Archive for the ‘thoughts’ Category

Plastic Surgery for Business

There are too many businesses around that are grotesque. They believe they can continue providing lousy service and shoddy goods if they just create a nice picture of themselves. That’s what they think advertising is for.

A good strategy for ad agencies is to stay as far away from these companies as they can.

The Ad Contrarian has been on a role lately.

Thoughts on the death of Pontiac

It seems strange to mourn the loss of a brand. Especially one whose products I don’t purchase. But, I have a bit of a nostalgic soft spot for Pontiac. My dad has driven one my entire life.

Pontiac was always supposed to be General Motor’s “performance” division (or as the old slogan read “driving excitement”). Funny thing is, in the past few years it was hard to tell. Models like the Montana, the G3 and G5 (not to mention the oft-made-fun-of Aztec) were anything but exciting. The most interesting models coming out of GM recently all seemed to go to Saturn. The Sky and Aura exhibited more exciting body styling than anything issued by Pontiac. Or course it’s not like that fact has been a saving grace for Saturn.

Is the downfall of Pontiac due solely to losing focus on the brands “excitement” roots? I don’t know definitely, but I’d bet heavily that the answer is “yes”.

Although, in general, I’ve had issues with the build quality of GM’s for at least the past decade (specifically Saturn, Chevy and Pontiac; the divisions I’ve had personal experience with). The materials of GM vehicle interiors always struck me as sub-par. The plastics had a thin, flimsy feel and the center console controls seemed cheap. All these criticisms are based on comparisons with my own 2002 Volkswagen Golf GLS.

I really wanted to like Pontiac. But I understand “wanting” doesn’t translate into sales. I just hope that someday, someone is able to resurrect the brand. I absolutely love that arrowhead logomark. Delicious.

The consumer has become resistant to marketing, right? Bullshit. Here’s what the consumer has become resistant to: generic, undifferentiated products supported by smug, benefit-free advertising.

The Ad Contrarian.

Why (Real) Relationships Matter

[C]ompanies who can build authentic, honest, open, collaborative relationships with consumers are significantly more profitable (and sustainably profitable) than companies who treat consumers deceptively, antagonistically, and manipulatively. Umair Haque

This line of thinking seems to be catching on. Progess? Let’s hope so.

“We’ve had one of these before, when the dot-com bubble burst. What I told our company was that we were just going to invest our way through the downturn, that we weren’t going to lay off people, that we’d taken a tremendous amount of effort to get them into Apple in the first place — the last thing we were going to do is lay them off. And we were going to keep funding. In fact we were going to up our R&D budget so that we would be ahead of our competitors when the downturn was over. And that’s exactly what we did. And it worked. And that’s exactly what we’ll do this time.” ~ Steve Jobs

Recession? What recession? I like to tell myself this the way I’d run a business. Instead of slashing jobs and budgets at the first sign of trouble, re-invest in what makes the company unique and position ourselves to be ahead of the competition when the current crisis passes.

Of course it helps, in Apple’s case, to be free of debt with nearly $25 billion in cash on hand.