The best Christmas ads I have ever seen

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands in the Market

Christmas adsChristmas is a great time to drive home the connection between consumers and the brand. Get your consumer into an emotional state, and hopefully, those emotions pay back to your brand. But not everyone can pull it off. You likely need to have an established love for your brand already, or it would come across as lacking authenticity. If you are looking to get into the holiday spirit, here are the best Christmas ads I have seen, from all over the world, from the past 30 or 40 years.

John Lewis of the UK

The best Christmas ads I’ve ever seen are from John Lewis, the department store in the UK. They use beautiful music, a movie-like storyline that demonstrates the beauty of gift giving, stretched out over 90 seconds. No words are needed to tell the story.  They tug at the heart and bring a reminder of what the season is all about:  the gift of giving. I think this is the best one in the John Lewis (2011) series, with a nice twist and a tug at the heartstrings at the end.

 

Coke Argentina

Coca-Cola, the brand who came up with the look of how we see Santa Claus, makes a special ad every Christmas, to recreate the magic of Christmas. From Argentina, here’s a brilliant take on spreading the joy of the season.   

Budweiser in the US

The Budweiser Clydesdales were first introduced to the public in 1933, to celebrate the repeal of prohibition. August A. Busch Jr. presented the hitch as a gift to his father. That hitch proceeded to carry the first case of post-prohibition beer. Every Christmas you’ll see a team of Clydesdales pulling a case, a great icon of the American beer brand.

Canadian Tire of Canada

This is your classic sentimental Christmas ad, talking about family.  It’s done very well by retailer Canadian Tire.   They told a nice story, about the modern family.

Tim Horton’s in Canada

This ad will make you cry just a little bit.  A nice touch of reality about being a parent from the old school to the new school.

Kellogg’s in the US

A pretty darn whole ad, but pretty darn cute. We do need a bit of wholesome serotonin at this time of year.

Allegro in Poland

Great storytelling from Allegro, a Polish website. The ending is very heart-warming. Millions of views so far, lots of tears for sure.

 

Anuncio Lotería from Spain

Every year, there is a lottery just before Christmas, Anuncio Lotería de Navidad 2016. The last few years, they have done some great ads with deep story telling. This year, the ad tells a sweet story of a grandmother who catches the winning number on TV from a few years ago, believing she has won this year’s lottery. Very cute that the family goes along with it as she moves through the village. Nice ending.

Marks and Spencer from the UK

Marks and Spencer likely won the UK retailer contest of 2016. This ad does a nice job in telling the story of Mrs. Claus. While very modern, it still brings a lot of traditional touches of Christmas.

 

Edeka from Germany

A nice ad from EDEKA, Germany’s biggest supermarket encourages parents to spend more time with their kids.

 

Lidl from Ireland

Lidl uses a very traditional Christmas ad that speaks to how it should really feel.

WestJet Airlines from Canada

WestJet is the alternative airline to Air Canada, providing a better customer experience. For 6 straight years now, WestJet has done some of the better Christmas ads. This past year in the Western Canadian town of Fort McMurray, there was a fire that destroyed the entire town. This ad does a nice job in building around the recovery with a wink to Who’ville.

 

Sainsbury’s from the UK 

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start of World War 1, Sainsbury’s created this very high production spot, telling the story of how the soldiers took a break from the war to share Christmas together.

Mulberry in the UK

Not your normal holiday spirit type ad, but I love the big idea behind this ad: WIN CHRISTMAS. So what beats a beautiful portrait, a puppy that waves or a unicorn? A new bag from Mulberry!!!  That’s what.

 

Burberry in the UK

The ad portrays Thomas Burberry as an obsessive inventor and entrepreneur showcasing the emotion he put into his craft. It may take liberties on the excitement of his life–bordering on making him into the world’s most interesting man in the world–but we certainly can feel his purpose and passion shining through.

 

Apple iPhone from the US

In this 90-second TV ad, it shows a typical teenager hanging onto this iPhone constantly, and then from there, the magic happens.

 

Aldi in Australia

What would happen if Santa crash-landed in the Australian outback? Nice spot.

 

My book, Beloved Brands, has everything you need to be successful with your brand. 

 

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About Graham Robertson

As the founder of Beloved Brands, Graham has been an advisor to the NFL Players Association, Shell, Reebok, Acura, Jack Links, Miller beer, Earls restaurants and Pfizer. He’s helped train some of the best marketing teams on strategy, brand positioning, brand plans, and advertising.Graham Robertson

In his marketing career, Graham led some of the world’s most beloved brands at Johnson and Johnson, Coke, General Mills, and Pfizer, rising up to VP Marketing. He has won numerous awards including Marketing Magazine’s “Marketer of the Year”, Businessweek’s best new product award and four Effie advertising awards. His book, Beloved Brands, is the playbook for how to build a brand consumers will love.

We live by the beliefs that guide us

We believe the best answers are inside you already. My role is to get those answers out, and make your answers even smarter. I never give you the answer. I will ask more questions that challenge your answers to be better.

We believe investing in your people pays off. With my training program, I know I will make your people smarter, so they make the right choices, and produce exceptional work that will lead to higher brand growth.

You have my personal promise to help you solve your brand building challenges. Above all, I will give you new thinking, so you can unlock future growth for your brand.

If you need our help, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or call me at 416 885 3911

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The new John Lewis ad with Elton John fails to deliver Christmas

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands in the Market

The new John Lewis 2018 Christmas advertising is finally out. It was well known the British retailer would be using Elton John, but not many of us knew to what extent. The ad does a great job in showing Elton’s entire life story, moving backward, to see the source of his inspiration for music. It is well done. However, it’s not a Christmas ad. It doesn’t capture the joy of giving. There’s no surprising twist. It’s a celebrity ad, but is it a John Lewis ad?

I’ll give this sir Elton spot a solid 7/10.

It’s a 9 if it was for an Elton John movie coming out. It’s a 6 for Christmas. Yes, it’s enjoyable. Warm. Good story telling. It’s good but not great. Sadly, Elton won’t save Christmas for the John Lewis stores.

Ugh: Borrowed Equity

The idea of “borrowed equity” is where you take something well-known in the marketplace and try to link it to your brand communication. It rarely works. It’s fine to use a song to tell your story, but never let the story get in the way of your brand. In this case, the Elton John equity overwhelms the John Lewis brand, and it overwhelms the power of Christmas. It becomes a great Elton John ad, not a great John Lewis ad.

When I see brands use “borrowed equity,” it usually means they find their own brand too dull. Look below at the 2011 John Lewis ad, and tell me if it is boring. Alternatively, did the people at John Lewis get bored with your own brand?

