Monday, February 25, 2008

Didn't like Crystal Pepsi? How about Green Coke?

Add one more company to the thousands of others who are attempting to redefine their brand as eco-friendly. Although this time, it's one of the largest ad spenders and marketing savvy companies that the business world has ever seen. Coke is joining the green push, although they are going about it a different way. Coke's new 10 million dollar campaign attempts to broaden the definition of environmentalism and instead promotes the idea of "sustainable well-being".

In a recent article on, Michael Bush describes Coke's new campaign as an attempt to paint the beverages giant as a social "good guy" which is concerned about meeting consumer needs and supporting local educational and sports programs as well as the environment. "We're thinking of well-being from a mental, physical, community and environmental perspective that encompasses every part of our North American business," a Coca-Cola spokeswoman said. "We're using this to talk to all of our stakeholders and show our desire to be a better partner to all of them."

Last month Sapna posted a blog which ended with the question, "How important is the [green] label to what you purchase?" I'd like to follow that up with another question; As a Coke shareholder would you rather Coke spend their (and your) money on this green campaign or on initiatives that more directly improve the bottom line? Sure, this campaign may increase revenue eventually, but isn't the eco-friendly concept too played out for Coke to get much ROI from this campaign?

Regardless of the outcome, the bottom line is that companies that begin painting their brand green need to insure that they actually follow through on this commitment and it is not simply lip service. It appears that Coke really intends to be the social "good guy", but it may take consistent effort and action to convince skeptical consumers and green advocates that they truly have a green thumb. Illustration by Marc Simon

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Sign up for the Google Challenge!

Hi Marketing Association Members,

Want to be a part of the Google Challenge and help a local business with its marketing plan?

Well, here is your opportunity to shine!
Google is sponsoring the Google Online Marketing Challenge, which provides a compelling learning experience for students. Additionally, you'll compete with other students from around the globe for a chance to receive a trip to the Google Headquarters in Mountain View, California, with 7 nights accommodation in a 5-star hotel in San Francisco.
Here's how the Challenge works:teams of students will receive US$ 200 in Google adsto drive traffic to a business website of their choosing. Student teams willcompete with other teams from their institution along with student teams from allover the world. Teams can run their campaign over any 3 consecutive weeks between the 10th of February and the 24th of May 2008. Teams must submit their final report before the 14th of June 2008. Global and regional winners are announced July 2008.
This is not a simulation; teams gain real-world experience with a
real client. Google provides US $200 in vouchers, teaching materials and other resources.
The Challenge is open to undergraduate and graduate students teams anywhere in the
world. You will find details at
Sign up information: Please let Satish Ramachandran ( and Rena Chhit ( know if you are interested by February 18th. Information about teams: We've registered for 8 teams that can be comprised of 4-6 members, so if you're interested, there's plenty of room! Feel free to form your own teams, or if you'd like, we can place you into groups based on your location. Please keep in mind that you will be working with a local business, so you may want to work with people that live in fairly close proximity to you. We hope you will take part in this exciting opportunity! If you have any questions about the Challenge, please email Satish and Rena.

Friday, February 15, 2008

I'll take the yellow and blue, no wait, maybe the black...

By now has everyone seen or heard about NikeiD? If not, let me explain. NikeiD lets average Joes like myself play make-believe rock star by allowing consumers the ability to customize their shoes and apparel. Always wanted to rock your initials on a pair of kicks? Now you can. Always liked the way purple and green looked together, but could never find a shirt with that color combination? Now you can have Nike make one just for you.

This, in my opinion, is genius. The Marketing folks at Nike have uncovered a key branding truth here. Your Brand is not what you say it is. It's what your customers say it is. We've all heard that "Perception is reality" and from a branding standpoint, this is absolutely true. Granted marketers can attempt to influence and control their brand perception through various marketing strategies, but the bottom line is that people will always view your brand through their lense.

By allowing consumers to customize their hightops, muscle shirts soccer cleats, etc., Nike has found a way to give consumers the Nike brand as a blank canvas and then provided a way for customers to express themselves using the brand. Brilliant.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Book review: Microtrends

I finished reading Microtrends: the small forces behind tomorrow’s big changes, by Mark Penn. The book was authored by the pollster/political strategist who identified the “Soccer Mom” segment in the mid-90’s. These moms turned out to be the swing voters in Clinton’s 1996 re-election; Clinton tuned his message to address the concerns of these undecided voters and win their votes.

In Microtrends, the author identifies 75 new trends culled from journals, articles, observations, and polls. The premise of the book is that only 1% of the population (3M people in the US) can create enough momentum to start a movement or launch a business. Each microtrend won’t necessarily transform into a major trend; rather, each represents a changing mindset or attitude that can impact many people beyond those directly associated with the trend.

