Tag Archives: branding

The lush green grasslands of…Iceland?

This is a great example of the power of a great brand.

I think the truly great brands make you turn off your brain. You see the brand and you surrender to it and what it means. Because you know it won’t let you down.

I can scarcely conceive of ever having a bad experience with the Apple brand for example. How weird is that?

I am Irish. So it’s not entirely unexpected that I like imported Irish butter.

Irish butter is better because the cows that produce graze on the lushest grass in the world. Because it rains all the bloody time the grass is especially rich.

The grass is green so the butter is golden. Literally.

So all other butter literally pales in comparison.

Lately I noticed that Whole Foods Market, who are a client, have replaced my native butter with butter from Iceland!

Now I studied Icelandic geography at school. It’s a volcanic rock in the ocean.

So consequently there is no way in hell their butter can be as good as ours.

But I trust Whole Foods to never let me down.

And they haven’t. The Icelandic butter is great.

Whole Foods have successfully over-ridden my brain.

To the point where I have started convincing myself there must a hidden meadow in Iceland where unicorns and dairy cows romp happily in the sunshine. In between squirting out milk that is the nectar of the gods apparently.

The power of a great brand.

I now believe in Icelandic butter.

Uncle Seth is right.

Huge fan of The Seth Godin. Read his blog daily. He’s an idea machine. I also love thinking about media and society. and the interplay between the two. he likes thinking about that too.

As he points out in this post, ye olde post-TV cognitive surplus is a bear that has been roused from its slumber. it’s a powerful beast whose behavior is still developing. and one that hasn’t been kind to the post-war forged-by-TV-ads brands whose enjoyed a very symbiotic relationship with the TV and Cable Networks. The Green Giant ain’t so jolly about the internet.

TV really was like a mild sedative on the masses. The hippies were right in that respect! But it wasn’t a grand conspiracy. it was just a unique opportunity to create the biggest audience ever. And profit from the creation of it. TV was where it was at for a very long time. and old habits die hard.

the internet is a very different kettle of fish. it is resoundingly not dependent on advertising for its existence. and in fact it is kind of allergic to advertising. advertising doesn’t really belong there. we have to force our way in.

most brands aren’t cool. they’re functional. nobody cares about them. nobody talks about them. and quite often they come from cultures who may be stuck in the past organizationally too. in a sense the whole operation is predicated upon carpet-bombing their brand into the public consciousness via TV ads. these are the ones that are most adversely affected by the diversion of consumers’ attention away from the TV screen. they’re in a bit of a bind. their cultures quite often militate against doing the right thing in the current media landscape. they are bound by what worked in the very different recent past. but that’s OK! everyone over the age of 15 is in transition mode to some extent. the rate of change has been crazy. let’s not forget that.

Like we have pointed out, the internet is great for selling Irish bagpipes. Seth similarly uses the example of the Best Made Axe company. ultra-niche brands who can now talk to the whole world. they win online. meanwhile nobody cares a fig about the poor not so Jolly Green Giant online. he was a TV creation.

i have worked in the media/ad biz for 20 years now. and i’ve been lucky enough to have been in the eye of the storm for a lot of those years. i worked on big brands with big media budgets. and i got the opportunity to innovate. and i like to think that i took chances whenever i could.

and here’s what it all feels like to me. it feels like i was floating down the mississippi for years and suddenly the river started to get narrower and narrower. and narrower. how many people will read this? maybe 300 in one day. that’s about 80 million less than watches the superbowl. advertising is only as good as the audience that sees it.

I have no media bias except this one. The bigger the audience the better i like it. This post was brought to you by OfficeMax who urge you to check out their great back-to-school deals and unequalled product selection. Thank you!

How do you advertise brands created on TV in an Internet age?

If you’ve ever really dealt with big brand  advertising from a media perspective you know it’s hard to advertise low interest brands on the Internet. a lot harder than advertising than on TV.   it’s hard because most of the big consumer brands were forged in the TV medium.  they were probably low interest but very  necessary products.  And  TV gave them the perfect opportunity to carpet bomb consumers’ consciousness and “brand” their brand directly onto the cerebral cortex of the nation.  all it took was money.  easy!

so perhaps not unsurprisingly,  a lot of these brands now find themselves in a bit of a technological pickle.   TV, their ice floe, is melting.  And the Internet — the medium that doesn’t require advertising for its existence thank you very much — doesn’t love them.  Because they’ve never really had to care if people loved them or not.  they just cared about market share.  they cared about themselves.  which was perfectly reasonable.  the system was what it was.  TV facilitated their rise.  TV wasn’t interactive.  and selling things is hard enough without having to factor love and other intangibles into the equation.

these times require a different skill set for both advertisers and agencies.  things have gotten a lot more complicated.  and  these brands suddenly have to reinvent themselves in lots of new ways.   looking back it was so easy:   approve one-sided messaging, ad agency creates it, run it, sit back and practice your golf swing/ tennis serve.

TV was the perfect system for creating big brands in a big country.  It’s still very much with us (the superbowl.  beat that Internet!  snap.) and will be for a very long time.  but its no longer the decisive force it once was in our culture.  and to an extent its worth to advertisers was based on the insanely broad reach it had.  but increasingly no longer has.

Change is good!*

*if by good you really mean a pain in the ass that eventually yields a positive result and is therefore totally worth it.

Branding tricks not for kids apparently

So last night i’m at the grocery store with my seven year old son. I tell him he can have anything he wants for dessert. He makes a beeline for the ice cream fridges. He wants ice cream sandwiches. He excitedly reaches for the (cheaper) store-brand 12-pack of ice cream sandwiches. Without even thinking i take his perfectly good selection and replace it with a 12-pack of of a well known ice cream/dairy band. He didn’t care. He hasn’t been “tainted” by branding. He’s pure.

The power of branding. (Hey, I never said this would be an inspirational or uplifting tale, did I)