Has Vogue Gone Rogue?It looks like Marissa Mayer and Kim Kardashian have more in common than business sense—both moguls are also talented at turning off Vogue’s high-fashion audience.  As I’m sure you have seen, Vogue’s April cover features a wedding shot of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West accompanying hashtag: #WORLDSMOSTTALKEDABOUTCOUPLE.

All personal feelings of Kimye aside (I have to, or it would cloud my judgment of whether or not this is a good brand decision), this is not entirely a rogue move for the magazine. Vogue also drew much attention and criticism from their decision to feature Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer in 2013.

Yes, I completely agree that Vogue’s brand is high caliber and does not exactly mesh well with the mass-marketed, over-publicized reality TV couple’s image. However, the magazine industry is facing a very difficult time in today’s culture. With so many people getting their news online and through tablet subscriptions, the printed publication has been slowly moving into the land of fax machines and flip phones. The average Vogue reader is currently 37.8 years old, compared to 30 in 2001. As the current market is aging, Anna Wintour knew she had to spice up her brand to help bring in a newer audience.

The Daily Beast put it best: “Between the two of them, Kim and Kanye have more than 30 million Twitter followers. Vogue has only 3.6 million.”

When it comes down to it, Vogue may have alienated several of their current subscribers, but they also potentially opened the door for a slew of new readers. I really don’t even think they strayed from their brand either. Sure, Kimye is no Kate Moss, but Kim is still wearing high-fashion gowns, and Annie Leibovitz’s photos also comply with the current brand standards. The cover has even inspired spoofs from James Franco and Seth Rogen (who are certainly not newbies when it comes to spoofing Kimye) and even Miss Piggy and Kermit, in addition to the many articles and newscasts that are talking about the “controversy”.

Whether or not you agree with Wintour’s decision, you can’t really argue that Vogue’s April issue is #THEWORLDMOSTTALKEDABOUTCOVER, thus making it a smart brand move.

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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.

Emma?

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.

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.

super-bowl-XLVII-picAs a 24-year-old single girl living in Hoboken, I totally understand the whole Super Bowl phenomenon from both a social and marketing perspective.  Friends get together to eat ridiculously unhealthy food and drink copious amounts of alcohol while advertisers spend the bulk of their yearly budgets on 30 second commercials- all under the pretense of watching a football game.

What I don’t get is WHY some girls pretend to understand and like this sport.  To me, it’s nothing but a brutally boring and time consuming activity that I’d rather not waste my time on.  The ONLY reason I’d even consider watching a game is to A) socialize with friends and B) mock the new ridiculously expensive ads.

My problem is that the vast majority of these ads really do appeal to me.  I love that someone’s hunger makes them complain like Betty White.  I like watching Britney Spears sing in a gladiator’s arena for Pepsi.  But, what does football have to do with that?  I can watch these commercials on YouTube without suffering through the endless game!

So, I’m forced to ask the question: Do we really need the Super Bowl, or any other football games for that matter, to be on in order to feel it’s acceptable to drink all day and eat crappy food?  Not this year!

This year, I’ve decided to stage a Super Bowl protest.  Instead of hanging out with friends and pretending that I enjoy watching jacked-up men run around for no apparent reason, I’ve decided to dedicate my day to reading and working out.  It’s not that I’m anti-social, I just hate PRETENDING that I’m enjoying myself when I’m not.  If I’d rather be reading Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina in bed with a nice fresh beet kale salad than eating buffalo wings and drinking cheap beer, isn’t that my prerogative?

In years past, my friends have called me a loser and a homebody for not wanting to participate in such activities.  But, at the ripe old age of 24, I’ve decided that I no longer care what people think of my social behavior.  If I want to stay in bed on a Friday night and catch up on past episodes of Downton Abbey and Dance Moms, I’m going to do that.

So, to all you other fellow football-haters, what do you plan to do this Super Bowl Sunday?  Don’t succumb to peer pressure!  Try picking up an old classic (or a guilty pleasure read, if that’s more up your alley) and dedicate the day to engaging your mind rather than your stomach.

 

By Sarah Sanzari

As I prepare to embark on a two-week European adventure, there is still one part of the trip that I am dreading – the eight hour flight.  Cramped spaces, crying babies, and security lines are not my idea of a good time.  Luckily, I have pulled together a guide with some great, and wacky, inventions to help ease the pain of flying.

If you’re worried about the latest in x-ray technology you can purchase flying pasties which protect you from TSA’s eyes.  The orange pasties include the slogan “Only my husband sees me naked,” and can be purchased for about $15.

