Prince George Alexandar Louis

The Marketing Force of a Newborn who is also a Prince

His title is Prince of Cambridge and doesn’t’ need a surname. But with a title like that who does?

There is no doubt that anything which is related to royalty is also a great opportunity to spin some money by a lot of businesses.  If that news is related to babies, then that money is bound to multiply further. It is no secret that today’s mummies spend a lot of time online and always research baby-related purchases in depth.  In this case, one will have to add that once endorsed by royalty, any item (from diapers to baby booties) will shine with the magic ‘fit for the Prince’.

Once the great wait was over, the birth was officially heralded in the most traditional of manners – a written document posted outside Buckingham palace. After all Royalty is also very much akin to protocol.  His birth announcement was trumpeted across the media sites and the social networking sites like wildfire.  The first news was that the royal babe was a boy, then came more details like his birth time and weight.

On his first day, his Christian name not yet known, many stores were already sporting competitions, discounts and deals as a celebration to honour the birth of the Prince. While the merchandising circus dished out souvenirs in all shapes and formats, cake decorators mulled on who will bake the christening cake and biscuit-makers baked all sorts of fancy-decorated cookies . Sites where women and mothers congregate, like Dailycandy (www.dailycandy.com) were brimming with info about London’s smartest baby shops and services. From the most prestigious preschool, to nursery decor and monogrammed linen, first haircuts, baby spa, and posh play dates, it seemed that nothing has been left out and everything was being laid out for Kate.  But behind this, one can be certain that businesses are not only marking the birth of a Prince but hoping to unleash an ‘economic baby boom’.

DailyCandy site featured a  series of  premium London-based services and products - fit for a Prince
DailyCandy site featured a series of premium London-based services and products – fit for a Prince
Top: Next Newborn Clothing Bottom: Royalty Set Toy by  Early Learning Centre
Top: Next Newborn Clothing
Bottom: Royalty Set Toy by Early Learning Centre

Right on the baby’s first day, the Early Learning Centre launched its new toy, a set of toy dolls in the Happyland range, named ‘Royal Baby Set’, representing the Royal Family.   Other stores like Mothercare had discounts. Next too highlighted its line of baby wear with the writing ‘Born in 2013′ and likewise Tesco marketed its British Royalty-themed clothes for babies.  Once again, one of the themes chosen by price-savvy Tesco is  ‘Born in 2013′.

Mothercare UK offers and celebrations featured on FB and on the site
Mothercare UK offers and celebrations featured on FB and on the site

On the second day, when his name was revealed,  we had all kind of reviews about the Royal Family’s first appearance. Stores like NewLook reviewed Kate’s and William’s outfits and suggested items from their store to replicate the casual but elegant look that the new parents sported.  Mothercare UK Facebook  page covered the choice of baby car seat, Britax, a car seat that is available through Mothercare.  Yes, the forecasts for some stores and brands which Kate and Will will favour surely have a rosy outlook!

Endorsement by a Prince - Top: Mothercare FB posts about the Britax car seat used by Will and Kate; Bottom Left:  Tesco features a clothing range with royalty theme; Bottom Right: NewLook review on Kate's and Will's matching pale blue outfits with suggestions from NewLook's own range
Endorsement by a Prince
Top: Mothercare FB posts about the Britax car seat used by Will and Kate;
Bottom Left: Tesco features a clothing range with royalty theme;
Bottom Right: NewLook review on Kate’s and Will’s matching pale blue outfits with suggestions from NewLook’s own range

Once all the forecasts die down, we will have the real story unfold.  There is no doubt that in today’s connected world, the minute the baby is wheeled out wearing an outfit or in a carriage, that will be the biggest advert.

One can only imagine the queue of all baby-stuff suppliers at  Kensington Palace all hoping to woe mummy Kate, who will then choose to pick their products or services. From a marketing’s perspective, right now, Kate’s most valuable title is the ‘mummy title’. After all she will choosing products and services and with every of her decision she will be making a big endorsement.

Honestly I cannot  imagine a bigger endorsement –  after all the choice will be fit for a real Prince !!

