Post #6: I’m still a magazine reader; the paper kind.

I’m the mother of a seven and four year old. With this territory comes the rare few moments of solace. I have to admit those few treasured moments are usually found in the privacy of my bathroom. I also need to come clean that many of those occasions arise, not due to the call of nature, but due to my desperate pursuit to recapture my sanity or to re-find myself. As part of these brief diversions, I have found some small luxury in magazines; the paper kind. There’s no digital side to these small 10 minute vacations I take. It’s purely old school for me! With the 10 minutes of bliss, I find myself reading the magazine ads just as much as the articles. I wonder if this is unique to my own life or is this a common experience for mothers everywhere.

 Image

Accordingly to the website she*conomy, 85% of the all consumer purchases are made by women. I think it’s fair to assume that a large portion of that 85%, are made by mothers. If that is the case, than magazines are likely still a valid marketing vehicle. Especially given the captive setting I often find myself reading them in.

When I‘m looking at ads, there are certain types that appeal to me, more than others. The beauty ads that attempt to make me feel unworthy, without the right pimple cream or age defying formulas, are quick page turners. Why would I work so hard to escape reality, only to read an ad that reminds me of some remote reality? The ads that tell me a sweet story, make me laugh or inspire me, are the ones that I actually decide to read and note the brands they’re advertising for.

For example, there was a recent Liquid Plumbr ad I found, on one of my recent excursions. The tag line read “embrace your inner plumber” and featured a woman wearing a pink shirt and a tool belt.  The copy of the ad was calling to the feminist in all of us and our need to take charge of our own situations. The ad promoted the Liquid Plumr facebook page that offers D.I.Y. solutions; “No boyfriends, husbands or plumbers required”. It also highlights that their facebook page features Home Improvement star, Norma Vally, who presents the Liquid Plumr “Tool School”.

Another ad that caught my attention was a World Wild Life ad, that read “Be the voice for those that have no voice” and featured a picture with a mother and baby elephant. I will admit that this ad drove me to leave my “time out” and to return to my brood.

The marketing messages that seem to capture my interest are not the shallow attempts to make me feel inferior, but the ads that have some substance. They’re the ads that don’t undermine my intelligence, but instead respect it. Afterall, if me, and many other women like me, are the driving consumer force in America, then clearly we deserve to be respected in the very ads that we’re being targeted by.

Post #5: Jcpenney Hits the TARGET with their Marketing Makeover

After 110 years it was time for a makeover! Jcpenney, one of the cornerstones of the U.S. retail market, recently reinvented themselves. Strangely, one of the captains at the helm of their reinvention was the former Chief Marketing Officer at Target, Michael Francis.

Launch-Event-PresentationLaunch-Event-Presentation-(.mov)

While we were asked to comment about the creative strategies at Target, I thought it fitting to comment on the Target’ess like makeover underway at Jcpenney. Especially given how exciting and cutting edge the concepts are, coming out of JCP.

After a quick glimpse at the JCP catalog that hit millions of American homes in late February, it’s clear this re-launch is a game changer. Their new creative strategy, screams IKEA, Target and maybe even a slight hint of  J.Crew. It’s bright, simple and clever. The clean, brilliant images are interwoven with smart, story telling copy. This new refreshing creative approach was even carried through, in the introduction of Ellen DeGeneres, as their new spokesperson.

Even the company name has been simplified, now simply stated as JCP. This overhaul is being marketed as “In Praise of Fresh Air”, in order to clarify that despite their 110 year age; it doesn’t mean they’ve grown stale. This sense of fresh air was described in the “Jcpenney Manifesto” that was published as part of their recent launch.

 

This sense of fresh air has come to life within the pages of their March catalog, direct mail pieces and in their new online ads. An orange themed portion of their assortment is marketed with clever tag lines, such as “orange you forgetting something” or “speaking mandarin”. The new spring fashion trend of color blocked combos, in new JCP creative speak, is nicknamed “Block Party”.

The JCP revamp did not only touch the creative side of their operations, but also drove a major facelift to their in-store experiences and pricing strategies. The previous borage of coupons, frequent sale events, and various promotional mailers have been sent to their corporate archives as a thing of the JCP past. Now the pricing and sales strategy is simple and tagged as “fair and square”. There are three and only three, types of prices in their new repertoire. The three-tiered pricing structure is labeled in red, white and blue and categorized as every day, monthly value and best price.

With the fresh breeze blowing at JCP, I wonder if any stale air has settled in at the marketing office at Target. Will Target be able to replace the creative genius vacancy, left behind by Michael Francis? Or have the creative winds shifted permanently to JCP?

Misc. Post: Not just any noodle!

I found this image and thought it was not only relevant to the title of this blog, but also relates to a key strategy in marketing. ~To take something conventional and find an unconventional way to market it, via a unique image or a unique message. To be a successful marketer you must find a breakthrough strategy that differeniates your brand and your message.

Post #4: Who won Superbowl XLVI?

…When it comes to the ads that is. Sunday’s famous game has become more infamous for the game that’s played off the field, by players in suits, not jerseys. With that, there seems to be just as much armchair quarterbacking related to the plays being called by Madison Avenue than the ones where a ball was thrown. –So what were the armchairs of America saying about this year’s “game”? 

Based on the New York Times article there wasn’t a clear winner. For ads that were the most liked in one poll, they were the most disliked in another. The article also highlighted how the social space has changed the face of Sunday’s big ad game. Most of the ads made their way to the web, long before kick off happened. 

While there may have not been one clear MVP this year, here are some of the top playmakers that have been called out; M&M’s, Skechers, Dannon Oikos Greek yogurt and Honda. There were also some ads that should have perhaps stayed on the bench; Lexus, Century 21, General Electric, Cars.com, Toyota, Cadillac, Hulu and Go Daddy.

Besides being sick of my football analogies, what’s your vote?

Post #3: The Value of Ratings and Reviews; A Thing of the Past?

Over the last several years, obtaining ratings and reviews has become a key element of marketing a brand or a product. Ratings and review information can now be found everywhere; on a company’s own website, manufacturer websites and websites that syndicate reviews for a wide range of companies and products. Consumers utilize the information as key step in the research and buying process. As a result, companies have come to realize the importance of obtaining ratings and reviews, especially positive ones.  

Until recently this source of information seemed fairly trustworthy to consumers. Unfortunately, several recent news stories regarding an Amazon merchant, VIP Deals, may threaten this. VIP Deals established a program to solicit top ratings from customers, using financial incentives (VIP Deals Astroturfing Amazon 5 Star). The company essentially rebated a large portion of a product’s purchase price in exchange for a customer’s five-star rating of the item.

Does this signal a turning point for the role of ratings and reviews in marketing, and in the research process for consumers? Will consumers continue trust the ratings and reviews from other consumers? Can companies continue to use marketing programs to solicit ratings and reviews without risking negative misperceptions about their practices?  

 How to spot a fake product review.html