Wednesday, February 27, 2008

New Cold-Formula Crest With Zinc

The managers at Procter & Gamble are always shopping for new Perceptual Monopolies. They just don't know it because I am the only marketer that uses the term. And why do I do that? Because I am the only person who knows how to do it.

A Google search for the term yields no results. Calle & Company is the only marketing firm on the planet that returns a result among marketing, advertising and sales companies. Perceptual Monopolies.

The managers at Procter & Gamble are also pretty miffed at their inability to take down Colgate's Total. Crest Pro-Health is fraught with perceptual problems that limit consumer acceptance so they're back to square zero looking for a contender.

Google search "Cold-formula Crest" or "Crest with Zinc." You'll obtain zero results if you do an exact word match search with quotation marks around the terms. That means there are no such products in the market and a golden opportunity for the straight-forward problem-solvers at P&G to attack. Perceptual Monopolies.

You can't tell me people don't think differently about their toothbrush when they're sick with the flu. But P&G will all too quickly not do it thinking people will just get a new toothbrush. Boy, when you don't want to do something one excuse is just as good as another.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

How did I get so smart? How do you get smarter?

I was wondering how I got so smart? Then I remembered Greenwich resident and neighbor Oliver Grace telling me, a seven year old boy, "Marty. Marty. Marty. Life is a matter of exposure. The more you expose yourself to, the more successful you'll become, and the more frequent your success."

Well said.

So whenever my dad or I'd get a project from say Procter & Gamble, Kraft or another company to invigorate a brand or create a new product we'd first sit down and list out over 500 dimensions concerning that product that in some way shape or form might impact or influence consumer perception regarding that product. Once that was done, the real work began. Under each dimension; Sensory, form, function, usage, image, price, packaging, delivery system and many others only we'd heard of, we'd bullet point another 500 short phrases per dimension that in some way shape or form might impact or influence consumer perception. When done we'd have amassed about 250,000 phrases - a list that often took over a month to complete. From that list we would select 500 to 1,000 phrases that we would put in front of consumers so that consumers could select the phrases they liked best. At times, we would stay up and argue for more than 72 hours straight over which stimulative phrases should be in the creative stimulus packages presented to consumers and which ones shouldn't. Some of my favorite all time phrases?

"Provides night time tranquility"
- which led us to the invention of NyQuil for Richardson-Vicks.
"A soup you eat with a fork"
-which led us to the invention of Campbell's Chunky Soup.
"Comes in a hard top Marlboro box"
- which led us to the invention of Tic Tac Mints.
"Helps me work and play well with others"
-which led us to reposition Folgers as the best part of waking up.

For the most part, the exercise described above represents and represented far more homework done on the part of a client, for one product or brand, than all of the advertising agencies on Madison Avenue could claim combined - had they worked on that brand. It was a powerful lot of experience.

In this, we became adept, preeminant at finding product-based problem-solving selling solutions for a wide range of marketers asking questions.

1) How do you keep Marlboro smokers in the Philip Morris franchise once they decide to switch to a competitor's brand?

2) What are the future consumption drivers in soft drinks?

3) When does a candy bar stop becoming a candy bar and start becoming a cookie?

To date, I've participated in the development of millions of stimulative phrases - short 5 to 7 word statements that pass the consumer test, " If a product did or said that about itself I would try that product once - and if I tried it and liked it - I'd buy the product again."

This process remains, to this day, the fastest way to innovate in any category.

1) It enabled Wheaties to increase distribution 24% and win an award as The Year's Best Repositioned Brand from Advertising Age Magazine.

2) It enabled Breyers to set record profit and volume featured in Kraft's Annual Report.

3) It enabled Tylenol to resucitate the 92% of capsule segment sales lost to cyanide tampering with the invention of Tylenol Gelcaps - the first inherently tamper-proof capsule.

So I ask you, what company wouldn't benefit from having a dose of this creativity applied to their business?