Royalty Biscuits available through John Lewis Stores and Biscuiteers to celebrate the birth of a Prince
Royalty Biscuits available through John Lewis Stores and Biscuiteers to celebrate the birth of a Prince

From Cars to Planes

In our house, we have just about everything that is Disney Cars or Cars 2.  From the DVDs to the books, to jeans and running shoes, vests, socks, stationery, bags, lunch totes, umbrellas and swimming trunks, the stuff piles up and this list excludes the car toys themselves!  In the toy department, the collection includes so many different types of toys, the most prominent  of which  are  the several Lighting McQueen toys of various sizes and functionality. Without doubt the most loved is the die-cast model of Lighting McQueen.  Mr McQueen goes everywhere with my son and in fact we have run through several replacements (which invariably happen every time he’s lost).

Frequently when I go past my son watching Cars for the umpteenth time, I have often wondered, how soon it will be before Disney unleash planes. …..Well that time is now, or rather, Planes by Disney Pixar will be out in summer 2013.

Planes, new release by Disney Pixar scheduled for summer 2013
Planes, new release by Disney Pixar scheduled for Summer 2013

Cars have lighted up the imagination of kids in a big way and the fact that the concept is easily portrayed in a toy is really a super bonus. Kids simply whiz off straight from the movie into a real game of cars.   The story itself, with all the different car characters from Mack to McQueen, Sally, Doc, Francesco, Mater and The King along with the hundred other different cars just meant that the flow of merchandise could be substantial. In fact, aside from the success of the movies themselves,  Disney has enjoyed the success of Cars as a major boys franchise for Disney Consumer Products.  In fact Disney itself describes Cars as an “unstoppable force delivering on boys’ classic play patterns and fueling imaginations with new products and content that extend the storyline from film to books and into the home with a lifestyle merchandise” [Disney, https://www.disneyconsumerproducts.com/Home/display.jsp?contentId=dcp_home_ourfranchises_disney_cars_us; 5.6.2013].

So next in line, Disney Pixar touts Planes, a spin-off from Cars with the same kind of characters, but which too has great merchandising potential.   Planes will whizz off from the same kind of artwork and branding of Cars, so in terms of marketing, one can consider this spin-off as a brand extension of the product life cycle of Cars. With its distinctive bright red insignia, even little kids will understand that Planes and Cars go together! It can also be seen as a way to keep the interest in Cars on higher ground.   With Planes, the enthusiasm for Cars will be revved up too. The selling of merchandise will undoubtedly soar to new heights!

Personally I’m not a big Cars fan. However  when I toiled on a three-tier race-track cake with full 3-D model cars made of sugar paste (to scale) for my son’s 4th birthday, I was secretly happy that this was Disney Cars and not planes…. the flying dimension of planes and cakes cannot be as easily interpreted in 3D cake decorating!

Come next year, I’ll have to see what tricks and sugar engineering will be needed to fly off planes from cakes…..

 

Disney Cars Cake
Disney Cars Cake

Can the packaging unbrand?

In the beginning I presume packaging was there for protecting and handling the product bought. It was not about the brand, the name or the reputation of the trader. In today’s day and age, packaging is not just about protection and it does not only have a lot of branding work to do, but in some cases it feels like it’s actually part of the product!

Some time ago I accompanied a friend on a shopping trip. My friend, one who still insists that she needs to touch and try the dress before buying it, bought a dress from what can be defined as an exclusive boutique. One might ask what makes a boutique exclusive but suffice to say that at this boutique the clients are told how many of the same dress model were actually imported and sometimes they might even happen to inform the client on which dates/occasions the other clients will be wearing the same dress!

I was therefor stupefied when the shop owner literally folded a short dress in 4 (not in 2) and placed it in a common unbranded brown bag the size of a copybook!  I was gobsmacked that the so-called exclusive dress came without the hanger, without a proper protective plastic bag and to top it up it was literally folded and ditched in such a commonplace bag. One could argue that it was an emergency bag (maybe they had run out of stock of branded bags) but whatever the case it just felt one way – CHEAP!

I felt that we had just bought a dress from a common market stall as opposed to from an exclusive boutique. One might ask, what is the big deal? The big deal is that the bag downgraded the product and as opposed to feeling satisfied with my friend’s purchase, I literally felt the ‘cognitive dissonance’, i.e. that nagging feeling that somehow makes you feel that you made the wrong decision with the purchase.

During the same period I bought a dress from a well known online British retailer. The dress arrived in a box, neatly folded in 2, in a sealed plastic bag with hanger. The cardboard box bore the insignia of the store. The box was well branded and there was no mistake about the quality. As soon as I saw the box with the branding regalia I could not help but make a direct comparison of the two episodes and once again I felt that something was amiss. I also realised that my judgement of this exclusive boutique had depreciated its mark by several notches in my consumer mind!

