The CW- a doomed brand

When you take two old school media companies, throw them into a partnership to pilot a sinking ship, and then throw a self-indulgent brand name on top- with an uninspired logo- you can start counting the days. Never mind that television as we know it will die off to IPTV faster than Henry Ford made buggy whips obsolete.
CBS and Warner Brothers decided to pull the plug on UPN and the WB networks and combine the cream into the lamely named CW television network. To demonstrate how lame the ideation on this name project was:

The CBS chief explained that the name of the new net is an amalgamation of the first initials of CBS and Warner Bros. “We couldn’t call it the WC for obvious reasons,” Moonves joked. (Brandweek)

The true joke is that most of their target audience wouldn’t even know what a “Water Closet” is.
Naming a brand isn’t something to joke about- much less use as little creative thought as what must have went into this project- even the mark is so off target as to be embarrassing. Can you see kids wearing this logo?
The CW logo
Let’s look at the success of MTV as a brand reaching the youth market for starters, or Virgin. The days of call signs and station numbers meaning anything are long over, the key is brand voice and image. If this new network has any hopes of building an audience/community, they should hurry back to the drawing board.
I wonder if CBS chief Moonves has any idea that CW stands for “Country Western” or for even better yet “continuous wave” radio- using morse code- yet another buggy whip.
There are tons of branding agencies out there, including The Next Wave- my advice is hire one quickly and kill this brand, before it kills itself.

What do you think?

other links: MSNBC: CBS, Warner Brothers forming a new TV network

We’ve been replaced by software? Online Store
It’s good to know, that for only $39.95 you can buy “LogoDesignStudio” to brand your business (Mac not included). No need for any brand insight or strategy- just fire up the software- pick your typeface, effect and clip art- and there you go.
What will they think of next?

What do you think, really?

Kodak changes their logo. Why?

Adrants » Kodak Introduces New Logo
Kodak logo before and after

That’s right - in another one of those we can’t figure out what to do- so let’s change the logo. Kodak did away with the classic- for a mark that takes a name that meant nothing- to a mark that means nothing as well.

The secret of great brands marks- is to stick with classic typefaces- never something too trendy- too avant garde. Look at how Apple has thrived on their version of Garamond- or IBM with their custom Bodoni- the “a” in the new Kodak logo is sure to be short lived.

If you have brand equity- be careful what you do with it. This is a step backwards.

On $90 pound cake, $35 soap, and your branding

When was the last time you tasted $90 pound cake?
When I googled for “recipe for pound cake” I came up with over 2 million hits. There’s a lot of people making pound cake out there- and you could probably whip one yourself- the ingredient list isn’t exactly exotic- some eggs, flour, sugar, butter etc… nothing you can’t get together for under $10 and make more than one.
So- it just so happens that someone gave me one. Now, I don’t know what I did to deserve a $90 pound cake- so I thought I’d take it to a party to share.
And without telling anyone it was a $90 pound cake- it just sat there. I even took a slice out of it and told a few people-, which encouraged some sampling-, but when I left the party- it was still there- with only a quarter gone.
Now- I admit, when you get the $90 version normally- it’s packed in a beautiful hat box, with fresh flowers, a nice card and, most importantly the endorsement of one very big TV star who shall remain nameless. I took mine naked- minus the trappings of the packaging and the marketing hoo-haw- and hence, it was just another pound cake.
The same goes for soap. I can buy a dozen bars of that famous soap that floats for $7 at Sam’s- or I can walk into Bath & Body and pay that much for one bar. Both get me clean- just one cleans my wallet out a lot quicker. But, my friend, $7 is not yet enough for the super duper soap. Not satisfied with making a $7 bar, there are even more expensive soap places that charge more. How much more you ask? Well if the store is named after some turn of the century apothecary (a old fangled name for a pharmacy- now commonly known as a drug store) it’s $35 for that sliver of soap.
Now, not all pound cakes or soaps are equal, but there is an x-factor at work that lets someone sell something for 10x or more what a similar product goes for- and that’s called marketing, and more precisely branding.
In the days of global markets- with the ability to buy anything, anytime and compare prices- the way you differentiate your product or service has become at least 10x more important than it used to be. Building your brand, your reputation, your voice and your level of quality has to be foremost on your list.
People will buy from people they trust, who deliver products that they love (or are made to believe they love). I don’t recommend running out and buying a $90 pound cake or a $35 bar of soap, but, think about what you buy and why- and then start thinking about how your customers feel about your product and service – have you built the right persona around your business? If not, it’s time to start.

Do you have the right ad agency?

