New holiday ad from Apple will bring a sweet tear to your eye

applelogoThere have been some great Christmas ads over the years and this latest from Apple is a very nice spot.  I love this ad.  Not just for the emotion it conveys but for the use of the brand as the hero in the ad.  The iPhone does create a little bit of magic.  Last year, I created my own photo book using the Apple’s on-line service.  It turned all the photos I take into a beautiful album.  If you are looking for a Christmas gift for a loved one, I would recommend you give it a shot.  It’s very easy. If I can do it, so can you .  Here’s the link:  Printing a Photo Book

In this 90 second TV ad, it shows a typical teenager hanging onto this iPhone constantly, and then from there, the magic happens.  

Enjoy.

If you like this story…

Last month I posted a Google Ad that makes everyone cry. It’s from India and does such a good job incorporating Google as an enabler.  Click here: New Google Ad Will Make You Cry

John Lewis to me is the King of all Christmas Ads.  Here’s story I did last month on the 2013 ad, but showing all the Christmas Ads that they’ve done.  My favourite of the ads is the 2011 version.  Click here:  New John Lewis Christmas Ad

You might also enjoy reading about brands that are using consumer insight as the basis of their advertising.  So many Brand Leaders think your job is to represent the brand to the consumer.  What if you were to represent the consumer to the brand?   Would your work look different?  Click on this story to read more:   5 Great Ads Based on a Unique Consumer Insight

And if you want to know how to write a better creative brief, here’s a simple step by step process to help you.  Click on this story to read more:  How to write an Effective Creative Brief

Do you want to be an amazing Brand Leader?  We can help you.  

Read more on how to utilize our Brand Leadership Learning Center where you will receive training in all aspects of marketing whether that’s strategic thinking, brand plans, creative briefs, brand positioning, analytical skills or how to judge advertising.  We can customize a program that is right for you or your team.  We can work in person, over the phone or through Skype.  Ask us how we can help you. 

email-Logo copyABOUT BELOVED BRANDS INC.:  At Beloved Brands, we are only focused on making brands better and making brand leaders better.Our motivation is that we love knowing we were part of helping someone to unleash their full potential.  We promise to challenge you to Think Different.  gr bbi picWe believe the thinking that got you here, will not get you where you want to go.  Our President and Chief Marketing Officer, Graham Robertson is a brand leader at heart, who loves everything about brands.  He comes with 20 years of experience at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke, where he was always able to find and drive growth.  Graham has won numerous new product and advertising awards. Graham brings his experience to your table, strong on leadership and facilitation at very high levels and training of Brand Leaders around the world.  To reach out directly, email me at graham.robertson@beloved-brands.com or follow on Twitter @grayrobertson1

At Beloved Brands, we love to see Brand Leaders reach their full potential.  Here are the most popular article “How to” articles.  We can offer specific training programs dedicated to each topic.  Click on any of these most read articles:

Ask Beloved Brands to help train you on Advertising that will help you to be a better brand leader.
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10 Things Brand Leaders should do this week before the Holiday Break

Gone-on-HolidayI know this week comes fast and it can go just as fast.  I know real work happens, but not that much.  My hope is that you got everything last week because you’re going to notice your boss or subject matter experts bolting for the doors, faster than you think.  

I always enjoyed this week.  Here are the 10 things you can do to put the week to good use. 

