Jonathan Salem Baskin

Logo You Don't

Gap announced a new logo on October 4, and a week later retracted it with a promise to keep the old one. The chorus of vociferous customer disdain for the new design was topped only by the branding experts who vilified it. So the market spoke, aided in large part by social media, and Gap responded. And that's that.

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Better Billboards

There's a scene early in "Blade Runner" in which a blimp covered in big, billboard-like TV screens hovers over Harrison Ford and announces "a better life awaits you in the off-world colonies." Like many visions of the future, this wasn't terribly futuristic -- imagining billboards that are simply loud and intrusive isn't much more than a variation on the past -- and I'd say there's yet to be a true revolution in outdoor advertising. So I'd like to propose we start one.

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Guillotine Owners Stay Ahead

I had an inane exchange with a social media consultant on his blog last week that reminded me of a truism: just as the rule for understanding politics is to follow the money, an important quality of social media experience is revealed when you consider the role of the megaphone owner...or, in this case, the guy who operates the guillotine.

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An "A" for Effort

Levi's makes pants; jeans, specifically, but its brand aspires to art and beyond. I used to think this was utter nonsense, but now I'm wondering whether the company's marketers shouldn't get some credit for being so wantonly experimental. It might put them out of business, but it sure won't do so boringly.

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A Protracted Demise

Today begins a week's worth of advertising creativity, insight, brilliance and wit, all of which evidences an industry deeply in denial and perhaps doomed.

Advertising Week is "North America’s premier gathering of cutting-edge communications leaders," according to its web site, which lists a week's schedule packed with guru-level speakers from agencies, media companies, and technology firms. There'll be a little love thrown at big-name client speakers because they spend the money that those agencies, media companies, and technology firms swap with each other.

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Interbrand's Rankings Are Nonsense

Interbrand, perhaps the world's leading branding consultancy, has published its annual ranking of brands. Mainstream newspapers like the Wall Street Journal have already reported on it with dutiful seriousness, and I expect there'll be a special section on the ups and downs of big brand names in a forthcoming issue of BusinessWeek, if past experience holds true.

Too bad the ranking is nonsense.

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Walmart Is Reinventing Marketing

Leave it to the company that so many people love to hate to first reinvent corporate social responsibility ("CSR") and now take on marketing.

Walmart has announced that it's creating a new function, called "marketing operations," and slotting its architect of corporate sustainability into the role, and it's taking its private brands marketer and putting her into the sustainability job. These moves say profound things about the marketing world, how Walmart is reinventing it and, by default, how it's leaving other marketers in the dust.

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When Meaning Is Meaningless

Pepsi is so happy with its "Refresh Project" social media marketing campaign that it has renewed funding for 2011 and will expand it to the rest of the world. This year it will give away $20 million to the good works projects that win the most supportive votes from consumers, representing "true democratization of the philanthropic process," according to a company spokesman.

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An Epidemic of Losers

The content creation business is thriving these days, especially now that the Conventional Wisdom has all but freed it from having any direct connection or relevance to actually selling anything. Instead, one of the new deliverables of today's marketing is often a contest of some sort, which I think is even worse than not saying anything meaningful about a brand.

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Reverse Logic

It happens every time. The moment those E.D. drug commercials list the possible side-effects: dry mouth, muscle weakness, nausea and, oh yes, erections lasting for more than four hours. I laugh out loud (or did the first hundred times I saw it).

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