Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year! - This Year's Resolution

To find out why companies don't invent big brands such as Healthy Choice more often. Post your answer here.

Friday, December 28, 2007

The 5 Irrefutable Laws of Thought and New Product Leadership

1) There must be a compulsion to make you a better you.

You can find plenty of smart, talented, successful people who are able to take their business only so far because of the limitations of their leadership and vision.

2) A realization

That to trade on a product’s recognized cost-of-entry product feature, function, benefit and price are the category’s least differentiating lowest common and commodity denominators.

3) Stop asking questions

Manufacturers, market researchers, data collection and measurement professionals most arrest business development. Each, their agencies and consultants rush to ask questions, thirsting with a desire be seen as the smartest person in the room. Yet McKinsey & Company will tell you that despite solid balance sheets and healthy bottom lines the consumer products industry has lost its glow and executives wonder where growth will come from. So of what benefit were the millions of questions asked of and about consumers and customers this year?

4) Get procactive.

Any attorney will tell you that you cannot ask a question you do not already know the answer to. You may have found that when you ask questions you don’t get the voice of the consumer – you get the voice of the inquirer through the question being asked – a form of bias that will lead you astray and toward commodity status.

5) Resurrection

Employ processes that go beyond your questions. Calle Company's Abstract Dimensioning® process stimulates consumer minds with hundreds of proactive, comprehensive Product Dimensions® that cause people to think and to say things previously unconsidered that drastically expand your brand and your brand equity's Viability Envelop®.

Calle & Company's ASSAYS® are innovative consumer-creative invention circles not based on asking questions. ASSAYS provide your consumer groups with hundreds of incredibly comprehensive, highly consumer-creative and appealing product-based thought-leadership selling solutions instead. (You may call them data or touch-points instead) Taking yourself and the yoke of your company's belief systems out of the loop - clean sheets of paper are the order of the day here. You become the blank slate on which consumers create, invent and indelibly etch their new impressions and perceptions. By removing everyone but the consumer from the creation-loop, Assays® provide massive foresight enabling you to articulate what consumers really want before normal humans, or anyone else can articulate the need. Assays are perfect for new product, launch strategy and reinvention planning.

“Ask US no questions and we’ll tell you no lies.”

Monday, December 24, 2007


Less marketing and branding and more leadership and vision.

Over the past year many have told me there's no time in the quest for consumer ears and eyeballs to pay attention to the quaint now backburner concept of positioning and differentiating a product. "I have the next FaceBook to find!" In this hustle and bussle world I want everyone to take the time when you are frustrated in line, angry or short at another to remember that respect for others is NOT something that you have to do. It is something that you GET to do. Be thankful that you have someone else that you are doing something for - a new opinion or option to consider. It is a better medicine than any pill, beverage or pharmafood or nutriceutical.

At this time of year have the epiphany of realizing that your best present to yourself is to make yourself a better you. Everyone around you will capture the spirit. Why make you a better you? Take this lesson from mentor John Maxwell; take and apply it in your daily, personal and business life. Everyone needs to increase their LAW OF THE LID. This "insight" is my gift to you this year. I live by it.

Increase your "Law of the Lid"
You can find plenty of smart, talented, successful people who are able to take their business only so far because of the limitations of their leadership and vision. Your organization's ability to grow is directly tied to your ability and desire to grow personally in both capacities. That is the Law of the Lid. If you want to reach new level of effectiveness in your job, raise your lid. If you want to grow your company, grow your lid. If you want to increase shareholder value, increase your lid.

Here's a story that demonstrates The Law of the Lid. Is this you?

In 1930, two young brothers named Dick and Maurice moved from New Hampshire to California in search of the American Dream. They had just graduated high school, and they saw few opportunities back home. So they headed straight for Hollywood where they eventually found jobs on a movie studio set. Soon, their entrepreneurial spirit and interest in the entertainment industry prompted them to open a theatre in Glendale, five miles northeast of Hollywood. Despite all of their efforts, the brothers just couldn't make the business profitable. In the four years they ran the theatre, they weren't able to generate enough money to pay $100 a month rent.

The brothers’ desire for success was strong, so they kept looking for better business opportunities. They opened a small drive-in restaurant in Pasadena, just east of Glendale. People in southern California had become very dependent on their cars, and the culture was changing to accommodate that, including its businesses. Drive-in restaurants were a phenomenon that sprang up in the early thirties, and they were becoming very popular. Rather than being invited into a dining room to eat, customers would drive into a parking lot around a small restaurant, place their orders with carhops, and receive their food on trays right in their cars. The food was served on china plates complete with glassware and metal utensils. It was a timely idea in a society that was becoming faster paced and increasingly mobile.

Dick and Maurice's tiny drive-in restaurant was a great success, and in 1940, they decided to move the operation to San Bernardino, a working-class boomtown fifty miles east of LA. They built a larger facility and expanded their menu from hot dogs, fries and shakes to include barbecue beef and pork sandwiches, hamburgers and other items. Their business exploded. Annual sales reached $200,000, and the brothers found themselves splitting $50,000 in profits every year - a sum that put them in the town's financial elite.

In 1948, their intuition told them that times were changing, and they made modifications to their restaurant business. They eliminated the carhops and started serving only walk-up customers. And they also streamlined everything. They reduced their menu and focused on selling hamburgers. They eliminated plates, glassware and metal utensils, switching to paper products instead. They reduced their costs and the prices they charged customers. They also created what they called The Speedy Service System. Their kitchen became like an assembly line, where each person focused on service with speed. Their goal was to fill each customer's order in 30 seconds or less. And they did. By the mid 1950's, annual revenues hit $350,000, and by then, Dick and Maurice split net profits of about $100,000 per year.

Who were these brothers? If you drove to their small restaurant on the corner of Fourteenth and E Streets in San Bernardino, on the front of the small octagonal building hung a neon sign that said simply McDonald's Hamburgers. Dick and Maurice had hit the great American jackpot, and the rest as they say is history, right? Wrong. The McDonald's never went any further because their weak leadership put a lid on their ability to succeed.

It's true the brothers were financially secure. Theirs was one of the most profitable restaurant enterprises in the country. Their genius was in customer service and kitchen organization. Their talent led to the creation of a new system of food and beverage service. In fact, their talent was so widely known in food service circles that people started writing them and visiting from all over the country to learn about their methods. At one point, they received as many as 300 calls and letters in one month.

That led them to the idea of marketing the McDonald's concept. The idea of franchising restaurants wasn't new and to the McDonald brothers it looked like a way to make money without having to open another restaurant themselves. In 1952 they got started, but their effort was a dismal failure. The reason was simple. They lacked the vision and leadership necessary to make it effective. Dick and Maurice were good restaurant owners. They understood how to run a business, make their systems efficient, cut costs and increase profits. They were efficient managers. But they were not leaders. Their thinking patterns clamped a lid down on what they could do and become. At the height of their success, Dick and Maurice found themselves smack against the Law of the Lid.

In 1954, the brothers partnered with a leader named Ray Kroc. Kroc had been running a small company he founded, which sold machines for making milk shakes. He knew about McDonald's. Their restaurant was one of his best customers. And as soon as he visited the store, he had a vision of its potential. In his mind he could see the restaurant going nationwide in hundreds of markets. He soon struck a deal with Dick and Maurice, and in 1955, he formed McDonald's Systems, Inc. (later called the McDonald's Corporation). Kroc immediately bought the rights to a franchise so that he could use it as a model and prototype to sell other franchises. Then he assembled his team to build an organization and make McDonald's a nationwide entity. He recruited and hired the sharpest people, and as his team grew in size and ability, his people developed additional recruits with leadership skill.

At first Kroc sacrificed much. Though in his mid-fifties, he worked long hours, and eliminated many frills at home including his country club membership. During his first eight years he took no salary and personally borrowed money from the bank and against his life insurance to cover the salaries of key people he wanted on the team. His sacrifice and leadership paid off. In 1961, Kroc bought exclusive rights to McDonald's for $2.7 million and proceeded to turn it into an American institution and global entity. The lid in the life and leadership of Ray Kroc was obviously much higher than that of his predecessors.

In the years Dick and Maurice attempted to franchise McDonald's they managed to sell only 15 franchises, only 10 opened restaurants. Their limited leadership and vision were hindrances. For example, their first franchisee, Neil Fox of Phoenix, told the brothers he wanted to call his restaurant McDonald's. Dick’s response was, "What...for? McDonald's means nothing in Phoenix?"

