Archive for the ‘Branding gone bad’ Category

Bad marketing stopped me buying a good product

January 11, 2007

I expected the Gilette Fusion razor to be shit.

I know I’m about 14 months late pointing out the uncanny way that The Onion predicted it in their seminal article ‘Fuck Everything, We’re Doing Five Blades’. But I’m sure that was part of setting my expectations. And I’m sure that the other part of that was their dreadful, patronising, stereotype-based marketing.

But here’s the funny thing. In desperation to find a way of shaving that didn’t randomly give me a horrible rash, in time for my wedding, I tried the Fusion. And it works. Really, really well. It looks pretty awful, feels only OK, but it shaves really smoothly with no rash at all. The silly single blade on the back is about as useful as the rubber tongue scraper on my toothbrush, but I suppose it was necessary to trump the Onion at their own game (‘6 blades!’).

So the reason I hadn’t tried Gilette’s new product earlier was because of their dreadful marketing, or satire inspired by their previously dreadful marketing. I might have tried the product earlier if I’d just discovered for myself, without interruption.

Let me say that again. Gillette’s marketing put me off buying a product that is perfect for me.

I’m all for brands being exclusive, as Mark Ritson advocates in this week’s Marketing. But surely excluding people in your target audience for whom your product was designed is going too far?



How low will they have to go?

July 17, 2006

Every Monday morning I walk through a shopping centre in Slough on my way to BlackBerry’s lovely serviced-office-complex. On the way I pass a generic sportwear shop, and can’t help but notice their window display.

A week ago they were selling En-ger-land merchandise off at 70% off…



This week they’re trying to flog it at 90% off?



What a contrast with the hope and pride we felt just 6 weeks ago?


When naming goes bad

May 1, 2006 seems so wrong.

I’m not saying this from a planner’s point-of-view. I haven’t undertaken a brow-furrowing analysis, or thought hard about the strategic implications of such a move. It’s just that:

  • Doesn’t common sense tell you that Dixon’s is the cooler brand from the DSG portfolio? I know we’re splitting hairs when it comes to ‘cool and ‘DSG’ in the same sentence, but come on!
  • Aren’t brand names that fake internet syntax just… wank? Didn’t they cringe with the rest of us 4 years ago at ‘ on retail facisas?

Sorry Rita.

When segmentation goes bad

April 28, 2006

Orange’s latest campaign, for me, is a prime example of how not to use a consumer segmentation. 


They’ve developed a reasonable seeming, pan-European, psychographic segmentation. Which, according to my friends at Acacia Avenue, is “a mix of psychological and demographic factors providing richer understanding of the deep motivations influencing behaviour”.

But Orange have only bleedin’ gawn and turned it around and showed it to their customers! I’m sure that’s not what you’re meant to do?! If you were, businesses could just publish their McKinsey-authored strategy, and customers would just fall all over them.

I’m pretty sure segmentation is meant to be used to:

  • Create personas and use-case scenarios for product and service development.
  • Help the organisation internalise a view of who their customers really are as people, not just revenue-earning units.
  • Develop communications messaging and media targeting.

I’m pretty sure it’s not meant to be used to:

  • Provide an advertising veneer for an unchanged and over-complicated set of tariffs.
  • Patronise customers by asking them to self-identify with a generalised set of behaviours that nobody exhibits in reality.

Lastly, as my friend Mark Gent observed yesterday, if you were going to ask customers to compare themselves to animals, would you really want to choose the Racoon – best known for rummaging in dustbins? Who’d want to identify with that behaviour?




Disclosure 1: Orange has been a client of mine on two occasions in the past.

Disclosure 2: I was involved in the very early stages of developing Orange’s consumer segmentation, with the lovely Captain Haddock of Plot. Back then, we imagined it would be used to create exciting new service design concepts.

Disclosure 3: My friends at the branding agency Figtree had something to do with developing this campaign. They know I think it’s whack, I also know I’d be delighted to eat my hat if I’m proved wrong and that Orange’s sales explode as a result of this bold new approach.

Disclosure 4: My old employer Ingram have recently been shafted by Orange and their unique brand of France Telecom inspired politics. But I wrote this post in my mind long before that happened, so it’s not sour grapes.

Disclosure 5: I don’t think I’ve ever read a blog post where the disclosures are longer than the real content before.

The Kid From Brooklyn

March 16, 2006

The Kid From Brooklyn is an old guy on YouTube who makes his views know on a variety of topics. This is the best – ‘"Starbuck? F**k Starbucks!" Via the Fallon Planning Blog