So back to my question, “Can the packaging unbrand?”. Nowadays I believe it seriously can!

Here come the Marketing Police!

Here come the Marketing Police.  They are almost 300 in number and wear purple uniforms.

It’s no  joke and it is reported by Marketing Week (www.marketingweek.co.uk) that in the coming days London will be monitored by these Marketing Police to safeguard the interests of the big official Olympic sponsors. Amongst others they are in charge of vetting outlets and venues in the proximity of the event to ensure that non-sponsors abide by the regulations and do not make guerrilla marketing stunts.

While it is being reported that this was the only way to safeguard the investment made by the big official sponsors, some are asking if this operation, which is one of the largest brand protection exercises to be conducted in the UK, will tarnish the image of the Olympics itself as an event? Should this be called sponsoring? And why should it be taken to the level of banning an athlete from tweeting about his non-official Olympic sponsor?

After all are the Olympics’ values underpinned by respect,excellence and friendship or exclusivity?

Read the full story at Marketingweek.co.uk.

Stamp the Brand

In an age where there is too much of everything, standing out is vital. Even in business like mail delivery, being recognised for the service one provides is essential!  Nowadays the traditional postal companies are competing directly with other ‘delivery’ companies and couriers who provide the same kind of services.

The visibility of the company providing the service directly affects the brand itself and maybe vans and uniforms emblazoned with logos are not enough!

That is why Royal Mail intends to start marking the packages it handles with “Delivered by…”.  This is nothing different from the web developer who signs websites or applications with “Developed by..”,  and the photographer who labels his shots . After all if many other people in different industries take credit for their work, which in turn helps them in branding, why not Royal Post too…..

Read the full story at Marketingweek.co.uk.

Trademark Issues

As much as I love the Lindt Easter Bunny, I cannot but agree with the European Court where, it has just been declared that Lindt do not have a right to a trademark of the famous  chocolate Easter bunny wrapped in gold foil with a pleated red ribbon and bell around its neck.

The controversy surrounding the Lindt Easter Bunny has been going on for a couple of years and the European Court ‘s decision is based on the conclusion that there is nothing “particularly distinctive” with the product itself.The concept of trademark distinctiveness is a very core issue in laws concerning trademarks.  A trademark can only be given to a product that is distinct from other products. Another way of stating this is that products with trademarks are not generic products!

By far I am no expert in the directives of the EU, nor an expert is assessing the distinctiveness of a product in a legal framework, but from the mere perspective of a casual observer and consumer,  the combination of the elements that  make-up the Lindt Easter bunny, I do not think that the product is such an  original that merits a ‘trademark’.
The bunny, although cute and a firm favourite, is not so fanciful to be classified as unique and original!
Read the full story at BBC.co.uk


 

Brand Value

If we had to get a glimpse of where the world is going by having a look at the world’s most valuable brands, we have a clear indication: more and more technology.

In fact it is not just a matter of where the world is going but where the world actually stands.

Apple is the most valuable of brands for the second consecutive year, followed by IBM and Google.   All 3 are technology stalwarts and in the top 10 one can also find Microsoft, AT&T, Verizon and China Mobile. This means 7 out of the top 10 global brands are technology related. The other 3 top 10 global brands are McDonalds, Coca Cola and Marlboro.

Read more about this topic and brand ranking at Marketingweek.co.uk.

Beyond the Logo: Sublime Message or Play?

Not all logos are equal. Some have something more than others.

In the quest for designing the perfect logo one strives for it to be appropriate for the company it will represent while trying to ensure that it as timeless as possible. For example an entertainment company will try to select a logo that says ‘fun’ as opposed to a company of lawyers who are more likely to selecting a logo that says ‘professional’ and ‘serious’.  When it comes to the timeless aspect designers often try to find a design that withstand the test of time, because a logo is something that is not changed every year within an organisation.

In today’s day and age, logos need to be adaptable more than ever because they have to be used across a variety of mediums and they have to be clear and ‘strong’ on each medium in order to be effective. Similarly it needs to be scalable, i.e. it needs to have flexibility in resizing, in the sense it needs to be visible (without loss of detail) both on a billboard and on a business card.

