Brand Failures

October 2, 2007 - 2 Responses


Great class discussion today. Thank you all for excellent participation. Kelly O’Keefe was right when he spoke about how much fun it is to sink your teeth into a juicy strategic problem.

Not sure Burt’s Bees issues qualify as real. It seems like it should all be “good news” when you’re launching new products, right? But hopefully thinking about the goofs that other well-intentioned people have made might help you avoid them on behalf of Burt’s.

Here is the airline memo in case you missed it/lose it:


I am looking forward to your presentations. I will try to get your worked graded and back to you ASAP. Remember, those of you who wanted to re-do your papers – due at NOON tomorrow, 10/3.



Brand Problems

September 26, 2007 - Leave a Response

Kelly & Coz

Great thanks to Kelly O’Keefe (the guy on the left) for his thought provoking discussion on Brand Challenges (a nicer way to say “problem”). I quite agree with Kelly that a juicy strategic dilemma can be a whole lot of fun. I once worked on a brand that was the leader in its category. We had just left a meeting in which the research company had presented their latest update on market share and again the brand was ahead. We were discussing some new products and I suggested that maybe we could take an “educated” risk on something they were considering launching. The Brand Manager quickly told me that she didn’t want to be the one that would cause the brand to lose any share points. There is something liberating about being in a position where you have “nothing to lose and everything to gain”.

In case you didn’t get my e-mail, here is Kelly’s presentation:

Brand Challenges

I look forward to Kelly’s response to the question about how advertising agency brands get into trouble.

Culture Crash
I enjoyed our discussion about Culture Crash and it really did dovetail nicely with Kelly’s talk on brand challenges. Culture Crash is a very very new brand. We don’t yet know what its “consistent voice and behavior” will be. Stay tuned. There are excellent examples of strategic dilemmas all around us. Remember to stay “fit and well” and you won’t miss them.

Next Week’s Assignments
We covered Problems/Opportunities/Objectives in class. Let me repeat some elements from my e-mail about your other assignment – an individual paper on what could make your brand fail? That’s Burt’s Bees and you could take it from the overall brand or from the men’s line extension. Reflect on things Kelly mentioned, on what you’ll be reading in Brand Failures and the articles in your packet. Consider all the reasons why companies launch new products and whether there might be a booby trap for Burt’s in there. Reflect on the weaknesses and threats you included in your SWOT.

Then, go for it.

Swot’s Up?

September 23, 2007 - Leave a Response

Thanks to Jacob Lake, 2nd year Communication Strategist, for joining us to share his summer internship experience at Croc’s and for leading us in the development of a SWOT for Croc’s.

Jacob Lake

Hopefully, this showed you how a strength can be a weakness and how a threat can turn into an opportunity. That is probably the essence of 6 Hat Thinking in a nutshell. The idea that taking for granted a Strength, without a little Black Hat “warning” perspective, can cause a business or brand to slip up. Or, a little Green Hat (creative) or Yellow Hat (positive) or Red Hat (emotional/gut) can find the prospects in a weakness or threat.

Croc Swot

Your Two New Assignments
In case you didn’t get it, here is the sheet with the two new assignments for next week.

Wild Card Assignment

We’ll talk more about this assignment in class on the 25th. Thank you for your efforts on this.

Work Plans
Thank you for trying this again. And it looks like we’re now all on the same page. Remember, the work plan itself is not the key. The key is to know what you need to do, discussions and debates that need to be had, and all within the time allocated for the project, pitch, etc. These will become even more critical when you have projects that have to move from strategic development, to “big idea” to creative execution. Workplans get revised all the time as the overall method of work in our business can be very fluid.
If your team still needs to get with me on your hypotheses, please do. But don’t stop working until you do. For those teams that got a full “green light”, onward and upward.

A Little Fun
Thank you for your enthusiasm on the Dirty Virgin name brainstorm.

Dirty Virgin

cocktail sign

I sent several names off to the client and I’ll let you know what he decides.

Finally, I’d like to offer up a final thought. Have you ever heard the saying “What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?” I think the Adcenter is a lot like that. Unless you’ve done all this before, it’s all new. If you’ve never done something before, you’ve got a real chance of doing it wrong. Worry less about nailing the format and focus on nailing a big idea, a clear argument, a grip on the ideas and concepts, an enthusiasm for the debate. Do the assignment and then look at what you’ve done with a critical eye and ask yourself “Did I leave a stone unturned? Did I push myself to think differently? To stand back and squint at all angles and look for something I missed?”

Just a thought.

Fact Finding

September 15, 2007 - Leave a Response

Lauren Tucker, Randy Freisner and Warren Foster, all from our neighbor The Martin Agency, gave us a very thorough overview of their strategic process, resources, and how to use the information you discover.

I forwarded the presentation document earlier this week in an e-mail, but here it is in case you missed it

I’ve already sent you comments on your workplans. Remember, redflagging key dates and deliverables is the simple logistic part of the process. The workplan is also a means to create your master checklist of what happens between meetings, what you need to consider to be in a place to not only complete an assignment, but to nail it. Remember there are three components to the roadmap. Don’t just say you’re going to do research with consumers, indicate what it is and when it’s going to happen. And then when you’ll get together to decide what it means. If this isn’t making sense, please shoot me an e-mail or give me a call.

Revised work plans are due Wednesday, September 19th at 9AM.

Please remember that we have a guest speaker this week, Jacob Lake, as 2nd year strategy student. So please make every attempt to be on time. Remember to do your personal version of a Croc SWOT, based on the article in your packet.

I’ll also be looking for the first installment of your strategic journal.

Class Review

September 7, 2007 - One Response

Great job this week! All the teams seem ready to nail the Burt’s Bees assignment. Hopefully you got the e-mail I forwarded with a variety of additional resources you could visit. If not, let me know.  It was a treat to get to spend time with Earl’s class as well.

I’ll post the Strategic Roadmap, just in case you lose it. I’m assuming it’s taped above your bed, on your refrigerator, in your journal and that you’re considering making it into a tee shirt. But just in case, you’ll find it here.

I enjoyed the discussions on GEICO and the Apple/Sony debate. We’ll play around with this on another day, but it might interesting for your teams to kick around the following:

– “If Burt’s Bees were to hire a spokesperson for the men’s line, who would be good? Who has the right to tell this audience about these products?” (I’m not suggesting that a spokesperson is the answer. But this is a way to start to personify the brand and get an idea of tone and manner.)

– What other brands out there feel like Burt’s Bees? Rebel brands? Natural brands? Belief brands? Conservative brands? Pick one and then think “If Brand X was going to launch a line of natural grooming products for men, how might they do it?”

Strategic Roadmap: