Thursday, December 29, 2011

Different diet plans for NFL and NBA fans; why not?

It all started with a consumer insight – men were trying to lose weight just like women.  But, of course men don’t diet, they get in shape!  Enter NFL Quarterback Dan Marino (circa 2006) as the new Nutrisystem spokesperson – just for men.  The company’s success, approximately 25% of their business now comes from men, (Mahoney, 2011) inspired Weight Watchers to follow suit, and last spring they ran their first men’s-only campaign partnering with the NBA.  (Schultz, 2011)

Now both companies are updating their campaigns with new spokespeople, while sticking with their fan bases.  So it’s Terry Bradshaw (NFL) for Nutrisystem versus Charles Barkley (NBA) for Weight Watchers.  (Janoff, 2011)

Whose fans will lose the most weight?  Maybe they should have a contest!

Mahoney, S. (2011, December 28) Softer Diet Industry Guns For Tubby Men.  Retrieved 2011, December 29, from

Schultz, E.J.  (2011, April 22)  Weight Watchers picks a new target: men.  Retrieved 2011, December 28, from

Janoff, B. (2011, December 26) Charles Barkley Vs. Terry Bradshaw: Pro Athletes Line Up For Battle Over Waistland.  Retrieved 2011, December 28, from

Thursday, December 22, 2011

How can we create anti-obesity advertising that works?

Given my strong belief that advertising can be used for the greater good, I have been following attempts to combat obesity with advertising closely.   This particular ad baffled me.  Since no one is actually going to walk from Queens to Manhattan (unless they are taking part in the NYC Marathon), I can’t help but wonder why anyone thought this would be motivating.

Well, it appears that I missed a recent study published in the American Journal of Public Health.  The study tested three different messages about sugary drinks on teens.  The first two – “A typical bottle contains 250 calories,” and “This bottle contains about 10% of a teen’s recommended daily calories,” reduced the odds that teens would buy sugary drinks by 40%, while the final message – “You have to jog 50 minutes to burn off the calories in this drink” reduced the odds by 50%. (Wilson, 2011)

It seems likely that this study led to the above ad.  Yet, the phrasing in the study was clearly easier to grasp than the wording in the ad above. 
But perhaps the more important finding is that all the messages yielded encouraging results.  It reminds me of the broccoli tv advertising test, which I wrote about here…

But I still think that we can do better.  Given that 67% of women want to lose weight, why not try a positive approach?  (Clark-Flory, 2008)
How would you respond to an ad that says “eliminate one sugary drink a day from your diet and you will lose 12 pounds in a year?”  I think it would get my attention.

Wilson, J. (2011, December 15)  Teenagers buy fewer sugary drinks with posted calorie count.  Retrieved December 21, 2011, from

Clark-Flory., T. (2008, April 25)  Study: Most women “disordered eaters”. Self Magazine.  Retrieved June 14, 2009, from

Blanchard, K. (2011, December 6)  Weight loss research 2011: Top findings for a healthier New Year.  Retrieved December 21, 2011, from

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Can Microsoft make your holiday flying experience happier?


We all know that airport travel has become increasingly difficult since 9/11 and if you’re like me, something to be avoided whenever possible.  I once suggested that marketers who recognize this new reality and attempt to improve my flying experiences would have my undying gratitude.  Apparently Microsoft heard me.

Starting this week they are partnering with Southwest Airlines for “The Picture Perfect Holiday” campaign.  The Santa’s workshop displays include Santa (or a reasonable facsimile), a holiday backdrop and an interactive kiosk.  Once visitors have their photos taken with Santa, a helpful “Windows 7 elf” will show them how to edit, share, print or store shots using Windows products. (Greenberg, 2011)

It sounds like fun to me.  What about you?  Will you check it out after you put your shoes back on?

Greenberg, K. (2011, December 12).  Microsoft Santa Experience Lands At Airports.  Retrieved December 12, 2011, from

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Have you used a mobile coupon at a QSR?


As mobile couponing continues to grow, a new study of 9,000 QSR campaigns has yielded some interesting data.  For instance, the most popular offer is BOGO, i.e. buy one get one free, with 70% of those surveyed preferring it, while 22% wanted price discounts and 6% opted for “free with purchase” promotions.

Also interesting was the fact that weekday time sensitive promotions fared the best.  So if you want someone to buy dessert, send them a coupon at 3:00 pm on a Wednesday.  

Social media is proving to be a good way to build lists, with 10% of prospects coming through online channels.  But, refer a friend programs are still better performers, adding 21% to subscriber lists. (Walsh, 2011)

So, what about you?  Do you use mobile coupons, and do you have an offer preference?  Did you join the list via social media, or were you referred by a friend?

Walsh, M.  (2011, December 5)  Restaurant Industry Serves Up Mobile Offers.  Retrieved December 7, 2011, from

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Time is running out if you want to buy Coke in a white holiday can…


For the first time ever the folks at Coca-Cola decided to put regular Coke in a white can for the holidays.  Reaction has been swift and negative.  Unhappy drinkers said the can looked like Diet Coke and confused them.  Others said it tasted differently.  And still others thought that messing with an icon was sacrilege.

Apparently the people at Coca-Cola failed to observe the Tropicana packaging fiasco closely enough.  Their redesign elicited similar negative comments, and I couldn’t distinguish my favorite ruby red grapefruit juice from the other flavors.  Ultimately they experienced a 20% drop in sales before they went back to the original packaging.  I think they may still be suffering as my local supermarket continues to offer deals for points on their brands.

While Coke rushes out traditional red cans to the store, I want to know what you think.  How central is packaging design to your decision-making?  Can you think of a time when it either encouraged or discouraged you from making a purchase?

