Marc’s Makeover: Marc Jacobs’ decision to rebrand… is it the right one?

Deciding whether or not to rebrand your company is an immense decision. Your brand is the face and personality of your company. It is what viewers connect with. Changing this identity will greatly affect your company, but if done right the market can soar.

Fashion designer Marc Jacobs has decided it is time for his company, Marc Jacobs International to rebrand. In an interview with David Amsden from W Magazine Jacobs explains the troubles the Marc Jacobs brand had encountered. Describing the brand as having been “diluted” from his lack of creative supervision and merchandisers pushing his design team.

In order to fix this Jacobs decided to leave his position at Louis Vuitton to grow his company, which includes boutiques, clothing lines such as Marc by Marc Jacobs and Little Marc Jacobs (a children’s clothing line), Bookmarc (a bookstore), and more.

Some changes have already taken place such as his decision to move his offices from Manhattan to London and his decision to part with longtime campaign photographer Juergen Teller after he creatively disagreed on the Spring 2014 ad campaign which features Miley Cyrus. 

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So what is Jacobs looking to do? He’s looking to redesign the logo and packaging, to build his shoe and handbag lines, and maybe even change the name, which he told W Magazine that he had always hated.

Rebranding can be daunting between redefining research, audiences, creative campaigns, and even products, but for those experiencing continuous losses, it is often the best way to launch back into the market.

In recent years, another clothing line, Burberry, underwent a widely recognized successful rebranding campaign. Over the years, the British line went from being known for its historically iconic outwear, to being associated with cheapest form of high fashion, and even gang wear.

In 2006, the company hired Angela Ahrendts and in the next six years, she turned the ubiquitous brand back to luxurious. First, Ahrendts did what she called “buying back the company.” Reigning in the 23 licenses Burberry had around the world, control was brought back to the company with centralized executive and creative offices that could maintain product authenticity and exclusivity.

Secondly, Ahrendts recognized we are in the age of digital consumption and a digital generation – tapping into the resources social media and technology offers. In stores, sale assistants are equipped with iPads, and mirrors transform into screens displaying catwalk images. Online, the company continues to grow its presence, attracting over 16 million fans on Facebook, and over 2 million followers on Twitter. Burberry also uses YouTube to broadcast campaigns, events, music, and even corporate news. 

However, rebranding is not exclusive to high profile companies, the challenges above are things that can be experienced in all types of companies: personal, mid, or large. So how do you know if you should rebrand your own company? From Katie Morrell’s article “10 Signs You Should/Should not Rebrand” here are some warming signs that your company should rebrand.

Macro problems

Maria Ross, author of Branding Basics for Small Business: How to Create an Irresistible Brand on Any Budget (2010, Norlights Press) suggests that if a company notices that their target customers are choosing the competition over their own company and if a decrease in sales is also trending, rebranding should be considered.

Look and function don’t match

Another element that should be considered when having a decrease in customers is “From a cosmetic point of view, when you look old and your looks don’t reflect what you are or what you deliver, it may be time to rebrand,” said Susan Betts, senior strategy director for New York-based FutureBrand North America.

Attracting the wrong customers

Rebranding is beneficial when a company wants to change their target customers. It gives a company an opportunity to create a new brand identity that the new target audience has the chance to connect too.

Management change

When a company changes management, it is normal that policies and values change as well. When a companies values change, rebranding is a good idea.

Philosophy/function change

When a company changes it’s direction, rebranding can showcase to customers what they may or may not be aware of concerning this change. Betts also mentions rebranding should be considered when a company has a “New philosophy or a changed philosophy”.

These signs are great examples to take heed from, but it is important to note rebranding should not be done unless it has been proven your brand identity is the root of your problems. Branding is the largest initial investment for a company, it sets the spring board for your identity, association, and customers. Rebranding is an even bigger investment – an attempt to reintroduce ideas to already established and preconceived perceptions is no easy task, it is one that must be thoroughly strategized. For Burberry, reigning in and refining their identity proved to be the best decision the company has made. For Jacobs, we will see what his creative vision produces.

What companies do you think have faltered recently or over the years? Who needs to rebrand?

- Caroline Robinson, Savannah Valade, Elizabeth Harrington

P&G Sochi Countdown Ends Today!

