Category Archives: Advertising

How Brands Achieve Transparency & Attract Millennial Consumers

We recently explored how the millennial generation’s consumer ethos of “self, society, and planet” has impacted other demographics and encouraged brands to become more transparent about their product sourcing and social impact. This shift is perhaps most obvious when it comes to food labeling – after all, this is the generation that saw calorie counts added to fast food menus and prioritizes organic and local ingredients. However, today’s consumers want greater transparency for all products, not just those they literally consume.

In Inc., digital marketing entrepreneur Kenny Kline reports on the Label Insight Transparency ROI study that examines how transparency is vital in building trust with consumers and encouraging brand loyalty.
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Courting Controversy: Gillette & the New Playbook for Social Messaging

In our contentious political and social climate, most brands choose to play it safe and advertise their products without engaging with any issues that may alienate a portion of their consumer base. Not so with Gillette, which recently released an online ad titled We Believe: The Best a Man Can Get that courts controversy by invoking the #MeToo movement, toxic masculinity, and bullying (among other hot-button issues). The ad, which provoked a firestorm of competing editorials and news coverage, has placed Gillette at the center of an ongoing debate about social messaging from brands.

A lot has been published about the ad’s message and the public’s response. What I’d like to examine is the risk vs. the reward of socially-engaged brand content and how brands are creating a new playbook for effective social messaging.
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Go Direct: How to Reach Consumers in the Era of “Fake News”

Richard Edelman, a leading expert in public relations and marketing, recently gave a speech at the University of Notre Dame addressing the crisis in consumer trust. His firm, Edelman, is a long-standing chronicler of consumer trust in institutions including business and government (we’ve covered past Edelman Trust Barometer results on our blog). In 2017, their global survey found that “trust is in crisis around the world” with trust in media and government reaching record lows since before the Great Recession of 2008.

The results for 2018 offer little hope for rebounding from the previous year. The most recent Trust Barometer “reveals a world of seemingly stagnant distrust” as “people’s trust in business, government, NGOs and media remained largely unchanged from 2017.” What the survey does offer, alongside Edelman’s recent remarks, is a potential way forward for those companies seeking to re-earn and re-establish the goodwill of their consumer base.
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Radical Honesty: Nebraska’s New Tourism Slogan Challenges Convention

The Nebraska Tourism Commission recently unveiled a surprising new slogan: “Honestly, It’s Not for Everyone.” Unsurprisingly, it has garnered considerable national press for making this bold move. Conventional tourism campaigns rely on extolling the positives of a given location; European slogans include Germany’s “Simply Inspiring” and Norway’s “Powered by Nature,” while in the United States we have Utah’s “Life Elevated” and West Virginia’s “Wild and Wonderful.”

Nebraska’s new slogan takes a different approach, acknowledging that the state doesn’t get attention as a leisure destination or even a significant natural beauty. By turning conventional wisdom on its head, the Nebraska Tourism Commission is attracting attention of a different kind and ultimately achieving its goal.
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Lenses of Interpretation: Hermeneutics in Marketing & Advertising

My wife and I are big fans of Rev. Rodger Nishioka, an astonishingly bright man. We love his insightful and perceptive approach to examining the big issues of our day. The opening sentences of Rodger’s recent note have been on my mind since I first read it. He wrote:

Hermeneutics. It means “interpretation.” I like to think of hermeneutics as a set of lenses through which each person views the world. Hermeneutics, or how we interpret the world, shape everything. The truth is each of us have multiple hermeneutics. We view the world through a complex combination of lenses. Some of my lenses are male, fourth-generation American of Japanese ancestry, single, mid-westerner (that is the newest one and I am still growing into it) and educated (some might say over-educated?!)

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The Best Brand Taglines & What They Communicate to Consumers

As part of our ongoing exploration of authentic branding and how brand makers create and sustain value, we recently discussed Bain & Company’s Elements of Value. This pyramid of attributes provides a fascinating and powerful framework for discussing and determining exactly what a brand is promising its audience. By identifying the values that a brand or product seeks to fulfill, we can clarify the promise it is making to the consumers who purchase its products.

The greatest opportunity for a succinct declaration of a brand’s promise is its tagline – the short slogan that (usually accompanying a logo) provides a verbal “hook” in the brand’s marketing and advertising. Famous taglines (like Nike’s “Just Do It” or Allstate’s “You’re In Good Hands”) can become cultural touchstones that cement a brand’s identity in the minds of consumers. They also speak to the value proposition – the “promise” – the brand is making to its audience.
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What “Peak TV” Can Teach Us About Brand Engagement

Industry experts call it “Peak TV” – a title that acknowledges both the quality and quantity of scripted series currently airing across established networks and upstart streaming services alike. For viewers at home, it may feel impossible to keep up with the sheer number of “must watch” shows. That’s an understandable feeling. FX Networks, which tracks the series currently on the air, notes that 342 individual scripted series have aired so far in 2017, making it the biggest year on record for TV programming.

For producers and marketing departments, this glut of content creates a mandate: stand out from the crowd or fade away. As a result, some of the strongest brands around right now belong to TV shows. In the age of Peak TV, what can show brands teach us about storytelling and audience engagement?
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