Tag Archives: Commercial

Competitive Intelligence: Is it Ethical?

Competitive intelligence (CI) is very important in the fast-paced world of business. According to the Entrepreneur website, CI essentially means “understanding and learning what’s happening in the world outside your business so you can be as competitive as possible. It means learning as much as possible-as soon as possible-about your industry in general, your competitors, or even your county’s particular zoning rules. In short, it empowers you to anticipate and face challenges head on”.

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Key points of this definition, as pointed out by Stephen Haag, author of Management Information Systems for the Information Age:

  1. Competitive intelligence is an ethical and legal business practice, as opposed to industrial espionage, which is illegal.
  2. The focus is on the external business environment.
  3. There is a process involved in gathering information, converting it into intelligence and then utilizing this in business decision making. Some CI professionals erroneously emphasize that if the intelligence gathered is not usable, or actionable, then it is not intelligence.

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Ethics does come into play since there is a fine line between using the intelligence you have gleaned illegally or not-so legally. Using information that was gathered legally through many sources, like Spyfu, SEMRush, Ispionage and KeywordSpy are considered legal, since it is public knowledge you are researching and getting analytics about. Illegal information gathering and usage includes exploitation and exposure of trade secrets.

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Take the case of the five HTC employees who used competitive intelligence to learn how to better use their technology to meet the needs of their clients. They used external information to create a new product to gain a better share of the saturated and highly competitive smart phone market for HTC. Little did HTC know that these five employees planned on taking this intelligence, along with trade secrets to “start their own design firm, and had been showing-off internal projects – supposedly resources from the upcoming Sense 6.0 – as a way to demonstrate their creative portfolio to investors”, as reported by Pocketnow.com.

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 It seems that these highly-respected designers and engineers took the external intelligence they gathered to the extreme, and thought they could use that information, in combination with what they knew to be HTC trade secrets to best the company they worked for. The Pocketnow.com website reported that they even went further by “embezzling more than one million dollars, submitting phony expense reports and fraudulent supplier invoices”. They were all arrested and HTC is tight-lipped about what secrets were absconded.

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 In the end, competitive intelligence is very important in the business world. How else would any company be able to be competitive without knowing what their competitors are doing, what external factors of their industry may affect their decisions and how to act upon the information gleaned. Just make sure that ethics are in the fore-front before jumping ship and going the illegal and unethical route.

 

Calvin Klein Ads: Too Hot for the Public?

When I think of advertising that stretches the limits of what is decent, I think of the Calvin Klein brand. In Australia, public billboards portraying carnal activities or mostly naked models are banned. Some can understand why. Several advertising campaigns in the last few years alone have raised a lot of eyebrows: CK

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  ck 3 There are scenes of sexuality in various state of action with more than one partner at a time, where lines are blurred and the brand is displayed in a very overt way.

Personally, this type of advertising does not offend me. The heavily-sexual overtones, the erotic innuendo and aggressive themes of the advertising is shocking to most, which is the objective of these real “attention-getters”. Look closely at each ad, and you may find hidden clues to the intention of the participants in the ad.

It is widely known that sex sells, and some of Calvin Klein’s ads are hot, sexy and alluring. It is just what the Calvin Klein brand wants their target consumer (14 to 50 years olds who
desires modern fashion forward products) to think of when they think of Calvin Klein. It is intriguing to see a brand accept alternative lifestyle choices, however, these type of ads should be thought of as provocative and controversial, since they are, and left to adults to ponder, admire and/or repel in a less public setting.

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However, as a proponent of the First Amendment, it is Constitutional to advertise your brand as you see fit, as long as it is legal. Moral advertising is a much grayer area, however. What is considered proper by some may be thought of as offensive by others. Displaying a giant billboard of any of the ads shown in this post could be considered depraved, since young eyes may view these sexually-charged ads. Many people agree with this view, since Calvin Klein has had massive push-back from the public at large where public and massive billboards were exposed in New York City (and as previously mentioned, banned in other places).

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So why would the Calvin Klein brand insist on displaying an advertisement that will certainly bring negative responses from the public at large? In advertising,  the old adage rings true…”there’s no such thing as bad publicity” – which is the same as “any publicity is good publicity”. Controversy is contagious and memorable. Calvin Klein is making use of sex to sell their brand through their advertising, using both traditional and digital methods, and they are doing it very well.

