laws against texting and driving, I see it every day. And walk downtown in a straight line and you are bound to walk into someone “walking and texting”. Once you gain the consumers attention, you have to find a way to engage them to stay with your brand. What are you doing to hold the attention of your consumer to avoid them being distracted away?
  3. Consumers are tired of being burned by faulty brand promises.
    • Consumer marketing is a little over 100 years now and hopefully consumers have become much more sophisticated in their decision-making. Last century, we saw too many brands over-promise and under-deliver. But brand reputations are now being made and equally dying based on the consumers ability to do their homework. They do their own research, they can ask friends or read on-line reviews. If they are burned by a brand, they quickly spread the message. Have you figured out a brand promise that you can deliver beyond the purchase moment? Have you created an experience that will get purchasers to become brand fans?
  4. Consumers now take control and action over the buying process.
    • Consumers now control what they buy. They are not sold to. Last century it was all about selling. In the current world, it’s all about buying. They are taking full control over the buying process–gaining awareness about brands from friends, only considering after doing their own research to validate what they are hearing and then they figure out the ideal pathway to the purchase moment. They read labels, read reviews and make up their own minds. They pose questions to friends for advice. Putting 100% of your budget on a 30 second TV no longer works. Have you figured out how to co-manage the path to the purchase moment along side the consumer to help them consider, search, purchase and experience your brand?
  5. Consumers connect with brands they believe in.
    • Consumers now want and expect more. They line up to brands that line up to their values and expectations. Consumers want to be appreciated and they are willing to love the brand that will treat them like they are the only person that matters. Ethics and behavior now matter. We are seeing the ethics of brands like Volkswagen and GM destroying the brand reputation. We are seeing Chipotle facing small regional safety crisis points, with the news spreading like wild-fire and the brand is dying before our eyes. Consumers have full access to information and they are not just buying what you do, but why you do it. The most loved brands are based on a big idea that consumers connect with, yet that idea has to reflect the brand’s soul. Have you figured out your brand purpose and then figured out how to build your stated brand purpose into your brand story, your product innovation and the brand experience? Have you figured out how to make the brand purpose be part of the purchase moment as a deal closer to a tie between two brands?
  6. Consumers reward amazing experiences over products alone.
    • Last century, consumers just bought products like Tide, Kodak and Pampers. Most of them we learned about on quick 30 second TV ads that followed a similar formula screaming “we are the best”, shown every half hour trying to drive awareness. But consumers are connecting at a deeper level with brands that offer an experience that over-delivers the promise. With Starbucks, it’s more about the “moments” than it is about the “coffee”. Everyone keeps pointing to the fact Starbucks coffee finishes middle of the pack in blind taste tests. But you cannot replicate the experience of nice leather chairs, cool music, great conversations, amazing culture of people. We are starting to see that the new product is becoming the experience, and while claims supported the product, it is the organization’s culture that supports the experience. Have you figured out to create an experience around your brand that brings it life beyond the product itself? 
  7. Consumers explore rationally, but stay emotionally.
    • In this 21st century economy, the winning brands are those who can create strong emotional bonds with their consumers. While brands might gain entry into the consumers mind in the first 7 seconds, consumers are now emotionally engaging with brands. Research companies like Hotspex show that over 50% of brand decisions are emotionally based. To achieve Brand Love,  brand needs a Big Idea that expresses your brand’s soul and serves to connect with consumers while shaping the internal culture of the brand. Brands need Focus in the choices a brand makes in terms of vision, strategy, positioning and execution. And brands need to show Passion in everything to drive creativity that connects with consumers and precision that helps create brand experiences that exceed expectations. The best brands build every touchpoint around the Big Idea including the promise, brand story, innovative products, ubiquitous purchase moments and brand experiences. How will you use Big Ideas, focus and passion to really create a bond with your consumers to turn them into brand fans that love your brand?

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What is it that creates a bond between the consumer and the brand? You need to be able to describe your brand to CONSUMERS in 7 seconds, 60 seconds, 30 minutes and over the lifetime of the brand, always telling the same story. 

