Social Justice Warriors Have Become a Trendy Demographic for American Advertisers

WHO CARES IF IT SELLS, IS IT SENSITIVE?

England’s, Guardian reports that American advertisers are using warm and fuzzy, social-sensitive advertising campaigns to appeal to liberals across the country. It’s no longer adequate to communicate an advertiser’s benefits, but for their younger, liberal target audiences they must say or imply, “We’re like you,” We believe in what you believe,” “Let’s be friends” and yes, “You’ve been treated unfairly.”

One ad celebrating “eco-warriors” comes from a very unusual source, the car company Kia. In the ad, actress Melissa McCarthy is driving in a Kia car when she gets a call to “save the whales,” and other endangered entities. It’s a funny/cute execution, but gives no rational reason why one would actually BUY a Kia automobile.

In a commercial for Airbnb, the home rental outfit, a message flashes across the screen: “We believe no matter who you are, where you’re from, who you love, or who you worship, we all belong.” This is apparently appealing to those liberals who reject President Trump’s proposed travel ban, although I assume that that acceptance does not extend to terrorists, sex traffickers or just downright low-life’s who might trash a homeowner’s offered lodging.

Despite all appearances, these advertisements are not public-service campaigns. The companies using them are virtue signaling through their messaging what they think appeals to more liberal audiences.The increasingly progressive messages in marketing campaigns are clearly a mercenary attempt to entice Millennials, and those in general that are susceptible to emotional appeals versus rational ones.

WILL IT WORK?

According to Rob Baiocco, a creative executive at the BAM Connection who has worked on campaigns for Pringles and Starburst, all of these “issue” ads may warm the hearts of millennials, as they are intended to. But to his mind, they are also “highly suspect”. He highlighted the fakery of their woke-ness: “Companies are avidly and aggressively trying to get involved in a socially responsible space, and they are doing it horribly – they are grabbing at straws.

“They are entering a complex conversation they have no right to be in, yet they are forcing their way in,” Baiocco says. “These creatives are trying to make their toilet paper save the world.

“Sometimes,” he adds, “a Pringle is just a Pringle.”

I’m with Rob on this. Sure, I’m a strong proponent of advertising having an EMOTIONAL tie to the audience (that’s what a “Brand Essence” is, silly). However, I think the audience segments that choose a Kia or stay with AirBnB only because their commercials “melt their butter,” are pretty small.

At some point advertisers need to decide: Are we making a commercial message OR a public service commercial. After all …

… sometimes a Pringle is just a Pringle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Airbnb launches new brand name in China. Maybe needed more, or “more effective,” research.

Airbnb, the very successful, worldwide, U.S.-based online marketplace and hospitality online service provider, just launched the brand name it will use for marketing in China. It is a three-character name 爱彼迎 (ài bǐ yíng). Individually, the three characters mean ‘love’, ‘mutual’ and ‘welcome’—strategically on-target for Airbnb,  if you consider them in isolation

According to an Airbnb spokesperson, the name represents “the value and mission of our brand, with the love of the world’s tens of millions of neighborhood communities converging in the different corners of the earth”.

Except, there ‘s a little problem. Chinese consumers’ response to the name has been mixed and in some cases quite critical.

While an important step in localization for Chinese consumers and for establishing a clear differentiation from domestic competitors, the brand’s “love”-laden Chinese name may prove to be a liability.

The name has gotten more than just chuckles from Chinese netizens on the brand’s Weibo account and other social media, where comments have ranged from “ugly-sounding”, “sounds like a ‘filthy love hotel’ “and that the brand “might as well stick to having no Chinese name at all”.

Some marketing professionals have criticized the choice, because with the letters it joins together, it is not easy to pronounce. Also, the first character “爱 ài” is a widely used Chinese word expressing the idea of love. “Nothing wrong for a brand to be associated with love, but the issue is too many brands use it for exactly this reason,” says Jerry Clode, head of digital and social insight at Resonance. He feels the character is used excessively in the advertising of other industries and product categories in China. “There is too much ‘love’ in Chinese marketing; it seems difficult for Airbnb to own this emotion for themselves in a differentiated way.”