This Elton John ad could easily have been used  to announce the merger of John Lewis and Waitrose, and we would have thought “hey, that’s a nice spot.”  As for a Christmas ad, this one flops.

The pressure seems to be getting to brands

For a few years, there was hysteria and anticipation for the John Lewis Christmas ad, but that may be dying down if they fail to deliver. During the era amazing John Lewis advertising they were able to link the advertising with sales growth of 5-8%. The connectivity with consumers was helping buck the declines other retailers were facing with e-Commerce.

The ad will generate a lot of talk value at the lunch table and in the pubs. However, that talk will be fairly mixed. Some will say they nailed it; others will say they’ve seen enough of Elton John, and others will say it’s not about Christmas.

Will it work?

What it won’t do is separate John Lewis from the pack this holiday season, nor will it drive consumers into their stores. It fails to communicate on the joy of giving, which John Lewis had nailed so well. It will be memorable for those who love Elton John, who is likely over 50 or 60, but certainly not under 25.

So now the ad team will start working on those scripts for 2019. My advice: watch the 2011 spot and give your consumers a story like that. It’s ok if it looks similar. That’s what people want. Comfort.

Here’s the best Christmas ad John Lewis made:

History of John Lewis Christmas advertising

Look below at the history of John Lewis Christmas ads. To me, the best ones are 2011 (I’d say this is a 10/10), 2010 (I’d give it a 9/10) and 2014 (Another 9/10).

2017: Moz the monster

Last year’s spot was extremely safe. Likely the last few years, John Lewis has bounced around quite a bit, struggling to nail down a spot that delivered on the formula of 2009 to 2012 when they were pure magic.

To me, the ad is OK, but not great. It’s cute, but not brilliant. It falls a little flat, compared to previous John Lewis ads. It has a monster, which a cross between Monsters Inc. and the Monty the Penguin they did a few years ago. I didn’t like that one either. Ugh. I just wish it was better. I wish it was like 2010 or 2011 when John Lewis made the best Chrtimas ads.

2016: Buster the Boxer

Pretty simple story. Kid likes to bounce on things. Dad builds a trampoline. Animals come out and bounce on it. Dog sees them and is jealous. Dog bounces on the trampoline before the kid gets to it. Kid disappointed?  Mom and Dad disappointed? No one seems happy. But a dog on a video gets tons of views.

 

2015: Man on the Moon

This spot was great on story telling, but it might have gone overboard on sad. But I truly loved it. My second favorite John Lewis ad next to the 2011 spot.

Yes, the man on the moon is a metaphor (sorry, there really isn’t a man on the moon) for reaching out and giving someone a gift. For me, this ad quickly reminds me of when my own kids are on the phone or FaceTime with my mom. There is a certain magic in the innocence and simplicity when the very young talk with older people. They both seem to get it, maybe sometimes more than the in-between ages where the innocence of Christmas is lost within their busy schedules.

2014:  Monty the Penguin:

Pretty simple ad, a little similar to the 2017 spot. The imaginary penguin becomes his best friend, and in the end, he gets a penguin toy for Christmas. In 2017, the imaginary monster becomes his best friend and the monster gives him a toy so he won’t be scared at night. Pretty damn safe. Seems to be targeting younger moms and their toddlers.

2013: The Bear and the Hare

This ad a bit of a departure, going to animation and utilizing on-line and in-store media. This campaign seems trying too hard to capitalize on their success. Doesn’t feel like a fit for the depth of story-telling of the 2010 or 2011. I get the sense they felt they were too dark on tone in 2012, so they went very light in 2013.

2012: Snowman

The “snowman” ad went a bit too dark for me with missed the tone feeling like a slight miss for John Lewis. I felt they were trying too hard.  Maybe feeling the pressure to keep the campaign alive by being different when really the consumer just wants the fast-becoming-familiar-John-Lewis-magic each year.

2011: Counting down

This is my favorite John Lewis ad from 2011, about the boy who couldn’t wait for Christmas. Great story telling about the boy who could not wait, but with a nice surprise at the end. You will notice the “Man on the Moon” feels very similar. But that’s OK, traditions are allowed to have some repetition to the ritual.

2010: “Your song”

This is also a great one from 2010, with the story telling improving over the 2009 spot and Ellie Goulding’s cover of “Your song” is incredible. With the multiple stories throughout the spot, it has that “Love Actually” quality to the ad.

2009: Sweet Child of Mine

This ad was the starting point for the great advertising John Lewis would do. Engaging video story-telling with a soft cover of a classic song. These would become the trademark of the great John Lewis ads over the next few years.

 

I guess I’ll have to wait for the 2019 John Lewis Christmas ad!  🙁

 

Christmas is about 8 weeks away. Expect to see this spot a lot on your social media feed. But, also expect the other UK retailers to compete as they did last year.

Passion in Marketing Execution Matters. If you don’t love it, how do you expect your consumer to love it? If you “sorta like” it, then it will be “sorta ok” in the end. But if you love it, you’ll go the extra mile and make it amazing. To read more about how to drive your Marketing Execution, here is our workshop that shows everything you need to know, to have the smarts of strategy, the discipline of leadership and the passion of creativity to generate brand love in today’s modern world.

 

To learn more about this type of thinking, you should explore my new book, Beloved Brands.

With Beloved Brands, you will learn everything you need to know so you can build a brand that your consumers will love.

You will learn how to think strategically, define your brand with a positioning statement and a brand idea, write a brand plan everyone can follow, inspire smart and creative marketing execution and analyze the performance of your brand through a deep-dive business review.

Beloved Brands book

To order the e-book version or the paperback version from Amazon, click on this link: https://lnkd.in/eF-mYPe

If you use Kobo, you can find Beloved Brands in over 30 markets using this link: https://lnkd.in/g7SzEh4

And if you are in India, you can use this link to order: https://lnkd.in/gDA5Aiw

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, our purpose is to help brands find a new pathway to growth. We believe that the more love your brand can generate with your most cherished consumers, the more power, growth, and profitability you will realize in the future.

We think the best solutions are likely inside you already, but struggle to come out. Our unique playbook tools are the backbone of our workshops. We bring our challenging voice to help you make decisions and refine every potential idea.

We start by defining a brand positioning statement, outlining the desired target, consumer benefits and support points the brand will stand behind. And then, we build a brand idea that is simple and unique enough to stand out in the clutter of the market, motivating enough to get consumers to engage, buy and build a loyal following with your brand.

We will help you write a strategic brand plan for the future, to get everyone in your organization to follow. It starts with an inspiring vision that pushes your team to imagine a brighter future. We use our strategic thinking tools to help you make strategic choices on where to allocate your brand’s limited resources.

