Jonathan Salem Baskin

Bright Lights Project: HP

Hewlett-Packard is a Silicon valley legend. No, it invented the legend, or at least the stereotype of two guys founding a technology company in their garage, which is what Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard actually did in 1939 in Palo Alto, CA. It was a very successful company through the 1980s focusing primarily on scientific equipment, which made it turn down employee Steve Wozniak's original design for the Apple I, and then branching out to desktop devices like calculators, computers, and printers (but all arising from its focus on scientific uses).

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Hell Hath Frozen

Wait. Let me pinch myself. Burger King is forsaking its mascot in favor of food and experience content in its marketing. Gap has admitted that its marketing stinks, especially the mannequin campaign for Old Navy? No, a pinch isn't enough. I need a stiff drink, but only after I let out a loud, obnoxious, self-congratulatory I told you so

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Bright Lights Project: JCPenney

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I’ve often written that the world doesn’t need another computer OS or power chord teen anthem band. It also doesn’t need another department store. This isn’t good news for JCPenney, which comes about as close as any to getting slotted into the player-to-be-named-later category.

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Potatoes vs. Salad

There are two trends underway in America these days, and they're about as contradictory as trends can get: marketers are chasing healthy living markets -- food, drinks, clothing, vacations -- while more people are getting and staying fat than ever before.

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Too Krafty for Their Own Good

Kraft Foods is going to split into two publicly traded companies, according to an announcement it made last week. This is what big companies do when businesses are under pressure to do something and all the traditional salves -- even the "new" ones that the Conventional Wisdom recommends -- aren't doing much good. Top leadership has few other tools at their disposal, so they wrangle a complex financial arrangement and wrap it in glowing language about strategy, focus, and priorities.

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Bright Lights Project: History

Did you know that the nation's first income tax was signed into law by a Republican President in order to pay for a war (Lincoln did it in 1861)? How about the fact that the Bubonic Plague was the world's first "network virus" because it traveled vast distances aboard ships? Were you aware that the average American in the 1950s spent more time being socially engaged in community and religious institutions than we do involved with our various digital tools today?

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Assumption Marketing

Information is really a synonym for stuff, in that our preconceptions of what we expect to find and want to know dictate both our searching and interpretation. The world around is doesn't come prequalified with meaning; the things we find, now called data because of the digital clarity which which many of our searches are realized, require us to interpret them before they qualify as knowledge.

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Bright Lights Project: McDonald's

Talk about a brand that's got its business right. The stores are consistently clean and efficiently run. The products are good, well-priced, and comparable all over the word, as is the value proposition. It innovates successful new products, like McCafe coffee, but doesn't do much novel marketing or social media experimentation to promote them, or itself (unlike Burger King, for instance). It's most memorable advertising harkens back to the introduction of the Big Mac and Ronald McDonald's younger years.

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The Next Revolution?

Imagine if you could arm your browser with a filter that selectively kept marketing information away from you. Obliteratethe ads. Delete the search results. White-out the babble of angry or ersatz reviews.

What if faux ads and social campaigns destroyed real marketing, revealing the facts and falsehoods through spot-on and sometimes hilarious content that looked just like the real thing?

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Bright Lights Project: Coke

Coca-Cola North America has just appointed a new head of marketing, Alison Lewis, and she takes the helm at a time when the beverage business and the communication tools available to it are in somewhat integrated flux.

Beverage retailing has always been a distribution business that was supported by marketing. For all of the talk about preference and choice, putting products in purchase situations in which there were few to no other options was the way to make money.

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