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Original articles from Ron Romanik.
 
Chipotle Goes Long on Long-Form Propaganda
The fourth and final episode of the Chipotle-produced miniseries “Farmed and Dangerous” posted on Hulu.com this morning. It’s a lot to ask an audience to wait for punch lines of satirical jokes drawn out over four weeks and an hour-and-a-half of buildup. While some are worth the payoff, some maybe fall a little short.

Farmed and Dangerous? Could Be a Slick Trick
Chipotle debuted the first episode of its four-part “Farmed and Dangerous” miniseries on Hulu today, building on the success of its viral videos “Back to the Start” and “Scarecrow.” While those two animated videos portrayed straightforward hero journeys...

Brand in Peril: Tesco’s Fresh & Easy
If you don’t live on the West Coast of the U.S., you may have missed one of the great brand experiments of the last decade. U.K.-based grocery giant Tesco developed the Fresh & Easy brand and store concept from scratch six years ago, and planned an aggressive rollout of 200 stores in the Southwest. Tesco had it all figured out, they thought. The grocery and retail giant targeted...

Celebrating the Journey, Not the Destination
It’s nearly impossible to visit the Philadelphia Museum of Art without thinking of Rocky, the Academy Award-winning movie starring Sylvester Stallone. Tourists visit the site just to run up the wide, grand series of steps that lead to the front entrance of the museum, as Rocky did in the movie. At the top, most, of course, mimic the triumphant, fists raised pose that has inspired generations. On a visit to the museum last month, I recalled that there was another scene in the movie, early in his training sequence, when he was out of shape and could barely make it up to the top of the steps.

Commanding Branding from HP: But Make What Matter?
In an attempt to be inspirational, HP has initiated a new marketing campaign around the imperative: “Make It Matter.” In an interview with HP CEO Meg Whitman at AllThingsD.com, the former candidate for governor of California explains how the company will bring all the disparate HP businesses under this one message.

I'd Take That Million-Dollar Bet...For Charity
Elon Musk is on a roll. This year, the serially successful entrepreneur has achieved amazing, innovative business successes in both the automotive industry and space travel. Best known for cofounding PayPal, Musk markets his companies by marketing himself with a shrewd combination of enigmatic reserve and pointed braggadocio.

Will the YSL Brand Fade Away?
The fashion branding world worked itself into a tizzy last week when rumors flew around that new Yves Saint Laurent creative director Hedi Slimane was rebranding the entire fashion house Saint Laurent Paris, as reported by BrandChannel.com. As it turns out, the ready-to-wear line would be rebranded in a new visual language and typography that is reminiscent of its Saint Laurent Rive Gauche era in the 1960s. So don’t panic. The YSL logo isn’t going anywhere. But that is exactly what is confusing so many brand strategy watchers. Will there be a disconnect between a YSL logo on SLP clothing? Will the YSL logo come to mean less in the minds of shoppers as the new direction unfolds over the next year? One valid critique is that such a halfhearted change is not wise if there is not significant meaning behind it.

Frito-Lay: Brand Expansion Without Cannibalization
Frito-Lay and parent company PepsiCo try out so many different marketing ideas that you’d think one of them would eventually backfire. Not many have. From allowing Doritos fans to create SuperBowl commercials to adding new brands that target upscale snackers, Frito-Lay manages to extend its reach at the edges while satisfying the wide middle of its core customers. The company has responded to healthier eating habits with Baked and Natural lines and, recently, the company introduced brands that are aimed at higher-end snacker tastes as well as bottom-end “value” seekers. As reported by the New York Times, Frito-Lay has recognized the “bifurcation” of its consumers and has adjusted their business models to have more gradual product introductions in the future.

Great Brands 'Go Further' — Outwardly and Inwardly
Much has been made of the Ford Motor Company’s decision not to take government bailout money during the economic downturn. But the new marketing direction for Ford is revealing in several other ways. The “Go Further” message is the first time Ford has adopted one slogan for its entire global operation. In addition, the new direction is just as much focused outwardly as inwardly. More and more companies are realizing this powerful advantage.