Grab your patriotic gear and set your TV recordings—the 2014 Winter Olympics begin today! While the official opening ceremony will not be held until tomorrow, the first five events of the Olympics are being held today. As the world has anxiously been awaiting the kickoff to the winter games, official sponsors have been preparing promotional material for months in order to promote their brand in conjunction with the Olympics.

One of the Olympics’ worldwide partners, Procter & Gamble, created an entire “Thank You Mom” advertising campaign for the 2012 London Olympics, thanking moms for their hard work and dedication in assisting their children to become Olympic athletes. Whether it was waking their children up for early practices, or simply driving them to training sessions, the campaign highlighted the mother’s supportive role of the athlete’s journey to worldwide success.

This year, P&G won over the hearts of many with an emotional second chapter to the campaign, titled “Pick Them Back Up”, specially crafted to promote this years Winter Olympics. Check out the video below.

Tear-jerking, right? Since its premiere during the Golden Globes, the video has gone viral and has been viewed over 13 million times on YouTube. With the slogan, “For teaching us that falling only makes us stronger,” the commercial effectively hits America’s soft spot by thanking mothers for encouraging their children to pick themselves up after they fall and keep working towards their dreams.

In addition to the heart-warming tribute to moms, P&G also created feature videos on specific 2014 Winter Olympic athletes and their mothers. Each video gives the world insight on the athlete’s unique journey to the Olympics, and the backbone behind their success—their mom.

P&G strategically incorporated pathos into their campaign in order to entice and persuade viewers using an emotional appeal. By inviting the world into the Olympian’s lives and sharing their stories, P&G gives viewers the chance to connect and relate to the athletes on an emotional level before the games begin. We watch as the future Olympians stumble, fall, get back up and push forward on their journey to become professional athletes.

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 The commercial gives the audience an opportunity to join and follow this year’s Olympians on their path to success by utilizing elements of pathos. The story has all of the warm and fuzzy emotions people typically like to see: smiling babies, determined children, great triumphs and most importantly, supportive mothers. After viewing the video and witnessing the athlete’s triumph over hardships, we feel the emotional obligation to follow the stories of the current Olympic athletes.

“A mom’s love of a young child who is an athlete is a universal emotion,” Vice President of P&G said about the advertisement, “These commercials create positive feelings. When consumers think about the brand, the feelings will transfer over.”

With the special “thank you” being directed at moms everywhere, the idea is that parents and children will want to immediately run to one another and share a misty-eyed hug. P&G  wants to associate themselves with the inspiration that accompanies the supportive relationship between a mother and child, as well as provide an opportunity for the viewer to join in on this feeling.

P&G has done an incredible job  branding themselves as a family-valuing company. Through the newly released commercial for the “Thank you, Mom” campaign, that began back in October 2013, P&G has reinforced consumers that they believe in family and are devoted to all of the hard working mothers in the world. In the first video in the campaign P&G stated, “The hardest job in the world, is the best job in the world. Thank you, Mom.” This campaign has become one of the largest multi-brand activations in the company’s history. P&G is delivering their brand message for the Sochi Olympics through a variety of media channels globally.

Marc Pritchard,P&G CMO, states that the focus of their marketing tactics have shifted predominantly to the internet. “I really think about it as digital first. We think of search and social and video and display as the first focus. That’s where our consumers are spending their time” stated Pritchard. The campaign has already been a huge success through its emotional components accompanying the Olympics to market its products’ relationships with consumers, especially to the mothers of the world.

By incorporating pathos and reinforcing their family brand image using mothers as a focal point, P&G aims to increase brand propensity within their target audience. They hope that connecting to the audience on an emotional level, and in conjunction with the Olympics, will persuade consumers to chose their brand over their competitors. Do you think this ad worked? Does this campaign make you want to watch the Olympics?

-Briana McWhirter, Emily Foulke, Hannah Turner

Ambush Marketing, Rule 40, and the Sochi Controversy You Aren’t Hearing About

Have Olympic advertising partnerships gotten too big? Have rules and restrictions protecting these “official sponsors” gone too far?

Dawn Harper Tweets her Opinion of Olympic Rule 40

Dawn Harper Tweets her Opinion of Olympic Rule 40

Two-time track and field medalist Dawn Harper thinks so.  That’s why she posted this tweet with #Rule40 in protest of the IOC’s infamous Rule 40 during the 2012 Olympics in London.

