Saturday, November 28, 2009

Barnes and Noble 'Nook' Gets Branding help from R/GA

I appears that we are beyond the evolution shock in the publishing world, and we are on to the new race for a tech-solution for documents, publications, and books. R/GA, New York, is working with Barnes & Noble to help them compete with the moderately successful Kindle made by Amazon. These e-readers can definitely be considered a form of disruptive technology or innovation.

For the established publishers and book companies, it makes it more difficult to discover the next great literary hit, because the manuscript may never come across their desk. Independent writers now have immediate access to their potential customers through a device that functions as a retail store. That's right, inventory is no longer a problem with the e-reader solution. So, the next phase of this competitive race is branding. In the early stages tons of money are dumped into marketing to find a way to capture the hearts of consumers, by any means necessary. We see the wars going on with netbooks, which are experiencing a steady, but moderate, rate of growth. Here's yet another battlefield in the market of tomorrow.

The next phase will be the merger between physical and digital branding. I see a future where physical retail space will be more about the experience, and the online space will function as the deal closer. Many organizations are already heading that way, but I see this strategy permeating throughout the entire market-place.

R/GA specializes in Brand Development, among many other things related to advertising and marketing.

What are your thoughts on e-readers?

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thursday, November 26, 2009


Two different interviews, with the same question, with the same answer/confusion.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

(BN) Consumer Spending, Home Sales Probably Rose as U.S. Recovery Takes Root

Please take a look at the story below from Bloomberg News. It is suggesting that things are turning toward a positive light in the economy - at least for the US. I wonder how these slow improvements will change public policy regarding business ethics, regulation, and information transparency.

For your business, does this change your adjusted strategy?

Bloomberg News, sent from my iPhone.

Spending by Consumers Probably Increased: U.S. Economy Preview

Nov. 22 (Bloomberg) -- Consumer spending probably rebounded in October, showing that mounting unemployment is restraining, not derailing, the biggest part of the U.S. economy, analysts said before reports this week.

Purchases increased 0.5 percent after dropping by the same amount in September, according to the median estimate of 61 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News before a Commerce Department report due Nov. 25. Other figures may show orders for durable goods and home sales climbed.

Consumers added to their wardrobes, frequented restaurants and bought more automobiles last month even after the government's trade-in incentive expired. A jobless rate that is projected to remain above 10 percent through the first half of next year means households will still be hard-pressed to boost spending further, limiting their contribution to growth.

"A business recovery has taken root, notably in output and sales, although not yet in employment," said Neal Soss, chief economist at Credit Suisse in New York. "The recovery will likely be mediocre relative to previous recoveries following severe recessions."

The labor market and reduced bank lending are some of the "headwinds" facing the economy, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said last week. To help ensure the economy doesn't falter, Bernanke and his fellow U.S. central bankers will probably keep monetary policy unchanged well into 2010.

Vehicle Sales Rise

Auto industry data show sales of cars and light trucks rose to a 10.5 million unit annual pace in October, up 14 percent from the previous month. Purchases were still short of the 14.1 million rate reached in August when the government's cash-for- clunkers plan, which expired near the end of that month, revived demand.

U.S. retailers last month increased sales 1.4 percent after a decline of 2.3 percent in September, according to Commerce Department figures released Nov. 16. Sales rose at department stores, restaurants and Internet-based businesses such as

Most retailers have boosted profits by trimming costs and inventories. Saks Inc., the New York-based U.S. luxury retail chain, last week reported an unexpected profit, its first in more than a year, for the period ended Oct. 31.

"The current economic and retail environment remain uncertain," Saks Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Stephen Sadove said on a Nov. 17 conference call with investors and analysts. "It's a fragile period for everyone in this industry."

Incomes Rise

The Commerce Department spending report on Nov. 25 may also show incomes grew 0.2 percent in October, the biggest gain in five months, after no change the previous month.

Even with that gain, a weak labor market continues to weigh on consumers' ability to boost purchases. Payrolls fell by 190,000 last month, bringing total job losses to 7.3 million since the recession began in December 2007, the most of any contraction since the Great Depression.

President Barack Obama, seeking to halve job losses since the recession began, announced on Nov. 12 that he plans to hold a White House jobs summit. He said he'll convene business executives and experts to seek solutions to spur job creation.

