***Originally posted on Peppercom‘s About You blog – www.AboutYouBlog.com
It’s more versatile than salad dressing and more processed than pink slime; it’s Velveeta. And it could be (read: hopefully not) lurking around the corner to club ranch dressing over the head.
As a consumer, this is a nightmare scenario that became all too real after reading about ranch dressing-producer Hidden Valley’s new ad campaign. The slogan emblazoned on each bottle of Hidden Valley ranch is “The New ‘Ketchup’.” I, for one, am hoping that no one in the Velveeta science lab caught wind of Hidden Valley’s entirely unsurprising reasoning for its coup on America’s favorite condiment. Hidden Valley says about 15% of ranch dressing is used on foods other than salad and vegetables. Moreover, market research firm, NPD Group, pinpointed chicken, potatoes (including French fries), sandwiches, chips, and pizza as the most popular items to be smothered with a combination of dry seasonings, milk and mayonnaise.
After years of guerrilla warfare, Hidden Valley has taken ranch dressing’s battle for condiment supremacy to the front lines. Putting the clear consequences associated with a more broad use of ranch dressing aside, you have to credit Hidden Valley for zeroing in on and exploiting their audiences’ perception of its product. Their ad campaign speaks to experiences that consumers, mostly in the south, have every day and it proves the company is listening. I won’t be ordering a side of ranch with my Belgian frites, but it is a brilliant campaign.
Any communications or marketing campaign that resonates with a company’s customers, while attracting new ones, has to be grounded in genuine feedback. And my guess is that current Velveeta customers are eager to ladle or squirt its product onto more meals. Data consistently shows Americans care less and less about their health and what they eat. Velveeta has to see this as an opportunity!
Why stop at Velveeta Cheesy skillets – boxes of dried pasta, seasonings and pouches of liquid Velveeta sauce to which consumers can add meat and cook over the stove? Is what I would be thinking after the first major Velveeta product since 1984, against all odds and sound logic, has not coagulated since arriving on supermarket shelves in July. According to the Wall Street Journal, “the skillets captured more than 8% of the overall $138 million dry dinner mix category” after three months and Kraft’s Velveeta convenient meals business has realized a 40% bounce over the same time span.
If Kraft starts paying more attention to customer experiences and pairs that knowledge with its market research, then you may find yourself reaching for a bottle of molten pasteurized prepared cheese product with “The New ‘Ranch Dressing’” on the label sooner than you think.
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »
***Originally posted on Peppercom‘s About You blog – www.AboutYouBlog.com
This is the question Apple is charged with answering. In other words, would the iPad have redefined the mobile computing market and Apple’s bottom line as the iTablet? It certainly seems like there is something in a name.
Apple’s latest legal battle featuring a Chinese computer-display manufacturer, Proview International Holdings Ltd., as the protagonist centers around who owns the trademark on “iPad.” According to contracts and e-mails provided to the Wall Street Journal, Apple seems to have purchased the trademark from Proview for approximately $55,500 several years ago. But now faced with an imminent bankruptcy, Proview sicced its team of lawyers on Apple and are hoping the notoriously biased Chinese legal system provides an easy payday. So far: mission failed.
Now that the iPad has become arguably the most successful consumer product in the market today, Proview has set its “go away” price at $2 billion. Is the name “iPad” worth it?
We certainly spend a lot of time discussing brand equity and what drives consumers to spend their disposable income. So I started to think about why people buy the iPad. Is it because of Apple’s brand or is it specific to the iPad brand? In this case, I think its Apple’s brand. That said, they should call Proview’s bluff and walk away from the trademark dispute. Proview would end up in bankruptcy, where they belong, and there would likely be no impact on Chinese demand for Apple’s product.
If I were working at Apple, I would suggest a rebranding of the iPad specifically for the Chinese market complete with a new PR/marketing plan. New name, new public relations strategy, new ad campaign, new customers, higher demand. Take this as an opportunity to communicate directly with one of the most important and fastest-growing markets in the world by customizing the product and the company’s message.
Large, multinational conglomerates today should just say no to a generalized public relations strategy coupled with mass-marketing. Apple has the chance to buck this trend. Too often companies search for the next PR/marketing campaign that they can set to autopilot. But, more often than not, it pays to understand your audience and tailor your product and services directly to them. You might just stumble across a new brand and a stronger communications strategy in the process. I truly believe that all politics is local.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged Apple, communications, iPad, marketing, Peppercom, PR, Proview, Public Relations, strategy | Leave a Comment »
Sweat beading down their foreheads as they race, elbows sharpened and raised, towards what has been unattainable so far, likeability. The Republican candidates for President of the United States continuously cannibalize their chances of being liked raising questions about what qualities the American public deem as likeable in a person. Empirical research suggests that openness categorized by a willingness to discuss alternative ideas, have new experiences, and accept different perspectives is at the top of the list. Rather than figuratively chasing shadows, Republican candidates may benefit from a mystical experience courtesy of the hallucinogenic trigger in magic mushrooms (chasing shadows literally).
The latest research lead by a postdoctoral student in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Katherine MacLean, uncovered that the psychedelic drug may increase the key personality dimension of openness. Each of the study’s 52 participants “tripped balls” two to five times after being given a personality test. All participants were subject to two additional personality tests, one about a month later and the second a year after their trip.
As the Presidential debate season builds to a crescendo, candidates are beginning to cope with the notion that openness and by association likeability are the keys that unlock the front door to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, not polarizing rhetoric and hate. Throwing raw meat to the base in the form of support for the death penalty (Rick Perry), a lack of sympathy for the uninsured who are terminally ill under the thin veil of Libertarian idealism (Ron Paul), and disrespect for gay and lesbian members of the armed services who are on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan (every Republican candidate) may win you the Republican nomination, but not the general election.
The one potential contender with a firm grasp on this fundamental political philosophy is the Governor of New Jersey Chris Christie. His natural advantage over his rivals is likeability. His positions on the major issues are virtually no different than other mainstream candidates, yet voters across the political spectrum are drawn to him. And it is because they like him. He negotiates and compromises, both signify a slight openness. Today’s Republican pool is overflowing with piranha waiting to devour any openness and likeability. Fortunately for us Democrats, this is the precise reason why he will not, in my opinion, enter the Presidential race.
Until Republican strategists take time to scour the closest cow pasture, turn up the recently released remastered Grateful Dead live in Europe ’72 album, and open their minds, the Presidency will remain in Democratic hands. And that makes us at Monsieur Baguette optimistic because it proves that amidst the seemingly insurmountable challenges facing our society, more Americans than not are still looking for a leader that is open to new ideas, perspectives, and experiences.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged Barrack Obama, Chris Christie, Grateful Dead, Magic Mushrooms, Politics, Presidential Campaign, Presidential election, Republican, Republican primary, Rick Perry, Ron Paul | Leave a Comment »