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A browse through the Calvin Klein website and a visitor will find a section where the “average” CK underwear-wearer can post their own photos. A giant billboard also pushes the #mycalvins hashtag feed to everyone who passes by, the very same billboard that is banned in Australia. But talk about acceptance and engagement within their target group (and beyond), since hundreds of photos are posted and shared.

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Calvin Klein has embraced on-the-edge advertising,  just as other companies have, like Tom Ford and Dolce & Gabbana, using sex and suggestion to solidify their brand and sell product. If popularity of Calvin Klein continues to grow, stimulating and controversial ads will continue be made and displayed in public, too hot or not, for the public outcry against the brand has not been as strong as the positive reception with its consumers.

Bravo Avocado!

 I love avocados. They are my favorite fruit. Creamy and buttery with a subtle but complex earthy flavor. Delicious. When I was younger, I used get so excited when the dark, ripe fruits were available in my local market, after waiting months during the winter absence. Oh the joy of those first few fabulous fruits of the season. That was twenty years ago and a lot has changed since then. Today, thanks to the year-round growing season in Mexico and the creation of the Haas Avocado Board in 2002, these tasty little darlings are available to the average shopper any time of year.

Although I am a big fan of the succulent fruit, not everyone enjoys eating them.  It has been a challenge creating new ways of incorporating the wonderful avocado into my weekly meal plans that are appealing and tasty. Usually avocados are relegated to the role of guacamole side-kick or chip-dip. The new animated commercial from the AvocadosFromMexico.com created a cute dancing avocado TV commercial to show that avocados can be eaten for BREAKFAST:

http://www.ispot.tv/ad/7fte/avocados-from-mexico-rise-and-shine

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Now, I have been eating avocados for breakfast for many years, like millions of people world-wide. But for those who never thought of eating avocados in anything else but guacamole, this sticks-in-your-mind, pretty ditty sends home the message to try something simple like avocados on wheat toast with a little salt for breakfast. It is just wonderful marketing.

At the end of the 15 second spot, the call to action is to visit avocadosfrommexico.com website, which I did to check out their other marketing efforts. They have nutritional information, extensive recipe listing, prep tips and delicious celebrity guest shots (read: Mario Lopez), all promoting the greatness that is the avocado.

If this short but sweet TV spot can change one person’s mind to try an avocado, either for breakfast or by itself, then it has done its job. I personally think that this type of marketing will broaden the reach and awareness of the amazing avocado, and sharpen focus on the Avocados from Mexico brand. Bravo avocado!

I was motivated to write about the effective ad and post my favorite breakfast recipe in solidarity with other avocado lovers everywhere. These easy to make Popeyes are delicious and good for you. ..give them a try!

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Scrumptious Avo Popeyes

  • Per person:
  • 3 slices fresh, ripe avocado
  • 2 slices cooked bacon (preferably maple flavor
  • 1 slice of your favorite bread
  • 1 large egg, 1 slice ripe tomato (preferably plum)
  • A few baby spinach leaves
  • Butter spray
  • ———————-
  • With each piece of bread, remove a half-dollar size hole (set aside holes for another use).
  • Put some spray in a skillet and turn up to medium heat.
  • Put the bread (with a hole in it) in the skillet to toast.
  • While the bread is toasting, crack open an egg and gently drop it into the hole in the bread.
  • Once bread is toasted, gently flip over to cook the egg on the other side.
  • Remove from the skillet when the egg is done and place on a plate, egg side up.
  • On top of the egg, put a few baby spinach leaves.
  • On top of the spinach, place a slice of tomato.
  • On top of the tomato, put 2 slices of bacon.
  • And the best part…place 3 slices of avocado on top of the whole Popeye.
  • Eat and Enjoy!

 

Old Spice: Thank Your Grandpa!

Old Spice.  An iconic American brand recognized world-wide and loved by generations of loyal customers. Since 1938, Old Spice has been worn by millions of men and adored by millions of women. One whiff of the original Classic Old Spice scent, and I am instantly transported back into time, for both my Dad and Grandpa wore the Old Spice Cologne. I can pick out the smell of Classic Old Spice in a crowd, for it lives up to its reputation (and its self-described aroma), as a “clean, masculine scent”.