Once you make it past security you have to deal with the flight.  A must-have is Bose noise cancelling headphones, no more crying baby or chain-saw like snoring from my seatmate.  Of course, don’t forget to bring your iPod along for the flight as well.

Tired of having your space infringed on? Get the Knee Guard which prevents the person in front of you from reclining.  You might have to deal with an angry passenger but that’s ok because you can just put on your Privacy Scarf. The scarf envelopes your head and laptop so people can’t creep on you while doing work or taking a nap.

Now that I have packed all the essentials, I’m ready! Will you be taking any of these gadgets with you on your next flight?

 

Can Lisa Rinna and Patriots Football players actually make the taboo adult diaper sexy? Well Kimberly-Clarke seems to think so! To market their new line of Depend® diapers, appropriately being called Depend® Silhouette for Women and Real Fit for Men, Kimberly-Clarke has enlisted the help of 48-year-old Rinna and 3 (young) Patriots Football players to appear in their new ad campaigns.

Here’s the catch, none of these celebrity spokespeople actually suffer from urinary incontinence and have no medical need to be wearing the diaper, but all agreed to participate in a stunt campaign to benefit select charities.

The ads also encourage consumers to go to Depend’s website, The Great American Try-On, to request a free sample; not that you actually need to order one. By going to the site and answering a few basic questions about the new diapers, Depend will support The V Foundation for Cancer Research and Dress For Success women’s charity by donating money in return.

So will this marketing ploy actually help reach a new type of audience that, according to the Today Show (see video), has needed help for a while? Baby Boomers, like Kris Jenner,  are rapidly reaching the age where this product could be a necessity. So, the answer is probably yes, I mean they got me talking about it! However, it is also a bit disturbing. Kimberly-Clarke is marketing this diaper as a SPANX-type product, which will serve a younger, cooler audience and not just your grandparents. But the question remains, if you’re not wetting your pants yet, why would you need a diaper? I think I’ll stick with SPANX for now.

Confession: I don’t own a smart phone. I think I’m the only one in my office, and possibly in the world of PR and Marketing, who still uses a flip phone. It’s not that I don’t want one. I do. It’s not even that they’re too expensive.

The reason I don’t own a smartphone is that, every time I attempt to peruse the lovely, shiny, thin phones, I’m convinced that my service-provider has secretly entered me into a meticulously-coordinated retail version of the Hunger Games.

Upon entering, the potential customer has to sign in at the kiosk. After that, the real action begins. Angry customers ahead in line are reaching the end of their ropes, having stood around for almost an hour. Others are feeling screwed. Having entered the store with excitement about the prospect of a new shiny phone, they quickly descend into depression when extra, all-but-obligatory “options” are sold to them. The guy next to them has not purchased those options, and now has a broken phone or has gone over his monthly allotment of data thingers. Grandmothers unused to this new retail model enter the store and immediately approach seemingly-available salespersons, only to be rejected, told to sign in, and leave confused.

I want a smart phone. I even need one. This should be a win-win for me and the cell phone company. But this dance is enough to make a man leave empty-handed and call his buddies on his flip phone to meet elsewhere for drinks. Instead of models in flashy pink dresses or bold phone coverage-area proclamations, the cell phone industry should start by simplifying and improving its in-person customer service model. Do you hear me now? Good.

Cell phone store or Hunger Games scene?

It’s hard to find someone today who hasn’t at least heard of Lana Del Rey (or her recent SNL performance). Since her first song appeared online last October, everyone seems to have something to say about the artist, becoming an internet sensation overnight. However, just as mysterious as her lyrics, there’s a lot of chatter around the artist’s authenticity, sparking a debate between fans and critics to separate fact from fiction. Is it all a marketing gimmick? And if so, should we care?

Some quick background: Lana Del Rey, born “Lizzy” Grant, is often accused of being a total creation of her management team, taking a new name, music style and image to reach mainstream adoration. Some of her harshest critics even accuse the 25 year old of undergoing plastic surgery to complete the package.

Personally, I’m a fan of Lana and her work. Between the nostalgic visuals in her music videos and her ‘Gangsta Nancy Sinatra’ style, I can’t help but want to be friends with this girl and sing along to her tunes. And what’s wrong with that? Consumers buy into brands all the time based on the lifestyle the company sells via marketing and advertising; the (mainstream) music industry is no different. For example, Lady Gaga has a similar past to Lana. Born Stephanie Joanne, the artist  looks nothing like she did four years ago, completely revamping her look and style that is adored by millions today (coincidentally, the two artists are signed under the same record label).

Following an SNL performance that many critics claimed to be ‘lackluster,’ the late-night television show aired a skit portraying Lana that raised a funny but interesting point:

“No serious musician would ever change their name, except maybe for Sting, Cher, Elton John, Lady Gaga, Jay-Z, everyone else in hip-hop, and of course, Bob Dylan.”