Finally it also needs to be unique. This is the most fundamental principle of logos – a mark or a symbol that identifies the organisation or company behind it (from other companies). Tying up with the need to be unique is the need to be memorable, i.e. people (clients) should be able to remember it easily to make the association with the company.

Sometimes, logo designers go beyond all the above and come up with witha truly genius design. Some logos seem to be the final result of a true source of inspiration. In fact some logos are exceptionally powerful because they are more meaningful than others and seem to embody what they stand for in a clever way.

Whether it’s a matter of subliminal messages or playfulness, there are a variety of logos that have that ‘more’ aspect. For example the Amazon.com logo may be taken to indicate a smiley face or that they as a company are will committed to provide from A to Z.

Amazon is just one of the examples. Logos like FedeX, Toblerone and many others have this thing too.

Read the full article about Logos with Hidden Messages here at Graphic Design Blog:

http://www.graphicdesignblog.org/hidden-logos-in-graphic-designing/

Mercedes targets the younger market

Brands are magical or rather the personality of brands is.

The personality traits for which the brand stands enrich the understanding of the consumer perceptions towards the brand. The brand itself also acts as a major differentiating identity in products which have similar attributes. The brand speaks volumes about context, experience, richness and texture.  These aspects help the organisation define the message that it sends to the consumers.

Brand identity sometimes also becomes the identity of the consumer who uses the products. Marketers have long known that particular products are associated with “conspicuous consumption”, i.e. using or owning a product with a very prominent logo or symbol that will in one way or another indicate things about the consumer himself or herself. In other words it is a display of wealth, a phenomenon which the nouveau riche usually indulge in.

The Mercedes brand is one of those brands that Philip Kotler defines as having depth, i.e. it resounds and has reverberations on different levels.  In his book, Marketing Management (Prentice Hall), Kotler uses the example of the Mercedes brand extensively to explain the brand.  In fact he mentions that Mercedes as a brand that is very well and clearly positioned on attributes, benefits, values, culture, personality and type of user.

When it comes to target market, Kotler writes that one would expect the Mercedes driver to be a “55-year-old ‘ top executive'”.  In fact so far the Mercedes brand was aimed at an older generation of successful men (and women?). Personally I feel that the Mercedes adverts have in general targeted more men than women.

When Marketing Week UK reported that Mercedes is seeking to attract a younger market this came as a surprise as Mercedes has always meant a more mature audience as opposed to the younger markets.

I distinctly remember one of the Italian TV adverts some years back depicting a father figure speaking to his adult son and indicating a Mercedes car and telling him “Un giorno l’avrai” (one day you will have it).  I used to interpret that advert as a clear cut indication of Mercedes objective of targeting the older market.  For me it is was a simplified version of the message  – you are not getting this car today (to be interpreted while you are young) but someday in the future (when you are older/successful). It also resonates on the same story-line of when the father of a young boy tells his son “One day you will drive a car”.

Needless to say moving the goalposts, i.e. targeting the younger market will be no easy task, not even for a brand like Mercedes, because this involves shifting the perception of people and how they have so far seen the Mercedes brand. It is not something that can be done overnight and seeing the other attributes of the Mercedes brand itself, it needs to be done with diligence to ensure that the brand does not experience any dilution of the stronger values like luxury, quality, elegance and class. Throughout the exercise, Mercedes has to ensure that the new message does not in any way weaken the sector in  which it is prominently established.

To do the turnaround and bring in a younger market, Mercedes is counting on  F1 driver David Coulthard. In fact it organised a virtual reality vs real racing championship event – a first in this arena, where international gamers raced online while Coulthard tackled the real track itself.

Online vs Real Race Coverage On Mercedes UK Site (Source of screenshot: www2.mercedes-benz.co.uk, accessed on 16th Sept 2011)

The event was meant to generate content across multiple channels. Generating hype and interest does not mean that perceptions will be automatically shifted.This was just one of the first steps and while Mercedes’ official site (www.mercedes.com) already presents some hip snapshots of a somewhat younger set of drivers, I guess time will tell the rest of the story.

Mercedes website (Source of screenshot: www.mercedes.com, accessed on 16 Sept 2011)

Read the full article  about the online event at MarketingWeek.co.uk here:
http://www.marketingweek.co.uk/sectors/automotives/mercedes-hopes-to-attract-younger-fans/3029833.article 

For more information  you can also refer to the book: Marketing Management (Prentice Hall), Philip Kotler.