Thursday, February 27, 2020

The end of the brand known as “Sussex Royal”

By now, everyone has heard that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry and his American-born wife Meghan Markle, have made the earth-shattering decision to step back from their official duties as “senior members” of the British Royal Family, effective March 31, 2020. Harry and Meghan received the Sussex titles by Her Majesty The Queen upon their marriage on May 19, 2018, and since then, the couple has branded themselves as “Sussex Royal.”

As part of the British Royal Family, the couple has been included on the family’s website (, but it is unclear as to what information will remain following March 31. The couple also created an account on Instagram ( and its own website (

However, the couple has been told that they may not use the term “Royal” in the U.K. or elsewhere after March 31, and Harry has stated that he wants to be addressed simply as “Harry.”
The couple plans to continue their involvement with philanthropy and specific issues, such as, veteran rights, women’s rights, conservation, elimination of landmines, and mental health. Their likenesses will definitely sell products, and as the last week has shown, they will be much sought-after speakers at corporate events. So what will the couple’s new brand look like?

According to Wikipedia, “Personal branding is the practice of marketing people and their careers as brands. It is an ongoing process of developing and maintaining a reputation and impression of an individual, group, or organization.”

This marketing-savvy couple has drawn a large amount of media interest, so there is no surprise that the world’s spotlight is shining on them as they create a new brand. Some of the things they will consider in the process:

* Brand name
* Tagline
* Graphics and color palette
* Website
* Social media platforms
* Nonprofit partnerships
* Corporate partnerships

And lastly, here are some questions for the couple to answer once they have created their new brand:

* Will the brand clearly stand apart from the British Royal Family?
* Will the brand be representative of the couple’s interests?
* Will the brand name symbolize Harry and Meghan?
* Will the brand be able to stand the test of time?
* Will the couple’s fans embrace the new brand?

What do you think the couple will choose as their new brand? Please chime in.

Image Credit: ABC News/Australia via Reuters/Henry Nicholls.

Monday, February 10, 2020

What’s Your Favorite Valentine’s Day Brand?

With the Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and New Year’s Eve/Day holidays over, the next holiday on the calendar is Valentine’s Day.

For some history about Valentine’s Day, check out this link from Wikipedia:

When you think of the holiday featuring Cupid and his arrow, there are countless brands that come to mind. Which brands are your faves? Here are five that symbolize the holiday.

With a tagline, “Every kiss begins with Kay,” this brand stands out. According to the brand’s website, the first storefront opened in 1916 in Reading, Pennsylvania. “Back then, customers could find eyeglasses, music boxes, silverware, appliances, and razors among the gifts of jewelry. A lot has changed since then, but thankfully, love lives on. Kay Jewelers, now part of Signet Jewelers in Akron, Ohio, has grown. As the number one jewelry store in America with more than 1,000 stores, Kay has had the honor of being a part of countless love stories from coast to coast.”

Dating has evolved due to the digital age. While there are numerous online dating sites ranging from religious sites to specific age sites to hobby sites, this Dallas-headquartered brand launched in 1995. According to its website, “ services 24 countries and territories and hosts websites in 15 languages…We give singles the opportunity to express themselves through various free writing sections. Profiles may include up to 26 photos, as well as selected preferences regarding the person they're searching for. With the click of a mouse, members can instantly see photos and read about potential matches in their area.”

For an interesting look at online dating statistics, check out this research by Chadwick Martin Bailey:

Tiffany & Company has long been synonymous with diamond engagement rings that come in little blue boxes. But during February, little blue boxes may be considered by some to be better gifts than chocolate heart boxes.

According to Wikipedia, “The Hershey Kisses were first introduced in 1907. At first, the Hershey Kisses were wrapped by hand, but in 1921, a machine was made so that the Kisses would be wrapped automatically. Brothers Walter, Howard, and Raymond Phillippy made improvements, such as, devices to reject misshapen Kisses and position unwrapped candies upright. This is also when the plume was added. In 1924, Milton S. Hershey received a registered trademark for the plume.…Kisses are one of the most popular brands of candy in the United States. In 1989, the chocolate drops were the 5th most popular chocolate brand in the United States, spawning sales that topped $400 million. More than 60 million Hershey's Kisses chocolates are produced each day at the company's two factories.”

