Category Archives: BrandRant

Behold the Marketing Brilliance that is The Hunger Games: Mockingjay

Mockingjay Marketing Campaign

I arrived back at the office after my appointment at the brilliantly-branded Bling Dental, where mouth numbing is offset by a TV in the ceiling that plays The Hunger Games (win!), only to stumble upon this awesome digital campaign for the forthcoming third installment, Mockingjay.

Check out Capitol Couture

My heart is a-flutter: On brand, both visually and verbally? Check. Beautiful design? Check. Innovative and creative? Check. I’m fulfilled both as a fan and as a marketer.

The moral of the story: If you are blessed with crazy-good content, loyal fans, and a more-than-healthy marketing budget, you best turn out something remarkable.

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The Game Before The Game

When was the last time a commercial really – like, REALLY – inspired you? Adweek is calling Beats by Dre the new Nike for its spectacular World Cup spot. Huge kudos to R/GA for this fantastic production. Ole!

World Cup Beats by Dre Ad

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Brandemonium! Supreme & Creating a Cult Following

Supreme Soho

Last week heading uptown, I was blocked by a mob of hyped-up teen/20-something guys spilling into the street at Prince & Lafayette. I stopped one of them and asked: “Supreme?” Yes, exactly.

Often on the walk to my Soho office, I pass the Supreme store and its inevitable crowd of identical dudes, the line often stretching around the block. Like Air Jordan releases in the 90s, Supreme’s skater-inspired wear has such a following that their customer will spend hours in line just to shop the new collection. Who is that customer? Overwhelmingly, it’s the board-skating, Beats-by-Dre-listening, graphic-tee-wearing, oversized-word-on-baseball-cap sporting, 17-25 year old male who probably has the latest smartphone (or the oldest, for ironic effect) and knows Facebook is so over, did you catch my Vine?

With such demand, classic business rules dictate that Supreme should stock more merch, open more stores, do a capsule line for Walmart. But they don’t. Why?

Because shortage creates demand, and demand dictates desirability.

Here’s more background on Supreme.

Of course, shortage isn’t the business model for everyone. But if your brand goal is to be regarded as aspirational, don’t shy away from saying no to some clients, putting others on a waitlist, limiting inventory, or pricing at luxury level. Because the second you make your brand accessible to everyone, the tastemakers will hop on their skateboards and find a new brand to worship.

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Integrated Marketing Gone Wild: Bud Light and Super Bowl XLVII

Super Bowl Sunday is arguably the biggest day in American sports and inarguably the biggest day in advertising.

With the Super Bowl happening here in New York (ahem, New Jersey) this year, it was incredible to me as a marketer to see the millions of dollars poured into advertising opportunities here on the ground leading up to the big game. And none was as audacious – and thus as fascinating to me – as Bud Light.

Bud Light has historically spent obscene amounts on sports and every other kind of marketing, but their Super Bowl NYC integration was something I just had to see for myself.

So yesterday before the game, I went for a run up Manhattan’s West Side Highway to witness the Bud Light Hotel: an entire cruise ship repurposed to an epic party boat, including a massive party tent and also taking over the entire Intrepid war ship museum for concerts and events throughout the weekend. Security and special passes everywhere. It was only 4pm and I could feel the DJ’s bass pumping from the running path.

Fox Business reports:

Bud Light rebranded everything on the ship, from signs, to pillows to bottles of shampoo. And the transformation wasn’t cheap. Crews worked a total of 1,500 man hours to prepare 300,000 square feet of event space, including the ship’s 45 bars and restaurants and 1,900 staterooms, for guests.

Even though I’m not a personal fan of the brand (craft beer snob; pass the Rogue), I experienced a wave of intense event marketing envy. After years of stretching marketing budgets to the max, I dream of being able to blow out an event on that level. It was spectacular from a branding perspective – see photos below.

>Read my quick & dirty explanation of how big brands measure this kind of reach
>Watch my interview with one of NYC’s top beverage event producers

What was your favorite Super Bowl marketing initiative or ad campaign? Do you think it’s all about shock & awe shows of logos, or is it about being the most memorable?


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Just Do It: The Nike Brand & Why I’m So Loyal to the Swoosh

Nike Employee Store Beaverton

Say what you will about the suburbs; being from Beaverton has its perks.

