Category: Marketing

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La Croix Sticker Shock Gives Me Nose Bleeds

What a difference branding makes for sale-pricing. Before La Croix became a posh, bubbly brand for environmentally-minded, organic-obsessed, uncompromising-to-spend-less Whole Foods sundry shoppers, my wife and I regularly purchased the seltzer. We preferred the no-flavor water for its effervescence and low-sodium content. I remember when, going back just five years, the local Ralph’s sold cases of 24 12-oz cans for $4.99 during summer months.

But now that La Croix is the Apple of bubbly waters, those cans cost lots more. Today, in the same Ralph’s the exact quantity deeply discounted is twice as much—and that’s helluva savings when one case of eight typically sells for what I used to pay for 24. 

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I Buried My PixelBook Ambitions at Google Store

I would like to thank Google for saving me thousands of dollars in needless spending. Near the end of today’s gangbuster hardware event, I was ready to order two new Chromebooks and smartphones, one each for me and my wife. But “error 500” pages on the company’s store website and long-lead new product availability dates prompted me to cancel the one order successfully made and to delete the others in process from my shopping cart.

For a company whose product managers droned on this morning about all the reasons why artificial intelligence is so right, Big G got the store selling experience all wrong. I have waited through most of 2017 for a new Google-branded Chrome OS laptop. While hardly a fresh hardware design concept, PixelBook is nevertheless tempting enough to bring me back to the AI and voice-assistant contextual future from the Apple rotting on the overly-obsessed touch-UI tree. I was willing and ready but instead walked away angry. 

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Google Pixel XL First Impressions

Next week, iPhone is 10 years old; sales started on June 29, 2007. Please see my post about that day—”The iPhone Moment“—and another on the tenth anniversary of the device’s unveiling, “The iPhone Metaphor“, from January of this year. Strangely, I celebrate by abandonment. Twelve days ago, my family switched to Verizon from T-Mobile, and in process I gave up iPhone 7 Plus.

Appropriately perhaps, as I write this sentence, Talk Talk’s “Living in Another World” streams from Tidal. Yeah, that’s me, with respect to iPhone 7 Minus—what I started calling the thing after learning that Apple makes two models, one of which in part is incompatible with Verizon and other CDMA carriers. You want model A1661 and not A1784. Rather than get another Minus, I chose to try something else: Google Pixel XL, which overall user experience is as good and in many respects so much superior. 

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Letting Pixel C, and also Chromebook Pixel, Languish is Foolhardy

To celebrate the launch of Apple’s new 10.5-inch iPad Pro, I ordered Pixel C, which arrived three days ago. Worst case, the tablet can be returned for refund during the buyer’s remorse period; there ain’t any regrets so far—just the opposite. To my pleasant surprise, the tab is much more enjoyable than I remember, because Nougat is so pretty, efficient, and buttery smooth than was Marshmallow on the device. The screen scorches any available iPad, Pro or otherwise, and the performance is shockingly nimble. My Pixel C shipped with Android 7.1.1 and quickly updated to 7.1.2. I will soon install Android O; Google released Developer Preview 3 yesterday.

There’s a certain insanity to the purchase. I reviewed Google’s Android slate 15 months ago; that makes the thang ancient as measured in computing years. But Big G still sells the tab, and there must be a reason, right? I got another because a college student took possession of my first Pixel C in early 2016. With keyboard cover, the tablet makes a helluva handy carry-along on campus. 

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The Problem with post-Brexit UK isn’t Leave but Remain

The government of David Cameron and the British intelligentsia will ruin the United Kingdom if they stay the course of their post-Brexit rhetoric. The tone is abysmal. Catastrophic—like a family’s patriarch has unexpectedly died and the women left behind must abandon their estate. Think Sense and Sensibility, where the Dashwood mother and daughters are exiled to the English countryside following the master’s death. They are outcasts. They have no rights to inheritance. They have no future.

But the story’s ending is quite different than its beginning. The UK’s future can be great—better, apart from the European Union than being one of its members. But that chapter may never be written should sour grapes of doom and gloom dominate the post-Brexit narrative. As I often say: In business, perception is everything. Same applies to government, and the image that nations put forth. Too much of the story being written about the UK’s future, which no one without a time machine can predict, is negative. The narrative conveys no confidence that the islands can stand alone. 

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Don’t ‘Fall into the Gap’

The Internet outrage over the photo for a Gap Kids advertisement is rather ridiculous. The meme accuses racism, because the taller white tween rests her arm on the shorter black girl’s head. Gap was wrong to apologize and replace the pic, bowing before the will of social media bullies. They read too much into the modeling, and you shouldn’t side with their idiocy.

