Archive for February, 2010

As simple as skiing downhill

February 24, 2010

I really enjoy watching the Winter Olympics even though I know nothing about most winter sports. I’m from the South. That’s not to say that southerners don’t enjoy winter sports. I know a lot people who ski, ice skate and play hockey. But I’m not one of them. While watching a skier prepare for her event, the camera zoomed to a close up of her face. I was struck by her focus; she could have burned a hole through steel with the look on her face. I’d never thought of the focus and concentration it must take to be a good skier let alone an Olympian.

Which brings me to my point. It’s nothing new or earth shattering to our business, but it’s more important now than ever before. We need to keep our clients’ marketing/advertising messages focused and simple. Finding that single laser-like message isn’t easy and outside forces can easily complicate the message. But, like the skier, we need to shut out distractions and keep looking and moving ahead.

It’s not a revolutionary concept, but it’s something we can easily forget. So take a deep breath, get focused, keep things simple and great work will follow. Maybe even a medal here and there.

Is The Money Really That Important?

February 22, 2010

One of our clients finds itself competing against a small unaccredited hospital. One of just a few in the entire state that aren’t accredited. Normally, I wouldn’t think too much about it, but this hospital is owned by doctors! Can you believe that?

What self-respecting doctor would own a hospital and send his/her patients there knowing it isn’t accredited? Well, a greedy one, of course. I can think of only two reasons for not having your hospital accredited – one is you can’t meet the minimum national standards, the other is you just don’t want to spend the money required to meet those standards and go through the process, meaning the doctors want to keep the money for themselves. Neither is good, especially when you’re a doctor sworn to do what’s best for your patients.

My second question is — if a hospital isn’t accredited, how does it stay open? Well, it has to have referring doctors who don’t care and who put money above their patients. There’s that greed thing again.

And another thing, why aren’t payors addressing this? Most say they won’t pay unaccredited hospitals. Do they just not pay that much attention? Or, maybe it is that they don’t care, either.

Consumers need to know these things. They need to know the risk they may face if a hospital isn’t meeting minimum standards of care and infection control. And, their doctors sure aren’t telling them because they don’t want a break in the gravy train.

The Price of Quality

February 16, 2010

IBM’s Tom Watson once noted that the real challenge to any market leader came not from competitors, but rather from the leader itself (See also market leaders). As of today, Toyota has recalled 8.5 million cars and is suspending production on several models. Each week production is suspended is estimated to cost $400 million.

Much has been written about how the company has handled the crisis. There is certainly plenty to criticize there. It took them forever to admit there was a problem. In fact, it took government intervention. That’s never a good thing in communications. And, although they’ve finally begun to communicate, I’m not very impressed with their response so far. What do you think about their apology spot?

As bad as their crisis communications have been, I think that’s a secondary issue here. It’s interesting this comes a year after they unseated GM as the world’s largest car manufacturer. The real issue is the fact Toyota hocked its position as the world’s best auto manufacturer to become the world’s largest. Why would you do that? Yet another company taking its eye off the ball and forgetting what got it there.

Even if they can repair the damage, it will cost billions. Research is showing they are taking quite a hit in the trust area among customers. That can be the toughest damage to repair for any brand. Trust is very difficult to build and even more difficult to rebuild.

Hospitals can take a lot from Toyota’s failings. Obviously, one thing is to address a crisis quickly, decisively and openly. Most important, (with my apologies to Winston Churchill) never, never, never, never give up consumer trust.

Marketing in the Shadows.

February 11, 2010

Except for the appointment reminders I receive from my primary care physician’s office, I don’t receive a lot of healthcare direct marketing. And I’m fine with that. Beyond the usual objection to receiving too much information, I know that anything sent to me would be a waste of marketing dollars. I’ve known for a long time that women make the healthcare decisions for themselves and their family. My household is no different.

So my interest was piqued when I saw a letter from Similac—the infant formula maker—that was addressed to me. The enclosed letter invited me, the “mom-to-be” to join a program called StrongMoms where I could interact with other pregnant women. My wife and I got a chuckle from it. The next day I received a box with a glossy, 52-page brochure, $20 worth of Similac coupons and two canisters of Similac infant formula. Talk about an expensive mail piece. All the pieces were very well produced and all of the communications were smart and on target. As a healthcare marketing professional, I was very impressed with the strategy and the tactical delivery vehicle of the campaign.

All of these good ideas were wiped out when the tactical execution took a wrong turn to my mailbox. Clearly, this mailing should go to a female who is pregnant. Somehow it wound up going to the wrong spouse of the household about 12 months too late. My wife and I did have a baby girl almost 10 months ago. It made me think of one of my favorite T.S. Eliot quotes:

“Between the idea and the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow.”

In this instance, Similac was marketing in the shadows.

Super Bowl Commercial MVPs

February 8, 2010

This image provided by Doritos shows part of an ad submitted by one of six finalists in the fourth annual Doritos "Crash the Super Bowl" challenge. (AP Photo/Doritos)

The day after the Super Bowl is like Christmas day for ad professionals. Today we recollect and dissect the Super Bowl commercials from last night. We usually talk about our favorites in the hallway or by the coffee maker but this is the Internet age. This year, we’ll congregate on the blog.

Melissa says the Doritos spots did a great job of portraying the fanaticism of their audience. Her favorite and Dean’s, too, was the House Rules spot. “One, keep your hands off my mama. Two, keep your hands off my Doritos.” Remind me to watch out for a Dorito in the neck from Speir this afternoon.

As much as the Dr. Pepper spot made him happy because it brought Mini Kiss to the masses, Denny’s owned the Super Bowl for Andrew. He says he understood and retained exactly what they wanted him to (free Grand Slam Tuesday, Feb. 9 and on your birthday) and their spots were entertaining to boot. “In space, no one can hear chickens scream.”

For Amy this year is was all about who made her laugh. She loved the Dodge Charger ad, Man’s Last Stand because it was so relatable and the Punch Buggy ad with Stevie Wonder.

Liz agreed, picking the Man’s Last stand ad and the dog’s revenge ad from Doritos as her top picks.

Anyone who knows me probably knows my favorite: the Google Love Story ad. I loved it first because it was smart. It didn’t rely on special effects to make a point and talk about showcasing the product. Then, the ending. Just a great spot in my book and only a caveman could forget who the spot was for.

Which was your favorite?

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