Weekly Round-Up 2-29-2008

February 29, 2008

A few articles really caught my attention this week on a wide variety of topics.  Here are the best of the best:

  • Brand Commodization – 6 Ways to Prevent the Death of a Brand:  Great summary of steps all marketers should think about in protecting their brand identity, especially during times of growth.  When you think about brands that handle growth well, especially in the retail industry, it is their authenticity that keeps them alive.  My favorite example is Potbelly Sandwich Works (which I plan on writing a more detailed post about later).
  • Ypulse Teen Research:  48 percent of teens didn’t purchase a single CD in 2007, up from 38% in 2006. Wow.  In a survey of 1,200 high school students, only 2 out of 5 knew the United States Civil War was fought between 1850 and 1900.  Double wow.
  • The Economics of Brands: Great discussion on a couple of blogs about what happens as brand interaction changes.  Read it yourself to see why the discussion is so great.
  • Coke’s Contradictions:  The guys at PSFK started a debate on if Coke was contradicting itself by talking sustainability and then creating a marketing promo that used extra package.  Then they added fuel to the fire by asking if ad agencies should be held accountable for pitching unhealthy sugar-filled drinks.  Piers always starts some fun discussion in his posts

What will the digital space look like in 2008?

February 27, 2008

There has been a good amount of buzz in the blogs over the release of the Avenue A/Razorfish 2008 Digital Outlook Report.  I spent some time reading through the massive (150+ pages last night) deck last night and there are some great nuggets.  Here are what jumped out to me:

  • Is Digital Really Mainstream?:  “Many consider 2007 to be the year digital settled into the marketing mainstream.  If that’s the case, it’s a confused and misguided mainstream (page 3)”
  • The Move Beyond Media Buying:  “The digital media business is no longer simply about buying ad space.  It’s a discipline focused on distributing experiences–through social networks, videos, widgets and applications (page 19)”
  • Experimentation Needs to be a Constant: “Companies should set aside budget specifically for looking at emerging technologies…this is where brands can experiment and learn from trends such as viral ideas in social media or prototypes for new interaction designs (page 41)”
  • Different Forms of Communication for Different Interactions: “Users actively seek specific communication methods based on the nature of their relationship (friends vs family) and for the value placed on that relationship.  Text is to the point and direct….phone conversations are for non-users of communication (page 55)”
  • Branded Entertainment and Online Video Meet: “Integrated advertising is not the only way online video marketing can engage consumers with brand messages.  With Branded Entertainment, marketers can supply compelling content that is both entertaining and engages views with their brands’ core values”

The last point is one that I have particular passion.   I’ve actually been working with a company called Placevine that has realized the value of this sort of opportunity.  If your company is interested in the coming collision between online video and brands, you should really check out Placevine and see what they can do for you

Young guys dig Wal-Mart?

February 27, 2008

The crew over Youth-Trends just released their Q1 2008 Top Ten List.  I’ve always found these to be a good pulse for what is going on with the Youth Culture.  Nothing too surprising but I was interested to see how Favorite Retailers played out.  According to the report, ” the number one retailer among the guys was Best Buy, who barely edged out Wal-Mart, while the young women chose Forever 21 as their overall favorite followed closely by Target, Urban Outfitters and Victoria’s Secret.”  Toys for boys and clothes for girls…not much of surprise there.  But interesting in the battle for Mass that Wal-Mart is winning with guys and Target with girls.

Missing the little things

February 26, 2008

As I was going through my morning blogs, I came across a week old post by Bob Gilbreath at The Challenge Dividend entitled Life Lessons from Tony the Barber.  For anyone that has spent time at P&G, they know Tony as the barber who has a shop downstairs at the Central Building.  The man is an institution in Cincinnati and probably knows more about the movers and shakers of the town and P&G than anyone else.  But none of that really matters to Tony.  He’s the type of guy that is quick with a smile and handshake.  He treats everyone the same, whether that person is a former CEO or a new 22 year-old Assistant Brand Manager fresh out of college (that would be me).  A trip to Tony was always a great break in my day and after a discussion on bocce ball or the Bengals, I was always ready to head back to work recharged.  Now that I’m down in Arkansas, I’ve realized how much that little monthly break meant to me.  Funny how it is the seemingly little things about a place that matter the most.

