Know thy consumer

May 28, 2009

By Gene Paek, Director of Interactive @NYCA 

Words to live by when utilizing CRM.  Bigger issue is that CRM to many brands today means just collecting names. Biggest issue, however, is that many brands today don’t realize how to know their consumer—or just as important—their potential consumer.

I am a coffee consumer. And I mean a consumer. From four cups of coffee a day (now down to two cups a day) I am still statistically above average in my coffee consumption on a daily basis. McDonald’s recently launched a $100 million campaign to support its McCafe specialty drinks with a strategy to be an everywhere-you-look, invade your dreams approach.  I’ve looked everywhere and thought about where I’ve looked everywhere and the only recall I have for a McCafe drink is at the POP.   mccafe

From a target demo perspective, I am a prime prospect: within the 25-54 target demo, have 2+ kids, drink coffee on a daily basis, and get my daily intake from Starbucks. So consistent that Xan and Jason (Starbucks employees) know my drink of choice (tall coffee, 2 shots of hazelnut, room for cream). 

I am an avid TV viewer, listen to the radio and pay attention to at least 10 billboards on my commute. Avid magazine reader, constantly on the web and active in social media destinations. You would think that I would at least recall or be targeted to try a McCafe specialty drink?

The point I’m trying to make has nothing to do with creative or messaging strategy. More to do with targeting. Spending $100 million to be “everywhere-you-look” could have been better spent by using the budget to be an “every-time-I-want-coffee” strategy.  And the only way to know that is to understand the habits of your target consumer to deliver them the right message at the right time. And the only way to know that is to know thy consumer. If you’re a brand manager, know who your consumers are and let them know you know who they are.

I’ve been eating at McDonalds for 32 years now. And they have no idea who I am. 

Contact Gene:

Follow me on Twitter @gpaek

Bad Boy Brands – fatal attraction?

May 26, 2009

By Michael Mark, Creative Director/CEO @NYCA 

Frigging Manny Ramirez got me thinking. Well, actually it’s the people who are buying his jersey now, since he’s been suspended from baseball for steroids, who’ve got me scratching my head.

Why would they want to wear his shirt, his name, his dreadlocks, now? If they want to align with a profeadvert-dean-gap_lgssional ball player with equally impressive stats, they can choose others. I guess they like being associated with a bad boy.

And that got me thinking about bad boy brands. Do they sell? Can they sustain a relationship or are they stunt workers?

The Gap used James Dean (by today’s standards a weenie but considered by many to be the original bad boy) posthumously for one campaign, to give generic khakis attitude.

Howard Stern’s grossness put Snapple on the map – and got him kicked off the air, too. And let’s be fair to the bad girls for fear they’d kick my butt: the used-to-be-hot Paris Hilton has or had a perfume, a clothing line, a shoe line, a TV series (I liked her in that for two episodes).



The controversy-magnet Madonna starred in a TV spot for Pepsi, only to get it pulled. Sacrilege wasn’t the choice of the next generation back in 1989. She kept the $5 million.



As for product brands with attitude, here are a few:

Axe Body Spray for young men show girls get a sniff, girls go wild, boys are devoured. Sales are up. Makes sense; youth is a natural with brands that reject the status quo. Harley Davidson, the eternal renegade, has theme restaurants for those who weren’t born to ride but live to eat Bad Boy. They are the best at being Bad. Carl’s Jrs.’ commercials get their customers hungry for more than meat. 


Paris made a spot for them too, cleaning a car with her body while eating a burger.  Big idea? No, but that’s clearly not the point. The idea is it’s a bad idea.

But not all bad is good. You think Hertz would take back OJ if they could? You think McDonald’s has forgotten Kobe’s extramarital encounters? He was off the payroll faster than he can turn and shoot. So I guess when it comes to brands, there’s Bad and there’s bad.

There’s a PR campaign coming out for Michael Vick. Are you going to buy something from him? How about dog food? On the other hand could a hybrid have a nasty attitude? I’d like to see a touch of road rage among all the pretty puffy clouds and spinning odometers.