Esterl, M. (2011, December 1)  A Frosty Reception for Coca-Cola’s White Christmas Cans.  Retrieved December 1, 2011, from

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Do you cook? Why?



According to a new report from Mintel, home cooking is on the rise due to variety of reasons including: economizing, healthier eating (51%), trying new things (56%), exploring foods from other cultures (27%), expressing affection for friends and family (48%), and bonding with children (41%).

Not surprisingly, some of the variation can be traced to generational differences, with Boomer cooks more interested in health, and Millennial cooks feeling sophisticated and smart, not to mention superior to their peers. (Lukovitz, 2011)

I just made a date to bake chocolate chip cookies with my niece and nephew.  What about you?  What’s your motivation for cooking?

Lukovitz, K. (2100, November 21).  Healthier Diet Is One Big Home-Cooking Driver.  Retrieved November 22, 2011, from

Thursday, November 17, 2011

What are they selling?


Diet program Jenny Craig has parted ways with Valerie Bertinelli.  Maybe they got too many questions about how much plastic surgery was involved in Val’s new look.  In her place they have hired 41–year-old Mariah Carey who just shed 30 post pregnancy pounds using their nutritionist and workout plan.  They have also shortened their name to “Jenny.” (Jaslow, 2011)

But check out this introductory commercial.  The funniest comment about it on comes from Wayne Best who says: “If I hadn’t read the article I would have thought it was an ad for an escort named Jenny.” (Bazilian, 2011)

I agree.  How about you?  Does it make you want to buy something? 

Bazilian, E.  (2011, November 11).  Ad of the Day: Jenny Craig.  Retrieved November 17, 2011, from
Jaslow, R. (2011, November 10).  Mariah Carey touting Jenny Craig after losing 30 pounds.  Retrieved November 17, 2011, from

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Can pantyhose make a comeback with this ad?


After 15 years of declining sales (and no television advertising support), pantyhose sales have stabilized.  So Hanesbrands, maker of L’eggs has decided the time is right to introduce the product to a new audience.  (Copeland, 2011)
This tv commercial first ran in the spring and is now scheduled for a more robust airing this fall.  Take a look and see if you think this will convince a new generation of women to buy pantyhose.

Copeland, L. (2011, November 8)  The End of Pantyhose?  Retrieved November 9, 2011, from

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Isn’t a “Healthy-Eating Cruise” an Oxymoron?


In what has to be one of the oddest partnerships I’ve heard of so far, Rodale, publisher of the best-selling book “Eat This, Not That!” has partnered with Celebrity Cruises to offer a new series of interactive onboard activities themed around healthy eating choices.  These include an interactive trivia game, cooking and mixology demonstrations, and enrichment talks by experts. (Irwin, 2011)
Supposedly consumers have been clamoring for fitness-theme cruises because they are very health-conscious.  Really?  I thought cruises were all about gluttony, with 24-hour all you can eat options abounding. 

Does this sound like an idea that can work, or is this just an attempt to shed unhealthy perceptions of cruising?  Would you go on a healthy-eating cruise?  Would anyone you know?

Irwin, T. (2011, October 25).  Celebrity Cruises, Rodale Join for Wellness.  Retrieved November 2, 2011, from

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Did you listen to a radio ad last week? Me too.


I have often said that radio deserves more respect than it gets from advertisers who are embracing new technologies at the expense of those that have stood the test of time. 
Now comes word that radio has added an additional 1.7 million listeners in the past year.  That means that 93% of the U.S. 12 and up population is tuning in on an average week.  Furthermore, the growth is attributed to younger people, with 12-17 year old listeners up 36% and 18-34 year-olds up 80%.  Radio’s diversity is increasing as well, and the medium is now reaching 93% of African-Americans and 95% of Hispanics. (Loechner, 2011)

So that begs the question, are you a listener?  Have you thought about using radio to reach teens before?  Will you now?

Loechner, J. (2011, October 21)  Anybody Listening?  Retrieved October 26, 2011, from

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Have you played a game with ALDO yet?


Last month ALDO shoes launched a trio of online games in conjunction with its fall campaign, themed “Get Lucky.”  While anyone can enter the daily drawing to win free ALDO shoes for life, those who win all three games will receive a 15% off coupon. (Corr, 2011)

Have you already heard about the promotion?  Did you play the game?  Will you?  The promotion run through the end of December so there’s still plenty of time to play.

Corr, A. (2011, September 19)  Get Your Game On: ALDO Shoes Sponsors Contest With ‘A Lot of Sole’  Retrieved October 19, 2011, from

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Welch Decides Less is More.


After running a very successful campaign featuring food expert Alton Brown, Welch’s 100% Grape Juice has decided to try a different approach.  While Alton’s scientific approach was a big hit with highly-health conscious consumers (sales rose 20% when the campaign ran) it did not resonate with average moms.

Instead, post campaign research showed that most moms were looking for simple solutions to keep their families happy and would tune out if messaging was too complicated and clinical. (Lukovitz, 2011)
I am reminded of a story Malcolm Gladwell told about Sesame Street in his book Blink.  He made the point that children will stick with a story until it begins to bore them.  I remember thinking that it was probably the same with adults.

Do you agree?  Do you watch long form videos on the net, and make it all the way to the end?  Have you ever read all the body copy in a print ad?  Or do you prefer the 140 character limitation of Twitter?

Lukovitz, K. (2011, October 7) Welch’s Simplifies Its Benefits Messaging.  Retrieved October 12, 2011, from

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Will a remake help Ivory Soap float?


