Jonathan Salem Baskin

Another Airline Merger

I may be dim, but I’m having deja vu all over again after reading that the unions of newly-bankrupt American Airlines would rather consider a merger with habitually-bankrupt US Airways than pursue a draconian business plan proposed by their own management.

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The Semantics of Branding

I may be dim, but have you ever thought about how people talk about brands? The brand stands for something. The brand does this or that. The brand value is whatever. The brand has a conversation with people. The brand tells stories.

Guess what? There’s no such thing as “the brand.” It has no consciousness or personality. It can’t do things. It simply isn’t.

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A Tale of Two Ads

We marketers are a funny lot, in that we seem to learn far better from examples than we do from theories or explanations, however detailed those descriptions might be. I’ve often argued that this penchant of ours keeps us from ever straying far from The Conventional Wisdom -- in that the next campaign must look much like the last one, by definition -- and it means most branding conversations amount to little more than vocational quibbles (versus the thoughtful, strategic analyses our business needs so desperately).

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Bright Lights Project - Bundle Offers

Chances are you've come across a bundled services offer from your friendly neighborhood phone or cable companies lately. It's actually the primary slant of their marketing strategies, so you really can't avoid them. The pitch is simple: buy more of the things we sell and you'll get a better up-front discount.

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Bright Lights Project -- Curate Like Museums Do

I had the incredible honor to spend the second half of 2011 as a Goldman Sachs Senior Fellow at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History in Washington, DC. This was a dream come true for me, since I've been a museum fanatic since I was 7 or 8 years old (I had fantasies of hiding in the bathroom at Chicago's Museum of Science & Industry until it closed so I could spend all night playing with its humongous HO-scale train).

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Bust & Boom, Part II (The Oil Companies)

So the US domestic car business is picking up this year. No, it’s flying high, so much so that manufacturers are worried that they won’t be able to keep up with demand. I wrote earlier this week about how familiar this is...business is up, workers are rehired, marketers go about selling cars just like they’ve always sold them...until the economy changes, sales crash, employees are fired, and the cycle repeats.

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Bust & Boom, Part I (The Auto Industry)

The U.S. auto industry is heading for a banner year...so much so that there’s a question whether manufacturers will be able to keep up with demand, especially for trucks. Tens of thousands of people are being put back to work at auto plants and parts suppliers, not to mention the additional work available from everyone involved in the activities (from transportation to coffee shops along the way).

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Content Isn't Branding (continued)

“I hope your clients don’t read Ad Age,” quipped a comment at the end of my latest essay in which I said Chrysler’s “Halftime in America” movie was a great piece of entertainment, but that brands need to be built from behaviors, not image or content.

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Bright Lights Project - Avon

The news at Avon is not good. The company announced a fourth-quarter net loss earlier this month, it’s being investigated for possibly bribery in China, and it just let go its long-time CEO Andrea Jung (though kept her on as Chairman, with no responsibilities other than collecting a big fat paycheck). Avon’s sales in North America have slid every year since 2007, and its stock price is off 60% since its high in 2004.

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Look Out Any Window

Shakespeare was unconvinced that “seeing is believing,” as his plays and sonnets are filled with characters seeing things that aren’t real and missing things that are. Or maybe he knew that believers see as easily and convincingly as seers believe. Nothing is ever as it seemed in much of anything he wrote.

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