On the other hand, the leadership lid in Ray Kroc's life was sky high. Between 1955 and 1959, Kroc opened 100 restaurants. Four years later, there were 500 McDonald's. Today, the company has opened over 21,000 stores in over 100 countries. Leadership ability - or more specifically the lack of leadership ability - was the lid on the McDonald brothers’ leadership effectiveness.

Saturday, December 15, 2007


I was going to re-imagine major league baseball, but it seems the players, owners and coaches have done it for me by redefining the terms professionals and amateurs. Professional athletes are not the ones paid money versus amateurs that are not. professional athletes are the ones who do drugs, like steroids versus amateurs...that do not. There should be a professional drug league, professional gladiators who play for pay who've turned sports like baseball into the WWF. It is not sport, it's entertainment, so pump it up! Amateurs are no longer those who shun education to turn pro, they are simply those who do not do steroids or HGH. So lets not waste time here. Let's just re-market and re-segment major league sports.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

American Express Plum Card - AMEX: How Good Is Your Corporate Marketing Memory?

Now I know why American Express named The Green Card The Green Card. It was my dad said because it gave people permission to live way beyond their means - kind of like a Visa - which was the name another company stole from my dad who created The Green Card - and by extension - why MasterCard can't run in the same pack. It's brand name is not a Visa or a Green Card. So how good is your corporate memory? So Plum Card; What are the origins of your brand names? What's your brand story? What is there that I want to recite in the manner of a beloved nursury rhyme?

Now American Express is launching The Plum Card (playing the old colors and flavors trick again) with advertising attempting to create demand by daring me to guess who else has one. Tell me there's some mastermind CMO or CEO behind this one! Is it a card for all the wanna be interior designers who benefit from purchasing things wholesale? Or it a card for the great retail public who don't really have a clue what trade terms are? Let's just dumb everyone's financial terpitude another notch. The Card bills/positions itself as a "Trade Card" with 2% cash back. Will they let me buy furniture less 60%? That's TRADE TERMS! This company isn't working in your best interest! As Casey Stengle said, "Is this as good as it gets, or is this all you got?"

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Wrigley's DoubleMint Gum Provides Key To Hillary Clinton's Presidential Success

Now you get two...two...two Clintons in one. Are we ready to double our pleasure and double our fun? Hey! Even if Hollywood's writers are on strike, I think this is good enough for David Letterman or Jay Leno.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Bored By Life

Are you bored by life? Most advertising agencies are bored by life. That's why their campaigns look like this. Want proof? Life Takes Visa. (So true it's insidiously sick) For 100 years - Life, Powered by Edison (Southern California Edison). Gag. How many other ads champion life in some other copywriter's nightmare? Please submit any candidates. And these people have the audacity to question or converse on the issue of ad effectiveness. Listening to them just makes me feel obese.

The Myth of Brand Stories

Of what importance are brand stories? They don't exist. What brand stories can you, the consumer, recite with the ease of a nursury rhyme? And how does that story - as recited - make the brand relevant to you beyond "I like Coke." Can you tell me the story of Coca-Cola, Marlboro or McDonalds - the world's three most valuable consumer brands? What about Nike, Adidas or Oakley? Can you tell me their brand stories? What about Tide, Crest or Mr. Clean? What is their brand story? Is it that only the people that work in these companies think they have a brand story - or is the brand story just marketing speak? On the fringe of my knowledge is Starbucks. I think Howard Shultz started by purchasing someone else's coffee shop in Seattle - then he gave people the love/hate relationship of "you either like dark roasted coffee or you don't." After that, all of the stores started to look and taste the same way - a la McDonald's." So that's what I know of his story, and I'm in the business! In fact, at one time, during Starbuck's rapid growth phase I owned over 40,000 shares.

Oh, I think some people have a brand story, like the Greenwich Village woman who started a shop selling nothing but french fries and offering 105 different dipping sauces. Yes. She has a brand story that is relevant to her customers that know her on a daily basis. And she earns the appreciative nods of those who read about her success. Good going. She has a brand. It is her and her store. But Betty Crocker? Come on, give me a break.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Tesco's FRESH & EASY US Expansion Plan Lacks Personality

With stores that appear to be a cross between a Smart & Final and an AM PM convenience store containing generically their own branded items, British retailer Tesco's US expansion plans seem off the mark. The concept is unclear. I don't get it.

Invited to one of their store's latest grand openings I had an opportunity to query southern California's Regional Manager about the firm's concept. Either unwilling or unable to explain the idea I departed more than certain that this was not "The Neighborhood Market" the company's materials proclaim. You have to be friendly, especially if you are the boss.

The store also sells and sends mixed signals. Dropped in family neighborhoods I found shelves stacked with 2-pack potatos more suited for empty nesters and samples of staple macaroni and cheese to be so bland as to turn off young Kraft and organic addicts. Little loaves of bread sold for a buck but only contained enough slices for about 2 and 1/2 sandwiches. The food's not good (performance flavor profiles are off), it is mis-packaged versus target audience needs and the management's tight lipped. With first hour sales of $3,600, I expect initial average tickets around $38 during early trial rush, tapering down to $28 as age sets in. A far cry from industry standards and the mark required to cover overhead. Staples such as meat are way to expensive and deals appeared few.

Life expectancy from one who assisted in the US expansion of companies such as Entenmann's and Fererro USA...less than 24 months, about the same as Tesco's CEO and CMO on this venture.

Calle Charitable Trust

Greenwich, CT - The Calle Charitable Trust has acquired the work of Beate Gutschow. Beate G├╝tschow's landscape series: LS/S, (Aperture, October 2007) is copublished with the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Columbia College Chicago - bolstering the trust's holdings of leading contemporary plein aire artists including DeMateo and William Glenn Crooks.

The Schmucking of America - "Hey Dumb Ass, This Loan's For You!"

"When you give food to the poor, they call you a saint. When you ask why the poor have no food, they call you a communist."
-- Archbishop Helder Camara

"Hey dumbass, this loan's for you!"

Go ahead, have a Bud. In fact, have a six-pack and numb your mind. You've earned it after complaining about your job all day. But you know what J.O.B. stands for don't you? "Just Over Broke" So God Damn It! You deserve something! So you've screwed yourself, and America, while politicians want you to continue to believe that they can somehow fix it when the power is, and always was ONLY in your hands. So stop building a house of straw or grass. That's what the three little pigs did.

Our forefathers, the pioneers who settled America, had the good sense to build their cabins, and camp each night, on high ground. That way, when it rained, they would not be washed out in a flash flood or have their home swept away when the river overflowed its banks due to storms. But now, the subprime leading mess - caused by lack standards all around yet again demonstrates that we've blacktoped our survival skills. Go ahead. Rebuild New Orleans. Daniel Boone would have had the common sense to move the entire city upstream.

A nation that escapes reality via the Simpsons each night no longer has the sense or discipline to stop buying things it can't afford - and when it does, it does so with stupidity. The largest purchases of you lives, and you plunk it down with fake money derived by lying on your no doc easy doc loans, and when you loose it, the government will give you a new tit to suck on. Like a rat in a cage, you will push the peddle to get the dribbles of sugar water produced by the tube whenever we want it - and to keep your bitchy keep up with the jones lifestyle wife off your back - oh wait, I forgot, that is of course if you have the tenacity, accountability and responsibility to stay married and not fuck your kids with a broken household.

We don't have to look past the peddle, we just need to know that pressing it gives us sugar water. Dumb ass. Hey dumb schmuck, your life takes Visa. And MasterCard's squeezing your balls so hard you can hardly stand it. But their CEO's laughing all the way to the bank. You are an idiot, American and we've got it wrong. Others don't hate us, the loathe us because we are ignorant and incapable of making a decision beyond what type of processed tummy filler goes in our mouth tonight. Stop pressing the sugar peddle.

I was listening to KFI's Bill Handel's morning rant on the subprime crisis, that the government is now going to bail out the idiots in foreclosure who didn't know to build their camp on high ground. Why did the pioneers do this? Because when they bought their supplies for the journey west, no one would give them credit. Chances are, they were not coming back. So the pioneers valued every single extra ounce of flour, sugar, salt or water they could carry. Not a morsel was wasted - unlike today's Americans who willingly pay 30 cents more per gallon of gas when a cheaper station is across the street, simply because they are too lazy to wait at the light or make a U-turn.

Yes American. We bail you out with our tax dollars not because we are a compasionate people but because lenders sold your shakey ass loan to international investors from whom we now buy oil. They now own our ass - able to rape us when you are the one who dropped our drawers. Boy, are we between a rock and a hard place.

