I am on a break from JustMyTake but after reading this piece, I thought it would be a good idea to share as a year-end wrap up.
Dave Barry, a syndicated columnist who cut his teeth at the Miami Herald, posted this creative review of 2021. I think most of you will enjoy his perspective – cheeky at best and very funny. Remember, I don’t touch religion or politics and this is not my take. Thanks to Dave Barry for this good read.
By definition, a brand is a mix of tangible and intangible attributes, symbolized in a trademark, that can be managed to create value for organizations and customers. Marketers around the world, from consumer electronics to nano components to automobiles, help support their company or organization’s growth using their brand(s) as a marketing platform. That platform helps deliver a branding strategy that for the most part is prominent across the business spectrum:
Focus on getting chosen – your product, your price, your packaging, your customer service.
Stake your claim – be very clear about your brand promise.
Choose your ideal customer carefully – be aware that not every customer values or appreciates your product or service and the way it’s delivered.
Discover what’s important and make sure your organization delivers – understand what your ideal customers want and need, and stay away from creating product or service attributes that your customers do not care about.
Make it easy to buy/acquire/participate – remove any and all barriers for your customers to purchase your products and services.
Those strategies or initiatives sound like the basic marketing block and tackling. The reality is that over my career I continually have found companies and organizations struggling to stay focused on these basic strategies, leading to failure to deliver on their quarterly and annual financial forecasts and plans.
This week’s take stems from the issue that surfaced in the first episode of the Sex and The City reboot. Long story short, the Mr. Big (Chris Noth) character was killed off in the first episode after riding a Peloton bike. The next day, Peloton’s stock dropped dramatically – but more importantly, Peloton answered on their brand promise. It resurrected Mr. Big with a TV spot featuring none other than Noth and Peloton instructor Jessica King. The dramatic advertisement, released Sunday and narrated by actor Ryan Reynolds, quickly blew up online, amassing more than 45,000 likes on Twitter and spurring a slew of headlines. Peloton’s marketers capitalized on what initially was a public relations nightmare and with a smart TV spot and social media campaign, delivered their brand promise. Note: their stock reclaimed all initial losses after two days. Note: last Thursday, the ad spot was taken down from Twitter and YouTube due to allegations of sexual assault by Chris Noth.
A Detroit Auto Show experience. The show always starts off with the main exhibitors conducting a press conference, most of the time a high-end lights, sound, and video production. The year was 2009 and Dodge Ram decided to take their press conference outside (in January), to deliver a “one-of-a- kind” press event to promote their new truck. Note: Even twelve years ago, the Ford F150 was dominating the truck category.
Absolutely freezing outside, I was joined by 1,000 spectators who witnessed, in a word, fail. A cattle drive along the street in front of Cobo Hall did not resonate with any of the spectators, who sat awestruck as the cattle, including steers, broke through the barriers as Dodge Ram’s VP tried to speak over the laughing crowd. In an epic turn of events, to top off this baseless press event, Ford had bought out the digital signage on the Cobo Arena, visible to the entire crowd, and ran ad spots promoting the Ford F150 as the #1 truck in America. I can’t image the number of Dodge Ram staff and agencies who lost their jobs after this epic fail. Move the cursor to the 5:00 minute mark and you will see what is simply called a cluster —-.
Marketers throw around the word “optics”. “The optics look do not look good” is frequently stated in response to issues and concerns with a person or entity or brand. How about this for ‘bad optics?’ Last Saturday, with the death and destruction caused by the devastating tornadoes across the U.S., an Amazon warehouse in Illinois was destroyed resulting in the deaths of six workers. Instead of Jeff Bezos taking one of his many private jets to Illinois, he was shown celebrating the launch and landing of his rocket in Texas. That is bad optics. A lesson learned.