The NFL Brand May Just Be Unstoppable
With all the PR problems and lawsuits the National Football League is facing these days, it’s worth noting how many ways the league manages its brand exceptionally well. There are many reasons it does well in marketing, but there are more mundane, long-term branding initiatives that have established the NFL as powerful and stalwart a brand as there has ever been in sports.

Simplicity Is NOT That Simple
Ken Segall is the exceptionally creative advertising and branding mind behind both Apple’s “Think Different” campaign and the name “iMac” itself. A Fast Company article and a book (Insanely Simple) recount anecdotes about how Steve Jobs’ obsessions drove the company’s success. So it’s ironic that his analysis of Apple’s devotion to simplicity as a religion is somewhat simplistic. Segall posits that if simplicity is the goal, complexity is the enemy. This is true only to a degree. To achieve simplicity, one doesn’t fight against complexity, but instead works through complexity to find the most elegant solution. The iMac-naming story is poignant and revealing.

Obama the Brand 2012: Behind the Curve
The 2008 Barack Obama presidential campaign was managed like a brand more than any other campaign in history. This year, with only six months left, the reelection campaign has no central identity to hang Obama’s brand on. Obama 2008 had iconic logos, messages, and slogans, such as "Hope and Change." There are several issues that arise the longer the campaign fails to organize around a single thought, emotion, or cause. The moment is lost, for instance, to build a brand that appears to have grown organically.

Hollywood Brand Power: Leveraging Mystery with 'Prometheus'
The Ridley Scott movie "Prometheus" opened with a big weekend because of a number of clever marketing moves. The movie beat expectations because there was no way to measure the effects of the several non-traditional marketing strategies that the movie implemented well ahead of release. First, the studio knew that the brands of director Ridley Scott and the Aliens series are formidable brands that carry loyal followings. This allowed them to use the secrecy of production to build a mystique without spending a penny on a media tour. In addition, just the idea that "Prometheus" might be some sort of “prequel” to Aliens caused rampant speculation. Feeding into the online movie buff frenzy is an economical way to create anticipation. Somewhat unusually, the film opened internationally before hitting the U.S. screens this weekend. The mixed reactions across the globe only fanned the flames of excitement over a different kind of sci-fi movie.

Creating Inspirational Social Responsibility Campaigns: SB '12, Day 4
The final day of the Sustainable Brands '12 Conference in San Diego showcased many examples of corporate social responsibility campaigns that paid off in major ways. These marketing efforts were associated with very specific causes and implemented so consumers could take an active role. Peter Callaro of Coca-Cola explained...

Anti-Consumerism as Marketing: SB '12, Day 3
The winner of the most-cited evidence that the Revolution Will Be Branded at the Sustainable Brands '12 Conference in San Diego is Patagonia’s “Don't Buy This Jacket” full-page ad in the New York Times. It’s revolutionary because it wasn’t just a marketing gimmick to get attention, but was using a sustainability initiative as reputation-building campaign. The ad announced the Common Threads program.

The Revolution Will Be Branded: Day 2 Report from SB '12
Day two of the Sustainable Brands ’12 conference in San Diego started off with a bang. Sustainability visionary and author Hunter Lovins asked the standing-room-only morning audience two provocative questions: Do we really want a revolution? Will the revolution be violent? Yes. And…maybe. What was unanimous in the morning sessions was that new paradigms of branding and marketing would be necessary as the world recovers from the industrial revolution and the failures of capitalism. Each morning speaker built on the momentum of the previous, as each offered inspirational testimonies by business leaders speaking about real sea change trends in the world.

