Tag Archives: coca-cola

Super Bowl, Kids’ Shows, and Ad Love

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(Caption: showing my Coca-Cola pride during the Pepsi Super Bowl Halftime Show)

With the Super Bowl last weekend and an entire week of foundations training for my job, I’ve been thinking a lot about marketing, advertising, and this concept of brand love. For example, I failed a blind taste test between Coca-Cola and Pepsi last year, but I still love Coke so much more. It’s my brand. I grew up with it. I would pay a premium to have a Coke instead of a Pepsi. That’s brand love.

Part One

The Super Bowl has become one of the only times of the year when it’s acceptable/encouraged to talk about advertising. In a way, it’s the advertising world’s Oscar… except you don’t need talent, and you buy your way in. Nevertheless, people actively watch the commercials and looked forward to the coolest new things. That’s not true in everyday life. DVRs were invented because people didn’t want to watch commercials. So how do we extend the attention span of viewers via TV (via cable or internet)? With ads leading up to the Super Bowl ad. Yes. With ads after the Super Bowl, so viewers can rewatch the ad or follow along in the storyline. Yes. But what about improving ads in general?

Part Two

“The Internet and social media have changed the way we behave” sounds cliché, but it’s true. People don’t mind interacting with their favorite brands and commenting or liking brand posts/tweets. Now, brands deliver us products and help us curate online content. Search allows us to find information about products, brands, do comparisons, and make the purchase. Guess what? We are doing that. So how do you extend that to offline, where consumers are still watching ads, but aren’t talking to each other about it as they do during the Super Bowl?

Part Three

Last night, The Looney Tunes Show (new one) came on my DVR. I was about to fast forward through the commercials when I started watching the cartoons aimed at children. I was so much more interested in children’s commercials than any of the adult commercials I see in normal programming. Why? Because the commercials were informative. They introduced me to a cool new game or a cool new game feature. The messaging was all around the product and why it’s cool instead of why using this particular brand of toilet paper will make me more sociable.

I watched every single commercial – and added Nerf products on my WANT! list.

Musing

Make commercials that are informative. Funny. Passionate. Use TV advertising as another way to curate your content and your brand messaging. If it needs to be about product attributes, told me about product attributes. Don’t weave jingles and a storyline and psychology into a TV ad. Just tell me the facts. Or tell me something interesting but with a theme (Redbull has been so good at consistently owning extreme sports that I can guess it’s Redbull even if they don’t brand the extreme sports content – which they do). And maybe we will start talking about cool things we saw via the “Coca-Cola” show (30 secs of cool content between the program in watching) instead of another ad.

Because my time is precious. And I’m willing to pay more, way more, for a brand – see iPhone, Kate Spade shoes, moleskin notebooks, and Song flat screen.

So give me good content or good product information instead of just an ad. Give me back my 9 minutes every 30 minutes I watch TV (give or take). And I’ll love you back. I’ll buy your brand. And hey, if you just tell me why the shoe is better instead of using D list celebs, Sketchers, I may actually buy your crappy shoes. Ok, that conclusion was a lie, but you get the point.

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Superbowl Ads: An Anecdotal Experiment

It’s been weeks since I last blogged about the Superbowl.  In an effort not to taint my research, I haven’t read my last blog entry.  These are the ads I still remember (unaided recall):