Our brand playbook methodology will challenge you to unlock future growth for your brand

  1. Our deep-dive assessment process will give you the knowledge of the issues facing your brand, so you can build a smart plan to unleash future growth.
  2. Find a winning brand positioning statement that motivates consumers to buy, and gives you a competitive advantage to drive future growth.
  3. Create a brand idea to capture the minds and hearts of consumers, while inspiring and focusing your team to deliver greatness on the brand’s behalf.
  4. Build a brand plan to help you make smart focused decisions, so you can organize, steer, and inspire your team towards higher growth.
  5. Advise on advertising, to find creative that drives branded breakthrough and use a motivating messaging to set up long-term brand growth.
  6. Our brand training program will make your brand leaders smarter, so you have added confidence in their performance to drive brand growth.

To learn more about our coaching, click on this link: Beloved Brands Strategic Coaching

To learn more about our training programs, click on this link: Beloved Brands Training

If you need our help, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or call me at 416 885 3911

You have my personal promise to help you solve your brand building challenges. I will give you new thinking, so you can unlock future growth for your brand.

Graham Robertson signature

10 emotional ads that leave you with goosebumps

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands in the Market

emotional advertisingWhen brands say they want emotional ads, I usually say “I can’t wait to see this emotional creative brief you wrote.” Without digging deep to understand the emotion and consumer insights beneath the surface, asking for an emotional ad, feels like a random game of chance. To get emotional ads that work for you, you must understand the emotional space your brand wishes to own and then layer in emotion-based consumer insights.

Do you understand the emotional space your brand can own?

Below you will find a list of 40 potential emotional benefits. From my experience, marketers are better at finding the right rational benefits than they compared with how they work at finding emotional benefits. As a brand, you want to own one emotional space in the consumer’s heart as much as you own a rational space in the consumer’s mind. When I push brand managers to get emotional, they struggle and opt for what they view as obvious emotions, even if they do not fit with their brand. I swear every brand thinks their brand should be the trusted, reliable and likable.

The emotional benefits cheat sheet

Emotional benefit Cheat Sheet

I have used Hotspex research methodology to create an emotional cheat sheet with eight emotional consumer benefits zones, which include optimism, freedom, be noticed, be liked, comfort, be myself, be in control, and knowledge. Use the words within each zone to provide added context.

Brands must own a space in the consumer’s heart. Brands should own and dominate one of these zones, always mindful of which zone your competitor may own. Do not choose a list of emotions from all over the map or you will confuse your consumer. And, use the supporting words to add flavor to your brand positioning.

Ten emotional ads that work

Here are ten emotional ads that do a fantastic job going into the emotional space, whether it’s a mass retailer, a utility or a shoe company. They do a nice job of connecting the consumer tightly to the brand. While the ads do that, does the brand do what it takes to back it up when you experience that brand? In some cases, yes, but not all.

Google “Paris”

For all the romantics, this is one of the best ads. They tell the complete story through google searches, with a few surprises like the airline ticket, wedding bells and of course the baby. Extremely creative.

 

Nike’s “If You Let Me Play”

Nike released this inspiration way back in 1995, outlining the benefits of having girls play sports. Brands such as Always “throw like a girl” were inspired by this type of message.

P&G “Thank you mom”

Back in the 2012 London Olympics, P&G was making an attempt at a Master Brand strategy. This is a beautiful Ad, that is a nice salute to moms around the world, whether your child is an Olympian, or not.

Ram “Farmers”

Aired during the Super Bowl, it’s one of the best spots I have ever seen. Using Paul Harvey’s storytelling hit a positive vibe with Farmers and Americans in general. The simplicity of the idea, yet storytelling at it’s best.  They didn’t over-do the branding, but consumers were so engaged in the ad, they were dying to know who is it that’s telling this story. While everyone else is being loud, maybe being so quiet stands out. 

Canadian Tire “Bike Ad”

This ad makes me cry every time. We can all remember our first bike and how special it is. In Canada, Canadian Tire was that store, prior to Wal-Mart entering the market. Now, Canadian Tire can’t deliver on this promise, because it now resembles Wal-Mart. No longer is it where you go for your first bike, but rather where you go buy Tide when it’s cheap.

Bell “Dieppe”

Wow, a utility delivering an ad that gives you goosebumps. I have been to that beach in Dieppe and it does command such intense feelings. As you can tell from the phone at the end, this was in the early days of Cell phones, trying to link the idea of connecting anywhere. While this is just an ad, I do wish that utilities would try harder to connect with consumers at every stage of the consumer’s buying journey.  

John Lewis “Christmas 2011”

Every Christmas, British retailer John Lewis has been releasing campaigns around Christmas.  To me, this one is the best, especially the ending. John Lewis is an employee-owned retailer, with a unique culture that delivers on the brand.  

Budweiser “9/11”

Aired only once, only a few months after 9/11 the context of this ad is paramount to the emotion. An amazing salute, by the brand, to the heroes of 9/11.

Pfizer “More than Medication”

A nice twist. The ad appears to be a typical rebellious teenager, but he turns into an angel, with a big message for his sister.

Nike “Find your Greatness”

Aired during the 2012 Olympics, this ad was a very high risk but also ran counter to all the athlete ads. There are many types of motivation, for some of us, Michael Jordan is the inspiration. But not all of us are Michael Jordan. This kid running is the average person that gets out there and makes it happen. My hope is that it inspires you do get out there and “just do it”, on your own terms.

To learn more about this type of thinking, you should explore my new book, Beloved Brands.

With Beloved Brands, you will learn everything you need to know so you can build a brand that your consumers will love.

You will learn how to think strategically, define your brand with a positioning statement and a brand idea, write a brand plan everyone can follow, inspire smart and creative marketing execution and analyze the performance of your brand through a deep-dive business review.

Beloved Brands book

To order the e-book version or the paperback version from Amazon, click on this link: https://lnkd.in/eF-mYPe

If you use Kobo, you can find Beloved Brands in over 30 markets using this link: https://lnkd.in/g7SzEh4

And if you are in India, you can use this link to order: https://lnkd.in/gDA5Aiw

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, our purpose is to help brands find a new pathway to growth. We believe that the more love your brand can generate with your most cherished consumers, the more power, growth, and profitability you will realize in the future.

We think the best solutions are likely inside you already, but struggle to come out. Our unique playbook tools are the backbone of our workshops. We bring our challenging voice to help you make decisions and refine every potential idea.

We start by defining a brand positioning statement, outlining the desired target, consumer benefits and support points the brand will stand behind. And then, we build a brand idea that is simple and unique enough to stand out in the clutter of the market, motivating enough to get consumers to engage, buy and build a loyal following with your brand.