Monday, February 25, 2008

New Cold Formula LISTERINE with ZINC

What I'd launch if I was them? New COLD FORMULA LISTERINE WITH ZINC. No. It doesn't exist yet, but a current bout with the flu grunge guarantees I'd buy this line extension new product.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

OTC Cold Symptom Remedies

I am such a believer in the power of positive thinking to stave off the onset of colds and flu or to reduce the severity of both that I find it difficult to believe that not a single otc cold symptom relief brand harnesses the power of positive thinking in its ads. "Here is the brand that gives you a better outlook on things, a better attitude." Now the lawyers would say that couldn't be done. They said the same thing when we devised Folger's, "The best part of waking up is caffienne in your cup." The censors said we couldn't sell a drug so we simply replaced the word 'caffienne' with the word 'Folgers'. Heavy ground roast coffee consumers related and drove the brand to number one. But I know why the otc companies really don't want to more substantively differentiate their product from rival's. They don't want to take the time or spend the money to do the homework. They feel their advertising agency should do this for free - which they do - but they do it without doing any homework opting instead to sit around and brainstorm in their office the old-fashioned Darren Stevens way on Bewitched. Categories and their customers have become too sophisticated for that, yet the commodity symptom relief advertising persists year after year and brand positions remain unchanged as greedy CEOs await the next technological breakthrough to drive their business forward. Why not just do the homework and get the job done now? Instead, next season we just might see an ad agency making Samantha Steven's infamous nose wiggle the trademark of their client's advertising. Different ways of handling itchy drippy noses. Wouldn't Tabatha's nose wiggle be cute?

Friday, February 15, 2008


A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him.
- David Brinkley

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Bud Lite Copies Miller Chill Salt and Lime

You know what's so boring about blogging. The fact that marketers never do anything different. You could have had the same story ten years ago, and the only thing that would be different would be the names of the products and the names of the people copying each other. Is this what they teach in business school, or after, in business. Where I went to school, you always flunked when you copied. Why is this lesson now lost?

I don't know what Budweiser's VP, Innovation Pat McGauley and VP-Trademark Brands Dan McHugh's are talking about regarding this product launch. Nothing about research is "extensive." It just takes you up to where the road ends. People then stop their search for the trump card when the price gets higher - the cost of doing more profitable homework. (The saying goes, "People stop chasing their dreams when the price gets too high.")

Why copy Miller? Go past them. That's what Miller Brewing's New Ventures Director Dave Krishock and I did back in the day. While Budweiser was busy chasing another phantom called 'dry beer' Dave and I discovered the concept of Cold-filtered Miller Genuine Draft instead - now the most popular brand in Miller's portfolio.
A product launch worth spending time on would net 10-20 share, not the .3 to .5% sought here. Maybe that's why McKinsey & Company reports that despite solid balance sheets and healthy bottom lines the CPG industry has lost its glow and the executives in it are wondering where their growth will come from.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Conflict Fuels Technology

But conflict first requires ideas. Without first ideas, technology and competition is impossible.

Is your brand a parrot in the land of odds?

Is it?

Pagan Technology Worship - The First Rule of Positioning

All those who worship pagan technology Gods ultimately fall to those who can change consumer habits and practices with ideas rather than devices. An idea can be more powerful than any technology man can perceive - especially in marketing and business development.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Where Did Everything You Know About Marketing Come From?

Where did everything you know about marketing come from? How would you react if you found out that everything you knew about marketing was a fraud? A sham? How would you operate differently, if you did not have everything you think you know about marketing to lean on?

Well I'm here to tell you that it's all true. All those meetings you go to - in companies large and small - old and new - where you talk about and rationalize strategies utilizing terms such as Alpha Males and Alpha Females, Early Adapters, Late Adapters, Thrivals and Rivals, Adverturers and Basics, Generation X and Generation Y, those who Cocoon and those who do not. It is all a sham. A scam. Or as George Parker would say, "An AdScam. The horror."