  • Biggest impression and first ad that comes to mind: the Doritos finger sucking ad.  The guy licking Doritos cheesy residue off his co-worker was so visceral that it’s the first ad I remember every time someone says Superbowl.  So by my definition, Doritos had the best ad. Congrats to Frito-Lay & PepsiCo.
  • Eminem Brisk: disclosure being I’m working for Unilever this summer as a brand intern and Lipton Brisk is owned by Unilever, so it naturally makes sense that it’s the second ad that comes to mind.
  • I like the Coca-Cola border crossing ad, where two guys temporarily redrew country border to share the Coke experience.  I’ve been a loyal Coke drinker since childhood.
  • Adrian Brody with Stella Artois: there weren’t too many ads geared at women, so easy one to remember
  • Audi’s ad about rich people and “hit ‘em with Kenny G.”  Hilarious.  Innovative.
  • By association with Eninem, the Detroit ad.  I believe it was about the city and not any specific car company, but for some reason, I associate the ad with Chrysler.
  • There was a pretty cool ad, where a car gets abducted by spies, then god of the sea, then aliens.  I thought was a really nice brand but ended up being a Korean car company?  The problem with that ad is that it’s visually memorable, but to me, the brand wasn’t.  Hence, its fatal flaw.  Of course, other people may have remembered the brand, but I don’t.

That’s about it.  Of all the ads that played during the Superbowl, these companies are successful in my mind because they created an impression that I could remember, if prompted.  My biggest question is whether that influenced my buying decision.

During the last few weeks, I haven’t changed my buying pattern to purchase Brisk, Stelle Artois, and certainly, not any cars.  Especially with a big purchase like an automobile, I’m unlikely to change my perception because of ads on TV.  In terms of Coca-Cola, I did a blind taste test in my brand class and have actually bought less Coke. Not only have I realized that I can’t tell the difference, but Coke Zero costs 40% more than the HEB brand, and Pepsi is more readily available in the vending machines at McCombs.  So I’ve changed my buying habits and am less likely to go out of my way to purchase Coke products.  Lastly, I’m not usually a chip purchaser, and the only reason I’ve eat more bags of Doritos than usual (2 more individual size packs to be exact) is because it was part of the packed dinner provided by Hertz during a campus visit.

So in my own opinion, Superbowl ads are interesting, general buzz, and may help with brand equity, but at the end of the day, I’m not any more likely to purchase a product because of ads during the Superbowl.  At most, it reaffirms my brand loyalty to products and services I already use.  At worst, I don’t remember what brand that one car commercial was supporting.

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Super Bowl 45 Ads Galore

I’m going to be honest.  Packers, Steelers, I don’t really keep up with football.

… But for those who are still reading, I do religiously follow the Superbowl for the ads, the sense of community, and sometimes even the half time show (especially when Usher makes an appearance).

As an experiment, here are my initial reactions to the Superbowl ads.  I’ll come back a while later and see if I can do some unaided recall.  Just a few things before I being: 1) I’m approaching this as a consumer and not a marketer-as much as I can separate the two; 2) I’m female, so most of the ads- read PepsiCo- probably were targeted towards me; and 3) I already have attachments to the brands that I love, so some ads reinforce, while others detract no matter how amazing they are.

The Best

Chrysler: http://www.hulu.com/adzone2011#50120523

Volkswagen Passat: http://www.hulu.com/adzone2011#50120562

Doritos: http://www.hulu.com/adzone2011#50120571

Kia: http://www.hulu.com/adzone2011#50120558

Coca-Cola: http://www.hulu.com/adzone2011#50120559

Stella-Artois: http://www.hulu.com/adzone2011#50120553

The Worst

Coca-Cola: http://www.hulu.com/adzone2011#50120554

Movie sequels: Transformers, Fast & Furious, Pirates

The Ehhh…

GoDaddy.co: http://www.hulu.com/adzone2011#50120608

E*Trade: http://www.hulu.com/adzone2011#50120574

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Coca-Cola and Pork Chops

My awesome second year friend cooked this Friday and made pork chops with Coca-Cola (much like beer and meat but Coke is so much sweeter).  The image above is her creation.  Inspired by the deliciousness of the meal and the simple yet scrumptious recipe, I decided to embark on my own trial.

