Value Added Engineering

The value added pack.  This advertising technique is traditionally used to keep a brand fresh in holiday shoppers’ minds and appear to add a free gift.  This is most notably used in liquor brands that throw in rock glasses, shakers or even samples of their other product lines to try to develop sentiment and brand loyalty.  A new trend is emerging however, and I’m going to call it value added engineering.  This marketing ploy is simply used to help the consumer better enjoy a product they have already purchased by increasing the experience of the product.  This has been used by several beverage companies and most recently by soda heavy hitter Coca-Cola.  The idea was to create a glass that let the consumer better enjoy an already dominant product.

Classic Glass

Look familiar Sam Adams?


That’s because the Coca-Cola glasses were engineered by wine and beer tasters that know how carbonation and flavor should be properly released onto one’s palate to get full enjoyment.  We’ve traditionally seen this in brands that are trying to increase their market share by adding an element to their product that the top dog in the market doesn’t posses.  Miller, traditionally lagging in volume to Anheuser Busch, developed the vortex bottle,


and the punch top, wide mouth can.


Coors engineered a way for their logo to change color when their beer gets to the optimal drinking temperature.


Not to mention the wide mouth, vented can that is supposed to help the beverage flow out of the can with less foam.


Let’s be honest, it just lets the consumer drink more, faster.


(Sorry Guinness)

I do, however, like this move by Coke.  It keeps their brand fresh and reinforces their standard of quality.  Don’t just drink a “Classic” enjoy a “Classic” to it’s full potential.  I don’t see runner up Pepsi trying to make their product more enjoyable.  They’re too busy paying celebrities to try and create viral videos.  That’s what’s going down…smooth.

Coke Cheers



And the Brand Played On

This week’s post is going to be brand focused.  Brand loyalty occurs when a consumer becomes so emotionally invested in a product or company’s identity that they will only purchase from that brand.  After all that’s what a brand is, the outward appearance of a company’s internal values.  I’ve played inline hockey competitively for 20 years.  I started when I was eight years old in a 14 and under league in Lubbock, TX.  I’ve played competitively on the national and international level from the age until I was 18.  I played on numerous national all-star teams and was even lucky enough to be selected to play on team Texas in Mission Hockey’s World Cup in Toronto, Canada.  I’ve been lucky enough to play on three national championship teams, skate with a future Olympian and win too many state and regional tournaments to count.  With that much time spent in a sport at such a high level players develop brand loyalty and are subject to the persuasions of retailers marketing departments when they are looking for anything to give them an edge. Especially in Texas where most of your gear has to be mail ordered. 

I recently had an unpleasant experience with Mission Hockey.  Mission was purchased by hockey equipment giant Bauer Hockey in 2008.  Bauer’s brand is one of performance and quality, not so much being customer friendly.  I purchased my first pair of Mission Skates at the age of 12 years old.  My parents made me save up enough money to buy the $200 pair of Mission Proto V inline skates. 


My next purchase was the, at that time, astronomically priced $300 pair of Vi’s.


I then sold those at the age of 16 to help pay for the Mission Wicked Light skates.


Now the Wicked Light was the Porsche of inline hockey skates at that time.  They are light and fast featuring groundbreaking graphite technology.  They were the standard to which skates would be measured by for years to come and at a price tag of $500 you earned every gram of performance. 

After skating on these skates on and off for nine years it was time to upgrade to a new pair.  I decided to purchase the Axiom t.10 Revolts.  This is Mission Hockey’s top of the line skate, which retail for $650.  My thought was they would last me another nine years. 


Now that I am older and work full time I can only skate one or two nights a week.  My skates lasted one year before they broke during a game in January.  Once I called the customer service line they informed me that there was a 90 day warranty on the skate.  Even after asserted that $650 skates should last more than a year I received the same reply.  That’s when I was hung up on.  I wasn’t satisfied with that experience so I e-mailed Bauer’s customer service account.  I did receive a response and Bauer.  They even requested pictures of the skate and proof of purchase be sent to them stating that sometimes exceptions could be made.  I heard back from Bauer 48 hours later saying they could not approve my request chalking the break in my skates up to normal wear and tear.  Even though the skates were past warranty Mission and Bauer should have done something to rectify this situation to a loyal customer. 

I will be switching brands when it comes time to purchase my new pair of skates.  I’m done being loyal to a brand that stopped caring about its consumers and now only cares about its bottom line.  That’s how a company loses brand loyalty and the true nature of this company’s brand is clearly opposite of the one they portray.

Got DHL?

I want to touch on two pieces of marketing news that emerged this week; one campaign I thought was pretty cool but the other campaign’s ramifications will remain to be seen….

1.  DHL

What an awesome idea!  DHL did some guerrilla advertising this week in which they used boxes coated with paint that is temperature activated.

Initially the boxes appeared as a simple black box,


Once the paint warmed up, while the boxes were out for delivery, they revealed “DHL IS FASTER”.


DHL then had their competitors deliver the Trojan horse parcels to several random addresses with no ties to the company.


Your move UPS?  Well, probably not. There’s no reason for UPS to get in an advertising war with little brother DHL.  Just laugh it off UPS, although this could get very entertaining if there is some kind of retaliation.

2.  Got Milk?

Not anymore.  The Milk Processing Education Program is deciding to kick its 19 year old ad campaign to the curb in favor of a new slogan: “Milk Life”.  This move was prompted because sales down 1%.  Yeah, 1%.  The new campaign will now focus on the heath benefits of milk as part of an active lifestyle.


