Tuesday, July 30, 2013

New Balance believes WHERE the shoes are made matters

Over at the New Balance headquarters in Brighton, Mass., the ad campaigns have traditionally focused on the shoes’ performance and their appeal to athletes.

But performance is taking a backseat these days to where the shoes are actually made. Unlike its competitors, New Balance can claim that a substantial chunk of its shoes sold in the U.S. (about 25 percent) are made or assembled here.

And the company is striving to put that fact in the spotlight with its latest campaign, developed by Arnold Worldwide of Boston.

See the website at newbalance.com/Made-in-the-USA

New Balance kicked things off with ads in May, along with in-store signage. That was followed by ads that appeared in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, urging other companies to follow New Balance’s lead and produce more goods here in the U.S.

There’s now an ongoing Facebook campaign, telling people which companies they “like” actually use domestically produced goods.

And last week, New Balance uploaded a series of short, humorous videos showing their workers “competing” against their rivals’ U.S. factory workers in basketball, table tennis, table hockey and a hot dog eating contest. The “winners” in these solo contests are a foregone conclusion.

“We do have American manufacturing workers and frankly, none of our competitors do,” Kevin Tripp, marketing manager for New Balance’s domestic manufacturing operations, tells me. “Instead of doing it in a way that comes across as serious or self-serving, we thought (this) would be fun. … Since our guys and girls are going up against nobody, we win hands down.”

These spots are notable in that they don’t feature athletes or models. Like the Sports Illustrated ads, these videos feature workers from one of New Balance’s five New England factories. (The company employs 1,300 at plants in Brighton, Lawrence and in Maine.)

“We have played the ‘Made in the USA/domestic pride’ story before, but not to the extent that we have done it this year,” Tripp says. “We really want to put a stake in the ground and tell the story consistently moving forward.”

New Balance’s promotion of its manufacturing capabilities comes amid a growing interest in the United States among consumers in buying domestic products, and a number of high-profile disasters involving overseas suppliers.

There are also a couple political elements: New Balance is trying to protect tariffs on imported sneakers during ongoing international trade talks, and is also trying to persuade Congress to require the U.S. military to buy American-made shoes for recruits.

Monday, July 29, 2013

"20 Logos We Love" from Entrepreneur magazine

Thousands of logos compete for our attention every day. 

Clearly we care about logos. But what makes a great logo?  And how can you make one that not only stands out, but also cultivates a loyal following?

In a recent issue of ENTREPRENEUR magazine, designer Andrew Shea, published some great examples.

Experts note, he says, there are at least three necessary traits: 
  1. distinct from other logos (especially those of competitors), 
  2. instantly recognizable (imagine it on a neon sign in Times Square), and 
  3. legible at all sizes (from billboards to mobile devices). 

That said, there are many ineffective logos that follow these rules. What sets the great ones apart is that they help audiences connect with the organization's mission or personality in a meaningful way.

See the slide show of the 20 favorites at www.entrepreneur.com/slideshow

Thursday, July 25, 2013

61 percent of KOLs use diagnostic and reference mobile apps: implications in my interview with Med Ad News

Last month, I was interviewed by Med Ad News about a new study showing that key opinion leaders are far more digitally savvy.

Here are some highlights of the article:

The Kantar Media Sources & Interactions Study, March 2013 – Medical/Surgical Edition included key facts that pharma marketers and healthcare agencies need to know about key opinion leaders in order to refine digital marketing and advertising plans.

Key opinion leaders are more likely to use smartphones and tablets for professional purposes than all doctors surveyed. About 84 percent use their mobiles for work reasons. In addition, 57 percent reported that they use a tablet for personal and professional purposes.  When using their smartphones, key opinion leaders are more likely to use medical apps compared with all physicians. About 61 percent use diagnostic tool/clinical reference mobile apps and 49 percent use drug and coding reference apps.

Kantar Media collected the data in two waves for the study, which allows them to provide more up-to-date monitoring of rapidly changing media areas, including mobile, according to a company spokesperson. Although the core report continues to show data based on both the fall and spring data collection waves, the supplemental data are based on the spring wave only.