I have been and my father before me a pioneer in advertising and marketing. Before any of the above existed we watched in amazement as we, the rival companies that sprouted up (for example SRI's Values & Attitudes Lifestyle Studies were just knock offs of our Culturally Influential Consumer Groups) (and focus groups an offshoot of our orginal Assays Product Investigation Circles) sold the next big thing to clients that never realized all of this was just made up by four guys sitting around a room, or a couple of people sitting in a closet trying to think of new ways to make money. So that they could have you believe that they were the only ones with the phone lines to God on Fridays.

Where would you be if you had none of this made-up-crutch to lean on. I'd tell you where you'd be. As a marketer and advertiser you'd be much better off. Go out and start thinking for yourself - and stop thinking what someone else already thought.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

What It Means To Let Consumers Help With Brand Building

Adidas Lets Consumers Help With Originals Brand Building

But as I said to the people at Adidas, "consumer-generated input is not the same as 'consumer creativity'." To gain true conumer creativity Adidas need provide customers 'creative stimuli packets' that enable consumers to leapfrog their current experience, perceptions and frame of reference. Otherwise, Adidas will remain #2 even though they are trying harder.

Micro-wits Working Their Way Up To Full Idiot

Here's a survey for you. I just received an Advertising Age Magazine e-mail poll asking me if I thought the merger of Microsoft and Yahoo would change my life. IDIOTS! No, half-wits, working their way up to full idiot.

I say again...Microsoft + Yahoo = Sears + K-Mart. The name of the new company will be "MicroSearch." Nothing about Microsoft or Yahoo's positioning strategies compel me to fix the problem of changing my consumer habit and practice of using Google, and switching to them. This is not one of those Field of Dream's "If you build it they will come" mergers. There once was a time when marketers did change consumer habits and practices with brain, what they now can't do with brawn; believing instead that 'the lazy man's sell' of direct mail promotions, social and behavior marketing (along with traditional) will effect the desired transformation in consumer usage. But it just ain't so. Congratulations. You were just promoted to full idiot Steve.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Fly Commodity Airlines

United Airlines says it will charge a service fee for a second piece of checked luggage, a move experts say will spread across the beleaguered industry.

Why is it that the more airlines try to make money the more desperate they become? Charging for second bags, banks charging for talking to tellers - The inexorable march toward commoditization not realizing that once you trade on price you've gotten your brand equity so far down a hole you'd have to climb up a ladder just to get to the bottom.

What companies used to do with brains (the creation of positioning strategies that actually changed consumer habits and practices regardless of price), they now do with brawn. But then again, the airline industry never was very nimble with this type of creativity and differentiation. When the competion drops the bar this low it makes it real easy for some one like Herb Kelleher and Southwest Airlines to steal the business just with a joke. I love Southwest. Last time I got on the flight attendant said, "Thanks for flying Southwest today. If at anytime during our flight today you need something, you make sure you just let us know... ... ...right after we land." Later, "Thanks for flying Southwest today. This concludes our flight. If there was anything you did not like about our flight today make certain you call ... United." Fabulous!

Trading on the humor selling dimension rather than business class segmentation and price. Then again, this is what happens to a company when it crunches too many numbers. Promotionally driven price-biased companies that must whine for government subsidy to stay afloat. Why do they make my life so boring? As Professor Kingsfield said in The Paper Chase, I wish they'd "Fill the room with [their] intelligence."

Not long ago I flew to Miami on Southwest and the flight was booked solid. Once again, everyone enjoying the personality and humor infused by the CEO. On the way back I was less fortunate in flying American Airlines. The flight was empty. In discussing the differences with flight attendants to pass the time Southwest was disparaged by the flight crew as being "Sooo unprofessional." To which I said, "But it seems unprofessional sells."

Lost and Found

The Guitars That Destroyed The World. If anyone can find me one of these, I should like to have one.

Monday, February 04, 2008

The SuperBowl Ads - The Sins of Our [Advertising] Fathers

OK. I'm not going to get into how bad every single SuperBowl ad was yesterday. Not a single ad made a point or gave me reason to separate myself from my money for any one of the advertisers who spent ridiculous amounts of money to get in front of me yesterday. Oh sure, I laughed at some, and groaned in pain at others. I empathized with the Budweiser commercials, appreciated Hyundai's Genesis ad and laughed at Bridgestone Tire's "oh nooooo" Mr. Bill Squirrels and friends - but that's not the point.

