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Original articles from Sarah Jane Dunaway.
 
Time For A New Year, New You . . . Again.
Every year brands scurry to shove messages of renewal and revitalization down the throats of consumers. However, this year may be the right year.

Jump On the Gravy Train With Thanksgivukah
This season, being Jewish is in and not being Jewish is out — at least when it comes to the holidays. This year, Hanukkah begins on the same day as Thanksgiving for the first time since 1888! Little Jewish children everywhere often feel left out this time of year as they watch their fellow Christian schoolmates...

Celebrity Endorsements Lead to a Craze in Ballet Technique
These days women are talking about ballet, but their talk isn’t about the beauty of ballet or its artistic qualities. It’s about the latest fitness craze to hit the market — Pure Barre ballet and floor barre classes. The magic of branding and supply and demand has found a way to bring ballet to the masses. These classes cost as much as $40 per session...

Is Commercialization Really All That Bad?
Last night the city of Baltimore embraced the colors of purple and black in celebration of the Baltimore Ravens preseason football game against the Carolina Panthers. The city was ready to rumble and the stadium crowd was bursting with energy. As football season rolls into town the question arises — has the world of professional sports become too commercialized?

American Airlines Should Beware of the Angry Nursing Moms
This week, mothers throughout the Washington, D.C. and Baltimore metro area gathered in protest against American Airlines and its flight attendant who dared to ask a nursing mother to cover herself. During an American Airlines flight to California, a flight attendant was concerned about a 12-year-old girl sitting in an aisle seat next to a husband and his wife who was leaned up against the window nursing their infant baby. The mother was offended by the attendant’s request that she cover up while breastfeeding.

Why Quality Over Quantity Means Trouble For Light Beers
This week, AdvertisingAge published, “Survey Reveals ‘Serious Warning Signs’ For Big Light Beers,” written by E.J. Schultz. The article brought up research suggesting that the decline in light beer sales for such brands as MillerCoors and Anheuser-Busch InBev has more to do with taste and less to do with other factors such as economy and poor weather.

Bloggers as Brands
Maybe it’s because I have immersed myself into the world of blogging, but it occurs to me that there are two types of bloggers — those who understand branding and those who have never heard of the concept. Those who get it understand the power of color, copyediting, how to integrate social media, and the importance of [relevant] networking.

Return of the Twinkies!
We Americans have a soft spot for nostalgia, especially when it comes to our brands. Hostess Twinkies are probably the perfect illustration of our love and dedication. Only problem is, the love and devotion we have for our beloved — and momentarily unattainable — Twinkies can’t be solved simply with a reappearing act. Twinkies were first invented in 1930 by James Alexander Dewar of the Continental Baking Company. In May of 2012, Hostess, the original owner and distributor of Twinkies, filed for Chapter 11...

Five Rules to Choosing Color
When it comes to logo design and brand identity, there are a few rules I tend to follow. In fact, they’re non-rules, as it often seems that clients are more concerned with the rules then the purpose — to create a logo identity system that represents their company. This list, by the way, also applies to everything from picking out shoes to picking out a new paint color for your living room. 1. Design In Black & White. I say this because otherwise you’ll get distracted by color. Your client or company will get distracted by color. Always start off designing in shades of gray and black and white...

What's In The Name For MySpace?
Looks like MySpace is back at it. This week, the former social media hot spot put into motion an attempt to become relevant once again. On Wednesday it officially launched a new ad campaign worth $20 million in hopes of making a comeback. The campaign will include broadcast, cable, radio, and digital — which will run through the end of the summer. I have to admit that I just clicked on the new website...

Five Rules for Your Personal & Professional Profiles
When it comes to social media there seems to be a reoccurring question from brands and brand managers — how do you hide information about yourself, while maintaining your professional identity online? Perhaps your specific job entails social media or maybe you’re simply a blogger managing your own social media and another company’s, too. You may be worried about how to keep your personal and professional lives separated. At some point, there will be crossover.

The Brand Image of Victoria's Secret is Not Nearly As Flattering
Summer is on the horizon and all across the country women, particularly young girls, are actively searching for new bathing suits. Aside from specialty swimwear and department stores like Roxy and Nordstrom, many venture to Victoria’s Secret. Since the age of 16 years, I have refused to step foot in a Victoria’s Secret.

