Target Bans Guns. What’s Next?
July 9, 2014

Customer retention is a constant on marketers' minds. So what should marketers do about political issues that become business matters due to customer concerns? Increasingly, companies are publicly taking stands—on gun rights (Target), LGBT rights (Chick-fil-A) and reproductive rights (Hobby Lobby).

The Psychological Hierarchy of the Email Campaign
May 6, 2014

The relationship between the email marketer and the email subscriber is an unspoken alliance, and also a source of constant tension and potential. Email marketers owe their jobs, databases and likely revenue to the subscriber who provides permission in exchange for (hopefully) special offers, content, and respect and relevancy. The email marketer often loses sight of this invaluable permission during the march to some interdepartmental meeting or shared goal

Should Non-Political Brands Ever get Political?
March 6, 2013

The last few years, we’ve seen a divide in politics—bigger than we’ve seen in generations. In the U.S. … The most loyal of the Democrats and Republicans are each digging in deeper. Around the world, we are seeing the same divide … If your entire brand is about healthcare, I get that you should have a position on anything to do with healthcare. … But if you are selling organic groceries, fried chicken, washing machines or laptops, you’d be really stupid as a brand to pick a side and speak out. I love politics, but I love making money even

Authenticity and Ethics in a Digital World
February 12, 2013

There was a time when computer/smartphone screens could not hide us from the world. People’s glances were often enough to trigger some sort of self-awareness that prevented us from behaving in ways that could destroy our reputations. The beautiful thing about social media is that it has allowed introverts to come forward and share their voices with the rest of the world. Unfortunately, it has also given many a false sense of unlimited possibilities, and the incentive to do things that are often questionable

Nanotargeting: How Big Data Is Used on the Campaign Trail
September 5, 2012

Political campaigns have a long history of borrowing tools and practices from marketers (and vice versa). But as election season really heats up this fall, politicians will be using a new technique born out of "big data" analysis: Nanotargeting.

Social Media: The Next Frontier for Yellow Journalism Embroils Chick-Fil-A, Ford and Celeb Boutique
August 10, 2012

William Randolph Hearst, who had no fear of stretching the truth to its breaking point, would shake his head in amazement if he could see what happens on social media. Sensationalizing newspaper stories to increase circulation has been replaced with controversy-stoking fires designed to increase page views and clicks. Truth in commentary is optional. "Yellow journalism," as it was once called, affects more than website traffic and print circulation. It can be used to alter brand image by manipulating social platforms, search engines and traditional news outlets. If the company doesn't respond or responds poorly, the results can be long lasting and lethal.

Chick-fil-A: What You Missed in Dan Cathy’s Biblical Definition of the Family
August 3, 2012

Right or wrong, neither Dan Cathy nor Chick-fil-A have much to lose in offending gay and lesbian couples. Why do I make this claim? Because these couples are simply not the target audience that Chick-fil-A depends on to keep their sales up. As a brand, Chick-fil-A has positioned itself in what the restaurant industry refers to as the family dining segment. … So who do family dining restaurants target as customers? … Middle-class or affluent moms between the ages of 24 and 45, who live in households that have one to four kids under the age of 12.

Free Marketing Advice: Chick-Fil-A, Just Stop
July 30, 2012

You've probably heard of the ruckus by now, but in case you haven't: Fast food chain Chick-Fil-A has been in the news recently because their owner came out as pro- "traditional marriage" or, as the media have spun it, anti-gay rights. Stop. I see you mousing over the comment button, ready to take me to task for daring to tackle such a hot button issue on a commerce site. Well, I'm not. I'm only here to offer some unsolicited advice to Chick-Fil-A on their recent series of PR blunders.

Brand Matters: Are You the Real Deal?
April 1, 2008

I have always been a cheerleader for the underdogs. They just plain try harder. This is why I favor companies like Caribou Coffee over Starbucks, Frontier Airlines over United Airlines, Ben & Jerry’s over Breyers and Chipotle over McDonald’s. Not only do these “underdogs” try harder, but they also seem more comfortable in their own brand skins. They are original. They are daring. They are independent thinkers. They are the real deal. Is your brand the real deal? I bet your customers know the answer. Stand Out from the Crowd As you look at the vast choices of products and services customers have today,