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In my household, my husband and two sons all use Old Spice products, namely the deodorant and body wash product lines. The other day, I happened to catch a glance at the back of a Classic Old Spice deodorant container to see the inconspicuous banner announcement: “IF YOUR GRANDFATHER HADN’T WORN IT, YOU WOULDN’T EXIST”.  Well,  then…“Thank You, Grandpa”!

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This boastful pronouncement not only caught my attention, but struck me to be as assertive and confident as the men who use Old Spice. It is well-known that Old Spice marketing have bold, out-of the-ordinary and memorable advertising. Who can forget the “MOMSONG”? Or the “Man on a Horse” spot? These ads are elements of a grand campaign design that elicits a consistent message that is a mix of tongue-in-cheek hubris and manly pride.  Curious, I decided to delve deeper into their marketing efforts.

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When visiting the Old Spice website, you are met with an in-your-face ad showcasing the very buff and manly Terry Crews in a fight with a mini-manly Crews whisker on his face. Another effort to combine humor with you MUST pay attention to me message. It’s weird, but it works. Just like their self-proclamations you find when checking out he Classic Old Spice product line. The theme of longevity is applauded with the tagline “It will still be around, even after Nuclear fallout” while reiterating that Classic Old Spice Cologne helped the world procreate and prosper. Classic is right!

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Continuity abounds, right down to the pop-ups that push the manly-to-the-max and proud of it theme with “Make Your Eyeballs Smell Good” , or “Let Our Server Make Love to Your Computer” CTA tags for their Videos and Downloads sections. Their social media reach is extensive and popular, with several platforms engaging deeply with fans and followers, all while promoting their manly appeal and impressive product lines. Every channel purports the same message of smelling good while doing manly things is OK!                                                                              old spice 7

In the end, the very creative and effective marketing campaigns Old Spice foists upon the world may not appeal to everyone, but the people who appreciate this audacious approach can also relate to the themes they exploit. So, the next time you smell or wear an Old Spice product, be grateful you are alive and remember to thank your Grandpa!

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KFC Chicken Corsage…Why Stop There?

As I prepared for my son’s Senior Prom, I started looking on the internet for a corsage for his date. I came across one of the funniest and most intriguing corsages I have ever seen: The KFC Chicken Corsage.

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Yes, that’s right! A corsage that is made with a chicken drumstick as the centerpiece. The two-minute advertisement that promotes this new item is purposely awkward as the pretty date receives an “Original Recipe” drumstick, surrounded by baby’s breath on a wristlet. The girl replies that the corsage “smells so good”.  Oh my!  Too funny.  At the prom, when the boy closes in on the girl for a kiss, she leans over and takes a bite out of the drumstick corsage instead. It is a quirky, but very creative marketing stunt!

The Kentucky based KFC joined forces with local florist Nanz and Kraft to create the Limited Edition KFC Chicken Corsage for a mere $20.00, which is less than what the smallest wristlet corsage cost in my neighborhood. Don’t fret…if your date prefers Extra Crispy or Grilled Chicken, it can be made! How is it possible that the chicken will be fresh? When you order the corsage, it comes as a kit. According to the florist’s website:

“Chicken not included (duh.). Each corsage kit includes a $5 KFC gift check, so you can customize your corsage with Original Recipe, Extra Crispy or Kentucky Grilled Chicken. Whichever best matches her dress. Local corsages will have fresh baby’s breath and out-of-town corsages will have silk baby’s breath.”

 Choosing chicken that “best matches her dress” is a riot! The language is consistent between the florist’s website and KFC’s, with a tongue-in-cheek tone. As of today, the first 100 Limited Edition KFC Chicken Corsages were SOLD OUT. A second batch of 100 is now available “due to the popularity of poultry”.  Whew! I was worried for a moment.

 

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This effective marketing campaign got me thinking about how KFC can expand on the edible prom accessories theme. Maybe next year they can offer a KFC French Fry Boutonniere, the KFC Chicken Tenders Necklace with Dipping-Sauce Locket, cool KFC Hot Wings Earrings, or perhaps the KFC Biscuit Bowtie.  This way both boys AND girls can eat their accoutrements.

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Why stop there? KFC can propose a KFC-Wrapper Prom Dress Contest. You know…the best dress made with KFC food wrappers will get an all-expenses paid prom night. People who are talented enough to make a dress out of KFC wrappers would go crazy for a contest like that. Talk about exposure.