Well, we’ll see how this turns out. It seems to me that Airbnb will stick with its choice, until significant negatives develop.

However, it does seem strange that a company as knowledgeable in marketing as Airbnb did not either adequately or effectively use market research to evaluate all aspects of a completely new name in a market as widely diverse as China.

For the complete article from Campaign Asia go here: http://www.campaignasia.com/video/china-to-airbnb-new-chinese-name-is-ugly-sounding-like-a-filthy-love-hotel/434914

Introducing the most misunderstood and misused term in advertising: “U.S.P.”(Unique Selling Proposition).

Perhaps no advertising term has been so indiscriminately and consistently (yes, I said CONSISTENTLY!) misused as U.S.P. or Unique Selling Proposition. Defined by Rosser Reeves, legendary Chairman of Ted Bates agency, in his 1961 seminal advertising book, Reality in Advertising, U.S.P. has become recognized worldwide as something that effective marketing communications must have. Unfortunately, most marketers, then and now, have only a very dim idea of what a U.S.P. really is and how to develop one.

“Father of the U.S.P.”

Reeves had developed the concept based on years and millions of dollars spent researching the effectiveness of Bates and competitive agencies’ advertisements. He effectively (and concisely) captured all that learning into what was the ideal selling idea, or what made marketing communication WORK.

Even in 1961 Reeves observed that U.S.P “is the most misused series of letters in advertising. Applied loosely and without understanding to slogans, headlines, visuals and more —in fact to most anything that advertising creators consider slightly different   from what they find in their competitors’ advertisements.”

U.S.P. — The Definition

What I hope to explain here, is that U.S.P. is a PRECISE term, and in Reeves words, “deserves a precise definition.” That definition has three parts, from which interestingly the acronym U.S.P. is derived. Imagine that!

PROPOSITION: Each communication must make a proposition to the customer. By “proposition” this means, buy this and you will get this specific benefit.

UNIQUE: The proposition must be one that competition cannot, does not or chooses not to offer. It can be a unique feature or benefit but, AND THIS IS IMPORTANT, it can be derived from the uniqueness of the brand itself. This latter consideration is especially relevant in today’s crowded and many times over-regulated advertising field, where many brands within a category essentially do the same thing. Many marketers give up and say, “There’s nothing unique about my offering, so I’ll just say what it does.” Remember, there is always the possibility of being unique, as long as the BRAND’s uniqueness is capitalized upon.

SELLING: The proposition must be capable of “selling” new customers to try a product or service, or convincing existing ones to remain loyal, even in the face of new competitive offers.

So you see, every brand CAN have a U.S.P., and by doing so can have more effective marketing. Unfortunately, most SME’s don’t ever really create one. These SME’s without a U.S.P. could be described in the words of Jay Abraham, a marketing consultant some describe as “the most expensive and successful marketing consultant on the planet”, as being …“only ‘me too’, rudderless, nondescript, unappealing businesses that feed solely upon the sheer momentum of the marketplace. There’s nothing unique; there’s nothing distinct. They promise no great value, benefit, or service—just ‘buy from us’ for no justifiable, rational reason.”

This is the first in a series of posts where I will comment on and attempt to explain some of the marketing communications, U.S.P.’s and Brand Essences currently in use by branded marketers here in Phnom Penh. Next post will be my view of the very crowded, and in my view undifferentiated branded coffee shop category. I will share my take on Starbucks, Cafe Amazon, Brown Coffee, Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf and Cost.

And after that, I will post about some marketers that I think are “doing it right.” Stay tuned.

 

 

Victoria’s Secret catalog goes online only. Adolescent males in mourning.

OK, now they’ve really done it! It was bad enough when Playboy magazine swore off running NUDE photos in their publication, but now Victoria’s Secret is discontinuing mailing out its iconic catalog, and will only direct market its compelling lingerie merchandise online . Oh sure, even though the company’s sales are good, the maneuver is touted as an expense saving tactic, and one that aligns more closely with today’s shopping behaviors.Elsa-Hosk-Victorias-Secret-Swim-2016-Cover-Catalog

Maybe that’s true for the great majority of their older, sorta “adult” customers who actually buy this stuff, but what about the young pubescent adolescents only beginning to form their own  brand recognition, and appreciation of the female form and lingerie draping of it?