Speaking of a lesson learned, here is an example of a smart marketer who was very focused on his brand. I had the opportunity to design and build an outdoor pavilion exhibition stand for Patrick Ewing’s 33 brand. His shoes, back then and now, continue to sell in many European markets, so the ISPO conference in Munich was a perfect marketing play for the promotion of his brand. Patrick Ewing could not have been more appreciative of the work that we put into the pavilion, and was of course very proud of his exhibition stand. I had other clients at ISPO, including the sports sock company Thor-Lo, and asked Patrick to walk with me over to Thor-Lo’s stand in another building. He was more than happy to go with me and greet the Thor-Lo people, who were so excited that Patrick had come over to say hello. The big takeaway: when Thor-Lo asked Patrick to take photos with their group, the first thing he did was to turn and view the surroundings behind him. Why? He wanted to make sure that no competing brands would be seen in the photos – for all the obvious reasons. Brand was essential to Patrick – another big lesson learned for me.
There are many examples of great brand strategy. No matter the product or service, the goal of brand strategy is to shape the perceptions of a brand’s audience so that ultimately we can influence them. A brand strategy sets the plan for shaping those perceptions through different forms of expression…both visual and verbal. In summary, the definition of brand strategy: “A plan for the systematic development of a brand in order to meet business objectives.” -Marty Neumeier, Brand Gap
Adios, pay it forward, be safe, and Happy Holidays to all.
A Take On Making A Run For City Council. Lebanon, Elon, And The Ukraine.
Many of my guest writers have offered up their take on various topics including the Middle East, the bond market, the use of energy, sports journalism, the corporate events industry and many others. This week, our guest writer covers a subject that I stay away from: politics. My friend and associate J.H., with no political background or experience, made a run at a city council seat in the north Atlanta area. Here is his take on making that run for office:
In Life There Is Either a Sideline or a Field of Play
SEARCH Two years ago, I chose to leave a twenty-five-year career as Chief Revenue Officer for three Fortune 500 companies. My primary role was leading national sales and customer support teams in the telecom and supply chain industries. During the first 12-18 months I polished up on my golf game, began a consistent workout regimen and adapted to the Coronavirus life style. However, all along this journey, something was missing. It became apparent to me that I was missing a PURPOSE. Finding PURPOSE for me is not easy. In fact, it is a struggle. As a result, I decided to simply step off the sidelines and search for a number of potential opportunities…What is the worst that could possibly happen?
One night at a city summer concert, I left the sidelines and stepped onto the field of play. Although having no prior relationship with our city mayor, I took the opportunity to walk up and introduce myself to him. Since he was a two-term mayor running for re-election, I offered my time/talent and treasure. As a result, I soon found myself actively participating as a member of the mayor’s campaign re-election team.
OPPORTUNITY My relationship with the mayor developed rapidly, where upon he asked if I would consider running as a city council member. Not fully realizing what it would take to defeat a two-term incumbent council member running for re-election, I allowed myself 24 hours to contemplate and simply said…Yes.
PURPOSE That night I woke up at 2AM realizing the ramifications of my decision. I had no political experience, a limited social network, no marketing resources, limited social media presence and by the way, it would take at least $20K in funds to run a campaign of any relevance. The uncomfortable realization of stepping off the sideline and onto the field of play hit me like a ton a bricks! I was forced to get out of my comfort zone, use my God-given abilities, and quickly put a game plan together.
GAME PLAN Since running a campaign was foreign to me, the need to find a campaign manager was essential. I needed a campaign manager willing to coach me in the field of play. After conducting three interviews…I found the coach! Time was of the essence; we developed a game plan:
Created a website, email, Facebook, and Instagram accounts.
Developed campaign messaging: a. Keep us safe b. Preserve our neighborhoods c. Hold the line on taxes d. Planning our traffic wisely
Ordering 250-yard signs with distinct colors and branding
3000 campaign brochures
Two campaign mailers to likely voters
Newspaper ads and interviews
Recruited 7 active volunteers for phone calling and neighborhood door knocking
Garnered resident voting lists with names, addresses and phone numbers
Solicited donations and self-funded campaign expenses. GAME TIME (PURPOSE) My opponent utilized his existing network and social media presence to simply ask his supporters: “Who is willing to place a campaign sign in their yard?” He did not have the need to conduct an active ground game. I on the other hand, I had no choice but to hit the streets. My strategy was to take my campaign messaging to the residents to create awareness and support. Each day, my wife would collect street names and likely voters to call on. Each day we would call on ~75 residences. My wife would drive up to a house, I would get out, usually walk a long driveway to knock on a door and voice my 30-second campaign pitch and messaging on why they should vote for me. Oh yes…I was selling. This pattern went on for weeks. In the end, together we had knocked on over 1800 doors, placed 200-yard signs and collected resident concerns. Some days the temperature was stifling. Those days were quickly overcome by meeting and having discussion with so many good people. It was not about right or left politics, it was about local, state and sometimes national issues. I found it amazing by meeting a resident for the first time and transitioning my pitch into meaningful conversations. I just wish our state and national politicians would conduct themselves accordingly.
