Archive for November, 2012

Giving Thanks For Parking

We live right next to the staging area for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.  For 2 days our neighborhood becomes a giant No Parking Zone and the streets are decorated with blue police barricades.

Watching all of the tow-trucks over the past couple of days reminded me of a piece I wrote for AdWeek about a new LoJack advertising campaign.

So, for your reading pleasure, I am attaching the article.  Happy Thanksgiving Weekend everyone.  Shop early and shop often!


Time To Do Good

Here is an opportunity to contribute to bettering the world around us.

First is contributing directly to the Mayor’s Fund for the Advancement of New York.  This organization has been carrying forward the tasks of  recovering from hurricane Sandy.  The storm is no longer front page news but that doesn’t mean the urgency is any less for the many people in this area.  I was reminded of this yesterday when I was down at the Office of the Mayor for a meeting.

Second, the New York American Marketing Association  is making donations to the Mayor’s Fund for every registration to our annual holiday celebration.

This year it is on Tuesday, December 4th, from 6 to 8 pm.  JWT has graciously hosting the event for a second year in a row — a very special thanks to Erin Johnson for making that happen.  You can sign up for the event and make additional donations at  It’s a good cause and you’ll have a good time.  What could be better?

NYAMA Holiday Event

HA – or – Homeland Anonymous

I was going to write a post about a terrific branding conference on January 31st, 2013, Corporate Image and Branding Conference, produced and presented by The Conference Board.  And then also a write-up on the NYAMA’s brand innovation event featuring Kim Bealle SVP of Kraft; Peter Kaye head of marketing at Honest Tea; Mike Megalli, the brand strategist of Microsoft Windows; and Allen Adamson of Landor.

But I can’t.  I’m rushing to watch a new episode of Homeland.

Yes, I confess.  I am a Homeland watcher.  Obsessively.  Compulsively.  I dissect the plot lines from the past, looking for the hints and foreshadowing which will influence this week’s episode.  I guess where the story is going next, the character motivations.  I swap clues on who is the mole inside the CIA.

So, gotta go.

Before I do, I want to invite you to join the NY marketing community at our annual holiday party on Tuesday, December 4th.  A portion of the registration fees are going to the Mayor’s Fund to help NY recover from the recent hurricane.  Sign up at  See you there!



Today’s Branding Quote from Robert Frost

“Unless you are educated in metaphor, you are not safe to be let loose in the world.”  Robert Frost

A couple of days ago I was sitting in on a poetry class at the Kelly Writers House down at the University of Pennsylvania when this line from Frost popped into my mind.  Professor Al Filreis invited me to sit in on this class, the undergrad version of a course he’s teaching online to 35,000 people.

Yes, that’s right, 35,000 people are taking the same online poetry course taught by the same wonderful professor, going through close readings of modern poetry.

You could make a very compelling case that Mitt Romney lost the presidential election because of his carelessness with metaphors.  Among the memorable ones are“Binders full of women” and “47% of people…believe they are victims…” And he wasn’t helped by his spokesperson, Fehrnstrom who famously said of Romney’s ability to change positions:  “It’s almost like an Etch A Sketch. You can kind of shake it up and restart all over again.” 

So what does this have to do with marketing?  Remember a couple of years ago when Tropicana dropped it’s packaging metaphor of a straw in an orange?  The beautiful picture of OJ pouring into a glass was beautiful and vacuous.  People couldn’t find their Tropicana anymore.  In my house the comment was, “Why did you buy this instead of the regular OJ?”  It was an expensive headache for Pepsico, all because someone was not well educated in metaphor.

Almost single-handedly Al is going to educate us in metaphor for our own safety and for that of others around us.  Let’s join in to support Al and Kelly Writers House.




Happy Birthday 2 U-2

Not many companies have the staying power, the strong internal culture, to make it to the century mark.  Lockheed Martin is one of the few who do, who continue to be relevant to us today.  At Verse Group we are very proud to be helping Lockheed Martin tell their story of accelerating tomorrow.


So this is also the year of big milestones for Oreos, Zurich Insurance, Citibank and Chevy.  What is most important about any branding program is making it relevant to us, the people who are going to be seeing the ads, going to the facebook pages and buying the products.  Okay, maybe we aren’t all in the market for an F-35.  But certainly Oreos!


Oreos make their centennial relevant.

Citi and Zurich have missed the mark, they are rather more self-congratulatory than relevant.



Cognitive Dissonance

In fact, Citibank’s advertising even features a shot of the Space Shuttle lifting off.   That really is something NASA accomplished with Lockheed Martin and a number of other vital corporations.  And you’ll see that Lockheed Martin’s centennial tells the story of our past century and how they’ve helped to accelerate the pace of innovation.  (note: updated with fixed links!)




Street Scenes Part II

Getting around town is nearly impossible if you aren’t walking, bicycling or using a scooter.  Nobody is taking the buses because they are too crowded.

The traffic is horrendous on Wednesday, as you can see from this photo along Central Park West in the 80s.  And there, in the distance, hanging over us like the sword of damocles is the broken sky crane on 57th Street.

Sword of Damocles dangling above us

Central Park is closed and guarded by park workers and volunteers.  This is the first time in over 30 years that I’ve ever seen Central Park truly closed.  All of the parks are closed and all of the public schools.  For my daughter it is a mixed blessing because it means her high school cross country meets in Van Courtland Park are cancelled.

Guarded entrance to Central Park

Toppled trees around the Museum of Natural History are a reminder of…natural history…

Museum of Natural History

And there are more trees lining the sidewalks.  They were standing tall on Monday afternoon and then toppled on Monday night.

Caution: Falling Trees

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