No Cisco, I realize that 350 million hard copy catalogs and postage for 22 mailings a year can get a little pricey, BUT ….aside from what might be a negative impact on the Victoria’s Secret brand among their actual paying/shopping customers (see below):

In a research note entitled, “Every Guy’s Worst Nightmare,” Citi retail analysts estimated the company would save about $100 million by eliminating the catalogs, but worried the move would hurt sales “as the brand may be less top of mind with male and female customers long-term.”

What about the the little teenage and below boys that use the hard copy piece (excuse the unintentional play on words) for relief and practice behind closed doors in their rooms or bathrooms? You all know what I’m referring to.

imagesEveryone learns how to ride a bike somewhere, and sometimes it’s good to have training wheels.

Philip Roth’s 1969 novel, “Portnoy’s Complaint”, pulled the metaphorical shower curtain back on what little boys were doing in the bathroom or elsewhere with mom’s Sears catalog or dad’s stash of True Detective magazines or National Geographic’s latest coverage of topless Borneo natives. I’ll never forget the perfectly descriptive “bent over my flying fist” imagery from the book.

Well, with the arrival on the scene of Victoria’s Secret catalog in the 90’s, the “bent over” operation was ratcheted up several levels. Now, young males had breathtakingly beautiful women attired in stunning and dramatic costumes, posed in alluring (to say the least) poses. What was not to like?

The short answer was/is nothing. Nothing not to like. And something to mentally (and physically) “use.” But that’s all gone now. A mobile phone or tablet device is just not the same, and cannot be comfortably held on one’s lap while other procedures are being performed.

So I’m predicting that very young males love affair with Victoria’s Secret is going to suffer a bit. And, ultimately, along with less active connection to their lingerie offering, brand interest and connection may lessen.

So I hope VS’s management put that into their long term brand allegiance model. Yes, the world is going digital and mobile, but some things for some audiences were perhaps better served by nice glossy printed pages. We’ll see.neuman

Battle of mid-calorie sodas begins, but “taste cloud” may hang over them.

PepsiTrueOK, as reported last week in a nice piece in the Huffington Post Online, here comes Pepsico with their cokelifemid-calorie soda, new Pepsi True. This is Pepsi’s answer to Coca Cola Life, the Atlanta soda juggernaut’s mid-calorie entry reported on, somewhat derisively, here on SME Brand Leverage blog, September 5.

Guess the only place where you can buy Pepsi True?

Now, while Coke is apparently going to market and sell Life pretty much in line with traditional soft drink retailing, i.e. distribution in grocery and convenience stores; media advertising, promotion and social media support, Pepsi True is using a very different and more limited distribution attack, exclusively selling on Amazon ONLY. Maybe they’ll cross promote with diet books.

Whether this reflects Pepsi’s more conservative expectations for their mid-calorie player, or just a phased “wait and see” approach before they expand to broader distribution and availability, we’ll see.

Here’s where it gets a little confusing.

Both True and Life are sweetened with a blend of sugar and stevia, a sugar substitute derived from plants that has essentially no calories (more on “stevia” below). Pepsi True contains 60 calories in a little slight of hand using a 7 1/2  ounce can; Coca Cola Life at least stands up straight and tall in its “big boy” pants in a traditional, full size 11.2 ounce can, and clocks in at 89 calories. In “normal” size (11.2 ounces) cans, they would both have nearly equal calories. So I guess Pepsi wins the calorie lightweight title using some packaging sleight of hand, but gee, what if you’re still thirsty and need to drink two of them?

(Just for the record and comparison, full size can of regular Coke has around 140 calories.)

This dive off the we-can-make-our-mid-calorie-soda-lower-than-yours board comes less than a week after Pepsi joined Coca Cola in promising to cut calories in its beverages by 20 percent, buckling under the “Fight Obesity” war cries of the world’s Food Nazis.

cokelife_canonlyPEPSI-TRUE-caseSo, is everything going to be oh-so-tasty in Mid-Calorie Land? Again, we’ll see.