Every single piece of my fitness wardrobe is Nike; it’s the brand to which I’m most loyal. So why do I pledge allegiance despite Nike’s undeniable #1 spot and occasional cringe-inducing endorsements?

I was indoctrinated from an early age. My junior high was across the street from Nike’s; our high school’s logo was designed by one of their staff. Everyone in Beaverton is somehow connected to the Nike universe.

Flawless branding. Futura Extra Bold 85% Condensed anyone? You know an ad is Nike’s before you see the swoosh. That’s PhD-level branding. And their marketing copy? Unparalleled.

Nike was one of my first promotional gigs. I was project manager for their NYC Run Hit Wonder initiative in ’04, and got to be part of their push to improve market share with runners. I learned a lot, from event execution strategy to the importance of educating consumers in a fun and captivating way.

Ok, I admit it: I get hooked up. Today I’ll hit the Employee Store at Nike World Headquarters and get all my running gear for the next year at 50% off (thanks for the guest pass Aves!). Best of all, when I produced my play, “Marathon: A Comedy in 26.2 Scenes” (yes this happened), a generous Nike angel made sure my entire cast was outfitted head-to-toe in the latest gear. In summary: my love can be bought.*

Now, I do have complaints about Nike. I hate it when non-runners are the congratulatory voice in the Nike+ running app (distance runners are the most underappreciated/underpaid athletes), they don’t make a seamless sport bra (chafing is a real thing, OUCH), and there is no reason why men should get all the cutting-edge streetwear (where’s the 21 Mercer for us ladies??). But seriously, real issues like doping and offshore production could have been addressed in a better way.

But from a marketing standpoint, Nike’s led the field since the days of Bowerman. So if you want to build an airtight brand, look no further than the brand of Air.

Nike Tough Mudder

After the Tough Mudder, Just Doin’ It.


*Does not apply to 2029 Campaign for Mayoress.
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Don’t Sacrifice Your Brand to Save Money

This week I touched base with one of my favorite contacts, filmmaker and creative professional extraordinaire B. Jeffrey Madoff. Madoff Productions creates visually stunning videos for global megabrands like Ralph Lauren and Victoria’s Secret, so I highly value his mentorship on building a creatively fulfilling career.

Our conversation centered around value: what is your product or service worth, and how are you communicating this to your target audience in a convincing way?

He told me a story about a Luxury Fashion Brand We Won’t Name Here that came to him for video work, but wanted to pay Kia prices for Mercedes quality. He stuck to his terms; they went somewhere else and… got what they paid for.

Luxury Brand had built up incredible equity as one of the world’s most esteemed brands (and charged their own customers accordingly), yet they were willing to jeopardize their entire image to save a few thousand dollars.

While it’s easy to scoff from afar, small businesses routinely make questionable decisions when prioritizing cost over value. If your audience is discerning, great visuals are a must – more often than not, cutting corners by crowdsourcing a logo or getting your friend to do your website on barter won’t generate the best result, and you’ll just end up starting over sooner than you’d expect.

Where is your value tier in the market, and how are you communicating that clearly to your audience? Make sure every piece of marketing, from video to emails to the way you network, reflects the brand you’ve worked so hard to build.

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Ad of the Day: Do Your Own Adventure with Sue Teller

Kudos to Mountain Dew for this super awesome promotional video, and cheers to DJ Casie Lane for introducing it to me. Enjoy!

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Positioning: Price, Service, or Features?

Standing in line at yet another artisanal coffee shop in NYC yesterday (after visiting another one that morning), analyzing everything from its quirky logo to its minimalist fonts (yes this is what I do in line at coffee shops), made me muse about one of my favorite marketing principles: Positioning.

Positioning is the art and science of making your brand stand out against competitors. It’s not just part of branding, it’s an essential element of your marketing strategy.

In a crowded field, the only shot at survival is to focus your communications on one central concept that will easily communicate what makes you different. The way I see it, the battle can only be fought with one of three weapons:

1. Price (we’re the cheapest!)

2. Service (we’re the nicest!)

3. Features (we’re the most special!)

Where caffeination is concerned, nearly every indie shop is taking the Features approach – emphasizing their quality or process. Dunkin Donuts clearly takes the Price route. I’ll put Starbucks in the Service category – their consistency across franchises, which, let’s face it, is the primary reason we keep going back, is a service element.

