Dec 232016
 

NBC News interviewed me about the trolling of the Ivanka Trump brand. Seems like “fake reviews” are joining “fake news” as a thing. The consumer is savvy enough to tell the difference.

As I told NBC, the trolling of all Trump brands is likely to continue as a dissatisfied segment of the electorate works out its issues, from marching in front of the Trump buildings here on the Upper West Side of New York to writing snarky reviews on Amazon. These people in the “bucket of disaffecteds” have few other easy avenues for venting their frustrations. Trolling is an easy way to express unhappiness without effort or risk–but also without much impact.

Trolling Ivanka Trump Brand Ineffectual

The effect of Trump trolling on the brand is negligible. People who buy the Trump brand like the Trump image or the product behind it. Trolls don’t impact that. People who despise Trump will continue to shun the Trump brand. Given the massive level of Trump publicity, consumers are already predisposed to like or dislike. They aren’t going to Amazon reviews to form those opinions. Trolling isn’t going to sway a consumer one way or the other. It has zero marketing impact. Trump brand managers can ignore the phenomenon.

For other brands subject to trolling, finding out what is driving trolls and who is doing the trolling is an important first step. Responding with a calm, measured, fact-infused way puts your side of the story out there. Consumers are savvy. They can spot fake reviews as easily as they can spot fake news. Beyond making sure the consumer has access to the facts, let the trolls troll on. They are frustrated people precisely because their trolling has little impact. Don’t feed that beast.

Jul 192016
 

Zika • Recession • Security • Doping Scandals • Brazilian Politics & Public Apathy

I will be on the panel of the Marketing Executives Networking Group’s panel discussion on the marketing challenges of the Rio Olympic Games

RSVP by Thursday, JULY  28, noon at http://members.mengonline.com/e/in/eid=421 
Photo I.D. required for building entry.

Many issues are plaguing the Rio Olympic Games, which commence August 5th.  The stakes are high – this is South America’s first Olympics – but problems still loom large.  Rio is even canceling school because it doesn’t have a solution for the traffic.  “No question, the country is facing the ‘perfect storm,'” noted former International Olympic Committee Marketing Director Michael Payne.  Additionally, the U.S. Olympic Committee announced updated Rule 40 guidelines limiting branding of athletes, coaches, trainers and officials to prevent over-commercialization of the Olympic Games among other goals.

What’s a marketer to do? 

MENG member and Sports Marketer, Scott Lange, will lead a lively panel discussion on the Olympic Games, covering both issues specific to Rio and perennial Olympics questions such as the value proposition of sponsorship and media coverage.  Joining him are sports marketing and media experts, Ray Katz, who worked for the NFL, other major leagues and sports agencies; former head of programming for CBS Sports Jay Rosenstein, who started his career at Time Magazine reporting Olympics cover stories; and Lisa Merriam, who worked on sponsorships at the Torino, Beijing, and London Olympic Games.  Together, they will cover topics such as

What do Olympics sponsors actually receive when they invest in the Olympic Games?

What’s the best way to maximize ROI?

What makes the Olympics so important for media, corporate sponsors, fans, athletes, and participating countries?

What happens when non-sponsors use guerilla tactics to borrow interest in the Olympics?

…and other salient topics…

Our August 1st meeting is extra special because it will be our last with our generous, long-time host, Lee Hecht Harrison.  So come join us for our final party at 230 Park Avenue.

WHEN:        Monday, August 1, 5:30 – 8:00 PM (just 4 days before the Rio Games open!)
                        Panel begins at 6:15 PM

WHERE:     Lee, Hecht, Harrison, 230 Park Avenue (Helmsley Building, between 45th and 46th Streets)

FEES:           Members & LHH    $10 until noon July 28, $20 late registration

                       Guests                       $20 until noon July 28, $30 late registration

Refreshments will be served.

RSVP by Thursday, JULY  28, noon at http://members.mengonline.com/e/in/eid=421 
Photo I.D. required for building entry.