This is where this “experiment” in skinny living and soda drinking is going to get interesting.

The beverage companies are getting desperate to offset rather meaningful declines in their diet soda volumes, probably a partial result of the “diet” products having having an undesirable aftertaste. As the HuffPo article lays out, now the soda giants are counting on stevia to revitalize their “lower” calories products.

But there’s a potential problem with stevia: formulas using it are sometimes perceived as having a bitter, sometimes licorice-esque aftertaste that’s unattractive to some drinkers. Earlier this year, Coca Cola’s Vitaminwater reformulated using stevia in its formula. The customer blowback was pretty rough and caused Coca Cola to retreat and return to the original formula within only one month of the change.

So, yes, we’ll see how these new “stevia” based reformulations are accepted. Companies can make mistakes. Remember “New Coke”? How bout “Pepsi Next”?

Original Pepsi  and Coca Cola drinkers may scrunch up their noses when they taste Pepsi True and Coca Cola Life. sour face

Of course they may like the new mid-calorie sodas “enough,” that they just grin and bear it….

and keep trying to squeeze into those pants that used to fit.

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“Heil” the Food Nazis … Free Brand Choice & Personal Responsibility Defeated

Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and the Dr Pepper Snapple soft drink makers have buckled to the Food Nazis and “promised” to lower their drinks’ calories by 20% over the next decade. alfred army

“War on Obesity” in Full Swing Now

The three largest U.S. soft drink marketers have committed to lower their drinks’ calories by 20% over the next decade. Cast as an unprecedented effort by the beverage industry to fight obesity in the U.S., the commitment was announced yesterday at the 10th annual Clinton Global Initiative in New York and lauded by ex-President Clinton (who, being married to Hillary, is probably worried about her weight trajectory anyway).

Now that we have full buy-in for the War on Obesity, I guess things will change dramatically. We will go from a nation of “little piggies”:ATT00011

To, perhaps, a country of wonderful physical specimens, perhaps something along the lines of this “Nazi family” propaganda poster of 1938:

new people of Germany

1-2-3 Let’s Change What “Thirsts” Soda Quenches

We now are going to have an industry-wide tinkering with the raison d’être of the soft drink category and brands. For what is “soda”, actually, outside of being a sometimes cloyingly sweetened beverage. Well, it IS a beverage, but why do people drink it, surely not because they NEED it and not to become obese. The emotional payoffs for soda consumption are really connected at some level with emotional experiences, way beyond, even if unconsciously, quenching one’s thirst. A reward, a distraction from a painful experience/event, a childhood memory, a connected reminiscence of someone or something … the reasons are many and varied.

But not so fast Tonto. Your emotional payoff-delivery-system, i.e. your soda, is going to have its ingredients modified, its portions downsized and who know what else.

And gee, that didn’t take long…seems like just a couple weeks ago in my September 5 Coca Cola Life post I wrote:sadface

“Over time in our increasingly regulated societies, sweetened beverages will come under increasing pressures on all sides, much as cigarettes today….sad, but that’s the way it will likely play out…”

Don’t Worry, You Aren’t Responsible & It Will Be Good For You

But don’t worry.The soft drink makers, in close coordination with their government intimidators, issued a statement concerning the category reshape that is breathtakingly Orwellian doublespeak in its nonsense.

“This initiative will help transform the beverage landscape in America,” said Susan K. Neely, president of the American Beverage Association in a statement. “It takes our efforts to provide consumers with more choices, smaller portions and fewer calories to an ambitious new level.”

The next thing they’ll be telling us, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Ooops, that one’s already taken. Maybe it could be, ‘It takes a village to stay slim.”

Please Check Your Personal Responsibility at the Door

OK, got it! Consumers did not ask for this “transformation,” but they sure as hell are going to get it. So much for customer choice and personal responsibility.This wonderful “transformation” will take all the pressure off the “fatties” out there and they will strictly adhere to a “government-pressured” diet plan (much like Michelle Obama’s oh so popular school lunch program). The War on Obesity is virtually won!