This isn't about voting Republicans, or Democrats. It's about smartening up. Wake up. Get on the gold standard and stop buying more than you can afford. THAT IS HOW YOU PROTECT THE AMERICAN LIFESTYLE! Go to work without antiperspirant and watch! Within weeks the most expensive brands will fall below a dollar and brands such as Axe will get the ax because our kids will have far more important things on their minds - like how not to repreat the mistakes of their dumbed and numbed parents - no matter which house they live in. But for now, we are an idiot nation. Stop listening to marketers and start making choices.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Marketing Democracy or The Theft of Democracy

What's wrong with all of the presidential candidates? What's wrong with the presidential campaign? What's wrong with the fact that our choices are nothing more than the lesser of two evils? What's wrong is that among all the presidential candidates, there are no presidents. What's wrong is that they all want to be president of the united states just a little too much. What's wrong is that in stead of being supporters we as a population have become little more than candidate groupies. It's a much less demanding task. With Hilary Clinton's campaign managers repeatedly spiking debates with seeded questions I wouldn't wonder if her New Hampshire headquarters bomb threat the other day was also staged to enable Hilary to appear more presidential. That's the theft of democracy. What's smart is that she's positioning herself and running a "competence" campaign. That's an interesting selling dimension in that it enables her to sidestep issue gaffs and mud slinging while she differentiates herself in a way that effectively derails her competitors. Now I don't have a problem with Obama saying he's wanted to be president since the third grade but where are those reluctant "citizen candidates" a k a George Washington, who made it to the top seat all the while expressing the fact that they didn't want to be president. The world is not so complex that this person could not succeed. The challenge would be an ability to work with our own political machine. But remember the roots of american politics. Being a politician was not intended to be a career activity. It's just that those in office now perverted our government that way. The result is the theft of democracy from a people who will remain content as long as there's room on their credit card so that they can continue to live beyond their means (as does our government) and as long as sufficient entertainment exists on television, the internet and via gaming to keep the senses numb.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Blurred Vision or Multicultural Marketing

Visually stunning take on ham-handed multicultural marketing, emotional, social or behavioral targeting - though not the intent of the artist. If you did a composite sketch of those you hit with current techniques it would be something like this.

Sharp Thought

Don't you wish it was this easy? Don't you wish you had a bottle of these you could give to others? Is rubbing a lamp equally effective? Order some for those in need today! Follow the link and scroll way down for more information.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Multi-Cultural Marketing II - The Thumb Tribe

Remember the other day I was saying that it's not sufficient to target cultures such as African Americans or Asians and consider the matter of multi-cultural marketing concluded? But of course it is concluded because marketers generally draw the line where media properties end, and for example, for African Americans, they end with television such as BET - the Black Entertainment Network, etc. But there are cultures, pervasive cultures within the cultures - that marketers never explore. They've never heard of them. Yet it is these cultures within the cultures that influence us all - hence we call them "Culturally Influential Consumer Groups."

The first I mentioned was "Walking Actors," the 1/2 of the US population employed by service and information based industry - hence their need for products and services that make them a better them - a huge chunk of the population that's little understood.

Now I'd like to introduce you to another "Culturally Influential 'Developmental' Consumer Group" we can recruit for use in developing new products, services, positioning strategies, media properties, content, etc.

Let's call them the 'THUMB TRIBE' referring to the masses of young people around the world that use mobile phones for texting, email, entertainment and mobile phone conversations. They've grown up in a world that is dynamically different from the one we lived in. What kind of cars do they want? And what gadgets? They don't even use computers - computers now percieved as going the way of B&W television. At what point do their childhood toys and t'ween technology devices merge? And what future outcomes do they, and marketer-manufacturers expect?

Jonesing For Insight

I got caught up in a thread the other day with an insight company (WPP Group's 'Added Value' - "with 21 locations worldwide") hired by the Ford Motor Company whose findings indicated that images of crumpled Ford F-150 pickups in ads caused consumers emotional "anxiety." NO SHIT! So do images of jerks with green teeth and Appalachian accents kicking little dogs, hillbilly's having anal sex, children being abused and corporate chefs cooking up processed concoctions sold in the shelf stable portions of grocery stores. You actually have to pay someone to know this shit?! THIS is not "INSIGHT." It is 'trivial pursuit' by an industry whose leading executives confirm that despite solid balance sheets and healthy bottom lines they don't know where their growth will come from. No wonder FORD, CHRYSLER and GM hemmorage money and squander opportunities to bolster consumer perception while the ad industry comes under such heavy fire.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Potential Client Bites Potential Agency - Again

I have a weak spot for people who run agencies like Peter Madden, who posted a request for professionalism in Advertising Age Magazine's Small Agency Diary. Yet again, here's a young agency leader, and probably brilliant, who reached for the brass ring, poured out his heart and best ideas - only to watch the client whore walk away. I hope he follows my advice. I wrote:

Don't do a damn thing until the CEO or the appointed operative shows you the money. You're far more desired, and appealing when you remain aloof - of course the bluff is that you have to be willing to loose the ranch. We solicit proposals rather than waiting for RFP's. We develop relationships with decision makers. Once a proposal is submitted, it can take months, or days, for the client to pull the trigger. Ramp up time is two weeks to develop creative, do some homework with consumers and deliver a needle mover within 8-12 weeks. We bill half our management fee plus all expenses up front before any deliverable is in sight. Have been in business since 1927 and recognized as the creator of brands such as Cold-filtered Miller Genuine Draft, Tylenol Gelcaps and more. Turn around Wheaties and increased distribution 24%. Restaged Pampers as a "developmental" product for the first time in 1982 and gained $1 billion in traction versus Kimberly-Clark for P&G - not to mention making caffeinne the best part of waking up.

Martin CalleChief Marketing OfficerCalle & Company AVENUE Blog

Multicultural Marketing - How To Beat Your Media Dependence and Sell More Product

If you're Procter & Gamble or Google and into multicultural marketing are you getting the biggest bang for the buck targeting African Americans, Hispanic, Caucasian or Asian communities as multicultural audiences? Are you really getting your point across to these macro-targets when the cultures themselves are composed of over 250 other distinct and seperate "Culturally Influential Consumer Groups." You can segment these cultures by emotional insights, demographics, ethnic diversity, social, attitudinal, psychographic profiles and online behavior via traditional and SEM media products; You can throw the latest buzz groups - Millenials, Devouts, Thrivals, Boomers, T'weens, Gen X & Yers, Early Adapters, Late Adapters, heavy users, trier/rejectors and those who 'cocoon' into the mix but unless you speak with the 250 "Culturally Influential Developmental Consumer Audiences" within, you'll never truly put your finger on the pulse of your target audience.

For example, every one of the target audiences above is composed in part of "Walking Actors" - men and women who because of their occupation or lifestyle have to come in contact with an above average number of people everyday. For this reason they are more concerned with the cars they drive and the statements that they make; the clothes they wear and how they feel other people subsequently perceive them - confidence - is it internal or external; the foods and beverages they consume and how consumption affects their performance each day. With over half the people employed today working in service and information driven industries, over half of us all are to some extent a walking actor whether we admit it or not. That's the culture you target to hit the multicultural marketing genie on the head.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


I read with disbelief questions swirling amongst C-level execs and trade magazines such as Advertising Age asking if the CMO or marketing department should be held responsible for company performance. DOH! Are we now trying to dumb down marketing and advertising even more - lowering the bar to the point that no one has to accept responsibility for one's actions?

I believe that the life expectancy of today's CMO is less than 24 months because they've lost the art of finding product-based strategic solutions in favor of implementing a new media SEM, social or behavioral targeting fix. So here's the test. I don't want to know what the answer is, or what you think the answer is: I want to know how you'd go about finding an answer to the following problem.

YOU WAKE UP TODAY AS THE CMO OF KOHLER and/or PROCTER & GAMBLE'S CHARMIN BRAND. You find that due to exhausted water supplies, American's can no longer use toilet bowls and tanks in their homes. This is not a temporary conservation condition. It is now permanent. To keep your company afloat (Kohler) and your brand alive (Charmin) what steps would you take to learn what to offer consumers as alternatives in personal hygiene? Remember, they use their left hands in certain parts of Asia and Mrs. Bidet has already been introduced. Neither are suitable solutions so licensing is out.

What steps would you take, what processes would you employ to learn what consumers want before they are able to articulate the need?

Monday, November 26, 2007

WPP Shop Tries to Rewrite Research

So this image caused viewer anxiety. You had to do research to figure out crumpled cars bother people? If you're a parent I bet you don't like movies or shows depicting abused or hurt children either. That's what's wrong with research. It only reconfirms the things you already know! Rather than evaluate what consumers think about a brand, the WPP Group company's new market-research tool, Emotional Brand Connection (Kantar Group's Added Value unit) looks at how consumers think the brand will make them feel.

First problem with this approach: "when you ask consumers questions you do not get the voice of the consumer, you get the voice of the inquirer through the question being asked - a form of bias that will lead you astray."

Next, if you don't stimulate consumer minds to think beyond the realm of their current existance they will only reconfirm what you, and they, already know, which will leave your startegy and execution a day late and pound short.

Where was I with my Ford SUV? Where was I with my Ford Taurus? My Expedition? The answer to both is "with my family" "on the way to grandma's house" "over the rivers and through the woods" to the mall or to the grocery store we go. Does it really matter?

The picture's the same - and insight this is... not. It's like showing people pictures of bankers in flannel shirts and blue jeans versus starched white shirts and suits. Obviously the suits work at Wells Fargo while the flannel shirts work for Seattle's Washington Mutual. ConAgra's Swift-Eckrich smoked sausages had the same perception problems versus the flannel shod farmers at Kahn's/Hillshire Farm.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Farewell Mr. Whipple

Dick Wilson, THE character actor who turned "Please don't squeeze the Charmin" into a national catchphrase as exasperated shopkeeper Mr. Whipple in the TV commercial campaign that ran for more than two decades, has died. He was 91.

He was also one of the last great pitchmen to get it right - reinforcing the message that Charmin was "soft" a product feature with multiple benefits that later took the category's back burner as consumers looked beyont cost-of-entry softness to hygiene in their sanitary products. Similarly, disposable diapers moved from keeping babies drier to enabling the Pampers brand to expand the franchise by first focusing on a newborn and infant's 'development' into toddlerhood with Pampers Phases Developmental Diapers created by Calle & Company in 1982.

For me, as an advertiser, the sadness in Mr. Whipple's passage is that we have gone from pitchmen with a product-based punchline drilling a product, brand or category's features home - to adpeople raised on television and internet (viral) entertainment who now strive to create ads that do little more than that - and ignoring a product's reason for being as a persuader.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Eric J. Henderson, Director-Account Management, Common Ground Marketing

If as many people reached out as does CommonGround's Account Director Eric Henderson, the human experience would be a much nicer trip. He sent me a letter dated 7 November, 2007.

"Mr. Calle: I just wanted to thank you for your commenting on our post in the [Ad Age Magazine] Small Agency Diary, "Don't Let ROI Mean Removal of Innovation." We write what we believe first. Secondly, we do hope to start real discussions and appreciate what we learn when certain people contribute. Your comment got us to talking/thinking. Much peace, Eric J. Henderson"

I think I'd work for Eric either for free or for food. Thank you Eric. That was nice and heartfelt. APPRECIATED. - Martin

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Gary Bembridge of Unleashed on Marketing Blog

I have a new friend in the UK - Gary Bembridge who writes Unleashed on Marketing Blog. With 25 years CPG experience Gary writes with wisdom. Go visit!

Winning the New-Products Game

Know What Kills an Innovation Ahead of Time and Dodge Failures

It's been a long time coming but finally someone else has finally figured out the new products game. What's even better, he uses examples and brands that hired me to get them over the humps mentioned - so I know he's got it right. Cal Hodock is managing partner of Hodock Group, a product-marketing agency, and professor of marketing at Berkeley College and adjunct professor of advertising at New York University. But like a lot of academicians, he can describe the problem. Does he have a process delivering reproducable results a company can use? And what is it? I am reprinting his article from Ad Age here, because I don't want to lose it.

New products are a high-risk game; failures widely outnumber successes. Of course, failure can be a rich instructional tool, provided that we learn from our mistakes. American business, however, continues to make the same mistakes over and over as it brings new products to market. Ninety percent of new products in America fail.

Out this month: Calvin Hodock's 'Why Smart Companies Do Dumb Things' (Prometheus Books)

Each year, an estimated $20 billion to $30 billion is lost on failed food products alone. Look no further than would-be breakfast beverage Gatorade A.M., launched earlier this year. If Pepsi opened up the filing cabinets of history, it would have seen that it had already tried and failed with Pepsi A.M. in the late 1980s. Coffee is our morning drink, reinforced by Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, McDonald's and the corner diner. This is a culture war neither brand could win. Those who forget their history are condemned to repeat their mistakes. The eight basic mistakes listed here are real. Our rules for CMOs, meanwhile, are varied. Some are easy to implement. Others are tougher. As the old Iowa farmer said, "Talk is cheap, but it takes money to buy whiskey." Innovation is the engine of growth. The engine needs a tuneup.

EIGHT RECURRING ERRORS IN NEW-PRODUCT FAILURES1. Marketing misjudgementProcter & Gamble stumbled going up the Citrus Hill in 1983. Smart marketing managers mistakenly thought they had identified a key dynamic: Citrus Hill was a better-tasting orange juice. Taste buds didn't count. They got beaten on the battlefield of trade promotions. Two cartons for $5 was what orange-juice lovers really wanted. P&G pulled the plug on Citrus Hill in 1992. 2. Positioning poisonThis can be defined as much ado about nothing with insignificant product positioning -- think dry beer from Anheuser-Busch or Bayer Women's, a combination aspirin and calcium tablet. Both are solutions to problems America does not have. This also can be positioning that confuses the consumer, or when the positioning benefit and the product are not in sync. 3. Dead-on-arrival productThink of the Pontiac Aztek, possibly the ugliest car ever; Vioxx, a pain reliever with the potential to cause heart attacks and strokes; blue and chocolate french fries, introduced by the Oreida unit of Heinz; and the X-Type, a cheap Jaguar that looks like a Taurus. Enough said. 4. Competitive delusionBe careful not to underestimate the competitive response. Beware of testosterone brands that are cash cows or sentimental businesses. Quaker Oats, for example, annihilated upstart Total Instant Oatmeal. It was a predictable response from a company that is oatmeal personified and an authentic brand icon in American culture. General Mills blithely ignored that. 5. Defective marketing researchMost failures are heavily researched, but the marketplace votes thumbs down. Much of the activity is justification research. Innovation teams go to research departments and say, "We need to do such and such research to reinforce what we are doing." The researchers morph into obedient wimps. 6. Fatality in frugalityThis is when new products must be marketed with play-and-pay budgets. The cheapskate strategy does not work. Two common examples: skipping research steps to economize and introducing a product with an anemic media budget. 7. Calendar innovationIn the rush to be first, companies can misjudge the market. That's how Motorola blew $6 billion on the failed Iridium phone. There were problems with the product, service and support, but the launch date was sacrosanct. It never sold more than 10% of what it needed to break even. 8. Marketing dishonestyPontiac Aztek research was heavily edited and modified to please General Motors management. The bad taste of Crystal Pepsi was ignored. Two forecasts for Campbell's Souper Combo surfaced -- one predicted failure, and the marketing department disregarded it. Nobody told Apple's CEO that the Newton had more than 1,000 documented bugs at its launch.

