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Screen Shot 2013-08-20 at 4.38.03 PMThe future arrives on our doorsteps every day as a new opportunity. So why is it that some of us seek to perpetuate the status quo when there is so much to gain from moving forward? This is the story of a valuable lesson relearned.

We recently met with the executives of a national association whose members are marketing organizations that sell travel-related products to the public. We have a service product that enables each of their members to understand customer-driven best practices, implement them and track their progress (rating) vs. the norm…something that currently isn’t being done. So rather than market directly to each member, our thought was to work with the association and provide a new benefit to their members.

All was good, except for the ratings part. They said: “Why would we want our members to compare themselves to one another?” Our answer was pretty simple: They already do. Everyday, everywhere on the Internet they are being reviewed and ranked. To make matters worse, the rankings and reviews are subjective and unreliable; where one person says 5-stars, another says 2-stars. By providing objective data and reviews as an alternative we can begin to balance the equation.

But they politely declined. In the end, personal agendas were more compelling than actual progress. In this case, the individuals involved were at the peak of their careers – a few years from retirement. In spite of clear benefits to their members, an agenda of change was not worth their personal risk.

Is your personal agenda in line with your professional agenda?

by Dwayne Fry Brand Futurist/Minister of Strategy/Department of Idealists


With all of our marketing textbooks, classes and degrees, and our guru books, blogs and seminars, how is it that our marketing efforts so often miss the mark?  Certainly it’s not because we don’t know what to do. It really has more to do with the lessons omitted. Specifically: How to identify and overcome the ever-present forces that can hijack your plan.

Have you ever compromised a plan in the name of team work? Adjusted critical elements or language to satisfy a vocal, yet misinformed co-worker? Or even made changes in advance to please the CEO? Personal agendas, office politics and fear of innovation can reduce any of us to willing accomplices. Leaving us owning and being accountable to watered down plans.

Be prepared for the doubters. Overcome their objections with conviction, confidence and determination to keep your plans on track.

by Dwayne Fry Brand Futurist/Commander Strategic Ops


I love shoes. So, naturally, if there’s a way for me to indulge my passion for footwear while also changing the world for the better, sign me up! And that’s exactly what TOMS is all about.

With every pair of shoes purchased, TOMS donates a pair of shoes to a child in need. It’s called One for One. And they’re not stopping with shoes anymore. One for One has been expanded to include sunglasses, too. With every pair of shades purchased, TOMS gives the gift of sight to a person in need through medical treatment, prescription eyeglasses, and/or sight-saving surgery.

What’s so amazing – and unusual – about the TOMS’ movement is that it’s more than lip-service. It’s way more than just a clever marketing ploy. It’s the very foundation of the company, whose unwavering mission is, “…Work[ing] to establish shoe-giving partnerships with humanitarian organizations worldwide that have…a long-term presence in the countries and communities they serve.” In fact, TOMS gave its one-millionth pair of new shoes to a child in need in September 2010. So much for a PR stunt!

TOMS sees itself not as a shoe or a sunglass company but rather as a One for One company. TOMS’ founder believes it’s the company’s obligation to try to improve as many lives around the world as possible by addressing as many different needs as possible. TOMS’ website tells the full story of the One for One movement and where it’s heading in the future.

The more I read, the more I’m convinced that TOMS is changing the world. Sounds like one more reason to go shoe shopping, if you ask me!

Talk about life changing.

by Leah Knepper Brand Futurist Rubberneck Propaganda Specialist

Photo Credit: © TOMS


While browsing Advertising Age, I came across an article that reminded me a bit too much of a certain George Orwell novel.

BMW Germany has recently developed a “flash projection” technology that temporarily forces viewers to see the BMW logo burned on the inside of their eyelids after watching a BMW ad. Although there is no logo visible during the actual ad, a voice asks the audience to close their eyes after they witness a blinding flash, similar to that of a photograph. If they close their eyes, as they are told, the viewer would see “BMW” imprinted on the inside of their eyes.

The flash projection project apparently “leaves a lasting impression,” but I think that’s just a nice way to put it. A more honest way would be to say that it forces one. True, the flash is harmless physically- but ethically? Usually, if a consumer does not approve of what they see on a screen, they are welcome to change the channel or close their eyes to it. But what happens when this is no longer an option? Are we pushing the bounds of morality by forcing people to see this logo? Or is this what brands need to do now in order to break away from the clutter?

Perhaps I am being oversensitive. For many people see this new “flash projection” technique as an innovative way to grab attention and allow consumers to actively engage with the brand. After all, “BMW” only appears on your eyelids for a second. And it’s really no different from conventional advertising, except for the fact that it takes away your free will. But really, who needs that?

I guess the moral of this story is keep your eyes wide open, because if you aren’t safe in your own head, you aren’t safe anywhere.

make up your own mind:

by Francis George Brand Futurist the Republik Commander Creative Ops


Insert Thunderbird joke here _____________.
Insert Mad Dog 20/20 joke here _____________.

All right. Now that that’s out of the way, let me just say, it’s about time! What a brilliant revenue stream. You buy cheap wine from 7-Eleven, and when you get the munchies, go back and stock up on microwave burritos.

Although I think they messed up one part – the name. The wine is called Yosemite Road. To me, Yosemite Road sounds like every other winery out there.

To me, half the fun would be arriving at a party with a bottle of Slurrrper(R) or The Really Big Gulp(R), or some other franchised name. People would ask, “Where did you get that? 7-Eleven?” And that’s how the marketing buzz begins.

Pun intended.

Read more here.

by Marisa LaVallee Brand Futurist The Republik Corporal Strategic Ops

Photo Credit: Väsk via Wikimedia Commons – Licensed CC-BY-NC-SA


When you’ve made your stockholders rich by selling $4 cups of coffee, surely your next move would be of a similar strategy?

Wrong-O, coffee breath. Starbucks is introducing INSTANT Coffee. So, Starbucks is now saying, “Hey! Instead of stopping here in the morning for a $4 cup of coffee, get up 5 minutes earlier and make a 50 cent cup of coffee at home.”

I’ll let that sink in while I talk about the ad executions. In my opinion, well-executed and memorable. I can see the conversation between Starbucks and their ad agency – “Hey! We’d like to shoot ourselves in the foot – we need your help aiming!”

In my opinion, I think these funny ads are going to cause people to flock towards the cheap coffee, while store sales drop. I can’t believe marketing MBAs with $120,000 degrees are making these decisions.

When your brand is associated as being expensive, yet you have a loyal following, don’t screw it up. Introduce a new brand. Make new friends without offending the old ones. Because once you’ve lost your good name, that’s it.

by Dwayne Fry Brand Futurist The Republik Commander Strategic Ops

Photo Credit: © Starbucks Corporation