Oh, one quick question: Does anyone really think that fewer calories in a bottle or smaller bottles in a carton will actually keep fat people from figuring out a way to get their “soda fixes” (how about drinking more bottles) and becoming obese?

You know the answer … but because of the smart peoples’ “solution” for the “problem,” you and I will no longer have the soft drink choices WE want.

ATT00026

And I bet you, there will still be people like this …

Introducing New Coca Cola Life: Is It a Blockbuster or a Bomb?

The boys in Atlanta tried something like this before with “New Coke” in 1985, a reformulated product meant to take the place of the flagship brand,”Coca Cola”.

Things did not go well … is this going to be a repeat?

cokelife

Introducing new Coca Cola Life

Intended to compete in an evolving soft drink category referred to as “mid-calorie colas,” Coca-Cola Life,  is rolling into the United States following test markets in South America, supported by heavy sampling, social and broadcast media. The new product walks away from the high fructose corn syrup ingredient of regular Coke, and relies instead on a combination of cane sugar and and a sweetener from the herb family member, “stevia.” It is Coke’s effort to attract cola drinkers who want the full-bodied taste of regular Coke without all the calories. A 330-ml can of Coca-Cola Life, for instance, contains 89 calories. A similar size can of regular Coke has around 140 calories. Pepsi introduced a similar “mid-calorie”  product, Pepsi Next, in 2012, sweetened with corn syrup and sucralose. Results have been uninspiring. Coke will begin distributing Coca-Cola Life nationwide in October.

The shadow of New Coke

Context is everything. Hmmm, OK.

NEWCOKEThe story of “new Coke” is widely recalled as a new product marketing fiasco, but the company has steadfastly argued that the market context leading up to the launch is often forgotten. In 1985, the Coca-Cola Company’s share lead over Pepsi had been slowly slipping for 15 years. The cola category in general was flat. Consumer preference for Coca-Cola was dipping, as was consumer awareness.

R&D and Marketing shake things up.

Soooo, to shake things up and recover lost business New Coke was launched in April, 1985. A totally reformulated product that was to replace all (100%) of the existing flagship Coca Cola product in stores. And “shake things up” it did, just as throwing a hand grenade into a crowd would shake things up. While extensive consumer taste testing had been done and indicated that the overwhelming majority of drinkers were fine with the taste, a dangerous 10-15% of participants weren’t reacting negatively to the “taste,” but were aggressively irate that “their” iconic American brand was being, in effect, thrown in the trash.

The you-know-what hits the fan!

And here’s the behavioral psychology lesson for all of us. After the boys in the white lab coats had taken out the artificial sweeteners in Diet Coke and substituted high fructose corn syrup, they’d succeeded in creating a new, apparently tasty drink. The Marketing guys were happy that they had a new claim, “No more ‘sugar’ (cane sugar that is).” The only ones unhappy were that 10-15% of nostalgic fans who wanted NO changes and respect for their BRAND. You know the rest of the story (or lesson). Callers lit up the switchboards, at local offices and Atlanta corporate HQ. Mean, yes even what could be described as “hate” mail flooded into the office of Chairman and Chief Executive officer Roberto Goizueta (remember this was before email and the internet).

Mr. Goizueta received a letter addressed to “Chief Dodo, The Coca-Cola Company.” (He often said he was more upset that it was actually delivered to him!) Another person wrote to him asking for his autograph — because, in years to come, the signature of “one of the dumbest executives in American business history” would be worth a fortune.

Consumers threatened store managers as they emptied store shelves and warehouses, stocking up on their beloved original formula product before stocks ran out and vowing to not buy New Coke.

Coca Cola management finally “cried uncle” before 90 days had passed from New Coke’s official launch date, returning original Coca Cola to the shelves and fountain dispensers. Original formula Coca-Cola (then renamed”Classic”) returned to be sold next New Coke. Later, the name of New Coke was changed to Coke II. In the end the product in any formulation is no longer available in the United States.

Blockbuster or Bomb?