Here’s the basic recipe (since it’s not mine, please email me if you’re going to use it and I will let you know where to mail the royalties… :-P):

  1. Add olive oil to a pot.  Here, I used a wok, but I think a proper stew pot would be best.  Medium heat.
  2. Dice some garlic (I used about 4 cloves) and throw it in the pot.  Allow garlic to brown nicely.
  3. Season the pork chops (thick = better) with Adobo.  It’s a sort of Puerto Rican All Spice as was described to me.  Use about the same amount as you would normally to salt/pepper the meat.
  4. Sear both sides lightly in the pot with the garlic.  Add sliced onions.  I added 1 onion per pork chop, but it’s really up to you; 1 onion for every 2 pork chops should suffice.
  5. Fill the pot with enough Coca-Cola to fill cover the pork chops.
  6. Simmer on medium for about 45 min to an hour, or until the liquid evaporates and leaves you with a nice sugary coat.
  7. EAT!

Done!  I got some studying done while waiting… okay, that’s a lie.  I did, however, wash all my dishes and cook pasta and a tomato/egg dish.  Super easy recipe that I can’t wait to show-off during my next small dinner. :)

This is the simmering process.  You can see that as the meat cooks, it doesn’t turn dark right away but will slowly darken as the Coca-Cola evaporates.

Finished dish!

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Filed under Food, just life, MBA

Wait, this is only week 2?!? Part 2

Technically, it’s week 3, but who’s counting?

Sleep is a freaking scarcity.  If sleep could be sold, supply would be steep and close to the y-axis and demand would be even more inelastic.  There’d be a line out the door, even though we’re broke MBA students.  For anyone who gets home before 11pm and doesn’t have to do homework, appreciate sleep.

Coke Zero, Diet Coke and Diet Dr. Pepper have become my best friends.  My life is ruled by caffeine and no sleep, and yet I’m having such a great time.  Paradox or twilight zone?  It is 3:17 in the morning.

[Begin tangent.]

BTW when most brands do some sort of sponsorship or deal, it’s clearly labeled on the can/bottle.  For example, I still remember Coke’s deal with AVTR.  Yes, that’s Avatar (the awful James Cameron movie that’s FernGully + Romeo & Juliet with the only redeeming factor being special effects).  The spelling was a bit funky but the package design was impeccable.  The spacing of the AVTR letters, the serif font.  It just fit.  But I have some serious questions about the football logo on the new Coke Zero bottles?  There’s no information.  Are you doing a sponsorship or co-branding?  Am I supposed to be curious enough to go look it up online?  (If I weren’t into marketing and advertising, probably not.)

I finally went to the Coke Zero site and I’m even more confused.  It is about football season but non-specific.  I thought diet products were usually geared more towards women, but Coke seems to be pushing this product to men.  Are they expanding the diet-soda-for-men market (I have no idea how big it is) in order to not cannibalize as much of the female-dominated Diet Coke market?

The choose-your-own-adventure game on the site is almost interesting, but I’d rather see the brand sponsor one of the Facebook games, where it’s more engaging for the user and also leverages the brand of the Facebook game.  Of course, having worked at Playdom, I’m biased. :)

[End tangent]

I’m loopy so it’s off to bed.  Last thought: why hasn’t anyone told me about this awesome awesome product?

UPDATED: Cynical answer- probably because the packaging is awfully awfully wrong.

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From God to Godless to Godfull

Three thoughts:

“San Francisco is godless.”

I paraphrase but that’s what my friend told me over dinner last night.  Why?  SF is hugely liberal, progressive and largely accepting and non-religious.

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“Apple evokes a similar response to a religious experience.”

Again, I paraphrase.  It’s from the book Buyology, about marketing, marketing research and buying habits by Martin Lindstrom.

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“As people evolve, the characteristics of ‘God’ change with them.”

You know what I’m about to say.  This is one point from History of God, an exploration of the three major religions- Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

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So does this mean consumerism is the new God?

Okay, okay.  We’re in a recession.  Stores are closing its doors left and right, and brands are scrambling to mark prices down since before Thanksgiving in an effort to sell sell sell during the Holiday Season.