Of late there has been a lot of major account changes noted in the advertising press. Every move by Crispin Porter + Bogusky in Miami is documented in the same style as paparazzi chasing movie stars. What was once a relatively small agency, with small clients, who got bought by a small “network” is now becoming a BIG AGENCY with BIG CLIENTS still owned by a small network. How well agencies scale should not be measured by CP+B because it is an anomaly: it’s reputation is so huge, they are able to get the pick of talent, steam roll over clients (since they have been crowned by the media as having the Midas touch) and have adopted a “media agnostic” throw as many ideas on the wall and see what sticks approach.
In case you aren’t aware of their storied life in the fast lane, they made their first appearance on the hot shop radar with their “Truth” campaign for Florida’s anti-smoking campaign. They won a Cannes Gold Lion for their spot for IKEA where a desk lamp gets kicked to the curb- but IKEA seems to be unable to stick with an agency having parted ways with the successor agency as well (IKEA should call us), then came the dream account (only because the car is so damn cute and already branded) the new BMW Mini account. Here CP+P showed off how to get the maximum muscle out of the minimal moola to an exponential effect. Putting Mini’s on top of Ford Expeditions, putting the whole car on a billboard in a Slingshot, even the tagline “Let’s Motor” was so fitting, you couldn’t help but be enchanted with the idea of “driving satisfaction” without having it screamed at you. It was the ultimate in talking with the customer- not at the customer- and it worked. BMW sold cars, CP+B made their client manager look so good, she got hired away from BMW to fix VW- that’s making your client more money than they pay you if I ever saw it. Her reward to her friends who got her there- the VW account, a prize beyond their wildest dreams when they were working on bike helmet campaigns and local business.
So impressive was the mini campaign that success breeds success and on comes Burger King- a traditionally “difficult” client who had been through agencies and “campaigns” faster than they sell whoppers. Along came CP+B throwing new stuff at the masses faster than they could say “Yes” to the “would you like fries with that” question. The first execution was a takeoff on the British TV show “The Office” and the return of the “have it your way tag line.”
For such creative geniuses to settle on someone else’s tagline is typically unheard of- typically agencies want to make their own mark- but that takes time. CP+B was smart enough to realize that a brand in trouble needs help now, not when their creativity kicks in. The campaign was outside the norm for the industry- with double-entendre’s and un-pretty people. But, it was easier to fly the old tagline back through the barriers of corporate CYA and it bought them time- time for an agency to find a brand voice. Great campaigns don’t happen overnight. “Think Small” wasn’t the first thing Bernbach did for VW, nor was “Just do it” the first shot by Wieden + Kennedy for Nike.
Next came Dr. Angus and his big burger diet, and my personal favorite- Ugoff- the fashion designer creating a “pouch” for hot chicken and shrimp” for BK’s new salads. All of these had Internet components- something many “big” agencies still do as an afterthought. Then came the viral “Subservient Chicken” which every fast feeder now wants to copy and then the King mask- of which I won’t comment. But, this huge out burst of creative work has all been in a span of less than 2 years- totally unheard of in the ad world- and…
This is NOT how most clients get the most out of their marketing budget.
Most clients don’t have 300 million to spend. They depend on consistency of message on target. This is why an Apple ad today for the most part looks like an Apple ad of yesterday (please don’t remind me that they only have 2% of the PC market- and that if it wasn’t for the iPod the stock would still be hurting) or that Wal-Mart ads look like Wal-Mart ads. The idea is that if you can’t get enough frequency at least get repetition working for you. With small budgets like BMW motorcycles, the idea of staying on brand message is considered key. If you only have so much money, keep it consistent. This is why brands are so careful about staying in voice, on target with the right trade dress (look and feel). It is also why when you have a great tagline like “have it your way” or “the ultimate driving machine” or “just do it” it never goes out of style.
So- the question we posed at the beginning is do you have the right agency? No matter what you spend, your agency will tell you it’s not enough (except our agency) because their compensation is probably tied back to media billings – the stupidest way to pay an agency ever devised. The second question is, does your brand voice do what it’s supposed to (differentiate you from your competition and connect you like no other to your market)? Lastly, is your agency looking at every avenue they can to make you highly visible to your target market through every channel possible- including the Internet, guerrilla advertising, PR and your trade dress down to the way your stores look, your salespeople communicate and your company ethics? If not, you aren’t using the right agency- or getting the right return on your dollar. There is more to this- but it could be a whole book. You can call us to discuss how you can build your business using these ideas. One of the first things we’ll do is ask to look at your website statistics- and analyze where your customers are coming from. When was the last time your agency did that?

What do you think?

Who do you blame for having a bad site?

Today- a good friend called me and asked me to take a line of commentary off my list of ad agencies in Dayton because I was hurting someone’s feelings- a “good guy”- who took what I said about his agency “website” personally. There was nothing personal about it- it was purely a professional warning that what someone clicking on the link expecting something professional, was going to find something, well, plain and simple, terrible.
It’s not a site- it’s an “under construction” Flash animation- something that obviously took some time, and a bit of thought. I’ve never understood “under construction” sites- either put up something real, or don’t do it at all. The thing about this “site” is that it’s been this way for at least five years- and the punch line is “Butt check back soon” with an animated construction worker showing his backside.
The "under construction" site
We take what we do here pretty seriously- advertising isn’t something for the meek, the scared or the gutless- it’s about working hard- taking calculated risks and figuring out how to work smarter instead of harder, and- it’s competitive- very competitive.
So, when the call came from my friend- and he asked me what I was doing- I told him: I’m probably driving more traffic to this guys site than he could have gotten any other way, and that I was hoping this might get him to actually put a real site up, one that wouldn’t be an embarrassment to the profession that I love. My friend said that I wasn’t being nice, wasn’t being fair- and that I’d attacked someone personally (to me, a personal attack is when I say “you’re ugly and your mother dresses you funny”). So, I’ve relented and removed the comment- the link is still there for you to find, but it’s up to you.
It’s been said that “good advertising will kill a bad product faster than bad advertising will kill a good product” and this site should have killed this agency long ago- except no one could find it since it was all in Flash- which doesn’t index in Google worth a spit unless the coders really work hard to tag everything. Our list of agencies in Dayton was probably the only way anyone would find it- and, to be honest, we’ve had that comment up for over a year before this guy figured it out.
He can blame me for pointing out how bad his site is- or he can fix it.
He could even come take our Blogosopher seminar and learn how all this stuff works, so he doesn’t have to have an embarrassing site.
Or- he could say, thanks, because like it or not, that little line of text- “this could possibly be the worst ad agency site ever” probably got him more hits than he deserved.

What do you think?

And- if you are wondering why I don’t link to the site- well, I’m being “nice”- you can either start at the top of the list and start clicking- or write me an e-mail and I’ll tell you which one it is.

Note: 21 Dec 2005- the offendsive Flash annimation is now history- so we’ve done our part to improve the world for the moment.