“The survey results help document what we’ve been experiencing over time, that leading physicians have higher utilization of smartphone apps, digital media, social networking, and email communications with patients,” says Mark Stinson, SVP, brand strategy, GSW.

According to the study, more than half of key opinion leaders use the Internet for professional purposes more than four times per day. On average, they use the Internet almost 14 times per week for work. About 55 percent of key opinion leaders say that their time spent on the Internet per use is between 1-15 minutes, while 20 percent say a session typically lasts between 16 and 30 minutes.

Regarding the insights derived from an agency perspective, Stinson tells Med Ad News, “I think the insight is further confirmation that the traditional term of KOLs describing key ‘opinion’ leaders is becoming obsolete. In the past, agencies might have viewed them as ivory tower, academic sources of medical thoughts. What the Kantar study underscores – and what we’ve found with brand experiences – is that a more active and desirable group of clinical leaders has emerged with more than just opinions. These new key practice influencers are using technology and digital media more in direct patient care, protocol development, clinical trial design, treatment guideline creation, and institutional practice procedures. With the application of digital media as described by the Kantar results, we can identify the shift from key opinion leaders to key practice influencers (KPIs), with far-reaching scope of expertise and decision-making effect.”

When it comes to the frequency of smartphone and medical app usage, Stinson says that GSW has seen other data to confirm that prescribing information is the most searched. “However, so many more innovative applications are quickly being integrated into practices,” he told Med Ad News. “What the Kantar survey suggests is that these influential physicians are poised for expanded smartphone use.  It’s another indicator that they aren’t just thought-leading, but actually practice-ready.”

It would be interesting to learn more from the survey, or from future research, if other characteristics common in influencers are at play in how much time key opinion leaders spend on the Internet, says Stinson. “These might include: colleagues in digital forums regularly seek them out for advice; they use blogs or other digital platforms to share insight from specialty conferences; and, they participate in more formulary or protocol review committees by virtual means.”

Key opinion leaders tend to use social networks for professional purposes more often than other physicians, as 39 percent use consumer social networks, 42 percent use professional social networks and 50 percent use medical association/society social networks. “At the heart of a brand strategist’s role is the ability to listen to what customers know, how they find information, and how they use it,” Stinson told Med Ad News. “The Kantar survey provides more evidence that physicians’ views in social media could provide a powerful qualitative research modality. Today, we can observe and learn from online communities by following the real-world conversations that take place on networks (LinkedIn, Facebook), forums (WebMD, PatientsLikeMe), bookmarking (StumbleUpon, del.icio.us), visual content communities (Flickr, Pinterest, YouTube), and micro-blogs (Twitter).  Most of all, we can construct a more complete picture of how these fit into a health care professional’s life and practice. We have to remember that these key practice influencers are often members of Clinical Advisory Committees (CACs). Most payers will consult with CAC members before rendering a decision on whether or not to cover a proposed treatment.  That extends the influence of a leading-edge physician who shares his or her experiences in social media.”

Key opinion leaders are multimedia journal readers with 57 percent reading both print and digital versions of current issues of medical journals, 86 percent read print editions, and 55 percent read full digital reproductions, meaning PDF or “flip view” versions.

“The Kantar results further encourage us to evaluate forums where an influential physician is posting or reading – or even where their patients with similar conditions may be interacting with the physician,” Stinson told Med Ad News.  “In this way, we can identify channels for community management, content planning, and media engagement.”

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

10 insights about corporate creativity from J.Crew CEO Mickey Drexler

"I talk to so many people about the lack of creativity in companies in America. Part of creativity is contrarianism, " says Mickey Drexler, CEO of J.Crew.

"Creativity battles common wisdom. Because if there's common wisdom, there's an opportunity. In my own experience, whatever was a good idea was a bad idea to most people," he says in a recent interview with Fast Company.

Here are ten of his insights on what it takes to be creative.

  1. "Every business could be creative."
  2. "Companies are in the Stone Ages organizationally."
  3. "Most companies should have a rule about how big they get."
  4. "America's companies are built to destroy creativity."
  5. "You have to keep moving forward."
  6. "I'm a very proud micromanager."
  7. "You cannot copy high quality."
  8. "You can drown in data."
  9. "It's aggravating to be a public company."
  10. "Simplicity is very difficult to achieve."