  1. Get all your finances in order.  Most marketers are bad at managing the books.  Use this week to do billing, expenses, accruals and budgeting for the year-end as well as for Q1 of next year.   The more you do this week, the less you’ll need to do the week you get back.  Take advantage of being close to the finance folks, just in case they need help with added spending at the last-minute.
  2. Do a thank you lunch with your agency key contact person or even the creative team on your brand.  The agency party is done, maybe the last shoot happened last week.  Now is not a bad time to get out and just thank your agency for all the work and talk about what you want to do next on the brand.   
  3. Come up with a list of new years resolutions you want to do for next year.  Try to frame it around developing one new skill, enhancing a leadership behaviour or gaining a new experience.  Take a somewhat selfish approach to this resolution, thinking about your longer term career.Slide1
  4. Set personal development goals outside of your company’s highly constrained year end review.  It depends on how good your review was.  But many organizations have goals that focus just on the results and not enough on your development.  
  5. Put your feet up for half a day and go through 5 very important strategic questions on your brand.   1) Where are you?   2) How did you get here?  3) Where could you be?  4) How can we get there?  5) Are we getting there?   When I was a brand leader, I would go through these same questions every six months to keep us on track.  I’d put 2-3 points for each question, and ensuring that it told the complete story on the brand.  It’s a great tool to keep pushing beyond where you are now.  
  6. Wander around and thank everyone who works on your business.  Use this as a chance to connect by talking about what they are doing over the break.  (not about what you are doing)  You might be surprised to learn something you never knew:  where is home, how many kids, names, ages, etc.  As a leader, get a little bit personal.  
  7. Create a twitter account and see what your consumers are doing.  Not enough Brand Leaders actually have an active Twitter account.  I think you have to force yourself to start tweeting.  Take a walk in the shoes of your consumers.  Go visit some of your favorite brands and see what they are doing so well, or not.  Interact with a brand or two and see if you get a response.   Twice now, McDonald’s has replied immediately saying someone would follow-up.  That was amazing.  But both times, no one followed up.  That was bad. 
  8. Order a marketing book on-line to read up on over the break.  Most Brand Leaders get so busy, they don’t keep up with the trends in the market place.  
  9. Have at least one heart-to-heart talk this week, whether that’s with a peer, your boss, your agency person or someone who calls you boss.   What a great week to have one of those 2-3 hour talks.   If you are lucky, you might hear some feedback on you.  Say thank you.  
  10. Clean up your office and your email.  Block off an afternoon.  Clear out emails, sort other emails into folders you never got around to doing.  Throw out some files, clearing out some space for next year.  If you’re disorganized, use this time to get yourself a system.  
Happy Holidays from Beloved Brands.  We’ve enjoyed having you read our work.  Enjoy the break. 

 

Do you want to be an amazing Brand Leader?  We can help you.  

Read more on how to utilize our Brand Leadership Learning Center where you will receive training in all aspects of marketing whether that’s strategic thinking, brand plans, creative briefs, brand positioning, analytical skills or how to judge advertising.  We can customize a program that is right for you or your team.  We can work in person, over the phone or through Skype.  Ask us how we can help you. 

 

email-Logo copyABOUT BELOVED BRANDS INC.:  At Beloved Brands, we are only focused on making brands better and making brand leaders better.Our motivation is that we love knowing we were part of helping someone to unleash their full potential.  We promise to challenge you to Think Different.  gr bbi picWe believe the thinking that got you here, will not get you where you want to go.  Our President and Chief Marketing Officer, Graham Robertson is a brand leader at heart, who loves everything about brands.  He comes with 20 years of experience at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke, where he was always able to find and drive growth.  Graham has won numerous new product and advertising awards. Graham brings his experience to your table, strong on leadership and facilitation at very high levels and training of Brand Leaders around the world.  To reach out directly, email me at graham.robertson@beloved-brands.com or follow on Twitter @grayrobertson1

At Beloved Brands, we love to see Brand Leaders reach their full potential.  Here are the most popular article “How to” articles.  We can offer specific training programs dedicated to each topic.  Click on any of these most read articles:

Ask Beloved Brands to help train you to be a better brand leader

The love and tradition behind the Starbucks Red Cups

1612549662_2783273921001_732x412-CANdrinks-HP--5-

If you have been into a Starbucks the last few weeks, you’ll certainly feel the magic of the holiday season.   Every Starbucks feels well-decorated but never over stated.   You can smell peppermint and ginger as soon as you walk in.  If you want to add some flavor to your regular Latte, you can go for a Caramel Brûlé, Eggnog or Peppermint.  And if you want to try one of the Christmas deserts, there’s Gingerbread loafs, Frosted Snowman cookies or the Cranberry Bliss Bar.  Better yet, have you had one of those incredible Peppermint Brownie Cake Pops?  

And of course, there is the Starbucks Red Cup.

As the red cups arrived at Starbucks as early as November 1st, you could see the Facebook posts and my 15 year-old daughter was “SO EXCITED” count down(her words)  But it is such a great understated brand cue for Starbucks to link into the holiday season.  They are in year 10 of the cups, and it’s become something we now connect with the modern day world of Christmas.  

