Posts Tagged ‘Budweiser’

2014 Called and Said, “Super Job, Radio Shack!”

February 3rd, 2014

Most of the people attending the Super Bowl party I was at last night agreed that the ads were even worse than the game itself, but this shouldn’t be surprising.  Too often the decision to blow millions on a Super Bowl commercial is driven by corporate ego rather than a legitimate concern about the company’s bottom line.

To be successful, a Super Bowl ad has to be (a) entertaining and (b) smart, which I define as “making people remember and want to buy–or at least check out–the product or service being advertised.”

Sadly, most advertisers and their agencies focus solely on being entertaining, and yet despite this focus, they usually come up short.  So the odds of a Super Bowl ad–or any ad–being both entertaining and smart are about as good as the odds of Richard Sherman writing a best-selling book on etiquette.

Last night’s clear exception was this Radio Shack ad.  Anyone who’s ever visited a Radio Shack could instantly understand the point of the ad when the Radio Shack clerk says, “The ’80s called.  They want their store back.”  The rest of the spot gave viewers the fun of identifying a plethora of ’80s icons, all the while reinforcing the message that Radio Shack stores have been dramatically updated.  And I found it very refreshing that Radio Shack is able to laugh at itself and its dated decor; that kind of candor and self-awareness makes me think “They get it” and that they’ve probably fully confronted and fixed the problem.

Contrast this with an even more entertaining ad–the “Puppy Love” ad run by Budweiser.  True, the puppy was extremely cute and the ad was extremely well produced.  However, the ad wasn’t extremely well conceived.  Why?  Because it did nothing to make you crave a Budweiser–or any kind of beer.  It probably made you smile and maybe made you cry, but did it make you say, “Man, I really want a Bud”?  I doubt it.

The only way this ad will have any tangible effect on sales is if beer drinkers decide to reward Budweiser for the touching entertainment.  But there are three reason why this, in my view, is highly unlikely.  First of all, I suspect a lot of people who liked the commercial don’t even know it was for Budweiser.  (I didn’t see a lot of logos, or bottles pouring tasty-looking suds.)  Secondly, this morning’s polls show that the ad appeals much more to women than men, and women aren’t big beer drinkers–especially not big Budweiser drinkers.  Finally, most Bud drinkers I know have a pretty macho self-image, and I don’t see many of them opting to buy more Bud because of a cute puppy commercial.

The difference between these two commercials can be summed up by the fact that today they’re typically being referred to as “The Radio Shack commercial’ and “the puppy commercial.”  Which of the two do you think is more likely to move the sales needle?

Thus, I’m pretty sure Radio Shack got much more bang for its four million bucks (for a 30-second spot) than Budweiser got for its eight million smackers (for a one-minute spot).

On the other hand, I’ll bet puppy sales are through the roof today!

Microsoft Needs to Be a Good Orange, Not a Bad Apple

December 9th, 2010


Perhaps the wisest words I’ve ever read about branding strategy are attributed to the late, great Jerry Garcia, who once said:  “The idea isn’t to make people think you’re the best at what you do; it’s to make them think you’re the only one who does what you do.”

If there’s one company on the planet that’s in sync with Mr. Garcia, it’s Apple. (Interestingly, the only other one that comes immediately to mind is Pixar, another company largely shaped by the DNA of Steve Jobs.)  And if there’s a company that doesn’t groove on Mr. Garcia’s vibe, it’s Microsoft.   In fact, Microsoft doesn’t even try to make you think they’re the best at what they do; rather, they’re trying to make you think they’re just like Apple.

But Microsoft will never be like Apple, any more than Bill Gates will ever be like Steve Jobs.  Let’s face it:  Jobs is cool; Gates is geeky.  Apple is cool; Microsoft is–well, it might not be geeky, but it certainly isn’t cool.  And that’s okay!

Sadly, as an article in the Chicago Tribune indicates, the new Microsoft stores are embarrassingly similar to Apple stores.  The problem isn’t that the stores aren’t nice; it’s that they aren’t original.  Since everyone knows that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Microsoft is simultaneously reinforcing that Apple is worthy of emulation while making itself  look like a plagiarizer.

Microsoft needs to get over its genius-envy and embrace the things that make it unique.  For example, it could position itself as “everyman” (in subtle contrast to Apple’s “snob”) by emphasizing:

  • The affordability of Windows-based products
  • Its support of the very popular Flash media format
  • The dramatically larger number of products and programs that use its operating system

When Toyota was at its peak, it didn’t try to make you think it was like Mercedes Benz, nor did Budweiser in its best days try to make you think it was like Heineken. They took pride in who they were–and, oh, by the way, they were the market leaders.

Microsoft is also a market leader, yet its actions reflect insecurity rather than pride. Apple and Microsoft are as different as apples and oranges.  It’s time Microsoft embraced that fact.

After all, oranges are more popular than apples.