If you aren’t yet familiar with Rule40, it is a total ban on an athlete’s promotion of personal sponsors and their ability to acknowledge those who helped them get where they are today. It is especially focused on social media, where it has become a commonplace for athletes to thank sponsors with pictures and personal statements.

Harper isn’t the only athlete to voice her displeasure with the effective “gag order” on competitors, but with companies spending upwards of $100,000,000.00 to associate their brands with the Olympics Games, is it really that hard to see why #Rule40 is in effect?

Some have even gone as far to refer to the situation as a “battle”. Yet, despite the activism surrounding #rule40, without a doubt the biggest threat to the official Olympic sponsors is the ever-pervasive ambush marketers, silently stalking and waiting for their chance to steal some the Olympic brand name.

These controversial ambush marketing campaigns attempt to capitalize on high-visibility events and locations through brand association without having to pay for the high-cost of officially sponsoring an event. My favorite example of ambush marketing involved the Minnesota Timberwolves selling this advertisement on the side of their stadium, where it happens to only be viewable from inside the nearby Minnesota Twins baseball stadium (where the official sponsor is Target).

View of Timberwolves basketball stadium from inside the Twins baseball stadium

View of Timberwolves basketball stadium from inside the Twins baseball stadium

Ambush marketing may have been around in the advertising world for years, but the Olympics are seen as “the flagship event for ambush marketing”. Creative campaigns by infamous ambush advertisers like Nike often times attract more online buzz and conversation than the actual official sponsors.

During the 2010 World Cup in South Africa officially sponsored by Reebok, advertising juggernaut and infamous ambush marketer Nike, placed an eye-catching ad on the fourth tallest building in the entire city of Johannesburg. When paired with a lengthy viral video, many agreed that Nike had effectively hijacked the sponsorship from Reebok and gained closer brand association with the World Cup event.

Nike ad in Johannesburg during World Cup 2010

Nike ad in Johannesburg during World Cup 2010

Another ambush marketing giant, Subway, has already launched its attempt to steal some association from the upcoming Sochi games.  Summer Olympian Michael Phelps and retired speed-skating icon Apollo Ohno both appear in TV commercials for Subway’s “$5 foot long campaign” due to some legal loopholes discovered by Subway.

So is it reasonable for the IOC to implement Rule 40 to help protect sponsors? Freeskiier David Wise recently commented that, “[he] understand[s] the Olympics are a moneymaking game, but it’s sad for [him] to have all these sponsors who have really taken care of [him]…[he’s] on the biggest stage [he] can possibly be on and [he] can’t give them the representation they deserve.”

Another athlete and social media enthusiast, Nick Goepper, has stated that he will be completely off of social media for the entirety of the Olympics. “I think it might be safer not to tweet anything,” said Nick, the 19-year-old favorite to win Ski Slopestyle gold. “All I know, it’s pretty much zero tolerance for branding.”

The Sochi games are only 3 days away, but the media blackout protecting the games’ sponsors has been in effect since January 26. When the final medal is awarded and the closing ceremonies complete, which brands will you associate with the games? Which advertisements and commercials will be the most talked about and discussed? Is $100,000,000 too much to pay for a loose association with the Olympic rings?

Will the “ambushers” steal the spotlight once again?

- Greg Rothman

You can’t have your Coke and drink it too

It’s one of the pillars of successful marketing, target your audience. Individualizing ads to particulars groups or regions of consumers ensure that messages have the most impact. But what happens when a company features a controversial scene in a spot, then removes it for some audiences and not others? Good marketing move or failure to take a stance?

In its newest global campaign, “Reasons to Believe” Coca-Cola set out to inspire consumers that no matter what happens in life, it’s those small happy moments that make life worth living.

Check out the commercial below.

In most European countries the ad contains a scene of two gay men holding hands in front of their wedding party. However, in the Irish version (the video below) the scene has been replaced to feature a bride and groom.

The Irish LGBT publication, EILE Magazine, brought attention to the issue, calling the removal an “inexplicable move”. In response to the criticism, Coca-Cola said that the advertisement had been tailored to individual markets so that the ad resonates with the people in each country where it is shown. The company defends the decisions saying that grooms were excluded from the Irish version because gay marriage is not legal in the country. EILE Magazine claims the Coca-Cola reasoning moot. The footage of the two grooms is known to be a video clip from a same-sex union ceremony in Australia – equivalent to a civil partnership in Ireland. Yet gay marriage is also illegal in Australia, but shown there. EILE claims the spot should have been suitable for Ireland as well.