We will help you write a strategic brand plan for the future, to get everyone in your organization to follow. It starts with an inspiring vision that pushes your team to imagine a brighter future. We use our strategic thinking tools to help you make strategic choices on where to allocate your brand’s limited resources.

Our brand playbook methodology will challenge you to unlock future growth for your brand

  1. Our deep-dive assessment process will give you the knowledge of the issues facing your brand, so you can build a smart plan to unleash future growth.
  2. Find a winning brand positioning statement that motivates consumers to buy, and gives you a competitive advantage to drive future growth.
  3. Create a brand idea to capture the minds and hearts of consumers, while inspiring and focusing your team to deliver greatness on the brand’s behalf.
  4. Build a brand plan to help you make smart focused decisions, so you can organize, steer, and inspire your team towards higher growth.
  5. Advise on advertising, to find creative that drives branded breakthrough and use a motivating messaging to set up long-term brand growth.
  6. Our brand training program will make your brand leaders smarter, so you have added confidence in their performance to drive brand growth.

To learn more about our coaching, click on this link: Beloved Brands Strategic Coaching

To learn more about our training programs, click on this link: Beloved Brands Training

If you need our help, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or call me at 416 885 3911

You have my personal promise to help you solve your brand building challenges. I will give you new thinking, so you can unlock future growth for your brand.

Signature

Graham Robertson

Founder and CMO, Beloved Brands Inc.

 

A modern day Mrs. Claus steals the show for Marks and Spencer

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands in the Market

screen-shot-2016-11-12-at-6-41-32-pmBig production, intricate story line, little boy doing something for someone else at Christmas with a slight tear. Sure sounds like John Lewis, right? This year, John Lewis left the door wide open with their slightly boring bouncing dog ad. Marks and Spencer appears ready to steal the best in show prize away.

Here’s the latest Christmas ad for 2016, for Marks and Spencer of the UK. This is a very appealing modern-day take on Santa and of course Mrs Claus, who comes across as modern, empowering with a make-it-happen attitude. Helicopters, GPS and stylish red suit. And if you look very closely, Mrs Claus is reading “Fifty Shades of Red” at the end.  All the modern appeal and yet, we have a very simple old-fashioned story of a boy trying to do something nice for his sister. Well done Marks and Spencer. I would give this spot a solid 7.5/10 on the Christmas ad scale. Light on branding, but good solid story-telling in a modern sense. A slight tear at the end. And, most importantly, you just beat John Lewis.

 

So far, the best ad of the holiday season goes to Burberry, with a fabulous spot. I give this spot a 9.5/10. This Burberry spot will be hard to beat. Click to read below.

Consumers want Burberry to make a full-length movie out of their epic 3-minute mini-movie

 

Normally, I would rate the John Lewis spots in the 9/10 range, however 2016 falls flat a 5.5 out of 10. Sad to even think that. I am already looking forward to a better 2017 ad from them. To read our story on this year’s John Lewis ad, click on the link below:

John Lewis 2016 Christmas ad a bit simple and falls a little flat

Passion in Marketing Execution Matters. If you don’t love it, how do you expect your consumer to love it? If you “sorta like” it, then it will be “sorta ok” in the end. But if you love it, you’ll go the extra mile and make it amazing. To read more about how to drive your Marketing Execution, here is our workshop that shows everything you need to know, to have the smarts of strategy, the discipline of leadership and the passion of creativity to generate brand love in today’s modern world.

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, we promise that we will make your brand stronger and your brand leaders smarter. 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 use workshop sessions to help your team create a winning brand positioning that separates your brand in the market, write focused brand plans that everyone can follow and we help you find advertising that drives growth for your brand. We will make your team of Brand Leaders smarter so they can produce exceptional work that drives stronger brand results. Our Beloved Brands training center offers 10 training workshops to get your team of brand leaders ready for success in brand management–including strategic and analytical thinking, writing brand plans, positioning statements and creative brief, making decisions on creative advertising and media plans.

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.

bbi-creds-deck-2017-007

John Lewis 2016 Christmas ad a bit simple and falls a little flat

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands in the Market

images

I feel like a little kid who races downstairs only to be disappointed by my gift. And then I feel bad about it. I am one of those who love the John Lewis Christmas ads and starts to think about it around early October.

And yet, this year, I just feel “blah”.

Once a year, brand fans await the latest installment of the John Lewis Christmas ad. So much attention, that it creates media hysteria trying to predict when it will be launched. John Lewis took advantage of that hype to use three little 10-second teasers with #BounceBounce to build up the anticipation.

The ad is OK, but not great.

It’s cute, but not brilliant.

It falls a little flat, compared to previous John Lewis ads.

Here is the ad, and before I lose you I have put all the John Lewis Christmas ads below for you to compare with.

 

Pretty simple story. Kid likes to bounce on things. Dad builds a trampoline. Animals come out and bounce on it. Dog sees them and is jealous. Dog bounces on the trampoline before the kid gets to it. Kid disappointed?  Mom and Dad disappointed? No one seems happy.

 

How do you feel about it? Is it just me?

The people at John Lewis felt that last year’s spot was “too sad” and they didn’t want to do “sad-vertising” anymore. Personally, I loved last year’s spot. It did bring a tear to my eye, but in a good way. John Lewis has also said they are trying to tap into the insight that 2016 has been a tough year, with Brexit and the US elections. Wouldn’t a more elaborate story be a better escape for consumers?

 

John Lewis has created a legacy around Christmas that is tough to live up to

I have worked on campaigns that lasted 10 years and 5 years. The hardest thing for a Marketer is to stay on track, yet try to beat last year’s spot. It is very hard to be creatively different, yet stay in line with the campaign. marketing-execution-2017-extract-9-001Those fight against each other. Since 2009, John Lewis has wiggled a little each year. But what they have not done yet, is sold out to the pressure. Each year, the ads have been highly creative, the ads that created the magic simply through the eyes of the children in the ads. The emphasis has always been on giving. You will see there is not a lot John Lewis branding in any of these ads, but there is a certain degree of ownership.

 

Rachel Swift, head of brand marketing at John Lewis, says “It is has become part of our handwriting as a brand. It’s about storytelling through music and emotion. The sentiment behind that hasn’t changed – and that is quite intentional. The strategy behind our campaigns is always about thoughtful gifting.”

Let’s use that summary to see how well the 2016 spot lives up to the John Lewis ads of the past?

  • There is not much of a story.
  • It is not very emotional at all.
  • It is not really about thoughtful gifting.
  • No one in the ad even seems happy.

In my view, 2016 ad falls flat and now I have to turn my attention to other retailers to see what they do. My hope is someone does something extra special. Right now John Lewis is the gold standard for Christmas ads and this latest puts them at risk that another retailer easily outshines them.

