Peaceful Protest or Policy or Both!

Peaceful Protest or Policy or Both!

For the past many years, Washington DC has been gridlocked, but policy-making has not.  It's happened outside the beltway.  The far right created the new rules of civic engagement and research now shows the profound and measurable effect these tactics have had on politics and policymaking.  These same tactics have been adopted, in earnest, by progressives.  And now we're excited to start seeing brands pick up the mantle.  State Street Global's placement of the statue of a young girl in front of the iconic Wall Street bull shines a spotlight on the brand's determination to pressure corporations to change the ratio and bring more women onto corporate boards.  It is refreshing to see a brand from a classically conservative category use its muscle to create socially progressive change.  

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Ambitions Aligned

Ambitions Aligned

Successful brands share a simple, universal, human ambition with all those they serve.  Once again CVS, the national retail pharmacy chain, beautifully demonstrates this strategic principle with a new ban of artificial trans fats from its own store branded foods. This comes a year and a half ahead of the FDA deadline of June 2018 for processed foods to be reformulated without artificial trans fats,.  

You may remember back in 2014 CVS, with over 9700 retail locations, renamed itself CVS Health. To underscore its dedication to helping people on their path to better health, they banned all tobacco products including cigarettes. CVS’s commitment to curbing tobacco use hasn’t wavered and in 2016 the company launched #BeTheFirst a $50 million initiative to foster the first tobacco-free generation.

The definition of a brand is intentional differentiation and CVS Health continues to do this as they remain dedicated to our shared mission of living healthier lives.

Tesla's New Brand Neighborhood

Tesla's New Brand Neighborhood

Tesla's new 40,000 square foot showroom and offices in Brooklyn's Red Hook neighborhood is a great example of carefully selecting a brand neighborhood, both literally and figuratively. In the same way, and for similar reasons a person selects, and moves into a new neighborhood, brand neighborhoods are based on the idea of borrowed equity through adjacency.  The people, or brands, one surrounds oneself with, help to convey a message, to tell a story, to posit a point-of-view.   Leveraged strategically, brand adjacency helps seed and signal brand intention, ambition and meaning.

By investing in Red Hook, Tesla aligns its brand with a neighborhood in transition and, by association, signals that luxury today is also in transition - from symbolizing wealth to conveying one's sense of quality, innovation, responsibility and pragmatism.

Shock Value.  #BRANDFAIL

Shock Value. #BRANDFAIL

Shock value. Seems to be the strategy of the moment. It runs the gamut from extremism and the ravages of terrorism to political utterances so absurd even supporters proclaim "if we elect him he won't really do that..." We're being shocked into submission. And we may be at a point where little is shocking to us at all. That was my thinking as I passed this new piece of brandvertising from Equinox. Why would a company supposedly dedicated to health and fitness make such a mockery of nursing a child? This, in our view, is a #brandfail. Frivolous. Fashionable? Forgettable!

Paid Patriotism–BRAND FAIL!

Paid Patriotism–BRAND FAIL!

Paid patriotism?  As both a member of the target audience and a willing and engaged participant, I feel like I need to take a shower.  I never received (nor would I ever take) money for my patriotism. This is a big brand fail, not only for Brand USA (shame on you DOD) but also, yet another brand fail for the NFL.  Blech

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Bigger than me...

Bigger than me...

Fueling an athlete's will to win, Gatorade's longstanding brand positioning is one that demonstrates clarity and our belief that when brand ambition is directly aligned with simple human ambition, brand relevance, resonance and value is created.  Pushing themselves as hard as any world-class athlete does, Gatorade evolves the brand, and states an even bolder ambition - fueling the future, taking into consideration the millennial informed cultural norms of bold optimism and being a part of something that's bigger than me.

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The Giving Tree

The Giving Tree

Over the course of the past eight years, as we've observed brands navigate through the downs and ups of the financial markets, there has been an undercurrent of activity around the idea of generosity.  This first big move in 2009 was from Hyundai with their Assurance program from "an automaker that has your back."  Most recently, we've seen three retailers, Toys R Us , Ikea and Macy's, investing in holiday brand equity spots, more focused on the spirit of the season than the hot deal of the moment. What these retail brands understand is that aiming for the heart is a far better way to gain access to the wallet with a generation of parents who place "me" and "we" time at the top of the priority list and whose great desire is to pass these habits and values along to their children. 

Old Brand New Tricks

Old Brand New Tricks

Brand evolution is hard.  Teaching an old brand new tricks is not as hard, however, as piercing complacency and getting people to believe you really have something to say that's worth paying attention to.  What we love in this piece from Barbie is that they've captured exactly what their primary audience has always done in such a refreshing and new way, it makes us adults (prospective buyers or deniers) stand up, take note and reconsider... 

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Brand Values Create Brand Value

Brand Values Create Brand Value

REI's bold move to forgo retail madness and opt out of Black Friday is a decision that is directly aligned with its values.  We believe brand behavior that is based on brand values actually creates far more brand value in the long and short term.  We applaud REI for demonstrating this and for encouraging all of us to #OptOutside!  

REI #OptOutside

Off Brand

Off Brand

A brand brief acts as a filter for decision making.  It is a self-imposed set of limitations designed to keep a brand on track, recognizable to those who care about and love it.  That's why people are surprised when a brand they know and love acts in a way that's out of kilter.  And no where  was that more apparent recently than when Airbnb picked a fight with the wrong enemy.  This advertising was designed to attack a real problem that Airbnb and its fans care about - but the library, public works and board of education being the recipient of money from the government are clearly not the evil parties to Airbnb's good.  While it is vital as a brand team to understand who the enemy is and to be clear about that, forget about advertising evil and communicate how others can join you in doing good! 

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Another Shift

Another Shift

From Small Planet to Smarter Planet to Cognitive Business, IBM launches it's third major brand shift in 20 years. And while the rational for Cognitive Business is sound — the lack of accessible emotional connectivity gives us pause — that is until we see this launch ad with Bob Dylan and Watson having a chat — pure humanity with that touch of humor that has made IBM's communications warm, relatable and inspired.

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Radical Hospitality

Radical Hospitality

That's what this organization provides along with dignity and hope for the homeless. Not only were we moved by this effort, but we also couldn't help but consider the missed brand opportunity for Starwood or Marriott or for Unilever or J&J. When a brand combines it's power with purpose, it can create more meaningful relationships, profits and changes for all.

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Embracing Failure

Embracing Failure

One of the more interesting trends showing up in our research is a distinct shift toward embracing the ideas of failure and resilience. It surfaced in our research with millennial parents who were all "winners" but had to grow thicker skin when they met with resistance upon entering the 'real world.' And now we see it coupled with the concept of joy in this new work from Johnny Walker...

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An Accomplished Calendar

An Accomplished Calendar

A bold and modern shift by Pirelli who reinvents the sexy auto mechanics' calendar! They move from lewd to a celebration of heroines — inspiring icons who are best known for their accomplishments, not only great looks.

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