Archive for August, 2011

Lincoln Forgets to Memorialize Its Name

August 21st, 2011

For over a year now there’s been an engaging series of  TV commercials, each of which shows a man in his 30s or 40s meeting an older version of himself and asking, “How did we do?” in terms of planning for his financial future.  In all cases, the older version of the man assures the younger one that he ends up doing a good job, but cautions him to keep planning since “retirement isn’t the finish line.”  For the most part, the ads are quite well done, in part because it’s interesting to see how each man looks at two different ages, but mostly because it’s a compelling way to drive home the importance–and rewards–of smart financial planning.

The only problem: the company doing the advertising–Lincoln Financial Group–is virtually invisible.  You only hear the name and see the corporate logo at the very end of the spots, and they’re presented in a very uninteresting way.  Thus, the ads succeed at selling the concept of financial planning but fail to create awareness of Lincoln Financial Group.

It seems to me that if your brand features the name “Lincoln” and your corporate logo features a profile of Honest Abe, your advertising should somehow leverage the image of the man if you want to ensure that people remember that you’re the one doing the advertising.  For example, you might draw a parallel between Abraham Lincoln’s visionary leadership and Lincoln Financial Group’s visionary financial planning.  Or, if you don’t what to go that far, at least do something cleverly memorable in the way you present the brand name and logo rather than simply slapping it on the back end  of a 30-second commercial.

Far too many commercials do a great job of telling a story and a lousy job of reminding the viewer whose story it is.  I think it’s because there are too many agency creatives who’d rather be writing screenplays and who–so that their advertising doesn’t “look like advertising”–call as little attention to the brand being advertised as the advertiser will let them get away with.

Make sure your agency understands that they are in fact writing stories about a star.  The star just happens to be not an actor, but your brand.

HTC’s “Facebook Phone” Right on the Button!

August 15th, 2011

How’d you like to be a smartphone marketer employed by a company whose CEO is someone not named “Steve Jobs”?  No matter how brilliant your features or sleek your design, you can’t possibly compete with the iPhone’s cool factor.

Unless, that is, you leverage the power of the only brand on the planet that can give the Apple brand a run for its money among teens and twenty-somethings.  That brand, of course, would be Facebook.  And  HTC’s Status smartphone is the first and only phone to feature the familiar blue Faecbook logo in the form of a button that lets users update their Facebook status (hence the phone’s name) with the simple click of a button.  Ingeniously, the button even illuminates whenever you’re doing something on the phone that might make sense to share with your Facebook friends.

I haven’t used it, but a random sampling of online reviews suggests that HTC got more right than wrong with the design and engineering of this new smartphone.  And while it won’t be everyone’s phone of choice, all HTC needs to do is capture a small percentage of the roughly one billion Facebook users to have a decent hit on their hands.

This would likely be a bigger hit if the wireless carrier were someone other than AT&T (which it is) or Verizon (which it isn’t), as customers of those two carriers also have the option of buying an iPhone.

Still, I can only assume that whatever marketer or product manager dreamed up this innovative idea has significantly enhanced her or his status with HTC.