Of course, the branding itself can be a differentiator, but that alone doesn’t last. JetBlue is a great example: their branding was an entirely new approach in airline marketing not only when they launched but throughout their rapid growth. Still, they backed it up with a shrewd combination of all three concepts – affordable rates, refreshingly fantastic service, and features that truly make flying fun again.

What do your favorite brands emphasize? What is your brand leading with?

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CITIBIKE: A Lesson in Brand Sponsorship Measurement

The Mayoress on a CitibikeI am turning into the unofficial spokesperson for Citibike, New York City’s brand new bike sharing program sponsored by Citibank. It’s only halfway into day 3 of Member Preview Week and I’ve already taken a bike out 10 times, including back-to-back riding on Monday where I got more thumbs-up from total strangers than when I wear my infamous flag dress on the 4th of July. What is this, Amsterdam? No, it’s NYC without being restricted to the increasingly stifling subway or decreasingly available taxis, being able to get from Bowery to Avenue C in under five minutes, and, I’ll be honest, the return of wearing heels to work.

And as with most things, I can flip this into a teachable marketing moment: clearly Citibike is getting huge brand exposure through this sponsorship. But how does a brand approach sponsorship evaluation, and once it’s engaged, measure a return on its investment?

Citibike App - Impressions on my iPhone!

Citibike App – Impressions on my iPhone!

The answer, in a word, is IMPRESSIONS. An impression is every time a person sees your brand. I see your logo once, that’s one impression. I see it 10 times today, that’s 10 impressions. I see it and point it out to my friend, it’s 2 impressions. Eight million New Yorkers see your logo 10 times throughout the day, that’s 80 million impressions. Now we’re talking major exposure.

Of course, you probably can’t estimate impressions exactly, but making educated estimates and assigning a value to each impression is the starting point. The idea being that it takes 10 or so times of seeing a brand for it to even register on someone’s conscious radar; with saturation having obvious benefits. As of Monday, I certainly notice Citibank branches more. I changed my mind about closing my Citibank account. On the flip, if the bikes become a debacle: vandalized, increase accidents, or native New Yorkers are not happy about losing her street parking (shout out, Stacy!), the impressions can have a negative effect.

Citibikes Everywhere

Citi Logo Impression Mania!

How does this apply to your business?  If you’re trying to attract sponsorship* you’ll need to create a numbers story about how much exposure that brand stands to get through your event or campaign. It’s also how we measure success after the fact – creating reports on impressions from marketing materials to website visits to social media reach to media coverage.  Pay attention to impressions and you’ll begin to understand how to create equitable partnerships that are a win-win for both sides.

*Sign up for DIYPR: Publicity Bootcamp and I’ll teach you how to leverage impression measurement to pitch sponsors and strategic partners for your events.


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Get Professional Photo + Video of Your Events

Last night I had the pleasure of attending Absolut Stuga, a promo event for the well-marketed vodka brand aimed at building cred with NYC bar industry heavy hitters. (Yes I’m a bar industry heavy hitter, just on the other side of the bar.)

Absolut Stuga EventThere were cameras everywhere. Whether I was at one of at least six bars in the space, on the dance floor, on the terrace, at an installation, or just chatting up the perfectly-curated crowd, there was a still or video camera capturing everything. And well there should be. If you’re dropping a hundo-thou-plus on artisanal cocktails, Pok Pok catering, DJ Maseo (De La Soul what up!), Capitol Cities (downloading now), a gorgeous build-out, and a stellar staff, your content sure as hell better live on beyond the four hours of your event.

Events are content. Say it with me now: Events are content.

And yet, so many small business owners resist getting their events professionally recorded with photo and video, either out of lack of planning or saving where they should be spending. This is not an extra expense. It is as required as the venue fee. The marketing potential beyond the event itself is just too great to throw away like the cosmo I discarded because it’s not 2002. Then I found out that cosmo was made by the dude who invented cosmos and how do you think I felt about that? Don’t worry, someone caught it on camera.

Do not let your events go undocumented. More on 360-degree event marketing to come.

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