With each trend, the author provides some stats for scale, attempts to provide some explanations, and identifies some implications as well as some potential market opportunities. The book is a quick read and provides good food-for-thought on market segments and market opportunities. It could generate some ideas for the upcoming New and Small Business Ventures course (Summer ’08). The book’s format, with 75 chapters covering the 75 themes, and each chapter about 4 pages long, makes for very convenient “in-between” reading.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Global Markets-What you sell defines how you sell

Allright, I admit my interest in Global marketing arose from a work requirement, but heck, McKinsey articles are not always my bedtime read [I know, biz school is supposed to make me think deep thoughts 24/7 but I refuse to fill my bedside table with research articles by consultant as yet]. My personal interest in companies reaching out to Global markets arose from the fact that I used to live in India when McDonalds made its entry [yep, i am not ashamed to say I made my weekly trek and stood in line for 45 minutes for a McDonalds meal]. Much as the advent of a Global company caused excitement, I believe its strong success arose from the fact that McDonalds customized. There was not a single McMenu in the country that served hamburgers--nope! there were pizza pies, and veggie pies and Veggie burgers.

Cut to 2007, opportunities in global markets for clothing retailers are described thus in the McKinsey article [subscription required]

""China: Small budgets, small wardrobes" shows how the country’s fickle consumers and strong local competitors threaten to undermine the multinationals’ efforts.
"India: Shopping with the family" explains the different roles that Indian women, men, and children play in making decisions about apparel and the way the market there is evolving.
"Brazil: Fashion conscious, credit ready" describes that country’s enthusiastic shoppers, as well as the efforts of banks and retailers racing to meet their credit needs. "

I related the most to the description of the Indian families, but note how differently the multinational retail chains, for example, would need to customize their offerings based on spending patterns. Last I checked, about 10% of India's retail sales came from 'chain' stores-yes, urbanization is changing all that. But remember, rural population and semi-urban cities are still strong.

So in effect, if a Macy's were to think of inroads into global markets given the sinking numbers in US, they could not carry forth their US marketing tactics to each of these countries. How different would the products need to be? How different should marketing and service be? [altering is a BIG necessity in Indian clothing biz] and how would loyalty programs change? Hardly any retail store in India offer 'credit cards' [there wouldnt be many takers anyway]. They do, however, have redeemable point cards [a HUGE hit]

The store to watch out for , I believe, is Wal-Mart. This is the only truly diverse brand I have seen so far, even in how it communicates to its audience in US. I see regular ads for Wal-mart on Indian channels. And their entry into countries like China includes customized offerings like 'bazaar like' fish markets and in India, they plan for a 'market-like spice stall'.

Yep, there are a lotta crazy things going on with Wal-Mart. But they get the idea of 'diversified marketing' and 'customized offering' in a way no other retail store has, so far.

Super Ads? Or Just Super Hype?

Ok, am admittedly an ad freak. In my [now and previous] workplaces, co-workers zealously followed Super Bowl ads to discuss over water-coolers the next day. On my part, I discovered Super Bowl was not really about Baseball or Worldwide teams about 5 years back, but ads i can watch forever, so have been stuck forever to viewing ads [Thanks Youtube!]

SuperBowl has progressed, in what is popularly the notion of 'ad integration'--which, last I checked, is in layman's term, a way of making sure all avenues are covered and measured. Lets take an example, last year the Burger King Whoperette ad [Whoperette was a type of burger. of course]. The ad was shown on tv, a website link prominently displayed. Then measurement freaks maniacally tracked the traffic to the website right after the ad showed [huge surge] to the day of Super Bowl [still strong] to a few days later [quickly petered down]. Additionally, they put in coupons for visitors to use while they visit a Burger King outlet [coupons, as we all know, are Trackable with a capital T]. Some ads flopped miserably in its 'integration' effort [where is the website? And if they did show a website, how did they customize it for the Super Bowl ad enthused visitor versus a general visitor?]. But overall, a lotta marketers learnt their lesson. Add the 'consumer created content' angle to Super Bowl ads [yeah, those home videos you stored on tape a few years back? you can probably use them now!!] and its a whole lotta hype!

Forbes rounds up Super Bowls ads here. Who are the players in Super Bowl ads? Publishers, for one. MySpace had a section dedicated to superbowl ads, complete with comments and commentary and 'making of' videos. Youtube had a 'Super Bowl ad' competition. Which pretty clearly means there are a whole lotta folks out there like me who would rather play a game of Scrabble during Super Bowl and catch up on the ads late at nite online [No no, we do have a life too].

Agencies---offline, traditional, online, interactive--name it, they are in it. A Super Bowl campaign is made up of a whole lotta smaller pieces that seperate agencies likely run with.