The program is going to highlight the nutritional content of milk to appeal to consumers. (Which they were already doing, see Obi-Wan Kenobi below)  The old campaign did this through celebrity endorsements, which were pretty great in a nostalgic way:


I understand the old campaign is probably tired, but Milk could have done better here.  By changing your slogan to a “Milk Life” they no longer made milk a commodity.  Everyone needed milk, especially celebrities and super humans!  Instead the campaign made the product an accessory to a lifestyle that not everyone leads, effectively shrinking their target market.  It’ll be interesting to see how this change of direction… Goes Down.

Till next week, CHEERS!


Making A Mark

Last week I talked about some things I didn’t like on Super Bowl Sunday.   Today I want to reverse that to tell you about a medium I really like and focus on a more digital perspective.  Today I want to take a look at the Makers Mark website. I was compelled to visit this website after being a consumer of this product for a number of years.  I really liked the flow and functionality, which made navigation quite easy and directed the users to exactly where the marketing team wanted them to go.  The site is developed by local Kentucky agencies Doe-Anderson and NowsourcingBoth companies have other big name clients and Doe-Anderson also handles Makers’ parent company Jim Beam.


Navigation of the home page is very intuitive.  The users are drawn immediately to graphic links that guide us deeper into the page where the target audience can instantly access the six essential factors that establish the Makers Mark brand:


 the distillery,


the brand’s history,


the gift shop where they are trying to create supplemental revenue and brand loyalty,


Makers Mark’s signature bottle waxing,


cocktails and food recipes,



and social media platforms Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest.


My favorite page is a brilliant digital image that outlines the difference between bourbon and whiskey making the user feel more intelligent about the product.  The target demographic for whiskey drinkers are middle and upper class males that want to appear cool, intelligent and of course successful.




If the ease of use and cleaver pages weren’t enough to impress you then try navigating back to the home page after visiting one of the subpages.  You’ll notice the link tiles have shuffled and the images have changed putting new pages in your line of site and making the target consumer concentrate on the changing images to determine where they should go next.  This subtle tactic is a brilliant way to keep the surfer engaged in the site and engrossing them more in the product.

With a product with Makers Mark’s reputation in the whiskey world as being a smooth top shelf spirit, I would expect nothing less than a smooth, top shelf website.  This site delivers in functionality, accurate branding and flow to direct the user where they need to go.  Now I’m thirsty and That’s What’s Going Down….



It’s a Super Bowl Sunday…

Here we go. First post on a new blog. This is exciting! The purpose of this blog is to take a look at the advertising and marketing world and how it may be affected by current events.  You’ll get it, just keep reading…

Here’s what’s goin’ down. What a better way to kick this off than to talk about the biggest single advertising day of the year, a day when the commercials are just as famous as the event. You guessed it, we’re going to rehash Super Bowl Sunday.  Unfortunately, in my opinion, the commercials were as disappointing as the game.  There seemed to be a contest between every major brand to see who could be the most irrelevant.  From bears eating yogurt, to the Doberhuahua, many spots left audiences perplexed.  Speaking of the Audi Doberhuahua commercial, was it me or did every other spot seem to belong to a major car manufacturer? I think this year marketing teams missed and missed big.  Without further adieu I will present my 3 worst “big game” ads of 2014.

3.  Kia “The Truth”

I love the Matrix trilogy, and when the iconic sunglasses of Morpheus graced my screen I thought we were all in for a treat. The red key, blue key pun was predictable and the commercial actually tolerable….cut to Morpheus with a pitch pipe and a voice that belongs in the New York Metropolitan Opera.  I get it, opera music should correlate with luxury, but if that’s the demographic you’re going for Kia why appeal to the edgy Sci-Fi generation that is turned on by the Matrix reference?   The other flaw is if Kia is trying to get a younger generation ready to drive a luxury car why would your main character have grey hair and tired style?  Swing and a miss Kia, great premise with poor execution.

2.  Turbo Tax “Love Hurts”

The best part about this commercial was the narrator (What’s up John C. Reily?) and the incapable mustache our 20 something protagonist sported on his mom’s couch.  Poor design from the start. Think about it, what’s the one thing that can cure holding on to the past and feeling left out? Doing your taxes. What what? The thing that amuses me is that doing your taxes IS about as fun as watching your secret crush make out with your high school nemesis.  Good call Turbo Tax, fix your inferiority complex by doing your taxes.  Does anyone have the number to H&R Block?

  1.  Bud Light “Epic Night’

To me this was the most disappointing spot, or spots.  Maybe its because I enjoyed the teasers so much. Maybe it’s because of the 2 weeks of build up. Maybe its because there is no way the “Not An Actor” was not in on it.  Case and point when Don Cheadle walks in the elevator with a llama and all of a sudden Ian and “Don” are on a first name basis.  Seriously, Ian Rappaport was selected from a previous AB focus group. For all the great AB ads in the past, this series really fell short of expectations. I know the online version was longer, more thought out and generally well received, but guess what AB? No one wants to spend 5 minutes online in the middle of a Super Bowl.  You missed your 60 second window with a choppy edit of rough jump cuts, leaving the audience thinking they had just missed the climax after you invested in 2 weeks of build up.

That’s all for this week guys, I hope my insight sparked some intrigue and even disagreement.  That’s the point of this blog, to start dialogue regardless of what side of the fence you’re on. Come back soon and check out my next post!