We won’t know for some time if Coca Cola Life is a successful product, in its role of what I would call a “line flanker.” Unlike its earlier generation “New Coke,” it is not meant to totally replace the flagship Coca Cola product. More likely it has at least two marketing objectives, both of which it could well achieve.

  1. Slow the erosion of the Coca Cola franchise volume by offering “health conscious” consumers a “mid-calorie” cola.
  2. Address/avoid localized “sugar” taxes/regulations that are popping up among governmental “food Nazis” intent on mandating consumer drink (and school lunch) choices in the name of obesity fighting.

So in reality, it’s not a question of “blockbuster ” or “bomb” choice. Over time in our increasingly regulated societies, sweetened beverages will come under increasing pressures on all sides, much as cigarettes today.

Coca Cola Life will offset  those pressures, somewhat, for a while, but longer term (say 20-30 years) I’m not sure there’ll be a “Coke” of any name.

Sad, but that’s the way it will likely play out…sadface

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Is the world getting dumber?

World_IQ_graph Well, the world IS getting dumber …

suggests an article in London’s Daily Mail newspaper, August 21.

Technology may be getting smarter, but humans are getting dumber, scientists have warned.Evidence suggests that the IQs of people in the UK, Denmark and Australia have declined in the last decade.Opinion is divided as to whether the trend is long-term, but some researchers believe that humans have already reached intellectual peak.”

I know the statistics presented and studies analyzed were only in the countries mentioned above, but from my perspective, I would say the growing dumber problem is not just in those three Western countries. The United States, as a leader in technology’s introduction and use, is probably leading the parade…DOWN.

1408624684843_wps_6_Confused_Student_in_LibraThe most pessimistic explanation as to why humans seem to be becoming less intelligent is that we have effectively reached our intellectual peak. Between the 1930s and 1980s, the average IQ score in the US rose by three points and in post-war Japan and Denmark, test scores also increased significantly.

But I don’t buy that. I believe there are three major influences that are putting downward pressure on young peoples’ potential IQ’s:

1. Excessive availability and use of digital devices, especially among the younger age cohorts.

Now I know that many “progressive” (in more ways than one) parents can’t wait to get their children’s hands around an iPad or other mobile device. They foolishly think that will accelerate their kids’ learning and put them ahead of the Joneses for college admissions or something. In fact just the opposite lurks. A Kaiser Foundation study found that children and youth use 4-5 times the recommended amount of technology, with potential serious and often life threatening consequences (Kaiser Foundation 2010, Active Healthy Kids Canada 2012).

images (2)You think that’s bad?  The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Canadian Society of Pediatrics  recommend infants aged under 2 years should not have any exposure to technology; kids 3-5 years restricted to one hour a day, and 6-18 years restricted to 2 hours per day! Did you get that mom and dad?

2. Excessive dependence on digital devices for companionship, basic life information and entertainment.

This one stems from the problem set up in #1 above. Young and even middle-age people today depend on their digital devices for way too many things. If you’re feeling lonely, text a friend or connect virtually through their Facebook or Instagram photos. Checking out at retail and not sure how much change you get from a $50.00 bill on a $46.21 purchase? No problem. Your cell phone calculator will tell you. Hell, rather than observe and learn from the rich, stimulating human theater going on around you, why not watch a movie on your device and listen through your ear buds. You may be physically on the subway, but not mentally.Tune out, man!

We shouldn’t be surprised that digital device addiction is growing at an alarming rate.

3. Fewer and fewer people read BOOKS anymore, and that is a bad thing.

The Atlantic has a piece titled The Decline of the American Book Lover. We’re talking here about all books, but the decline in read hard cover tomes is disturbing. From the Atlantic, “Without question, the American bookworm is a rarer species than two or three decades ago, when we didn’t enjoy today’s abundance of highly distracting gadgets. In 1978, Gallup found that 42 percent of adults had read 11 books or more in the past year. Today, Pew finds that just 28 percent hit the 11 mark.”