While critics like Jon Caramanica from the New York Times claim it’s “already difficult to remember Lana Del Rey,” it will be interesting to see what happens next in the online community. The young artist owes her quick fame largely to the blogs and social media channels where her music was first discovered and shared and I think this is where the power lies with regard to her future.

Will the majority of us embrace her much like we did with Lady Gaga, or will we be saying Lana Del Who by the end of the year? What do you think?

 

 

You’re not Jeremy Lin, you say? Ok let me back up a step. By now you’re probably aware of the spectacular rise of Harvard grad and NY Knicks’ new point guard, Jeremy Lin. Before he was passed from team to team in the NBA, he was passed over by Division I colleges for athletic scholarships. Then, when he got his opportunity with the Knicks, he made some recruiters feel pretty sorry. Essentially, Lin’s story is the American dream come true. That’s why you are Jeremy Lin. You, as a consumer, empathize.

Lin’s success tugs on the heartstrings of many demographic groups. There’s the highly educated contingent because of his Harvard education, Asian-American fans and players who don’t have an idol to look up to in the NBA, regular Americans who love a good underdog stickin-it-to-the-man story and Knicks fans who just wanted some wins (and just happen to live in a giant metropolis). And those Knicks fans have seen the Knicks brand limp along through some …er… let’s say “character concerns.” From former Head Coach Isiah Thomas’s legal issues and .456 win percentage to secret pre-draft workouts and Carmelo Anthony’s failure to deliver thus far, the Knicks brand lacked excitement and hope.

When you think about it, it’s an ideal scenario for the Knicks, the NBA and anyone whose income is dependent upon ups and downs of NBA viewership and game attendance. Is there a lesson here, though? Or, did the Knicks get really lucky by choosing a guy they probably thought was talented over another guy they probably thought was less talented?

I think there is a lesson: Brands and businesses can be made or broken by the degree to which consumers can empathize with what they buy. Whether or not that happens as a result of strategic decisions or blind luck can probably be influenced by those businesses or brands making those strategic decisions. Other NBA teams, take note: I have been practicing my free throws and can make almost 50% of them. You sure you don’t want to take a second look?

As a die-hard Giants fan, I was overjoyed on January 22nd, 2011 when the Giants beat the 49ers and it was confirmed that the 9-7 Giants would be playing in Super Bowl XLVI. The team’s hard work, predominantly towards the end of the season, had paid off and their efforts, once again, landed them in the championships. This year’s game was the much anticipated rematch of the 2008 Super Bowl between the New York Giants vs. New England Patriots; Tom Brady was coming back for revenge.

All season long I had been joking with my Dad that if the Giants make it to Indy, we would have to go. Luckily, he made good on his promise and off to Indy we went. Eli would play in the “House His Brother (Peyton Manning) Built,” and as a direct result almost everyone in Indy was rooting for the Giants. Walking around Super Bowl Village everyone was wearing Giants fan gear. You felt it the air that this was the Giant’s game for the taking … and take it they did!

Super Bowl Sunday really seemed to go off without a hitch in Indianapolis. The weather was perfect for February, 50 degrees and sunny. The host city’s planning was well-executed. Most importantly, the spirit of the city captivated visitors. New York certainly has a lot to live up to in 2014, when they have the chance to host Super Bowl XLVIII at Met Life Stadium.

I was particularly impressed with every single event staff person I interacted with in Indy. With the amount of typical fast-paced New Yorkers and New Englanders that made it out to the game, never once did the staffers seem stressed, overwhelmed or annoyed; a welcome change from my past experience most event staffers, especially in New York. Not only did they end every conversation with (and not sarcastically) “Have a Super Day,” but they all were so grateful and excited for the Super Bowl to be at Lucas Oil Stadium. It was their job to ensure that your stay and experience at Super Bowl XLVI was a positive one.

As a Giants fan, in a different city/state I felt very welcomed in Indy. At one point I even telling a member of the event staff how nervous I was for the game to begin. Rather than dismissing or ignoring me, as I would expect, she responded, with a huge smile on her face, “Don’t be, you have all Colt’s fans behind you and we are super excited for Eli to kick Tom’s butt…Let’s Go Giants!”

The Super Bowl staff in Indianapolis really was not your typical event staff; they truly made the day’s events successful.  All day Sunday, you really felt that there were an army of people happily gave their time and effort to help stage this week’s events, and to make sure things went well. The Hoosiers really demonstrated that although in a smaller city, they really could play in the “Big Leagues.”