The job cuts are causing measures of consumers' outlooks to weaken this month. The Conference Board's confidence index, due Nov. 24, is forecast to fall, and the Reuters/University of Michigan gauge the next day is projected to drop from the previous month.

The S&P 500 rose as much as 64 percent from a 12-year low in March, closing at a 13-month high on Nov. 17.

Durable Goods

The increase in demand for automobiles likely contributed to a gain in bookings at factories. Orders for durable goods, those meant to last at least three years, probably rose 0.5 percent in October after a 1.4 percent surge, the first back-to- back increase since May, according to the median estimate ahead of a Nov. 25 report from the Commerce Department.

Excluding demand for transportation equipment, which tends to be volatile, orders probably increased 0.6 percent, the survey median showed.

The government's revised figures for third-quarter gross domestic product, due on Nov. 24, may show the economy expanded at a 2.9 percent annual rate, compared with the 3.5 percent estimated last month, according to the survey median. The revision will reflect a bigger trade gap and weaker retail sales in September, economists said.

The worst housing slump in more than 70 years is showing signs of improvement, with government support in the form of a tax credit for homebuyers.

Existing Home Sales

The National Association of Realtors is expected to report tomorrow that purchases of existing homes rose 2.3 percent in October to an annual pace of 5.7 million, the highest level since July 2007, according to the survey median.

The Commerce Department on Nov. 25 may report that purchases of new houses rose 0.8 percent last month to a 405,000 annual pace, according to the Bloomberg survey median.

A measure of home prices is projected to fall at a slower pace. The S&P/Case-Shiller index of property values in 20 U.S. metropolitan areas was probably down 9.1 percent in September from a year earlier, the smallest decline in almost two years, the survey showed. The report is due on Nov. 24.

Bloomberg Survey =============================================================== Release Period Prior Median Indicator Date Value Forecast =============================================================== Exist Homes Mlns 11/23 Oct. 5.57 5.70 Exist Homes MOM% 11/23 Oct. 9.4% 2.3% GDP Annual QOQ% 11/24 3Q P 3.5% 2.9% Personal Consump. QOQ% 11/24 3Q P 3.4% 3.2% GDP Prices QOQ% 11/24 3Q P 0.8% 0.8% Core PCE Prices QOQ% 11/24 3Q P 1.4% 1.4% Case Shiller Quarterly 11/24 3Q -14.9% -10.5% Case Shiller Quarterly 11/24 3Q 132.6 136.6 Case Shiller Monthly YO 11/24 Sept. -11.3% -9.1% Case Shiller Monthly In 11/24 Sept. 146.0 147.0 Consumer Conf Index 11/24 Nov. 47.7 47.5 Richmond Fed Index 11/24 Nov. 7 8 FHFA HPI MOM% 11/24 Sept. -0.3% 0.1% OFHEO HPI QOQ% 11/24 3Q -0.7% 0.4% ABC Conf Index 11/24 Nov. 23 -45 -45 Pers Inc MOM% 11/25 Oct. 0.0% 0.2% Pers Spend MOM% 11/25 Oct. -0.5% 0.5% PCE Deflator YOY% 11/25 Oct. -0.5% 0.1% Core PCE Prices MOM% 11/25 Oct. 0.1% 0.1% Core PCE Prices YOY% 11/25 Oct. 1.3% 1.4% Durables Orders MOM% 11/25 Oct. 1.4% 0.5% Durables Ex-Trans MOM% 11/25 Oct. 1.2% 0.6% Initial Claims ,000's 11/25 14-Nov 505 500 Cont. Claims ,000's 11/25 7-Nov 5611 5565 New Home Sales ,000's 11/25 Oct. 402 405 New Home Sales MOM% 11/25 Oct. -3.6% 0.8% U of Mich Conf. Index 11/25 Nov. F 66.0 67.0 ==============================================================

To contact the reporter on this story: Timothy R. Homan in Washington at

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Thursday, November 19, 2009


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Dos Equis Commercials

I'm not really a fan of Dos Equis Beer, when compared to other beers from that region. However, I can be convinced to try them out more frequently, especially with these cool ads. They've reached an important segment - the middle-aged refined beer drinker.

