The 3 best ads of the 2016 Olympics: Gold, Silver and Bronze

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands in the Market

2016_Summer_Olympics_logo.svgOver the two weeks of the Olympics, there are just a ton of ads. After a while they all blur together. It would be easy to make an Olympic ad, if the goal was just to fit in. Show a little bit of the athlete’s background story,  some footage of the athlete’s accomplishments, then show how this all fits to the brand (even if it is not a natural fit, try anyway) and then cut to black screen at the end with the logo with a tagline come up.

Ta-da. You have a classic Olympic ad.

This type of ad is what I would consider “good but not different”. While you might enjoy watching it and think “I like that ad”. However, after seeing 38 identical ads over the next 2 hours, you won’t remember anything about any of the ads. With such a sea of ads, only the ones that are very different will stand out. The second thing I would stress is that the ad has to fit with the strategy of the brand. The ideal sweet spot is both Smart and different.

As a Brand Leader, you should always be thinking of ways for your marketing communication to break through the clutter and use your brand story to move the consumer. During the Olympics, the objective of these iconic brands is to continue to tug at the heart of your own consumers. You’re not really going to sell to new consumers, but rather re-enforce to those who already love you. With that, you sure better be on when it comes to what your brand is all about.

The best Marketing breaks through the clutter (Attention) links closely to the brand name (Branding), communicates main message (Communication) and makes brand seem different (stickiness).

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Bronze Medal:  “Thank You Mom” by P&G

Sure it is a basic pool out of the previous two Olympic Games but it is still working. This spot is high on attention and branding as people are now looking for these spots, grabbing the tissues and enjoying these spots. They don’t communicate a ton about the brand, but they have high stickiness, as evidence by sharing (21 million views on Youtube) and talk value at the lunch table. Plus, I still get a slight tear in the eye.


Silver Medal: “Unlimited Together” by Nike

Imagine a brief that says “we want to do an ad about the basketball team that screams patriotism…and make it different from anything else”. The first part of that brief would be easy to gather up all the cliches. The second part is extremely difficult. This is a beautiful Nike spot, with Chance the Rapper doing a take on “America the Beautiful”.  Nice visuals, a different look at the behind the scenes of the team. They have nailed it, fitting nicely into Nike’s Unlimited campaign.


Gold Medal: “Unlimited Youth” by Nike

Out of all the ads this year, this one resonated the most with me. If an 86 year old doing Iron Man races is not enough to get your butt off the couch, I’m not sure what is.


That’s right: Nike gets my gold and silver.  I saw quite a few other good ads along the way. What is amazing is that Nike is not an official sponsor of the Olympics. They keep stealing the show, without paying the IOC fees.

Here are the Honorable Mentions


Apple launched a great new campaign this summer, during the Olympics, but would be hard-pressed to call it an Olympic ad. I love it, and it certainly made me watch. During the most divided year I can remember, this Apple ad does a nice job in bringing the world together.  Have a look.


It looks like Coke had the same brief as Apple. Another nice spot for them. However, it does not seem to have gotten the necessary break through. (only 57k views)


I also liked the Gillette spot, that showed the darker side of how hard these athletes work. It narrowly missed my podium, because I think it will fit in, more than it will stand out. Fits nicely with the “The Best a Man can Get” brand idea. Well done.


To read more on Marketing Execution, have a look at our workshop presentation.

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.

Beloved Brands Training program

At Beloved Brands, we promise to make your team of BRAND LEADERS smarter, so they produce smarter work that drives stronger brand results.

  • How to think strategically: 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.
  • Write smarter Brand Plans: A good Brand Plan provides a road map for everyone in the organization to follow: sales, R&D, agencies, senior leaders, even the Brand Leader who writes the plan.
  • Create winning Brand Positioning Statements: The brand positioning statement sets up the brand’s promise to the consumer, impacting both external communication (advertising, PR or in-store) as well as internally with employees who deliver that promise.
  • Write smarter Creative Briefs: The brief helps focus the strategy so that all agencies can take key elements of the brand plan positioning to and express the brand promise through communication.
  • Be smarter at Brand Analytics: Before you dive into strategy, you have to dive into the brand’s performance metrics and look at every part of the business—category, consumers, competitors, channels and brand.
  • Get better Marketing Execution: Brand Leaders rely on agencies to execute. They need to know how to judge the work effectively to ensure they are making the best decisions on how to tell the story of the brand and express the brand’s promise.
  • How to build Media Plans: Workshop for brand leaders to help them make strategic decisions on media. We look at media as an investment, media as a strategy and the various media options—both traditional and on-line.
  • Winning the Purchase Moment: Brand Leaders need to know how to move consumers on the path to purchase, by gaining entry into their consumers mind, help them test and decide and then experience so they buy again and become a brand fan.

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 or call us at 416-885-3911.You can also find us on Twitter @belovedbrands

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Dollar Shave Case Study: The underdog success story that no one saw coming

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

Dollar Shave Club is a subscription-based razor company, founded in 2011 by Mark Levine and Michael Dubin based on the idea that consumers are highly frustrated with the growing cost of razor blades. This is a classic case of finding a major un-addressed problem that consumers are facing in the market. And they use a creative brand solution that helps to turn that problem into a consumer enemy that upsets them emotionally.

