Brand Marketing

Ford Turns to Employees In An Effort To Break Brand Apathy

What do you do if, as VP of an ailing company, you're called to rekindle apathy in an iconic American brand?

If you're Jim Farley, group VP Marketing and Communications for Ford, you turn to your employees. Ford's latest marketing campaign called "Drive One", veers away from traditional marketing and turns back to its roots. People talking to people, in order to revive and engage a brand.

Farley realized that one reason the brand isn't selling so well is that people don't care about it. If they don't care, they won't be engaged, and they won't think of Ford when in the market for a new car. Struggling with the challenge of driving people to dealerships, Ford has asked its 750,000 employees to talk to friends and family about the quality and features of Ford vehicles. In spite of $1.76 billion spent on advertising last year, sales continue to dip.

The campaign will go heavy on TV and print spots which will drive people to the site It will also feature a series of webisodes featuring people expressing surprise reactions at the quality and "coolness" of Ford vehicles. Ford discovered that once consumers were in a car having a positive experience, they would be more likely to purchase a Ford in the future.

Ford has a battle ahead as it struggles to regain its brand sense of "American-ness." In an effort to remind consumers of its reputation as an American icon, Ford is turning to what might be its last resort in an effort to regain market share - the people.

Logo_ford_driveone_whiteWhat lessons can be learned out of this experience?

1) A huge advertising budget is of no value if people are not engaged with your brand

2) When everything else seems to fail, turn to your customers and prospects and give them an experience that leaves them wanting more

3) Appeal to the emotions in an effort to re-engage your brand and you will win people's hearts (and pocketbooks)

4) There are no guarantees in marketing and you can't afford to become complacent about your brand

5) Don't take a brands iconic status for granted - a brand is built on the experiences of the people who buy into it

What do you think about Ford's efforts to regain its iconic status? Where do you think the company went wrong? What would you do in Ford's situation?

BMW Mini Takes A Bite Into The Culinary World

Mini_palais_1An upscale restaurant in Paris has used the idea of subliminal branding to promote the Mini brand. The Mini Palais portrays aspects of the Mini brand in subtle ways including the use of the official Mini typeface on the lobby sign, on the menu and on T-shirts worn by staff. In the lobby, a row of clocks resembles the Mini dashboard. Mini posters are on the doors, and there is a rack of Mini magazines outside of the bathrooms.

The restaurant occupies the space beside the Grand Palais, a chic glass roofed art gallery. Needless to say, BMW holds events and product launches at the restaurant. According to an article in Marketing Magazine, Emmanuel Bret, Mini brand manager at BMW France, says that the "Mini brand is synonymous with chic urban's also trendsetting and unconventional. As it's a unique location, even for Paris, the Mini Palais perfectly represents our brand values."

The absence of any marketing for the Mini Palais falls in line with its incorporation of brand subtlety in that its success is due to word of mouth and the occasional restaurant review. 

Noted for its ability to incorporate brand experience into the cultural and entertainment worlds, BMW continues to prove itself a keen contender in the innovative world of brand storytelling. 

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Author J.K. Rowling Brings Dumbledore Out of the Closet

_41181987_dumbledore203Hold your now everyone knows about J.K. Rowling's shocking announcement at Carnegie Hall last week that Hogwarts School Headmaster Dumbledore is gay. According to a BBC News report, Rowling was quoted as saying that she regarded her novels as a "prolonged argument for tolerance" and urged her fans to "question authority".

As a Harry Potter fan, I have to admit that my first response was really "so what?" As a now famous author, people were reading her books and debating the question anyway, but it wasn't until now that the issue was brought out into the open.

Was the revelation merely a by-product of the work of this literary genius, or was this a brilliant marketing ploy designed to stir controversy and sell more books?

Either way, it still baffles me that the "outing" made front page headlines around the world. With everything else going on in the world, how is it possible that a fictional character can draw such global media attention?

Witness the power of the brand in the arts and entertainment world. The Potter brand has not only earned Rowling a prime spot in the extremely competitive world of literature, it has also made her very rich (way to go J.K!)

In an article in Scientific American, John Lasseter, Chief Creative Officer at Pixar and Disney Animation Studios once said that "an animator is just that special kind of talented actor who can make us believe that a collection of coloured polygons has heart, gets angry and outfoxes the coyote."

As long as millions of fans all over the world are so mentally and emotionally engaged with a fictional character, statements such as Rowling's will continue to gain international media attention. Not bad for a character that only exists in our imagination.

Do you think Rowling's revelation was meant to stir controversy, or was she merely answering a question from a devoted fan?

Either way, it's still brilliant marketing.


Jerry Seinfeld Promotes Bits and Bees for HP


Jerry Seinfeld bares his computer in a new ad for HP. Strategically placed on the HP homepage, the ad invites viewers to have a glance into what's on his laptop. Seinfeld is asking viewers to vote on a selection of funny videos using the downloadable toolbar StumbleUpon. Viewers can have their say into whether or not a video is funny, not funny - or whether they should just move on to the next clip.

The ad is highly intriguing and effective for several reasons:

1) It offers details into Seinfeld's notebook of choice - the HP Pavilion dv6500 along with a call to action (a link to purchase the product)

2) It gives viewers the impression that they are participating in his career decisions

3) It offers a link to Seinfeld's hilarious HP TV commercial

4) It offers a direct tie-in and link to his new film - Bee Movie with a free downloadable Bee Movie gadget

5) It's pretty funny - you can't help but smile when you see these clips

Using interactive techniques such as these designed to encourage audience participation is a highly effective form of advertising, and highlights the entertainment potential of advertising in the online space. The fact that the ad ties into so many different mediums only increases its effectiveness and likeability. The use of humour makes the ad human, and personalizes the experience. We start to think that we may actually have input into the decisions that Seinfeld makes on the comedy stage.

So..fellow Seinfeld fans...what do you say - a little HP for you? Do you think that this ad will encourage potential buyers to purchase HP?

BRAND Springsteen

Magic_648_3If a brand could be represented by an artist and his music, then its essence would be Bruce Springsteen.

Springsteen and the E Street Band rocked the Air Canada Centre on Monday night to a full house of more than 20,000 screaming fans. To the non-fan, the response might be..."so what!"

As a lifetime fan and businessperson, what I saw in Bruce that night was more than an ode to the artist and his band, it was an experience of the BRAND.

If we look at the elements that make up a brand, Springsteen represents all of them. A brand:

1) Is timeless

2) Tells a story

3) Connects to the consumer in rational and emotional ways

The experience of being in a concert venue with 20,000 fans singing every lyric in unison is inexplicable. It's pure magic. For almost 3 hours, every person in that room was involved in some sort of communal experience that brought us back to the days of our youth - then, as soon as it was over - threw us right back into the present.

Bruce - we salute you. Thank you for making it real. And yes, Bruce - as do you, we too believe in the Promised Land.