Marketers---The moneybags. GoDaddy, Dove, Bud guys--all jostling for a spot in the prime time. With writer's strike et al looming big, getting those precious eyeballs focused on TV has never been so important as this year.

The quality of the ads? Thankfully, that is still a discussion point. Coca-cola rocked I thought. see Below

Bottomline, Super Bowl is great for generating enthusiasm for a Brand. Ads, however, are a means to an end. The product is still key, and clearly the established brands are much more in control of Super Bowl than newer ones. But Super Bowl ads were never made to salvage any product--Dove ads of last year generated some great hype, but their marketshare sunk pretty low last year even though they had social themes to their soaps and shampoos. People still want the 'show me what you got and why its better' line of thought--take advantage of it!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The Brand Gap

What defines a Brand? Does a Brand have a $ value? How do you align your corporate strategies to best improve and support your Brand? This slideshow answers these questions and also serves as a great example of how to create a powerful slideshow...enjoy.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Recent Book Reads

I came across this book 'Say it with Charts' recently-I knew it wasnt exactly a powerpoint tutorial book. Written by Gene Zelazny, its a nice guide to visual communication. Especially valuable when the natural inclination is to stuff a slide with 'Too much text' [havent we all seen them? the slides we need to really squint to read coz its jammed with text?].

Am starting to dig into this one, seems interesting so far. It focuses on audience, right use of charts, and especially on what would be the WRONG chart to use. Will write a review once am done with it. Has anyone come across an interesting book recently? Let us know--its always good to share and discuss new reads.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Internship List

One of our members, Lucy Li, put together a great list for internship opportunities in Marketing. Students are certainly interested in keeping tabs on these opportunities, so we decided to publish Lucy's list here. Please contact them directly if you wish to obtain more information:

Internship list
Internships available for environmentally conscious MBA students.

MBA Internship Program- Gap Foundation Strategic Alliances-
San Francisco

The Farber Program is a leadership program for MBA students, with a passion for social change.
San Francisco

Genentech:Part of a product management brand team, the intern will have an opportunity to work on projects focused on medical education,promotions and/or strategy.
South San Francisco
Summer 2008 Internships - MBA Positions Requisition ID 28655BRUS - California - Mountain ViewUS - California - Palo AltoUS - California - Pleasanton

Marketing Manager Intern: Yahoo! Inc;_ylt=AvcmtInejaWgu7SSNA49wdz6Q6IX
Sunnyvale, CA

We are currently filling entry level positions to service our growing client base.
San Francisco

Influencing the Influencers: Is it worth the effort?

I've occasionally wondered why millions of generally level-headed Americans flooded department stores in the 70's and spent their hard-earned money on bell bottoms. And not only spent their money, but actually wore them out in public! Seriously though, how did this (and other trends) begin? What ignites crazes such as this? Who should we blame for bell bottom pants, hush puppies, tight rolled jeans, and Disco?

In recent years, marketers have become increasingly convinced that by simply influencing a select group of charismatic, social alphas, they'd spread the good news of their product to the masses. Reach the influencers and you reach everyone. This theory dates back to 1955 when when the pioneering sociologists Elihu Katz and Paul Lazarsfeld wrote Personal Influence. They had argued that advertising affected society through a two-step process: Companies broadcast messages, which were then seized upon by "opinion leaders" who proselytized their peers. In recent years, books such as The Tipping Point have further explored this topic with similar results.

The Febuary edition of Fast Company, however carries an article (which you can find here) that outlines current research by Duncan Watts which contradicts the influencer theory and states that these special, socially gifted people have no such effect. Indeed, they have no special role in trends at all. Watts doesn't deny that influencers play an important role in society, as their peers rely on them for advice on everything from cellphones to vehicle purchases. However he goes on to say that influencers can not , by themselves, ignite an trend into existence.

The outcome of this study may have widespread impact on how marketers carry the message of their brand to the masses. No longer will it be easy as simply targeting a select group of social influencers. Check out the complete article here, and let us know your thoughts.

Is it worthwhile to influence the influencers? What do you think?

Friday, February 1, 2008

Payment of Fees Info

We are close to our kick-off meeting and we want to provide a platform for students to learn, network, meet alumni and have a lot of fun.

But...we need funds to bring you the highest-quality experience. Our fee structure is very simple. We are setting the total amount to $60 / student. $30 goes to pay the ASM fee and the remaining $30 funds our club. Please note: The fee is only $90 if you are joining both marketing and finance clubs.

Payment can be sent via check to:

Amit Raman
7855 Paseo Santa Cruz
Pleasanton, CA 94566

Please make the check to "UCD Bay Area AMA."

We prefer a check, but we will accept cash in person during our first meeting. The SRVCC will also have drop boxes during class to make your payment.

If you have any questions, please contact our co-presidents or officers. Thanks and we're looking forward to see you at our first event!