Coca-Cola has unequivocally made public their supporting stance on same sex marriage. Since 2006, the Human Rights Campaign continues to award Coca-Cola with a 100 percent ranking of their company polices and practices regarding LGBT. The Coca-Cola Company notes on their website, “To achieve a perfect score, companies must have fully inclusive equal employment opportunity policies, provide equal employment benefits, demonstrate their commitment to equality publicly and exercise responsible citizenship”

Many are saying that Coca-Cola’s recent actions were hypocritical. Coca-Cola claims to support gay marriage, but their choice to remove a gay marriage scene from a commercial in Ireland, in which law does not prohibit such imagery, is misleading of the company’s values. Similarly, another beverage icon, Starbucks, has also gained attention for their hypocritical actions.

Bryant Simon discusses the company Starbucks in his book Everything But the Coffee. Through his research he comes to discover that Starbucks isn’t delivering what they are promising in their brand – good coffee with little environmental impact. Claiming to buy fair-trade coffee from Rwanda and Nicaragua farmers, Starbucks was actually buying from bigger farmers and only buying 5-6 percent of fair-trade out of all the total coffee purchases.

Much like Starbucks claiming to be environmentally friendly yet not taking the necessary steps in order to be green, Coca-Cola’s actions were just as misleading; claiming to support gay marriage yet removing a scene from one version of a commercial for the sole purpose of trying to please everyone.

As future and current brand ambassadors we have to remember that every decision we make, including company policy decisions, become an integral part of brand, and when decisions are made that contradicts that it hurts the brand.

On the other side of things, as consumers (and as Simon states in his book) we have to remember pursuing “solutions to highly complex social problems through buying and buying alone” doesn’t fix the problem or change the ideology. We have to stop relying and believing that buying certain brands is going to change a social issue.

So, does Coke’s decision to take out the gay marriage scene hurt its brand identity? Should companies take stances on social issues? What practices do you follow to make sure this brand conflict doesn’t occur in your company or with your clients?

- Savannah Valade, Caroline Robinson, Elizabeth Harrington

The Hunger Games are…Real?

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, opened on November 22, 2013 as a sequel to the Hunger Games. What started as a series of books by Suzanne Collins has been turned into a hit soon-to-be trilogy. Catching Fire made an estimated $158,074,286.00 on its opening night in the United States alone, according to IMDB. The blockbuster film partnered with many companies, including Subway and Feeding America. This trio has combined forces to also include Twitter in an effort to end hunger.

As a result of Subway and Catching Fire being partners, Subway is currently using the tributes of the Games to encourage people to eat in the restaurant. This type of celebrity endorsement brings in people who might not normally eat there. “Oh, if Peeta eats Subway, I should too!” Granted, this behavior might come more from children but they, in turn, will ask their parents to take them to Subway. I’ve seen this time and time again with my younger siblings. This also works for the older crowd, however, because a partnership of this nature often includes promotional items or sales/deals that someone may anticipate being offered. Subway has transformed their marketing strategies and dining areas, with concepts like “Where Victors Eat” and “Win your own Victory Tour,” with the latter being a sweepstakes in conjunction with their collectible Catching Fire drink cups.r_kat1

In the third and final facet of this trio of partners, Feeding America has jumped in and put their cause directly in the middle. Subway has placed cardboard cutouts of tributes Katniss, Peeta, and Finnick in the dining areas of Subways. A patron, after eating “What Victors Eat,” can take a photo with the cutouts and post it to the Subway Twitter, with the hashtag of #SUBtractHunger. Each time a hashtag is used, it is counted towards the 1,000,000 meals that Subway will buy for Feeding America. In the fine print, it says that Subway will donate up to $125,000, as each dollar makes about nine meals. However, this linkage will only exist until 11:59pm on December 15, 2013. The meals will be provided from Feeding America through local food banks in areas in need.

This celebrity endorsement effectively ties in cause marketing in order to create an environment in which Subway patrons are encouraged to aid Feeding America. Though there is no mention of patrons being able to donate money directly to Feeding America via Subway and Catching Fire, the Feeding America website has a donation area, as well as a hyperlink to a Hunger Games site, where a large “Ignite the Fight Against Hunger” plea is proudly displayed under a Mockingjay and above a photo of the tributes stoically ready to win the real-world Hunger Games. The number of families that go hungry over the holidays is continuously growing. With Feeding America, Subway, and the Hunger Games movie series teaming up to feed families, alongside many other organizations attempting to end hunger, do you think the odds are in are their favor?