Brands I Love: You gotta get a Chumby

February 26, 2008

After much anticipation, my Chumby arrived today and I am completely addicted. If you haven’t heard of Chumby yet, it is “a compact device that connects via a wireless internet connection and gives people a fun, hassle-free way to enjoy what they want most out of the Internet, always on and simply at a glance.” The thing is one of the coolest pieces of technology I have seen in awhile and I really think it rivals the iPhone as the biggest tech launch of last year. The only issue is that the Chumby was released by a small start-up in San Diego instead of Apple so the build in buzz isn’t there.

The open platform of Chumby is what makes it truly amazing. Anyone can create a widget and instantly become part of the Chumby community. Already you can view your Facebook photos, check your Gmail, see the latest sports scores on CBS or wake-up to your local weather report. Like all open source programs, the Chumby only stands to get better when more people discover it and start adding to the applications. I am really curious to see how brands find a place to leverage Chumby. So far, the only companies that have created widgets are your content or media ones like CBS, New York Times, Google News and even CollegeHumor.com. The opportunities are endless though, just like widgets on Facebook or blogs. A smart and nimble financial company could easily create a way for you to track your accounts (listen up Mint.com) or a travel company could broadcast the latest deals. Really the opportunities are endless for brands that think smart.

Guess who just bought a professional sports team?

February 25, 2008


So as of last week, I am officially part owner in an English Football Club (soccer that is…not American Football).  Thanks to the power of Wikinomics and crowdsourcing, I purchased a small share in Ebbsfleet United FC, which plays in the Blue Square Premier, with 28,300 of my “closest friends” through MyFootballClub.  While I have played soccer all my life, I never really followed English soccer.  However, the chance to own part of a professional sports club for only £35 was too tempting to resist.  The whole concept of crowdsourcing is one that marketers need to pay close attention to.  MyFootballClub is just the latest in series of business models that have cropped up where consumers are using the power of the crowd, partial ownership and technology to shake up business as usual.  Just look at Prosper.com in lending or Threadless.com in t-shirts/apparel.  This is one of those waves that once started doesnt show signs of stopping any time soon.

 Now the only question is how I am going to find a way to see my team actually play a game.  I don’t think ESPN carries too many Blue Square Premier games.  Maybe I will need to look into fractional aircraft ownership over at NetJets and get myself a flight to

Time to start anew

February 24, 2008

Well it has been over 2 years since I stopped posting over at Second Law Marketing but the time has come to start anew. First let me start with some background. I stopped writing Second Law for a couple of reasons, but the most significant was the conflict with my day job. At the time, Procter & Gamble was still trying to figure out our place in the blogosphere and we had yet to decide on a policy for personal blogs. This was not really an issue until a few people in the media found my little spot on the Web and decided to draw comparisons between the person and the company. Since I was actually on the internal team working on our blogging policy, I thought it would be in my professional interest to retire my blogging for awhile and find other creative outlets.

Now that the blogosphere is legitimate media and policies are a little clearer, I have decided to get back into the game with Hard Knox Life: A Brand Manager Blog. Let me be upfront that the discussions and viewpoints of this site are not a reflection of Procter & Gamble or my current position. Instead, they are merely the thoughts and ramblings of a marketer, who just happens to be employed by the world’s largest marketer. In these pages I will be talking about the latest trends in marketing, technology and society. Much of the writings will be focused on youth marketing since that is where most of my experience lies. My goal is to post at least once a day, but at minimum I am aiming for a handful of posts a week. Along the way, I hope to spur some great discussion, a little debate, and a whole lot of fun. After all, it’s a hard knox life…