Report from Sustainable Brands ’12: Beating June Gloom in San Diego
I'd always heard that the San Diego climate was perfect — a paradise. No one mentions June Gloom. That would be bad marketing. June Gloom is the short season when the humidity off the ocean drifts inland with regularity, bringing light rain and haze. Often, it burns off by noon, so all is not lost. Inside the conference rooms of the first day of Sustainable Brands ’12, there was much more hope for the future than gloom over the planet’s imminent demise.

Pink Ribbons, Inc. Movie: Backlash Against Cause Marketing
To many, the Komen for the Cure campaign is an inspirational ground-swelling of awareness for a disease that affects 1 in 8 women in their lifetimes. To some, the pink ribbon campaign hits the overdone red line when NFL players are wearing pink socks. To the harshest critics, however, the whole movement smacks of rampant corporate profiteering and insensitivity to the victims. The newly released Pink Ribbons, Inc. documentary movie may spark a national debate about whether cause marketing can ever be truly corruption-free.

A REAL Doctor’s Advice on Your Mobile Device?
Well, sort of. The La Roche-Posay brand of dermatologist-recommended skincare products just launched a Dermatologist By Your Side resource to help shoppers find the right product while standing, perplexed, in the aisle of a drug store. It’s a nice concept, but a few questions arise. The tagline on their website is: “Get REAL Skincare advice from REAL Board-Certified Dermatologists in REAL Time.” Wow, that’s revolutionary.

Rhyming Kraft's Switch to Mondelēz: What the Hey? or Puh-lease!
What possessed the venerable Kraft leadership to settle for Mondelēz as a name for its newly partitioned global snack company may never be fully explained.

Meme Timing Is Everything: The Tale of a Honey Badger
The Wonderful Pistachios’ edgy, celebrity-driven, and irreverent ad campaign was started in 2009 and has yielded remarkable sales results. When the brand decided to tap the untested celebrity of the honey badger last fall, the budding internet sensation was less than halfway to its current views total. However, much more fortuitous for Wonderful Pistachios was the “Tyrann Mathieu effect.”

Oreos: A Hundred Years Old or A Hundred Varieties Old?
It’s no surprise that the most successful cookie brand in history is everywhere. What is surprising is the combination of aggressive and conservative tactics used when managing the long-term health of the brand. Oreo has 26 million “likes” on its Facebook page, but the most successful initiatives have been slowly cultivated.

HBR Article: 77% of Consumers Don’t Want Brand Relationships?!
In an article posted this week on the Harvard Business Review website, titled “Three Myths about What Customers Want,” researchers at the Corporate Executive Board company try to debunk three marketing myths. Myth #1 in the article is “Most consumers want to have relationships with your brand,” which is certainly up for debate. The results are based on interviews with 7,000 consumers that suggest social media initiatives sometimes bark up the wrong tree, are largely ineffectual...

Is Target Test-Marketing Its New ‘Threshold’ Brand?
The Target company is notoriously secretive about its internal marketing, branding, and product rollout strategies. The company even reprimanded an employee for sharing too much about its consumer research policies with an author, as reported in the New York Times. That’s why it’s surprising that at a quarterly conference call with analysts, the company revealed a major rebranding effort well ahead of its rollout. The already well-established Target Home brand will become Threshold.

Mainstreaming Sustainability and Better-For-You Marketing
Consumer goods giant Henkel recently bought and updated the upstart Pure & Natural Brand, which built its identity around sustainable sourcing. The Pure & Natural brand launched in 2008 with a line of hypo-allergenic, natural, and biodegradable personal care products and a high eco-consciousness.

Forbes: WPP’s Top 'Growing' Marketing Trends
Trying to identify marketing trends is a daunting task in any era, but that didn’t stop the CEO of WPP, one of the world’s largest advertising and marketing services company in the world. At Forbes.com, “The 10 Most Important Marketing Trends According to Sir Martin Sorrell” is worth close close scrutiny. There’s a lot of activity bubbling under the surface of these 10 trends, and they are telling for as much as what is said as what is not said.

