Archive for March, 2008

Thanks to Andy Woolard for introducing me to Pundo3000: A German website that compares photos on product packaging with the actual product inside. In some cases, the two are quite similar. In many cases, however (as evidenced by the example above)… not.

Check out a few of my favorite (you can click on each image to see full size versions):

I’ve learned three things today:

1. Hacksteaks are indeed hack steaks.
2. False advertising (especially on POP/packaging) is rampant.
3. Germans eat a lot of weird stuff. (I mean… what the heck is this?! A corndog/nut bar?)

Imagine if a website cataloged ALL products and brands in this way: Messaging/Promise. vs. The actual experience.

How would your brand fare? (Or your clients’ brands?)

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The question of the day: Can Massclusivity be achieved?

First of all, what is massclusivity?

From Idea Couture’s Idris Mootee:

In economic terms, luxury products are those which can consistently command and justify a higher price than products with comparable function and similar quality.

In marketing terms, luxury products are those which can deliver emotional benefits which are hard to match by comparable products.

One challenge is whether or not a niche player can move outside of their niche, or expand their niche without destroying their brand in the process.

Another challenge is once it can successfully move out of the niche, how far can it go until it becomes mass? Is there such a thing as massclusivity?

Let me give you some example of Massclusive brands (brands which USED to be niche or luxury brands but have now begun to focus on mass market distribution rather than exclusivity):

Ralph Lauren.
Yves Saint Laurent.
Lotus. Tiffany & Co.

The question rephrased is this: Can a luxury or niche brand remain luxury or niche when everyone is wearing, driving, eating or drinking it?

Are you really “thinking different” when everyone owns the same iPod or MacBook? Are you really stylin’ when everyone is wearing the same Kenneth Cole, Nike or Puma shoes? When everyone is wearing either one of the top five selling perfumes? When everyone is wearing the same 80’s throwback belts and sunglasses? When everyone is sporting Gucci purses and Chanel cell phone cases?

Can a commoditized brand (even if it continues to charge a premium and position itself as a luxury or premium brand) still remain niche when it can be bough at Target or Macy’s, or luxury when it is mass produced in Asian factories as opposed to hand-crafted in Europe?

Have we entered the era of the non-brand superbrand? Where unique, non-recognizable, word-of-mouth only “custom-made” works of art (in tailoring, shoe-making, cuisine, timepieces, writing instruments, vehicle alterations, and other accessories) are the new luxuries/niches? (The more obscure to the general public and exclusive via scarcity the better?)

I am not talking about the masses here. They’re still buying into the notion that the more well-known the “luxury” or “premium” brand, the more valuable it is. (Hey look: I’m wearing an ugly ass cotton shirt produced by child labor in Micronesia! Between the $280 price tag and the brand name, I know I’m wearing some serious couture!) I am talking about the mavens, the hipsters, and those among us with the sophistication to know real craftsmanship from factory-made crap stamped with a fancy logo and a criminal price tag.

Example 1: Buying your fancy rainforest-friendly ‘organic’ tea at Whole Foods vs. buying premium quality no-brand (but incredibly fresh) loose leaf tea by the gram from La Maison Du The in Paris (a tea store and salon with such an enviable pedigree and reputation that it doesn’t require a website.)

Example 2: Buying your Hilfiger/Cremieux/Lauren/cK suit from Macy’s or Dillards vs. grabbing a flight to London to get your next bespoke suit cut on Savile Row.

For all the hype, fancy packaging and gorgeous stores, I wonder if once “luxury” brands can truly be luxury brands if they do any of the following:

1. Advertise on Television, the radio or the web (print ads are acceptable).
2. Sell their products on the internet or via catalog.
3. Have stores or products for sale anywhere near a shopping mall or airport.
4. Have stores anywhere but Paris, London, Geneva, Dubai, Milan, New York, Monaco, Tokyo, and Hong Kong.
5. Don’t have a store in at least one of the above cities.
6. Aren’t known for custom/one-of-a-kind products.
7. Aren’t enjoyed by royalty.
8. Don’t charge a ridiculous premium to keep poseurs at bay.
9. Don’t require setting an appointment before a sale.
10. Don’t have the best artisans in the world working on their products.

True luxury brands don’t really need to advertise. The last thing they want is to be discovered by the masses. Their market is the world’s old money families who grew up with them. The world’s wealthiest. They want clients with the means to project the level of sophistication, impeccable taste and flawless quality that their products embody. Most celebrities are liabilities to them – The Britneys and the rest of the tabloid crowd need not request an appointment. They would rather stick to Kings, Sultans,Princes of industry and true fashion mavens.