Read the full article at http://www.fastcompany.com/

Monday, July 22, 2013

8 reasons I blog

What is a blog for?

It is for sharing.  But it's also for me.

I don’t just think it -- I ink it.

  1. Reach out and seize the day.
  2. Settle for more.
  3. Get off the beaten path.
  4. Make time for what you love.
  5. Relish the joys of living and giving.  
  6. Look for the good and you’ll find it. 
  7. Open your arms and take it all in.
  8. Life is the grand adventure and any life worth living is worth recording.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Seeing the same brand hallmarks in new ways: Lessons for N-of-8 from James Bond

When using the N-of-8 process, it’s important to remember that you’re not just writing a story – you’re developing a BRAND story.

So the core brand hallmarks must be presented and maintained consistently. But that doesn’t mean the story can’t be told in many different ways.

Consider the series of James Bond movies. Even across all the installments, there are elements that make a 007 Story:
  • British
  • Spies
  • Music
  • Bond girl
  • Shaken-martini
  • Villain
  • World domination
  • Opening
  • Gadgets-M
  • Cars
  • Gambling
  • Gun-eye
  • Branding (despite star changing)
  • Exotic locations
  • Big names
  • Q
  • Cool
  • Sophistication
  • Clothes
  • Near death
With these central and fundamental ingredients, many stories can be crafted with their own unique locations, characters, plots, dangers, and fantasies.
Far from limiting your creative potential, defining the brand hallmarks gives a structure to which you can then build endless story possibilities.

The same principles can be seen when analyzing other popular movies series, like Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Pink Panther, and Rocky. That’s why I often use these as a warm-up exercise with our creative teams before we start writing stories for N-of-8 groups. It helps us find parallels, archetypes, villains, conflicts, and climaxes. We recall the look of the titles and credits. We even sing the theme song or hum the main chorus.

As you begin crafting your brand’s story, put together a list of the escapades you’ll experience.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

California Pizza Kitchen to get a brand face-lift

My favorite national pizza chain, California Pizza Kitchen is getting a dramatic brand face-lift. 

From Bloomberg BusinessWeek comes the details:

The West Coast-based chain intends to phase out its longtime yellow-hued bistro look in favor of a more local, earthier scheme, which executives described as “rustic,” “organic,” and “relaxed.” 

Thirteen restaurants will take on the new look by year-end.

“We need to be on trend,” said Chief Executive Officer G.J. Hart. “Every restaurant concept needs to stay relevant.”

The new CPK recently arrived at the Westfield Topanga mall in L.A., where it uses reclaimed materials including old railroad trestles from Utah and tabletops made from barn doors.

Other details include chalkboard signs and herb walls with basil, sage, and fennel. Diners can sit at large communal tables. And outside the restroom is a unisex hand-washing station “meant to evoke a warm family home,” according to the article. 

CPK opened another restaurant using the new design in Florida’s Sawgrass Mills mall in December.

Also part of the brand “evolution,” as the company is describing it, are reworked recipes and the addition of “artisan ingredients” such as “table-side pours of white truffle oil” to complement certain dishes. 

What has prompted these updates?  The chain, which has 268 locations worldwide, saw revenue fall in 2009 and 2010 following the economic downturn. Its core customers are ages 25 to 45, skew slightly female, and have higher-than-average income. They are also mostly single—only about one-third have kids. 

Here’s a look at the new design:

Monday, July 15, 2013

KOKA Music 1550: my first job in radio

In the summer of 1978, I got my first job in radio.

I was the nighttime and weekend DJ at KOKA AM 1550 in Shreveport, LA.

Here is the building that housed the station.

I also read a little more history of the buidling.

"The 1959 dedication of the KOKA Radio Station building on Milam Street drew a crowd of 10,000 locals, as well as appearances by national celebrities. Beloved KOKA personalities such as Sunrose 'Gay Poppa' Rutledge, Jr., Willie 'Uncle Bill' Caston, and B.B. 'Bird Brain' Davis provided entertainment and information in a format that included gospel and rhythm and blues."

source: Louisiana Regional Folklife Programs

KOKA was Shreveport's first black owned and operated radio station and where many locals got their first exposure to Blues, Rhythm and Blues, Gospel, Soul and Funk.