Click to see the extensive list of variations of Hershey’s Kisses in the United States, Canada, and internationally – as well as the “limited time only” varieties:

Do you send greeting cards via snail mail? Well, believe it or not, some people still do, and the most well-known brand for greeting cards is this brand founded by a teenager in 1910 with headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri.

According to Hallmark’s website, here are some interesting facts about Valentine’s Day (
* Hallmark first offered Valentine’s Day cards in 1913 and began producing them in 1916.
* In addition to the United States, Valentine’s Day is celebrated in Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France Australia, Denmark, and Italy.
* Approximately 145 million Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged industry-wide (not including packaged kids’ valentines for classroom exchanges), making Valentine’s Day the second-largest holiday for giving greetings cards.
* According to the National Retail Federation, the average person celebrating Valentine’s Day spent $143 in 2018.

What are your favorite Valentine’s Day brands?

Image Credit: Kay Jewelers,, Tiffany & Company, Hershey’s, and Hallmark.

Monday, February 3, 2020

A Review of the #Ads from #SuperBowl54

Unlike some previous big games, Super Bowl 54 was full of football action. But, if you live and breathe marketing, the game is just background noise. Your focus is the ads that take place in between the snaps, kicks, and runs. With a staggering cost of nearly six million dollars for 30 incredibly short seconds, is it possible for a brand to tell its story effectively? Were there any ads that rivaled Apple’s 1984 ad? Were there any Tweets that rivaled Oreo’s Tweet during the 2013 power outage? Can you RECALL any of the ads?

This quote from Landor Associates is timeless: "Here are three tips to help you, your dad, or even your football-crazed grandma decide which brands scored a touchdown with their commercials: Is the ad on-brand? Will you remember the brand tomorrow? And, does the ad speak to the times?”

During the game, New York-based brand guru Jim Joseph (@JimJosephExp) hosted his annual #SuperBowlExp party on Twitter (minus chips and guacamole), and since 2014, I've chimed in. Although it's always fun to see what fellow branding and marketing folks say about the ads in real time, there are a couple of challenges. First, some ads run in regional or local markets. Second, there are so many hashtags that draw attention to the ads that it’s sometimes a challenge to keep up (#BrandBowl, #AdBowl, etc.).

For the third year, I simultaneously followed along with the Kellogg School's TweetChat using the hashtag #KelloggBowl led by Tim Calkins (@TimothyCalkins), Professor of Marketing at Kellogg. This group of marketing folks had interesting comments throughout the ads.

This year for the first time, I also followed the Tweets by Pantone (@Pantone), the the global authority on color, as it shared comments using the hashtag #BigGameColorCommentary. For instance, when a referee threw a yellow flag on the field, Pantone tweeted the specific color Yellow. At the conclusion of the game, Pantone tweeted both teams' specific colors of red with the final score - great marketing!

This year, I didn't see my favorite brand spokes-characters. There were no M&M's, no Coca-Cola polar bears, and no Budweiser Clydesdales with their pal, the adorable Dalmatian. These icons have become part of the Super Bowl advertising tradition - and in the process, part of the Super Bowl itself. Perhaps, next year, these icons will return.

Without further ado, here were my five favorite ads:


Seats were not even warm as this ad began. It featured women playing football, and its message was let's "Kick Inequality." The hashtag #KickInequality became a theme throughout numerous ads including Olay, Microsoft, and Tide (which featured Wonder Woman's Gal Gadot).


This ad introduced Katie Sowers from the San Francisco 49ers, the first woman to ever coach in the Super Bowl. What an inspiration!


Do you remember when Budweiser changed its name to "America" from May through November 2016? This ad aligned with that marketing campaign because its theme was that all of us are "Typical Americans." The much-loved Clydesdale horses may have been absent, but the message that we all have something in common - in this era of disagreement in Washington, D.C. - came through loud and clear.


Spokes-canine Scout received excellent treatment from the angels at the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine, and this ad told his story. With the hashtag #PetsMakeADifference, viewers were asked to make a donation. All fans of dogs and animals were touched by this ad.


Viewers of this ad who work in the information security industry might have wondered why Facebook didn't use the opportunity to talk about privacy and new ways to protect users' data. Instead, Facebook used its ad to promote its "Groups" - specifically groups with the word ROCK - ranging from rock climbers to senior citizen porch rockers. The ad ended with a group of runners running up the stairs of the Philadelphia Art Museum just like Rocky Balboa did in the "Rocky" movie in 1976 - and then, surprise! There was Sylvester Stallone!