Ivory soap was launched in 1879, so I guess it is a bit overdue for a makeover.   But perhaps the timing was influenced by a new study from NBC Universal which indicated that moms these days are into simplicity and traditionalism.  (Forbes, 2011)
Interestingly, few of them (only 4%) actually have traditional homes, but 49% say they would like to. So, it’s an aspirational goal more than a reflection of reality.  But who better to capture the spirit of the moment than the soap that’s so pure it floats?

While the new advertising campaign will focus on value and simplicity, it appears that the messaging will take an emotional approach – “featuring simple truths about soap and life in general.”  (Greenberg, 2011)
Since Ivory currently has a 5.8% market share, there’s plenty of room for growth, and if they are well-priced then they will undoubtedly take advantage of the middle class rush to less expensive products.  But do we really think that advertising can spur sales of something as basic as soap?  And will this approach do the trick? 

Forbes, T. (2011, October 5) P&G Floats A Makeover For Ivory. Retrieved October 5, 2011, from

Greenberg, K. (2011, October 5) Panel, P&G Focus On Mom’s Desire For Tradition. Retrieved October 5, 2011, from

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Will Free Coffee Payout For 7-Eleven?


Apparently September 29 is National Coffee Day.  (Who knew?)  In honor of the event selected 7-Eleven stores will be offering free medium-size coffee from 7 a.m. – 11 a.m. (Irwin, 2011)
Free is a good deal for consumers – who will be saving an average of $1.50.  But does it work for 7-Eleven?  When you go for your free coffee will you buy something else too?  And perhaps more importantly, will you become a regular customer of 7-Eleven going forward?

Irwin, T.  (2011, September 27).  7-Eleven Offers CofFREE Day, Facebook Game.   Retrieved September 28, 2011, from

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Guaranteed satisfaction and free shipping? Sign me up!


L.L. Bean, founded in 1912, has always guaranteed 100% consumer satisfaction – no questions asked.  I know because I once returned something I bought from them.  Based on my experience, only a few other retailers offer the same guarantee – B&H Photo and Bloomingdales.  Not coincidentally these vendors are my favorites and I use them for my purchases whenever appropriate.

Now comes word that L.L. Bean is about to start a new campaign offering free holiday shipping.  (Mahoney, 2011)  Good for them.  A recent study from Kantar Media shows that 77% of respondents say that free shipping would encourage them to make online purchases, while 60% say they would avoid purchasing products online if they have to pay for shipping. (Loechner, 2011)

So what do you think?  What motivates you more, fewer hassles or free shipping?  Will either cause you to change your selection of preferred vendors?

Mahoney, S. (2011, September 16) L.L. Bean Rolls Out New Ad Campaign. Retrieved September 21, 2011, from

Loechner, J. (2011, September 22)  Email And Fee Shipping Woos Online Shoppers. Retrieved September 22, from

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Will making the VW Beetle more masculine sell more cars?


In a few weeks a new version of the Volkswagen Beetle will be launched with great fanfare.  Since the announcement of the impending launch was made back in April, much of the discussion surrounding the car has been about the fact that the 1998 version had a reputation as a girls' car, and that conventional wisdom says that girls' cars don’t sell. (Forbes, 2011)

Excuse me?  According to, women buy more than half of new cars in the US, and influence 80% of all car purchases. (M2W, 2011) A study done by R.L. Polk & Co. in March showed that over the past four years the number of women buying cars has steadily increased and car purchases by African-American, Asian and Hispanic women are up 4.7% versus year ago.  (Tokic, 2011).

Not to mention the fact that I have long suspected that the reason Cadillac was the only car to show sales increases during the recession was due to their brilliant female-focused ad.

So what do you think?  Is a focus on men going to be a winning strategy for VW?

Forbes, T. (2011, September 12).  VW Hopes Men Will Catch The Bug.

Retrieved September 14, 2011, from

M2W. (2011, April 13).  Fast Facts.  Retrieved September 14, 2011, from

Tokic, A. (2011, March 30).  Report: African-American, Asian and Hispanic Women Driving Auto Sales.  Retrieved September 14, 2011, from

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Will targeting supporters of veterans sell more beer?

Miller High Life is just wrapping up a summer promotion designed to donate up to $1 million to veterans and their families.  The promotion, which involves the collection of specially marked tabs and bottle caps, ran last year at grocery and convenience chains for easier implementation.  According to the company, brand awareness and sales both increased.

As a result this year the campaign was expanded to reach 30% more people, and moved to bars where experiential marketing could be added to the mix.  (Odell, 2011)
So what do you think?  Will it be successful?  Would you switch beer brands to support Iraqi vets?

Odell, P. (2011, August 22)  Case Study: “Give a Veteran a Piece of the (Miller) High Life”  Retrieved September 7, 2011, from

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Not your father’s grandfather.


Today’s grandparents are not old. They are Baby Boomers between 45 and 64.

And, they are a growing target. In 2010, there were 65 million of them, by 2020 one in every three adults will be grandparents, and they will number 80 million.

They represent 60% of the nation’s income. And their spending is increasing too. In 2009 they spent $7.6 billion on things like infant food, equipment and clothing, toys games, and tricycles… a 71% increase since 1999. (Mahoney, 2011)

Ignore them at your own risk.

Mahoney, S. (2011, August 31). The New Grandparent: Younger, Richer, More Giving. Retrieved August 31, 2011, from

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Goodbye King. Hello Mom’s.


For the past several years, Burger King has focused their advertising efforts on fast food’s heavy users, i.e. men 14-24, using the creepy king mascot to capture their loyalty. Unfortunately the strategy seems to have failed as same-store sales were down 5% in the second half of 2010, and 6% in first quarter 2011.

So, it’s time for a new target and a new approach. Focusing on food quality could appeal to both the core target and moms since healthy eating is now becoming more of a priority across all demographic groups. But will adding guacamole to the whopper really do the trick? Does that make it healthier or just more fattening?