When you look on-line, you’ll see how big these little red cups are.  There is a website dedicated to the countdown.  And of course there are tons of tweets about the Red Cups, every time a consumer has one for the first time, signalling their excitement to all their network. That’s tons of free media.  

Starbucks is a Beloved Brand

In the consumer’s mind, brands sit on a Brand Love Curve, with brands going from Indifferent to Like It to Love It and finally becoming a Beloved Brand for Life.  At the Beloved stage, demand becomes desire, needs become cravings, thinking is replaced with feelings.  Consumers become outspoken fans.  It’s this connection that helps drive power for your brand: power versus competitors, versus customers, versus suppliers and even versus the same consumers you’re connected with.  The farther along the curve, the more power for the brand.  It’s important that you understand where your brand sits on the Love Curve and begin figuring out how to move it along towards becoming a Beloved Brand.love-curve-detailed

When you reach the Beloved stage like Starbucks, it becomes all about the experience and the magical moments you can create.  While you can continue to attack yourself before others can attack you, it’s also about maintaining the love by creating a bit of magic to surprise and delight your most loyal consumers.  For a brand that taps into routine, having a regular set of drinks and desserts around Christmas gives the consumers some festive favorites to liven up the routine a little bit.  Being a life ritual each and every day gets even bigger when you become a tradition each Christmas.

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From a pure business point of view, Christmas starts November 1st all the way to December 31st, which means that one-sixth of the year, you are in red cups.  After 10 years of red cups, Starbucks fully understands how the simple gesture connects with consumers and how it links Starbucks to one of those holiday traditions.  

“When the cups turns red at Starbucks, that’s one of the first cues that the holidays are upon us. The emotional connection that our store partners (employees) have when they open that first box of the red cups and start using them that first day, and the emotional connection they see from their customers, that’s what we strive for. They see that surprise and excitement: ‘Oh, the red cups are at Starbucks!”

– Terry Davenport, Senior Vice President, Global Brand

On top of that Starbucks now has captured the entire calendar with specials around Valentines, St Patty’s day, Easter, Summer Drinks and Halloween (personally, I love the pumpkin stuff).

To stay in the holiday spirit, you can read up on how John Lewis has been using Christmas ads for the past 5 years to really connect with the consumer.  Click on this to get to the article:   John Lewis Christmas ads

Hope you are ready for the Holidays and that your brand results have been strong this year

Do you want to be an amazing Brand Leader?  We can help you.  

Read more on how to utilize our Brand Leadership Learning Center where you will receive training in all aspects of marketing whether that’s strategic thinking, brand plans, creative briefs, brand positioning, analytical skills or how to judge advertising.  We can customize a program that is right for you or your team.  We can work in person, over the phone or through Skype.  Ask us how we can help you. 

email-Logo copyABOUT BELOVED BRANDS INC.:  At Beloved Brands, we are only focused on making brands better and making brand leaders better.Our motivation is that we love knowing we were part of helping someone to unleash their full potential.  We promise to challenge you to Think Different.  gr bbi picWe believe the thinking that got you here, will not get you where you want to go.  Our President and Chief Marketing Officer, Graham Robertson is a brand leader at heart, who loves everything about brands.  He comes with 20 years of experience at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke, where he was always able to find and drive growth.  Graham has won numerous new product and advertising awards. Graham brings his experience to your table, strong on leadership and facilitation at very high levels and training of Brand Leaders around the world.  To reach out directly, email me at graham.robertson@beloved-brands.com or follow on Twitter @grayrobertson1

At Beloved Brands, we love to see Brand Leaders reach their full potential.  Here are the most popular article “How to” articles.  We can offer specific training programs dedicated to each topic.  Click on any of these most read articles:

Ask Beloved Brands to help train you on positioning that will help you to be a better brand leader

New John Lewis Christmas Ad (2013), from the company that does the Best Christmas ads

John Lewis, Christmas 2013

They use beautiful music, a movie-like storyline that demonstrates the beauty of gift giving, stretched out over 90 seconds.    No words are needed to tell the story.  They are not loaded with so much branding that they would turn you off before inviting you in.  The John Lewis ads take you on a journey with a slight twist at the end as they tug at the heart and bring a reminder of what the season is all about:  the gift of Giving. 

