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.


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 


Late last week, news broke that a partner from the law firm Clifford Chance circulated a memo titled “Presentation Tips for Women” to the firm’s female associates. What’s that you ask? Why wouldn’t men and women find presentation tips helpful? Maybe because the majority weren’t actually presentation tips at all, such as “Wear a suit, not your party outfit.”  Check out this Repman post by Peppercommer Erin Howard for a female’s perspective.

We are excited to announce Peppercomm’s acquisition of Janine Gordon Associates (JGA) and with it, the launch of our consumer lifestyle and non-profit specialty group, JGAPeppercomm.

JGAPeppercomm combines Peppercomm’s breadth of fully-integrated marketing services with JGA’s boutique approach and depth of expertise in consumer, lifestyle and non-profit industries. We will offer clients a range of integrated marketing services, including traditional PR, social media, branding, experiential, crisis communications, celebrity endorsements, strategic alliances, licensing and creative services, and market research.

JGA Logo

Peppercomm’s acquisition of JGA propels our vision of becoming deep category specialists for our clients. For more information please visit – www.JGApeppercomm.com



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.

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending Mom 2.0 with 500+ bloggers, brands and yes, a few brave men.  Why was it a pleasure of an experience?  Let me count the ways.

1.       I had the opportunity to make authentic connections with like-minded individuals from around the country. This includes bloggers and brands like Bissell and Starbucks and those in between.
Confession: I am 100% obsessed with a certain brand’s steam mop.View

2.       Spending time with people you typically only interact with electronically is invaluable.  (Great to see you Meagan Francis!)

3.       Ideas, ideas, ideas!  From Raising America’s Shark-Tank style pitchfest to Dove’s fabulosity, I came back with tons of ideas, not only for clients but for Peppercomm.

4.       Did I mention the fabulous accommodations, view and event staff at the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel?

5.       Watching the Mom 2.0 Summit evolve over the years and truly adapt to the current marketing environment and participants needs shows that Laura Mayes and crew really get it.

Yesterday was the 20th anniversary of Take our Daughters and Sons to Work Day, launched nationally by Parade.  I am fortunate enough to work for an organization that not only understands work/life balance but embraces it. To mark the occasion, we had a group of six children in the office ranging from infants to age seven. Interestingly, they were all girls.   Check out a few photos here thanks to PRWeek.

As I commuted into the city with my twin girls, many commented on the huge number of youngsters on the train.  And while Peppercomm’s group happened to be all female – as did many on the train, the majority of thosOur Kids @ Worke commenting assumed it was Take Our Daughters to Work Day.  I wondered why that was. Is it simply because more women tend to participate and happen to have daughters who join them? Or do we think that girls will be more engaged (read: behave better)?

As part of their coverage, Parade, the magazine that launched this tradition nationally, published a story about Jackie DiMarco, Ford’s lead engineer on the F-150 pickup.  Jackie happens to be a woman and have twin daughters. She uses the day to encourage her daughters’ interest in math and science, and I hope, to dispel the ongoing stereotype that girls (and women) are not as interested or as talented in these fields of work.

The article focused on her rise in this particularly male dominated field where some have assumed prior to meeting her that she would be male and others have assumed that she would be more understanding of family commitments than a male manager would. Her response? Why would you think that?

Bravo to Parade for focusing in on what continues to be an issue in the workplace even though many believe it’s not.

Special thanks to Peppercomm’s culture committee for making this a meaningful experience (and truth be told, wrangling cats!).

aboutyoupicThis is a tale of my love for two men. As an old fashioned journalist (despite my age), I’m almost hardwired to love newspapers. And I do. I love them. And I love Warren Buffett. I love him for loving newspapers and being one of the rare few left around here who sees the medium’s viability. In fact, if Warren Buffett is reading this – Warren, call me.

“News, to put it simply, is what people don’t know that they want to know. And people will seek their news — what’s important to them — from whatever sources provide the best combination of immediacy, ease of access, reliability, comprehensiveness and low cost,” Buffett is quoted as saying.

Everything about our lives today points in the direction of not just a trend – but an actual societal need to connect to our communities. Whether those communities are defined by a zip code or a cultural interest doesn’t matter. It seems as though we are all desperate for communication with each other and just because there are so many social media channels for this – doesn’t mean they all fulfill our needs for the information that matters most.

For communities that do fall within a certain zip code, newspapers are the source of those matters: the state of our children’s education, where our taxes go, the public safety of our neighbors. When the act of sitting down and digesting the roundup of a city council meeting is lost for good – that’s when we’ll see a breakdown of local governing institutions.

Now… I also love Patrick Cummings.

Patrick Cummings is the editor of a new tablet magazine called Evolve by Again Faster Equipment. CrossFitters will be familiar with the Again Faster brand. If you’re not a CrossFitter, you may not find this magazine of interest enough to subscribe – but the first issue is free and I highly suggest you check it out.

Evolve is everything a tablet magazine should be. It’s a blend of focused writing, strong imagery, audio and video. Read about a female athlete who is redefining strength in her community and then click on the icon to the left to hear her tell more of her story in her own voice. Read about the effects of community inspired athletics like CrossFit on the brain. Watch one athlete tell his story of finding redemption after two years in a state correctional facility.

Where Evolve gets it right is by creating a balance between the arts of letters and images. It’s a unique experience that seems made for the tablet – unlike those who are trying to adapt their current publications and end up with a scanned magazine you flip through.

Traditional forms of media can live on new digital platforms – but it takes starting from scratch with the same mission.

I can love a newspaper that smells like ink and run to my tablet when I know a certain publication is waiting for me to download the latest issue. I’m in love with two formats. And there should be more people like me, I say.

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.