Archive for March, 2013

Corporate Reputations

As many readers of this blog know, I not only run Verse Group but I’m also an active volunteer in the marketing community at large. That includes giving talks at Wharton and Columbia, serving on award committees, and serving as president of the New York chapter of the American Marketing Association —

When serving those roles I take off my Verse Group hat and put on my non-partisan hat.  In that spirit, today’s post is in service of the NYAMA.

We have one more monthly NYAMA event before the big day-long Marketing Summit on May 17th. You can download the full marketing summit agenda here.NYAMA_Agenda_Final_031413  This May 17th event is a terrific opportunity to learn from the leaders like Peter Weefald, the former Marketing SVP of Samsung Electronics and author of Green Reign Leadership; John Kennedy of IBM and one of the driving forces behind their “Smarter Planet” campaign; Niharika Shah who is the VG of Marketing & Advertising Strategy at Prudential Financial; and Robert Schooling the President of APCO Worldwide who will be presenting new research from APCO’s highly respected Champion Brand Index.  These are just some of the smart marketers who will be sharing their insights at the NYAMA Marketing Summit.

First, though, is our April 23rd event.  This event is going to be on Corporate Reputation, featuring speakers from Weber Shandwick and KRC Research. You can sign up at  At this event you’ll learn…

As consumers around the world have greater online access to a brand’s lineage, the influence of the brand “parent” or company behind the brand matters even more. In this uncertain climate, consumers expect more from leading companies and have no trouble boycotting those that fail to live up to new standards. At the same time, marketers need to know how to do business in an environment where consumers are not just purchasing their products or services on their own merits, but are also shopping by company reputation.

Some of the learning objectives in this session include:

  • Experience a fresh take on how to manage your corporate reputation
  • Discuss the changing dynamics of the marketing landscape
  • Explore the rift between corporate reputation and the digital marketplace.

Okay, my public service address of the day is done! Tomorrow I’m putting back on my Verse Group hat.



Deep Freeze Flea Circus?

In today’s New York Times there is this tragic story of a German performance troupe:


BERLIN (AP) — An entire troupe of performing fleas has fallen victim to the freezing temperatures currently gripping Germany.

Flea circus director Robert Birk says he was shocked to find all of his 300 fleas dead inside their transport box Wednesday morning.

It’s moments like these when we set aside our marketing view of the world and see things through another set of eyes. What more can I say about this tragic situation? All of us at Verse Group send our condolences.

Flea Circus Tragedy


Did You Hear What John Kennedy of IBM Has to Say About Engaging Your Customer?

You can on May 17th at the NYAMA Marketing Solutions Summit, where John will be discussing the importance of Social Branding in creating stronger engagement with your customers.  He’ll talk about his first-hand experiences in Social Branding at IBM where he is currently Vice President of Corporate Marketing

Join John Kennedy and other marketing leaders on May 17th.

It’s an opportunity for you to spend a full day with marketing leaders.  Meet senior executives from IBM, BASF, Prudential Financial, Florida Blue, Sprint and others discussing how they are solving the most urgent marketing issues of the day.

Sign up now!

You can download the NYAMA_Agenda_Final_031413

American Airlines Rebranding – or – What Would Betsy Ross Say?

Get the inside story.

This Thursday, 3/21, you will hear first hand from American Airlines about their decision to launch the airlines rebrand in January.  Better yet, this is an opportunity for your questions to be answered.  The New York American Marketing Association has arranged for executives from American and FutureBrand to discuss this high profile and highly controversial branding program.

Sign-up NOW at 


Jill Surdek, Managing Director, Brand & Consumer Experience Strategy,  American Airlines

Sven Seger, Chief Creative Officer, FutureBrand

Time: 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm

McCann World Group Headquarters
622 3rd Avenue at 41st Street
18th Floor
Be sure to sign up in advance.  Our last event on mobile marketing sold out.


From Financial Times:

When American Airlines’ first Boeing 777-300ER entered service last week, it was sporting a new logo and exterior livery – the airline’s first rebrand in more than 40 years, and one that has had a turbulent reception in some quarters.

How American is it?  In Business Week  Massimo Vignelli — who designed the previous AA logo 45 years ago — had this to say:

It has no sense of permanence. The American flag is great. I’m designing a logo now for a German company, and I’m using black, red, gold, and yellow. Why? Because national colors have a tremendous equity. They’re much more memorable. It rings the bell of identification. But the American flag has 13 stripes, right? Not 11. Did American add only 11 stripes [to the flag on the tail] because they are in Chapter 11? I don’t think two more stripes would have been a disaster. And there are only two colors shown instead of all three. So is it a different flag?

11 Stripes or 13 Stripes?

You be the judge if Vignelli is right about the New AA vs. Old Glory:






The controversy also rages within the branding community.  The insider website BRAND NEW received 246 comments for their review of the new AA logo.  That’s about 10x the number of comments a typical posting gets on that site.

So, a sneak preview of the inside scoop from Sven Seger and the rest of the team at MBLM and FutureBrand

4 X 4 in Times Square – or – Unpacked in the Packed Square

One of my secret vices is reading a book while walking down the street.  Now, since our offices are just off of Times Square, I reach a point where I just have to put down the book and look around me.  As anyone who has walked through Times Square lately can tell you, Samsung is launching the Samsung Galaxy S IV right there, tomorrow evening.

While I was admiring all of the digital billboards for the Galaxy S 4, I had to do a double take.

4 by 4?

4 by 4?

LG is engaged in their own guerrilla tactics.

In this case LG is probably wasting their money.  Their message is speaking to themselves, or to Samsung Mobile executives, but certainly not to the average person who just sees


It just fits in with all of the other “4” billboards wrapped around the neighborhood.

The 4 Corners of the Galaxy

The 4 Corners of the Galaxy

Honestly, I didn’t even realize that the LG billboard was trying to poke fun at Samsung until I looked at the photos later in the day.  “It will take more than 4 to equal one.”  With the visual emphasis on “4” LG is actually hurting their own cause.  Their spending is reinforcing the Samsung message.   Times Square is crowded visually, LG needs to have a better storyline to stand out.  There is no stopping power to their advertising.

Full disclosure, while Samsung is a client of Verse Group, we did not participate in this unpacked event.


So the challenge for me is “how can I blog about a conference people can see online?”  I don’t have an answer for that yet.

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