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Archive for October, 2008

?Branding Bag? Advertising Industry Issues

Children vs. Obesity: Ban Ads or Tax Junk Food?

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Recent research has shown that British (and American) children are getting fatter, suggested there is a link between childhood obesity and a slew of adult ailments, and revealed that 95% of food ads aimed at children promote brands that contain unhealthy levels of fat, salt and sugar.

Therefore, argue a number of food lobbying groups, by restricting unhealthy foods advertising to children we will reduce their consumption and thus improve the health of future generations.

Heady stuff. Charlie Powell from Sustain, an alliance of campaigners for better food, claims: "Advertising is designed to exploit children's vulnerabilities." Meanwhile, Kath Dalmeny from the Food Commission says: "Junk food advertisers know that children are especially susceptible to marketing messages. They target children as young as two with toys, cartoon characters, gimmicky packaging and interactive web sites to ensure they pester their parents for the products."

Darren Neville, editor of Consumer Policy Review, claims that children are "bombarded with marketing and advertising for what are often unhealthy foods".

We should take these arguments with a large pinch of (metaphorical) salt.

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Brand Watch

iTunes Brand Unstoppable?

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I love Italians because they have better words than us. Not just better-sounding words, but just generally better words. Let me give you an example. The Italian word for positioning statement is posizionamento. How much cooler is that?

Here is another example. My favourite word is sprezzatura. It means making difficult things look easy. It's an awesome word that does not even have an English equivalent. But if it did, it would be a word commonly associated with iTunes. In April 2003, Apple launched its incredibly successful music-download site and made it all look so easy. So much so, that a host of idiotic competitors have gone charging after it ever since, only to fall flat on their red faces.

For four entertaining years, a cavalcade of big brands has been blowing millions creating 'rivals to iTunes', launched with all the sound and fury 'big marketing' can muster, but fizzling and dying a few embarrassing months later with a three-line press release.

Barely six months after iTunes came Dell. The computer brand produced a very uninspiring music-player and partnered with Musicmatch for two years before an almost total lack of customers persuaded it to get out of the MP3 player business before it had ever really got into it.

Next came Coca-Cola's mycokemusic. In the UK, the Coke site actually preceded iTunes and offered British punters 250,000 songs with individual tracks costing from 80p. By 2006, Coke realised that if you can't beat them, join them. It closed the site and started to partner with iTunes.

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?Branding Bag?

Don’t Confuse the Value of Customers and Sales

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I recently met up with an old friend, Simon, a sales director. We had dinner near my flat and then I walked him to the nearest tube station, London Bridge.

Literally next door to the station is The London Dungeon. The Dungeon is remarkable not because of its assortment of grotesque waxworks in various states of dismemberment, but because of the queue that often stretches up the road from the entrance for more than 100 metres.

When Simon caught sight of this long line of customers he became excited.

So much so that as we were saying our farewells, he gestured to it and said: "That, my friend, is great marketing. You should write one of your blogs about the London Dungeon." His comment really hit home, because for the past two years I have continually encountered that queue and thought one thing: that Dungeon really needs someone to sort that out; it's got a problem with its marketing.

As a salesperson, Simon thinks marketing is all about a long line of customers waiting to pay and a turnstile continually turning: ker-ching, ker-ching, ker-ching.

As a marketer, I see that same long line of people, but my eye wanders to the people at the back of the line. I notice that some of these customers, faced with a wait of an hour or more, decide not to bother and walk away.

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?Branding Bag? Derrick Daye

Obama, McCain: A Political Brand Analysis

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With less than 7 critical days before the November 4th U.S. Presidential Election, we turn to some of the world's savviest marketers – our readership, to help secure a better understanding of each candidate's brand.

Purpose
This brief survey is designed to identify the dimensions and qualities of the John McCain and Barack Obama brands. It will explore how different customer segments perceive each of these two presidential candidates differently. It will also explore the alignment of these candidates with the qualities that are most important to the people registered with the parties that they represent.

Neutrality
This survey is not supported by any political party or interest group. It was created by our chief brand strategist Brad VanAuken, author of Brand Aid, for the sole purpose of exploring the presidential candidate brands. Individual responses will remain confidential. All responses will be explored at a group level (men versus women, Democrats versus Republicans, etc.).

Incentive
Anyone who takes the survey will have the opportunity to win one of the following: a copy of Brand Aid, an Amazon.com gift certificate or a Starbucks gift card through a random drawing.

The average time to take the survey is less than 10 minutes. Please click here and help us make a difference.

We will report the results and the winners here on Branding Strategy Insider prior to election day.

Thanks in advance.

Derrick Daye and Brad VanAuken

Sponsored By: Brand Aid

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Brand Watch

A Study in Hollow Brand Values

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One would expect that an annual marketing budget of more than a billion dollars would buy you a very well-positioned corporate brand. But that has not been the case for Pfizer.

This decade, the world's biggest pharmaceutical corporation launched some very successful drugs, including Lipitor and Viagra. But when it comes to its own corporate brand Pfizer is, like many multinationals, a mess of generic and insipid brand values.

All the usual suspects are there: integrity, innovation, customer focus, respect for people, community, teamwork, performance, leadership and, of course, quality. It is a roll-call of the generic from a corporation that sees branding as a superficial patina and not the fundamental core of its business.

Does it matter? With profits on average in the billions does it even need brand values at the core of its business?

We might get a different perspective from the people of Kano in Nigeria.

In the mid-nineties, with a meningitis epidemic raging in the region, a team of Pfizer researchers travelled to the city in what the company claims was a philanthropic mission. The team arrived with large quantities of Trovan, an experimental and, at that time unapproved, drug.

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