Well, first of all, we’re talking about strong brands, brands like Apple and Coca-Cola, etc.  Sure, they hurt during a recession too, but they’re not likely to go away.  Also, let’s think in the long term.  This economy thing isn’t going to last forever (knock on wood, salt over the shoulder and all that).  What about in the long run?

More and more, I’m seeing that the younger generations are identifying more with brands than religion.  Instead of going to church, we’re waiting for the new release of our favorite labels.  It’s not just about the technology or design; it’s about lifestyle, self expression and social standing.  Why pray to a grand being who’s become bogged down in religious politics and causing strife worldwide?  Brands speak directly to who we are and where we live.  Islam and Christianity segregate but can’t everyone enjoy a Coke?

Maybe that sounds pretty extreme.  We’re probably not going to have Oprahism or Bartism (remember that Simpson’s episode where Bart become a religion?).  No, we can’t use 20th century traits to define the new religious experience.  But we can draw other parallels.

Waiting in line for the new iPhone, the people around me felt a bond.  We were all freezing, all impatient and yet all energized at the prospect of the new shiny box from Steve Jobs.  Getting the 3G iPhone isn’t about utility but about 1) our lifestyle, 2) our social status in getting one first- okay, exclusivity wasn’t based on social standing but still, and 3) the white glow of the Apple store and its products is bordering on seeming heavenly.  The Apple fan boys act more like a religious cult than just any excited fan base.  (You can read more about it in Buyology, but I’m not here to peddle, and these are only loosely based on what I read.)

It seems that we’ve evolved from God is angry, which is why our crops fail and our wives die from childbirth.  To God is merciful and rewards good deeds.  To God is a bureaucrat and if you can’t read, you’re really at least 5 layers from God with the priests and cardinals and so forth.  To God is democratic and everywhere.  To God loves you unless you’re Muslim or gay.  To God like whatever.  To God?  Oh, btw, did you hear about the new Adidas line?

We’ve gone from “godless heathens” to “God” to “Godless.”  Now will brands be the new gods?

If the answer is yes, don’t worry.  All the major designers carter to all price points by sub-branding, Marc Jacobs, Marc by Marc Jacobs… soon Target by Marc Jacobs?

(Not-so-secretly, I’m praying yes because that means I’ll still have a job and career years down the line. )

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Filed under just life, politics, pr/marketing, social, stuff, tech

Politics & The History of Marketing

PART I

My last post on the vice presidential debate highlighted the great marketing campaign of the GOP.  I say marketing because many of you pointed out via emails and ims that Sarah Palin, and to some extend John McCain, focuses on broad sweeping statements about some utopian United States without much in the way of a plausible road map.  Well… that’s what worries me most of this campaign, as did the campaign in 2004.

The American people have always held on to great hope for the future.  It’s been the promise of the American dream that’s driven so many people to immigrate to this great country (yes, it’s still great).  And that’s exactly the tactic that the republican party focuses on during election time.  They toy with our optimism, fondle our emotions and make those sweeping generalizations about how their candidate, McCain, will change the U.S. and the middle class for the better.

But so many supporters of the GOP at major corporations and the wealthy.  They hold much more sway over the party than the millions of rural, small town and middle class families.  Can we trust that they will serve us over the rich?  Has the last 8 years taught us nothing?

But the Obama and democratic party actually gives clear goals and action plans that cite the benefits, costs and consequences on the economy, healthcare, social security, foreign affairs, the energy crisis/global warming, etc.

But at the end of the day, as we learned in Made to Stick, the emotional appeal works much more effectively than the factual… right?

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PART II

Well to explain, let’s examine the brief history of marketing [via lessons from my management 101 class at The Wharton School].

Let’s start at the very beginning (a very good place to start – The Sound of Music). Marketing is defined as “an ongoing process of planning and executing the marketing mix for products, services or ideas to create exchange between individuals and organizations.”  Advertising, public relations, research, branding among others all fit under the marketing umbrella.  But marketing is the core strategy that directs all of the above.

