OK, it’s not like I couldn’t use a little self-improvement, so who am I to tell these companies what to do? Actually, in most cases, I’m their customer, so who better to make a few suggestions to add a little more zing to their brands in 2011?
Now for some unsolicited advice.
Facebook-Mr. Zuckerman, congrats on the movie and the TIME Person of the Year thing. (Of course, if you check my LinkedIn profile, you’ll see they picked me back in 2006 along with, um, everybody.) Now that you’ve gobbled up all our identities, could you please come clean on how you plan to use all this personal information? I’d like to get a sense of whether I’m going to be ruthlessly exploited or have my every interest graciously catered to. It’s a fine line, I know. But if I write “tackle box” in a post, I really don’t want to be inundated with offers from Cabella’s and Bass Pro Shop for next two years. If it turns out that every word I write is entered into your massive database, that would really zuck.
Gap-The world according to Gap is getting goofier by the minute. First they inexplicably transformed their logo, posted it in the masthead of their website without so much as a Tweet to tell us why, and then clicked it into the trash bin four days later. Now they’re selling denim bags that say “Made in USA” on the outside and “Made in China” on the inside. Whoever is driving their brand bus must be using MapQuest to write their marketing plan. Try going back to the basics of simple clothes with an all-American feel. Oh, and hire some extra PR staff in case these marketing gaffes aren’t completely out of your system.
Chrysler-Guys, I’ve owned three of your minivans and gotta say, great idea way back then, and those new Stow/N/Go seats solved a big problem. But do you have anything else in the pipeline? Preferably with a higher coolness factor? Ford is doing donuts around your dealerships and GM is revving up these days as well. Your last great idea was during the Reagan administration. The car business is a changin’, Dudes. You need some new iron on the lot or you’ll be joining Saturn and Mercury on Mars.
Blockbuster-Folks there woke up one day and found themselves in the buggy whip business. Put there in large part by that darn upstart Netflix, which is itself now in danger of waking up and finding themselves in the buggy whip business when Comcast and others use their infrastructure to deliver product on demand. Reminds me of the old saying about people who watch things happen, people who make things happen, and people who say, “What happened?” If Blockbuster doesn’t start making things happen by becoming a relevant entertainment brand again, they will be out of business faster than you can say “Circuit City.”
The NFL-Perhaps the National Football league has cracked down on helmet-to-helmet hits on “defenseless” receivers and quarterbacks in preparation for their negotiations with the players union this off-season. After all, to hear the owners tell it, the players negotiated way too lucrative a deal (about 60% of all revenue going to players) the last time around. Seems like those crafty players are always outsmarting their billionaire owners. But to go on strike or have an owner lockout in this economy would be unbearable for fans and a setback for an enterprise that has become the envy of sports leagues around the world for its commercial success and brand power. Please, Mr. Goodell, rich people arguing over money is soooo 1990’s.
Activia (probiotic yogurts)-First, I’ve got to admit I’ve always been antibiotic, so I could be a little biased in this case. The FTC recently levied a $21 million fine for product claims made by Activia saying, “Companies like Dannon shouldn’t exaggerate the strength of scientific support for their products.” Apparently Dannon has been making the same claims in Europe for much longer with no repercussions. But diluting their slogan to something like “Makes my tummy feel yummy” could be too weak to keep the product moving off the shelves. Better find a reasonable claim and work your way back, Dannon. And that’s as probiotic as I can be.
Happy (Brand) New Year!