I’ve got something for YOU!

People in advertising sometimes forget that a good television commercial will have potential customers remembering the name of the company, and have them talking about the advertisement.  Companies too often make visually pleasing commercials, but they aren’t original, and people won’t even remember what brand it was for.  I would like to show you the opposite of the stale commercials that numb our minds on a daily basis.

The video below shows a commercial from the mid 1990s for Eagle Insurance in Chicago. This campaign became legendary in the Chicago area. The ad is so goofy and out-of-the-box that it became an instant conversation starter. The commercial is ,even today, a  topic people talk about. “I’ve got something for you!”


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Influencers and Ben Baller

An influencer is a person that affects our tastes in fashion, music, food and more. Most people think of influencers as extremely famous people like Michael Jordan, Lady Gaga, etc. However, there are many individuals  that have a profound influence on our daily lives that most people have never heard of. Ben Baller is one of them.

I first heard of Ben Baller from NikeTalk, an internet discussion forum.  NikeTalk is an important forum to be aware of  if you want to understand what is trending in urban youth culture. Ben was a big part of the Nike shoe collecting craze of the early 2000s, selling his collection for over $200,000. Nike even hired Ben to do some brand marketing for them after they realized the impact he was having on the popularity of their shoes. Companies like Supra, Diamond Supply Co., and XBox have hired Ben as a brand ambassador as well.

Young people trust Ben’s instincts about what brands they should want to be associated with, and how to express themselves. Currently, he is a jeweler with an impressive Rolodex of celebrity clients, and a powerful blog http://ifandco.com to promote his jewelry and brands he is sponsored by. Ben gives away free gear to celebrities he knows, causing an even bigger surge in awareness for his sponsors.  It is imperative for companies to figure out which people are affecting their target audience, even if these people might not be so obvious at first glance.  By connecting with under the radar  influencers, companies can build their brand awareness and image, without having to break the bank in their marketing budget.

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The Bieber Twitter Phenomenon

Justin Bieber, thanks to his considerable talent, charisma ,and extremely clever use of social media is the most popular teenage idol in the world.   There has not been a bigger more popular music act for teenage girls since the Beatles. Bieber has an astounding 14 million + followers on twitter. He has engaged his fans by retweeting their messages, answering their questions, and following over 100,000 of them.  I have noticed something I dub The Bieber Twitter Phenomenon. Whenever Justin retweets a fan of his, the person who was retweeted will almost 100% of the time will gain 500 or more followers within a couple of days. People will follow strangers on Twitter just because that stranger was retweeted by Bieber. The influence Bieber has is a marketer’s dream. It will be interesting to see Justin’s progression as a singer and influencer as he becomes an adult.  I suspect he won’t have the sway he has now, but will still be a forced to be reckoned with in the music industry and in business. Hopefully for Justin, he hears the words, ” You are not the father.”

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Last Saturday I was at the mall for no particular reason other then to pass the time. I tried on some shirts that didn’t fit at Macys, drank some free samples of delicious tea at Teavana, and then walked pass a minimalist store that immediately drew my attention. The shop, of course, was the Apple Store. The design and overall ambiance of the store was so clean, simple, and beautiful. The Apple Store was in such contrast to the Chicago sports merchandise store that I browsed through earlier. The sports store had horrible dark lighting, ugly contrasting wall colors, and a confusing eye sore of a layout that made me want to leave.  The Apple Store, with its crisp lighting, white walls, and organized merchandise layout created a welcome environment for people to experiment and potentially buy various Apple products.

Apple understands that in our increasingly complicated world minimalism is something people still crave.  We are bombarded with complex technology, annoying new features( aka Facebook redesigning), and ugly designs that try to overcompensate. In the products and stores of Apple, minimalist design and easy to use features have been prevalent for years.  They understand that both with technology and design less is more. Steve Jobs was not only an innovator, but was an incredible designer.