New technology = economic growth.  The Industrial Evolution spurred the beginning of mass production.  No longer do we have to make our own clothes because the cotton mills could do it faster and cheaper.  Great!  With Ford’s application of the assembly line, the Model-T was so much more cost effective car that the average American could afford.  Great!  However, there wasn’t much in the way of marketing.  No strategic placement of a product or service, finding market segments, developing a unique selling point.  There was no need.  It’s “any color, as long as it’s black.”

Skip forward to proliferation of the market place.  Developments in transportation, packaging and refrigeration means that people now have a choice in what they want to buy.  These were especially apparent in the CPGs (consumer packaged goods) like Heinz ketchup (“47 varieties!”), Campbell’s soup (“M’m m’m good” since 1935), Coca-Cola (“Deliciously refreshing” 1900) and so many more.  Slogans were a way to set products apart from competitors and a catchy phrase to help advertising and consumer choices.

From there, marketing mutated to a complex machine.  In order to keep things brief (because it gets a lot more complicated), here are some highlights in no particular order.

  • Proctor & Gamble realized that it’s better to cannibalize their own products, if it means gaining more of the marketing.  Just in their family of detergents, they have Tide as a household name and top market brand.  Cheer and Gain, which sorry for not knowing, play somewhere in the mid-cost, mid-performance range.  (I’m sure PG has gigabytes of consumer studies, scanner data and much more market research on the differentiators and market segments under each.  I just don’t know them.)  Then Era at the bottom (which I assume b/c I’ve never heard of it… maybe it has higher market proliferation abroad).
  • Intel evolved into a household name by using both the push and pull strategy.  During a time when chips were a dime a dozen and consumers weren’t aware of what went into their computers, Intel pushed their chips as the top of the line.  More importantly, they pulled consumers in with effective advertising and PR (all part of marketing).  Make sure that your computer has “Intel inside” to guarantee quality, etc.
  • Pepsi, as the newcomer, challenged Coca-Cola with their blind taste test, and stupidly Coca-Cola (instead of leaning on their tradition, branding and established consumer base) fell for the trap.  They came up with New Coke.  Sure… months later with people across the nation hoarding the old stuff and complaining so fervently, Coke came back with Coca-Cola Classic.  But Pepsi had make it’s mark, and they’re still competing with about 50-50 market share (depending on country) of beverages and snack products.  [Side note: some people suspect that Coke had introduced New Coke as a ploy to convince the public how much they really love Coca-Cola.  I think the executives were just idiotic.  Side note #2: Coca-Cola determined a few years ago that there are 27 beverage opportunities in a day.  Yeah, 27.]

Those are just three very quick snapshots of successful marketing techniques and how much marketing’s evolved from “47 varieties!”

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Now every company is trying to differentiate itself.  We have dozens of choices.  Brands are freaking sub-branding, creating off-shoots and variations.  There’s like 12 types of Tylenol ache, cold and flu medicines.  When I’m in pain, I just want “THIS IS THE ONE YOU NEED.”  So advertising’s become less effective.  Direct mail’s also less effective because my mailbox is full of ads I don’t want.  [Discover, unless you're giving me 10% cash back, which I know you can't afford, stop sending me biweekly mail.  I'm not going to accept your 'exclusive offer.']  Telemarketers hounds us all the time.  These annoying marketing techniques work because they’re so cost effective that a few “YES’s” make up for the majority of “NO’s.” [Unfortunately, they also give marketing a bad name.  It's become an industry of shoving shit people don't want down their throats.  Not true marketing: exposing product/service options to audiences who want to know.]

The problem was that companies were offering their guarantees so often that what they say mean nothing to us.  We’re emotional numb to their appeals and no longer trusted their slogans.  At the end of the day, no matter how kitschy or cute the advertising is, if the product/service ain’t work, we ain’t buying it.   So things started to change.

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Remember new technology = economic growth.  Internet = proliferation and democratization of information.  The normal paradigms of advertising, public relations and branding are changing.  Thus, marketing (the planning of such) is evolving as well.