 

 

The history of John Lewis Ads

Here is last year’s spot, that might have gone overboard on sad. But I truly loved it.

Yes, the man on the moon is a metaphor (sorry, there really isn’t a man on the moon) for reaching out and giving someone a gift. For me, this ad quickly reminds me of when my own kids are on the phone or FaceTime with my mom. There is a certain magic in the innocence and simplicity when the very young talk with older people. They both seem to get it, maybe sometimes more than the in-between ages where the innocence of Christmas is lost within their busy schedules.

 

Here are the John Lewis spots from the last few years and you can tell me which one you like the best.

2014:  Monty the Penguin:

 

Here is the one from 2011, about the boy who couldn’t wait for Christmas. You will notice this year’s Man on the Moon feels very similar.

 

This is also a great one from 2010

 

And you can see the one from 2009.

 

In 2012, the “snowman” ad felt bit too dark for me with the tone feeling like a slight miss for John Lewis. I felt they were trying too hard.  Maybe feeling the pressure to keep the campaign alive by being different when really the consumer just wants the fast-becoming-familiar-John-Lewis-magic each year.

 

I also found the 2013 ad a bit of a departure, going to animation and utilizing on-line and in-store media. This campaign seems trying too hard to capitalize on their success. Doesn’t feel like a fit.

 

I guess I’ll have to wait for the 2017 John Lewis Christmas ad!  🙁

 

Christmas is 8 weeks away. Expect to see this spot a lot on your social media feed. But, also expect the other UK retailers to compete as they did last year. Here is a link to the 7 best Holiday ads for last year:

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

 

Passion in Marketing Execution Matters. If you don’t love it, how do you expect your consumer to love it? If you “sorta like” it, then it will be “sorta ok” in the end. But if you love it, you’ll go the extra mile and make it amazing. To read more about how to drive your Marketing Execution, here is our workshop that shows everything you need to know, to have the smarts of strategy, the discipline of leadership and the passion of creativity to generate brand love in today’s modern world.

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, we promise that we will make your brand stronger and your brand leaders smarter. 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 use workshop sessions to help your team create a winning brand positioning that separates your brand in the market, write focused brand plans that everyone can follow and we help you find advertising that drives growth for your brand. We will make your team of Brand Leaders smarter so they can produce exceptional work that drives stronger brand results. Our Beloved Brands training center offers 10 training workshops to get your team of brand leaders ready for success in brand management–including strategic and analytical thinking, writing brand plans, positioning statements and creative brief, making decisions on creative advertising and media plans.

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.

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10 Ads that will definitely leave you with goose bumps (get some tissues ready)

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands in the Market

goosebumps-101027-02When clients say they want emotional advertising, I usually say “I can’t wait to see this emotional brief you wrote”. Without understanding the emotional space you wish to own in your consumer’s heart, asking for an emotional ad, feels like a random game of chance.

Here are ten ads that do a fantastic job going into the emotional space, whether it’s a mass retailer, a utility or a shoe company. They do a nice job trying to connect the consumer tightly to the brand. While the ads do that, does the brand do what it takes to back it up when you experience that brand? In some cases, but not all.

Google “Paris”

For all the romantics, this is one of the best ads. They tell the complete story through google searches, with a few surprises like the airline ticket, wedding bells and of course the baby. Extremely creative.

 

Nike’s “If You Let Me Play”

Nike released this inspiration way back in 1995, outlining the benefits of having girls play sports. Brands such as Always “throw like a girl” were inspired by this type of message.

 

P&G “Thank you mom”

Back in the 2012 London Olympics, P&G was making an attempt at a Master Brand strategy. This is a beautiful ad, that is a nice salute to moms around the world, whether your child is an Olympian, or not.

 

Ram “Farmer’s”

Aired during the Super Bowl, it’s one of the best spots I have ever seen. Using Paul Harvey’s story telling hit a positive vibe with Farmers, and Americans in general. Simplicity of idea, yet story telling at it’s best.  They didn’t over-do the branding, but consumers were so engaged in the ad, they were dying to know who is it that’s telling this story. While everyone else is being loud, maybe being so quiet stands out. 

 

 Canadian Tire “Bike Ad”

This ad makes me cry every time. We can all remember our first bike and how special it is. In Canada, Canadian Tire was that store, prior to Wal-Mart entering the market. Now, Canadian Tire can’t deliver on this promise, because it now resembles Wal-Mart. No longer is it where you go for your first bike, but rather where you go buy Tide when it’s cheap.

 

Bell “Dieppe”

Wow, a utility delivering an ad that gives you goosebumps. I have been to that beach in Dieppe and it does command such intense feelings. As you can tell from the phone at the end, this was in the early days of Cell phones, trying to link the idea of connecting anywhere. While this is just an ad, I do wish that utilities would try harder to connect with consumers at every stage of the consumer’s buying journey.  

 

John Lewis “Christmas 2011”

Every Christmas, British retailer John Lewis has been releasing campaigns around Christmas.  To me, this one is the best, especially the ending. John Lewis is an employee-owned retailer, with a very unique culture that delivers on the brand.  

 

Budweiser “9/11”

Aired only once, only a few months after 9/11 the context of this ad is paramount to the emotion. An amazing salute, by the brand, to the heroes of 9/11.

 

Pfizer “More than Medication”

A nice twist. The ad appears to be a typical rebellious teenager, but he turns into an angel, with a big message for his sister.

 

Nike “Find your Greatness”:

Aired during the 2012 Olympics, this ad was very high risk, but also ran counter to all the athlete ads. There are many types of motivation, for some of us, Michael Jordan is the inspiration. But not all of us are Michael Jordan. This kid running is the average person that gets out there and makes it happen.My hope is that it inspires you do get out there and “just do it”, on your own terms.

 

To see a training presentation on getting Better Marketing Execution, click on the link below

 

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. 

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New John Lewis 2015 Christmas ad released: I love it!!!

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands in the Market

imagesThis year’s John Lewis Christmas ad was released today at 8am. We know this time because the ads have become so famous around the world and so popular that John Lewis actually had a release time, and one of the UK papers created an online countdown clock. 

 

Well, this year’s ad certainly does not disappoint. While each year, the ads have been highly creative, the 2015 version is a nice throwback to the 2010 and 2011 ads that created the magic simply through the eyes of the children in the ads. The emphasis is on giving. You will see there is not a lot John Lewis in any of these ads, but there is a certain degree of ownership. First, there is a certain unmistakeable style with a child, the home, parents and then something magical. Rachel Swift, head of brand marketing at John Lewis, says “It is has become part of our handwriting as a brand. It’s about storytelling through music and emotion. The sentiment behind that hasn’t changed – and that is quite intentional. The strategy behind our campaigns is always about thoughtful gifting.”