Here is the one for 2013, that is a whopping 2 minutes and 10 seconds that was launched on-line before TV.  It’s already enjoyed tons of free media in the UK.  Here it is:

This year’s ad has 3 million YouTube hits already after the first two days (still early Nov) and you can likely expect it to reach 25 million by Christmas.  John Lewis has taken the ad on-line selling the book “The Bear and the Hare” or get a chance to design a Christmas card that can be shared with friends.

johnlewis xmas card

The John Lewis Christmas Series

John Lewis has been doing these Christmas ads for years now.  People, including myself, are now starting to look for them.  I know when you run a long running campaign, it takes a lot of creativity to keep it going.  It has a nice song and a twist at the end.  My only complaint is that they are moving away from what first gave me goose bumps. 

For me best one was 2011, about the boy who couldn’t wait for Christmas

This is also a great one from 2010

And you can see the one from 2009.

Last year’s 2012 John Lewis Christmas ad was a bit different.  A bit too dark for me, a bit disconnected from the John Lewis brand or the campaign.  While a nice story, I think it’s a miss.  

Have your Say

My fav is 2011, but all are great and well loved.  Now is your chance to vote for which of the John Lewis ads is your favorite.  

 

I can’t wait for next year’s ad
If you like this story…

A new Ad from Apple will likely bring a tear to your eye.  In this spot, a teen appears to be constantly hanging onto to his iPhone and from there, the magic happens.  New Apple Holiday Ad will bring a tear to your eye

You might also enjoy reading about brands that are using consumer insight as the basis of their advertising.  So many Brand Leaders think your job is to represent the brand to the consumer.  What if you were to represent the consumer to the brand?   Would your work look different?  Click on this story to read more:   5 Great Ads Based on a Unique Consumer Insight

And if you want to know how to write a better creative brief, here’s a simple step by step process to help you.  Click on this story to read more:  How to write an Effective Creative Brief

Do you want to be an amazing Brand Leader?  We can help you.  

Read more on how to utilize our Brand Leadership Learning Center where you will receive training in all aspects of marketing whether that’s strategic thinking, brand plans, creative briefs, brand positioning, analytical skills or how to judge advertising.  We can customize a program that is right for you or your team.  We can work in person, over the phone or through Skype.  Ask us how we can help you. 

email-Logo copyABOUT BELOVED BRANDS INC.:  At Beloved Brands, we are only focused on making brands better and making brand leaders better.Our motivation is that we love knowing we were part of helping someone to unleash their full potential.  We promise to challenge you to Think Different.  gr bbi picWe believe the thinking that got you here, will not get you where you want to go.  Our President and Chief Marketing Officer, Graham Robertson is a brand leader at heart, who loves everything about brands.  He comes with 20 years of experience at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke, where he was always able to find and drive growth.  Graham has won numerous new product and advertising awards. Graham brings his experience to your table, strong on leadership and facilitation at very high levels and training of Brand Leaders around the world.  To reach out directly, email me at graham.robertson@beloved-brands.com or follow on Twitter @grayrobertson1

 

At Beloved Brands, we love to see Brand Leaders reach their full potential.  Here are the most popular article “How to” articles.  We can offer specific training programs dedicated to each topic.  Click on any of these most read articles:

Ask Beloved Brands to help train you on Advertising that will help you to be a better brand leader.

Starbucks creates Magic at Christmas

starbucks 8If you have been into a Starbucks the last few weeks, you’ll certainly feel the magic of the holiday season.   Every Starbucks feels well-decorated but never over stated.   You can smell peppermint and ginger as soon as you walk in.