The posing isn’t unusual for Gap marketing, and there is at least one earlier instance where roles reversed: Black tween resting arm on the head of a white girl, as filmmaker Matthew A. Cherry tweets with question: “Does the @GapKids pic on the left make the pic on the right okay? Let’s debate”. The answer is immaterial, because motivation and meaning are assigned, in conspiratorial fashion. I look at the pic and could, purely for contrarian perspective’s sake, assign equally-outrageous interpretation. 

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Android ‘Monotune’ Sets the Right Pitch with iPhone

Great marketing strikes a chord, in this instance quite literally, with consumers. The best compares the primary product to another, effectively evoking emotional connection. Apple’s “1984” commercial and “Get a Mac” series are excellent examples. In the former, the IBM PC is portrayed as Big Brother, while in the latter actors represent Mac and PC—the benefits of one and detriments of the other. Both examples use metaphors to simplify complex comparisons and to make lasting impressions rather than to checklist features.

Google spot “Monotune” ia a magnificent metaphor—piano of 88 different keys representing Android set against another, portraying iPhone, where all the notes are the same. Music is memorable, and the comparison striking as much for the under current. Apple’s brand often is associated with music and also creative individuals. 

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Seriously, Wikipedia?

I would like to wish Wikipedia happy birthday, but wonder what the Hell this photo has to do with free, curated, online information? The pic appears in a blog post self-celebrating the site’s 15th year of operation. What do I miss here? Is the encyclopedia into printing books for distribution to schoolkids? Perhaps use is backhanded commentary, suggesting these tykes would be smarter if only they had access to “free knowledge”.

Maybe the pic is subliminal, instead, and the purest form of propaganda fundraising. To celebrate the birthday, Wikipedia launches an “endowment”, with goal of raising $100 million over 10 years. What’s more stereotypical than using cute kids of color to pull the heart strings to open wallets. For others, donations will be guilt-giving. 

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Flack Attack

Yesterday, while catching up on days of RSS-feed news, I stopped grazing and actually read TechCrunch Christmas Eve post “#MisguidedPR: The Industry’s Internal Crisis” by Colin Jordan, who is—what many of my peers would call—a flack. I rarely use the descriptor, deeming it as condescending. But for this post, the term fits.

The commentary’s objective is clear: To encourage his colleagues to abandon past public relations strategies that are obsolete today. Part of the problem he identifies is imbalance: There are way many more flacks than there are journalists (but perhaps not bloggers, I must add). Using U.S. Department of Labor statistics, he finds “5.7 PR professionals for every one journalist”. Because I do my own reporting rather than source someone else, whenever possible (most often), I checked the data. 

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Microsoft Makes ‘Peace’ with Apple

Advertising rarely gets as good this! Microsoft sets the mood for the season in a new spot where its New York store staffers serenade Apple specialists for “peace on Earth”. A children’s choir joins the caroling, creating a classic! This is award-winning advertising in the making. Filming at night adds terrific ambiance, topped off with Apple 5th Avenue Store employees embracing their Microsoft retail rivals.

If Microsoft is the British Empire, then Apple is the American era. Oftentimes, the mighty are arrogant and condensing about their dominance, and it’s rare that they sue rivals for peace—from a position of dominance. The humbled fallen must adopt new tactics in the New World order. For Microsoft, that means cooperation. If nothing else, the commercial is a metaphor for the new Microsoft. 

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Wow, the Amazon Home Page

Solidarité is right, and nothing for sale visible above the fold. Americans are often too oblivious to tragedy overseas, even among Western allies. If someone didn’t see the news, and shops Amazon, they have to wonder what the page refers to.

My wife and I watched live coverage for hours from CBS and Sky news services, streamed, since we’re cord-cutters again. To recap: Coordinated terrorist attacks left more than 120 dead in Paris, late last night (local time there). The city is in lock down. 

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Android vs iPhone: When Hype Bites

The haughty headline from yesterday’s Apple fiscal fourth quarter 2015 earnings report isn’t big revenue or profit performance ($51.5 billion and $11.1 billion, respectively), but a figure given by CEO Tim Cook during the analyst call: “We recorded the highest rate on record for Android switches last quarter at 30 percent”.

Blogs, and some news sites, set the statement off like an atomic blast of free marketing for Apple. The fallout spreads across the InterWebs this fine Wednesday, largely undisputed or corroborated. Just because Cook claims something doesn’t make it true. To get some perspective, and to either correct or confirm the public record, today I asked a half-dozen analysts: “Does your analysis of the smartphone market support that assertion?”