Jonathan Salem Baskin

We Don't Want Your Business

Lawn-care company TruGreen fired me as one of its customers last week, and I thought the experience might be illustrative to other businesses on how successful marketing has more to do with operations than it does with creative ideas.

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Bright Lights Project: Merrill Lynch

Merrill Lynch spent the past year studying consumers to discover that paying for retirement is foremost on their minds, and will spend $20 million launching a new brand platform touting its local advisors' relationships with their clients. It's also going to shift money from TV and print advertising to media partnerships, baseball sponsorship and, of course, an iPad app.

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The Original Crowd

I'd like to skip past any hint of commentary on religion, per se, and talk about Judaism's Passover holiday as the most brilliant ever crowdsourcing campaign.

Passover is the annual retelling of the story of Exodus, which most of us are familiar with thanks to Cecil B. DeMille's 1956 classic movie The 10 Commandments: Lots of good-looking Jewish slaves were working on Pharaoh's construction projects when their savior, Moses, kicks Edward G. Robinson's butt, whacks the Egyptians with ugly plagues, and leads his people to freedom.

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Bright Lights Project: Unilever

You're probably familiar with a number of Unilever's various consumer products brands, from food names like Hellmann's mayonnaise, Lipton tea, and Slim-Fast diet drinks, to its major presence in personal care (Dove, Axe, Pond's). It's kinda like Procter & Gamble only it grew up in Europe and built its empire on an aggregation of locally powerful brand names in each of the countries in which it operates versus P&G's classic topdown strategy of building its global brand names in many of the same countries.

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Questionable Sources

I can't claim to be qualified to dissect the behavior of venture capitalists (and I certainly don't mean to throw them all under the bus, as some of them number among my good, respected friends), but I wonder sometimes if marketers have been duped into believing in a social media liturgy that's actually a cover story for a concerted effort by technologists and their supporters to make money.

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Questionable Sources

I can't claim to be qualified to dissect the behavior of venture capitalists (and I certainly don't mean to throw them all under the bus, as some of them number among my good, respected friends), but I wonder sometimes if marketers have been duped into believing in a social media liturgy that's actually a cover story for a concerted effort by technologists and their supporters to make money.

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Bright Lights Project: United Airlines

United and Continental airlines merged on October 1, 2010, claiming the same rationale of customer benefits and improved performance that are regularly used to excuse mergers in automobiles, pharmaceuticals, and every other industry.

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A Bubbling Crisis

Coke reportedly took more than 6% of its UK ad budget last year and put it into social media campaigns. Sales across Europe declined 1%, though its take-home sales in the UK were up 8.3% (Britain's best-selling brand, according to The Grocer magazine).

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Glowing Reviews

The news coming out of Japan couldn't be worse for the American nuclear industry. Manufacturers, suppliers, and electric utilities must be cringing with every headline, as the information includes science, statistics, and security...all subjects that your average consumer is fairly incapable of understanding (and certainly not via short blasts of news).

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Bright Lights Project: Volvo

I remember my parents' two Volvos in the early 70s; a little wagon and a 4-door "sports sedan" shaped like a child had drawn their outlines. Narrow rectangular boxes with another box attached on the middle for the cabin. They were cool and Yuppie before Yuppies knew who they were.

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