  • In today’s crowded branded marketplace, the modern consumers see 7,000 brand messages a day. The fastest thing our brains do is reject brand messages. Brands need an entry point to gain permission to the consumer’s brain. Can you explain your brand in 7 seconds?
  • After decades of being burned by false promises, modern consumers are naturally cynical and constantly doubting brands. They test the brand by asking detailed questions. Brands need a solid story that closes off any doubts consumers may have. Can you explain your brand in 60 seconds?
  • Modern consumers like to take control over their buying process as they move from consideration to search and finally to a purchase moment. Brands need to move with consumers through to the purchase moment. Can you explain your brand in 30 minutes?
  • As the modern consumer experiences the brand, they either accept or reject the promise. Consumers are more loyal to brands they share a common purpose and shared values. Brands need to create experiences that match the brand story. Can you describe your brand over the lifetime of the brand, always telling the same story?

What are you doing to deal with the changing consumer?  

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Below is our Beloved Brands Workshop we run on Strategic Thinking:

We make Brands better.

We make Brand Leaders better.™

We offer brand coaching, where we promise to make your brand better by listening to the issues, providing advice that challenges you, and coaching you along a strategic pathway to reaching your brand’s full potential. For our brand leader training, we promise to make your team of brand leaders better, by teaching sound marketing fundamentals and challenging to push for greatness so that they can unleash their full potential. Feel free to add me on Linked In, or follow me on Twitter at @belovedbrands If you need to contact me, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or phone me at 416 885 3911

BBI Creds Deck 2016.014

Get better at Strategic Thinking

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The best Brand Leaders know when to be a strategic thinker and when to be an action thinker. You need to find your balance by thinking slowly with strategy and thinking quickly with your instincts. While pure strategic people would make for a great consultant, I would not want them running my brand. They would keep analyzing things to death, asking questions over and over, without ever taking action. Every day there would be more questions and in turn more strategies, without action. While the action oriented tactical people get stuff done, I am not sure I want them running my brand either. They would make great ads, great packaging and highly innovative social media executions but no one ever interrupts them to say “are we going in the right direction?” While it is really hard to come up with strategies, it is even harder to stay on strategy. I want someone running my brand who is both strategic and action-oriented, almost equally so.

Strategic Marketers can have a conflict with creative people. Creative people are typically more emotional than brand leaders and value pride more than the brand leader. These creative people want to make work they can show off, while the Marketer wants to make work that drives growth. Marketers need to find the ideal balance between science and art, acting as both “artist” and “scientist”. Too many times, I have seen Marketers who are one or the other. The “scientists” type Marketers are super analytical, who can tell a great story linked with numbers, but then when it comes time to execute they cannot get past their rational side and they miss out on using data to go to the emotional side of marketing. On the other side, the “artist” type brand manager is normally a good “do-er” who makes great packaging, advertising or promotions that entice consumers. They have great natural instincts, but they cannot always link what they are doing with the strategy and the numbers that it takes to run a business. We believe you should think slowly with strategy and go with instincts when it comes to execution.

The natural speed for strategic thinking is slow thinking, difficult in a fast paced job. The biggest conflict with strategy are those action-oriented people, who believe that doing something is better than doing nothing. Without proper focus, it just spreads resources randomly. Slowing down can help you to be more logical and effortful, providing deeper thinking that many times is hidden away from the day-to-day parts of the job. I see too many Brand Leaders who are so smart that they go too quickly through their strategic plan, choosing the obvious options because they never stop to ask the great questions that forces the deeper thinking needed for strategy. We reserve fast thinking for the execution side of Marketing, which is more instinctual, automatic, emotional, subconscious and gut reaction. On execution, going too slow might result in over-thinking.Strategic Thinking 2016.013

With strategy, slow down, take a deep breath and put your feet up on the desk. Here are 5 ways to slow down on the job:

  • Find your own thinking time. Go for walks at lunch or a drive somewhere to get away from it all. Block hour long “thinking meetings” with yourself. In my 20 years, rarely did a great idea come when I was sitting at my desk. The best ideas always seemed to come from out of no where, usually when my mind was freed up from the constant constraints of deadlines, to-do-lists and forecasts.
  • Organize your week to fit your thinking pace. For instance, maybe talk “big ideas” on a Friday morning so you can take the weekend to think, yet schedule quick updates on Monday afternoon that clears your mind for the week. Figure out your best thinking time and avoid the worst times. For me, I was clearly brighter at 9am than I was at 3pm.
  • Do the deep thinking before the decision time comes. Always be digging deep into the analytics to prepare yourself, no matter your level. Even at the VP level, I did my own monthly share report that forced me to dig in on the data so that I knew my business and I would be able to draw conclusions beneath the surface.
  • Next time in a meeting, spend your energy asking the best questions. Too many leaders try to impress everyone with the best answers—next time stump the room with the best question. If you want to demonstrate to senior management that you are strategic, instead of showing that you have the best answers, try showing them that you have the best questions. When you are with your team, instead of looking to tell them what to do at every turn, ask them great questions that make them think.
  • Proactively meet your partner team. Get to know the needs of your partners, rather than wait for a problem or conflict. Come to them proactively with possible solutions so you both win.