Scott Lange 
SVP, eTeam Executive Search

Scott built his career promoting and securing marketing partnerships for large scale televised events such as the the New York Road Runners/NYC Marathon®, NYC 2012 Olympic Bid, the Ford NYC Triathlon, and the Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational.  His partners and clients have included organizations such as AT&T, Asics, audible.com, Cingular, Coca-Cola, Ford Motor, GEICO, JPMorgan Chase, Jaguar, Johnson & Johnson, Microsoft, MINI, Nike, Coca-Cola, Tommy Hilfiger, etc.  As an Adjunct Professor at NYU’s Tisch Institute for Sport Management, he taught sports marketing and corporate sponsorship for 5 years.  Scott has also been an entrepreneur: a co-founding board member of the Leverage Agency, a sports and branded entertainment marketing agency, and co-founder/President of National College Television, the first ad-supported satellite TV network for college students.

Ray Katz
Managing Partner, Source1 Sports

Ray Katz is a sports business, media, and marketing executive with over 25 years of experience, with leadership roles at the NFL, NY Knicks, and NY Rangers as well as at agencies such as Young and Rubicam, OMD, the Leverage Agency, and Source Communications.  Ray is an expert in evaluating, measurement, analytics, creating/packaging, buying and selling sports sponsorships and media.  In addition to his business career, Ray has been a distinguished professor at the Sports Business Masters level for over 20 years and currently teaches marketing, media, finance and foundations at Columbia University. He is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and earned his Masters of Business Administration in Finance and Marketing at The Wharton School of Business.

Jay Rosenstein
VP, Headline Media Management

Jay Rosenstein is Vice President, Programming for Headline Media Management, responsible for developing and representing sports and entertainment properties as a seasoned television negotiator. He has had more than 35 years of sports television, marketing and public relations experience, serving 15 years in executive positions at CBS, including seven as VP in charge of programming at CBS Sports. At CBS, Jay was responsible for acquisition, scheduling and administration of all network sports properties including the 1992, 1994 and 1998 Olympic Winter Games. Following CBS, Jay served as SVP, Director of Sports & Events at Cohn & Wolfe, with clients such as Eli Lilly, Xerox, BMW, Guinness and the NHL.  Jay later ran programming for WeMedia Sports, which produced TV and online coverage of the 2000 Sydney Paralympic Games. He is currently an adjunct professor at NYU’s Tisch Institute for Sport Management, Media and Business.

Lisa Merriam
President, Merriam Associates

Lisa Merriam led the branding initiative for Johnson & Johnson’s sponsorship of the 2006 Torino and 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and helped develop their sponsorship brand story.  On the tactical side, she worked with a BMW dealer group to leverage BMW’s performance story at the London 2012 Games.  Currently a brand consultant, Lisa’s background includes agency experience at McCann-Erickson, Ogilvy & Mather, FCB, Mother, Brandworx, Verse Group, and others.  Her volunteer initiatives include the Navy SEAL Museum, Naval Special Warfare Historical Foundation, Moms Who Kick Martial Arts Women Fighting Cancer, and the New York American Marketing Association.

 

Feb 082016
 

Chipotle-brand-recover-integrityCan the Chipotle brand recover with recent company marketing moves? Chipotle Mexican Grill’s sinking sales and falling share prices follow a bacterial outbreak that sickened customers in at least 11 states.

When news of widespread food poisoning at the “food with integrity” restaurants first broke, the internet filled with rumors of a chain-wide shutdown. Those rumors become true February 8, as Chipotle closes for a national food safety meeting for all staff, prior to what company calls its “biggest marketing effort ever.”

Chipotle isn’t the first restaurant chain to grapple with food poisoning, but the others don’t tout local sourcing and sophisticated software to track ingredients from farm to table. That tracking software didn’t work so well. It was months before the company could pinpoint what ingredient was responsible for making people sick. That beef from Australia—so much for the local sourcing claim—was the culprit, is a further blow to the brand’s integrity claim.

Will Chipotle’s biggest marketing effort ever work to help the Chipotle brand recover?

What do customers think? We hit the streets to find out.

