Wit Wins Again

When we are involved in advertising focus groups, regardless of who the target audience   is — they love wit. This video for an ad for bottled water may be in French but the visuals make the words unnecessary. And I dare find anyone that doesn’t have a smile on their face after they watch it. The amazing part is that bottled water in and of itself doesn’t offer a unique selling proposition, but it makes you want to try Comtrex water nevertheless. Thanks Leigh Dance for sharing this from the other side of the pond.

Location, Location, Location

We always talk about Living Your Brand everywhere. As expected an Apple store in Paris feels just like one in the US but this one takes the cake on location. You can find this one right in the shopping hall in the Louvre. I can’t imagine what they pay per square foot given the number of people who walk by every day. When I walked in the front door, I was transported right back to the United States as the feel of the store was exactly the same. Like at home, I was greeted at the entrance and asked if they could help. Only difference was they asked in French. And the layout was the same so it was easy to find what I needed — my projector connector which I sadly had forgotten. Bottom line is consistency in the brand experience whether you sell a product or deliver a service is critical to building a loyal and repeat customer base.

Brands Across Borders

Every time I leave the United States, I am reminded of the power of a truly global brand. My favorite brand this week is by far Starbucks with McDonald’s as the runner-up. Why?

Well I have just spent the last week working in the UK, Switzerland and France. Despite my iPhone working just fine, I didn’t want to pay a small fortune for “data roaming” for email and access to the Web. And I can’t always bounce back to my hotel when I have a series of meetings stretched across a city. So Starbucks has been my mobile office. Why do I gravitate to them? They provide a simple and clear brand promise – a reliable cup of coffee and free wireless Internet in a generally pleasant environment. I have visited at least one if not two a day.

Could I find a local, more interesting version? Certainly if I had the time but this is all about expediting my work and my buying criteria are different when on vacation. Reliability and speed rule, not cultural immersion. I sadly must save that for vacation. McDonald’s is my back-up mobile office only because there are so many more of them even in much smaller towns. They generally now also have free wireless access and I can grab a quick Diet Coke and yes even fries in a pinch. But in both cases these brands have used an added feature to support their primary brand promise. What is your company’s added value?

Remembering a Legend

I, of course, love my big Steve Jobs inventions like the iPad and iPhone. But two things that he gave us impacted me so profoundly in the 1980s that I have to mention it. My first computer was in 1980 and it was a Compaq portable issued to me by Arthur Andersen. The thing was a monster but I was in a test group to move from doing work manually to using a computer. I adored my Compaq as it saved incredible time.

But here is the opening screen that greeted me each morning on my 28lb, 10MB computer. Note the directory for DOS, the operating system. It was so fun to spend my days looking at green type and searching through the list to find what directory I needed. Luckily Steve Jobs did two things — took a typography class when he dropped out of Reed and insisted that the Mac would have multiple typefaces. And then Windows copied the Mac. And Steve Jobs visited Xerox and saw a graphical user interface so we didn’t have to look at directory listings. Years ago, I heard Steve Jobs say in an interview that if we were going to have to look at a computer screen all day, we had an obligation to make it as beautiful and pleasant as possible. Not just utilitarian.