It seems as if most of the other ads fell flat. I don't want to share any political commentary, but Michael Bloomberg spent a reported 11 million dollars on his ad. Tide's constant reminders to do #LaundryLater were a little annoying. As some people wrote on Twitter, "Even we wouldn't do laundry during the #SuperBowl, #LaundryLater."

And lastly, Jacques de Cock, a faculty member at the London School of Marketing, said the game will have been watched in half of US households.

"The Super Bowl is a phenomenon unsurpassed in the world. It is one of the few national social events, which is also why social media traffic during the game is so high...What is also remarkable is that advertising is not viewed as something to skip, but is seen by 77 percent of viewers as part of the entertainment and therefore more watched and engaged with than any other television advertising during the year."

Are you counting the days to Super Bowl 55, scheduled for February 7, 2021, in Tampa, Florida? Or, are you planning a party to review the ads instead?

For more commentary on the Super Bowl's Ads, I recommend the following reading:

2020 Ad Meter Results

Jim Joseph's blog post:

Kellogg School's recap:

Pantone recap:

Tom Fishburne's blog post:

If you want to read my previous annual recaps starting in 2012, search my blog using "super" for the links.

Image Credit: Pantone via Twitter.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

2019 Was the Year of #REBRANDING

Was your brand in the news during 2019? If not, don’t despair. There were many other brands that made headlines during 2019. 

Here’s a recap of 15 brands that either rebranded, changed their logo, or changed their name during 2019.

*MasterCard dropped its name from its logo and became a wordless logo like Apple and Target. (January)

*Dunkin’ unveiled new packaging. (January)

*ComedyCentral unveiled a new logo. (January)

*Slack unveiled a new logo. (January)

*Hickory Farms unveiled its rebrand with a new logo, website, and packaging. According to CEO Diane Pearse, “At Hickory Farms, we’re in the business of connecting people. We aspire to make food gifting effortless because we know that making connections through food is a meaningful intersection in our busy, fast-paced lives. 2019 marks an important year for Hickory Farms as our brand evolves with a modern look and feel that appeals to a broader audience with choices for every occasion.” (January)

*Pizza Hut changed its name to “Pizza Hut Hut” with signage and a pop-up store in Atlanta to celebrate its sponsorship of Super Bowl 53. (February)

*Stratosphere Hotel in Las Vegas changed its name to The Strat. (February)

*Marriott International announced a new logo for Sheraton. (March)

*Mars rebranded with a new logo and tagline: Tomorrow starts today. (March)

*IKEA launched a new logo as part of its move toward digital sales. (April)

*Sears launched a new tagline and logo to create a new image in the wake of negative publicity surrounding its bankruptcy filing and wave of store closings. (May)

*Several brands changed their logos to recognize pride month: IBM, American Airlines, US Weekly, New York Public Library, The Gap, Levi’s, Banana Republic. (June)

*Jamba Juice changed its name and logo to Jamba to reflect its emphasis on its expanded product line and wellness, not just juice. (June)

*Mimi’s Cafe changed its name to Mimi’s Bistro & Bakery. According to Tiffany McClain, the chain’s director of marketing, “We spent two years researching where we’ve been and what we could do to strengthen the brand in the future and strengthen our connection to France...Adding “bistro” to the chain’s name reflects a French feel, with a nod toward relaxation, while “bakery” emphasizes the restaurant’s grab-and-go offerings.” (July)

*Yahoo rebranded with a new logo. (September)

*Wharton Digital Press changed its name to Wharton School Press to better emphasize the book publishing arm of the Wharton School. According to Dean Geoffrey Garrett, “We’re very excited about this new direction, which emphasizes the school’s continued commitment to publishing important books.” (October)

With all these changes, one wonders if brands that don’t make changes have staying power. Do logos need to be refreshed every so often? Do brand names need to change every so often? How do these changes impact brand equity and customer recognition? These are important questions to consider before making any strategic branding changes.

What brand change stood out to you during 2019? Please chime in.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Top 10 Marketing Highlights of 2019

With 2019 now history, it's time for my annual “Top 10” marketing highlights post – incredible that this is my 10th post featuring annual marketing highlights. 

