Sunday, March 30, 2008

Remembering a Product

First of all, excuse my hiccup in posting. I know everyone must be dying for a new post...

Unique packaging was something I talked about a couple weeks ago, and going back to the theme of packaging, I just found something that I thought was interesting (from a great blog on the topic btw: The Dieline)...

With a product such as wine, the market is very saturated. Not only that, but for the most part, all wine comes in a bottle with a label on it (Franzia does not count). Some popular wineries have become the Budweisers of the wine world, but there are still so many small wineries around the world that are producing great wine. Therefore, it's quite easy for consumers to experiment with wine once in a while and love it...but then if asked what it was called a month later, they could easily forget. Plus, if they remember the brand, there could still be a number of varieties to have to remember. So how do you create a way for consumers to remember your wine? seems that some wineries have created little pull-off tabs with the name of the wine on them for consumers to take off once they are done with the wine:

You may think...well, I save the corks of wines that I enjoy. Well, that's true. I've seen websites on corks actually...another great idea. However, if you drink a lot of wine, that can lead to a lot of corks. And it's much easier to sort through labels to remember a wine than sorting through a pile of corks.

I started saving beer labels around Christmas-time, not merely for the simple fact of remembering the name, but also to save the often creatively designed efforts put into them. While this method of wine labeling does not allow you to save the entire label, the wine pictured has a fairly bland label, so it does not really matter. I think this is a simple, great idea. Plus, it probably does not add a whole lot to your production costs, especially when you consider its potential impact.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The 5 P's of Marketing

Most areas of study have an origin that everything builds upon, and that "origin" is usually drilled into your heads from day 1 until you get your degree. Economics: supply and demand. Biology: cell theory and evolution. For marketing, it was "the 4 P's": product, price, promotion, and place. Other "P's" have formed, including people, personalization, process...and participation.

Participation is something that I've seen lately for a few different brands. Many companies have done it: allow the public to submit ideas for your marketing plan, whether it be for a new product, design, or advertisement. I've never really heard of a failed plan that involves participation. Feedback from potential consumers is invaluable - it just depends on how you use it.

Many brick-and-mortar businesses, mostly in the food industry, have little kiosks where you can fill out a comment card and drop it in a box. Starbucks injected some life/technology into that idea and just formed a community site for users to share their thoughts on various topics such as their products. Starbucks has done a good job of making news lately as they struggle with sales. This, I'm sure, will only increase the press they've been getting and it would be cool to see them implement some user ideas.

As leaders in saying "Damn the Man!" to record companies and taking advantage of the digital music popularity, Radiohead has turned to the online community for another business decision. They're holding an online video contest for anyone to submit a music video for any of the songs on their latest album, In Rainbows. There will be an opportunity for users to vote for their favorite video, and Radiohead will use those votes along with their own judgment to decide on the winner, who will get $10,000 to create their music video. Radiohead is a very creativity-inspiring group with an eclectic group of fans, so I'm eager to see the winning video.

One other participatory plan that I noticed goes to the diamond...the BASEBALL diamond! (There's a knee-slapper!) Do you know one of those guys who can tell you the batting average, HR count, height/weight, and astrological sign of some player from 1986 who you've never even heard of? "Those guys" are all over the place...spitting out statistics and facts like it's their job. But the funny thing is it's NOT their job! So why don't professional teams take advantage of the overflow of sports knowledge among Ordinary Joe's? Well, some teams apparently are. The St. Louis Cardinals started a contest for people to submit scouting reports on college baseball players that normally wouldn't get attention from the team scouts. Can you imagine being responsible for sending a player to the Major League who could potentially become a star? And instead of the enormous commission that a professional scout would get, they get tickets to a pair of games! Kind of a weak prize...buck up Cardinals.

So, as you can see, participation can help in a wide variety of businesses. Anyone know of any other recent business moves like these ones?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Boondock Saints 2?

Well, in the spirit of this week's theme, news has been circulating around a sequel to the cult classic Boondock Saints.

This isn't the first time that rumors have been floating around about a sequel to this movie...but writer/director Troy Duffy put out a video on YouTube (which since has been removed) on St. Patty's Day announcing the green light to Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day. Apparently in a documentary about the making of the first film, called Overnight, Troy Duffy is shown in his rise from a bartender to director, but melts down in the process. I've yet to see the documentary, but imagine that Duffy's personality has presented problems for greenlighting a sequel. Therefore, I'm skeptical of the truth surrounding this video of his, but I would certainly love to see a sequel.