The point is this - THE SINS of our advertising fathers. How companies get so wrapped up in what they did before that they'll give us a sequel next time - like GoDaddy. And to believe someone has a job signing off checks on spending hundreds of thousands in production costs and millions to air ads that don't work. What do I mean by "don't work?" How do I define "don't work?" I mean, NOT ONE SINGLE AD I'VE SEEN IN YEARS has created the consumer habit and practice of getting me up off my dead ass to go separate myself from my money for any of the products I've seen advertised. And I'm not a particularly tough sell. It's just that advertising no longer 'perceptually' intriques people. Oh, I can like them. That's one definition of perceptual intrigue. But I don't act on them or their lack of 'call to action.' Just informing me with an entertaining ad won't cut the mustard or gut the fish. They don't ask me to get my hands dirty, make a decision or do something. For example, no ad agency looks at a stew and sells it as Chunky Soup "the soup you eat with a fork." They sell it as a stew, as did all Super Bowl ads yesterday. Lost are the Abstract Selling Dimensions that put your mind to work. Brands, advertisers and agencies have become like ten speed bikes - most having gears they've never used.

I knew the end had come long ago in advertising when Kraft market researchers looking at my positioning recommendations on key brands asked me to "take all the sell" out of the concepts 20 years ago when Philip Morris was revamping the company with me and Chairman Bob Morrison. What was left was a gelatinous blob of verbage that bore no interest. People who'd never sold anything other than their resume to a college recruiter became 'qualified' through the myth of their position to somehow now become the arbiter of what's sold to us. High impact concepts were consumer created, and exceeded all previous AC Nielsen BASES norms for intent to purchase with top two box intent to purchase scores well above 97%. What Kraft ended up with was business positioning concepts limping around the 2% ups and downs in America's birth rate. Madison Avenue and it's manufacturing clients have lost the killer instinct - what Rocky Balboa and Apollo Creed would have called the eye of the tiger.

Too many damn 'don't say anything wrong to anyone liberals' have taken the punch out of a world where brands made a bigger impact being only some things to some people rather than trying to be all things to all people. Go Daddy's ad, for example, was just an example of sheer arrogance and how companies of like ilk end up producing ads that talk too themselves about themselves which is why the rest of us just don't get it. Are you paying attention GM? To be a brand you have to stand for something, and brands today are uncomfortable asking us to make that decision - which is also why so many people get divorced. It's easier. Which is why I'd rather fight than switch. [Get it? - or is this too lost in our politically correct and socially conscious memory?]

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Microsoft + Yahoo = Sears + K-Mart

Obviously, Steve Balmer has so much money he's forgotten how to find, or make a good deal. Need I say more? Once again proof that what companies once did with brain (out market Google with positioning that causes more people to choose Yahoo) they now do with brawn (mergers & acquisitions). Where is the finesse in business anymore?

Result of merger? A new business called 'SoftWho'? 'YawnSoft'?
Steve Balmer. Sit down for lack of creative thinking. This move about as inspiring as HP's Carly Fiorona buying Compaq when everyone knew there was no money in the hardware end of the PC business. Even the manufacturers let the retailers spend the ad dollars to drive the brands. But Carly ignored that too - if she even ever knew it.
Microsoft + Yahoo = Sears + K-Mart

Friday, February 01, 2008

Braking Sensors Slow Speeders - End Speed Traps

Forget about cruise control and photo enforced speed limits. The technology has long existed for auto manufacturers and transit authorities to install sensors in vehicles and on roadways that automatically brake cars exceeding set levels. Therefore, the police and municipalities would no longer be able to make money from your speeding infractions. The same sensors could stop your car at stop signs and slow your car on exit ramps. A radar system to warn of obstructions already exist on some vehicles. This would be the end of speed traps