And I still appreciate Gay Poppa for giving me my first shot in the business.

Soul Brother #1, James Brown drops by KOKA in 1967 to chat with 'Uncle Bill' (left) and 'Gay Poppa' (center).

Sunday, July 14, 2013

7/13 evening with Natalie Merchant and Columbus Symphony: a review

I enjoyed a beautiful evening Saturday listening to the "distinct contralto voice" of Natalie Merchant, backed by the "layered, lush and lovely" Columbus Symphony.

I'm sure most of the crowd expected a pop star, radio hits concert.  But I knew from reading previous reviews that the set list would be heavy on lullabies and poetry-inspired recent work.  

Overall, it was Natalie at her finest and completely on her brand.

For me, highlights were:
  • Verdi Cries, a track from Natalie and 10,000 Maniacs
  • works from Leave Your Sleep
  • works from Tigerlily included My Beloved Wife and Seven Years 
  • Life is Sweet and She Devil 
  • Plus, a couple of tunes from a forthcoming solo album
She closed with an encore of 
  • Wonder 
  • These Are Day
  • Kind and Generous

sold out outdoor venue at Columbus Commons

Impressed with the talents of the orchestra, and the team that helped them sound great

The grounds of the Commons were in full bloom

The table seating added another dimension to the experience

A clear night under the stars and under the lights

The crowd really got into the second half, which featured more hits

During the encore, I went up to the stage for a closer look

Natalie was having a great time, and savored the sound of the Symphony, too

When the stage cleared, the sheet music of Kind & Generous was a reminder of appreciation

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

How to leave a voicemail: 8 questions to answer

After the beep, make sure you're answering these questions:

It might sound like this:

This is ___________.
I run the _____ department at _____.  I’m calling [date, time].

We’ve never met, and I don’t have any connection or credibility with you yet.  However, I’m calling because next week I expect to be meeting with individuals at your level at several other major companies in your business when I’m in town, and I thought it would be smart to see you as well.

We help people in your business to [key benefits 1, 2, and 3].  Our key points of difference are ____ and ____. We may be able to do the same for you, once I understand your needs.

I’m calling to find out who is the most appropriate person to meet with. I’m also putting in calls today to [names of Leverage Points within the listener’s organization] to leave this very same message.

I’d like to schedule a 20 minute meeting with you, or whoever is the appropriate person, regarding [your offer].

We can meet at ____ on the afternoon of _____ or ________.

Most of the customers we deal with involved their CFO’s, vice presidents or ____, and _____s because ______.  Therefore, you may wish to include them as you see fit.

My phone number again is (speak slowly and clearly) and my email is (spell it out clearly).

Monday, July 08, 2013

Obama relied on a technique like N-of-8

I enjoyed re-reading the TIME Person of the Year issue recently.  And in doing so, uncovered another case study for our N-of-8 customer interaction tool.

"In early 2011, David Simas, a former registrar of deeds in Taunton, Mass., who had become a senior White House aide, switched on what might be called one of the largest listening posts in U.S. history. 

"For months on end, two or three nights a week, Simas and his team secretly gathered voters in rented rooms across the swing states, eight at a time [emphasis added]...poked at their guinea pigs’ animal spirits, asked for confessions and played word-association games. 

"Live feeds of the focus groups were shown on computer screens at campaign headquarters in Chicago."

Saturday, July 06, 2013

940 Saturdays


that's the number of Saturdays between the day your child is born and the time he or she turns 18.   

The phrase might serve as a reminder to cherish the time you have with your child and to use it wisely.

From No Regrets Parenting by Harley Rotbart, MD (Andrew McMeel Publishing)

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

A Sunday afternoon walk reveals new sights along a familiar path

I've run the Alum Creek trail in Westerville many times over the past two years.

So one Sunday afternoon, I decided to walk...slowly...along the path.  And I saw things I'd never seen before.

Here are a few of my favorite images from the day.