Make Black Friday Green With Sales!

Instigated by the frenzy of commercials and promotions, shoppers often wonder – am I getting the best deal? In a tongue-in-cheek campaign, appliance retailer hhgregg captured this anxiety as ‘FOBO – Fear of Better Offers.’ Zimmerman, the agency behind the campaign, said the idea came from “research that found millennials currently experience feelings of fear that better options may exist elsewhere”. hhgregg is positioned as the solution:


As we head into the peak shopping season, many consumers are likely to be feeling the effects of FOBO. And despite the positioning of Black Friday as the height of discounts, some reports are finding these “deals” are not deals at all, furthering shoppers’ angst.
Some apps and websites are seeking to help relieve shoppers of these fears. Flipp aggregates retailer flyers and lets consumers pinpoint the local retailer with the best price for items on their shopping list. They’ve even created a new commercial highlighting the apps’ applicability for Black Friday gift shopping.


And for those who prefer to shop Cyber Monday? As noted in last week’s NYTimes, new apps like ShopSavvy allow users to compare prices for items in brick & mortar retailers versus Amazon and other online outlets – all in search of the best deal.
Some questions for marketers:
• How important is getting the best price for your prime customers?
• How transparent is pricing for your product or service? Is it easy for consumers to choose to buy your brand?

Competing for Eyeballs – Rio Olympics Edition

While the world’s elite athletes are competing for medals in Rio de Janeiro, a battle for viewers is being waged by cable and broadcast networks, social media and streaming platforms.
One of the key properties Comcast gained with its 2011 purchase of NBCUniversal was the rights to air the Olympics games in the US.  And now Comcast, through its Xfinity cable subsidiary is leveraging new platforms and apps to engage subscribers with Olympics content.  As cord-cutting increases, Comcast is looking to upgrade current subscribers as well as entice new users with exclusive Olympics content available only through their partnership with the USOC.  NBCUniversal now has an exhaustive schedule of Olympics viewing across NBC, MSNBC, Telemundo, USA, Bravo and more through the X1 application.


In a bid to reach cord-cutters and mobile users, Google has dispatched YouTube stars such as Liza Koshy, Brodie Smith, Ben Brown, Caeli, Chloe Morello and Felipe Castanhari to livestream parts of the games and special events in host city Rio. Google is leveraging content from these “Creators” into search, maps and mobile applications to increase engagement. YouTube is also offering subscribers an IOC channel to increase visibility beyond US-centric users.

Not to be left out of the mobile/streaming wars, Facebook and Instagram have partnered with NBC to create a Social Media Command Center with access to NBC commentators and behind-the-scenes video.

Early reports indicate that live viewership for the Olympics is down versus the 2012 London Games.  Some are faulting excessive commercial breaks and ongoing concerns about Rio’s preparedness for the games.  But with so many options, are viewers choosing to engage with the 2016 Olympic Games in other ways rather than just live TV?

Some thoughts for marketers:
• Are the increased numbers of platforms and channels to choose for Olympic content possibly confusing or overwhelming viewers?
• Which brands are best leveraging the variety of platforms in order to connect with target consumers?
• What is your favorite way to watch the Olympics?

Owning the Experience

There is growing evidence that consumers are becoming less interested in conspicuous consumption.  From Millennials, who are (sometimes unwillingly) slow to launch their own independent households to Baby Boomers who are downsizing into smaller, more urban locations to the growing impact of Mari Kondo’s KonMari method of decluttering – living with less is an important new cultural trend.

Coupled with this trend away from consumption of “stuff” is the trend toward using our time and money for Experiences.  You can look to social media – when was the last time a friend shared an image of a new purchase, such as a car or house?  Yet our newsfeeds are full of pictures of exotic trips, restaurant visits, concerts and sporting events.

The new campaign from Groupon highlights this insight.  The TV ads compare the “Haves” and their mansions full of gaudy stuffy and the “Have-Dones” who are engaged in life through experiences like sky-diving, dining out, getting spa treatments or visiting a fun-park. In a press release for the campaign launch,  Vinayak Hegde, Groupon’s CMO highlighted that this new focus is based on research findings that experiences been scientifically proven to make consumers happier.

Two immediate takeaways from the new campaign:

  • The “Haves”, with their collections of gaudy stuff are cast as older and unsociable. “Have-Dones” by contrast are youthful and spirited.  Which portrayal is more aspirational is pretty obvious.
  • Experiences are shareable – participants are shown enjoying activities with a good friend, a spouse, children And evidence of the experience is shared with the larger group of friends and family – via selfies and social media.

The TV ads close with “If you’re going to own something, own the experience.”  Some thoughts for marketers

  • Are there ways to enhance the experiential qualities of your product/service?
  • How important is shareabilty for your consumer?

The Marketing of An Icon

David Redfern/Redferns/ GettyImages JB Lacroix/ WireImage

David Redfern/Redferns/ GettyImages JB Lacroix/ WireImage

When I was 13 years old, I experienced what many adolescents go through— I had very little self-esteem.  My lack of self-esteem stemmed from feeling like I didn’t fit in.  My reflection didn’t fit the standards of beauty that adorned the pages of the magazines I read. I thought I was fat and was often on a diet to try to lose 10 pounds. I thought my nose was too broad and my thighs were too large. I even dreamed about the day when I would be able to afford surgery to fix my imperfections.

Of course, none of those options was available to me.  But when I heard Nina Simone’s version of  To Be Young, Gifted, and Black,  I saw and heard a woman who looked like me and I began to find my inner and outer beauty.  When I heard this song, I felt so validated.  I began to look at and accept my African features in a whole new way. This was a magnificent turning point in my life.

For me, and I’m sure many other women, Nina Simone represented a liberation from desiring an unattainable beauty.  Her music, presence, and stand for her artistry had a tremendous influence on me and I was proud of what she represented culturally in the United States and in my corner of the world in the Caribbean.

As a huge Nina Simone fan, I was captivated by the Netflix-produced documentary, What Happened, Miss Simone?  that debuted last summer. The film’s authentic look at Nina’s life and music is engaging. A few weeks later, I was delighted to learn that a theatrical release, Nina, was coming to the silver screen, and I was planning too see it for the entertainment value.  I heard Zoe Saldana was slated to play the leading role.  While I questioned the producers’ choice of Ms. Saldana to fill the enormous emotional and cultural shoes of the iconic Nina Simone, that did not deter my plans to support the film.

Then came the release of the trailer for Nina.  I was taken aback to see that the film’s producers had darkened Ms. Saldana’s skin and had applied a prosthetic device to broaden her nose to make her look more like Nina Simone. The decision to change Zoe Saldana’s look to better reflect Nina is a clear example of what happens when production decisions go wrong.

Knowing your brand is key when developing a production or marketing strategy.  Whether it’s designing a package, developing advertising, choosing promotional vehicles or any other marketing efforts, several factors must be taken in to consideration.  It’s important to understand the brand, feature its unique attributes, and understand what it means to the audience. From the signs of it, the branding of Nina seems to have missed these key elements.

What to Watch For

I’m looking forward to seeing Miles Ahead this month with Don Cheadle starring as the legendary Miles Davis. While this film is not a true biopic, I am eager to see how Mr. Cheadle created a film from this later portion of Miles Davis’ career.

Questions to Consider

  1. Which companies do you consider to be standouts when it comes to getting it right with their branding efforts?
  2. What marketing decisions do you feel have missed the mark and what was the fall out that ensued?
  3. What businesses have successfully gotten ahead of negative social media reactions to their marketing decisions?