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.