Feb 112015
 

Brian-williams-personal-brandBrian Williams personal brand as a trusted news anchor is damaged beyond recovery.

I’ve long been fascinated by “personal brands,” and the power of an individual to create and project a reputation that persuades. While such brands are powerful, they are also uniquely human. When the human fails, the brand can fail, too. In the case of Brian Williams, willful and large lies told over a long period make him utterly untrustworthy and unfit for the news anchor desk. The fact that his lies were gratuitous and self-serving adds insult to injury.

Not every human failing hurts the personal brand equally. Martha Stewart’s incarceration was barely a blip. Her brand was built on her design sensibility, not her financial acumen. An insider trading rap was a blip in the health of her brand. Tiger Woods and Lance Armstrong had brands based on honesty. When their integrity fell apart, so did their brands.

Brian Williams can certainly redeem himself–but not his anchorman brand. He must take a long look at other rewarding opportunities that life offers. Redeeming himself and redeeming his personal brand are two different things. He won’t get a Michael Vick-style chance to redeem his brand. Vick was able to return to football, but that was because dog fighting (heinous though it is) did not impair his quarterback skills. A journalist cannot be caught lying, as trust is core to the brand.

“Brian’s problem isn’t just journalistic. It’s that he’s undermined his persona as a celebrity journalist. It isn’t just that he misrepresented facts on the ground or told lies about what he’s done; he’s undermined his image. He’s undermined his brand.”–Television news analyst Andrew Tyndall

Nov 192014
 

gate-scandal-names

Watergate tops most top ten US scandal lists, which may explain the ubiquity of the ___-gate naming meme for scandals. Gruber-gate is only the latest in a long list of scandals with “gate” in the name.

Scandal Naming–The -Gate Construct

The -gate construct for scandal naming got its start shortly after Watergate and Nixon’s impeachment with BillyGate, where President Carter’s beer swilling brother accepted payment from Libya to become their foreign agent. Since then, -gate naming has been in full swing beyond politics into fields as diverse as science with ClimateGate (shout out to Buffalo with historic snowfall levels today), media with news reporting truth problems in RatherGate, sports with the shenanigans of a certain golf player in TigerGate, and entertainment with the wardrobe malfunction known as NippleGate.

The field of politics remains at the top of the flood of gate names, with Bill Clinton, being the top inspiration from TrooperGate to TravelGate to MonicaGate and more. The British are first through the gate, however, with the scandal involving a Member of Parliament insulting a policeman who stopped him from using the wrong gate at 10 Downing Street. While rating rather low on the disgrace meter, GateGate wins by having the best -gate scandal name.

Sep 162014
 

Brand sponsorship requires a rush to judgement. Though Adrian Peterson has not been found guilty of a crime, brands can’t afford to serve as a backdrop to the drama of indictments and investigations. Radisson’s brand did literally serve as a backdrop to yesterday’s press conference by Vikings general manger Rick Spielman as he discussed child abuse allegations involving the team’s brightest star. This morning, Radisson announced it was pulling its brand sponsorship.

radisson-viking-sponsorship-adrian-peterson-indictment

Brand reputation is too valuable to risk in the innocent until proven guilty dynamic of the court system. While I sincerely hope Mr. Peterson is cleared of charges and is indeed innocent, the brand damage is already done. Radisson did the only thing it could by ended its brand sponsorship.

 

More on celebrity brands:

NBC interview discussing Seattle Seahawk’s Richard Sherman

Lance Armstrong and the Livestrong brand

The phenomenon of “Tebowing”

Michael Vick’s comeback

Martha Stewart and Tiger Woods–lessons for celebrity brands

And even more on branding people here

May 212014
 

new-GM_Brand_Sinking_Recalls_SwitchgateYesterday, GM announced yet more recalls that brought the total number of vehicle call-backs to an all-time record. The damage to an already hurting brand–see “Switchgate”–is incalculable. The idea of a “new GM” is taking a beating.

