Between You and Me, There's PR

Exploring, learning and using social media, public relations and marketing.

Masking a brand for Halloween November 3, 2013

Halloween is a time of year when you get to act and be like something you are not and often, people choose a character they admire. Apparently this Halloween, Pepsi decided to dress up as their competitor Coca-Cola. Does that mean they admire them or want to be like them?

Pepsi as Coca-Cola

Pepsi Advertisement 2013

I cannot think of any scenario in which this is good advertising for Pepsi (except that it got the advertising world buzzing about their advertisement). Not only does it go against my theory of what to be for Halloween, because that would mean they long to be like Coca-Cola, but it also make it looks like the Pepsi can is wearing a super hero cape; as if to say Coca-Cola is Superman and Pepsi is the normal, ordinary Clark Kent. I think people would rather align themselves with the superhero in most scenarios.

Maybe they were trying to be ironic, but ironic costumes never go over well either. There’s too much explanation needed. Fork in a road? Ceiling fan? Code for I have no costume.

Even more interesting is Pepsi’s choice to cover up their own iconic packaging with their competitors brand. They used prime advertising real estate to inadvertently promote their competitor. A better move, in my mind, would be to have a Coca-Cola can dressed up as a Pepsi can for already listed reasons. Not to mention, is it every really good marketing to bash the competitor?

Here are a two brands that also capitalized on the idea of costuming their brand, but in my opinion, got it right, whereas Pepsi got it wrong.

Mini Cooper 2013

“Even your car is dressing up as something hot.”

Sharpie 2013

Sharpie 2013

Additionally, always popular, Oreo hit a big home run with their Halloween videos. Not only do I bow in the greatness of their stop motion video skills, but even the sets for the cookie actor are amazingly detailed. How much would you love that job? ‘Hey guys, let’s recreate the exorcist with an Oreo and call it “Exortwist!’ Those are the kinds of jokes only Oreo can pull off. A well liked brand with well liked campaigns gives you the space for creativity. 

There are so many opportunities for holiday advertising, especially around Halloween. Pepsi really missed the mark and came off as a bad sport, although apparently some advertisers thought it was a success. I vote to leave the other guys out of it and establish your own brand identity separate from the competitor for a really memorable and successful campaign.

What was your favorite Halloween advertisement and what do you think about Pepsi’s move?

Bias alert: I’m a Diet Coke fan all day long.


JC Penney overhauls brand strategy January 26, 2012

It doesn’t take an extreme couponer to get excited about a good deal. I believe I was born with a knack for bargain shopping.  You may not know my mother, but trust me, you won’t find either of us shopping at the front of the store where things are full price, puh-leez.

Let me brag on the Howard ladies for a moment while I share one of our proudest JC Penney shopping trips. We went in with needing nothing in particular except to utilize a $10 off $10 coupon. Were there 50% sales on top of this coupon? You betcha. I walked away spending $0.19 for a necklace, earrings and bracelet. #NBD This is why we don’t buy anything at JC Penney’s without their weekly coupons and sales.
But JC Penney’s recently appointed CEO,  Ron Johnson, has announced a new competitive strategy to replace the company’s overwhelming amount of sale days. According to an article written by the Associate Press,  Johnson announced “Customers will not pay literally a penny more than the true value of the product,” meaning prices will be permanently reduced by at least 40 percent.

The overall strategy includes a new logo that represents the “fair and square” theme the new pricing is meant to portray and new advertisements like the commercial below.

As for the actual pricing changes, prices will be rounded to a flat number, instead of ending in 99. This defies the marketing strategy that consumers perceive numbers ending in 99 lower than if they were just one penny higher.  The price tags will change also to make them easier to identify the price point. They will be color coded according to whether or not it is an every day price, a month-long sale price (holidays still get sales) or a best price (clearance).

We can only evaluate the implications of this complete re-branding strategy when it launches on February 1. This moment could make or break the retail company. JC Penney’s strategy is is a much stronger approach than Gap’s attempt to at re-branding  by changing their logo a year and a half ago, and we all remember consumers’ reactions online that forced them to return to their former logo. How will consumers react to this complete overhaul?

Last time I was in JC Penney, I believe my exact words were “Why don’t they just make the price $20 instead of marking it down from $40? There is no way I would ever pay $40 for this!” and I walked out without purchasing anything. I also can reflect on my attitude of JC Penney over the years. As a teen, it was a place to find cute, inexpensive clothes- especially homecoming dresses. As an adult, I felt almost trashy digging through the racks of sale items. Almost always, there is a shirt with a rip for sale.

Will the lower prices change my attitude from thinking it’s trashy to a steal-of-a-deal? I imagine it will feel more organized and less crammed together on designated sale racks, but will the quality suffer? Will my mind feel like I am not getting a deal if I buy something from the front of the store? Will I walk out when there are no red sale signs drawing me in? Will the employees take a pay cut and be less friendly?

What do you think about this strategy? Will it bomb or re-position JC Penney in a positive light?

But wait, there’s more! Here is the best part of the story: to celebrate the new everyday low price strategy… they are having a sale! Don’t forget to print your coupon from Facebook! Now that’s ironic.


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