We are seeing many brands use new technology options to set up the old guard as the enemy ready for attack. This has been the strategy for Netflix on movie rentals, Beats by Dre on the headphone business and the Uber brand in the entire taxi industry. And this is the strategy for Dollar Shave on Gillette. With the cost of a pack of razors going for $20 at your average drug store or even $40 at Costco, there was a huge opportunity in the marketplace. Yes, we’ve seen huge technology gains in the last 20 years with way more blades than we ever thought possible, flex balls and blue lines telling us when to throw it out. But for a great many of us, price still matters.

Competitive positioning options

We’ve always said that brands really have 4 options: better, different, cheaper or else not around for very long. The key is to find a unique selling proposition for your brand. You don’t always need to find a rational point of difference as long as there is room to be emotionally unique.

To find the competitive space in which your brand can win, look up at the three circles above. The first circle comprises everything your consumer wants or needs. The second circle includes everything your brand does best, including consumer benefits, product features, or proven claims. Finally, the third circle lists what your competitor does best.

Your brand’s winning zone (in green), is the space that matches up “What consumers want” with “What your brand does best.” This space provides you a distinct positioning you can own and defend from attack. Your brand must be able to satisfy the consumer needs better than any other competitor can.

Your brand will not survive by trying to compete in the losing zone (in red), which is the space that matches the consumer needs with “What your competitor does best.” When you play in this space, your competitor will beat you every time.

As markets mature, competitors copy each other. It has become harder to be better with a definitive product win. Many brands have to play in the risky zone (in grey), which is the space where you and your competitor both meet the consumer’s needs in a relative tie. 

Sadly, I always have to mention the dumb zone (in blue) where two competitors “battle it out” in the space consumers do not care.  One competitor says, “We are faster,” and the other brand says, “We are just as fast.” No one bothered to ask the consumer if they care about speed. Both brands are dumb.

Dollar Shave has figured out a new business model

The internet has opened up many subscription opportunities, cutting out distribution costs in exchange for a committment to continuous purchases. With the Dollar Shave Club — you sign up for a monthly fee depending on the quality of blades and the number of blades you need per month.

Amazing launch advertising

Dollar Shave took advantage of viral advertising, making such an innovative Ad that it was shared and viewed by up to 18 million people. The ad starring the CEO, who is also a burned out Hollywood actor, was made with such an anti-corporation feel/tone that it jumps off the computer screen. It is a hilarious, edgy, low-budget YouTube-driven video, that generated millions of hits. The tagline is “Our blades are f**king great,” which will undoubtedly alienate many people, but it will inevitably make the younger male audience quickly love them. The ad tells a quirky story of why the brand doesn’t waste money like Gillette does, setting up the idea its razors are much cheaper than Gillette’s. The ad did so well, that it crashed the Dollar Shave website in the first hour!!!  

Here is the ad: “Our blades are F***ing Great”

A craft brand strategy

Craft brands must win a small space in the marketplace that offers something unique to a highly engaged target. These brands succeed when they are far enough away from major competitors that the leaders ignore them because craft brands stay hidden away. 

Craft brands build themselves behind a micro-benefit, including gluten-free, low fat, locally grown, organic or ethically sourced. These craft brands take an antagonistic approach to the rest of the category, portraying every other brand in the category as old-school, overly corporate, unethical, flawed in the manufacturing or the use of ingredients. Many times, these brands take a very aggressive marketing stance, calling out the other brands as unethical or stupid. Craft brands believe it is better to be loved by the few than liked or tolerated by many.

Here are the four key principles brands need to establish a successful craft strategy:


  1. Pick a segment small enough that it won’t be noticed and you’ll be able to defend it. Be aggressive. Put all your resources against this small target, so against that specific target, you will have the relative force of a major player.
  2. Be flexible and nimble. You need to enter quickly to seize an opportunity that others aren’t noticing, but be ready to exit if need be, if consumers change their minds or competitors notice you and attack you.  
  3. Explore non-traditional marketing techniques to get your brand message out and your brand into the market quickly. Because you are playing in a non-traditional market, you will be given leeway on the tools you use.
  4. For craft brands, take the mindset that it is better to be loved by the few, than tolerated by the many. Leave the mass consumers for the mass brands.

As Dollar Shave started out, they were up going against one of the biggest consumer goliath brands in the world. Gillette’s global sales are in the billions. A successful niche strategy is when the leader is willing to let you have your space, because they don’t see you as a threat. For Dollar Shave, first-year sales were about $30-50 Million, much smaller than Gillette’s $2 Billiion. That sales level should not even be enough to make Gillette to lose an ounce of sleep.

$50 Million is a ton of money for an entrepreneur

While Gillette did not take Dollar Shave seriously, they didn’t realize they were getting backed into a corner where they could not respond. It would be impossible for Gillette to change their entire business model to counter Dollar Shave. 

  • Gillette can’t risk launching their own subscription model, because it would dramatically upset major retailers, who would retaliate with delistings and reduced support. 
  • Gillette can’t afford to dramatically cut their price or their Sales and profits would nose-dive.

The only strategic move for Gillette is to let Dollar Shave have their $50 million in sales. That’s the beauty of the Dollar Shave strategy.


Five years after the launch, Unilever paid $1 Billion to acquire Dollar Shave

This type of thinking is in my book, Beloved Brands

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You will learn everything you need to know so you can run your brand. My brand promise is to help make you smarter so you can realize your full potential.

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