Tag: 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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How Did It Come to This?

Surely somewhere in the collapse of retailer American Apparel there is a metaphor appropriate for the policy platform put forth by Donald Trump. The President talks about bringing jobs back to the United States and renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement. Ironically, with AA, we see the demise of an iconic, hip “Made in the USA” brand, with its remaining assets being sold to Canadian-based Gildan. What’s up with that? Eh?

The Featured Image, and the pic following below the fold, tells a different story: Recent remembrance of another American Apparel, which allure popped pop culture’s cherry, for coolness and sex-appeal. On May 8, 2010, the retailer’s San Diego store held a rummage sale that drew long lines that wrapped around the block such that the end overlapped the beginning. I captured the moment with the Sigma DP2s. What a change in 7 years—and not just for the one clothier. Last year, local company Sports Chalet went out of business, around the same time as national chain Sports Authority. The Limited is shuttering all its stores, and Macy’s nearly 70. Should we blame China or, hehe, Amazon

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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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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?” 

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Apple Harvests its Logo

If Apple’s streaming music service launches tomorrow at WWDC and is branded with the company’s name/logo, look for broad naming changes ahead. My guess, and it’s only that: the lower-case letter before products like iMac or iPhone will disappear; over time. Under CEO Tim Cook, the branding strategy differs from Steve Jobs. That’s sensible considering where the company is today compared to 1998 when the cofounder introduced iMac.

Apple Watch foreshadows the new nomenclature. Contrary to months of iWatch rumors before launch, the device is identified by sound as Apple Watch, but what you see is the company’s logo, which is one of the most recognizable brand icons ever created. If Apple Music turns out to be more than just streaming, but the replacement for or displacement of iTunes, consider that as sign of future naming conventions to come. If I am mistaken—well, Apple should do what I predict. 

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Apple’s Moral Marketing Charade

Nine years ago, a NPR interviewer asked me about Google and other U.S. companies censoring search results in China. The question was one of morality—to which I gave an answer she didn’t expect. That response, or my recollection of it, is appropriate for rather ridiculous and self-serving statements that Apple CEO Tim Cook reportedly made three days ago.

“We believe that people have a fundamental right to privacy”, Tim Cook said, Matthew Panzarino reports for TechCrunch. “The American people demand it, the constitution demands it, morality demands it”. Oh? What is moral? The answer I gave NPR in 2006 applies: There is no moral high ground in business. The high ground is quagmire, because all public companies—Apple surely among them—share a single, moral objective: Make profits for stockholders. Plain, pure, and simple. 

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Google pulls an Apple-Like Media Coup

Bias in the media is inevitable, and any news gatherer who denies this fact is a liar. Companies seek favor or to influence in countless ways. It’s the nature of the beast, which cannot be tamed. So I wonder how Chromebook Pixel embargoes impacted reporting about Apple’s newest laptop. If they did, as I’m convinced, Google pulled off one hell of a marketing coup.

The search and information giant provided many tech blogs and news sites with the new Pixel about a week before the laptop launched yesterday and the first reviews posted—that was also days before Apple’s well-publicized media event where a new MacBook was rumored. Both computers share something in common: USB Type-C, which is bleeding-edge tech. The connector received much media attention on Monday and Tuesday two ways: Buzz about it being the next great thing, and MacBook having but one port (Pixel has two, and others). 

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Say, HTC, Social Matters More Than Gadget Reviews

Some advice for HTC and other mobile device makers: You need to adapt your PR strategy to the modern web. Seeding devices to so-called professional reviewers is a lose-lose strategy. There you should take cues from Motorola, which marketing strategy, while by no means perfect, depends more on the many rather than the few.

Today, as expected, the HTC One M9 launched on Mobile World Congress Day 0. I am struck by two early reviews, which couldn’t be more different in their assessment—and one surely is quite damaging to perceptions about the smartphone: “HTC One M9 hands-on: Improved craftsmanship, camera, and HTC Sense are compelling” by Matthew Miller for ZDNet and “HTC’s One M9 is the world’s most beautiful disappointment” by Vlad Savov for The Verge. Matt had the device for a day and Vlad for a week. Neither narrative is ideal for HTC, although ZDNet’s is closer to identifying benefits that matter, as opposed to The Verge highlighting features that aren’t.