Seeing the USA in a Chevrolet
Chevy sales have shown steady increases this year in both passenger cars and light trucks as have GM sales in general. The latest campaign for the venerable car brand uses the tagline “Chevy runs deep,” and is awash with a nostalgic look at the role that Chevies have had as family cars over the last century. As a brand, Chevrolet has long held onto a certain quintessentially American equity. Fifty years ago they coined the phrase “USA-1.” And the only slightly younger catch phrase “Baseball, hot dogs apple pie, and Chevrolet” still comes easily to mind. As further evidence that GM and Chevy are finally getting the picture, they have offered to buy back the new Chevy Volt from any owner who is concerned about the cars’ safety due to recent fires in some crash tests. Compare that with Toyota putting up a brick wall of denial for months over their unintended acceleration problems.
Taking Siri Seriously
The buzz is starting to build on the new iPhone 4S feature called “Siri” which acts as a personal digital assistant of sorts. Siri combines existing features and apps like text message dictation and voice command calls with the ability to summon weather reports or start web searches upon request. Digital experts are already beginning to wonder how Siri will affect search engine optimization (SEO), since its “logic” remains proprietary. Although the technology is still relatively simple, this could be Apple’s next hot sub-brand ? a point of difference that the competition will be scrambling to keep up with for each new iPhone iteration. If you don’t believe me, just ask Siri.
Lego of my Legos
Overall sales at the Danish toymaker have soared by 25% through the first half of the year, driven by their new mini-figures series that appeals to their core market of younger children. They are both inexpensive, which is great for the current economic conditions and collectible, which promises repeat sales over time. Lego is a company that keeps finding ways to rediscover what makes their brand connect with their audience. One estimate is that there are 59 Lego bricks for every man, woman, and child on the planet. No wonder we’re always stepping on those things in our bare feet.
Wendy’s goes all in for its reconfigured burger
To introduce its new, thicker (although not any bigger) hamburgers, the stagnant Wendy’s brand has brought back one of the top ten slogans from the 20th century (according to Ad Age), “Where’s the beef?” using it as a set up to exclaim, “Here’s the beef.” In case some people are too young to remember the landmark commercials with Clara Peller zipping around to burger drive-thrus and demanding to know “Where’s the beef!”, Wendy’s has named the new burgers Dave’s Hot n’ Juicy cheeseburgers. But wait, there’s more, because TV spots include the brand namesake, Wendy, appearing for the first time on camera to promote the burgers. Having finally split with Arby’s in June of this year, Wendy’s is better able to refocus on their position as a premium quality, made-to-order fast food brand. But with so many messages trying to make one point, I expect they will continue to struggle to find the beef in their own financial performance.
It’s hard to imagine anything more stunning than what happened to Penn State in November. There will be a long climb back to the high levels of integrity and trust people placed on the University. Yet, within the ruins of their brand lies the opportunity to not just take responsibility for their own misdeeds, but to become a leader in dealing with a very difficult topic and changing the way this country looks at child abuse. They’ve taken a small first step by donating the proceeds of their bowl game to a charity focused on helping child victims.
Google+ equals what?
If anybody can take on the Facebook Zuckernaut its Google, and Google+ seems to offer features that Facebook has avoided. Imagine the power Google could offer to marketers by combining personal information with search history data, as in, “Hey Chevy, we can serve your ads to people 25-31 years old who have searched the word Chevy Volt in the last week.” But Google+ is far from taking off and may find itself struggling to justify its existence. In my opinion, they’ve made a mistake by creating a sub-brand so close to their main brand in name. Google+ sounds like it should be an enhanced search engine, not a social media platform. Since the folks at Google are pretty smart, maybe they’ll come up with must-have apps that only work on Google+, and build their brand of social media that way.