Right now perceptions of BK’s food quality lag behind McDonald’s, Subway, and even KFC. So, they have a challenge ahead of them. But what I really want to know is why did they stick with the king as long as they did?

Walker, E. (2011, March 30). Burger King faces continued declines in sales, profits. Retrieved August 24, 2011, from

Horovitz, B. (2011, August 19) Burger King freshens fast-food image, kicks King to the curb. Retrieved August 24, 2011, from

Friday, August 19, 2011

Don’t Mistake Engagement for Purchase Intent.


Many of you may recognize this line from my book: Does It Make You Want To Buy Something?

Well, a new global research study from Fournaise Marketing Group shows that consumer response to advertising declined by 19% in the first half of 2011, across 20 markets worldwide. (McClellan, 2011)

While the firm acknowledges that the uncertain global economic situation is partly to blame, they also point out that ads during the first half of 2011 were not arousing much consumer interest. Why? Too much emphasis on building awareness through creativity and new media, and not enough focus on consumer benefits.

Why am I not surprised? How about you?

McClellan, S. (2011, August 9). Offline, On: Ad Campaign Effectiveness Dives. Retrieved August 11, 2011, from

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Are coupons saving Sunday newspapers; or is it affluent readers?


According to Scarborough Research, coupon clipping is up 24% since 2006. And, despite the rush to all things digital, and the primary channel for coupons is still Sunday newspaper inserts, with 49% of coupons coming from this source. (Baar, 2011)

At the same time, the Mendelsohn Affluent Barometer says that among the top 20% of Americans ($100K+), 86% are still reading their newspapers in hard copy form. (Shullman, 2011)

Is it any wonder that my weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal now includes FSI’s?

While younger generations are clearly moving toward electronic media options, it would appear that the old hard copy newspaper still has some life in it yet. Advertisers take note!

Baar, A. (2011, August 10). People Still Turn To Sunday Papers For Coupons. Retrieved August 11, 2011, from

Shullman, B. (2011, August 1). Among Affluent Americans, Print Media Is Tops. Retrieved August 11, 2011, from

Thursday, August 4, 2011

What’s your favorite gadget? It depends how old you are.


As media fragmentation continues unabated, we are seeing different target segments gravitating toward different media. Newspapers are for upscale Baby Boomer men, while video games are the best way to reach Gen Y boys. Gen X women like their Facebook; Boomer women like tv; and so on.

Now we are seeing similar trends emerging for the new mobile devices that have been introduced over the past few years. According to a study by Affinity research it shakes out like this: Boomers prefer E-readers, Gen Y prefers iPads and Gen X prefers smart phones. (Walsh, 2011)

My guess is that Boomers like E-readers because they are having trouble with small print. Gen X likes iPads because their kids can play games on them. And Gen Y likes smart phones because they are all about texting.

What do you think? Are you using the right device for your demographic? What do you prefer and why?

Walsh, M. (2011, July 27) E-Readers Are For Boomers, Smartphones For Millennials. Retrieved August 4, 2011, from

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Is it time to ban retouching in cosmetics ads?


The Dove Evolution spot does a great job showing that even two hours of hair and make-up isn’t enough to avoid who knows how many hours of retouching in order to create the perfect women we see in most beauty ads. Which begs the question, are these ads misleading?

Cosmetic companies have always taken the stance that beauty advertising is aspirational. And surely no normal woman thinks there are enough beauty products in the world to turn her into a supermodel. But is it fair to show a digitally enhanced result when product efficacy is a key selling point? Personally, I’ve held back on trying any number of new wrinkle creams because I don’t believe that they actually work. And showing me a photo of an abnormally beautiful women, retouched or not, doesn’t help convince me.

But, in the UK, advertising watchdogs are taking notice. This week comes word that L’Oreal has been forced to pull ad campaigns featuring Julia Roberts and Christy Turlington due to complaints lodged with the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority). To quote the ASA: “on the basis of the evidence we had received we could not conclude that the ad image accurately illustrated what effect the product could achieve.” (Sweney, 2011)

So my question is why is the FTC (Federal Trade Commission), the US advertising watchdog, silent on this issue? Are we just assuming that people will exercise common sense when they view these ads? Or should we be holding advertisers to higher standards as they appear to be doing across the pond? What do you think?

Sweney, M. (2011, July 27). L’Oreal’s Julia Roberts and Christy Turlington ad campaigns banned. Retrieved July 27, 2011, from

Thursday, July 21, 2011

It’s 10:00 p.m. Do you know where your parents are?


Ok, I’ll admit it, the new Toyota Venza campaign from Saatchi and Saatchi L.A. cracks me up. I especially like the execution with the clueless Gen Y worrying about the fact that her parents only have 19 friends on Facebook, as she sits all alone with her computer, while they are actually out having a good time.

It captures my feelings about the superficiality of Facebook – for those who don’t already know, I refuse to go on it – perfectly. A different commercial includes a Gen Y who has moved back in with his parents – another current trend.

Interestingly, Russ Koble, advertising and planning manager for trucks and SUVs at Toyota, shared the fact that when Venza launched in 2008, they actually had two targets, Gen Y and their parents, so they positioned the brand to the younger target and hoped that they would get older buyers too. Ugh! (Greenberg, 2011)

I don’t remember those ads at all. But, by firmly deciding to target Boomers they have been able to create a campaign that clearly speaks to the target. Kudos to them and the Gen Y folks at the agency for having the guts to do it. And, I’m sure Boomers will react positively, but not so sure Gen Y will respond too, as they hope. What do you Gen Y’s out there think? Funny or insulting?

