judging the book by the cover

Brand Zeitgeist cover
Brand Zeitgeist will be available in March.

Finally. I present to you the cover of Brand Zeitgeist.

My book, which will be available in March, reinforces basic marketing and branding principles and illustrates how organizations can use fundamental aspects of human nature to develop a brand strategy.

Click here to connect on the Brand Zeitgeist facebook page to stay informed about events and announcements about the book.

I’ll soon be looking for some folks who want to review advance copies of the book and/or host a stop on the blog book tour. Stay tuned.

insurgents in your organization

Late last week, Alex Bogusky was elevated from CD of Crispin Porter + Bogusky to “Chief Creative Insurgent” of the ad agency’s parent company MDC Partners.

Hmmm.

Since, by definition, an insurgent is a rebel who revolts against authority or acts contrary to the policies of their organization, Bogusky has his work cut out for him. He’s fighting against “The Man” while simultaneously being “The Man“. That’s tough work.

While I typically despise jargon-ish job titles that have no meaning, the big idea behind this insurgent idea is right on target.

Every organization should have an “insurgent” that provides a contrarian point-of-view for the group. There needs to be someone to stand up and challenge the “that’s the way we’ve always done it” mantra.

The trouble is that most businesses quickly get rid of…or chase off their insurgents. There’s less chaos in the organization when everyone colors inside the lines. There’s also less opportunity for new growth and the ability to react / evolve to a world and market that’s changing faster everyday.

And insurgents have a rough life. They’re usually hated by fellow members and leaders of the group.

Maybe this CP+B move is smart. Maybe having “The Man” be the insurgent is the answer. If anyone can pull it off, Bogusky can.

punish your biggest fans

A memo from the top brass at the New York Times was sent to employees about the plan to charge for online content at nytimes.com…

Today we are announcing that we will be introducing a paid model for NYTimes.com at the beginning of 2011…we have chosen a metered approach that will offer users free access to a set number of articles per month and then charge users once they exceed that number.
(Read the full memo here)

There is no doubt that there will have to be a paid model for online news. Journalism is not free. But what’s the revenue solution for online news consumption? Hard to tell.

But I do know that penalizing your best and most frequent users is not the answer.

While I can see their plan is to try to have their cake and eat it too — I think it would work better in reverse. Give it to the power users. Those influencers would spread the links, ideas, etc to occassional users who would pay.

christine is not jared

Way back in the “early oughts”, Pepsico / Tricon (now known as Yum!) employed Jason “george costanza” Alexander to make the pitch that Kentucky FRIED Chicken was diet food. It was attacked as a stupid outrageous advertising campaign and was quietly shelved.

But just because a stupid idea didn’t work doesn’t mean the same company can’t try it again a few years later.

Here in 2010, Yum! is trying to get me to go on the Taco Bell Drive-Thru Diet. The most striking thing is how the disclaimers outweigh the copy on the ads. It’s like talking to Mr. Subliminal:

  • Try the Taco Bell Drive-Thru Diet! (not a weight loss plan)
  • I lost weight! (results are not typical)
  • Fresco is a healthier choice! (not a low calorie food.)

Rule of thumb: If you have more in the disclaimer than in the ad, then maybe it’s not a great promotion idea.

Companies almost always have cricks in their necks from looking at what the competition is doing. I’m sure Yum! thought they had found their Subway Jared when they found the face of the Drive-Thru Diet, Christine, who said she lost 54 pounds by eating at Taco Bell.

But healthy is a part of the Subway brand. If a major part of your normal promotional campaigns involve trying to get people to eat another “Fourth Meal” or getting customers to add more nacho cheese, then you should stay away from the words “diet” and “healthy“.

A consistent long-term brand image that consumers can identify with (even if it’s unhealthy) is more important that a New Years resolution inspired revenue bump in Q1. Pick a strategy and go with it. You can’t have your nachos and eat them too.