What do you remember from the 2019 marketing reel? Which were duds? What stood out as marketing innovation, and what will go down in history that was as memorable as Apple’s 1984 Super Bowl ad? Without further ado, let’s get to it! What campaigns were great?

With a nod and thank you to David Letterman for the format, here's my list:


In April, Budweiser unveiled a “Jackie Robinson” bottle to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the baseball legend’s birth and used the hashtag #ThisBudsForJackie in its promotions.


In April, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex launched an Instagram account as their sole social media channel. According to their first post, “Welcome to our official Instagram; we look forward to sharing the work that drives us, the causes we support, important announcements, and the opportunity to shine a light on key issues.” The first post was liked by nearly 1.3 million viewers; and the account has attracted nearly 10 million followers.


In May, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex introduced the world to their first child, a son named Archie Harrison, the seventh in line to the British Throne. Imagine all the items with his name and likeness on sale in Britain!


The Walt Disney Company partnered with the Make-A-Wish Foundation to raise money due to the release of its Aladdin movie and granting of wishes in the film, released in May.


For a limited time, Taco Bell opened a hotel and resort in Palm Springs, California. At “The Bell,” guests could buy Taco Bell-themed apparel and plan Taco Bell-themed weddings.


In a press release by Oreo, the cookie brand confirmed that limited-edition Marshmallow Moon Oreos would hit store shelves in honor of the 50th anniversary of the historic Apollo lunar landing. Each pack of Marshmallow Moon Oreos featured three custom cookie designs inspired by the moon landing, including an astronaut floating in zero gravity, a rocket ship blasting off, and a crescent moon next to three stars. The best part? The cookie packaging actually glowed in the dark!


CBS Evening News introduced its new anchor, Norah O’Donnell, on July 15, with both a new logo and new introductory music. O'Donnell explained that her evening broadcasts would place an emphasis on fair and unbiased news combined with a focus on the 2020 presidential election. In Fall 2019, her studio moved from New York to Washington, D.C.


Frontier Airlines was proud to be America's greenest airline dedicated to #sustainability, and on August 13, anyone with the surname Green or Greene could fly free.


Mattel, the company that created Barbie, introduced a line of gender-neutral dolls called Creatable World. “The doll can be a boy, a girl, neither or both, and Mattel, which calls this the world’s first gender-neutral doll, is hoping its launch on September 25 redefines who gets to play with a toy traditionally deemed taboo for half the world’s kids,” according to TIME magazine.

And NUMBER 1 on my 2019 Marketing Highlights List:

Drum roll please...

A sign of the times: Starbucks announced in July that it would stop selling newspapers - and remove newspaper racks - at its coffee shops in Fall 2019. The company began selling The New York Times in stores nearly 20 years ago and added The Wall Street Journal and USA Today in 2010. Following the announcement, Starbucks offered digital access through its free in-store Wi-Fi at all company-operated locations in the U.S. for a limited time for the following pubs: The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The Seattle Times, Chicago Tribune, The Baltimore Sun, Orlando Sentinel, and New York Daily News. 

In a post on Starbucks' Blog: “This is just the beginning. We will continue to listen and learn from our customers, looking for new opportunities to deliver news, content and experiences that are relevant to our customers, inspiring to our partners and meaningful to our communities.”

What would you add to this list? Here's to 2020 and another year of marketing highlights. Happy New Year!

Image Credit: BigStock photo.

Monday, December 16, 2019

What Are Your Favorite New Year's Brands?

The December holidays are within view, and this means that the new year is on the horizon ripe with resolutions and exciting opportunities.

When you think of New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, there are many brands that come to mind. Which brands are your faves? Here are five of mine.

Many of us drink in the new year with champagne, and while a bottle may cost several hundred dollars - and the most costly bottle has been known to cost $42,000 - Dom Pérignon is the world's most well-known champagne.

For some interesting facts about Dom Pérignon, visit:


Every year on the final day of the year, everyone's attention is on the city known as "The Big Apple." New York City has hosted a memorable New Year's Eve party every year since 1907, with the exception of 1942 and 1943. Hundreds of thousands flock to Times Square to watch a truly brilliant event: the crystal ball drop as the final seconds of the year tick away toward midnight, ushering in a new year. According to the Times Square website: "Thanks to satellite technology, a worldwide audience estimated at over one billion people watch the ceremony each year. The lowering of the Ball has become the world's symbolic welcome to the New Year."