Greenberg, K. (2011, July 7) Toyota’s Venza Walks Line Between Boomers, Gen Y. Retrieved July 7, 2011, from

Thursday, July 14, 2011

One Life to Live…will live again!


Apparently I’m not the only one who thought it was foolish of ABC to dismiss All My Children and One Life to Live without considering other options. In my 5/5/11 column, I expressed concern that discounting the loyal Baby Boomers who watch these shows was a mistake. And that with a little creative thinking about product placements and internet/mobile distribution both shows could continue to be strong marketing vehicles for savvy advertisers.

This week comes word that Prospect Park agrees. The production company has licensed the shows from ABC with the intent of airing them on the Internet. Given that they paid Disney millions for the rights, they will explore not only product placements and sponsorships, but also online subscriptions. (Schechner, 2011)

How interesting. I can’t wait to see what happens. How about you?

Schechner, S. (2011, July 8) Canceled ABC Soaps Get a New Life on Web. Wall Street Journal, p B4

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Have you listened to a radio ad lately?


According to the latest Arbitron stats, radio’s reach has increased by 2 million people in the past year and the medium is reaching 74% of the U.S. population over 12. (Sass, 2011)

Additional research suggests that 92% of them stay tuned during commercials. What about you? Are you listening to radio commercials? If so, why? (Adweek, 2006)

Sass, E. (2011, July 5) Arbitron: Radio Ups Reach By 2 Million Listeners. Retrieved July 6, 2011, from

(2006, October 23). Radio Listeners Stay Tuned During Commercials. Adweek p1

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Are you a good candidate for Macsurance?


You may have seen some commercials over the past year for Kraft Mac & Cheese, based on the insight that adults love the stuff, but feel that they can’t make it for themselves, so they sneak bites when they make it for their kids. I have to say they reminded me of the old days when my dad would always tell me that he had to taste my French fries to make sure that they weren’t poisoned!

This summer Kraft is building on the campaign with a clever movie tie-in, offering insurance for kids that are in danger of having their mac & cheese stolen. The effort includes a pre-movie video, coupons and a macsurance certificate. The program will run in 13 of the summer’s PG rated blockbusters to reach moms and kids. And, fans over 18 can access the program through Facebook as well. (Lukovitz, 2011)

So what do you think? Are you a closet mac & cheese lover, or do you know one? Is this a good way to get kids to lobby their parents for more mac & cheese? Will you “like” the brand on Facebook even if you don’t have kids yet?

Lukovitz, K. (2011, June 20) Kraft Mac & Cheese Offers ‘Macsurance’. Retrieved June 29, 2011, from

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Can a cartoon effectively make an emotional connection with its audience?


Michelin, the tire manufacturer, has announced the launch of new ad in its ongoing campaign featuring the Michelin Man cartoon character. The international effort which began airing in 2007 has a notable emotional slant and the new ad, which isn’t posted on YouTube yet, features a father and son navigating hazards together. (Greenberg, 2011)

Here is the previous commercial in the campaign.

What do you think? Does it work? Would they have been better off using live action footage?

Greenberg, K. (2011, June 21) Michelin Man Gets Wet In New Ad. Retrieved June 22, 2011, from

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Will you buy rechargeable batteries from Shaq?


IGo has just announced that they are employing their first celebrity spokesperson. They believe that even though Shaquille O’Neal has announced his retirement, he is still “one of the most talked-about personalities right now” (Baar, 2011)

They also point out that as a frequent traveler he has been a product user for years. Well that’s a good start. But is it enough? The company says that he is known for “championing products that deliver value, durability and functionality.” Did you know that? I thought he played basketball.

So what do you think? Will he be able to sell lots of batteries and headphones?

Baar, A. (2011, June 15) Battery, Headphone Maker IGo (es) With Shaq. Retrieved June 16, 2011, from

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Will losing its sponsorship of the Westminster Dog Show hurt Pedigree sales?


After 24 years, the Westminster Dog Show has announced that they are walking away from their long-term sponsor -- Pedigree and are instead partnering with Purina.

Press releases suggest that the change was made because the show wants to focus completely on “purebred dogs” and distance itself from Pedigree’s strategy of supporting animal shelters. (Irwin, 2011)

Given the fact that Pedigree’s “Dogs Rule” campaign has been so successful, is this a smart move for the Westminster Dog Show? How will it impact Pedigree?

Irwin, T. (2011, June 7). Purina Outbarks Pedigree For Westminster Deal. Retrieved June 8, 2011, from

Thursday, June 2, 2011

HSN combines gaming with shopping – uh oh.


The recently launched HSN Arcade offers users 25 different games to play while they shop. The goal of the games is to keep shoppers on the site longer and turn browsers into buyers. So, items for sale will be streamed next to the game during play. Prizes will be offered for high scorers and tournaments and guest hosts are on the horizon. Easy interaction with others via Facebook is part of the package to encourage sharing.

Given that 60% of the US population (140 million+) currently plays games online, it seems like the idea may be a winner. (Goetzl, 2011)

So what do you think? Do you play online games now? Do you shop HSN? Do you think you will try HSN Arcade? What about your friends, will they play?

Goetzl, D. (2011, May 31) HSN Arcade Plays Games With Female Users. Retrieved June 1, 2011, from

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Did the online video featuring Amy Poehler convince you to eat at Denny’s?

In an effort to attract Gen Y consumers, Denny’s has been airing a series of online videos called Always Open.

Each video features a celebrity interview conducted by David Koechner. Interviewees include Will Forte, Kristen Bell and Sarah Silverman. While the interviews take place in actual Denny’s locations, food is not the topic of conversation.

The goal of the videos is to portray Denny’s as a comfortable and welcoming place where people can enjoy good food and open conversation. (Corr, 2011)
That’s an interesting idea. But, it suggests that twentysomethings are more interested in the atmosphere of the restaurants they frequent than the food that’s served. Do you think this is true? And did you see the videos before you clicked on the link above?

Corr, A. (2011, April 11) To Attract Younger Demo, Denny’s Online Series Lets Comics Talk Freely. Retrieved May 25, 2011, from

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Would you like a panda with those raisins?


Sun-Maid raisins began running a promotion earlier this month with a tie-in to Kung Fu Panda 2 which opens on May 26.

Consumers who scan the QR code on six-packs and 24 ounce canisters, can view trailers, learn more about the characters, download computer wallpaper and enter a sweepstakes with a trip for four to Zoo Atlanta as the grand prize, and stuffed pandas for runner-ups. (Lukovitz, 2011)

Given the success that Vidalia onions had with their Shrek tie-in, it seems like it’s worth a try.

But who exactly is the target for the effort? Given that the promotion is only open to those 18 and older, I guess it’s not kids. But do they really think adults care about the characters in a cartoon movie? I sure don’t. How about you?

Lukovitz, K. (2011, May 6). Sun-Maid Uses QR Codes For Movie Tie-In. Retrieved May 18, 2011, from

Thursday, May 12, 2011

How about that? It appears that you can sell Truvia using an emotional approach.


Back in October 2010, Cargill announced that they were going to use an emotional approach to sell Truvia after having only limited success with a rational pitch.

Here’s the link to the blog and discussion we had about the idea:

Most of us felt that it was worth a try and might be successful. We also discussed the fact that the jingle while a tad annoying was also quite memorable.

Now comes word that Truvia’s market share has increased from 8.2% in October to 12.8% in March, and it is now the #2 brand behind Splenda. (Lukovitz, 2011)

So, I guess that proves that an emotional approach can sell any product – even an artificial sweetener. How interesting!

Lukovitz, K. (2011, May 3) Cargill’s Truvia Now #2 Sugar Substitute. Retrieved May 12, 2011, from

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Should ABC axe Brian Frons and keep One Life to Live?


On April 14th, ABC announced that after 40 and 43 years respectively they were canceling All My Children and One Life to Live due to declining ratings. According to the story Brian Frons (or was it really Anne Sweeney? ) decided that replacing the venerable shows with another talk show and cooking show makes financial sense. But does it really? (Wiser, 2011)

As a late end Baby Boomer, I have watched both shows since college. For me they are appointment viewing. By that I mean that I tape them and watch them at night when I come home from work. (Are you listening local ABC affiliate who insists on interrupting them for so called “breaking news?”)

I have zero interest in another copycat talk show and if I want to watch a cooking show I will watch either the Food Network or the Cooking Channel. In short I have no intention of watching ABC’s replacement shows. (Although I may check out CBS’s soaps; especially if they keep hiring my favorite actors from ABC.)

So the real question is, will ratings for the new shows drop by over 40% and negate the production savings that Brian was salivating over? Since female Baby Boomers appear to represent over 50% of the current audience, it is entirely possible.

We’ve been told that the new shows “tested well”, but I smell a New Coke fiasco in the making. Did they test the shows against Baby Boomers who currently watch AMC and OLTL? And was it made clear that these shows would replace their old favorites? Why do I think that they did neither? Oh, it must be because of their foolish assumption that an 18-49 viewer is worth more than a 50+ viewer.

Clearly neither Frons nor Sweeney has been reading the abundance of press about the fact that Baby Boomers are still an economic force to be reckoned with. Here are a few articles they may want to check out while they remember that there is a reason why parental health care benefits are being extended to cover children up to age 26!

(2011, March 7) The 6.2 Million Consumers Working Past Retirement Age Have Big Investment Portfolios, Represent Opportunity for Financial Marketers. Scarborough Research. Retrieved May 2, 2011, from

Bulik, B. (2010, October 11). Boomers – Yes, Boomers – Spend the Most on Tech. Retrieved October 11, 2010, from

Leydon, T. (2010, July 30) Why your travel and leisure marketing should target Baby Boomers and not Gen X or Y. Retrieved May 2, 2011, from

Unfortunately, as much as I adore Susan Lucci and Michael Knight, I have found AMC to be unwatchable since its move to California, so I can’t advocate for its continuance. (But if you want to give those two a talk show, I wouldn’t miss it.)

OLTL on the other hand has been on a roll lately. So here is my suggestion. TNT, which has shown its high regard for Boomer women by bringing us The Closer should pick up OLTL and run it in late night so we can all watch it after work. They should reach out to advertisers and incorporate heavy product placements to ease concerns about DVR’s. And, they should air the shows (with placements and commercials) on the internet and mobile devices to maximize the size of the audience.

All in favor say aye!

Wiser, P. (2011, April 15). ‘All My Children,’ ‘One Life to Live’ cancelled by ABC. Retrieved May 2, 2011, from

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Is the marketing potential of social media being overhyped?


With over 500 million users, it’s hard for marketers not to see sales potential in Facebook. But is it delivering? According to a recent study by Forrester Research the average click-through rate on Facebook is a mere 1%, with a 2% conversion rate. That’s pretty anemic compared to e-mail marketing which has an 11% click-through rate and a 4% conversion rate. (Woo, 2011)

Facebook argues that the ability for people to like a brand and tell their friends that they do amounts to a giant word-of-mouth campaign. And, findings show that when a friend’s name is on the ad people are 60% more likely to remember it, and four times more likely to purchase.

Several months ago, I hypothesized that the latter might be Facebook’s sweet spot. But, we have yet to see any published results that support this. Until we do, one has to wonder whether advertisers should be paying a bit more attention to their e-mail marketing efforts instead of obsessing over unproven channels.
What do you think?