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Lil Wayne and Polo

We all know how popular Lil Wayne is. It seems like he has been in half of the songs playing on the radio for the last three years. Weezy has a tremendous influence on the youth culture of America. If you haven’t observed, Wayne has been only wearing Polo underwear in his performances, and has mentioned the brand in his lyrics in several songs. At the 2011 VMAs, he wore Polo underwear underneath those hideous women “jeggings” he decided to rock ( see picture above).  In one song, “Rollin,” Wayne says, “Polo, f*ck that Hilfiger.”

 I don’t know if Polo is paying Wayne to represent the brand, but if they aren’t, Polo is getting a tremendous amount of great free advertising. To get an influencer like Lil Wayne to promote your brand is a real coup. Polo will be gaining customers in the 16-25-year-old age range. Ralph Lauren should be buying multiple copies of The Carter IV. I’m pretty sure that Tommy Hilfiger will lose younger customers because of Wayne’s downgrade of their brand. Such is my opinion of the power of Tunechi.

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Nike and Kevin Durant Idea

Any people reading this blog that know me, know I’m obsessed with the NBA. Growing up in the Chicago suburbs, just as the Bulls reached their peak of dominance in the 90s, pretty much guaranteed my love of the league. As an avid Michael Jordan fan, I grew to appreciate the innovative and clever commercials Nike used to endorse my childhood hero. As I sit here typing, I’m worrying about the catastrophic possibility of there being no NBA season this year, or the disatrous possibility of regular season games being lost.

If you haven’t been aware, reigining NBA scoring champ and Nike endorser Kevin Durant has been criss-crossing the country, delighting basketball fans in playground games and tournaments throughout the summer. Watching Durant, it is obvious he absolutely loves playing the game of basketball. He is a humble, likeable, and prodigious talent that Nike should be using more in their advertising campaigns. Durant already has a signature shoe, but really hasn’t been featured in any advertisements.

My idea for a campaign will be centered around the potential of the NBA season being lost, and Durant’s activity this summer. This video of Kevin Durant at  Dyckman Park will be the feature of the commercial:

At the end of the video it will say in white font over a black background “Kevin is ready.” New frame “Let the season begin.” A Nike swoosh will be shown at the end of the commercial. The commercial should be shown in late October, when the NBA season should be starting. The ad follows the 1999 commercials from Nike for the NBA lockout like this : My idea is to have the Durant plug be a little more serious and aspirational.

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Anybody trying to create a personal brand, or working in the hospitality industry should really be paying attention to Billy Dec.  Dec is the co-owner of Rockit Ranch Productions, which operates Sunda, Rockit Bar and Grill, and The Underground. Dec is arguably the person to know in the hospitality industry in Chicago.

For owners of restaurants and nightclubs, creating connections with existing and potential customers is absolutely crucial. The way Mr. Dec has engaged Chicagoans should be a textbook example in all college marketing and HRIM programs. Billy has made himself a Chicago celebrity, and is the definition of a smart marketer/business man.  Here are two ways he is enhancing his personal brand/business:

1.  Use of celebrities: Dec understands we have a celebrity obsessed culture. People love anything to do with celebrities, and Dec consistently gives celebs the red carpet treatment at his establishments.  A celebrity in your restaurant/bar gives the venue very high credibility. Billy posts pictures of himself with celebrities on his twitter/fb page, and entices people with the chance they might meet a celeb. Dec name drops a bit too much for my taste, but I understand why he does it.

2. Use of Twitter/Facebook: Billy has used a clever social media strategy to attract people to follow him, and increase awareness of his brand. Dec will often give away tickets to all sorts of interesting events like movie premieres, concerts, sporting events etc. to people who either “like” or retweet his status updates. By using viral concepts to promote, Billy has over 19,000 twitter followers. He makes his followers feel important by giving them priority access to his venues, and being accountable to patrons who have had problems/concerns at his spots.  Dec makes his accounts interesting by posting pictures of the food he eats and the locations around the world he travels to, so us mere mortals can live vicariously through him.

Overall, Dec has created a superb marketing strategy. He has created some quality venues, but the way he promotes has really pushed his brand to the next level.

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