Monday, December 29, 2008

Saturn: Brand Makeover

Challenge: Revive a forgotten automotive brand that was well-loved in its hay day but hasn’t delivered on styling and craftsmanship in the past 10 years.

Insight: Saturn’s new vehicles are smartly engineered and appropriately sized for a nation that is facing $4 gasoline prices and over-priced European autos.

Solution: We chose to remind people that Saturn was a smart choice in a world gone super-sized. Our attitude in advertising communications attacked the excessive consumption of our society and offered Saturn as a smart and savvy purchase decision. We were able to make the brand relevant and unique because of it’s humble appeal, contemporary appearance and thoughtful engineering.

Monday, December 22, 2008

TGI Friday’s Brand Revamp

Challenge: Bring new life and pizzazz to a well-known brand that had lost just a little of its luster in the wake of new and more exciting restaurant concepts.

Insight: TGI Friday’s was the birthplace of fun but had become a cliché. It had become just a place to eat, rather than a destination for fun.

Solution: For starters, we reminded people that the Friday night experience was only a visit away. By taking ownership of the fun and excitement of Friday nights we were able to reinvigorate the brand with contemporary relevance, while retaining its core values. Our external and internal communications featured the updated décor, new tantalizing entrees and the flamboyant cocktails that Friday’s became famous for. We made Friday’s newly relevant – and fun.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Fresh & Easy Launches in U.S.

Challenge: Create an entirely new brand from scratch in a category dominated by large established players. Design over 2000 private label packaging designs. Launch over 100 stores in the first year.

Insight: Consumers perceived that fresh food was the domain of the supermarkets and that convenience meant stores with a limited range of food at high prices. The opportunity existed for a convenience store that offered a comprehensive range of high-quality yet competitively priced fresh and pre-packaged food.

Solution: From packaging and in-store experience to offline and online advertising, the fully integrated campaign focused on quality, freshness and easy to shop locations.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Why BJ's Restaurants are so great!

Last year I had never even been inside a BJ's Restaurant. My office had an opportunity to work on some FSI ads and do a little brand analysis for them. As it turns out, they didn't need much help. They have an interesting combination of elements that create a very unique "brand experience". First of all, the interior design is just funky enough to appease the elitist snobs who wouldn't be caught dead in a chain restaurant. Next, they have a very diverse menu which has a range of items to handle your entire crew, from pasta to burgers to pizza and beyond.

Okay, now comes the interesting part. They have plasma screens playing all the sports you could ever want -- and they have an amazing line-up of handcrafted beers on tap. Sounds like a sports bar, but doesn't look or feel like one.

It's all in the name: lots of snickering from my teenagers as we roll in for lunch... so should they change the name? No way!

I love BJ's.

Is it all just Tulip Mania?

Okay -- so gas is down to about $1.50 a gallon and the DOW is still fluttering along? Ever hear of Tulipmania? Yeah, well it's the phenomenon that rocked Holland in 1637. People went nutso for tulips as they were the new, cool flower that had never been experienced in that part of the world.

Then they suddenly realized that they were all over priced, stopped buying them -- and the bottom fell out. No more crazy prices... and lots of people burned by the "bubble" that was created. Hmmm. Sounds like the housing market.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Pawn Shops and Thrift Stores thrive in Poor Economy.

Okay, let's be honest. We're all trying to curb our spending and be fiscally responsible in these tough economic times, right? But if you are looking for a sweet dea,l try your local pawn shop or thrift store. Maybe you were too cool to be looking around in these shops in the past -- but these stores are unloading tons of very hip, affordable goodies. You can play Santa while you sift through the bins at the Goodwill store or find a great deal on a slightly used SONY PS3 down at the pawn shop. And if you were looking for a musical instrument, now is the time to negotiate an excellent price on that axe you always wanted! This could be a good year for Guitar Hero after all.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

fresh & easy delivers value in a tough economy

The new fresh & easy stores will be a breath of fresh air in these tough ecomomic times. Great quality and variety -- not unlike what people rave about from Trader Joe's and Costco -- but at reasonable prices and located in areas that have been relatively underserved by the grocery world. I think Americans will initially be underwhelmed by the interior space and the lack of faux premium offerings. In time, they will discover that the quality is very top notch -- and the store is very easy to shop. It's about the size of a Trader Joe's but more the vibe of a Costco... no frills, big aisles, slightly industrial.

The biggest consumer promise they have made is that the shopping "experience" will be better because of customer service and the quality/value equation. I think the staff still needs a bit more training in order to teach new shoppers and help them through the check out. It's pretty much all self-check out and my last few visits were unassisted(no one even asked).

In these first months of operations, I really think they will need to step it up on customer service and reach out to the community to let them know that they exist... and WHY they exist.

WHY I CARE: I spent a couple of years in the trenches, helping develop the new fresh & easy Neighborhood Markets. The team from Tesco are amazing and should be given much of the credit for how the stores look and function. Simon Uwins is the marketing and brand leader, a Tesco veteran who spearheaded the design and development of the stores. I headed the team at Deutsch -- mainly working on packaging(over 2000 items), retail signage, uniforms, web site development, newsletters and the flyer. We also created documentary films, internal presentations and tried to help the "Americanize" the brand.

Dr. Pepper finds a way to achieve Chinese democracy

Axl Rose has responded to Dr. Pepper’s offer to give everyone (except Slash and guitaristBuckethead) a free can of soda if Guns n’ Roses finally release the long-awaited Chinese Democracy this year. Dr. Pepper's vice president of marketing Tony Jacobs says: "We never thought this day would come but now that it's here all we can say is: The Dr Pepper's on us."

Guns n' Roses and Dr. Pepper? I know, it seems like a bizarre pairing but who really cares? I will gladly chug a few DP's in order to hear the latest (17 years in the making) offering from Axl Rose. And hats off to the latest ad campaign for getting us to slow down and "taste" our Dr. Pepper... huh? Hmmm. Those spots seem aimed at 40 year olds, not the next generation of DP drinkers. But then again, the Guns n Roses faithful are all getting close to 40 something, so crank it up!

BMX breathes life into Levi's.

The Levi Strauss Signature® brand today announced the creation of the Levi Strauss Signature BMX team and its partnership with four accomplished BMX bike riders: Jamie Bestwick, Morgan Wade, Anthony Napolitan and Corey Martinez.

This is genius. I have witnessed my own teenage sons recent attraction to Levi's and wondered why this brand suddenly became relevant? Such an age old trick: associate with current heroes of the youth of today! Better yet, make it seem like your product was designed specifically for this crowd. I feel like Guitar Hero and Levi's are taking advantage of "brand value" that was already there -- and just needed a new and improved way to appear relevant and compelling to today's youthful audience.

I'm on my way to the mall to get a pair right now. Hmmm... they would look good with a pair of Converse All-Stars right?

The Brand Bubble Bursts for Detroit

I have worked with the automotive industry for many years and always was amazed at how we are so captivated by new cars. We are easily persuaded to toss aside our 3 year old vehicle in favor of the latest offering with a low APR or cash back offer. Also amazing was Detroit's development of V8's, Hemis and Supercharged, Big Block gas guzzlers. Okay... we all get a bit weak in the knees when we see the retro inspired Camaro and the new Charger, right? But the ill-timed launch of these vehicles and the lack of development of "cool" and affordable hybrids really seems like the biggest brain fart of the century. The New Camaro is a sweet looking ride. If it came in a $20,000 Hybrid version, and didn't cost GM $23,000 to make, market and sell... we would be celebrating some great design and engineering innovation!