Category Archives: advertising

Baby fatigue and TV commercials

stephen2By Stephen Rhodes

Does anyone else suffer from baby fatigue?

I understand that Pampers and Huggies and Similac might want to feature babies in their television commercials, but of late it seems the little cuties are everywhere advertising everything.

I can’t get through an evening without my wife oohing and awing several times… admonishing me when I miss one.  I hear look, look, look all night long. A baby smile, a dribble, a bad hair day or God forbid an outright laugh and she is reduced to jelly.

But ask her afterward what the commercial was about and she has no idea. I bet many people don’t.

Enjoy. Maybe it’s a passing fad. I hope so.


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Filed under advertising, Television, Uncategorized

Attack ads have become a political staple

stephen2By Stephen Rhodes

I haven’t heard anyone say they like attack ads, a staple, it seems, in political campaigns. I would think in a protracted 78 day federal election campaign that we are sick and tired of them.

Attack ads rely on a germ of truth, stoke the committed voter and dangerously inform the uninformed and by almost any standard of measurement descend to personal low blows.

trudeauAttack ads have been part of the Conservative arsenal going back to Jean Chretien.The attacks are personal, so we get a vacationing Michael Ignatieff and an unready Justin Trudeau. The Liberals have also used them, attacking Conservative leaders Stanfield and Clark. In 2004, the Martin Liberals accused Stephen Harper for his “hidden agenda.”

Well, if they didn’t work, parties wouldn’t use them.

Attack ads aren’t aimed at everyone. The plugged-in people hate them as irrelevant. But, for the ill-informed it may be the only exposure they have to the party leaders. And the party faithful don’t need them but attack ads stoke their anger and fear, ensuring they get out to vote.

So, why do they work? We pay more attention to negative information, complain about it, but pay more attention to it. We are bombarded by the media all day along, and across multiple platforms, with negative information. And while positive ads can be good, in political campaigns negative ads are more effective.

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Volkswagen – another epic big brand fail

stephen2By Stephen Rhodes

When big brands fail, somehow we are shocked.

The latest is Volkswagen,  engulfed by a growing crisis over its attempt to make millions of diesel cars appear cleaner than they are.

The scandal broke Friday, when U.S. regulators said the German company had programmed some 500,000 vehicles to emit lower levels of harmful emissions in official tests than on the roads.

vwVolkswagen stunned investors Tuesday by admitting that the problem was much bigger than that: internal investigations had found significant discrepancies in 11 million vehicles worldwide.

It set aside 6.5 billion euros ($7.3 billion) to cover the cost of recalls and “efforts to win back the trust of our customers,” trashing its profit forecast for the year in the process.

Shares in Volkswagen plunged 18% Tuesday, after crashing 17% Monday. That means about a third of the value of the group has been wiped out in two days.

Volkswagen is not the first. There is the GM ignition switch problem, that caused 13 deaths and 10 years to recognize. Toyota’s airbag problems. Toyota ‘s $1.2 billion settlement with federal prosecutors over its handling of more than 4 million recalled cars because of unintended acceleration in 2009 and 2010.

The US Justice Department will investigate Volkswagen, so undoubtedly there is more bad news coming.

What are we to make of this other than greed is ever present in corporate America?

Brand loyalty is built on trust. Trust isn’t bought, it’s earned. Volkswagen has a tough row to hoe.




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Filed under advertising, Branding, Customer Service

Getting naked and making music

stephen2 By Stephen Rhodes

I don’t know Selema Gomez and I am not likely to ever meet her. She is a singer with a new album on the horizon. It seems at the tender age of 23 she has some concerns about how new albums are promoted so to provide a lift she has taken off her clothes. And on Tuesday the Internet was abuzz with the news, a month before the album is to be released. Mission accomplished.

revivalNow, I am not a prude, but I fail to get the connection or why she feels it necessary to make it. The black-and-white image shows a topless Gomez, with her legs crossed and her arms and hair covering her up for modesty. The former Disney star first posted a teaser message, saying “This is my…” before revealing the racy photo with the caption “REVIVAL,” which is the title of her New album.

In a recent interview, she said, “I’m not the best singer in the world, but I know how to translate emotion…I’m just finding my strengths now as an artist. I’m becoming a young woman and I’m comfortable with my sensuality. It’s just kind of not try-hard. It’s just perfect. I think, to me, that was exactly what I want people to see for the next chapter for me.”

All these ex Disney stars feel compelled to tarnish their squeeky clean images.

I know sex sells. 

Selena Gomez has 37 million Twitter followers, 43 million Instagram followers. Why does she need to take her clothes off to sell a record?

tapestryCarole King released one of the best selling albums of all time in 1971. Tapestry sold more than 25 million albums worldwide, won four Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year. In 2003, Tapestry was ranked number 36 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

Carole King had no Twitter or Instagram followers and did not take her clothes off to sell her music.

In the early 70s word of mouth was enough. Tapestry was that good.


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Filed under advertising, Marketing, social media, Uncategorized

Do we need flyers anymore?

stephen2By Stephen Rhodes

I am standing in a cashout line at my local grocery store and the woman ahead of me is flashing her iPhone at the cashier. I ask her what she is doing and she says she has sourced a dozen or so products at other stores selling for less money. The cashier is checking the price on the iPhone so she can apply a discount.

No way.

grocery flyersThe customer uses an app called Flipp, (no I don’t have shares) which carries a couple of dozen weekly flyers of grocery stores, hardware, electronics, general merchandising etc.

Two things struck me. All flyers are on my handheld device, not in a pile at my feet. And comparison price shopping is easy, and real-time convenient at the grocery store. The app is easy to use. Find a product, clip it and it’s saved.

I don’t think I had ever looked at a paper flyer until this year when I realized how out of touch I was with food prices – like the price per pound of meat. So now when I look for boneless/skinless chicken at $3.99/pound I do it on my iPhone app.

There is a belief in the food industry that most customers will not drive by one food store to get to another.

Price matching is just good customer service and it makes it easier to stay loyal to your favourite grocery store.

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Filed under advertising, Customer Service