GEICO moves up—the insurance giant continues to be one of the world’s best examples of how to be successful in marketing with multiple ad campaigns that drive home their infamous call to action, “Fifteen minutes could save you 15 percent or more on car insurance.” In the first quarter of this year, according to SNL Financial, GEICO passed Allstate and their pal Mayhem for second place in car insurance premiums, behind only State Farm. GEICO now spends more than $1 billion in measured advertising each year that brings us quirky characters such as lizards and pigs whose stories inevitably lead us to their tagline, while entertaining us all the while.
GoPro cameras go anywhere—you can strap these powerful little indestructible cameras to just about anything and take them just about anywhere for a unique point of view of almost any activity. According to “Forbes” magazine, “GoPro sales have more than doubled every year since the first camera’s debut in 2004. In 2012 the company sold 2.3 million cameras and grossed $521 million, according to [their CEO]; with $100 million in sales in January alone, that annual figure should again double this year.” GoPro’s prosumer technology is not really that unique, but the brand has distinguished itself with a concept of having outrageous fun and then watching the replay with friends. Their slogan is “Be a hero,” but it could just as easily be, “Dude, that was awesome!”
Men’s Wearhouse pitches their pitchman—You wouldn’t expect a brand whose stock was trading near a 52-week high, with sales up 7.1 percent and profits up 23percent, to get into a very public feud with their founder and pitchman. But George Zimmer—whose famous assurance, “You’re going to like the way you look. I guarantee it,” helped build the brand from a single Texas store in 1973—resigned from their board and has waged a war of words ever since. Essentially both sides are saying the other is headed down the wrong path, but with Zimmer owning only 3.5 percent of his company at this point, he doesn’t have the clout he needs to get his way. So is the brand on the rise or on the decline? The numbers certainly look good. If it were up to me, I’d take a long look at keeping the tagline and changing the “I” to “We.” Then they would find out how much of their brand was about George and how much about promising men with uncertain fashion skills that they will look sharp.
The BlackBerry season disappoints—How the mighty have fallen. Once the leader in smartphone technology, having created the first cases of mobile phone addiction that generated the nickname “CrackBerry,” the brand stumbled yet again with the debut of its new pone, the Z10. It appears to be too little, too late as their stock was pummeled by the market after announcing they had missed their targets on units, gross margin and earnings, although revenue was up. Their quarterly loss of 13 cents a share when an 8 cent profit was expected led to a 29 percent decline in its stock price in one day. BlackBerry’s biggest problem is arguably the strong brands of Apple and Android-based phones. It’s not that BlackBerry phones aren’t technically capable; it’s just that the competition is way better. (And their networks don’t crash.)
Paula Deen burns her brand in the oven—if anything, the fall of Paula Deen and her brand is insight into our culture’s tolerance of celebrities who misbehave. Charlie Sheen mostly gets a pass (by never really disclaiming the bad boy image he’s got a niche), Tiger Woods and Anthony Weiner were vilified for infidelity, but Paula skated on her first brush with hypocrisy last year when she admitted to being a diabetic while continuing to glorify high-fat/high-sugar recipes on her cooking shows and in other media. Eyebrows were raised when she neatly turned her admission into another endorsement contract with diabetes drug producer Novo Nordisk. But her recent admissions to racially charged language and conduct with her employees hit a major nerve and sent her sponsors for the exits at record pace. In addition, Paula’s early handling of the scandal is a case history in how not to do it. While Tiger and Charlie have righted the ship, Paula’s brand is likely to never reach its previous peak again.
As published in the Central Penn Business Journal