Author Archives: Maggie


Seriously Google, well done.  As a fan of a teaser campaign and someone always looking for new brand experiences, let alone an ultra-cool floating venue, I have been watching the mystery of the Bay Area Barge unfold.  Its amazing how well played this “stunt” was. cn-image-google-barge And,as marketers we know it could have gone so wrong.  Think about the planted light boxes in the Boston tunnels a few years back…oops.

Want to hear more, check out the following Inc. column written by Steve Cody that speaks to the good, bad and ugly of the marketing tease.

Cracking the PR Code of the Google Mystery Barge 




For the past two days I have had the fun time of my favorite goddaughter Emma hanging out in my office.  I have been educated and entertained by The Adventurous Adventures of One Direction , realized how short I am without work heels, and most of all got a lesson is what is cool for the Almost-Millennial generation.  Let’s be honest, I used to brainstorm about reaching Generation Y, so I know how quick Millennials will be out as the target demo.  So where are the next gen hanging out.  According to Emma, it’s all about Instagram.  This may be because some of the other platforms are currently banned for said 12-year-old, but regardless this platform is offering her generation a lot to talk about.


Instagram is definitely where kids my age are hanging out. We love to take pictures and share them with our little social circle of followers and followed people. Not only is Instagram a great way to reach out to friends, but it’s also a place for fan pages, business pages, and so much more! I think one of the big reasons Instagram is so popular is because of the fact that you can express yourself creatively. May it be through video or photo; whatever you have posted can have its own originality to it. Before you post a picture or video, you can choose an effect to add to it. You can also focus on certain parts and light it up a little, making even the simplest picture look professional. Unlike some social media, Instagram focuses on visuals, and then adds the option to add words to it. People use this instead of Vine, another mobile social media platform that allows you to take videos and post them, because it gives you the option whether or not to do just a picture, or an entire video. Also, you may edit the video with the effects, like I mentioned before, which Vine didn’t offer. Let’s face it, Facebook is dying. The younger generation is gathering in Twitter or Instagram. The only people who are on Facebook nowadays are parents.

As I mentioned before, many business pages are finding their way onto Instagram. And, while you’re there, you may as well do a promotional activity! Oreo is definitely an example of this statement. A little while back, Oreo hosted the #cookiethis #creamthis competition. The instructions were to take a picture of whatever you wanted Oreo-fyed, and hashtag it either #cookiethis or #creamthis. If the Oreo team found your picture interesting, they would begin to mold your picture into either cookie or cream, depending on what you hashtagged. At the end of the event, they looked at the total amount of hashtags in each category to see which ingredient was the favorite; cookie or cream. Cream won with an outstanding 21,050 to 17,060 hashtags. I can only imagine how cool it would have been to get your picture chosen as art! After looking at all of the pictures they put up, you really wanted to buy an Oreo cookie! Some of the things the artists made were very cool. (See picture). I, of course, would have gone Team Cream. Who wouldn’t?

Not sure which side I am on, but Emma’s reasoning seems to ring true for most social platforms.  Ultimately, it comes down to some of the same reasons people first migrated to MySpace or Friendster.  Its a cool new place to talk about what they want, where they want and how they want it.  It may not be the platform-du-jour for very long, but for now marketers can learn something from Oreo (heck they made it on the Today Show) and for sure something from Emma.

For years, stereotypes of men and wodonnareedmen have been played-out in marketing campaigns.  From the happy mom receiving a new Hoover for Mother’s Day to a dad shuffling off to the office leaving mom on the doorstep with a kiss.  But we all know these won’t fly today, they seem down-right archaic and ideas screaming for backlash from every direction.  So one has to ask, why would Clorox take a giant leap back into a dad stereotype?

Clorox’s stereotyping Facebook flub was recently called out by CNN, “Just when you think derogatory stereotypes about dads are on the decline as fathers take a more hands-on role in child-rearing, along comes an online posting by a major brand that shows not everyone got the memo.”

The post more-or-less slammed new dads as being “filled with good intentions but lacking the judgment and fine motor skills to execute well.” Clorox claims it was just a humorous post from a real new dad, but with daddy bloggers on the rise and more men staying at home with kids today than ever, the consumer voice was heard, and heard loudly. And it was not just the men.

So where did they go wrong?  As I have learned working on some mom focused brands, one can never assume there is just one mom-type or just one dad-type anymore.  And all of these types have a voice. In addition, if you are trying to be lighthearted and funny, you have to be very clear and over the top.  And finally, if you are going to toss out some facts about dads have something to back it up.  Years ago we surveyed men and women about who manages chores at home, finding the 86% of women take on the laundry (most by choice).  A stereotype yes, but a result of a survey.  And we used that fact to motivate the both parties; not just point out the mistakes.