At the same time, however, I'm always skeptical of sequels. Some do well...some do horrible. Boondock Saints did not do well when it was follows the familiar cult classic development. Based on that...I wonder how the production would go for a sequel.

We'll see what happens...

Either way, Boondock Saints is a great film: great story, great script, great characters, great action, great score, great humor...and great accidental cat murder.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy St. Pat's!

Well, it's March 17th, which means that we're celebrating the anniversary of the patent of the rubber band! No just kidding...noone celebrates that (except maybe Dave, who insists on exemplifying its use as a projectile all day).

Anyway, Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone! Here is a picture from my time in Ireland a couple years ago...I like to call it "Heaven."

My agenda tonight:
  1. Drink whiskey and beer
  2. Eat corned beef, cabbage, potatoes, and beer bread
  3. Watch "Boondock Saints" and/or "Braveheart" (yes, I know Braveheart is Scottish, but one of the best characters in it, Stephen, is Irish):

Stephen: (looking up at the sky) All right, Father...I'll ask him...(looks down at William Wallace) If I risk my neck for you, will I get a chance to kill Englishman?

Hamish: Is your father a ghost, or do you converse with the Almighty?

Stephen: In order to find his equal, an Irishman is forced to talk to God...(looks up) Yes, Father? (looks back down at Hamish) The Almighty says, "don't change the subject...just answer the fuckin' question"

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Funny (But Good) Marketing

If you're a urology institute, how do you market your vasectomy service line? It's pretty can develop one of those cheesy ads that gives a slow montage of a bunch of old dudes playing football, or you can do what Oregon Urology Institute did...

Take advantage of March Madness.

Men who are considering a vasectomy are probably concerned with a dreaded lack of mojo post-op. Well, the Oregon Urology Institute looked at it as...if you're going to get it done, you're going to have to stay home from work for a few days to recover, so why not do it during March Madness? Then you have an excuse to stay home and watch all the games. The transition and recovery will be soothed by the excitement of sport. So the administrator of the clinic made sure to block out a dozen appointment slots for March 19th, the day before tipoff of the tournament, and March 26th, the day before the 2nd week.

Even better is the clinic's team-up with a local radio station who advertised for them. The station promised to send each patient a "recovery kit": sports magazines, free pizza delivery, and a bag of frozen peas.

Friday, March 7, 2008

"Danny Boy" Ban

We all know the classic, Irish-related ballad known as "Danny Boy." We also all know that St. Patrick's Day is coming up, and that's the Irish holiday. It seems natural that the two would go together - amongst other Irish ballads, play "Danny Boy" on March 17th.

Has anyone ever questioned that though?

An owner of a Manhattan pub called "Foley's Pub" is putting a ban on playing "Danny Boy" for not only St. Patty's Day, but the entire month of March. Why? Because it's depressing, it's not sung in Ireland on St. Patty's Day because of that, and the song wasn't even written by an Irishman! I love the song, and it's held a special significance in my family because we are Irish and my brother's name is Daniel. And I could get past the sad nature of the song on this happy holiday if it were truly an Irish song.

But it was written by an Englishman who never even visited Ireland! One funny thing about it is that he wrote it after his sister apparently sent him the music to a song called "The Derry Air" (say that out loud...get it?)

Anyway, The article that I read about this offered the alternative, a bar owner in Detroit who will be having a "Danny Boy" marathon on St. Patty's weekend, playing it over 50 hours in 1,000 different renditions. I don't care what song it is that you're playing in variations for 50 hours...this guy must have an extremely mentally stable staff to put up with that. And when it comes to siding with a bar called "AJ's Cafe" in Detroit or "Foley's Pub," owned by an Irishman Shaun Clancy who started bartending when he was 12 in his father's pub in Ireland, the choice is clear.

It's unfortunate to learn that "Danny Boy" isn't really Irish, so I definitely don't blame Clancy for his decision. A smart businessman, he's even offered a free pint of the good stuff for anyone who sings an Irish song other than Danny Boy at his pre-St. Pat's karaoke party. However, it's hard not to still like the song - I'll just have to listen to it on different, more sobering occasions.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

How Packaging Makes a Difference

I enjoy seeing innovative packaging in any kind of product. You could say I'm even a sucker for it...if I need a generic product and don't have a brand name in mind, and one brand has a sleeker, cooler-looking package, I'll go for that one. Maybe it's the "dumb consumer" side of me.

Some examples of great packaging ideas...
  • Ketchup/Mustard/etc. - remember the days when there weren't the squeezable, lid-at-the-bottom bottles of your condiments? It seemed like such a "duh" idea, but someone started the solution to the hated condiment juice leak problem.

