Thursday, December 27, 2012

The best ad of 2012 made me want to eat fast food!

Yes, I know it’s shocking since I basically qualify as a health nut these days and can’t remember the last time I entered a QSR.  But when I saw the Chipotle ad – Back to the Start – on the Grammy’s I was intrigued.  Of course its message pushed my buttons since it focuses on sustainability and suggests an organic approach to farming. 

But apparently I wasn’t the only one that found the ad, which was also viewed over 7 million times on YouTube, motivating since company revenue increased by 23% during the first half of 2012. (Vranica, 2012)

In case you missed it, you can check it out here.

Vranica, S. (2012, December 24) Bold Stunts, Bad Taste Mark Year’s Ads.  Wall Street Journal.  pB1

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Overwhelming your customers with emails is not a good sales strategy.

The other day I received 22 emails from Staples.  Granted they only meant to send me two.  But as far as I am concerned two emails a day from Staples is two too many.  I discussed the fact that I find their emails overwhelming and annoying with another small business customer and he agreed.  This was last spring.  Then I noticed that they started coming even more often.  Not surprisingly soon after I read that sales were soft.
It’s true that most of the emails they sent included coupons.  But they all had strings attached – good for purchases over $100 – excluding these items, good in-store or online only, limited timeframes etc.  Even the coupon they sent me to apologize for the 22 emails came with caveats. 

I was never too keen on Staples’ emails to begin with because they are not customized based on my purchases.  Instead they tell me what they have on sale that week even if I have never bought anything like those items before.  What’s the point of having a database if you don’t intend to use it?  On the other hand when they have tried to use my data for outreach it is clear that they are not coordinating my offline and online purchases properly even though I always use my rewards number. 
I have canceled every opt-in newsletter I have ever received due to the same issue with overkill.  I noticed recently that when I canceled one I was given the option of selecting a lesser frequency.  Perhaps Staples offers the same option, but given their database dysfunction I am afraid that if I do try to cancel their promotional emails they will stop sending my rewards as well.  So I just ignore them.

According to the Direct Marketing Association, these days only 22% of emails are opened, and just 1.5% result in a purchase.  (Holmes, 2012)  That’s comparable to direct mail rates; and, much lower than the online rates used to be. 
Perhaps if companies gave a bit more thought to both the frequency and the content of their emails they might become an effective marketing tool again.  At the very least they’ll stop alienating their customers.

Holmes, E. (2102, December 19)  Dark Art of Store Emails.  Wall Street Journal.  pD1

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Is it time for Macy’s to fire Donald Trump?

I have never been a fan of using celebrities in advertising.  While they may be effective in getting your brand noticed, they often overwhelm it and ultimately distract from it.  That’s exactly what’s happening now with Macy’s and Donald Trump.
In case you haven’t been following the story, many people, including me, have been highly offended by the disrespectful comments Mr. Trump has made about President Obama and the American election process over the past several years.

In response, on October 24th a petition was started on urging Macy’s to part ways with this ill-fitting spokesperson.  And as of this morning, 678,789 people have signed that petition. (Carusone, 2012)

Moreover, a recent survey by YouGov BrandIndex shows that since the beginning of November the store’s loyalty measure has dropped from 31 to 19, its lowest levels in more than a year, putting them behind all their competitors -- even J.C. Penney. (Mahoney, 2012)

(Strasser, 2012)

And last, but not least, there’s the boycott.  It will no doubt take a while for the company to assess the damage, but when they do, I imagine they will find that I am not the only Macy’s shopper who took my business elsewhere this holiday season.
Advertisers beware.  You can’t have it both ways, when you partner with a celebrity you have to take the good with the bad.  Why risk it?

Carusone, A. (2012, October 24)  Urge Macy’s To Dump Donald Trump.  Retrieved December 12, 2012, from

Mahoney, S. (2012, November 29)  Is Trump Chasing Women Away From Macy’s?  Retrieved December 12, 2012, from
Strasser, A.  (2012, November 29)  Donald Trump Partnership Ruins Macy’s Popularity.  Retrieved December 12, 2012, from

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Let’s hope the success of Birds Eye’s GenVeg campaign emboldens other healthy foods to reach out to kids.

In May, when Birds Eye announced that they would be spending $6 million over three years on kid-friendly advertising with a goal of increasing vegetable consumption among children, I was hopeful the campaign would be successful as I noted in this blog.

I figured if the corny commercials that the Television Bureau of Canada ran in December 2010 could increase broccoli sales by 8%, then there was every reason to believe that other, possibly better, attempts to increase vegetable consumption would be successful as well.  Here’s that blog for reference.

So I was tickled pink to read that the partnership with “ICarly” appears to have been a great success.  According to Birds Eye, the campaign generated 40,000+ sweepstakes entries, 16,000+ recipe ideas and 225,000 page views on the Nick/Birds Eye site.  Perhaps more importantly, the category experienced growth while the campaign ran, countering the flat to negative sales trends of recent years.

The campaign had so many interesting tactics that it’s hard to know which impacted the kids most.  Was it the” Steamfresh Chef of the Week” which encouraged kids to submit cooking-related photos?  Or the kid’s recipe contest, which resulted in “Yakimaniac Veggie Martians,” being featured on an episode “ICarly?”  In the end, I suspect that it was the totality of the multi-faceted effort that was responsible.

Birds Eye is already preparing a new campaign for next fall based in part on key insights gleaned from the kid-generated recipe ideas.  Doesn’t that sound like a win win?  Chiquita Bananas, are you paying attention?

Lukovitz, K. (2012, November 21)  Birds Eye Reports Success With ‘ICarly’ Partnership.  Retrieved December 6, 2012, from