Some people say that the backlash is too much and people need to lighten up, others are furious.  But either way the polarizing post has cast negativity on Clorox.  Clorox has taken the article down and apologized, but like a tough stain I think the damage is done.

haloAs a semi-lapsed Irish Catholic, my memories of halos are all stained glass windows and guardian angels. But, as you will see in my recent guest post to RepMan, halos have been finding their way into consumer brand and reputation conversations that go well beyond by Blessed Sacrament upbringing.

So what is this sought after halo effect and what can marketers do about it?  Read on for more on  Angels in the Brand World.


Maybe Spring is in the air, or I’v288_a73bca5126_gallerye just been lucky, but customer service has been on the uptick in my life.

Take last Friday.  Headed to see Cat on a Hot Tin Roof on Broadway and of course I leave my tickets on my desk.  Of course, it was Friday and a holiday, so no dice on a messenger.  And truth be told, I did not want to give up my pre-even cocktail or be late for the curtain in order to make the trek back.

Enter the manager and staff from Blue Fin restaurant, one of the many delicious restaurants that are part of the BRGuest group.  As a pre-theater hot-spot getting a managers attention at 7pm would seem like a challenge and a big ask.  However, in this case the staff quickly got me help, provided me an email address and the manager (thanks David) went and printed my tickets out.  Seems simple, yes, but not expected.

And I think that is the key here.  A busy restauntant in Times Square is often too busy to stop and consider customer service, and sometimes a part of a larger restaurant group doesn’t think they have the same skin in the game as a sole proprietorship.  By taking the time they not only made my night, but helped BRGuest stand out.

So many restaurant groups and brands do a good – if not overbearing – job on mass marketing once you are signed up.  But a lot fall short on the experience when you walk through the door.  And it is the complete experience, not just one channel that matters.  While leaving tickets for a show may not be common customer issue, taking the time to solve it is a great customer relationship builder.  Brands can learn here it’s not just the draw in, or the sale (let’s face it, I was on my second drink when the tickets showed up), but the cross channel experience that keeps people talking and coming back.

Thanks again Blue Fin & BRGuest… don’t mind if I do.

I admit I am a sucker for every points and gold club out there.  From my United Airlines status to the Starwood Preferred Points to Hertz Gold, I am constantly chasing the perks where I can get them, I mean who wouldn’t.  But this past Friday, an unexpected perk (potentially not eveimagen tied to my membership) totally surprised me AND made me a Hertz renter for life.

Here is the story.  Twenty minutes till flight leaves Dallas Fort Worth, just spent 90 minutes on a 20 minute drive due to an accident on the highway, and pull up into a huge line at Hertz Returns.  Sounds pretty bleak, right?  Well not that day (thanks girl at DFW Hertz).  When I pulled up my boss and I told the woman directing cars that we were potentially going to miss our flights.  She sprung into action, telling us to not even take our bags out of the trunk and to get back in the car; she would drive us to our gates. Unexpected and unbelievable. And we both made out flights thanks to Hertz.

When I dug further I found that this practice is a Hertz commitment and something that is not advertised but communicated as needed.  I guess people would take advantage if it was common practice.  But last Friday, when I needed it most, it was truly a brand practice that was all about me.

It was on a seemingly ordinary day in mid-December 2009. In southwest Michigan that means everything had been bathed in slate gray and muddy brown. It was cold and dreary and Dickensian. The cuffs of my pants were soaking wet and cold and I knew later they would dry with those annoying white rings left behind from the salt that line the roads and parking lots. The
chilly, 20-degree air had slipped down my collar and wrapped me in a stubborn, cranky chill.

And then, I stopped at a Starbucks. Now, hear me out. When I stepped inside, the store had been transformed into its  traditional holiday décor. Shades of red were everywhere, bags of Christmas blend coffee lined the shelves, there were snowmen and snowflakes clinging to the windows and I swear, I walked through the door and was filled with joy.

Somewhat obsessed with coffee, I’m a big supporter of smaller, independent roasters. When I travel, I collect 1 lb. bags of local roasts like some people collect shot glasses.

But there’s something about Starbucks…

This year it hit me as I stood in line shortly before midnight on Thanksgiving. Starbucks was my first stop on an evening when
friends frantically shop for deals and I tag along to people watch and pick up a movie or two.  Inside, the line was long but even with the large crowd, the late hour, the barista recognized me from my regular Saturday and Sunday morning stops – kind of like your neighborhood coffeehouse. I stocked up on bags of Christmas blend – gifts for the holidays.