Toyota suffered similar negative press several years ago, but the strength of its brand, built over decades, helped it through. GM does not have that asset so this latest disaster may well sink it.

More on Automotive Branding:

Volt vs. Edsel
Volt Green Brand Bomb
GM: General Motors Reorganized Brand Architecture
Toyota Brand During the Recalls
Toyota Recall Doublespeak
Toyota Brand Bounces Back after Recalls
Brand Experience: Land Rover Dealers Take Owners Off Road

Jul 182011
 

Will the News of the World fiasco hurt the News Corp brand? I doubt it, for the same reasons that brands like Martha Stewart and Michael Vick have bounced back.

News-Corp-News-World

While the hacking has slowed down the business side of News Corp., most notably in its bid for BSkyB, and criminal charges for top execs remain a threat, the News Corp brand will bounce back because:

1) The public already holds media in low regard. When the New York Times is guilty of wrong facts, slanted reporting and made-up stories and CBS News, the icon build by Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite, wears a thick coat of tarnish, illegal hacking is hardly a death blow.

2) In an industry not held in high regard, integrity was never a key part of the News Corp. brand DNA. This is the company, after all, that invented the “Page 3 Girls” and used bare breasts to sell papers.

3) The core audience for the “news” aspect of the News Corp. brand distrusts government, does not idolize the elites that the hacking allegedly targeted, and doesn’t listen to the outrage of moderate-left to fully-leftist critics.

4) News is only a small part of the News Corp brand. Over 70% of the brand revenue comes from TV networks, TV programming, movies and satellite-TV services operations contributed. As Ad Age noted, “Is anyone really going to stop watching ‘American Idol’ on Fox or boycott 20th Century Fox movies over phone hacking by a British newspaper?”

It is “thank you & good bye” for News of the World, but onward and upward for the News Corp brand.

Mar 062011
 

Johnson & Johnson’s OB tampons are out of stock again. It used to be held up as the ideal case study of how a company should respond in a crisis. Their handling of the Tylenol tampering case back in the 1980s was masterful. Johnson & Johnson’s response to the seemingly endless string of current product recalls, however, has been anything but masterful. (see previous post)

Grant Thornton's September 10, 2010 report on declining brand value In the midst of unprecedented recalls in scope and size over the past several years, the company’s OB brand of tampons have mysteriously disappeared from store shelves back in early December. It’s March now and still the shelves are empty.

Johnson & Johnson has stonewalled all inquiries to find out what is going on, neither telling people why the brand had suddenly disappeared nor giving any indication of when consumers could expect it to be restocked. When it comes to respecting consumers and clear communication, Johnson & Johnson has lost his masterful touch.

Blogs, Twitter and Facebook have been buzzing with complaints, gossip and speculation. It is one thing to disappoint a customer, but to willfully ignore them is brand suicide. One blogger reported: “I lodged a formal, semi-crazed PMS-induced protest with J&J. They are really pissing off the wrong group of women, don’t you think?”

Indeed!

You would think with the piling up of public relations disasters, someone in Johnson & Johnson would perk up and address consumers. They’ve got nothing on Twitter or Facebook. The official OB tampon Web site is just another rock in their stone wall.

If you don’t communicate with your customer, you can bet the rumor mill will take over—and your story won’t be positive—although it might be amusing. Jessica McGann tweets: “I found all the OB tampons!” and posts a link to these brilliant images:

OB-Tampon-Chandelier
ob-tampon-chandelier-detail

Is this what Johnson & Johnson wants for its brand message?

Feb 282011
 

Success-brand-investment Brand investments are smart spending when done right. The March 2011 issue of Success magazine features the article “Spend Your Way to Prosperity,” with recommendations for the best initial investments entrepreneurs should make. The article includes a quote from Merriam Associates on spending money upfront to protect your brand with a trademark and by owning your brand in the digital realm. The book Merriam’s Guide to Naming advises owning as many variations of your brand’s URL as you can afford to buy, along with reserving variations on your brand name on Facebook, Twitter, and Linked In. The March issue of Success is on newsstands now.

© 2014 Lisa Merriam