Why It's Not Okay To Call Your Customers Punks & P*ssies
Hopefully you’ve already heard, but this week the ears of Amy’s Baking Company Bakery Boutique & Bistro have been burning! Situated in cozy Scottsdale, Arizona, this little restaurant is owned by Amy and Samy Bouzaglo — a lovely couple who are so anything but lovely.

Own Your Weaknesses! Now Go Fix Them
I’m sure you’ve heard it before — not all companies want to be saved. Sometimes coming to terms with this truth feels more painful than a relationship breakup. This week JC Penney released its new, very honest, advertisement admitting that consumers hate the brand and asking that consumers like them again. We owe JC Penney a lot of respect for even taking this approach.

Stay Nice or Say Nothing During Emergencies
Unfortunately during this day and age, it’s important for companies and brands to have both physical emergency evacuation plans as well as an online emergency plan. The bombing in Boston set off an explosion of Twitter and Facebook posts left and right. While this is not a new occurrence — as witnessed during such emergency disasters and situations as Hurricane Katrina and the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School — it’s important for brands to develop a social media policy...

A Fresh Start for GEICO?
In case you haven’t listened to the radio lately — yes, the real radio, not satellite — Geico has released a new ad campaign geared towards military personnel and veterans. Their ads boast the usual elevator speech — save 15% or more — but with an added twist. This time their ad features copy such as, “supporting our troops since 1936,” and “since 1936 you are the people we love to serve.” I wonder if this new campaign from Geico has anything to do with USAA? USAA is staying strong with their advertising efforts these days...

A Counterproductive Brand Awareness for Beyoncé
Let’s start with the facts. Beyoncé is an amazing dancer, singer, and performer. Beyoncé is gorgeous. Beyoncé has a fantastic body and as a woman who spent years obsessed with countless Twiggy look-alike models, I love that she has a real figure with curves and is still gorgeous.

From Cocaine to Corn Syrup, Coca Cola Has Seen Its Battles
There’s been a great deal of debate surrounding the sugar and soft drink industry. From Mayor Bloomberg eliminating large soft drinks from New York City to countless reports about soda consumption linking to obesity, brands like Pepsi Cola and Coca-Cola have been witnessing quite a change of pace for their brand admiration.

The Woes of Misrepresentation
Last week I wrote, “Brand Storytelling When There’s Nothing to Tell.” A few people approached me later to discuss the idea of brands who misrepresent themselves. Over the years I’ve witnessed and learned a few key lessons that come only from being good at your job. First, the better you are at brand storytelling, the easier it is to recognize when someone is not. Secondly, the ability to fully analyze the good and the bad of a brand and its strategy is not nearly as fun as one would hope. As a brand strategist, marketer, brand designer, or whatever you call yourself, chances are you have at one time worked for a company pretending to be something it is not.

Brand Storytelling When There's Nothing to Tell
Occasionally, we as brand marketers may find ourselves between a rock and a hard place. Whether your specialty is social media, writing, design, or strategy, we all experience the same situation — a situation that requires us to truly think outside the box in order to come up with anything creative or useful in our brand messaging. Just like people, brands are unique...

Don't Forget to Brand Yourself As Gluten-Free!
One by one, industries [not just brands] are jumping onboard the gluten-free (GF) wagon. Lifestyle bloggers offer the latest gluten-free recipes in hopes of capturing the rapidly growing population of fad-diet females and males. While gluten-intolerance and Celiac Disease, an autoimmune condition, are real health concerns (I too am a sufferer) I gawk ever-so-slightly at the rising population of those going gluten-free by choice. The popularity of going gluten-free has led to the convenience of grocery shopping...

A Love & Hate for Car Insurance Brands
Earlier today, while watching Friends and catching up on some industry news, a commercial came on for GEICO featuring a little pig character who gets pulled over for a broken taillight. Frankly, there isn’t one GEICO commercial I’ve ever understood. I find the GEICO commercials ridiculous, pointless, and lacking in strategy. There are too many characters to count and the gecko is annoying. At the end of the commercial comes the one consistent message that “15 minutes can save you 15% or more!”

