This Throat Lozenge Teaches You

What’s more important than almost everything else in marketing, and ignored by almost everyone, especially agency creatives?

Positioning, that’s what.

Positioning is how you want your product or service to be seen, to be quickly categorised by a busy customer.

There are lots of ways of positioning your product but for a masterclass in positioning, look at VOCALZONE lozenges.

Now my bet is, most throat lozenges have pretty much the same ingredients and do the same “job” at a functional level.  You have a sore throat, you suck on a lozenge.

How else can you position a lozenge?

You could be medicated, like Strepsils.

You could be warm and comforting, like Butter Menthols.

You could clear the nose and head, like Vapodrops.


Now what about Vocalzone, introduced to me last week by JC.

This is the lozenge for TALKERS, SINGERS and SMOKERS who need to regain their VOICE.

And the afterthought… if you have a cold you can use us too.

This is brilliant positioning.  I wonder if it has enough volume behind it.  I suspect it would…

I’m never going to buy another lozenge again.

Yes, it tastes disgusting.  So it has to work, right?


Exchange rates

So here I am at the Down & Out bar in St James’s square.

I am drinking one of the nicest wines I’ve tasted in weeks. Ok, days…


It’s a 2003 Paulliac drinking like a dream.

The price? Just £10 for a half bottle.

Just a few years ago this would have been a sinful indulgence – $30 AUD for a half (equivalent to a $60 bottle).


Just $15 ($30 a full bottle)

AUD $15 for a perfectly aged Paulliac?


But its no wonder our poor exporters are doing it tough.

The China We Don’t Know

I was at Trendwatching Sydney today.

Slide of the day for me – over 1600 China cities (we’ve never heard of) responsible for 70% of e-commerce from China’s main online department store.

Which means we’re all looking at the big 4 cities – and missing the bigger shift – and a tidal wave of middle class consumer spending.

WalMart started with a regional strategy – wonder whether someone might do the same in China?

Another great pricing idea

Have you ever looked at applying the pricing strategies from another category?

The other day I was impressed by this – a bulk pricing strategy for a cafe in the CBD.  Today, it’s the other way round…

Look at this furniture catalogue – they price by the SEAT.

It’s an interesting idea – I wonder if it works?


Fantastic Marketing – Of A Person!

This weekend’s SMH carried one of the most inspirational ads I have seen for some time.

It was compelling, relevant and eyecatching.  But here’s the twist…. it was NOT for a company, it was someone (Collen Chan) looking for the right place to work.

If I was employing a statistician or analyst I would offer her a job on the spot based on this fantastic effort.

Colleen Chan

(sorry about the resolution – I just got a new phone, upgraded from an N95 to an iPhone, and the only downside with the iPhone is the crap camera (but as someone pointed out to me the other day… it is a telephone after all!  Just got spoilt with the Nokia.  BUT I digress…)

Let’s use the old ABC  to look at why this is suuuuuch a great ad.

Attention:  Well, a job seeker taking out a 1/8 page colour ad in the paper.  That’s gutsy and attention grabbing; it got mine.  Simple visual of the boss wanting people to check with Chan- 8/10

Branding: “Check with Chan” – Make it company policy – such a brilliant idea; and it carries exactly the right message in just 3 words! – 9/10

Communication:  You should put me on your shortlist – you bet.  And contact me on linked in. Perfect.  – 10/10

To anyone considering hiring an analyst/statistician, check her out here:

Invent your own PR platform – claim you’ve outgrown the SYSTEM!

This is an interesting spin platform I wish I had thought of before.  And it could work in any industry that has some kind of generally adopted rating sytem (wine, airline service, the list is endless):


Locigally, you can’t compare another 5 star (NCAP) car with the XC 60

This is great!  The Volvo spin doctors are basically saying that there are not enough stars in the NCAP (New Car Assesment Program) and that (surprise, surprise) the new XC60 is SOooooo good that it effectively demands a new level in the safety rating system.  I have to say, I love the strategy – and it looks like the Sydney Morning Herald took the bait beautifully!

And judging from the reaction at the SHM drive blog discussion on the topic, not one regular punter saw through the clever (we are SOoooo safe….) spin for Volvo that the headline telegraphs:  VOLVO OFF THE SAFETY SCALE!

And the hook could work so easily in other categories.  Take wine.  A line like like “this wine has won so many TROPHIES that we need another level of award!” (trophies are the top score in an Australian wine show) .  Brilliant!