EIGHT GUIDELINES TO HELP CMOS IMPROVE THEIR INNOVATION BATTING AVERAGES1. Stamp out marketing amnesiaEstablish a knowledge base of past innovation on a category basis, including both successes and failures. The data and information should be developed and updated by outside sources with no ax to grind. 2. Leverage value-added marketingHire a research director who knows how to develop and steward a value-added research department that has management's respect. Such a person will not be easy to find. In marketing research's embryonic days, pioneers such as Alfred Polite and Ernest Ditcher presented their research findings to boards of directors. Today's market research is often never seen by the board. 3. Challenge assumptionsEvery new-product failure had a rosy sales forecast. Marketing people can, and do, either consciously or unconsciously cook the books with deceptive numbers to make bad new products look good. CMOs must focus on the assumptions behind the numbers and challenge them. Nothing should be taken at face value. Form an alliance with the chief financial officer in this effort. 4. Reinforce the unvarnished truthBefore a CMO reviews a new-product plan, key players -- manufacturing, marketing, finance and marketing research -- must review the plan and verify that the assumptions are correct, balanced and not distorted. Differences must be resolved before the plan moves forward. This mitigates the "creative number crunching" that comes with optimistic assumptions. 5. Press the kill buttonFrederick the Great said, "The mark of a great general is to know when to retreat and how." CMOs must have the courage to kill carefully nourished new products when evidence warrants it. Innovation teams may try to beat the system, because their love is blind. But should we move forward with America's next great new product, Kool-Aid pickles? 6. Assign accountabilityRobert Lutz, GM's styling and design czar, observed that the company had trouble figuring out who was responsible for the ugly Aztek. Accountability is elusive in the innovation game because marketing people are moved around the chessboard too frequently. The new product's champion should follow it out the door at launch, assuming ongoing responsibility for a specified period. 7. Realize that one size does not fit allCorporations assume that any M.B.A. from a top-tier school qualifies for a brief tenure in new products. Nothing could be further from the truth. In the rotation process, too many square-peg brand managers are forced into round holes. CMOs should put only their most creative people in complex new-product positions. 8. Attend ethics boot campThe innovation team should attend ethics boot camp early in the development process. This should include everybody, even the ad agencies. Manipulating the forecast for a new product is unethical. It cheats the shareholders even more than it cheats the public.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Cuervo Launches Black

Saw this seasonal ad [good time to launch spirits] for super premium Cuervo Black on TV. But why must we have yet another beer, wine, ale or otherwise spirits brand launch with the same uninspiring "bar call" strategy attempting to widget their way into consumer habits and practices? This from a category's "undisputed" leader!? I like rum and coke, not cuervo and coke you copy cat dim wits. Go stake out your own turf. And by the way, what research study showed that rum and coke drinkers have a propensity for tequila? Probably none. So I beg to ask, "are you trying to start new consumer behavior (since you probably won't be stealing to many of rum and coke's customers ). If so, you'll need a much more persuasive campaign than this.

No wonder revenues in the industry are flat and executives continue to wonder where new growth will come from. As Casey Stengel said, "Is this as good as it gets? Or is this all you got?"

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Wild Bunch + Company

Singapore's Wild Bunch & Company is the Starbucks of organic juices. Watch out Jamba Juice! I'm looking into a franchise.

MotoLights by Jake Dyson

I wanted these lights in my office, then thought, "Wait! They'd make great flashlights!" Absolutely incredible if you're into "neat junk."

If Only Buick Could Make A Face Like This

The dust has settled on the Tokyo Motor Show, traditionally the outlet for the industry’s most avant-garde predictions.

2007’s debuts didn’t disappoint, although the host country’s penchant for bizarre city cars is starting to look rather less eccentric as public perception shifts in their favour.

Friday, November 09, 2007

AGENCIES: Are You Filling Prescriptions or Curing What Ails?

I like Mark Brownstein's question at Advertising Age Magazine's Small Agency Diary. Though many left comments as to the importance of diagnosing client problems and responding with appropriate strategies and ideas, no one said anything about how to do it. Try this!

Calle & Company's ASSAYS® are innovative consumer-creation learning circles not based on asking questions. ASSAYS provide your consumer groups with 10,000 incredibly comprehensive, highly creative, and consumer-appealing product-based thought-leadership selling solutions instead. Taking yourself and the yoke of your company's belief systems out of the loop - clean sheets of paper are the order of the day here. You become the blank slate on which consumers create, invent and indelibly etch their new impressions and perceptions - massive foresight enables you to articulate what consumers really want before normal humans, a focus group moderator, or anyone else can articulate the need.

Why do we NOT base "KNOWLEDGE CREATION" for greater strategies and ideas on questions?

1) Question-based marketing knowledge is full of pitfalls and poor traditions.

2) As Atticus Finch says in To Kill A Mockingbird, "You can't ask a question you don't already know the answer to" which is why research so often only confirms what we already know.

3) When you ask consumers questions, you don't get the "voice of the consumer," you get the "voice of the inquirer" through the question being asked - a form of bias that will lead you astray.
4) When asking questions you get answers about things that have already happened. By default, your strategy and execution will be a day late and a pound short. You will be caught reacting, not proacting.
5) When asking questions ask, "Where did the consumers you are talking to come from?" In focus groups, the majority of respondents are "database" consumers - paid professionals who, though screened, supplement their income with market research. If you are gathering any/all other data from consumers remember that without additional provided mental stimuli, they are unable to respond beyond the scope of their personal experience. This results in the saying, "The problem with advertising today is that advertising has fallen to the level of the people who watch it, which is why we click or surf through it."

6) All other "ideation" processes are offshoots of large quantitative research companies such as AcuPoll or BASES. Hiring them is like hiring the fox to watch the chicken coup. But, the interesting fact is, that in spite of all the business they get in the consumer packaged goods industry - the largest consumer of this sort of thing - client's revenues remain flat, with executives wondering where their growth will come from. So I guess we still have not found the consumer-source for bigger, better ideas.

Interesting? More interesting still is that most agencies do no homework at all and just shoot from the hip and their own personal experience - just like consumers described above. So who named you KNOWLEDGE ALMIGHTY? I learned long ago not to inject any of myself into a client's strategy or process. I let consumers shoulder the whole load and more results ended up in Annual Reports and Cannes reels be the client Gold Bond Powder or Procter & Gamble.
Do some homework! For more information about ASSAYS contact Calle & Company at

Volkswagen and Volvo Play Musical Execs

Volkswagen Taps Volvo's Ellis as VP-Marketing

At what point does one stop and realize that these people and the experience they bring are as interchangably commoditized as the brands on which they work? This was a question posed to me by the head of HR at one of the world's premier sports, performance and style companies following his return from a major HR conference on the same topic. Didn't Pepsi just replace Dawn Hudson here too? She's another ad exec slotted for marketing by a manufacturer who wanted to make ads on the cheap who ended up with domestic sales down 7%. Just like ConAgra reairing ancient Wesson and Orville ads to save a production buck. They don't care about their ads. If they did, they'd care about their brands. Instead, they're just pretend branders. Same things gonna happen here for sure.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Forget Focus Groups. B-52 of Qualitative Industry Set For Retirement

Introducing Calle & Company's ASSAYS® - the Consumer Packaged Goods Industry's Premier Consumer Learning Experience.

As the consumer products industry decommissions its fleet of focus group facilities you will have to find an alternative source for quick, more creative and accurate consumer learning. Why is the focus group being decommissioned by the likes of Procter & Gamble? Because you can't get tomorrow's business results with yesterday's business practices. Success in today's innovation driven CMO thought leadership environment requires something far different and more agile.

After forty years of focus group immersion, business management experts couldn't agree more acknowledging focus groups are headed for the business boneyard. Because of their presence in leading consumer packaged goods companies, McKinsey, Bain, Boston Consulting, Booz Allen and Calle Company make a well-positioned assessment reporting that despite solid balance sheets and healthy profit margins in the US $2 trillion consumer packaged goods industry (the focus group's principal consumer) revenues are flat (a trend lasting decades) and executives are wondering where new growth will come from. So focus groups are no longer the consumer learning experience once revered during their 1970's heyday - but hey, that's when focus groups were new and marketers didn't know things.

What's wrong with focus groups? Plenty.

Focus Groups are based on yesterday's "question-based marketing" data acquisition and measurement approach - methodologies fraught with pitfalls and poor traditions. For starters,

1)To steal a line from attorney Atticus Finch in To Kill A Mockingbird, "You can't ask a question you don't already know the answer to" which is why so much research only reconfirms the things that you already know (boring and not creative) - resulting in your reinvention of other people's light bulbs and wheels.

2)Next, by default, whenever you ask a question, the answer comes AFTER something else has already happened. By default you will be a day late and a pound short - caught reacting to something that's already been done rather than being proactive and innovative.

3)You can't ask the right question. Because whenever you ask a question you don't get "the voice of the consumer" you get the voice of the inquirer through the question being asked, a form of bias that has always led marketers astray - pontificating to themselves, about themselves and wondering why their positioning, marketing, advertising or new product isn't more effective.

Calle & Company's ASSAYS® are innovative consumer learning circles not based on asking questions. ASSAYS provide your consumer groups with 10,000 incredibly comprehensive, highly creative, and consumer-appealing product-based thought-leadership selling solutions instead. Taking yourself and the yoke of your company's belief systems out of the loop - clean sheets of paper are the order of the day here. You become the blank slate on which consumers create, invent and indelibly etch their new impressions and perceptions - massive foresight enabling you to articulate what consumers really want before normal humans, a focus group moderator, or anyone else can articulate the need.

To learn more about ASSAYS ® Consumer-Creative ® Invention Circles contact Calle & Company at, or dial 714 244 9511.

