Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Here's a New "Nuance Marketing Message" for Automakers

Dear Toyota, Honda, GM, Ford, Saturn, Kia, Hyundai, Rolls-Royce, Jeep, Mazda, et. al:

It is quite obvious to me that the marketing messages and positioning statements for cars are slowly shifting away from the major aspects of cars, such as reliability, safety, dependability, and the like. Instead, consumers are bombarded with ads that focus on the tiny nuances in each car model. To wit:

-Ford Focus ads feature their new Sync system that controls your phone, music, text messaging, hairstyles, body odor, and the like.
-Scion ads talk about their customization flexibility
-Various mini-van ads tout their space saving capabilities like fold-down seats
-Pontiac Aztek ads were noted for showing off the fact that you can camp out in the back
-And so on and so forth.

So here's my nuance marketing suggestion that I would like to see developed and marketed for a new car:

crevice-free cabins

That's right. I want a car that has ZERO crevices in it. No place for me to lose loose change. Nowhere for dirt to hide. No entrance for parking garage ticket stubs to get stuck. No way for my sunglasses to get lodged in between the seat and the door right when the sun's blaring in my eyes. Just a solid, complete mold of a cabin whereby nothing falls into the "abyss" never to be found again.

Now THERE'S a positioning statement you can hang your hat on. And not lose in the seat cusions.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Bad News, Good News from San Francisco

So another week goes by and another oil slick contaminates our already abused oceans. The Pacific Ocean was the latest victim of a major oil spill when a slashed cargo ship seeped 58,000 gallons of fuel oil out into the water in the San Fran region. Ahhh, gotta love the news.

But if there's any kind of silver lining here, it's the quick and valiant work of a small but growing group of volunteers known as "Kill the Spill" who disregarded warnings and went out to clean up the oil sludge that washed ashore. Three cheers and free beers to Darin Rosas who lead the effort to clean up the oil while the government dragged its proverbial feet. The effort started online and expanded quickly, as people latched on to getting in there and salvaging what they could of the local wildlife and surrounding environment. The article linked above spells it out in great detail... check it out.

What I Learned:
This story gives an encouraging look at what can be done with a little determination and, oh man pardon the pun, elbow grease. It's a reminder that if you see a problem, go out and fix it yourself and don't wait for somebody else to take charge. The oil certainly won't clean itself up...

Thursday, November 15, 2007

NUTS?!?? What-are-you, NUTS?!?!?

I think out of all of the most controversial foods in North America, nuts-- primarily, though not limited to, peanuts-- take the proverbial cake for stirring up the most controvery.

Allow me to explain.

You and your date just finished having a delightful, romantic dinner by the candlelight. You take away the dinner plates, clear off the table, and bring out a special surprise dessert for the two of you to enjoy. You look lovingly at your significant other and present your lush dish, a plate of brownies (or fill in just about any other dessert dish here).

Your lover looks at them in grinning awe, picks one brownie up to nibble on it, and pauses in mid-bite to scream out--- "NUTS??? What-are-you nuts??? I hate nuts in my brownies!!!! Don't you know that?"

This ugly scene is played out in hundreds of different variations every single day. For example:

-Look at virtually any box of cereal or other packaged food. Many will have a label to warn people that the food was handled on machinery that processed peanuts. Strike 1.

-Like peanut butter? Good, me too. Now go and talk to anybody else who likes peanut butter and you will instantly have an epic battle or, conversely, a newfound respect over the issue of "chunky vs. smooth". (Chunky wins, hands down, by the way!) One of the simplest foods in the world will stir up endless discussion simply based on the texture options.

-"Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't." Ahh, the old "Almond Joy vs. Mounds" battle that marketers happened upon years ago. Where do you stand? The same could be said for M&M's vs. Peanut M&M's. Or various other candies.

-And I personally think the fact that you will readily declare someone else "nuts" when you don't like something that this someone else says or does, goes a long way to reflect the fact that nuttiness is such a mainstream issue in our society. When "nuts" is used as an adjective to describe someone, it shows just how sensitive we are to those cruchy little shelled finger foods. It's quite a nutty situation, wouldn't you say?

So where do you stand on the nuts issue? Are you pro nuts in brownies? Anti-Almond Joy? Chunky or smooth? Let's get nutty here!

On a separate but related note, many belated congrats to Philadelphia's Mayor-elect, Mr. Michael Nutter. I think it's safe to say that Philadelphians weren't nuts to elect you. Best of luck in your new job!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Soap Dish Opera

At the behest of my skin-smart spouse, I've been using Dove soap for roughly a year now. Tonight I just took out a new bar and I noticed this statement on the box:

"Keep in a dry soap dish."

So I ask, perhaps philosophically, is there such a thing?

If I use the soap with water and then put it down in the dish, the soap will be wet and the dish will soon get wet as well. And stay wet. For a long time. In fact I have yet to find a soap dish that stays dry and doesn't get messy with soap scum, but thanks for the suggestion Dove folks.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Halloween Observations

Halloween has changed, Halloween is changing, Halloween will change.

Fresh off the 2007 Halloween holiday, I have a new outlook on Halloween. I'm just going to go off on an incoherent jumble of thoughts here, so bear with me...

A. Costumes: The marketing industy, of which I'm apart (full disclosure!), has won the Halloween battle. Kids hardly make up their own costumes any more. Instead it's a mish mash of pop-culture outfits. Spider-Man. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Pre-made pirate costumes. Cookie-cutter princess outfits. You get the idea. Where's the fun? I have a lot more respect for the families who put together a fun outfit from odds and ends and use their creativity rather than just pulling an outfit out of the bag and tossing it at the end of the night.

B. Adults: Halloween is now an adult holiday. Adults now glorify this holiday and use it as an excuse to break out of their shells because they (we) can't do it on an everyday basis. College aged girls and older dress as sexy nurses, maids, and others such as are listed in The Onion's hilarious list, while guys wear something offensive or borderline insane. All use it as an excuse to get drunk and, well, the rest is up to you. That's fine and all, but don't try to pull this off as a kid's holiday. It's not. It's adults trying to act like kids while kids would rather be off playing X-box.

C. On that same note, I kind of wonder if kids really even care about Halloween anymore. What's the incentive? Walk around for 2 hours to get a bag of candy that parents are buying every week anyway? It's a novel idea but probably old hat for kids in this day and age.

D. I heard endless complaining on radio talk shows about how plastic guns and similar props are being banned in schools as part of kids' costumes, with people saying that it's a disgrace that they're taking the fun out of Halloween. Gimme a break. First of all, anybody who can see the damage going on in Philadelphia alone should be thankful that plastic guns are getting locked up in the plastic gun lockers at home. Kids don't need any more examples of shooting, even if it is in good fun. Do it at home, leave it out of school. In addition, kids are probably so tired of shooting guns since they can easily do it on most video games at home. So you're really not taking anything away from kids by doing this.

E. While adults harken back to the good ole days of trick or treating and having fun in the way they did, but kids change and Halloween could be totally different in 5-10 years. My hunch is that it will be a very different holiday in 5-10 years.

Ok, thanks for reading my disjointed thoughts. Now I'll have to try and scare up my next blog post...