If you want to add some flavor to your regular Latte, you can go for a Caramel Brûlé, Eggnog or Peppermint.  And if you want to try one of the Christmas deserts, there’s Gingerbread loafs, Frosted Snowman cookies or the Cranberry Bliss Bar.   Better yet, have you had one of those incredible Peppermint Brownie Cake Pops?

starbucks

 

Starbucks came up with a 12 days of Christmas campaign that started on December 1st, which included special offers on ceramic mugs, gifts and free coffee.

starbucks11

When you reach the Beloved stage like Starbucks, it becomes all about the experience.  While you can continue to attack yourself before others can attack you, it’s also about maintaining the love by creating a bit of magic to surprise and delight your most loyal consumers.  For a brand that taps into routine, having a regular set of drinks and desserts around Christmas gives the consumers some festive favorites to liven up the routine a little bit.

Slide1

From a pure business point of view, Christmas starts November 1st all the way to December 31st, which means one-sixth of your annual sales.   On top of that Starbucks now has captured the entire calendar with specials around Valentines, St Patty’s day, Easter, Summer Drinks and Halloween.

To read on how to make your brand into a Beloved and Powerful brand, view the following presentation:

 

For all those who have followed the Beloved Brands blog, I want to thank you for reading and I want to wish you each of you Happy Holidays and I hope that you have an amazing year in 2013.

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If you or team has any interest in a training program, please contact me at graham.robertson@beloved-brands.com

grAbout Graham Robertson: I’m a marketer at heart, who loves everything about brands.  My background includes 20 years of CPG marketing at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke. The reason why I started Beloved Brands Inc. is to help brands realize their full potential value by generating more love for the brand.   I only do two things:  1) Make Brands Better or 2) Make Brand Leaders Better.  I have a reputation as someone who can find growth where others can’t, whether that’s on a turnaround, re-positioning, new launch or a sustaining high growth.  And I love to make Brand Leaders better by sharing my knowledge. My promise to you is that I will get your brand and your team in a better position for future growth. To read more about Beloved Brands Inc., visit http://beloved-brands.com/inc/   or visit my Slideshare site at http://www.slideshare.net/GrahamRobertson/presentations where you can find numerous presentations on How to be a Great Brand Leader.  Feel free to add me on Linked In at http://www.linkedin.com/in/grahamrobertson1  or on follow me on Twitter at @GrayRobertson1

I run Brand Leader Training programs on this very subject as well as a variety of others that are all designed to make better Brand Leaders.  Click on any of the topics below:

Some of the Best Christmas Ads I’ve Seen

cropped-new-logo  v2Christmas is a great time to drive home the connection between consumers and the brand.  But not everyone can pull it off.  You likely need to have an established love for your brand already or it would come across as lacking authenticity.  Brands here like Coke, Kellogg’s, Budweiser, Tim Horton’s, Canadian Tire and even Target have strong emotional connectivity that they can use at this time of year.   But the boss of Christmas season has to be John Lewis who every year comes out with something huge.  Some get too wrapped up in making sure they sell product at the same time.  That’s a complete turn-off.

John Lewis

The best Christmas ads I’ve ever seen are from John Lewis, the department store in the UK.  They use beautiful music, a movie-like storyline that demonstrates the beauty of gift giving, stretched out over 90 seconds.    No words are needed to tell the story.  They are not loaded with so much branding that they would turn you off before inviting you in.  They tug at the heart and bring a reminder of what the season is all about:  the gift of Giving. 

I think this is the best one in the John Lewis (2011) series so far, with a nice twist at the end.

This is also a great one from 2010

 

And finally, you can see the one from 2009, which really shows that over the 3 years, they’ve been able to create this ownable idea for themselves.

 

But then, this year’s John Lewis Christmas ad is a bit different.  As people have started to watch for the next great John Lewis Christmas ad (myself included), I guess they have to push the creativity, but this isn’t quite what I was hoping for.  A bit too dark for me, a bit disconnected from the John Lewis brand or the series of ads over the past 5 years.  While a nice story, I think it’s a miss.  But the next one is only 11 months away.

 

I may be wrong, so if you love the new John Lewis ad, tell me you love it.

Coke

Coca Cola, the brand who came up with the look of how we see Santa Claus, makes a special ad every Christmas, to recreate the magic of Christmas.  Here’s a few great ones over the years:

From Argentina, here’s a brilliant take on spreading the joy of the season.  It’s a powerful message from a brand that has always owned Christmas.  

 

A very wholesome TV ad by Coke where life takes place in a snow globe.