And for people who don’t read, their vocabulary is just like a muscle, it atrophies without use/exercise. And most educators accept that if vocabulary shrinks it threatens learning, confidence, future job prospects, relationships, and even the ability to understand a joke. And that means you’re DUMBER.

So there you have it. It appears people in the developed countries are losing little bits of their aggregate IQ over time. I would bet it is not as pronounced in Asian countries even with their astronomical rates of digital device use (probably because of the Asians stronger commitment to and parental pressure on education; but give them a generation or two and they may well drift down to more Western levels).

What’s it mean for branding?

Duh … I don’t know.

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Falstaff Beer — Gone, but not forgotten.

falstaffThis post doesn’t have a lot to do with “branding” per se, but it’s an opportunity for me to recollect and revisit, however briefly, a brand of cheap beer that I grew up with in Saint Louis, Missouri — Falstaff.

Falstaff was started in 1883 by the Lemp family and closely held by them until it’s sale in 1921 to the Griesedieck Beverage Company. It was one of two major breweries in Saint Louis . (Recollection #1 — I’ll warn you upfront about the sick humor that follows, but you can imagine the juvenile laughs we underage, male beer drinkers found in referring to our purchase and consumption of some “Greasy D–k” beer.)

Griesedieck/Falstaff was always overshadowed by the Anheuser Busch brewery which continually fought Schlitz Brewing (in Milwaukee) for #1 beer brand in the United States. However, Falstaff did have its moment in the sun in the mid-1960’s when it was the third largest brewery in America. (Recollection #2 — In the 1940’s there was a humorous joke going around describing Saint Louis as being “First in shoes, first in booze and last in the American League.” With two of the top three breweries in the United States located in Saint Louis, and the industry-leading Brown Shoe Company founded in 1875 also there, all that was needed to complete the joke was a lousy  American League professional baseball team. The Saint Louis Browns met that requirement easily, having only 11 winning seasons over 51 seasons played).

Ultimately Falstaff was the victim of beer industry consolidation throughout the 1970’s and 80’s, but held on grudgingly and usually as a “low price” brand, not discontinuing production until 2005. (Recollection #3 — Falstaff’s “price brand” days were in full swing when I was coming out of high school and taking a razor blade and glue to my paper drivers license to masquerade as of legal drinking age 21, when I was in fact only 18. I remember one weekend when Falstaff was on special at the local liquor store for $2.49 per 24 can case. That works out to about a dime a can of beer, and even in 1963 that was a deal).

“Those were the days my friends. We thought they’d never end.” Mary Hopkin 1968

 

 

 

 

McDonalds starts the 18 month branding “road back.”

Md'sMcDonald’s business these last six months has been rather disappointing. It results from a combination of increased, more attractive competitors and a menu that is at odds with a growing segment of fast food consumers who want to eat fast and inexpensively, but somewhat nutritionally sensibly, as well.

To address this business problem AND opportunity, the chain is setting aside the next 18 months as a period not only to develop the normal lineup of new menu items but also to rebrand itself. McDonald’s knows it needs to be an appealing place to eat, not just a cheap one.

McDonald’s says their repositioning won’t necessarily involve the typical hallmarks of a rebrand, such as a new logo or total design overhaul, but will instead focus on reworking the basics: better value, service, marketing, and menu.

And of course, from our perspective here at SME Brand Leverage, they will need to pay close attention to the brand’s current emotional strengths, as well as making sure they fit against the altered consumer marketing environment they are facing.

The goal is to become a “more trusted and respected brand,” said Don Thompson, McDonald’s chief executive. The McDonald’s brand has taken some hits over the recent years:nutritional concerns, lack of blockbuster product launches, and employee issues, mainly concerning wage issues. Informally, it seems to have gone a little “stale,” and not the most attractive option for consumers when picking a fast food destination. According to Infegy, a company that analyzes social media, 38 percent of online conversations about McDonald’s over the past year have been negative.

To create a dining experience “customers will feel good about,” as Thompson puts it, may be a lengthy and somewhat challenging process, but if any brand can return itself to the top of the competitive heap, it’s the team from Oak Brook, Illinois (McD’s corporate headquarters).

Let’s see where they stand in January, 2016.