I will never forget one memorable conversation with a local resident. It was one of those high humidity, stifling afternoons. I walked up to a large single story ranch home. An elderly woman with white cropped hair and piercing beautiful blue eyes answered the door. I estimated she was between 71-74 years old. As I completed my campaign pitch, perspiration rolled across my face. The lovely woman realized my discomfort as asked if I would like a cold drink. I thanked her, but pointed to my wife and indicated there is water in our car. She asked “How long have you been married”. I proudly responded, “forty years.” She responded, “Oh that is nothing, my husband and I have been married for 68 years.” She leaned toward me and with those piercing beautiful blue eyes and said, “Do you know the secret of our marriage?The secret is, I have never uttered the word divorce…BUT……I thought the word MURDER many times.” I nearly fell over with laughter.
FOURTH QUARTER (2 Minute Warning) My campaign did get in the red zone on election night. But unfortunately, we did not cross the goal line. Of course, I was disappointed with the election result. But I have no regrets leaving the sidelines and stepping onto the field of play. It was an enjoyable, purpose-filled experience that I will never forget. The campaign represented a single game. As we all know life is a season of many games. As a result, I have continued the pursuit of purpose with the Wounded Warriors volunteerism, a healthcare startup company, and political action organizations.
Is now the time for you to get in the game? Come on in…the water iswarm!
My Takes For The Week
Are space flights with the likes of Blue Origin and SpaceX becoming a ho-hum event? I hope not as yesterday’s NS-19 flight and landing was fantastic. What these private space exploration entities are doing is remarkable.
Speaking of space, here is the headline of the week: Devastating solar storm spotted in nearby star system could be a warning sign for life on Earth. No, this was not reported by the New York Post or the Drudge Report.
What exactly is a ‘diplomatic boycott’ of the Beijing Olympics will it overshadow the actual athletic competition?
T-minus thirteen days to Christmas and 19 days to start a New Year. 2021 was challenging but way better than 2020. Let us all hope that 2022 is great.
Why have entities or countries not stepped up to assist Lebanon with their very serious economic crisis? Is the World Bank and International Monetary Fund not in place to assist nations in despair?
Elon Musk says he may quit his everyday job. Yawn.
Is there a new definition of democracy someone forgot to tell me about?
What is the betting line on Russian troops crossing into the Ukraine?
There is a good bit of discussion surrounding a four-day work week. Will companies in the United States adapt to this movement?
Prayers to all who were devastated by Friday night’s tornadoes and storms. So sad. There has to be a better solution to early warning systems for tornadoes.
I leave today’s post with something to contemplate. With all due respect:
Adios, pay it forward, be safe, and have a Sunday Funday!
I hope everyone enjoyed the Thanksgiving holiday. We came out of the holiday weekend with the unfortunate news that another variant of coronavirus had reared its ugly head. This strain, named Omicron by the W.H.O., is another variant of concern, similar to the Delta strain of Covid-19.