 

And here’s a cute one…

Budweiser

The Budweiser Clydesdales were first introduced to the public in 1933, to celebrate the repeal of Prohibition.   August A. Busch Jr. presented the hitch as a gift to his father.   And that hitch proceeded to carry the first case of post-Prohibition beer.  Every Christmas you’ll see a team of Clydesdales pulling a case, a great icon of the American beer brand.

 

Not technically a Christmas ad because it air during the Super Bowl, but Clydesdales always make you think of Christmas.  This ad was aired just a few months and will give you goose bumps even a decade later.

Canadian Tire

This is your classic sentimental Christmas ad, talking about family.  It’s done very well by retailer Canadian Tire.   They told a nice story, about the modern family.

Tim Horton’s

This ad will make you cry just a little bit.  A nice touch of reality about being a parent from the old school to the new school.

Kellogg’s

A pretty darn whole ad, but pretty darn cute.  We do need a bit of wholesome serotonin at this time of year.

Target

The Target lady makes me laugh every time.  While everyone else is using kids in a tear-jerking sentimental way, Target uses humor and makes the art of getting the deal the idea.   Perfect fit for their value based positioning.  This Target Lady in red is adorable, representing the cheesiest of shoppers in all of us.

 

 

 

What’s the best Christmas ad you’ve seen?

 

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If you are in the mood to see other great advertising, here’s a few other stories:

 

To see a training presentation on getting better Advertising: 

 

If you or team has any interest in a training program, please contact me at graham.robertson@beloved-brands.com

About Graham Robertson: I’m a marketer at heart, who loves everything about brands.  My background includes 20 years of CPG marketing at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke. The reason why I started Beloved Brands Inc. is to help brands realize their full potential value by generating more love for the brand.   I only do two things:  1) Make Brands Better or 2) Make Brand Leaders Better.  I have a reputation as someone who can find growth where others can’t, whether that’s on a turnaround, re-positioning, new launch or a sustaining high growth.  And I love to make Brand Leaders better by sharing my knowledge. My promise to you is that I will get your brand and your team in a better position for future growth. To read more about Beloved Brands Inc., visit http://beloved-brands.com/inc/   or visit my Slideshare site at http://www.slideshare.net/GrahamRobertson/presentations where you can find numerous presentations on How to be a Great Brand Leader.  Feel free to add me on Linked In at http://www.linkedin.com/in/grahamrobertson1  or on follow me on Twitter at @GrayRobertson1

I run Brand Leader Training programs on this very subject as well as a variety of others that are all designed to make better Brand Leaders.  Click on any of the topics below:

Tis the Season for….Returns.

“I do not consider a sale complete until goods are worn out and customer is still satisfied.”  L.L. Bean, 1916

Research shows that nearly $50 billion in merchandise is returned to retail stores during the holiday season.  This year,  I had three items up for returns:  running shoes (wrong size), two t-shirts (wrong size) and a DVD (which didn’t work)   I had all the receipts, original bags and my story well-rehearsed to avoid any confrontation.   I figured this should be pretty easy; all three are exchanges not returns.

Store #1:  I brought in my shoes and handed the clerk the receipt.   I said “I’m looking for the same shoe in a different size”.   She grabbed the receipt and said “the best that I can do for is you give you a gift receipt”.  I said “all I want is the same shoe in a different size”.  And she snapped back, “Sorry sir, I can’t do that, since we need to be able to track all the returns”.   Two minutes later, I was walking out of the store, completely stunned and frustrated, with a plastic little gift card that I figured my wife or daughter could use on her next purchase.  They just lost $100 sale, and created a frustrated customer not to return again.

Store #2:  I brought in the DVD that failed to work.   It was only $15, but in my mind “Brian’s Song” is a rare movie I wanted to share with my son.  The clerk said “we can exchange it if you’d like”.   He looked up in his computer and said “oh we are out of it, we could order one for you, it should be here within two weeks”.   Since the store is 45 min from my house, I said “no thanks, I’ll just take the cash then”.   The store manager then murmured something to the clerk, never looking at or addressing me directly.  The clerk then said “I’m sorry sir; we can’t do a return if it’s been opened”.   I said “how can I know it didn’t work if I didn’t open it?”    After a few more back and forth, they did eventually give me my money back.  Another lost sale and frustrated customer determined to find it on I-tunes.

