Where Should Your Bar Be?

Here’s a link to a story about the importance of a bar’s location.  That’s all you’re getting today because I’m wall-to-wall work.



Wiccan Prime Minister?

Barack Obama is being inaugurated today.  What?  You already knew that?  Dang, so much for my blog being a source of late-breaking news.  It is of course significant because he is black.  Just as JFK’s election was significant because he was Roman Catholic.

I know it seems silly now to think that Catholicism vs. Protestantism would be an issue in selecting a President, but 50 years ago, it was.  (Maybe in another 50 years, skin colour won’t matter either.)

But back to religion.  I have a friend who is a practicing Wiccan, and who ran for office in the last federal election.  I don’t for a moment believe her religion affected any of the voters, but what if she had been on a bigger stage?  What if she had been running for the leadership of her party or even Prime Minister?  Even if you believe that Canadians are tolerant enough to handle that, imagine a devout muslim or sikh running for the US presidency.

Why should it matter which invisible friend you believe in?  I personally don’t believe in any supreme being.  But then I don’t believe in acupuncture or meditation either – and that doesn’t lessen my regard for those who do.

So why is it that people can get over an obvious physical difference like race or gender, but not a subtle variance in belief systems?


What’s in a Name

This is a map of the word people use to describe carbonated soft drinks in the different parts of the US.  Clicking on it will take you to a much more legible version.  It’s very territorial:  in the northeast, right in the middle around St. Louis, and in the southwest, people call it “soda.”  In the north and northwest, it’s “pop.”  And in the south and southeast, no matter what brand or flavour you’re referring to, you say, “coke.”  (Except for right around Miami – I guess the snowbirds have transferred “soda” down there.)

I wonder if the folks at Coca-Cola in Atlanta think of this.  We’ve all heard that it’s bad for your “brand” to become genericized like Xerox or Kleenex.  But in those states, if you were running down to the corner store, and someone said, “Grab me a coke,” and you didn’t know what their preference was, you’d get a Coca-Cola, because that’s clearly different from, say, Sprite.  It would be another matter if they asked you to grab some Kleenex – you know that all facial tissues are essentially the same, but soda isn’t.  So I think they’d be happy about this instance of genericization.  (Word?)

Anyway, reminds me of a story.  I was sitting in a bar in Auckland, when a nice American girl walked up and ordered a “7 and 7.”  The bartender looked at her quizzically, saying he didn’t know that one.  (It’s rye and 7-Up, jigged into a fancy name by the folks at Seagram’s Distilleries, makers of “Seagram’s 7” rye.)  Now, in New Zealand, they call clear soda like 7-Up, “lemonade” (I never did find out what they call what we  call lemonade…)  So I said to the bartender that what the girl was asking for was Canadian Rye Whiskey and Lemonade.   She said, “Eww, gross – I don’t like whiskey and I wouldn’t want it mixed with lemonade!”  I assured here that that’s what a 7 and 7 was, and said I’d pay for it if I was wrong, so she acquiesced and was pleased with the result.  But the thought left in my mind was, how can you drink something without knowing what’s in it?


Washing Dishes

No time for a real post today – slammed at work.  But I saw a TV ad last night that made me wonder: Electrasol (the dishwasher detergent) is changing its name to “Finish.”  So if you go to http://www.electrasol.com, you get an Electrasol welcome screen.  But once you enter, BAM! – you’re in “Finish” land.


Regular readers of this blog will know that I am no big proponent of the importance of “branding,” but why the heck would you take a name with decades of equity and ditch it?  Any ideas?


Weather Permitting…

mapAs happens frequently, the Weather Network was completely wrong about predicting the weather even 6 hours in advance last night.  I find it hilarious that they have a 2 week outlook when they can’t even do 2 days.  Actually, to give them credit, I tend to have a medium degree (get it?) of confidence in their 2 day predictions, but anything past that is flipping a coin.

Of course, it’s not their fault.  Weather is a hugely complicated phenomenon with trillions of influences affecting what conditions will be at any given place at any given time.  The more things that are in play, the less predictable something is.  So the rising of the sun tomorrow, with only one influence acting on it (gravity) is as close to 100% predictable as you can get.  The path of a billiard ball has only 3 or four influences, so it is highly predictable.  The airspeed velocity* of an unladen African Swallow has many dozens of influences, so it’s somewhat  predictable.

The point of all this is that the market in general, and whom you market to in particular, have millions of influences.  So it’s very unpredictable.  Sometimes it’s possible to grasp why things happened in hindsight, but it’s impossible to predict the future almost all the time.

So, given this unpredictability, there are two strategies to succeed: you can design your company and yourself to be as agile and reactive as possible to what the future brings; or you can try to create  your own future.  I’m not sure which is better, or which is easier, but the latter is definitely scarier.

* I know “airspeed velocity” is redundant, but one must not misquote Monty Python.


War on Drugs

This is an interesting British anti-cocaine ad featuring a dead dog as narrator.  Need I say more?

Notice that in order to get through all the clutter and reach their target audience, they had to make this message both funny AND scary.  That’s the nature of interruption marketing.