Strategic Thinking 2016.015When I am in a large group setting and I ask people “so, what does it mean to be strategic?”, not a lot of hands go in the air. When I press them, the common answer I get is “making choices” and “having a long term vision”. I see those as components of strategy, but equally they could easily be applied to tactics. We have mapped out 7 key elements that are essential for good strategic choices: vision, focus, opportunity, speed, early win, leverage, gateway. By mapping out these 7 elements, our hope is that it provides a challenge to the way you think and a good conversation starter to have with those on your team that you want to be more strategic.

  1. Vision: An aspirational stretch goal for future, linked to a well-defined purpose. It should push you. It should scare you a little, but excite you a lot. Challenge yourself to think of the longer term, beyond your current situation, so that you can put a stake in the ground of where you want to be.  
  2. Focus: Alignment of your limited resources to a distinct strategic point you wish to penetrate, creating positive momentum on a pathway towards your vision. Every brand is constrained by resources—financial, people, time and partnerships. Yet, every brand faces unlimited choices they could make. The best strategy has focus, that serves to limit those choices to match up to the limited resources that you will apply. From my experience, focus is one of the hardest elements for marketers to be good at. Without focus, you can never be strategic. There has to a willingness to take risks to put your resources against the choice you believe will pay back.Strategic Thinking 2016.016
  3. Opportunity: Something happening in the market, as a potential strategic opening based on trends in the market (e.g. consumer behavior, technology, competitive actions). A good strategic mind can turn data into knowledge and wisdom that allows you to see potential opportunity for you to take advantage of and help win in the market. You should always be analyzing and assessing situations in the marketplace with regular deep dives on your business to uncover opportunities.
  4. Speed: Like in sports, time and space of the opportunity matter. As soon as you see the opportunity, you must act quickly before others see the same opportunity. In this modern economy, the winners are faster, not because they take random action, but that they are able to map out the series of events in a way that takes advantage of their strengths and quickly matches those up to opportunities they discover.
  5. Early Win: Break through point where you see a shift in momentum towards your vision. It offers potential proof to everyone that this strategy will work, helping rally others–the team, agency and even your boss. This is the starting point to seeing a degree of success and smaller shifts in positional power. It may be a test market validation, a breakthrough with a smaller group of consumers, a win at a certain retailer, or seeing underlying tracking scores that show the brand is moving in the right direction.
  6. Leverage: Ability to turn the early win into creating a momentum, that leads to the tipping point where you achieve more in return than the effort put in. You must be the one to see how to transform what you have gained so far into a new pathway that allows you to go after the bigger win.
  7. Gateway: Realization point where you see a shift in positional advantage or power that allows you to believe your vision is achievable. That power may be with the consumers you have won over, competitors that you have gained against, retailers that you have shown proven success or power you see with media options that allows you to continue to exploit your early success. The goal here is to turn your smaller early win into the bigger win that resembles the original vision.

Below is our Beloved Brands Workshop we run on Strategic Thinking:

We make Brands better.

We make Brand Leaders better.™

We offer brand coaching, where we promise to make your brand better by listening to the issues, providing advice that challenges you, and coaching you along a strategic pathway to reaching your brand’s full potential. For our brand leader training, we promise to make your team of brand leaders better, by teaching sound marketing fundamentals and challenging to push for greatness so that they can unleash their full potential. Feel free to add me on Linked In, or follow me on Twitter at @belovedbrands If you need to contact me, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or phone me at 416 885 3911

 

BBI Creds Deck 2016.014

Do your own damn performance review!!!

This time of year is when you sit down with your boss and have the dreaded annual performance review. 

It’s likely dreaded for a reason. You hate getting feedback and your boss hates giving feedback. These days performance reviews feel like a bit of jockeying. When you do you self-evaluation, you avoid putting anything that can be used against you. And when your boss does your evaluation, they will avoid putting anything that will imply a promotion, raise or even maintaining your employment. Maybe it’s time that we think of the performance review as a necessity of the job, but we should stop thinking this is big defining career moment that will help you. If you have a great boss, use it to your advantage. Some of my bosses took it seriously, many did not. In my 20 years of working, half of my performance reviews were worthwhile, and considering I had one manager for 7 years who did an excellent job for me, that leaves 13 other years where the reviews did very little for me. I recommend you take control of your own career and never be at the mercy of others.