Why "BRANDING" Goes In One Ear and Out The Other

John Jantsch posted his "Definition of Branding" on Duct Tape Marketing today - which always gets my blood boiling. No, not that John wrote something, but because today's branding practitioners have so fouled up the art. Here's my take.

In an age where consumer packaged goods have become commodities, top executives wonder where their growth will come from and short-lived CMOs spend more time chasing consumer ears and eyeballs deep into new media forests, I had a President at Procter & Gamble tell me that he thought branding was something you did when you didn't have anything important to say about your product. In my book, a "brand" is just something that someone started that caught on. Then "marketers" contribute to its obesity and kill it. And I have foundthis to be more true than false across the industry over the last 45 years when you consider companies such as Blue Cross and Blue Shield "brand" themselves with slogans such as "Discover The Power of Blue." Gee. I thought that was IBM. How is that "likable, knowable and trustable?" Simple? Yes? Easy to remember? Yes? Unquestionable? Debatable. But the problem with branding today, like advertising, is that it has fallen to the level of the people it targets, which is why it transmits right through us - in one ear and out the other.
So what should you do? Indelibly etch your impression on your consumer with a highly-differentiating and consumer-desired product-based selling dimension. I provide consumers over 10,000 comprehensive datapoints (product dimensions, product potentials, USPs or whatever you want to call them) in homework projects that frequently define breakthrough Special User Effects (tm).

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

How Marketing and Advertising Screws The Pooch

We like to think that everyday marketing and advertising gets better and better. As marketers, we accumulate more knowledge and experience. We get a promotion. We hire and manage direct reports. More people give us more things to do. We become busy - and full of ourselves, right?

But marketing and advertising, since the inception of television, the first mass advertising medium hasn't gotten better. It's gotten worse, a lot worse. And here's why and how. Have you ever played the game where you whispered something in some one's ear, and then they whisper it into the ear of the next person, and they to the next and the next and so on, until the last person says the secret he or she just heard? The fun part is that the end result never matches the original phrase. And down the years, that's what's happened to marketing and advertising. Consider this. The original instincts of the first televised mass marketers were typically correct. They were exceptionally good at finding highly differentiating product-based selling solutions - what Rosser Reeves called USP's - or what I call Special User Effects. But over the years, the whispered message changed, softened, became impotent. Sales intent fell victim to the antagonists of awareness, recognition and buzz as if sales and the later three were synonymous until categories ultimately became commodities and business schools churned out future CMOs and CEOs believing that markets were becoming increasingly complex and segmented and that their salvation would lay in chasing the new media's consumer ears and eyeballs. Hey guys you got it all wrong. You have to remember that making you believe that all of these different consumer segments exist is so that their purveyors can make their next car payment. You have to chase consumer ears and eyeballs, not because "that's marketing and advertising," but because that's the way media, strategy, research, trend and innovation guys all make their mortgage payments. They make it all up in their heads sitting in closets on Friday afternoons. Think I'm full of shit? Well remember, my family invented the game founding the first TV station CBS in NYC. Before it was "a network" it was just a low power one city "experiment" and we made all of this stuff up to make people believe in the need to use the new mass media. Billions were to be made and we had to "convince" people like print mad man David Ogilvy to "try" the new mass media for the very first time. He preferred print.

But my bottom line here is that you should go with your instincts - first instincts. Not those of today, but the instincts of those who started the industry. Their first impressions of how to reach people was and remains correct but unpracticed today as the whisper got fainter and fainter and increasingly distorted. Marketers have not made marketing and advertising better. They have watered it down, like a muscle, it has gotten weaker because we don't use it. It takes thought we don't have time for today - which is why I say marketers today try to do with [new media and technology] brawn what we used to do with brain and finesse. Miller strikes Anheuser-Busch feigning a new beer war, Crispin Porter + Bogusky looses ConAgra but shoots from the hip and gives us Orville Dedenbacher. The evidence is all around us - which is why so much more advertising is forgotten than remembered.
No matter where you are in your management and marketing career remember. Your grandfather had a farm. Your dad had a garden. And you got a can opener. You are practicing marketing and management with can opener practices past along from the last can opener's owner. And this is why we have a problem with advertising today. It's fallen to the level of the people who watch it, which is why we click through it.

Miller Brewing Limps Into Battle - Beer Wars Off To An Impotent Start With A Desperate Stretch

Give me a break. Miller using Dalamtions (a spoof on A-B Super Bowl ads? Don't they know more advertising is forgotten than remembered) to "nip at Bud Lite's heels." The first shot in a new beer war should have been some real trash talk like, "Yo momma's breaths so bad her man Bud got wizer and split."

Here's the 411. This is about the most useless ad worth watching that was ever created. How many of us ever actually saw our girlfriends get into another boy's car. The angst between beer, love and girl is such a disconnected thread that only a beer marketer could conceive it in his or her wildest dream. AND IT'S A MALE DOG, SO NOW WE'RE TALKING GAY! Miller and agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty blow chunks every way imaginable here.
This battle has no intensity. Everything about the effort says executives at Miller and Bud (hey, maybe they should start a sports restaurant called "Miller and Bud's" - let's be friends not enemy's since we're all sold at the same places anyway - you heard it hear first - "that's strategy") met on the golf course and decided to start a little contrived (remember what I say, the problem with most ads today is that they are either too obvious or too contrived) conflageration to help some advertising and media buddies in need make their next car payments.
These are the kinds of things you do when you're Miller and don't have something important to say about your product. They need a more highly consumer-desired and differentiating reason-for-being. Trading shots across the bow to generate buzz is about the same as Crispin Porter + Bogusky shooting from the hip with Orville Dedenbacher. What a useless way to waste money. How many people is Miller helping to make car payments with this campaign in relation to incremental beer sales. These guys aren't even good trash talkers. "Keep up the bad work!?"

Give me a break. That copy is not even worth the back page of USA Today's sports section.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Pepsi-Cola Chief Dawn Hudson Exits Following Reorg

Food-and-Beverage Giant Dissatisfied as North America Weakens

And it's about time. Dawn Hudson and Indra Nooyi knew long ago, exactly at the time I created the concept of Baked Lays Potato Chips (sold $310 million in first ten months domestically) that in the US people want a combination of high health and high pleasure in foods, positioning and communications messaging. What's healthier than fried chips? Baked Chips. Which chips are most fun? Lays. So there it is. Baked Lays. I did the same combination creating Healthy Choice in the early eighties for ConAgra when I learned this adroit truth for the first time - supplying the agency creatives with the ammunition they needed to launch a multi-billion dollar brand. But Dawn's major US initiative was "health and wellness" headed up by VP fiend Patty Wolff. So given that they already had the answer, how'd they miss the boat? Blame it on Indra Nooyi. At the time I launched Baked Lays, Indra insisted people just wanted lower calories and less fat. So she launched Wow! Chips with olestra (a P&G supplier idea) that couldn't even fill the pipeline with $29 million worth of product. And in beverages, they just keep slipping below the zero calorie line. Can you have a beverage that provides negative calories? That's part of identifying future consumption drivers in soft drinks.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

2007 Halloween Pranks

Halloween was great. I scared the bejeezus out of my eleven year old son and his two best friends by jumping out from behind two trash cans as they went door to door trick or treating. My son can't wait to get even. He's good at it. The sheriff cruised by so we stopped to talk. I told him my son and his two friends were trick or treating on the next street in our gated community. I asked if he'd mind driving over, stopping the boys and asking if they'd seen an older gentleman in a white shirt and khaki pants? There are reports he'd been scaring kids in the neighborhood. Later, as I collected my kids in the car, all three came running to my driver's window in disbelief! Wide-eyed and excited as all get out they told me I was wanted by the sheriff! My wife, our son's friends moms and my daughters laughed our asses off for about twenty minutes. What a great Halloween!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Today's Great Quote

See what happens when you jump to conclusions?
"People will jump to conclusions faster than they will jump to the facts."

Friday, October 19, 2007

Knowledge Takes 25 Years To Reach Procter & Gamble CMO Jim Stengel's Brain

For P&G, Success Lies in More Than Merely a Drier Diaper

Procter & Gamble Global Marketing Officer Jim Stengel talked about consumers, creativity and CMO tenure in an interview in a recent Strategy & Business Reader from Booz Allen Hamilton titled "CMO Thought Leaders: The Rise of the Strategic Marketer." You can access more of his thoughts here ... But here's what I have to say ...