Trust me when I tell you that luxury brands aren’t available in Greenville, SC or Cleveland Ohio. Luxury brands don’t print their mark on cotton T-shirts or baseball caps. And luxury brands don’t use bar codes on their packaging.

Oh, and by the way, Rodeo Drive is a complete sham – just like the promise of massclusivity.

Check out the rest of this very interesting presentation by Idris over on Slideshare.

Have a great Thursday, everyone. 🙂

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I finally started using twitter today, and I am pretty psyched about it.

If you’re one of the 6% of adult internet users currently microblogging (using twitter) to keep tabs on your friends and colleagues, put your seemingly time-wasting hobby to good use – or at least come up with a better justification for your twitter habit at work:

You – “Twitter? Yeah! I use it all the time! It’s a great research tool!”
Your boss – “Really? A research tool?”
You – “Suuuuuure! One can find out all sorts of things thanks to twitter, if they are so inclined.”

Enter tweetscan.com (the twitter ap that turns your geeky and questionable tweeter addiction into a pretty kickass “out of the box” initiative that will make you the envy of your cubiclemates).

If you want to find out what people are saying about ANYTHING, hit tweetscan and enter your keyword in the search box. Try it. Throw your name in there. Throw your company’s name in there too. Find out what people are saying about anything at all. Your new product. The airline you want to book a flight with. Your kids’ top 3 college picks. A restaurant you’ve been wanting to try. A new movie. Your latest customer program.

It’s very cool, pretty effective, and best of all, it’s free.

And fresh.

And they didn’t call it twitscan… which is a very good thing.

Via Church of the Customer.





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Where am I going to be hanging out while not at my desk Tuesday and Wednesday?

At Innoventure 2008, of course!!!! (It’s where all the cool kids and innovation junkies in the South East will be. How could I miss it?)

If you’re going to be anywhere near the Carolina First Center and want to do lunch, call my cellie.

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Screw looking for greener pastures. When the grass isn’t to your liking, hop the fence and go plant your own:

From kottke.org:

Talented people are leaving Pixar because very few people get a shot at directing a film of their own.

For all the success, however, there’s very little room atop Pixar’s food chain. While live-action movie studios might crank out more than a dozen movies annually, the digital animation company built by Apple’s Steve Jobs barely makes a film a year — and had no features at all in 2005 or 2002. What’s more, all Pixar movies so far have been directed by an inner circle of animation all-stars: John Lasseter (“Toy Story,” “A Bug’s Life,” “Toy Story 2” and “Cars”), Brad Bird (“The Incredibles” and “Ratatouille”), Andrew Stanton (“Finding Nemo” and summer’s forthcoming “Wall-E”) and Pete Docter (“Monsters, Inc.” and 2009’s “Up”).

Brad Bird is set to direct a live-action movie about the earthquake that hit San Francisco in 1906.

The thing is… not everyone ought to direct. And when it comes to Pixar (since they rock), maybe, just maybe, the grass doesn’t get much greener than Pixar’s. At least not yet.

My suggestion to ANY disgruntled employee – at Pixar, Yves Saint Laurent, BMW or NBC is this: Don’t leave a great company that allows you the privilege of doing fantastic work just because you think you DESERVE better. Or DESERVE more.

Leave because because you KNOW you can do better, and more importantly because you SHOULD.

Pow. Chew on that, Bobo.

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Once again, because:

a) it’s good.

b) repetition works.

c) every time I run into this, I remember something I had forgotten.

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Excellent little opinion about success (among other things) over at Seen Creative:
“You don’t have the skeleton key. There are no rules, there are no templates, there are no secret ingredients. Everything is unique and everything is dependent on its own circumstance. You can write all the books, magazine articles, or blog posts you want, but someone will always be able to prove the exception. Something will always contradict.
One reason these businesses are successful is probably because their founders didn’t take advice from stupid articles in Wired, or try to ride the latest meme sweeping the blogosphere. They understood that every situation is unique, and they needed to approach it as such. What’s right is what works, not what previously worked.”
Right. In case you didn’t already know it, cookie-cutter solutions don’t generate true success. Companies that stifle innovation, rule-breaking, and re-imagining doom themselves to being indistinguishable from their competitors… or worse yet, barely relevant in increasingly competitive markets.
Don’t ever underestimate the role that visionary leadership plays in a company’s propensity to be a game changer (and by default a culture changer). If a company’s leadership doesn’t have a healthy mix of ambitious, obsessive and a clear vision, what is driving it, exactly? Where is it going? How will it get there?
If you haven’t already added Seen to yout blogroll, now might be a good time to correct that frightening oversight.
Have a great Thursday, everyone. 🙂
photo by Christopher Wray-McCann

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