Friday, June 26, 2009

Flo vs. the Gecko

I can't possibly be the only one who makes note of which commercials grate on my nerves when they appear on my tube. Everyone probably notices the annoying aspects of TV ads such as loud celebrity spokesmen, irritating jingles, or even just the amateur nature of local ads. I hope I'm not the only one, however, who takes notice of good commercials, or at least favorite ones (determining "goodness" is subjective).

Everyone remembers Mastercard's "priceless" commercials. I consider them to be among the classiest commercials: simple, classic, adaptable, and most importantly, memorable. I would imagine that few people have a bone to pick about those ad campaigns. Based on my own informal research, (discussions with family and friends) I have found that there seems to be some polarization over recent commercials created by the big insurance companies.

The insurance industry seems to be more drawn to creating series of commercials with well defined characters and themes. A few come to mind. Metlife has adopted Charles Schultz's Snoopy. Allstate has a trustworthy-looking African American actor giving their pitch. Insurance giants, Geico and Progressive have the cavemen an
d the gecko, and Flo. The first two of these companies may have a good product, but don't seem to attract loyalty for their ad campaigns. In contrast, Geico and Progressive have created followings for their characters. My informal research shows that those who are fans of the Geico commercials dislike the Progressive ones and vice versa. Personally, I'm in the Progressive camp.

Maybe I'll discuss each of the campaigns in more detail later. I wish I had access to metrics detailing the success of each campaign, or just to be a fly on the wall in a marketing meeting at one of the companies. For now, I just wanted to make note of the interesting trend. Maybe I'm in the correct market segment to be a Progressive fan and Geico people have different characteristics. I'm not alone, however, in being a fan of Flo. There's even a facebook group for her following, not that there isn't a facebook group for anything and everything these days.

What commercial characters do you find yourself becoming attached to, or even just simply not finding yourself annoyed by their interruption of your favorite program?
I think it's worth the time to appreciate good marketing, even if it's just to keep from being frustrated by the clutter ads can create.

Progressive Commercial featuring Flo

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

New Image for the Golden Arches?

I don't know about you, but I've noticed their commercials for fancy coffee and the recent addition of stone fascades on their buildings. What is McDonald's trying to do? Are they becoming Starbucks?

Apparently they are putting a great deal of time and effort into revamping their image. New commercials that tout their new coffee line play with the accented "e" of café. (Americans don't seem to understand accented letters anyway, so it's a good opportunity to further confuse them. That, however, is a discussion for another day.) I've noticed include a heavily flash-based website redesign that matches the commercials.

Micky D's is also spending a sizable amount of money on changing the appearance of their restaurant locations, inside and out. They've removed some of the worn out plastic parts and added contemporary elements. The new design even includes a change to the roof structure of the franchise locations. Though I'm not a frequent McDonald's customer (I'm just not a fast food junkie), I have always thought McDonald's regular coffee was delicious and a somewhat hidden gem. It is fantastic source for a decent and inexpensive cup of coffee. The newfangled coffee products seem to be the McD's answer to Starbucks' line of over caffeinated beverage. While the extension to their product line may boost sales, I wonder whether it will provide any long term growth to their sales or customer base.

I think that McDonald's' effort to make their restaurants and company feel more upscale is admirable. They have clearly thought through and are carrying out a strategy to reposition the company's brand and identity in the eyes of their customers and prospective customers. However, one major problem I have with what I've seen of the McDonald's campaign is inconsistency of message. They have the fancy new website and locations, and clever commercials with their more sophisticated McCafé products, but they still seem to have some advertising out there that I would consider less than classy. Maybe it's just my taste, but their current commercial promoting their filet-o-fish sandwich strikes me as rather tacky.

Again, I admire McDonald's commitment to revamping their image, but they need to find some consistency with their message and make sure their marketing sticks. McDonald's has to overcome decades worth of opinions about their company in the minds of American consumers in order to create any significant break through.

My challenge for you: Bypass the new "McCafé" products, and try a cup of regular McDonald's coffee for that caffeine fix.

BizBash Article

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Crochet: Not Just for Grandma

When many people hear the word crochet, or picture someone knitting, images of grandma sitting in a rocking chair with her hook or needles and a ball of yarn may come to mind. Yes, crocheting with thread (referred to as floss) is how doilies come to exist, and that old afgan throw on your grandparents' couch is made up of appropriately named "granny squares."

A lot of time, patience, and a strong wrist goes into creating intricate or extensive crocheted projects. Though afgans and doilies are the tradition,
a modern crochet aficionado can create scarves, bags, hats, and baby blankets. However, there's something that can be crocheted that may not come to mind immediately. When you're used to making hats, scarves, and blankets, most who crochet wouldn't think they could wear a crocheted project during the height of summer. Ever thought you could crochet swimwear?

When you're on the beach or at the pool this summer, you might see someone in a crocheted swimsuit or bikini. They're really out there. They range from modest tankinis to a little too risque for public (be careful if you do a google search). Crocheted swimwear can be purchased online or there are patterns available for do-it-yourself-ers.

You'd be surprised where crocheting can show up. It's the detailed patterns or lace on many things you wouldn't expect. I challenge you to rethink things that you think are old-fashioned or out-dated. It doesn't just apply to yarn crafts.

Crocheted swimwear: LovetoKnow