The famous ball drop at New York City's Times Square is comprised of 2,688 Waterford Crystal triangles that vary in size. According to the Times Square website: "For Times Square 2020, 192 Waterford Crystal triangles introduce the new Gift of Goodwill design of three pineapples signifying the traditional image of hospitality and goodwill. 192 are the Gift of Harmony design of small rosette cuts flowing into each other in beautiful harmony. 192 are the Gift of Serenity design of butterflies flying peacefully above a crystal meadow capturing the spirit of serenity. 192 are the Gift of Kindness design consisting of a circle of rosettes symbolizing unity with the fronds reaching out in an expression of kindness. 192 are the Gift Of Wonder design composed by a faceted starburst inspiring our sense of wonder. 192 are the Gift of Fortitude design of diamond cuts on either side of a crystal pillar to represent the inner attributes of resolve, courage and spirit necessary to triumph over adversity. The remaining 1,728 triangles are the Gift of Imagination design with a series of intricate wedge cuts that are mirrored reflections of each other inspiring our imagination."

For a myriad of fun facts about the history of the Times Square Ball, visit:

After the world's attention leaves New York City on December 31st, it turns to America's west coast, specifically a Southern California suburb of Los Angeles. Home to approximately 140,000, Pasadena's population swells to the hundreds of thousands, possibly even a million, each year on January 1st. The city's main street is Colorado Boulevard, and that is where the action begins around 8am every January 1st.


The attraction on New Year's Day in Pasadena, California, is the annual Rose Parade, hosted by the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association. According to Wikipedia, "First held on January 1, 1890, hundreds of thousands of spectators watch the Rose Parade in person, and millions more watch it on television - both in the U.S. and in more than 100 international territories and countries worldwide. The Rose Bowl college football game was added in 1902 to help fund the cost of staging the parade. Since 2011, Honda sponsors the Rose Parade. Accordingly, the company has the parade's first float, which like all floats, follows the parade's theme."

During 2020, we will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote. With this in mind, here are some women's and girls' equality brands:
* League of Women Voters
* National Women's History Museum
* National Organization for Women (NOW)
* Equality Now
* She Should Run
* UN Women
* Gender at Work 
* Women's Foundation of California
* Step Up
* American Civil Liberties Union

What new year's brands stand out to you as you get ready to begin 2020?

Image Credit: Dom P
érignon, City of New York, Waterford, Rose Parade, and City of Pasadena via Layout app.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

What's Your Favorite Holiday Brand?

With the holiday season well underway, what brands stand out? What brands use clever words or spokespeople for unique holiday marketing or advertising campaigns? What brands do you embrace every December? What brands symbolize a happy and healthy holiday season?

There are some brands that announce holiday time to me, and I'd like to share five of them.

One of the world's most iconic brands features special spokespeople, or in this case, spokes-bears during the holidays. Polar bears and their friends appear and always create heartwarming smiles.

[2] M&M'S
A chocolate favorite throughout the year, M&M's features red and green candy especially for the Christmas holiday.

Tiffany & Company has long been synonymous with diamond rings that come in little blue boxes. But during the holiday season, the best holiday traditions arrive in little blue boxes.

This toy brand unveils an annual "Holiday Barbie." According to the Barbie website, "For decades, the Holiday Barbie doll has embodied the spirit of a season marked by wonder and celebration. 2019 Holiday Barbie doll shines in an elegant gown with red and white holiday print and silvery sparkle detail. A beautiful bow adorns the gown’s shoulder and complements a dramatic red train. ‘Tis the season to smile wider, hug your loved ones a little tighter and savor that magical holiday spirit. Reflecting the sparkle and jubilation of holiday festivities, 2019 Holiday Barbie doll is the definitive celebration of a season full of love."

When you wish someone happy holidays, if you work for Honda, the phrase becomes "Happy Honda Days." This catchy phrase has been in our advertising lingo for many years, and it represents car sales at Honda dealerships from November through early January each year.

What about you? What brands stand out in a very crowded marketplace, especially during the holidays? I posit that the holidays present an exciting opportunity to stand far apart from the competition and win customers not just during the holiday season but all year long.

Image Credit: Layout app featuring Mattel, Honda, Tiffany & Co., M&M's, and Coca-Cola.