Is ‘Fat-Free' Marketing Always Risk-Free? Fat Chance.
This is a parable about unexpected consequences. A snack food company decided to add a few benefit statements to their refreshed package designs. What could be the harm if one of the new benefit statements was "Fat-Free"? The thing was, that particular product had always been fat-free. As it turns out, there could be significant harm. Loyal customers began contacting the company to ask why they had changed their favorite snack.

'Updating' Trusted Brand Icons Can Be a Dangerous Game
Early in the Twentieth Century, the chairman of Quaker Oats said: “If the business were split up — I would take the brands, trademarks and goodwill, and you could have all the bricks and mortar — I would do better than you.” PepsiCo may be ignoring that sage wisdom.

The True Test of an Iconic Brand? A Naked Logo
As reported by the media and analyzed by the Harvard Business Review, Starbucks caused quite a stir when the company dropped the name from its primary logo. This was a dramatic and definitive decision executed with total commitment. Nike and Apple are two prime examples.

Lessons from Celebrity Brand Marketing Missteps
Sometimes even brand loyalists and celebrity fans need to have their hands held and their hearts comforted during major brand transitions. James Wolcott's article in the June issue of Vanity Fair examines a number of celebrity brands of recent years that have risen and fallen with tragic irony. When an established celebrity brand begins to falter, he observes, brand loyalists can flee with alarming speed. Some have been beset by spectacular flame-outs, a la Charlie Sheen, but others have made missteps in the management of their branding and marketing that were wholly avoidable. Oprah's struggles with her own OWN cable network start from the very marketing promise within the name of the network. It's the Oprah Winfrey Network without much Oprah Winfrey on it.

Is the Demise of Elaborate Network Marketing 'Upfronts' Near?
This month in New York, television networks of all stripes roll out the red carpet, sometimes literally, for their biggest advertisers in hopes of garnering early commitment to the coming year’s shows. Called Upfronts, the events allow traditional and cable networks to wine and dine potential sponsors with presentations and parties.

Would the Olympics Still Go On Without Coca-Cola?
The Summer Olympics marketing season officially kicked off Thursday with the lighting of the torch that starts the 78-day London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay. Coca-Cola started their involvement in the Olympic Movement in 1928.

What, Me? Worry About Brand Dilution?
No matter how you feel about Donald Trump the man, Trump the brand is going strong — in the media, at least. The brand is currently exploring territories of expansion that few brands dare to even fantasize about. Twice in the last week, for instance, Trump has traveled to distant lands to receive paychecks in return for the use of his name on real-estate projects.

What a Nice Way to Promote a Nice! Brand
Store brands are powerful marketing tools in increasing consumer connection, building store loyalty, and communicating value. Walgreens recently completed a rollout of several hundred products under its new “Nice!” store brand, and backed it up with a clever TV ad just hitting the tube. More and more retailers are managing their store brands just like national, well-established brands. That Walgreens was able to “hit the ground running” with this campaign with a well-executed, completely formed brand concept is a testament to this. Retail giants such as Safeway, A&P, and Walmart have led the way, and now drugstores are catching on. Walgreens saw the value in consolidating existing store brands.

What, Exactly, Is 'New'? What Isn’t?
Steve Jobs may already be rolling over in his grave. His beloved company, Apple, recently made what Jobs might have considered a serious marketing faux pas. Apple chose not to give the New iPad a different name, number, or letter indication. Under Jobs, would there ever have been a branded New iMac, a New MacBook, a New iPhone? Imagine an awkward conversation in a few years… Q: Is that an iPad 2? A: No, it’s the New iPad.

“Ownable” Brand Elements — At a Steep Price
Everyone admires when a brand creates an “ownable” characteristic for itself. The shape of a Coca-Cola bottle and Tiffany Blue are the most famous examples. Distinctive brand elements like these often take decades to cultivate and establish. There are some brands that even register trademarks of a particular element.

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