If you are managing your career, then give yourself a Performance Review

We look at Marketing Careers over 4 different levels: Assistant Brand Manager (ABM), Brand Manager (BM), Marketing Director and VP Marketing. Companies may use various titles, but the ABM is generally a do-er or contributor to strategy, while the BM is the owner of the plan and the go-to person on the brand. Usually the Director manages a broader team and the VP oversees the entire marketing team. 

We have mapped out at the 32 essential skills that a Brand Leader needs, at every level. What I have found is that marketing is about learning the fundamentals and then use your experience to continuously improve. As much as your company self-assessment is guarded and careful, when you do your own, you have to be very honest with yourself to identify what you need to work on.

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When it comes to Analytics you should be mastering this as an Assistant Brand Manager and Brand Manager, but you have to continue to use these skills throughout your career. While digging into every aspect of the business helps you learn the basic analytics, what separates great marketers on analytics are those who can transform all those numbers into an analytical story that helps set up a decision point.

Brand Planning is usually owned by the Brand Manager. But honestly it can take a few years to become competent at writing plans. If not done well, planning can get out of control. The goal of a brand plan is to get everyone on the same page, to ensure everyone is moving in the direction that is outlined in the brand plan. There are so many elements of a plan you need to get comfortable with, from creating a brand vision that motivates everyone, to purpose and values and onto strategy and tactics. To ensure action comes out of the plan, the Brand Leader should be creating specific project plans for each element of the plan.

While positioning is one of the core strategic functions of marketing, it is rare for a marketer to be involved in positioning their brand. Most are taking the positioning from the previous marketer. Positioning is really about simplifying everything on the brand, down to something that is focused and digestible for consumers. A good positioning has a focused target market, one main benefit and two reasons to believe. From that positioning, you can create a Brand Concept or even move forward to writing a Creative Brief that can help execution. Too many brand leaders lack the ability to write a brief and it’s impacting marketing execution.

Any type of advertising requires brand leaders to use judgement and make decisions. The decisions should be balanced with strategic thinking and gut feel for the creative choices and media options. While we all have natural instincts even before we get into marketing, being able to articulate those over a complex network of advertising experts and over a long project timeline are very difficult. Practice these skills early in your career on smaller projects and perfect them as you move to more complex and bigger projects. With a large advertising project, the brand leader has to work through the ad agency that would include 3 distinct groups–account team, creative team and strategic planner. Then moving towards production, you need to oversee a series of subject matter experts including producers, directors, sound technicians and actors. You have to stay true to your vision at every stage of the project. I have found that with each new project right up to the VP level, you should be continuously looking to improve. How you make decisions, how you motivate others and how you communicate will either make or break the advertising projects you are leading.

New products can vary in their degree of complexity. The simplest ones are incremental launches using the same brand name, and using the same production and distribution channels. The more complex type new products involve a new brand name, a new technology, new distribution channels, new production, government regulation, determining the projected sales, costs and support needed.

One big growing weakness is the go-to-market execution that involves the marketing and sales teams to work together. Over 20 years ago, it was very common that marketers did a stint or two in the sales department. As the roles have become more senior and specialized, it has become more difficult to move people between the roles. This has created silos between Sales and Marketing, leaving the marketer with a perception that they live in an “ivory tower”. There is a skill in learning how to influence the sales team, ensuring that your marketing and sales are working together to make the brand stronger. At any stage, you should be constantly getting into the stores and meeting with sales people. As you get more senior, you should learn how to present to buyers.

In terms of Leadership and Managing you need to hold your team to a consistently high standard of work in strategic thinking and planning. Then you need to hold your team to a consistently high standard of work in execution in the market. In terms of people management, you need to be seen as actively interested in helping your team to manage their careers. Teach, guide and direct your team members for higher performance. Training and development provides on-going skills development to make the team better.

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We have also mapped out 15 leader behaviors for you to also use as a self-evaluation, looking at the behaviors that separate great Brand Leaders from the pack. A great Brand Leader is accountable to results, strong on people leadership, a solid strategic thinker, carries broad influence and brings an authentic style. Leadership behaviors are harder for us to self-evaluate. I would recommend you have casual conversations with those you can trust to give you feedback. There is a term called “blind spots”, where people who you work with know that you have a weak, but you don’t know.