Last week’s “American Idol” finale featured the black leathered eyeliner and nail polished Adam vs aw-shucks missionary Kris – a sanitized bad boy vs every Dad’s dream for his daughter. America voted for Mr. Clean.  That’s ok Adam, maybe you’re not a bad boy if you’re too popular?

In the end, it is a rare brand that can sustain a pure bad boy reputation and relationship on a mass scale.

Just proves that, like Manny, bad boys make you think but are hard to live with.

Manny Ramirez Strikes Out as a Hero

May 22, 2009

By Michael Mark, creative director/CEO @NYCA  

Full disclosure: I never liked Manny Ramirez. Not when he was a hero of the Red Sox Nation. Not now as a Dodger.  Not because he was good at playing baseball because I do have an appreciation for his machine-oiled swing and his carefree clutch play. But Manny being Manny was two too many Mannys for me.

manny strikes out

So that takes me to a news show the other day reporting that Manny Ramirez’s Dodger jerseys are being bought at a record pace since the news of his steroid violation. He’s been suspended for 50 games but sales on Manny mania is up. 

Tell me why would anyone want Manny Ramirez’s name on their back even more now than before he was cited for illegal drug use?   

Full disclosure number two: I feel the same way about A-Rod. And anyone else who cheats in or out of a Yankee uniform. 

I have no issues with success and the riches and fame earned from it if one gets famous for doing decent things, for winning fair. You don’t have to be a working class guy to be a hero. Talent and fame aren’t enough to make you a person to look up to.  You can be admired for your physical beauty and social powers but to become a hero, character should count more than homers. 

So here’s to the heart-pounding excitement of playing by the rules.

To the miles after miles of straight and narrow.

To delivered-as-promised accountability.

To doing the right thing. Even when no one is watching. And when they are. 

Here’s to the guy who holds his trash to toss it in the garbage can and picks it up and tries again when he misses a fall-away jumper. With no stadium, no cheers, no two fingers to the lips and up to the heavens when it goes in.

Here’s to celebrating ordinary goodness at a time when celebrity is so prized and so attainable.

Here’s to aspiring to be that kind of everyday hero.

Hallmark ought to make a day for it.

Everyday Hero Day.

When you care enough to send the very best to those who care enough to always do their best.

Goodness doesn’t need a posse.  If a good act is executed and no one sees it each of us is made better.

It’s easy to see a ball smashed in the ninth inning fly over the wall to win the game. Should you miss it, they will replay it on the jumbo screen, on the sports shows, on the local news, in the paper, online, in the blogs, fan sites.

You think we can tell goodness without a batting average? Without a stage or if it didn’t step out of a limo in a $1,000 suit?

This requires more action on the spectator’s part.

We have a responsibility to see, point out and to judge who we each want to put on the mantel. If anyone. 

My heroes’ names might not be in lights above all others. Some are, though.

She may not be able to sing or dance or run at record speed.

He may not have the mind to understand advanced strategy.

And, then again, they may have all of that. They may be famous for their talent and a nobody for their deeds.

They may be famous for their goodness. Like I said, being famous for doing the right thing is a good thing. It inspires more good stuff since fame is such an aspiration. 

Give me the common good guy.

I will be proud to wear his jersey.

I will wait outside his workplace for his autograph.

I will point him out to my kids.

And put his poster over our bed (especially if my wife thinks he’s sexy).

You do the right thing under the intense pressure of an ordinary day or in the dark when the spotlight is off then you’ll have my respect and my thanks.

Now it may not be worth millions so I will also send you a hero card.

What is American Idol anyway?

May 21, 2009

By Michael Mark creative director/ceo @NYCA

American Idol started as a talent contest, migrated to a popularity contest with the proliferation of social media, and is now, with the two finalists in 09, a social study featuring a straight missionary versus a gay Jewish punk rocker.  We know where America stands via 100 million votes.