Well Jim, Thanks for hitting the nail on the head...again. Back in 1980 - 1982 Calle & Company was proud to be the very first new product and product positioning company to let Pampers and Procter & Gamble know that disposable diapers didn't just stand for dryness. By pioneering and repositioning Pampers as "Pampers Phases Developmental Diapers" in the very early 1980's we introduced size five to hour glass shaped disposables and convinced moms that being a toddler was just another "phase" in the "development" of a newborn or infant. And that was just the beginning of extending the brand's equity, arresting over $1 billion in toddler migration to Kimberly-Clark Pull-Ups that year. What we found curious was that by the end of the 80's P&G had dumped the initiative, or sent it into hibernation, until recently, apparently rediscovered again.

Home Depot CMO Roger Adams Must Find New Crib

Leaves Retailer After a Year at Top Marketing Post

But the real issue is whether the brand became a brand in demand or a brand in decline during his tenure. The experience of less than one lifetime again claims the life of another CMO. He implemented "emotion" as the change agent?! He focused on "the consumer"?! So did Saturn, and the division, thanks to Hal Riney's shot from the hip has yet to run in the black for General Motors. When will these guys turn to outside help so that they no longer need suffer through learning everything for the first time? Why must one look back and say, "if I only knew then what I know now." Note to CMOs: Turn to Calle & Company for all of your future consumer intelligence.

Miller Bitch Slaps Anheuser-Busch

Brewer's First Ads From Bartle Bogle Take Shots at Bud Light

(More at But the ads remain by products of straight forward problem solving. Guaranteed to entertain but not move the sales needle.

Note to Miller's CEO Tom Long - Dear Tom, Rather than aim between A-B's eyes with brawn, why not beat them with brain and differentiation?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Toyota Recalls 2008 Scions

By making the Scion more of what it is, it ended up being less than what it was. What was once a product on which buyers could paint their personality, the 2008 Scion has become a canvass on which product designers painted their own. Once asked why he employed 47 executives on one client's account, Rosser Reeves replied that it was to stop the client's people from changing things.

The War on Advertising, Continued

The problem with advertising today is that it has fallen to the level of those who watch it, which is why they click through it.

MillerCoors Promises to Underwhelm; Maintain Status Quo

Another linear thinking, straight-forward problem-solving solution ... proving once again that what companies used to do with positioning brain, they now do with business brawn. However, what good is the brawn after the merger if the brain hasn't changed? So what's the point. It's a stretch.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The War on Advertising

Let us not forget that sales, advertising and generating awareness and recognition do not go hand in hand. And, what marketers once accomplished with brain, they now accomplish with brawn. Consumers surf ads because most are either too contrived, or too obvious. A juvenile focus on product features and benefits serve best to keep those earning their first career's worth of experience from making mistakes that will cost bosses their jobs. It also retards the true creativity that makes the whole of a brand greater than the sum of its parts. For example, Chunky Soup wasn't a stew, it was a soup you ate with a fork - thus building an equity Campbell's could manage through the years.

Back in the day, advertising sold stuff. Today, advertising is created to generate awareness and recognition - representing a different goal than "selling." There is nothing wrong with generating awareness and recognition via advertising as long as you realize it sets the bar lower than if the goal was to sell stuff. You must also realize that generating awareness and recognition is agency-speak for, "if you throw enough stuff against the glass some of it might stick." Does this distress some of you to hear this? Do you want to disagree? It should and you will. Remember, I was there at the dividing line. I can pinpoint the date time and location where and when new agency pitches stopped using the word "sales," replacing that word with the lesser goal of just generating "awareness" and "recognition." I had been in over 600 new business pitches prior to that date, and over 900 since - that's over 1500 new business pitches - and the real number is probably higher. Generating awareness and recognition is a far easier target to hit full of lesser promise that gives an agency and client now uncertain of the target to do and say whatever they wish. So in the end advertising chronicals such as Ad Age, AdWeek, BrandWeek and all the rest wonder why consumer packaged goods have become commodities, why retailers (think about that term re TAILERS) now wag the (manufacturer) dog, why agencies are paid less, why agency compensation declines, why agencies must merge to keep their heads above water.... The only cure is to put the promise of sell back into the strategy. To stop trying to be all things to all people and just be who you are. Ask yourself, "what is your product's reason-for-being?" Is your answer the same as everyone elses? Ask yourself, "why is your product focusing on features and benefits, the lowest cost-of-entry common denominators in any category - rather than a higher and more compelling Special User Effect whose whole is greater than the sum of its parts? That is what advertising used to do.

Monday, October 08, 2007

The War on Marketing Strategy

I have never seen Al Ries hand out bad advice until now. He says focus on your category first and your brand second in his Advertising Age Magazine installment. (You Can't Survive If Your Entire Environment Disappears - his words) But - Companies don't often have the muscle, the push or the pull to move a category, so what's Al's agenda? Weaken brands to the point that they must beg for his consulting help? At procter and Gamble we always shot down advertising agency strategies that had a "category" sell because they were too generic and not brand specific enough. (That's always the best, but also the most difficult strategy/answer to find in today's worlds of commodity products - where private labels (ie: Kirkland for example) are just as good as branded items.

Here are a few of my other comments in Ad Age:


I disagree completely. Kodak did a great job selling film pre-digital - when film was relevant. Then digital came along and they did no homework to determine how film might remain relevant in a digital environment. They just followed the digitals and it's tough to lead when you are part of the herd. That was Kodak's mistake. They didn't make a stand. And they may not have ended up like Custer.

At the critical time and unable to find the correct selling/perception/motivation solutions, key Kodak execs like marketing head Andrew Salzman jumped ship for Compaq, and faded from sight - as did the Kodak "memories" equity. They are as easily captured digitally, BUT I think film has not gone the way of the Betamax, I think there is a place for film and creativity just as strong as Apple's found vs. PCs. They just need to do the homework to determine how to say it. (And that's not by staffing with Apple employees) What is their reason-for-being? What Special User Effect (tm) can they transfer to customers who might try film again. There are many trier/rejectors, light and medium users - and I am still one. Those would be great positioning projects. Focus on your brand and the category will take care of itself. Ben Franklin said take care of the minutes and the hours will mind themselves. I believe that should be Kodak's tact. Jibe ho!

Friday, October 05, 2007

The War on Market Research

Qualitative research results indicate the cat is sleeping. Qualitative research results indicate that this is not a cat. It is a chair. Whose perception is correct?

Let's not forget that market research is not a substitute for business creativity. No matter how sophisticated the process, the intent of all "research" is to enable people who don't know something to find out things other people currently do. This gathering and measuring of data is not a substitute for business creativity. You can not "measure" your way to success. It's simply easier to measure what is rather than create or measure what isn't.

Death of an Ad Man

Ken Wheaton in Ad Age (AdAges) asks interesting questions. Why the ad man is a dead species. My take.

The ad man is a dying breed because what companies once did with their brains they now do with brawn. Take an article out of this week's Advertising Age Magazine for example.
Procter & Gamble wants to sue Kimberly-Clark over its ads that show bricks in purported Pampers. Why is Procter & Gamble "Thick as a brick?"

The marketers and management no longer know how to turn lemons into lemonade. Or to poke fun at themselves and have a good time. In essence, they've become the creative morlocks (the race of sub-humanoid creatures that moved underground in that H.G. Wells classic The Time Machine).

Why not just run with the joke started by Kimberly-Clark? Produce a rebuttal ad that replaces the brick with a baby. In the background you hear New York City construction sounds...maybe a few of those famous cat calls too. Then the voice over cuts in on a close up of the baby and says something seemingly apologetic like "Pardon our appearance while under construction." "Pampers." Cute. Cut.

Thinking further, the decline in business creativity also coincides with A.G. Lafley's tenure as Procture & Gamble's Chairman. On his watch retailers (the tail) wagged the dog for the first time in history. Costco so much as told P&G that unless P&G made a special formula Tide for exclusive Costco distribution Costco would not sell P&G detergents in their stores.
An that's the consequence of not being able to create highly differentiated products and product positioning strategies. And there's nothing the linear-thinking, straight-forward problem-solving quant-jocks can do about it until one of them morlocks decides to poke his or her head back into the creative sunlight founded by the earliest "qualitative pioneers". Do a Google search on that term!