The Groovy Bebopping Tunes of FIAT
I’ve been a fan of the MINI Cooper brand for years. Back in college I attended a branding conference that included a case study on the MINI Cooper campaign, courtesy of the original Crispin Porter + Bogusky. I fell in love with the art and science of branding right then and there, and became a huge supporter of the MINI Cooper car design. Back in 2011 FIAT reemerged in the U.S. marketplace with an ad campaign featuring J Lo.

The Self-Destruction of Hashtags
During the Super Bowl last week, many commercials for brands featured Twitter hashtags. Along with the hashtags used in these ads, people were tweeting left and right using Super Bowl-themed trends such as #SuperBowlAds and #SuperBowlFoodAds. The use of hashtags is an interesting idea to explore. On one hand, it’s a fantastic way for marketers to continue their branding efforts by using phrases or words coined to keep the conversation going. Just look at Volkswagen's Twitter trend #gethappy.

Three Cheers for Budweiser and a Special Hug for Jeep
In a sea of funny, edgy, sexy and even downright gross commercials, one brand stood out during last night’s Super Bowl XLVII commercials. Expecting to feature the usual funny guy in a bar-bit, Budweiser took a different approach for its new Budweiser Black Crown beverage.

Online Marketing Companies as the Next WebMD
I am a big supporter of local businesses, especially through the participation of efforts such as Small Business Saturdays. I am also a firm believer that businesses of all sizes should put advertising and marketing first, which is why I often consult for small, local companies. It’s important that all companies develop clear business plans, cohesive identity systems, and even appealing business cards. Vendors like Vistaprint have done a wonderful job helping small businesses afford and produce the components necessary for a consistent design identity — everything from websites to loyalty cards to signage.

Show Some Compassion
Compassion for consumers is a highly underrated quality for brands. When your brand represents an industry so controversial that laws are questioned in response to what your brand stands for, it’s important to know who loves you and who hates you. Now, what do those people love and hate? Is it their families, their children, their education? Put all that information together.

Clean Up Your Brand's Act
2013 is well underway and you’ve probably just finished catching up on the dozens of ways to improve your life and well-being. Now it’s time to focus on your brand. Make your brand guidelines and identity materials accessible. A company’s brand identity is only as strong as the employees’ willingness to uphold the brand. It is crucial that your internal marketing and messaging be a mainstay of your organization. Make sure your employees can easily find the most current versions of your company’s logos (both for web and print) your letterhead, and corporate guidance.

Starbucks Wants America to Come Together
Earlier this week at Starbucks I ordered my usual nonfat latte and found the words “Come Together” handwritten in permanent marker on the top of the cup. This past week Starbucks began writing, “Come Together” on all customers’ cups in an effort to create unity and encourage our nation’s elected officials to come together. Starbucks’ Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Howard Schultz wrote, “In the spirit of the Holiday season and the Starbucks tradition of bringing people together..."

Hudson Trail Outfitters and Their Flawed Brand Positioning
In the Washington, DC metro area (specifically Annapolis, Maryland) there is a billboard with copy that reads, “Built for the World’s Hardest Climbs.” Next to the text is an image of a North Face jacket “climbing” its way out from a mountain cliff. When I first saw this billboard a couple weeks ago I thought, “Cool, North Face..."

Brooks Brothers and 5 Days of Savings
Brooks Brothers received some slack last week during its Five Days of Savings event featuring exclusive one-day-only promotions.The first day featured 40% off all sweaters. The second day included 40% off outwear and accessories. Each day highlighted a different department or product type and offered a 30-40% discount on such items. The final day of the promotion offered 30% off men’s fashion and non-iron shirts. Most customers heard of the promotion through sales associates at Brooks Brothers or through email messages.

Celebrating The Holidays With Starbucks
The winter holiday season has arrived. Hanukkah is just around the corner, followed by Christmas and New Year's. You can’t turn a corner without experiencing the holiday season [often involuntarily]. One brand in particular has truly captured the attention of consumers — Starbucks.

Nordstrom's Holiday Messaging
For a few years now, Nordstrom has released a message stating that it would not start decorating for the winter holiday season until after Thanksgiving. The message has received relatively low attention in the past [at least in the eyes of consumers]. The statement released by Nordstrom was reposted on their Facebook fan page this past week in a message that read, ‘We won’t be decking our halls until Friday, November 23. Why? We just like the idea of celebrating one holiday at a time.'

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