Lately, the baristas have been good at upselling me, getting me to buy just about any bag of coffee they’re pushing at the moment. This year, for the holiday, Starbucks is betting on its new home brewing system. The market for single cup brewers is … well … brewing (oh, come on) and challenging the beliefs of some purists.

The truth is – if I buy a single cup brewer as this Wall Street Journal article predicts I will – it may not be Starbucks’ new Verismo. The brand has beaten tough economic times and a loss in company direction. It’s done a lot of things right. I like their coffee, I really do. But I’ll be curious to see if the Verismo can beat the biggest element of Starbucks’ success:  a very genuine  sense of place.

The catchy music, the studious décor, the newspapers and the easy-to-work-in ambiance. The red and the  nowmen and the joy. You can never underestimate the importance of a sense of place – the experience you get as a customer, when you’re coming in from a cold, dismal day to a place that offers you more than just some caffeine but rather, comfort in a cup.

When was the last time you heard about customers standing by their brand – even if it  meant abandoning the brand name all together? That’s exactly what happened with the case of Glassman vs. Glassman and it proved to be a valuable lesson in loyalty. Greg Glassman is the founder and creator of CrossFit – I could try to explain it or you could just watch this video here.

When Glassman and his wife decided to end their marriage, Lauren Jenai Glassman’s share of CrossFit came into play. CrossFitters found out she was interested in selling it to Anthos Capital. Almost immediately, the subject filled discussion boards, Facebook pages and tweets. Affiliates were against selling to Anthos for fear of being forced to operate like a franchise,
selling supplements or other merchandise they didn’t support.

While Anthos Capital tried to quell fears, swearing they wouldn’t change a thing – affiliates rallied around their founder and threatened to pull their affiliations if the deal went through. Meanwhile, the Glassmans headed to court.

The fight caught the attention of a number of media outlets. T-shirts were designed slamming Anthos and touting Glassman’s
his concept was “unbuyable.” For months, members of the CrossFit community could only wait while millions of dollars were pumped into litigation. Then, on Nov. 15, he announced he officially owned 100% of CrossFit Inc. Without support from a large, worldwide and defiant community, it’s a wonder whether the deal still seemed lucrative to Anthos or Lauren Glassman – or even possible for that matter.

For now, the future seems pretty bright. CrossFit boxes continue to pop up across the country and around the world and a multimillion dollar partnership with Reebok continues to catapult the brand and the sport into the mainstream.

The lesson learned from the drama? Loyalty matters. Uh, and maybe think twice before going into business with a spouse or instead of books and trinkets you’ll find yourself fighting over the future of your company.

Seems like the term “story telling” has been the buzz word of 2012, getting tossed around like the word innovation was in 2000.  Today too many brands are looking for any way to connect with their consumer in an over-saturated and very brand-skeptical
market.  Brands can’t just push product – well maybe Apple – and assume their legions will follow.  There is a need to provide content that motivates their consumer and applies to their needs in life, their goals.  A tall order for a brand?  Well Coke thinks not.

Today, one of the most beloved brands – though plagued recently with Bloomberg’s and others bans on soda – is launching a new website transformed into a consumer publication called Coca-Cola Journey. According to Stuart Elliott’s column in today’s New York Times, the article points out that “the use of the word ‘story’ is significant because the Web site changes are indicative of the growing interest among marketers in recasting their communications with consumers as storytelling rather than advertising. Just as attention is being paid to developing content to use for brand storytelling, an appetite also exists for  corporate storytelling.”

The question remains for Coke and all brands as to whether the consumer will engage with the story and take the journey.  I think if they can create a journey with their target, rather than forcing them down the road strewn with ads and product promotions, the iconic brand has hope with its new offering.  So read on soda lovers.

Ok, I admit it made me laugh.  And I do have a friend who loses at least one Chapstick a day, but outside of the two of us it appears the Where do Chapstick’s Go campaign has Pfizer hoping it would just go away.  Why?  They didn’t stand behind their offer to listen and they went into what AdWeek called a “social media death spiral.”

It wasn’t the semi-offensive creative that sunk the campaign (though it got folks talking), and it really wasn’t the fact that consumers don’t wonder where their Chapstick went (not a good problem solution approach).  It was the fact that they asked for our opinion and then didn’t listen.  In a world where marketing and communications has to be about a dialogue with the
consumer, this campaign opened up the dialogue and tossed it back in the consumers’ face.

As we have seen by other social guffaws this year (I won’t name them to open up old wounds), there is a right way and a wrong way to respond and listen.  Those that have done it right – and you know who you are – got through the 1.5 days of backlash hell
and have moved on to building the brand alongside their consumers.  Chapstick’s response while accurate was late.  And their removing of campaign commentary simply said they didn’t want to hear from the people they invited to the conversation in the first place.

What would Suzy Chapstick think?