And there is already a growing concern with the devaluation of wine shows here (see this Choice item) and the rampant medal inflation that has bottlers even sticking labels that only look like medals – to attract the attention of the consumer.  Perhaps some wine maker could cry “foul!” and demand to have the system changed to fit their high standards!


Fake medal!

Coud “busting the system” work in your category?  I bet it could.  Give me a shout at!

Marketing in a downturn – Premium Brands

You can already see that premium brands are starting to adapt their campaigns for the new economic context.  As an example, look at this ad from BMW.  This is the online ad but it has run in press as well:


There are a couple of important things to note about this campaign.  First, it is a total-brand message which is totally divorced from the traditional “Joy” positioning (“Sheer Driving Pleasure”) of BMW.

Second, they are using a 3rd party endorsement as a basis for a rational campaign.  What other people say about you is MUCH more important than what you say about yourself!  And the campiagn is telling the potential buyer that the total ownership cost of a new BMW is “best in class.”  Clear inference:  might even be cheaper, all-up.

So why are they doing this?

It’s NOT because they are suddenly trying to appeal to a new low-budget market.  The people that will buy a BMW tomorrow will be (by and large) the same types as yesterday.  What’s changed is that they are starting to feel they ought to hold on to their money.  And most importantly, other people might frown on them if they buy a brand new car right now: “don’t you know there’s a recession on?”

So what BMW is doing is finding a rational reason (running costs) that might support someone’s decision to buy their marque.  So when the new buyer is stopped outside the pub, they can say “look, I was going to buy a Camry” (riiiight) “but when I looked at total ownership costs this 3-series just made sense.”

Expect to see this permission-key marketing happeining more and more in the next 12 months!

Compare sports

My younger son has a few different sports competing for his attention. Two he’s interested in are soccer and AFL.  It strikes me that one sport is all about leveraging a flash-in-the-pan world cup appearance and milking parents to raise money to subsidise their top level adult teams.  The other sport nurtures young talent to fall in love with the game.  Can you tell which is which?

Junior Soccer:  $200 per season, intra-club, parent referee and coach.

AFL Auskick:  $50 per season, intra-club, dedicated supporters and trained coaches, special offers… the list goes on

Which would you choose?  Of course you would.  And look at their fantastic website.  The AFL is obviously serious about recruitment and the long-term development of the game.

Soccer is once again off on a world-cup fantasy that has nothing to do with the grass roots.  Puh.  Worse, they are spending $45,000,000 of OUR money to do it (yes, that’s 45 MILLION for a BILLIONAIRE to spend on greasing up global sports administrators who are just NOT going to give the soccer world cup to Asia a second time in 10 years.  What a bloody waste….

Brand Essence in Selling

I took the family car to the dealership today to be serviced.  While I was waiting for the dealer’s  man to get some paperwork filled out, his screensaver popped up.  I just happened to be leaning over the desk so I saw what it was.  I noticed in the distance that it was on ALL the computers in the dealership as a screensaver…

It was a Brand Essence Wheel.  If you haven’t seen one of these before, a brand essence wheel is a simple diagram to capture the “essence” of a brand, and what it means to its customers.

Here’s one (which happens to look pretty much like the one on the saleman’s screen):


A blank brand essence wheel

The way they work is, you fill in the different areas with the words and symbols your customer uses to describe your brand.  For example, if it was an essence wheel for VB, you might list “refreshing” in the area where it asks how the product is descrbed.

The idea is that if you work your way in from the outside-in, you will gradually be able to focus your brand in just a few words – ideally one, but often in practice up to three “CORE” words.  VB’s core word might be “blokes,” for example, or “reward.”  Qantas might have “Australia” and Crayola “Fun.”  You get the idea.

Now these brand essence wheel diagrams have become VERY common in brand marketing – almost all major brands will have some way of capturing the same information.  And usually the information is used to communicate the intent of the brand to other marketers or internal decision makers – and to clarify exactly what the shareholders are spending their money trying to achieve in the minds of customers.

So I was really interested to see that the folks at the head office of this particular car company would have shared this (let’s face it, somewhat esoteric) wheel to all of the salespeople in their dealership.  Most sales people I know would have a good chuckle at this sort of thing.

I think it is a great sign.  This shows that marketing and branding are beginning to be the currency of sales teams as well as branding people at head office.  If sales people know exactly what marketing are trying to achieve with a brand, it is easy to see how the entire organisation can be far more focused on achieving the same goal.

The core word – the essence of this car brand – was:


And to see if anyone is reading, the first person to email me will get a bottle of fantastic BARWANG wine.  I’m not sure what their brand essence is (yet), but it tastes bloody great!