Woo, S. (2011, April 7) Facebook Won’t Become E-Commerce Force, Analyst Says. Retrieved April 20, 2011, from

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Will redefining rice as a main meal element increase sales for Uncle Ben’s?


Back in the early ‘80’s when I worked on Uncle Ben’s I had to convince the client that the competitive set for Uncle Ben’s rice was not just other rice, but rather the broader category of starch side dishes. It was a tough sell.

Now comes word that Uncle Ben’s is repositioning its products as the foundation for a healthy meal. The recently launched “Begin With Ben” campaign points out that rice offers variety and flavor, and combines well with vegetables and other healthy ingredients. (Lukovitz, 2011)

It’s an interesting approach; particularly since so many ethnic cuisines use rice in this manner. What do you think? Will the 53% of people who say they would make healthier meals if they just had the time be motivated to eat more rice?

Lukovitz, K. (2011, April 8) Uncle Ben’s Stresses Rice as Healthy Foundation. Retrieved April 13, 2011, from

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Is Music a Universal Language?


AT&T’s newest Spanish language campaign features Grammy Award-winning singer Natalia Jimenez. The commercial highlights AT&T’s high-speed internet and public hotspots by showing people enjoying a performance of her new song delivered through these portals.

According to the strategic planners, the insight behind the effort is that one of the key passions of Latinos is music. And, advertising in Spanish creates an instant connection with the target. (Baar, 2011)

But where does that leave the rest of us? Will we all need to brush up on our Spanish to appreciate the spot?

Baar, A. (2011, April 5). AT&T Enlists Jimenez in Hispanic Campaign. Retrieved April 6, 2011, from

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Will guys buy Vaseline Men if a former NFL star tells them to?


Unilever has just announced that they are launching a campaign for their Vaseline Men line tied to the NFL draft and featuring Michael Strahan, former defensive end for the NY Giants.

The focused effort includes an online game, a technique that the brand has used successfully in the past as it has delivered double-digit growth in the two years since its launch in 2008.

The stated goal in the selection of Strahan as spokesperson for the line is to communicate the fact that “it’s perfectly macho for men to moisturize.” (Neff, 2011)

What do you think? Will this strategy be successful? Does it make sense to address men directly rather than their wives, who may do the family shopping?

Neff, J. (2011, March 30). Vaseline Men Kicks Off NFL-related Promotion Despite Lockout. Retrieved March 30, 2011, from

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Are Roger Federer fans a good target for Swiss chocolate?


Swiss chocolatier Lindt thinks so. They have decided to become host sponsor of this year’s Sony Ericsson Open in Miami. The sponsorship includes signage, product demos at the Lindt Lindor Dream Center, and sampling throughout the grounds, and even at tournament partner hotels. There’s also a text promotion offering seat upgrades, commercials and trivia on jumbo screens, an online sweepstakes and a Twitter contest. In short it’s a truly integrated promotion targeted to the approximately 300,000 attendees. (Greenberg, 2011)

Is this a good idea? Do you think it will be successful? Will it have a ripple effect?

Greenberg, K. (2011, March 21). Lindt Serves Up Chocolate At Sony Ericsson Open. Retrieved March 22, 2011, from

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Are you watching television on your computer yet?


A recent study shows that nearly 1/3 of urban media consumers are watching television on their computers or mobile devices.

Interestingly, the numbers vary based on cultural background with 41% of Asians, 37% of Latinos, and 36% of African-Americans watching tv on alternative platforms compared to 25% of whites. (Friedman, 2011)

What about you? Did you watch the latest episode of American Idol on your iphone?

Friedman, W. (2011, March 11). Non-Traditional TV Viewing Surges. Retrieved March 16, 2011, from

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Will you spend $10 to help end violence against women?


On March 8, Avon kicked off its yearly campaign to stop global violence against women. First started in 2008, and spearheaded by Reese Witherspoon, the campaign has raised $30 million to date.

For each $10 bracelet bought, $8.04 will be donated to the Avon Foundation for Women. They are also donating an unspecified percentage of sales earned from songs purchased from Avon Voices, and are encouraging women to name them their favorite non-profit on Ebay, so they will be able to donate $1 or more every time they make an Ebay purchase. (Mahoney, 2011)

What do you think? Is this strategy a winner? If you do buy a bracelet, will you buy some make-up too? Do you want to be asked to donate money every time you buy something on Ebay?

Mahoney, S. (2011, March 7). Avon, Witherspoon Expand Antiviolence Campaign. Retrieved March 9, 2011, from

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Do you feel guilty when you eat fast foods?


Apparently Arby’s thinks you do.

In their new campaign launched on March 1, they address this insight by highlighting the fact that their food puts people in a good mood. (McWilliams, 2011)

Hmm. That raises two questions, is this an effective consumer insight, and does this strategy address it properly?

And, finally does this execution convey either of those things? What do you think?

McWilliams, J. (2011, March 1) Arby’s launches new advertising campaign. Retrieved March 2, 2011, from

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Is it time to ditch the E*Trade baby?


An article in last week’s Bloomberg Businessweek starts out by saying: “Quirky TV ads have made E*Trade Financial famous but have done little to help pitch its functional appeal to investors.” Hmm.

The article goes on to say that while the baby has increased brand recognition since he began airing in 2008, the 9.4% increase in E*Trade’s brokerage accounts since then pales in comparison to Charles Schwab’s 13.5% increase and TD Ameritrade’s 24% increase. In short, that while the company may boast some of the most popular ads on tv, it still can’t make a profit. Yikes!

E*Trade’s solution is to increase their overall advertising budget, and half the amount of spots it will run featuring the baby. (Steverman, 2011)

What do you think? Is this a smart approach? What would you do?

