Act With Purpose: Four Factors for Making a Difference

Act With Purpose
(Reading Time: 3 minutes)

Last week, I shared five reasons why I’m at odds with the “Change or die!” fear-mongers.  Today I offer an alternate (and calmer) approach: “Act with purpose.”

I’ll begin with another rebuttal to “Change or die”: We’re already changing, without anyone shouting at us to do so.  As people, as teams, as organizations, we’re changing all the time.

Any time we adopt a new habit, launch a new product, or add even one new team member, we’re changing.  But change can be intentional or unintentional.  So the operative question is this:

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Don’t Waste This Crisis: How Strong Values Improve Strategy

(Reading Time: 6 minutes)

There’s a question that’s asked far too rarely as we develop brand and business strategies.  It’s simple but extremely powerful, since it shapes everything that you’ll do as a team or organization.

The question:

Who do we want to be?

It’s challenging to lead an organization in the best of times.  In a time of scarcity – like the one we recently, abruptly entered – it can feel impossible.

But navigating difficulty is one of the roles of a leader.  As FDR said, “A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.” 

Continue reading “Don’t Waste This Crisis: How Strong Values Improve Strategy”

The Super Bowl Ads: A Guide for the Rest of Us

(Reading Time: 10 minutes)

Friends, the Super Bowl is just a few days away.  That means the Super Bowl ads are just a few days away.  And that means the advertising media, and a few pundits, are working themselves into a lather right about now.

Take Gary Vaynerchuk.  He’s on record as saying:

“Super Bowl ads are underpriced.  Yeah, I said it.”

Medium.com, Jan. 29, 2015

And:

“When I buy my first brand, the first thing I’m gonna do is run multiple Super Bowl ads.”

ANA Masters of Marketing Conference, 2016

See that?  Gary Vee doesn’t even know what his product or service will be, let alone anything about its market or competitive situation, and he’s already committed to a tactical decision on its behalf.  This is obviously a problem, and we’ll come back to it.

Continue reading “The Super Bowl Ads: A Guide for the Rest of Us”

Of Sparkling Water and Hockey Pucks

(Reading Time: 2 minutes)

Sparkling water costs pennies per can to produce.

If you knew this fact only, and you were in the sparkling water business, you might reasonably conclude:

  • Others are going to want a piece of this profitable market.
  • Some of them have been canning fizzy water for decades, and they’re damn good at it.
  • Some of them have very deep pockets.
  • Some of them are going to innovate.

What happens?

Continue reading “Of Sparkling Water and Hockey Pucks”

If It Doesn’t Solve Your Problems, It’s Weak Strategy

Theranos Elizabeth Holmes
(Reading Time: 4 minutes)

Let’s begin with a simple truth:

Every business has problems.

Those problems may be internal or external (often both).  They may be created by others or self-inflicted.  They may be present-day certainties or future possibilities.

But there’s no business anywhere that is blissfully free of challenges, obstacles, changes… problems.

Continue reading “If It Doesn’t Solve Your Problems, It’s Weak Strategy”

The Birth of White Mystery Airheads (and What It Taught Me)

Airheads White Mystery package
(Reading Time: 7 minutes)

It was early 1993.  I was less than a year out of college, and the Assistant Brand Manager of Airheads candy.  (A title that no doubt made my parents very proud.)

After the successful launch of Blue Raspberry Airheads in August 1992, we were searching for the next new flavor to add to our lineup.

We took all the standard steps – reviewing category sales data, reading trade magazines, meeting with flavor suppliers, etc.

And taking the standard steps, unsurprisingly, resulted in a list of the usual suspects.

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The 2019 Super Bowl Ads: Who Unleveled the Playing Field?

Doritos Super Bowl Chance the Rapper Backstreet Boys

(Reading Time: 6 minutes)By now, we’re at the point where we know what to expect from the Super Bowl ads.

Before the game, you could have jotted down a list of what you thought you would see, based on history.  That list probably would have included:

  • Celebrities galore!
  • Animals (especially dogs) at their most undeniably adorable
  • People or animals doing silly dances
  • Inspiring Statements of High-Minded Purpose
  • The unusual, the surreal, the flat-out bizarre (with or without reason)
  • Production values to rival a summer blockbuster film

You can make this kind of list for almost any category.  Sometimes, it’s comically easy to do.  And the more “tried, true and expected” the items on that list, the more ripe that category is for some rule-breaking.

So who broke the rules with this year’s Super Bowl ads? Continue reading “The 2019 Super Bowl Ads: Who Unleveled the Playing Field?”