I love Marketing that starts off small and costs very little

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands in the Market

I have always loved when you see a big idea come out of the smallest of ideas. As Brand Leaders, sometimes we complain about a lot of things: no money, we don’t have any new products in our pipeline, our agency keeps presenting the same old thing and we are too conservative to do the really cool stuff. While many Brand Leaders are struggling with how to use new media too many times they opt for the new conventions they see everyone else doing so they say “Like Us on Facebook” approach that generates 38 likes, or they start their own Twitter account and tweet out something boring every six months. Instead, you should think about the new media as liberating in that you can use even more creativity than just trying to follow along what everyone is doing. If you want your brand to generate more love among your base of users, finding ways that surprise and delight them is a great starting point. Consumers will feel more connected with you. Here’s a few different takes on creative solutions that started small and grew, trying to inspire you a little bit while you sit at your desk going “so what can we do”. 

Take a chance. Be inspired.

Volkswagen “Fast Lanes”

When you have very little money, I always say “Act Like a Blowfish” and try to find a way to appear bigger than you really are. That may require more creativity than dollars. It might mean something a bit odd, compared to the conventional 30 second TV ad. If you have no money, tell me you couldn’t have done this one.  It must have cost only $5,000-10,000 to produce, it is one of the simplest ideas ever and yet they now have 3 Million YouTube hits. Mainly because it just makes people smile a little bit. And it fits perfectly with the Volkswagen brand.

What’s your version of this idea on your brand?


Chipotle “Back to the Start”

The Chipotle brand is unique in that many times it runs against convention. Everything about their “Back to the Start” runs counter to how things are supposed to be done. First of all, if any agency came into you and said “we want to do an animated spot about a farmer and we’ve decided to use Scientist by Cold Play as the main song….except we want to get Willie Nelson to do it”, I wonder how many Brand Leaders would have said “go on, tell me more”. Most would throw the Ad Agency out and opt for something more conservative.  The good news for Chipotle is they didn’t have to go through that conversation because Chipotle doesn’t even have an ad agency. They did all this work themselves. It took them a year to make it. Now that’s crazy. On top of that, the goal of the ad was never to sell more burritos but to let people know of their commitment to sustainable farming.  The barely mention the brand name, never shows one of the products and even sells the Willie Nelson song on iTunes at the end of the ad.  The media plan calls for showing it viral first, then show it in movie theatres and then just show it once on TV, but show it during the Grammy Awards. Who is still with me? Would you as a Brand Leader have the guts to do this?   


This ad has generated over 10,000,000 hits on YouTube and was the hit of the Grammy Awards, lighting up Twitter that night. And if you’re totally interested now, then here’s “the making of” that generated another 100,000 hits.


McDonald’s “how a Burger is Made for TV”

Now McDonald’s has all the money possible, and is on TV all the time. Yet this “behind the scenes” look at how they make a Quarter Pounder for their advertising takes on question that many consumers have probably been thinking for decades: “how come my burger doesn’t look as good as the one on TV?”   McDonald’s answers this with direct honesty, showing why they have to fluff up the pickles or eliminate little blemishes on the bun. They compare a recently purchased Quarter Pounder to the one that their stylist works on for the ad. This simple little spot, made up in Canada, has generated almost 8,000,000 hits on-line. 


I want these ideas to inspire you to do something different! 


To find ways to make your brand more loved, read the following presentation:



Positioning 2016.112


Is a Car ad without cars kinda crazy?

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands in the Market
An Ad from Volkswagen

While most Car Ads showcase their cars driving around some corner with the sun setting behind it, the new Volkswagen campaign shows 27 seconds of people laughing ranging from babies all the way up to seniors.  And no car.  

Only Volkswagen could attempt to pull this ad off. They have a history of doing quirky ads, dating back to the 50s. And looking at the Brand Love Index for Family Car brands, VW is the most loved of the brands, with 44% rating it as either Loved or Beloved. Toyota and Honda are just behind with 38% and 30%.  

For a Beloved Brand, Volkswagen should be to continue the magic in order to maintain the love for their brand. VW has a very loyal cult-like following. They already have awareness and people know the differences in their brand. As much as Steve Jobs professed “Think Different”, Volkswagen has 60 years of thinking differently.

Overall, the ad does a good job in attracting Attention in that 27 seconds of just laughing is sure to make you look at the TV screen. But, I’m not sure the Branding of linking VW to the idea of the laughing moments does a good enough job. I don’t think the cut to white screen show brand name really does much at all.  Looking closely, the ad is supposed to send you to http://www.whyvw.com/ as a potential combination of traditional and digital media. I think that Communication gets  totally lost in the ad. I’d love to see a 60 second version that could be used for viral sharing with friends, which could help with the Stickiness of the idea. The website is pretty good though–I like the story telling, especially in the voice of the consumer who can connect important moments of their life to the VW brand.  

An Ad from Honda

Here’s another TV ad that tries to play in the same space, but this time from Honda. One difference is that while it ties into life moments, it has the Car as the backbone of each of those little life moments.

The Honda ad does a good job at connecting with consumers. It might not draw as much Attention as the VW ad, but it will connect just as well eventually. But the Branding and Communications are so much stronger that not only will it continue to drive the connectivity between the consumer and the brand, it will also help to sell more cars. In terms of Stickiness, they also have a 90 second anthemic version that they used to kick off the campaign.  Here’s the link:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H3dr8XFQr4k

So while the VW ad makes me smile as it was intended to do, I don’t think this ad will be a big hit. I like the idea better than I like the execution. On the other hand, the Honda ad plays in the same space and it connects the idea of Life Moments nicely to the brand.  

I give the win to Honda, but want to hear your views:

I run Brand Leader Training programs on this very subject as well as a variety of others that are all designed to make better Brand Leaders.  Click on any of the topics below:

Positioning 2016.112