What are your thoughts on the brand, product, or advertising approach?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Fed Ex/Kinkos - It All Makes Sense Now

When Fed Ex merged with Kinkos, I questioned the compatibility of the
two brands. Fed Ex being known for great efficiency and service, and
Kinkos being known for the later - best portrayed in the Pop Copy skit
by Dave Chappelle (I can't embed the video due to the bad language). I knew the merger was a response to UPS merging
with Mailbox Etc., and there would be a push for individual retail
strategies. But Kinkos? In the end, they kept the copiers.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

The Brand is All About Your People

The Tennessee State University Early Learning Center has a long-
standing reputation of turning out some of Nashville's best students.
Earlier this year, the director passed away after 60 years of service.
That's right - 60 years. The float for today's homecoming parade is
dedicated to her service to the program.

Before your customers believe in your mission/brand, your employees
must believe in it to work. Thanks Ms. McDowell.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Matt is making Pecha Kucha work in Chattanooga

Intel Changes Marketing Approach to a more 'Human Element'

Intel has announced a change in marketing approach to make the chip-maker more human in the eyes of the consumer. We've seen Dow Chemical try this approach, but how will this work for a product that is so sterile and technical? Intel marketing leader Nancy Bhagat is on the right track by trying to understand how Intel can remain relevant, and even better, increase their relevance during the purchase decision process for consumers that have a choice when buying personal technology. Venables Bell and Partners worked with Intel to develop the creative approach for this new marketing direction. Premium products matter in this economy. It's the only way to fight slim margins. I think it will work. What do you think?

CreateHere: Growing Big Ideas and Small Businesses

I'm still waiting for the event to begin, and I'm reading/socializing in the presentation area. I met an employee at CreateHere who also has a silkscreen business with her boyfriend in the local Chattanooga incubator. CreateHere is more than just a creative think-tank. It's a place where ideas grow and busineses get the information and confidence they need to survive in market.

I'm still not sure about the overall vision for this organization/venue, but it seems to be a truly innovative business model from what I've heard so far. It's privately funded, and it's broken down into several useful business unit/service components - all aimed at sparking the flame necessary to grow successful start-ups in the Chattanooga area. It brings together a partnership that understands the crucials of success - unselfish goals and realistic dreams.

Springboard is one of several components/services offered at CreateHere. It offers a short-term business planning services for hopeful startups. I remember when I launched KLCS, and I quickly realized how important it is to have a good grasp on business matters, as well as a support system to stay encouraged. In Nashville, we have incubators, several small business development centers, and even some collaborative environments for creatives. But, we don't have anything near the complexity and reach of CreateHere - that I know of.

No matter what I do in life, I will always be an artist first. I truly believe that art has no choice but to merge with other important subjects like math and science to not only remain relevant, but to ultimately survive as an industry. It seems that the more established art-related agencies in Chattanooga realized how important it is to give younger professionals a chance at solving many of the problems that plague the American Marketplace - unselfish. From my brief time watching the group collaborate, the broad-stroked mission approach allows the staff and clients to exercise their ability to creatively solve problems - realistic goal. Even better, the plan for this effort is to dissolve in five years to allow for some of these components to either take a life of their own, merge into more established initiatives, or simply fade away. WOW, it's amazing what action you'll see when there is a shot-clock.

THERE'S NO SUCH THING AS 'ART FOR ART'S SAKE', unless your name is ART. If so, I'm afraid we are doomed.

Preparing for Pecha Kucha Night in Chattanooga

I am very excited. I would like to know more about Pecha Kucha, and I found an event in Chattanooga. I am planning to hold an event at my job in the Spring. So, this will serve as a model for me tonight.

The event is being held at a venue called CreateHere in an eclectic area of midtown Chattanooga. I am at the pre-show, which is an exhibition of interesting videos created from stills. It's free-form, free-thought, but extremely valuable to the needs of this society. I'll share more later when the event starts at 6:00 pm (eastern time).

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Retail Sales Pick Up: Sound Business Practices are a Key Factor

It's been up in the air about the right approach for retail businesses to survive in this turbulent economy. We've seen the layoffs, inventory reductions, and store closures - wondering if this will be the silver bullet needed to end the terror caused by the financial industry. This morning GAP turned in impressive quarterly numbers, and also changed their guidance to a more positive outlook for the entire year. A great deal of the turnaround has to do with their ability to go lean, and leverage an already impressive supply-chain management system. It would be nice to have a response system that addresses any market changes only days after the issue arrises, but changes in strategies take time. GAP is sticking to their guns. Nothing drastic has changed in their product or their brand, and I believe they will benefit greatly from their brand stability position.

Sunday, November 01, 2009