Here is this year’s spot.

Yes, the man on the moon is a metaphor (sorry, there really isn’t a man on the moon) for reaching out and giving someone a gift. The literal in you may wonder why a man on the moon. Hint: John Lewis ads are not for the literal. They are an escape where you can link to your own life. For me, this ad quickly reminds me of when my own kids are on the phone or FaceTime with my mom. There is a certain magic in the innocence and simplicity when the very young talk with older people. They both seem to get it, maybe sometimes more than the in-between ages where the innocence of Christmas is lost within their busy schedules. My favorite John Lewis spot has always been the 2011 version, but this new “Man on the Moon” spot is now my new fav!!!  Thank you for making it. Here are the John Lewis spots from the last few years and you can tell me which one you like the best.

2014:  Monty the Penguin:

Here is the one from 2011, about the boy who couldn’t wait for Christmas. You will notice this year’s Man on the Moon feels very similar. 

This is also a great one from 2010

And you can see the one from 2009.

In 2012, the “snowman” ad felt bit too dark for me with the tone feeling like a slight miss for John Lewis. I felt they were trying too hard.  Maybe feeling the pressure to keep the campaign alive by being different when really the consumer just wants the fast-becoming-familiar-John-Lewis-magic each year.

I also found the 2013 ad a bit of a departure, going to animation and utilizing on-line and in-store media. This campaign seems trying too hard to capitalize on their success. Doesn’t feel like a fit. 

Christmas is 8 weeks away. Expect to see this spot a lot on your social media feed. But, also expect the other UK retailers to compete as they did last year.  Here’s a link to what the other retailers did in 2014:  UK retailers always do the best Christmas ads.

John Lewis ads have become one of the favorite parts of the Holiday season

Here is a powerpoint presentation of a workshop we lead on Advertising:

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

biz card 2016.001

Personal Branding: How to create your own brand plan

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

Slide1If you’ve ever been in a job so long that you don’t have an updated resume or Linked In profile, you’re in a dangerous place. In today’s economy, you want to stay aware, keep current and always be on the look out for what’s next. As we push the personal branding, you should be able to articulate your own brand in 7 seconds, 60 seconds and 30 minutes, all shaping and telling the same story. Start off your next interview with a 7 second pitch that describes yourself (e.g. I’m a marketer that finds growth where others can’t), follow that with a 60 second articulation of what that means, and use the rest of the interview to layer in the elements of your 30 minute story. 

Finding your Big Idea

Everyone talks about the 7 second elevator pitch, but it’s not easy to get there. I suppose you could ride up and down the elevator and try telling people. That may drive you insane. The Big Idea (some call it the Brand Essence) is the most concise definition of the Brand. For Volvo, it’s “Safety”, while BMW might be “Performance” and Mercedes is “Luxury”. Below is the Tool I use to figure out a Brand’s Big Idea revolving around four areas that help define the Brand 1) Brand’s personality 2) Products and Services the brand provides 3) Internal Beacons that people internally rally around when thinking about the brand and 4) Consumer Views of the Brand.  What we normally do is brainstorm 3-4 words in each of the four sections and then looking collectively begin to frame the Brand’s Big Idea with a few words or a phrase to which the brand can stand behind.

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Once you have your Big Idea, you should then use it to frame the 5 different connectors needed to set up a very strong bond between your brand and your consumers.

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Creating a Personal Brand Plan

You need to build a Brand Plan that focuses your efforts in the market place. Use a traditional brand plan format, to include vision, purpose, values, goals, issues, strategies and tactics to create a plan. Here are some definitions to help trigger your thinking.

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And now when you bring these two documents together you can create your own personal Brand Plan on one page. Below is my document that we use for our “Beloved Brands” personal brand. You should try this out using your own brand and you’ll use the strategies to focus your tactical efforts.

Slide1

Manage your personal brand as though you would the brand you work on

And here’s a link to our Beloved Brands presentation on personal branding:

At Beloved Brands, we run a Brand Leadership Center to train marketers in all aspects of marketing from strategic thinking, analysis, writing brand plans, creative briefs and reports, judging advertising and media. To see a workshop on THE BRAND LEADERSHIP CENTER, click on the Powerpoint presentation below:

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

GR bio Jun 2016.001

 

 

Making brand leaders better at running the brand financials

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

Great Brand Leaders, not only drive demand, they drive profitable demand.

Slide1A lot of marketers enter in marketing as a career because they weren’t into the numbers part of business. However, the reality is that to run a brand you have to be good at running the P&L. The only reason that brands exist is that you can create a bond, power and profit, beyond what the product itself could achieve. At Beloved Brands, we believe that passion matters because the more loved a brand is by consumers the more powerful and profitable that brand can be. So in everything you do as a brand leader, even as you are launching new products, creating new advertising or writing a great brand plan, you have to have profit front and center in everything you do. Yet, there are far too many Brand Leaders who can’t run the P&L. These Brand Leaders hit the mid-point of their career and then we realize that they aren’t very good with numbers and all of a sudden, a fast track career for the super star Brand Manager completely stalls. As you’re looking up to the director level jobs, challenge yourself to get better with finance.

Looking at the P&L

Here’s my Finance 101 that can help  simplify your role with the P&L. This is meant for the Brand Manager level who is aspiring to continuing to move up.  But regardless of level, if you secretly are weak in the P&L area, this might help you.  Slide1

While it’s important to learn every line of the P&L, where Brand Leaders can have the biggest impact is on the Net Sales, the Gross Margin and the Contribution Margin.  The Net Sales line is simply Gross Sales minus the Trade Spend. Some income statements have brought the trade spend up to the sales line, while others have left it down in the cost line. Check with your company’s or country’s way of doing it.  In many industries, the trade terms are dictated by the channels.  While I would want to say the more Beloved Brands have a power over the channels, many times they still aren’t able to turn that power into lowering the trade spend.  If the trade spend is out of your control, you should be working with sales to ensure you are maximizing the value in programs that you are getting for the trade spend.  

Net Sales is the Unit Sales times Net Price. For unit sales, you’ll have to either drive the market share or enter new markets. That’s where the marketing programs you leverage drive faster growth relative to the spend. And for price, you can increase price or get consumers to trade up to a premium price within your portfolio.  The overall brand image you drive will usually be one of the biggest impacts on price. The more love you create for the brand, the more inelastic the price. 