Brand Actions Sell Harder Than Ads

May 20, 2009

By Michelle Edelman, President @NYCA

Many an ad agency and marketer have spent their research dollars trying to determine the factors that cause consumers to fall in love with auto brands. With US auto makers in real trouble, and consumers squirreling away their dollars, this insight is perhaps more valuable than ever.   carinshoppingcart

That’s why it’s so interesting that last week, a study quoted in Business Week indicated that a single action caused survey respondents to increase their consideration of Ford by 33%. And the action had nothing to do with rebates, new car launches, or a new cool ad campaign.

Prior to the federal bailout, 41% of consumers had a positive perception of the Ford brand, but according to the survey, after Ford declined to take the loan it increased to 63%.

It appears that when a consumer buys a car, they are also buying the company that’s selling it. They want to know that the company will actually be around at the end of the service agreement. Logical.

But this move has brand implications for Ford. Ford is not immune from industry difficulties. But this decision holds a message to the marketplace that the Ford brand is about hard-working American values. That instead of accepting a government handout, Ford is imbued with the grit and grease that toughs out the tough times. In contrast with the banks, who took taxpayer money and proceeded to still spend some of it on golf events and bonuses, Ford is going to weather the storm by its own wits.

In this way, the brand has a measure of integrity and roll-up-the-sleeves workmanship that is analogous to its own core consumers, allowing them to relate and connect to The Ford Motor Company in a way that transcends its advertising. In this way, the company’s behavior has become the most important part of their media plan.

Donald Trump Changed Everything

May 13, 2009

By: Michelle Edelman, President @NYCA

 Yesterday, Carrie Prejean retained her Ms. California title.

It was in question because she spoke her mind on gay marriage. Her title was also in question because she took some interesting lingerie photos and didn’t disclose her work to the committee. 

The Donald said those things don’t matter. Ms. USA doesn’t have to be a demure conformist who only tows vanilla opinions. And she doesn’t have to conform to some 50s notion of sexuality – she can join the digital age where everything you have ever done – dignified or not – can make it into the public domain.

In Brandweek this week, Nielson reported that 60% of moms agree that marketers ignore their needs. At the heart of this no doubt is a lack of understanding of the modern woman: someone with her own political opinions and a command over her own body, at minimum.

Thanks Donald.

Look away to find your best work

May 11, 2009

Written by: Michael Mark creative director/ceo on Creating a grow! culture and grow! ideas.

Hard as you try, sometimes you can’t get a good idea.

Deadlines acartoon%20eyesre fire-breathing dragons and as they approach two things happen: you work harder at it, struggle, and you tighten up. Sometimes the harder work gets you there. Lots of times the fear ignites an idea; other times only a case of the hives.

You can’t always hunt down a grow! idea.

You can’t demand a solution of immense focus and power appear.

And yet that’s what you’re paid for. So when you’ve tried everything else, here’s another way.

Let the idea come to you.

You have to trick the idea out of hiding in your subconscious.

This requires an act of trust.

Because to do your work you have to do other work.

Doesn’t matter what – as long as you do it with full purpose.

You can’t fake it. The idea won’t come if you are looking for it with even a nano-tenth of your concentration. It will know, clever bugger.

You have to be totally committed to the excellence of this new act. It has to become your primary mission in order for your subconscious to relax enough to release the idea you were originally so desirous of.

Yeah, and all the while, the dragon’s breath begins to singe your last paycheck.

Trust isn’t worth much unless it’s challenged.

I find at these time it’s best to do something physical, something with movement, that has intricacies which demand focus. Keeps the dragons out of mind. 

For me, it’s gardening but it could be another assignment you have, golf, walking, praying, dancing, cooking, sex, house cleaning. (Convincing your boss you’re working at these times is another problem but if you come back with great work she’ll understand.)

Again, you gotta do this with the same energy as you applied earlier to getting that idea.

You have to trick yourself into forgetting you are looking for the idea.

Your subconscious will be all over that. You have to know that when the idea presents itself you will be there to admire it, cajole it over and nail the sucker.

In truth, the idea was always right there. You just couldn’t see it.

By looking away I have found it will become obvious.

And the dragon –– well it’s not so scary any more.