-Hilary Hall

Towels For Troops: Supporting Our Heroes

I cannot speak for others, but one of the most quickly used products in my household is paper towels. Often times, it seems that they have to be bought on a weekly basis. Thankfully, Brawny, the paper towel company, recognized the necessity that paper towels have become and leveraged their product to help out a worthy cause.

Last year, Brawny partnered with the Wounded Warriors Project to launch an “Inner Strength” campaign. For two years, Brawny has prided itself on standing strong alongside the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) as a means of honoring injured service members. In 2012 alone, Brawny raised more than $500,000 for the WWP.

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For those of you who are unaware of the Wounded Warriors Project, it is a form of charitable support for members of the armed forces who were injured in the line of duty. Donations made to WWP help thousands of wounded warriors and their families as they return home from current conflicts.

With great success, Brawny decided to continue this cause marketing initiative committing to raise $600,000 this year. As a means of accomplishing this goal, Brawny has promised to make a direct donation of $250,000 to benefit the WWP. They have also announced their pledge to donate an additional $1, up to $350,000 for every individual who: shares a “Thank You” note on the Brawny Facebook page, “likes” Brawny paper towels on Facebook, or texts THANKS to 272969.

Large goals like this are often hard to achieve, but worth it when it comes to a good cause. In the study of rhetorical theory, Greek philosopher, Aristotle teaches the three modes of persuasion: ethos, pathos, and logos. In this example, Brawny is able to use cause marketing to appeal to pathos or the emotion of the audience, but this tactic is commonly used in cause marketing. Pathos is the strongest mode of persuasion; making it a more frequently used appeal.

Personally, when I hear the word “persuasion” I immediately make the connection to an interchangeable and more frequently used term…Influences. Persuasion is a process directed towards changing or influencing people’s beliefs, attitudes, and intentions. Individuals are persuaded each and every day. Persuasion is a critical and underlying goal of all marketing and advertising efforts.

The “Inner Strength” campaign is an effective form of cause marketing conducted by Brawny and the WWP. This particular campaign does an efficient job of persuading customers purchasing decisions by appealing to the audiences’ emotions. Customers are much more inclined to buy a product if they know that it is for a good cause.  It is that simple.

In this case, customers are buying Brawny products because it is to their understanding that a percentage of the proceeds go to the WWP. This is because these consumers feel a sense of sympathy for wounded soldiers. This is a form of persuasion at its finest. Ultimately, cause marketing has proven to pay off in this scenario seeing how Brawny sales are through the roof and donations made to the WWP are at an all-time high

Happy Thanksgiving!

-Caitlin Ford, Parker Farfour, Alex Corrigan, Kaitlyn Batson

Hyundai’s “Suicidal” Marketing Crisis

In April of 2013, Hyundai released a commercial known as “Pipe Job” that left many people in the UK confused and shocked. The commercial’s primary goal was to illustrate the car’s new water engine emissions in a humorous way. However, due to this very commercial, Hyundai soon found itself in a potentially “suicidal” PR and marketing crisis.

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The ad was written about a topic that should clearly never be joked about and is very personal for many people across the world. The ad shows a man who is attempting suicide through inhaling harmful emissions, but fails due to the company’s new water engine emissions. Obviously, Hyundai released this ad in hopes that their audience would find humor in the failure of his attempt at suicide because of their water engine emissions. The company soon found that the ad produced the opposite effect. One of the main people who caused the uproar regarding this commercial was blogger Holly Brockwell. Holly wrote an emotional post regarding this poor taste in marketing.

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Unfortunately for Hyundai, this entire crisis could have been somewhat avoided. While of course it could have been completely avoided by simply never allowing the commercial to air, it could have also been avoided if the company had a crisis management plan implemented. Instead, Hyundai was slow in their apologies and even ignored reporters when they reached out for answers. This lack of communication for those with questions is what ultimately left Hyundai in a PR crisis that was nearly impossible to overcome. While Hyundai finally released apologies and statements, the damage that has been done is immeasurable. In the end, companies must be proactive when dealing with crises that involve their products to have a chance at managing them before they have a chance to become something larger.

-Ryan Nagy