Or KFC can expand into edible arrangements for proms, weddings and special events. Can you imagine a giant edible chicken finger arrangement, dotted with other KFC products on a stick, as the centerpiece? If a chicken corsage sells out, then why not expand on the idea to include other ways to sell KFC products. It is way-out concepts like this that made the KFC Chicken Corsage a success.

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If KFC would like to hear some more of my possible marketing ideas, I am open and willing to work with KFC’s Marketing Agency: Quantum Communications (QtheAgency), or with KFC themselves. I like their Wilder way of thinking!

Welcome to the Modern World

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Have you seen the new Esurance commercials where they claim that in just 7½ minutes, you can save money on car insurance? The newest ad stars Beatrice, an “offline over-sharer” who “posts” her vacation photographs by literally taping them to her living room wall, which she thinks is saving her so much time and is so much quicker than (snail) mailing them. Quick like getting a quote for car insurance in 15 minutes. Beatrice’s baffled friend says that she can save more than that in ½ that time. Beatrice “unfriends” her since she doesn’t understand. But it is Beatrice who does not understand that is not how any of the things she does works. The commercial is funny and effective.

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The Esurance online insurance company, backed by Allstate, has been trying to position itself as a modern insurance company, with better services and savings.  To anchor into the consumer’s mind that Esurance is the better way to do things, the advertising stresses that it NOW only takes 7 ½ minutes to get a better insurance quote. Exactly HALF the time it takes Esurance competitor Geico.  This is a more modern approach and memorable.

The integrated marketing campaign Esurance created puts some teeth behind its slogan “Insurance for the Modern World” by having several ways consumers can become involved with the Esurance brand: an interactive website, an excellent Esurance blog, a Twitter account, a FaceBook page, a Google + account and a many YouTube postings. The deep penetration into the social media world by Esurance certainly does cement the notion that they are indeed modern. Their up-to-the-minute posts and involved consumer interactions create brand loyalty and trust. I was impressed with their social media strategy and I do feel welcomed into Esurance’s modern world.

 

Doberhuahua Brouhaha

There were a vast array of Super Bowl ads that gained the attention of the social media world, as well as the admiration of millions of viewers. In my opinion, there were some awful ads (Chobani YogurtGoDaddyMazerati), and a few great ones (Budweiser, T-Mobile, Chevy), but the most original ad was Audi’s Doberhuahua spot.

When I saw this ad, I nearly spit out my beer laughing so hard. The sports bar where I was watching the game was crowded and loud, so the ads message didn’t carry well, but the image of those weird science-experiment-gone-wrong, mix-breed dogs caught my attention. The buzz about the odd commercial created a viral Doberhuahua Brouhaha. I wanted to see what all the talk was about, which had to wait until after the game.

I had the opportunity to view the Doberhuahua ad again the next day in the quiet of my living room. The message of “compromise is bad” did come through but the automobile that was “designed without compromise” , the Audi A3 was overshadowed by the creepy dog. A split-second look at the Audi A3 logo on the car, followed by the last screen announcement of the Audi A3, and that’s all the branding within the commercial that was displayed, at least that is all I saw. The advertisement was creative and visually stimulating with a memorable dog creature but it did not connect the product with the message.

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An informal survey amongst friends, family and co-workers (two weeks after I first saw the ad during the Super Bowl) resulted in a good news-bad news scenario for Audi.

Survey results: Doberhuahua Survey

Good News

Question:

Do you remember the Super Bowl Doberhuahua commercial?

Results:

19 out of 20 surveyed not only remembered the ad, but thought it was very funny.

Bad News

Question:

Do you remember what the product was in this commercial?

Results:

Zero, not one person, could remember that it was an Audi commercial. Three (3) thought it might be a car ad, but was not sure.

Oddly enough, during conversations about memorable car ads, 12 people mentioned that Audi’s Quattro commercials (featuring a sour tow truck driver who is lamenting about the one that “eluded” him) to be very memorable. A much better job connecting the message and the brand’s product over the Doberhuahua ad.

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In the end, the mixed reviews about memorability, message and brand can be useful tools in tweaking messaging and branding in future ads. If all ads that Audi create can be as attention-grabbing as the Doberhuahua spot and as good at connecting message with the brand, then it will hit the mark more squarely on the nose.