Store #3:  This should be easy,  I wanted the same t-shirts in a different size.   With no return desk, I went to shelf, grabbed two t-shirts and got in line at the cash.  I said “I’d just like to exchange sizes”.  She scans each of the 4 shirts in and says “that will be $2.26”, handing me a coupon for my next visit.   I said “I just want to change sizes, shouldn’t that be free?”  After a two minute conversation, the manager came over to do the classic over-ride followed by a long explanation to me of what just happened.   All I wanted was my t-shirts.  And while I was now a frustrated customer, I thought it was hilarious that the store clerk took the coupon away, since it wasn’t a sale after all.

Each store completely forgot about the consumer.   All the work the brand had done to create loyalty over the years is gone in a blink of an eye.   If your brand is loved, it can turn to Indifferent in a heart beat.  Imagine losing a life long customer over $2.26.   Most marketers think that creating a great brand is about creating awareness and demand.   But they forget the post purchase experience which includes a great returns policy.   Brands that get it include Costco, which has such an amazing returns policy it makes the membership fee worth it.  They never ask questions, sending it right back to the manufacturer.    L.L. Bean still has that same amazing returns policy fast forward to the modern day:  Customers can send any item back, at any time, with or without receipts, in any condition…and still get a refund or exchange.  Brands that get it, stand behind the sale.  

With these three brands, two out of three expected exchanges turned into full refunds.  I walked away frustrated and stunned at how bad the policies were.

And for some humour, the best clip I could find on “returns” is from the Office.   I’m sending it back!!!

A Beloved Christmas Ad that Will Bring a Tear to Your Eye….and a lift in your bonus.

At this time of year, we see so many Christmas ads on TV.   In fact, we are bombarded.   Like my local radio station that plays non-stop Christmas music, I’ve come to realize there are only 3-4 great Christmas songs and lots and lots of crap all day long.   It’s the same thing with Christmas ads.  Lots of call to action “start your shopping” crap on TV.

The best Christmas ads I’ve ever seen are from John Lewis, the department store in the UK.  They use beautiful music, a movie-like storyline that demonstrates the beauty of gift giving, stretched out over 90 seconds.    No words are needed to tell the story.  They are not loaded with so much branding that they would turn you off before inviting you in.  They tug at the heart and bring a reminder of what the season is all about:  the gift of Giving. 

Every marketer asks their ad agency “I want a big idea”, but no one really has the patience to build one.   It can take years of continually layering on the creative idea for consumers to know that it’s you.   John Lewis has been doing this same type of ads for years, helping to move the brand from indifferent to liked and to loved.

With deeply emotional ads, John Lewis is able to move the consumers from the Liked to Loved stage. Result is 10% growth in a tough economy.

Consistency in ad technique is a great device for driving brand link.   With each year of the campaign, consumers are now starting to look forward to the latest John Lewis ad.  They don’t need to load the screen with excessive branding, because they now own the idea.

For all those concerned that advertising has to drive hard against short term sales, these softer more emotional ads connect deeply, and live the idea that “if you build it, they will come”.   In fact, John Lewis sales for 2011 are up 10%, and have doubled in the past 10 years.   Contrast that to the dismal sales at other stores in the UK and around the world.  Here’s the last two years of John Lewis Ads, 2010 and 2009, and you’ll see the consistency of the idea building over time.

It’s not just about advertising with John Lewis, it’s about employee commitment.  One very interesting aspect of John Lewis is the culture of the company, which is 100% employee owned.  Every employee is a partner and can influence the business through branch forums, which discuss local issues at every store.   All employees are on a bonus plan, with cheques at the end of the year tied to results.  Happy employees work harder to drive the brand.

This is what employees look like when they make their bonus in the midst of the Great Recession of 2009.

The partnership also has numerous social activities for partners including large country estates, golf clubs, sailing clubs and two hotels that offer holiday accommodations.  They have great pension plans, insurance coverage and generous holidays.   Upon completing 25 years of service, employees are given 6 months off with pay

Happy holidays to all and here’s to a prosperous 2012 for all brands daring to strive for Beloved Status.