Monday, May 25, 2009

Has Starbuck’s missed the mark with its new advertising campaign?


In the beginning of May 2009, Starbucks, once famous for not engaging in traditional advertising, launched a campaign to address an -8% decline in same store sales during the first quarter of 2009. (Miller, 2009)

According to CEO Howard Schultz, as quoted in the Wall Street Journal, “We know from our research that customers are not defecting away from Starbucks; they’re just coming less often or cutting out the occasion”. (Jargon, 2009)

Given that input, do you think this ad makes sense? Does it make you want to go into Starbucks more often?

Miller, C. (2009, May 19) New Starbucks Ads Seek to Recruit Online Fans. Retrived, May 25, 2009 from

Jargon, J. (2009, May 4) New Ads Will Stir Up Coffee Wars. Wall Street Journal, pB7.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Isn’t it about time that all health claims were properly substantiated?


Although the FDA has been monitoring drug company claims for their products for years, there has been a huge gaping hole, when it comes to supplements and foods.

Not only have companies been able to get away without properly substantiating their claims, they have been getting away with outrageous disclaimers in support of them. Listen closely or look at the small type and you will see that Product X will help you lose weight when “taken in conjunction with a calorie restricted diet and moderate exercise”. Duh. If you eat less and exercise more you will lose weight regardless of what supplements or specific foods you eat.

While Cheerios seems relatively benign, they are still making a very hard claim – “eat Cheerios and lower your cholesterol 4% in 6 weeks” backed by a similar disclaimer. Their defense? We’ve been communicating this message for two years. Well, just because the ethically-challenged Bush administration was willing to go along with it, doesn’t mean that it was the right thing to do.

I think its time for the truth. What do you think?

(2009, May 12). FDA warns General Mills over Cheerios cholesterol claims. latimes. com. Retrived, May 17, 2009 from

Here’s an opposing point-of-view

York, E. & Thomaselli, R. (2009, May 13) With Cheerios, has the FDA bitten off more than it could chew? Retrived, May 18, 2009

Monday, May 11, 2009

Finally, a triumph of common sense?


I’ve always been a fan of the first amendment, even when it has meant letting folks I disagree with say things that appall me. But even I have to draw the line at the mention of “4 hour erections” during daytime television; especially when my 10 year-old nephew happens to be watching the show with me.

Now comes the eminently sensible suggestion from Rep. Jim Moran that commercials for erectile dysfunction be banned between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. (Riley, 2009)

Works for me. What about you?

And here’s an idea for the companies that produce these products – why not advertise online on porn sites? There certainly seem to be enough out there to choose from and you won’t have to worry about children seeing your message.

Riley, C. (2009, May 6). Congressman: No Viagra before 10 p.m. Retrived, May 11, 2009 from

Monday, May 4, 2009

Will GM’s portfolio pruning assure its survival?


As part of its restructuring, GM has announced that it is eliminating 4 of its brands – Saab, Saturn, Hummer and Pontiac. This will allow them to focus on their 4 remaining brands – Chevy, Buick, Cadillac and GMC.

In reading about this, I was reminded of the discussions that I participated in when Uncle Ben’s launched Uncle Ben’s Country Inn Rice Dishes ®. Those in favor of not including Uncle Ben’s in the product name felt that it was stogy and would prevent the brand from reaching its full potential.

But, the VP of Marketing, who had the final word, pointed out that since she would not be able to support the brand with its own advertising campaign for more than a few years, it would need to live under the Uncle Ben’s umbrella so it could be supported with synergistic ads after the launch period.

Supporting 8 brands was clearly cost prohibitive, and supporting 4 will be easier, but has GM gone far enough? As market analyst Todd Turner pointed out in the attached article, the GMC division only appears to be profitable because there are no development costs associated with it.

Perhaps it would make sense to eliminate this division as well, or bring all the remaining brands under a common umbrella. Since GM spent over 2 billion dollars for marketing in 2008, the potential for savings could be huge. What would you do?

Greenberg, K. (2009, April 27). GM To Focus On Four ‘Keeper’ Brands. Retrieved, May 4, 2009 from