The best part of having an agency is the opportunity to sit with the creatives and talk about brands and what fascinates them and me. I love seeing the nuances through someone else’s eyes. As we approach “Ad Bowl” (you know that long string of commercials with a little football played in between), I can’t help but look forward with anticipation and look back on the past year to see what surprised me. Interestingly, two of these brands piqued my curiosity at the beginning of the year and held on. All of the others developed as the year did.
I’ll start with the obvious. Miley Cyrus– no one can say she wasn’t disruptive. She broke through the clutter and controlled her conversation. Although I tend to lean more to the evolution approach, she had to tear her Hannah Montana image apart to emerge as the person she wants to be seen as. She has to be absolutely the best brand marketer I’ve seen in recent years.
Netflix – I wrote about this a few months ago. A few years ago, pundits were saying this company had really stepped in it and had no way of coming out clean, but today, Netflix has transformed itself into something relevant and important in people’s lives by reinventing itself into THE entertainment content provider.
Nike+ – The long-held position of personal achievement shifted to include a connection between users giving you the motivation go stay on track. So, even if you’re that runner on the lonely road a dawn, you’re never alone.
Major League Baseball – Not content to rest on the fact that baseball is American’s past time, MLB embraced technology to make your experience richer from the moment you step through the gates. Let’s face it, the games are a bit of a commodity. The schedule is long and you can see the game at little to no cost in a number of ways. It’s the experience that keeps fans going to the stadiums. Seems like the National Football League is going to follow suit.
Ron Burgundy – Yes, I’m talking about the fictitious character from the popular 2004 movie “Anchorman”. As funny as it was at the time, it was a gamble to release a sequel so many years later, but someone had the foresight to put Actor Will Ferrell’s Burgundy into today’s world. Did you see him host the news?
Square – Meeting the needs of the small business, they are a very agile company that is positioned for massive growth
Oreo – As a New Orleanian, I sat in horror as the power went out in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Even in the dark, the brilliance of one little tweet showed through, and Oreo did not stop going. The sheer amount of creativity that came out of that group must be a result of a sugar high. Take a look at an Oreo holiday tradition. I’ll never look at holiday cookie exchange the same again.
Chobani – We all know location is everything, particularly in grocery stores where competition among SKUs is intense and where competition among me products can be downright deadly. By insisting on proper shelf placement and pricing itself a little higher than most, Chobani can be credited with popularizing Greek yogurt in the US. Independent thinking and commitment to a vision has made this independent company a big player among better recognized brands. After a PR disaster in early 2013, Chobani will be making its Super Bowl debut in 2014.
Chipotle – really showed marketers what it means to be brand storytellers in 2011 with its poignant telling of a farmer going back to the start. This year, they did it again with “The Scarecrow”, not only telling a great story but also developing a game which gave their message a longer shelf life.
Santa, yep, the fat guy in the red suit. Maybe it was watching a video of my nephew make a call to him one night leading up to Christmas. Maybe it’s the thought that we could all use a little magic sometimes. He continues to be relevant and has been a quick adopter of technology to spread his cheer. Quietroom realizes Santa is not going away. Check out the great brand book they created.
OK. This last one may be a little controversial, but as a lifelong Catholic, I have to pick the Catholic Church. The election of Pope Francis has breathed a new life and focus into the church. As a Catholic I am excited to see him open minds. As a marketer, I am excited to see what people will think of the church as he brings about a change in the mindset of many.
I hope you see some of these brands in a new light. What brands fascinate you?