As always, I will not mince words, but I will be cautious with my opinions of the vaccines and the pharmaceutical companies employed to battle coronaviruses. I have both Moderna shots, as well as the booster. It was my personal decision, which was simply based on the science and data published to date. While I do feel good about receiving the three shots, I am a bit concerned about the reaction generated by the discovery of the Omicron variant. My concern is not with the worldwide healthcare organizations or the governments that oversee these entities. My concern is with the pharmaceutical companies participating in the development and production of coronavirus vaccines. No more than twenty-four hours after the Omicron variant was publicized, the Moderna CEO, Stéphane Bancel, declared that they had started working on a vaccine to combat this new coronavirus strain. While on the surface his statement was well-received, his comments and viral public relations campaign did not sit well with me. My first reaction is how could Moderna, after no more than forty-eight hours, have discovered and studied the Omicron mutations on the spike protein, which the virus uses to infect human cells? Bancel went on to state that the existing vaccines, including the booster, would probably not be effective with battling Omicron. I just found it very odd that the CEO of a major pharmaceutical company would provide the world with these statements so soon after the discovery of this new variant.
While I want to believe that Bancel and Moderna were way ahead of the curve with the discovery and identification of the Omicron strain, my quick research of Moderna’s year-to-date and quarterly earnings cause me concern. The U.S. government has paid Moderna over $10B to produce and distribute the Covid-19 vaccine. That is $10B of taxpayer dollars to one of a few companies involved with the creation of coronavirus vaccines. Was Bancel expressing his concern about the new variant, or positioning Moderna to reap additional and massive top line revenue by creating and distributing a new round of vaccines? A legitimate healthcare executive being forthright or another money grab? You may think my take is a bit harsh and shallow, which is fair enough, but explain to me what the go-forward is with paying these pharmaceutical companies billions of dollars should five more coronavirus variants come our way?
Some Things I Think As We Approach Year-End:
NASA and the Japanese space agency’s plan to slam a rocket into an asteroid is underway. Designated as the Double Asteroid Redirection Test, this is a test of ‘planetary defense’ against near-Earth objects. I guess it is better to practice altering the orbit of an asteroid than waiting around for a real-life “Deep Impact” movie scenario to play out?
The Easy Company was the 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. HBO produced a documentary about Easy Company, called Band of Brothers, which provided us with the exploits of this parachute and rifle battalion. The last surviving officer of Easy Company passed away last week at the age 99. Ed Shames was the first member of the 101st to enter the Dachau concentration camp, a day after is liberation. When Germany surrendered, Ed Shames and his men of Easy Company entered Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest where Ed managed to acquire a few bottles of cognac, with a label indicating that they were for “the Fuhrer’s use only.” Later, he would use the cognac to toast his oldest son’s Bar Mitzvah. RIP Edward D. Shames.
What is the mindset of the rogue groups of people breaking into stores and taking merchandise at will? Where does this self-serving, criminal activity stem from? I have a very definitive way to end this behavior once and for all – but will spare all of you the details. Well, here is a hint: it is the Italian breed of the mastiff, and humans are no match for this animal.
I can’t wait for the docu-drama about the Cuomo brothers: Andrew, the former governor of New York, and his brother Chris, who hosted CNN’s #1 prime time show. Their father, the late Mario Cuomo, was not without controversy while the governor of New York between 1983-1994.
There is no greater college football spectacle than the SEC championship game. Yesterday was a perfect example.
Speaking of competitive sports, Tiger is back at it. This weekend, he hosted his annual charity golf tournament, the Hero World Challenge. This tournament, held in the Bahamas, is in its 20th year and has raised over $32M to date with the proceeds benefiting youth focused charities. For those of us who were wondering if Tiger would ever be able to play golf again, take a look at this short video from Thursday’s first round:
With 2022 just over three weeks away, what can we expect with our economy, healthcare, and military? How well will the financial markets continue to perform? How will the Delta and Omicron variants, as well as future strains, effect hospitals and other healthcare facilities? Will relative détente continue with China, North Korea, Russia, and the Middle East?
I had not watched an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm for many years. I caught an episode last week, only to be reminded of how Larry David’s acting is so bizarre and uncomfortable. Is he really acting or is he the greater generation of Archie Bunker, George Jefferson, and Al Bundy? The stuff that comes out of his mouth is multi-dimensional…funny, alarming, rude, and vulgar…all wrapped up into one. Though this video clip is only three minutes, it just about wraps up what Larry David is all about. As my daughter frequently tells or texts me: OMG.
Adios, pay if forward, be safe, and have a Funday Sunday!!