John Malmo

Commentator
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Whenever I hear of a real case of marketing, it inspires me. I want to tell everyone who thinks marketing is just a synonym for advertising and promotion.

Television network CNN ranked 23rd last year in advertising revenue among basic cable networks. Spending $379 million dollars placed it behind networks such as Syfy and Bravo. It turns out that most people tune into CNN only in the case of big news events.

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You wonder why every car dealer TV ad is followed by an ambulance-chasing lawyer ad … is followed by a car dealer ad … is followed by an ambulance-chasing lawyer ad … is followed by . . . you get the point.

Business categories become commodities when consumers no longer identify a meaningful difference between brands. When that happens, the only difference a brand can create is in advertising. Better advertising than others, or, as in most cases, more advertising.

Every sales person knows that to make a sale, there must be a need, a perceived need, or a desire. If you’re selling a solution, there must be a problem, and the buyer must be aware of the problem.

The quickest way to make potential customers aware of a problem is to brand the problem. Turn the problem into a brand. That’s what Lifebuoy Soap did 75 years ago.

http://askmalmo.com

Just about the time I thought Secretary’s Day had become an established retail selling season, somebody convinced everybody else that to call someone a secretary is demeaning.

I can’t quite understand that. In my career I had three terrific secretaries and the opportunity to know dozens of great secretaries in other companies. Then one day it wasn’t Secretary’s Day any more.

J.C. Penney canned CEO Ron Johnson after seventeen months. His implosive changes cost Penney billions and shareholders forty percent of their investments.  

But Johnson’s only the face of the disaster. And nobody has mentioned Penney’s board of directors.

The real culprit is a guy named William Ackman and the rest of Penney’s board of directors. Ackman manages a hedge-fund that is Penney’s largest shareholder. It was Ackman who led the board to coax Johnson away from Apple.

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It’s amazing how little substance there is in most brand advertising today. The vast majority of product campaigns all seem to be pretty photography and fluff.

Brand awareness obviously is the objective. But in most campaigns you have to ask the question, “awareness of what?”

Barbasol, a shaving product that came out almost a hundred years ago, aired a campaign this year that showed some substance.

Charlene Honeycutt / WKNO-FM

Just because somebody tells you that a certain business category is a dying business doesn’t mean it’s gonna die today or tomorrow. People were still making money on Blockbuster stores a decade after the announcement of their demise.

Business categories do, indeed, die. Almost always because of advances in science. Nobody’s making steamships any more.

But some categories that start shrinking aren’t necessarily dying. They’re just getting smaller.

http://sofakingjuicyburger.com/

It’s gotten quite popular in the last few years to select dirty names for start-up businesses. There’s Dirty Dick’s Crab House, Fat Bastard Burrito, but none tops the new burger joint in Chattanooga.

Its name is Sofa - King - Juicy - Burger. If you say the name real fast, it only takes a couple times to figure out the intent of the owner. Despite, that is, the fact that he says there’s a large sofa in the joint.

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Nothing is more important in any business than its brand. And branding is very serious business. But what’s even harder than branding, is RE-branding.

Building a brand from scratch is very hard. Not for quitters. But at least you’re trying to reach open minds. As in, Now there’s a place to buy tacos, and it’s called Taco Bell. But if you add hamburgers and re-brand as, say, Taco & Burger Bell, people probably will never quit saying Taco Bell.

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There are few devices better than an icon, or mascot, to help build personality and awareness for a brand.   And creating a successful icon is not a terribly difficult process.   But Burger King managed to screw it up.

As for personal tastes, I have always thought a Burger King hamburger was the best-tasting among fast-foot burgers. But the weird-looking, and weirder-acting, speechless, and spooky king that’s driven Burger King advertising for years is a dud.

Thankfully, new Burger King owners think so, too, because he’s being dethroned.

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