There is something else that gets in the way of today's companies use of creativity in business. It's called "Search Satisfaction." People in companies, such as Procter & Gamble's legal/brand marketing brick layers stop looking for better answers once they've found a solution they like. (Hey, let's sue them!) So they don't look any further. Search Satisfaction also afflicts doctors who stop looking for a diagnosis once they've found an answer that fits the symptoms patients present. What's wrong with that? Well....doctors misdiagnose their patients a much higher percentage of the time than anyone wants to admit.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

CMO Strategy: The Death of Differentiation

Want New Products That Get Noticed? Change the Process - by Barry Curewitz

Note to Barry Curewitz: It's easier to measure what is rather than create or measure what isn't. Companies can't "measure success into existance. That's why quant-jocks rule companies and creativity withers on the vine. The rise of qualitative creativity occured over the last 40 years. It's demise came around 1992. Since then it's been the dark ages for business creativity in CPG companies. Try calling 10 up and asking the receptionist to let you speak with, "the leader in charge of innovation driving the growth of the company." You will find that no one knows who that is.

Sitting on the outside looking in, articles such as this by Barry Curewitz of Whole Brain Brand Expansion, (follow link) repeat history. Knowing I personally participated in the development of more than 30 triple-digit topline growth new product and new category initiatives for companies such as Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, Coca-Cola, Frito-Lay and more during the 70s, 80s and 90s frustrates me greatly.

Witnessing the rise of the quant-jocks, linear thinkers and straight-forward problem solvers put the axe to creativity in business during the 90s and first half of this decade. Now even McKinsey admits that despite solid balance sheets, CPG revenues are flat and executives wonder where the growth will come from. So why execute a new study to reconfirm what we already know! There's knowone in the CMO suite that remembers or knows the thrill of insight that comes with the discoveries that escape straight-forward problem-solving.

Calle & Company grew by selling organic topline fuel to companies such as P&G, Coca-Cola and others for years. Even Doug Hall, of Eureka Ranch and American Inventor fame was our client for a number of years at P&G. But creativity died. Even Doug Hall has had to focus on the little fish. Big Companies don't want it. And why? Forget all the research. Old executives don't want new executives displacing them with better ideas.

As reported in this issue of Advertising Age P&G would rather sue KC over diaper ads rather than use the opportunity to turn lemons into lemonade. Companies that used to use brains now only use brawn. Why not flip the brick diaper ads? P&G should produce new ads, replacing the brick with a baby. Put construction sounds in the back ground and have a voice over say for Pampers, "Pardon our appearance. We're under construction." Come on guys. This stuff just isn't that hard.

There is an art to Dimensionalizing products and brands - to differentiate them with "product-based" selling solutions. And I wish to God someone in packaged goods would sit up and take notice.

Diaper Wars 2007

P&G Tosses Its Own 'Brick' at Rival K-C

Charges of False Advertising Leveled at Huggies Brand in Latest Diaper Wars

What these two do with brawn today, they used to do with brain. Faced with toddler migration to KC’s Pull Up diaper pants, we repositioned Pampers as Pampers Phases Developmental Diapers; introducing size 5 to hour glass shaped disposables, we arrested nearly $1 billion in toddler migration to KC that year with a strategy that convinced mom’s being a toddler was just another “phase” in the development of their newborn and infant. And look at our hands, no calluses – but getting brick layer’s hands might help some of P&G’s skin care lines.

But don't throw the baby out with the bath water. Maybe P&G should just run with this, show rebuttal ads with babies in the brick's place on a nice green park lawn. In the background of Central Park you hear the construction sounds of New York City. The voice over cuts in speaking for the diapering parent saying, "Pardon us. We're under construction." This kind of problem was also the impetus for us working with P&G to come up with the best part of waking up for Folgers. The strategy in part deflected career-making lawyers eyeing caffeine as the next nicotine. Come on guys, stop using lawyers and learn how to turn lemons into lemonade!
Don't let the linear-thinker, straight-forward problem solvers lay another brick and win!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

To my friends at, "May the fource be with you." Is that something I can trademark like Pat Riley's "threepeat?"

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Orville Redenbacher Gets New Campaign!

If I'd had more dignity than Crispin Porter + Bogusky, realizing that younger kids always want what older kids have, and had had a crack at handling the Orville Redenbacher account at ConAgra, given that I'd already gained the cultural experience of having worked on brands such as Healthy Choice, Banquet, Butterball, Peter Pan, Wesson Oil, Snack Pack, Hunts Spaghetti Sauce, Swift-Eckrich Meats and various new product assignments over the years, I would have approached the brand this way.

Why did Crispin Porter + Bogusky launch the Orville Dedbacher campaign? Because they could.

Advertising Agency Intellectual Property. Are You Kidding?

Whose Idea Is It, Anyway?
Quit Giving Away Your Biggest Asset

There is a problem protecting an advertising agency's work as Intellectual Property. You can't do it...because most agencies converge on the same positions as their client's category rivals, just saying the same things about their client's products differently - and focusing on the same selling dimensions.

Think I'm wrong? Check it out. Ask yourself, "What is a category?" Answer: A category is a bunch of brands all hanging out on a street corner all doing and saying the same things about themselves differently. If you were not in the category, or "something else," you wouldn't be IN the category.

Classic example: Folgers vs. Maxwell House

Years ago I was called to Procter & Gamble to assess a new, yet to be aired campaign with the global manager of advertising and market research. He unveiled a character named Mrs. Olson who was going to say, "Drink Mountain Grown Folgers. It's the richest kind." Mountain Grown was supposed to be the support point to the contention that Folgers was the "richest kind of coffee." Asked what I thought I said he and P&G were going to loose their shirts because they were just copying Maxwell House and "good to the last drop" by saying the same thing differently. He scoffed and produced research "proving" that this was a highly differentiating top-two box intent-to-purchase campaign.

So I had to break it down for him and all the suits who need things distilled to one word bullet points for powerpoint presentations.

I said look, you say your are the richest kind. The richest kind of what? COFFEE. What about your coffee is the richest kind? THE FLAVOR and AROMA. So for all the MBAs who need things in one word bullet points you are talking about the SENSORY selling dimension. How do foods and beverages look, touch, taste smell and feel.

Now lets look at Maxwell House. They say they're good to the last drop. What's good to the last drop? The COFFEE. What about the coffee is good to the last drop? THE FLAVOR and AROMA. So Maxwell House is talking about the SENSORY selling dimension too. You can't ever copy the leader and beat them. "You have to identify a different selling dimension that is more resonant and relevant to your audience - which is exactly the kind of homework we do."

He didn't listen. The campaign was launched and at the end of the year and at the end of the money not a single incremental pound of Folgers had been sold. I was called back to P&G, this time by the Division President and company Chairman who commissioned our company to do a little proprietary jargon-laden "homework."

By stimulating consumer minds with hundreds of product potentials, consumers began to talk about ground roast coffee in ways the client and agency had not previously heard. Heavy ground roast coffee consumers (the 20% of the audience that account for 85% of the volume) said that they needed their caffeine in the morning "to work and play well with others." Very Dale Carnegie. At work they consumed caffeine in the morning because product usage helped them "show their bosses they saw things other people miss." (Kind of prophetic) Understanding Monday to Friday consumption we inquired about weekends. Respondents stated that if their spouses or girlfriends tried to get them to do or say something before they had their first cup of caffeine, that would start an argument that would last all weekend. They needed the caffeine "to improve the human condition." The synthesis of all this thought led us to state, "We see, the best part of waking up is caffeine in your cup." The brand group went wild. "You can't sell this as a drug!" So we changed the words to the best part of waking up is Folgers in your cup. And that's how Folgers came to own the morning daypart.

Now THAT'S INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY YOU CAN PROTECT because it "differentiates." Rather than focus on taken for granded cost-of-entry SENSORY parameters no one could protect (of course you have to do and be these things) it became far more profitable and effective to focus on the CONTROL selling dimensions pertinent to heavy ground roast coffee consumers. That's the IP!

And in all these year no other GRC brand caught on until recently when Starbucks finally got it with their "THINK EARLIER" campaign. Also control oriented. Now P&G wants to sell the brand. Maybe they can't find an agency to take the business to the next level. I just believe they need to do new homework. The only thing that's happened is that the product and campaign have matured in their lifecycles once again. The brand really hasn't done any homework since 1982. So what's beyond SENSORY and CONTROL? What is relevant and resonant to their heavy user today? There lay the IP.

Martin Calle is an expert witness in marketing and advertising related Intellectual Property matters. As Chief Differentiation Strategist at Calle & Company Martin is currently writing a book for the holidays called "SEARCH SATISFACTION: Why marketers stop looking for better ideas once they find solutions they like."