Steverman, B. (2011, February 16). E*Trade Looks To Outgrow That Talking Baby. Retrieved February 23, 2011, from

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Targeting lovers, or maybe just wanna bes.


If you live in New York or Boston, your Super Bowl experience included a cleverly naughty little ad from Sealy’s. Instead of anatomy lessons, specifications or sheep, we got afterglow; and a suggestive tagline “Whatever you do in bed, Sealy supports it.” (Greenberg, 2011)

The company points out that in order to arrive at the strategy they skipped focus groups and went directly to consumers to find a way to connect with them on an emotional level. And while they didn’t say how many people were actually having sex, versus how many would like to, I’d say that they succeeded. At least for me. And since I am in the market for a new mattress at the moment I say good for them.

How about you? Would you rather think about making love or padding and coils?

Here’s a link to the commercial in case you missed it.

Greenberg, K. (2011, February 9) Sealy: A Good Mattress Is About More Than Z-z-z’s. Retrieved February 15, 2011, from

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Too many car ads, not enough insights.


In the interest of full disclosure, let me start by saying that I am not a good target for car ads. I live in Manhattan, and haven’t owned a car since I was 19.

But, I can still recognize an effective ad when I see one.

While I watched the blur of car ads that dominated this year’s Super Bowl, I couldn’t help but think how Prius’s excellent product placements in Bones, which demonstrate many of its unusual safety and styling features as part of integrated storylines blew them all away. Is there any doubt that this is the future of television advertising?

Meanwhile though, we have the adorable mini-Darth Vader Passat spot. Using the Star Wars theme to connect with its audience, and the ever popular insight of a parent’s love for their child, it is the only car ad that I saw that I can even attribute to a specific advertiser.

You can check it out at:

Who knows, it may even sell a few cars.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Is an online cooking class in your future?


ConAgra Foods and have partnered to launch “Cooking Connections,” a blogger-hosted virtual cooking school. For eight weeks, brands such as Tropicana and Clorox will connect with moms using live classes which will be cross-posted on Twitter and Facebook. (Lukovitz, 2011)

How interesting.

Back when I worked on food brands, I was a strong advocate of recipe advertising. My feeling was that people are always looking for cooking ideas, and if the recipe says to use Hunts Tomato Paste then people will.

Couple that with the fact that a recent BabyCenter survey showed that 81% of mothers use the internet to find new recipes and foods, and this idea seems like a winner to me. How about you?

Lukovitz, K. (2011, January 28) ConAgra Launches Online Cooking School. Retrieved February 3, 2011, from

Thursday, January 27, 2011

With Green Attitudes Softening It’s Time For a Change in Strategy.


According to a recent online Harris Poll, Americans are less likely now to be thinking and acting green than they were in 2009.

Considering that most of that was just talk to begin with (only 13% purchased either more fuel-efficient/hybrid cars in 2009), it seems like a good time to start considering alternative approaches to reengage the population. (Loechner, 2010)

Luckily, based on recent research studies, we know what the secret is – peer pressure!

Remember those cards that you’ve seen on hotel visits urging you to reuse your towels to help the environment? The ones that were most successful were the ones that were the most specific. When the cards noted that 75% of hotel guests were participating in the program, towel reuse increased by 25%. But, when the messaging was specific to the room (i.e. 75% of guests who stayed in room 331 reused their towels) results were even higher. (Simon, 2010)

So now that we know how, we need to start implementing programs now. With only 36% of people surveyed agreeing that they are concerned about the planet they were leaving behind for future generations, there’s no time to waste.

Loechner, J. (2011, January 24). How Green Is My Attitude., Retrieved January 25, 2011, from

Simon, S. (2010, October 18). The Secret To Turning Consumers Green. Wall Street Journal, p. R1 & R7.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Powerful insight – but will it sell any eggs?


The American Egg Board launched a new campaign this week courtesy of Grey NY. While the purpose of the campaign is to encourage the eating of eggs for breakfast on a daily basis, the consumer insight being used is that parents will do anything for their kids.

While this is indeed a powerful insight, which has been used successfully by many advertisers, one has to wonder how successful it will be when cooking from scratch has become a lost art; especially on weekday mornings. (“Got Eggs”, 2011)

(2011, January 17) Got Eggs? Grey Breaks Them Online, On TV Too. Retrieved January 20, 2011 from

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The internet has no undo button. Act accordingly.


Several years ago I attended an NYU class designed to teach professors how to blog. For reasons I can’t explain, they decided to make our class exercise live. As a result, the silly comment I posted comes up every time I google myself. It drives me nuts.

As bad as I feel, Sarah Palin feels even worse as she and her people scramble to try to remove the infamous crosshair map that no doubt contributed to the horrifying shooting in Arizona last weekend. Her efforts to remove the offensive visual have only made it more prominent, in what is a classic case of the Striesand effect -- in which an attempt to remove things from the web only makes the situation worse.(Bernoff, 2011)

There was an amusing story in the New York Times last November about an ethically challenged vendor who discovered that complaints posted about him on the web only served to increase his standing in Google searches. So, he says “Bring ‘em on!” (Segal, 2010)

Cyberspace is a whole new world, and we all need to adjust to its unique challenges. Perhaps from now on, before we post something, we need to ask ourselves “What would mom say?”

Segal, D. (2010, November 26). A Bully Finds a Pulpit on the Web. Retrieved January 13, 2011 from

Bernoff, J. (2011, January 12). Sarah Palin Learns the Web Has No Undo Feature. Retrieved January 13, 2011 from

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Does It Make You Want To Buy Something?

I am pleased to announce that my book -- Does It Make You Want To Buy Something? is now available on

Please check it out, and pass the word along!

Prof. Lehrer