  • The Fridge Pack - consideration for refrigerator consolidation and organization (say that 5 times fast); you can also throw in the boxed-beverage packaging here...although it seems to have only caught on with wine

And one I just think is fun and more relevant to my overall point in this post...

  • Coors Light bottles - the Rocky Mountains on the label turn blue when the beer has achieved that refreshing, "Tap the Rockies" coldness. Kind of unnecessary, considering I have the sense of touch and conditionally learned "hot" and "cold" when I was a toddler...but I admit that when I see those blue mountains, I think, "Wow! Cool!"

Hygiene products are something that I (and I'm sure most men feel the same way) generally don't have a preference for, and usually just go with what's on sale. Here's why I love what a new company, NXT (pronounced "next"), has done with shaving gel. Let's face it...shaving is boring...that's why I most definitely do not do it every day (that and my laziness). Once the vibrating razor came into play, I was all over it...3 blades? pshh why not 4? Then came the Gillette Fusion. 5 blades of pulsating, razing madness - and I'm sticking with it. But as far as shaving gel goes, I'm definitely not tied down to anything. If I'm perusing the shaving gel section for what is normally a maximum of 60 seconds, and I see this... best believe I'm buying it. Call me a sucker for simple influences, but when I have to go through the bore of shaving multiple times a week, I wouldn't mind pumping some gel out from an LED-flared can.

Why I like this company is that they dedicated their efforts toward putting LED lights in their cans, justifiably convinced that it will sell without advertising. They even went out on the limb to decline buying the valuable "middle-shelf" space, thinking that it pops out more when seen on the bottom shelf, looking down at it. It sounds like it will not be a crappy product in a cool can though - they renamed what's normally "sensitive" gel to "light" and controlled the lather in it for those who need to shave around the various facial hair configurations that exist. So they've put money into the production, but obviously saved on their non-existent advertising and low-budget shelf-space. Those of you heading down the shaving product aisles of places such as Target and CVS in the next month, prepare to be dazzled.

P.S. I had trouble thinking of great packaging ideas, probably because a lot of them have become standard or lost their lure...anyone think of any more?

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Brett Favre Retires

Of 257 games, Favre started in 253 of them. 5,377 completions made in 8,758 attempts for 61,655 yards. And 442 touchdowns. He's the all-time leader in wins, passing yards, TDs, and consecutive games started by a QB. He's been one of the most likable guys to play, and I think it was a good move to retire after a great season, assuming he'll stick to the decision.

Here's to you...Brett Fav-ruh.


It seems that one of the hot subjects in the wonderful world of marketing is neuromarketing. Since our brains usually do most of our thinking, marketers have partnered with neurologists to use data collected from brain science to develop more efficient marketing plans. This has been a developing technique over the last few years, but it looks like it will become more popular this year. Focus groups have been revolutionized, because rather than studying the appearance of response to certain things, neuromarketers can track brain waves about 2,000 times/second. Tracking these brain waves allows them to notice responses/trends in their attention, emotions, and memory.

So focus groups can now consist of a group of people hooked up to a sensor cap while they watch an advertisement, or use a product, etc. Pretty intense, right?

This technique is being used for the presidential campaigns, testing brain responses to campaign ads and debates. It's also being used to test responses to the other senses, such as smell. (I wonder if it was used to test the response of that grape juice lickable ad!) Starbucks, for example, apparently eliminated the sale of their breakfast sandwiches for a reason other than their declining sales - the smell of their eggs did not mesh well with the smell of their coffee - and the smelling process of a coffee purchase is very important to people.

Reading about all of this makes me think of an exercise that one of my marketing professors encouraged us to try. She suggested that outside of class, when we were studying, we should take a candy bar that we enjoy and smell it while we were studying. Then, once we came in for the final, we should bring that same candy bar to smell while taking the final. Point being, it adds a pleasant addition to one of our senses which could have a positive effect on our memory. We can process information without consciously being aware of it, and whether you agree with the technique or not, marketers will become more capable of doing this through neuromarketing.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Harry Potter Likes Beer

A while ago, I wrote a post about Westvleteren beer, which some consider the best beer in the world. It was interesting because the beer can only be purchased at the monastery where it is brewed in Belgium.

Well, I just read that Daniel Radcliffe (aka Harry Potter) will be purchasing some to be the first alcoholic beverage he will legally drink. I don't know whether I am bitter because he is able to do so or appreciative of his good taste. I'm leaning toward the bitterness, only because he is getting it as his first legal drink. I think you should get some taste for beer before you dive into getting "the best."