Gross Margin is Net Sales minus Cost of Goods.  Just like above this can be impacted by how high of a price premium you can drive for the brand, or whether you can lower your Cost of Goods without impacting the quality of the product.  As a Brand Manager, this becomes your primary focus for “profit” as you feel the below the line costs are out of you control, so you don’t pay much attention to them.   However, as you get up to the Director or VP level, you get involved in discussions about marketing spend, R&D and the goals for the bottom line contribution margin levels.  This is where your strength or weakness in running the P&L begins to really show up.  

The ways brand leaders can Drive the P&L

Looking at the above P&L lines, in a slightly different way you really have 8 different areas that you can impact the Profit:

    • With Price, you can increase/decrease the price or you can get consumers to trade up to a premium line or down to a value line.   
    • When looking at Costs, you’re either driving the product costs or the marketing costs. You’re trying to minimize the costs without impacting the brand or the impact on the brand.
    • Driving the Market Share is a focus on either stealing other users or getting your current users to use more. 
    • The Market Size is all about entering new categories or finding new uses for your current brand.  

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Using Price as a weapon to drive brand value.  It can be a price change, up or down, or it could be trying to get consumers to trade up or down.

  • Price Increase: You can do a price increase if the market or brand allows you. It likely has to be based on passing along cost increases. Factors that help are whether you are a healthy brand or it’s a healthy market as well as the power of your brand vs competition and channel.
  • Price Decrease: Used when fighting off competitor, if you need to react to a sluggish economy or channel pressure. Another reason to decrease price is if you have a competitive advantage around cost, whether that’s manufacturing, materials or distribution.

There are watch outs for price changes. It’s difficult to execute price changes especially if it has to go through retailers. You need to understand power relationships–how powerful are the retailers. Many times, price changes are scrutinized so badly by retailers that you must have proof of why you are doing it. Also, it’s quite likely your Competitors will (over) react. So your assumptions you used to go with the price increase will change right after. And finally, it’s not easy to change back.

  • Trading Up: If you have In a range of products, sometimes it can be beneficial to get consumers to trade up. Can you carve out a meaningful difference to create a second tier that goes beyond your current brand? Does your brand image/ratings allow it?
  • Trading Down: Risky, but you see unserved market, with minimal damage to image/reputation of the brand. In a tough economy, it might be better to create a value set of products rather than lower the price on your main products.

When looking at Price Increases, here’s a formula to help get you started on your analysis for gaining approval.  

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Beloved Brands seem more capable at driving profits through pricing, but they also are careful to ensure the premium does not become excessive to create backlash. There are a few watch outs around trying to trade up or down: Premium skus, can feel orphaned at retail world—on the shelf or missing ads or displays. Managing multiple price levels can be difficult—what to support, price differences etc. For all the effort you go to, make sure your margins stay consistently strong through the trading up or down. Be careful that you don’t lose focus on your core business. Can’t be all things to everyone. The final concern is what does it do your Brand’s image, especially risky when trading downward.

Managing cost as a weapon to enhance the Brand’s Value. It can be either your cost of goods or the potential selling costs.

  • Cost of Goods Decreases: You are able to use the power of your brand to drive power over your suppliers, you find cheaper potential raw materials, process improvement or find off-shore manufacturing.
  • Cost of Goods Increases: Make sure that you manage the COGs as they increase. Watch out for suppliers trying to pass along costs. But realize that with new technology, investing in brand’s improved image, going after premium markets, offering new benefit or a format change, that cost of good increases could be a reality.

The watch outs with managing costs: with cuts, make sure the product change is not significantly noticeable. You should understand any potential impact in the eyes of your consumer on your brand’s performance and image. Can the P&L cover these costs, either increased sales or efficiency elsewhere. Managing your margin % is crucial to the long-term success of your brand.

  • Selling Cost Decrease: To counter changes in the P&L (price, volume or cost), it’s very tempting to look to short-term P&L management or look at changes in go-to-market model. Where a brand stands on the product life cycle or how loved the brand is can really impact the selling costs. Even though we think that Beloved Brands have endless spending, they actually likely have a lower investment to sales ratio.
  • Selling Cost Increase: When you’re in Investment mode, defensive position trying to hold share against an aggressive competitor or when you see a proven payback in higher sales–with corresponding margins.

Here’s a simple margin calculation to get you going:Slide1

Always be in an ROI mindset: Manage your marketing costs as though every DOLLAR has to efficiently drive sales. Realize that short-term cuts can carry longer term impact. Competitive reaction can influence the impact of investment stance–like a price change, your competitor might over-react to your increases in spending.

Externally, the Share and volume game are traditional tools for brand. Either stealing other users or get current users to use more.

  • Offensive Share Gains: Use it when you have a significant Competitive Advantage or you see untapped needs in the market. Or opportunistic, use first mover advantage on new technology.
  • Defensive Share Stance: Hold the fort until you can catch up on technology, maintain profitability, loyal base of followers needs protecting.

Be careful when trying to gain share. A Beloved Brand has a drawing power where it does gain share without having to use attack modes. Attacking competitors can be difficult. It could just become a spend escalation with both brands just going at it. After a share war that’s not based on a substantive reasoning (eg. technology change), there might end up with no winners, just losers. Many times, the channel will try to play one competitor against another for their own gain. Watch out what consumers you target in a competitive battle: some may just come in because of the lower price and go back to their usual brand.

  • Get Current Users to Use More: When there is an opportunity to turn loyal users into creating a potential routine. Changing behaviours is more difficult than enticing trial. It’s a good strategy to use, when your there’s real benefit to your consumer using more. It’s hard to just get them to use more without a real reason.

There has to be a real benefit connected to using more or it might look hollow/shallow. Driving routines is a challenge. Even with “life saving” medicines, the biggest issue is compliance. Find something in their current life to help either ground it or latch onto. When I worked on Listerine, people only used mouthwash 20-30 times a year compared to 700+ brushing occasions. So we focused on connecting rinsing with Listerine to the twice daily brushing routine.

Increase the Size of the Market by Finding New Users or Creating New Uses.

  • Find New Users: When there is an untapped or under-served need. There could be a significant changing demographic that impacts your base. Or you are able to translate/transfer your reputation to a new user group. There should be something within your product/brand that helps fuel the brand post trial. Trial without repeat, means you’ll get the spike but then bust. Substantial investment required. Don’t let it distract from protecting the base loyal users.
  • Create New Uses: Format Line Extensions that take your experience or name elsewhere. Able to leverage same benefit in convenient “on the go” offering. Make sure current brand is in order before you divert attention, funding and focus on expansion area. Investment needed, could divert from spend on base business. Be careful because the legendary stories (Arm and Hammer) don’t come along as much as we hope.

As you look to either grow by share or new categories the two crucial calculations for you are Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) and Return on Investment (ROI) 

For CAGR, here is a calculation tool:

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And for Return on Investment (ROI):

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Show Your Work:  Just like in grade school where you get extra points for showing your work, the same thing goes when taking senior leaders through your assumptions.  

There is only one reason we have brands: to make more money than if we just had products.

To view a copy of How to drive Profits into your Brand, click below:

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

We make Brands better.

We make Brand Leaders better.™

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The 10 real reasons that Target failed in Canada

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands in the Market

target5Having lost nearly $1 billion in its first year in Canada, and facing more multimillion-dollar losses, Target announced on Thursday it would discontinue its operations in Canada and close its 133 stores. While the news of them closing should not be a surprise, the speed in which they left feels pretty shocking. They didn’t even make the 2-year anniversary of the new store.

1. Target just wasn’t different. 

Brands really only have four choices: they can better, different, cheaper or not around for long. For Target in the US, they have always taken the “different” positioning–focused on cool suburban moms, broader offering. But in Canada, Target basically became Wal-Mart with red paint. They never found a way to separate themselves to be seen as different enough to get “new consumers” to try it out and yet they seemed to disappoint those potential loyal consumers who had already bought into the US version of Target. 

2. The suburban positioning already taken in Canada

In the US market, Wal-Mart grew up through the 70s and 80s as a small town or even a rural brand, providing the opportunity for Target to become the suburban version of Wal-Mart. But even looking at pure demographics, Canada has the biggest middle class population in the world, the population is very concentrated to six main cities, where as in the US there are many small towns scattered throughout. When Wal-Mart entered Canada, they purchased the retail footprint of Woolco, which was a suburban brand. The Wal-Mart strategy in Canada closely resembled what Target had done in the US: going after suburban moms, new/fresh stores, big wide/clean aisles making for a better shopping experience than in the Wal-Mart stores in the US.

3. The Low priced clothing for cool moms positioning was already taken in Canada

joe_freshLoblaws is the biggest food retailer and are known for a) copying great retailers around the world b) attacking their competitors viciously. While originally a grocery store, the Loblaws stores have become a mass merchandiser store where you can get the same low-priced clothing for the cool moms, via the JOE FRESH brand. This took away a potential competitive advantage for Target to leverage.

4. Target invested too much and too fast in new locations and new employees

Target launched 133 stores and hired 17,000 employees in Canada–almost half of Wal-Mart’s footprint in Canada, who have been here for 20 years. Taking on the leases of Zellers and then fixing up their locations was costly and crippling to the operations.Target tried to do way too much too soon–hurting their ability to deliver the same experience they are delivering in the US. Target had two strategic choices at launch: a) pick limited locations and do it right or b) cover everywhere in Canada as a preventative strategy against competitive attacks. They decided to be everywhere, and as we can see did a very bad job. They should have staggered their launch by starting with Toronto only, expanding to key markets as they established themselves and managed to create a loyal following. Operations were awfully sloppy. The procurement system was so poorly run that empty store shelves were not uncommon. Given the empty stores, it’s hard to really blame a run on merchandising.o-TARGET-CANADA-EMPTY-SHELVES-facebook

5. Target had no money left to actually drive demand

The best thing about Target is you could get a great parking spot, there were no crowds in the aisles and you didn’t have to line up to pay. Why? Because, there was no one there. As all the money went into the bricks and mortar of creating new stores, they had very little money left over for marketing. In the 18 months since launch, there was very little hype, no great advertising, no wonderful launch events, no press coverage, very little on social media. They never created the demand needed to drive revenue.

6. They didn’t have the same selection as their US stores

The most loyal Target shoppers in Canada had experienced the Target store in the US for years, whether they were cross border shopping or going to Target when they were vacationing in Florida, Arizona or California. And the biggest complaint they had about Target Canada is the lack of product breadth on the shelves. They were expecting the identical offering they saw in Target US. But that’s not a reality. Target is JUST a retailer at the mercy of what the manufacturers offer in Canada. There are numerous factors that impact the variety when it comes to Canadian manufacturers–the biggest being the relative size of listing fees that Canadian retailers demand are so big that launching smaller small skus just doesn’t make sense in Canada. The difference in government regulations will also alter what products can be available for sale.

7. Target US sales dropped the minute they announced they were going into Canada

Target is a very US centric brand, with Canada representing their first attempt at International–and it might be their last. As soon as they launched, they faced declining sales and share in the US. It was unrelated, but now Target management faced two issues at once–a turnaround strategy to solidify US sales and a launch strategy internationally. Anytime you divert your attention, you’re likely to mess one of them up, and the Canadian launch suffered. 

8. The dropping Canadian dollar messed up their financial contributions

Screen Shot 2015-01-18 at 11.48.38 PMWhat is not mentioned very often is that the Canadian Dollar has fallen from relative parity when they were considering launching two years ago to 0.83 cents. That has a two-fold impact: the reporting of sales and profits internationally just took a 17% hit due to exchange and the imported items from the US just saw a big cost increase that will bite into the margins. With those loyal Target shoppers already upset that the Canadian and US prices are not equal, there was very little opportunity for Target to cover the impact of the dollar in their P&L. 

9. Target saw very little risk to leaving

When they made the decision to exit Canada, they did so very quickly and from reading everything said this week by Target, they showed very little remorse. The opening of their press release started by telling the US manufacturers that this statement had zero impact on the US stores or their standing with manufacturers in the US. Rather than bite the full financial bullet, Target has asked for somewhat of a bankruptcy protection, like Chapter 11 in the US. I guess the question is “why are they asking for any protection?”.  Yes, they said they would create a trust that would cover 16 weeks of severance pay for “most” of their employees. The “most” line caught my eye, which feels similar to that classic “Up to 70% off everything in store”. We shall see how fairly they treat ALL 17,000 employees. And will the protection get them out of leasehold agreements that leave malls empty and scrambling to fill them and will they treat the uniquely Canadian manufacturers the same as they treat their US manufacturers. 

10. Their loyal consumers embraced Target more than Target embraced their consumers

When consumers care more than the brand, that brand is in trouble. And from what I can see, there still are many loyal Target consumers who are disappointed in the news. At Beloved Brands, we believe passion matters, because the more loved a brand is by consumers, the more powerful and profitable that brand will be. Target did very little to create love with consumers. Their promise lacked any real difference and they failed to tell their story to the Canadian marketplace. There was zero magic in the way they connected with consumers and zero magic in the experience in the stores. 

Let this be a lesson to the next retailer who will venture into Canada

At Beloved Brands, we run a Brand Leadership Center to train marketers in all aspects of marketing from strategic thinking, analysis, writing brand plans, creative briefs and reports, judging advertising and media. To see a workshop on THE BRAND LEADERSHIP CENTER, click on the Powerpoint presentation below:

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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 3911Positioning 2016.081