Identify your own gaps

We recommend that you go through each of the dimensions and give yourself a score in relation to your peers. A score of 5 means you are one of the best in your department in a given area, a 4 is above average, 3 means you are average and the scores of 1’s and 2’s would mean you have a gap. Force the scores so that you can clearly identify 3 skills and 3 leader behaviors as being a relative gap to your peers. Based on where you are with your career, I recommend you end up using the year to close Then as you build your own personal plan for the year, map out a plan of attack for the coming year. 

2015 brand careers.019Don’t worry, we all have gaps. At every level of my own career, I had some major gaps. Many I wasn’t even aware of and some I was even in denial. Only as I moved up to Director and VP level was I able to close some of the gaps. For example, I struggled throughout my career when dealing with the sales team, was never a great negotiator and always weak when it came to managing up. Maybe if I had one more self-evaluations along the way, I could have closed the gaps sooner.

We all have gaps. What are going to do about closing your gaps?

Below is a Powerpoint presentation of a workshop we run on Managing your Brand Career. I hope that it challenges you to think differently and identify some areas you can improve for next year.

We make Brands stronger.

We make Brand Leaders smarter.™

We offer brand coaching, where we promise to make your brand better by listening to the issues, providing advice that challenges you, and coaching you along a strategic pathway to reaching your brand’s full potential. For our brand leader training, we promise to make your team of brand leaders better, by teaching sound marketing fundamentals and challenging to push for greatness so that they can unleash their full potential. Feel free to add me on Linked In, or follow me on Twitter at @belovedbrands If you need to contact me, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or phone me at 416 885 3911

BBI Creds Deck 2016.014

Without the normal Ad Agency process, two students produce an inspiring Johnnie Walker ad

johnnie-walker-dear-brother-hed-2015Not only was the work free, but it was free of the traditional Advertising process that is now broken. 

While this ad is very inspiring, it should frighten or frustrate some of you. I hope it makes you say “why can’t we make ads like that?” What is your answer?

As people watch it, clients will be thinking “see what happens if I didn’t have an agency in the way” and agencies will be thinking “see what happens if I didn’t have a client in the way”. The real challenge should make you think “how can we get that type of work?”.

Or the bigger question: “what is wrong?”  

The ad agency world appears nearly broken. We see the world’s biggest agencies re-structuring and re-shuffling of the deck chairs. We see traditional agencies buying boutique agencies trying to gain their expertise and then failing again when they don’t listen to the people from the agency they bought. We see clients bringing creative development in-house. We see clients putting their business up for bid. Agencies show up with the best of the best, smiles on their face, win the business and we never see those people again. Then 6 months later, they still can’t deliver great work.

This ad was made by two film students. No Agency. No client. 

This spot lacked the process of constant re-writing of the creative brief, there was no endless series of creative presentations, no emails summarizing the feedback from 11 client representatives, no backroom deals between senior executives, no big quote for a big production, no focus groups or quantitative testing and no internal approvals where everyone provides their unique input.

So ask yourself one question: What is wrong with our current way of getting advertising?

Agency Model is broken for clients. Agencies need to make the brand leaders life easier, by being smarter, faster, more responsive to consumers and cost effective.

  • Disjointed work: Nothing lines up behind a big idea. Confusing. Brand Leaders used to have one “go to” agency that did everything. Now the Brand Manager has to bring agencies together, normally stressful and unsuccessful.

  • Client frustration: Agency too slow, expensive, unresponsive. Traditional agencies remain slow, expensive and political. Media world has changed and agencies must change with the changing media world.

  • Bad Execution: Lack of expert skill leads to poor marketing. Brand Leader have lost the art of being a generalist that doesn’t do anything. They have been put front and center, forced to begin making program choices, creative executional moves and media decisions.

Here’s my message for agencies:

  1. Your client needs help!!! Clients need help building every part of the marketing plan around a big idea, no matter the medium. Make them feel smarter at every stage. Don’t let your client ever feel dumb.
  2. Focus your client.  Clients need help focusing their resources on one target and focusing one message, with the right strategy for where the brand sits to tighten the bond. Don’t ask for strategic room or tear apart the brief and make various creative options when really you are making new strategic options. Help focus the brief. 
  3. Inspire your client and make them part of your team. Clients need help to bring out their passion providing better execution, with great work that is faster, more consumer responsive and cost-effective to deliver a return on investment. Don’t make your client feel like an outsider.

