Buzz does not equal Buy

I applaud this effort to try to figure out what Dads are buzzing about, but I don’t think they asked the right question.  The survey asked, “If you’ve heard anything about the brand in the last two weeks through advertising, news or word of mouth, was it positive or negative?”  All this is asking is whether or not the person has heard about the brand–it has nothing to do with purchase intent.  If we really want to know the brands that Dad’s perceive as the best brands, we need to ask them “What brands did you buy this week?

If you asked the Dad in our house this question, there is one brand he would tell you he buys on a daily basis.  Can you guess which one?! (Hint: this is a picture of my own personalized cup!)

Retire Ronald McDonald?

McDonald’s in under pressure to get rid of their iconic spokesman, Ronald McDonald, according to the Wall Street Journal:

More than 550 health professionals and organizations have signed a letter to McDonald’s Corp. asking the maker of Happy Meals to stop marketing junk food to kids and retire Ronald McDonald.

The McDonald’s letter, scheduled to run in ads in the Chicago Sun-Times, New York Metro, Boston Metro, San Francisco Examiner, Minneapolis City Pages and Baltimore City Paper, has been signed by such groups as the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and the Chicago Hispanic Health Coalition, as well as by well-known nutritionists and doctors like Andrew Weil, a doctor and director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine.

I’m not sure what I think about this.  I think parents should be responsible for what their children eat, but advertising to children is both pervasive and effective.  Yes, my children eat at McDonalds and probably shouldn’t, but they also eat mostly healthy food and get plenty of exercise.  We’re moving back to North Carolina, and I must wonder, are the Chik-fil-A “Eat Mor Chikin cows next?  After all, those shakes, waffle fries, and atrocious spelling can’t be good for kids either.


Closing the space…

The semester is over at MSU, but I just had to brag about my students in my large 130-person integrated strategy class.  It was hard to know if I was actually teaching them anything since there were so many of them and they were so distant, both in physical and emotional space.  One student commented that they like large classes because they like to be anonymous.  What they don’t know is that I don’t like teaching large classes because I don’t want them to be anonymous–that is not why I left the corporate world for teaching–I want to know them and whether or not what I am teaching them actually makes any difference to them in their learning and in their life.

Well, watch this commercial that one group created (which was above and beyond the project requirement) and let me know whether or not they learned anything this semester.


GM Repays its Loans Early, Oops, No it Didn’t!

The title of the article from Brand Channel says its all:  GM Loses  Trust After Payback Claim.

GM executives are being rightly scored – from Capitol Hill to Madison Avenue – for public statements and a new advertising campaign, both featuring CEO Ed Whitacre, that imply the company has repaid its obligation to the U.S. government and to the American people. Or at least that could be inferred as doing so.

The ads on all major TV networks have been noting that the company repaid its original $6.7-billion U.S.-government loan “in full” and “with interest five years ahead of the original schedule,” as Whitacre walks through a GM plant.

One problem with such a hopeful narrative, of course, is that GM simply repaid the loan with another part of its proceeds from the government bailout, robbing Peter to pay Paul, as it were – or maybe robbing Nancy to pay Barack. Whitacre didn’t mention that in the ads.

From a company that has the lost the trust of the American buying public, and now the American taxpayer, in so many ways, this is not how to start rebuilding trust.


Superbowl Ads a bust…

Superbowl Sunday is my favorite time of year, because I teach advertising and I love to watch the ads.  This year, I watched the game more than usual because the ads were nothing to write home about.  There were a couple, however, that caught my eye.

My favorite ad overall was the Snickers ad with Betty White.  Probably because I love anything with Betty White, but it was humorous and told the message of how “you’re not you without snickers.”

I also enjoyed the Google search ad for Paris, ending with a search for a crib.  It told a love story in 52 seconds, reminding us why we need Google in our life.  Very effective.

I did enjoy the Dave, Oprah and Leno bit, even though none of them are my favorite people.  Whoever thought this up was pretty savvy about lightening the late night tension.

As a NY Times reporter mentioned today, none of these ads were very daring, which I find surprising considering the price tag of $2.5-$3 million for a 30-second spot.  At this price, and with this audience, it is your opportunity to say something big and amazing, not something safe.  In addition, CBS spend a lot of time selling us their programs, which is not what I was hoping to see.


Is it the recession fair game in advertising?

News14Carolina asked me this question the other day–you can see my interview here.  They heard about the new offer from Ford and GM to pay your car payment if you lose your job and wondered if this was an appropriate way to talk to consumers at this tight economic time.  Hyundai made this offer last year, ahead of the curve and seems to be faring well because of it.

So, is it sincere of these companies to appeal to our fear and try to provide us with confidence in the future?

You can hear what I said, but here’s the gist–in my study of how companies build trust through open and honest communication, I found that those who were able to seem reliable and honest were able to build trust, and ultimately, corporate loyalty.  So, if these companies can help us when we need them, we will be there for them in the long-run.

Do you agree?