Inventions like TiVo and DVRs help us skip the ads, while companies are trying to find ways to ‘cut through the clutter.’  Marketers are moving online.  Okay, yes, a lot of the bad habits of marketers have moved online.  The flashy, corny banners.  The incessant pop-ups selling us crap and then selling us pop-up blockers.  The spam, even from legitimate companies (you have the money; hire an email-marketer!).

But this is just the beginning.  More and more, word of mouth is playing a role.  Blogs and influencers across the web are popping up and spreading relevant information to interested niches.  Email marketers are popping up with opt-in policies and reassurances that our information isn’t getting sold to the evil spammers.  Semantic search and backend settings allow us to just see ads and banners that may be of interest to us.  Because we do want marketing.  It helps us find out about great sales, the new android phone or 20% off coupons.  We just don’t want what we don’t care about.

So here’s the lesson: marketing works.  Emotionally appealing to audiences works.  BUT.  BUT, there has to be facts that support the emotion.  In order to prevent buyer’s remorse and to keep a customer (which is so much cheaper than acquiring a new one), the product/service has to deliver.

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Part III

Thanks for sticking with me. :-)

Presidential nominations are like laundry detergent.  We have to choose one.

The difference (other than the fact that one is soap and one is people) is that the companies and branding may stay the same, democrats, republicans, independents, etc., but the product changes all the time.  Last time around it was Kerry and Bush.  Now it’s Obama and McCain.  So we can’t rely 100% on past experience to determine which one we want this time.

But we learn from shopping (an everyday task of differentiating among products and choosing what’s right for us) that we have the tools to make those decisions.  For example, we know that we care about the product specs above marketing gimmicks.  As a shoe fanatic (I have the proverbial shoe closet), Manolos would go so much better with my lifestyle brand.  However, they hurt my feet, don’t fit as well and quite frankly, I’d rather save $200 and buy Kate Spades.

The same should go for decisions on candidacy! Yes, I love America.  Yes, I want the government to be for the people again.  Yes, I want someone who isn’t afraid to challenge the authority and be a ‘maverick.’ But that doesn’t mean I’m going to blindly go on my emotions and not look at the FACTS!

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1) I’m SO enraged that the GOP would use a cheesy marketing ploy to try and fool the American people.

2) Even more so, I’m irked that the public would buy into it!

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FACT: Sure, she’s cute and a MILF, but Sarah Palin said exactly 0 about specific plans of the McCain doctrine.

FACT: A ‘blanket’ tax cut helps the rich exponentially more than it helps “the Joe six-packs and hockey moms.”  (see below)

FACT: Obama’s healthcare reform includes a specific plan.  He plans to “make employer contributions more fair.”  HOW? … “by requiring large employers that do not offer coverage or make a meaningful contribution to the cost of quality health coverage for their employees to contribute a percentage of payroll toward the costs of their employees health care.”  McCain’s healthcare plan is full of unsupported claims.  “John McCain will reform health care making it easier for individuals and families to obtain insurance.” How?  Not sure… but “Americans [sure] are working harder and longer, yet the amount workers take home in their paychecks is not keeping pace because of rising health care costs.”  Really?  I wasn’t aware.

FACT: Obama’s foreign policy talks about the situations, the factors and multiple influences we have as a country to resolve/strengthen the problem/our position. McCain… doesn’t have “foreign policy” on his website…  Apparently, it’s not that important to him…  The closest thing I found was “national security.”

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Look, I’m not going into all the issues and who said what (all from their websites).  You can do your own research.

The point is that when we’re making such an important decision that affects not only Americans but the entire world, shouldn’t we look above the marketing ploys that tug at our heart strings and get to the not-as-interesting facts?

To answer the first question, wayyyy above: the emotional appeal works much more effectively than the factual… right?

We’ll see.  But it shouldn’t.

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Filed under politics, pr/marketing, social, tech