Here’s my message for clients:

  1. Focus focus focus!!! The smaller the strategy, the better the work. How tight is your Brief? Do you narrow the Target and add engaging insights? Do you focus on the desired consumer response before deciding what your brand should say? Do you focus on One Benefit and One Message?  Creative options are fine. Strategic options means you’re not doing your job.
  2. Be a creative leader. Meet the creative team before the first creative meeting to connect, align them with your vision and inspire them to push for great work. At creative meetings, stay big picture, avoid getting into details? When giving direction, avoid giving your own solutions and but rather try to create a “new box” for the creative team to figure out the solutions.
  3. Knock down all the resistors to great work. Challenge yourself to take creative risks, and are you willing to be different to stand out. Manage your boss at every stag by selling them on the vision what you want. Be willing to fight for great work.
  4. Have  you ever thought about being one of your Agency’s favorite clients   Do they “want to” or do they “have to” work on your business? Would this make you get better work?

BBI ads for 2015.011

 

Below is a presentation of a workshop training that we run for clients on how to get better advertising:

 

We make Brands stronger.

We make Brand Leaders smarter.™

We offer brand coaching, where we promise to make your brand better by listening to the issues, providing advice that challenges you, and coaching you along a strategic pathway to reaching your brand’s full potential. For our brand leader training, we promise to make your team of brand leaders better, by teaching sound marketing fundamentals and challenging to push for greatness so that they can unleash their full potential. Feel free to add me on Linked In, or follow me on Twitter at @belovedbrands If you need to contact me, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or phone me at 416 885 3911

 

Our 7 favorite Holiday ads of 2015. Have your say.

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The UK has always led the way with story telling Holiday ads. And this year is no different. 

UK retailer John Lewis always does terrific Christmas ads and this year is one of the best. I love it. Makes me think of my daughter’s relationship with my mom. Already achieved 20 million views on youtube. 

Sainsbury’s, a UK grocery store, launched an ad this year, which appears to be a fan favorite. Cat lovers certainly will enjoy this one. Personally, I found the ending a bit too contrived. But 21 million viewers and many of my friends have said they like this one better than the John Lewis spot.

This next ad comes from Mulberry, and is a bit bizarre. Wonder how well this goes over with the deeply religious. The sarcasm of this spot treats this new red hand bag as though it is the baby jesus. Perfect for those with a slightly dark sense of humor. I’m still trying to figure out if I like it, but it sure stands out.

Staying with sarcasm comes one of my favorites this year from an electronics retailer in the UK. Curry’s PC World hired Jeff Goldblum to tell people how they should be acting. I’ve seen a handful of these spots, including one where Jeff tells people how to act when the boss gives you a secret santa gift or how to act when someone burns the turkey. And in this one, how to react when your husband gives you a jigsaw puzzle. So far, each spot

 

Another UK retailer, Harvey Nichols, has done a great job in articulating the selfishness of Christmas. While not quite as good as last year’s spot, this one is still quite good.

The spot that is generating the most interest comes from german grocery retailer, EDEKA. This spot is getting shared on many social media sites making people all over the world cry. It certainly touched a nerve with me. Right after seeing it, I called my mom to see how she was doing. Some others find the spot goes way too far to pull at the heart-strings with the older man faking his death. However, this has generated an incredible 38 million views so far.

And finally, Tesco has created a series of quirky humor ads including this spot with a young man flirting, or at least trying to flirt. 

 

Have your say in our poll: Poll Link

If you have seen other ads, we’d love you to share those in the comments section. This is one of our more lighthearted articles, given you are likely cleaning up files before year-end, getting your accrual into finance and finishing some of your key projects. Hope your year-end performance review goes well and you start getting ready for a big 2016.

Here’s our workshop we run to help Brand Leaders become better at Advertising

We make Brands stronger.

We make Brand Leaders smarter.™

We offer brand coaching, where we promise to make your brand better by listening to the issues, providing advice that challenges you, and coaching you along a strategic pathway to reaching your brand’s full potential. For our brand leader training, we promise to make your team of brand leaders better, by teaching sound marketing fundamentals and challenging to push for greatness so that they can unleash their full potential. Feel free to add me on Linked In, or follow me on Twitter at @belovedbrands If you need to contact me, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or phone me at 416 885 3911.