Putting the Brakes on Decaf

Starbucks recently announced that in an effort to reduce costs, they will stop brewing decafinated coffee after 12:00 noon. They’re projecting a savings in the millions of dollars and a huge reduction in waste. But it gets tricky. They will brew it if a customer asks for it, but it won’t be widely available. From their Twitter page:

Decaf available in the morning … the new policy only applies to after noon

If you ask me, this only creates confusion and from a public relations standpoint, it’s a tough message to manage. Throw in an extra wait time of 4 minutes and you may have a few agitated coffee lovers, who should be drinking decaf in …

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Coming Soon to a Brand Near You: Obama Fever!

I mentioned it in an earlier blog post, but I’ll say it again. I have never seen so much attention on a single presidential election since who knows when… maybe John F. Kennedy? But I wasn’t even alive back then, so who knows. With all of the excitement surrounding President Barack Obama, it sure makes me feel all warm and fuzzy, and in a time like this I suppose that’s not a bad thing…

Quick to jump on trends, “warm & fuzzy” feelings or any national movement are brands, right? You bet. Last night the NBC Nightly News closed its broadcast with a story on selling the “Obama brand”. What’s that? Well, a lot of major brands and advertisers have got “Obama fever” and they’re tagging along for the ride. Major brands like Pepsi and Starbucks have Barack’s message of hope and optimism throughout their campaigns that appear in their ads, billboards, bus wraps, you name it.

So what’s this all about? Will attaching onto Obama’s messages and themes actually help increase product sales? Publicity? Brand awareness? And talk about the power of publicity. After seeing Sasha and Milia in J.Crew attire during the inauguration, so many people visited the J.Crew website that it crashed due to millions of hits. By the way, the outfits were specifically designed for the inauguration festivities and they won’t be available until 2010, although there are reports that the company may roll them out in 2009. Smart move to do it earlier, if you ask me. Who knows if consumer demand and interest will hang on for another year.

Which brings me back to my main point. By tagging along with our new President, will brands increase their bottom line? Something to think about… and now, here’s the NBC piece. Enjoy it- it’s a goodie!

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What’s the Matter? Don’t You Trust Me?

Being the TV junkie that I am, I look forward to a night on the couch glued to the tube. I watched the news, did lots of flipping, and then I remembered the premiere of TNT’s new show all about the glitz and glamor of the advertising industry,”Trust Me“. If you ask me, I think it’s got potential. The cast isn’t too shabby either, with Eric McCormack of Will & Grace fame as well as Tom Cavanagh from Ed. Throw in the producers from Nip/Tuck and The Closer and you’ve got yourself a show.

The Chicago-based agency Rothman, Greene & Mohr is fictitious, but they include real name agencies in the show, such as DDB and Leo Burnett. Interesting factoid regarding product placement. Unilever, a major sponsor of the show, plan to have Dove hair care products all throughout the series.

Ahhh, the big city (or not-so-big-city) advertising agency life. Late nights working on campaigns, client pitches, internal politics, and maniacal creative directors to boot. If you watched it last night, then I’m sure there are plenty of you out there who can relate and know exactly what I’m talking about. 🙂 I’ve been here at Mason for just about 7 years now and we’re a full service agency that does it all – advertising, public relations, interactive, social media, you name it. Although I work in the public relations group, I easily related to lots of things going on in the show last night.

So as a PR guy, I found the title of the new show interesting and am probably over thinking it. “Trust Me”. Does it imply that we, as consumers, should just trust the ads, billboards, radio spots, and web banners, no matter what they say? I’m curious to see if the public relations profession will make an appearance in the series as the show develops. Food for thought. It’s a show that makes you think about where we get these tag lines and jingles, but more importantly, it’s a show that does a great job of entertaining you. Check it out if you can. Approved.

Keep The News Flowing

I thought this was pretty positive news.

In a time when newspapers are holding on for dear life, it’s not often you hear of a new paper starting up. Here in Connecticut, the Hartford Courant recently transformed it’s look and sections and along with that came a lot of staff cuts. It looks like they might live to see another day, as the Bristol Press and New Britain Herald have a new owner. Tough times for print.
So, in the midst of these crazy times for newspapers, there comes a new one in Avon, Connecticut. Determined to keep the news flowing, Melissa Marinan (who once sold newspaper advertising) is starting The Valley Press after four Farmington Valley papers closed earlier this month. The free weekly newspaper will be delivered to every home in Burlington, Avon, Simsbury, Canton and Farmington.
I give kudos to Melissa and wish her success!

Happy Birthday Mac!

Close your eyes, make a wish and blow out the candles.

The Macintosh turns 25 this Saturday January 24, 2009. Apple truly possesses that “passion for the brand” in the greatest sense. It’s become almost cult-like with a worldwide army of brand enthusiasts that travel the planet for store openings, stand in line for hours on end just to be the first one to get a new product, and then there are those that even go as far to tattoo the logo on their bodies. Ouch 🙂

Rewinding back to the year 1984, Mac introduced itself to the world with a biggie. Back in my college days, we reviewed this commercial to pieces in one of my communications classes. Airing during Super Bowl XVIII for $1.5 million, it’s still considered by many to be one of the greatest commercials of all time.

And now, the ad. Here it is in all its glory. You be the judge. It certainly has a powerful message and if you ask me, it’s still spot on today.

Getting Social With Your Finances?

Yep, it’s true. Social media is all the rage and it’s here to stay. Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn, Posterous, the list goes on… and on, just like the Energizer Bunny. As the technology continues to evolve and support social media, it will only become more intertwined in our daily lives. Just look at the cell phone and what it’s become in under ten years time. We’re practically walking around with powerful mini-laptops with cute names like iPhone or Blackberry that already support most social media applications.

Anyhow, this caught my eye in the Hartford Business Journal. The Hartford-based owners of Geezeo are hoping to make it a household name just like Twitter and Facebook. What is it? Simple- it’s a personal finance tracking website with social media facets that allow you to build a community of friends, groups and what not. The site is pretty powerful too- it links up to your bank accounts, credit cards and tracks every purchase and posts it to your profile. So if you eat out somewhere, it will post “Dining Out” on your profile. Sort of like Facebook, whenever you do anything to your profile or post something, it lets the world know. The goal of Geezeo? To help people see where their money is going and get a grip on their personal finances.

Pretty cool if you ask me. I’ll have to give this a try.