Archive for May, 2004

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May 27, 2004

Whatever happened to Burger King?

Growing up in America in the 70s and 80s, Burger King was an essential component of my fast food and cultural landscape. I always preferred my burgers flame-broiled and was adamant in my desire to “have it my way”. There was always news of the burger wars and making a choice between MickeyD’s and Burger King was as important as choosing between Nike and Reebok.

Now, however, things seemed to have changed. Burger King, after years of lousy advertising and lackluster new products, feels irrelevant to the cultural burger discussion (if such a discussion is actually occurring). The King, subject to an endless series of corporate owners and structures over the past decade, has lost his way. During that same period McDonald’s managed to sink sharply and then find its way back to power.

This all occurred to me while watching the latest Burger King commercial. That commercial, best described as a weird designer creating pre-cooked meat in a sack to layer over salad, was first mentioned by my wife. I didn’t really know what she was talking about until I saw it myself. Once I saw it I knew. There was nothing appealing and nothing even remotely cool about this commercial or the product it was offering. Frankly, it veered into the realm of somewhat disturbing. This is in stark contrast to the “I’m lovin’ it” campaign McDonald’s is riding now.

Near my home outside Seattle I could not tell you where the nearest Burger King is located. I know where the shells of what used to be Burger King outlets are located, but the only working store I know of is in the SeaTac Airport, a good 25 miles from my house. I absolutely know where my nearest MickeyD, Wendy’s, and Jack-in-the-Box are located. Burger King not only has no relevance to me, it doesn’t even give me an opportunity to try their products in an easy fashion.

In the midst of the current Carb insanity, B. King should be riding a wave of success. Instead, it is drifting further and further into cultural obscurity. I miss getting clam strips at HoJo’s and soon I will miss my Whopper and onion rings at Burger King.

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May 24, 2004


Yahoo! News – Physicians’ Neckties May Harbor Bacteria

This is good solid research, and also illuminates an interesting point about how dress conveys status. We are all used to seeing the doctor on TV portrayed in shirt and tie (and lab coat) giving kindly advice. Now, it seems that dressing the doctor in a plastic unitard might be the best bet. I remain pleased that I have a female physician that I have never seen wear a necktie.

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May 24, 2004

Strangely, I have become fascinated with the nearly infinite variety of ways to freshen my breath. Not just toothpaste and mouths, but the cavalcade of mints and gums now available. While driving yesterday, my wife tried a piece of the gum in my car. It is, I believe, something along the lines of “cherry ice”. This is part of a whole line of flavored mint gum. Well, it tastes like a cough drop and the wife spit it out quickly. She said “who wants to chew on a Robitussin?” Indeed.

Things were once simple, she remarked, with Doublemint gum or Lifesavers. Then we added Tic Tacs to the mix. The obsession with stronger mints, and by extension “cleaner” breath had not begun. I am not actually sure when it began, but now it is in full force.

I have somewhere in my possession the following: green tea and lemon mints; citrus “hydrating” mints; cinnamon after coffee mints; mint “hydrating” mints; lemon ice gum; and the aforementioned cherry ice mint. There may be others lurking in a briefcase, pocket, or drawer.

So, are our breaths that rancid? Likely not. Are our social egos that fragile? Seemingly. But, now it only costs about $2 (remember when mints and gum were cheap as well?) to boost our self-esteem and be able to open our mouths to others. Unfortunately, the same drivel emerges when we do.

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May 21, 2004

It’s National Burger Month!

Need I say much more than this?

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May 21, 2004

Escalated Dining – Is mall food becoming classy? By Sara�Dickerman

I really enjoy Sara Dickerman’s comments on the industry of food. She is very insightful and picks up on the key trends emerging in the marketplace. This article is another instance of seeing things happen before others.

One thing she doesn’t dive into, and that I think is essential to understanding the larger trend, is the inability of the dining masses to distinguish between a true chef-driven renowned restaurant (e.g., a Thomas Keller or Charlie Trotter affair) and a chain with pseudo-haute aspirations (e.g., P.F. Changs). Many individuals visit P.F. Changs (for those unaware, the “P.F” stands for Paul Fleming, the restaurant entrepreneur that created the chain) and think they are getting high-class Asian food. Now, the food is very tasty, but it is not gourmet by any stretch of the imagination. Likewise, those who visit all the other mini-chains that serve good food, but are not the result of the singular vision of a chef/owner. Being able to distinguish between the semi-mass market and the exclusive is not always easy. This trend of movement of the elite chefs into the malls will make it even more difficult to discriminate. I can see the day where someone chooses P.F. Changes over Thomas Keller simply on price (and maybe the appeal of the big horse statues) instead of on the culinary value delivered.

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May 21, 2004

Eight Reasons Marketing Makes Sense

Reason 1:
Marketing creates real value for your business

Marketing is about growing your business, through more sales, better sales, better products, new markets, and many other activities that impact both the top line and the bottom line. If your marketing activities can?t be mapped back to how them create real value for your business, then perhaps you need to rethink your marketing.

Reason 2:
Marketing is more than just a pretty face

Many people think of marketing as logos and advertising and presentations and branding and pretty collateral sitting on a shelf. Although these all play a crucial role in the overall mix of marketing activities, there is a lot more. Marketing is also about effective communication, pricing, positioning, competitive analysis, customer segmentation, and many other things. Don?t get too dazzled by marketing magic.

Reason 3:
Marketing is strategic

Marketers are very good at connecting the dots and helping a company see the strategic picture. This comes from touching many different parts of the business, being good listeners, and being able to tell a story that weaves together many often disconnected parts. Use marketing as a strategic asset.

Reason 4:
Marketing is tactical

Marketers are also very good at executing on plans and delivering results. Many components of marketing end up in material you can see and hear and touch (and sometimes taste and smell as well). Marketing people pride themselves on being able to deliver quickly and cost-effectively.

Reasons 5:
Marketing forces companies to innovate; innovation is good

Marketing and creativity often go together like peanut-butter and jelly, and the creative spark that drives marketing can often help drive the company as a whole. Marketers often look at the world from a slightly different perspective than everyone else, and in looking that way they may see new opportunities for growth and innovation in the company and in the marketplace as a whole. Add a dash of marketing to your future thinking and see what happens.

Reason 6:
Good marketing listens to customers

Most marketers come equipped with two ears and one mouth, and most have learned to use them in at least that 2 to 1 ratio. Listening to customers is the job of everyone in an enterprise, but marketing people go out of their way to listen carefully, record, and analyze what customers say. Then, all that good knowledge from customers flows back into the company.

Reason 7:
Customers listen to good marketing

Customers often interact with your company only two ways: through your products and your marketing. Just as you would spend the appropriate amount of time and resources to build and deliver the best product, you should do the same for marketing. Customers remember exceptional experiences, regardless of whether they were exceptionally good or exceptionally bad. Choose exceptionally good whenever possible.

Reason 8:
Marketing can be cheap, but never easy

The concept of inexpensive marketing is not an oxymoron, but that seems to escape the notice of many companies. Often, and unfortunately, marketing is seen as a big expense with little return. In reality, however, marketing can be a remarkably cost-effective way to grow a business. Good marketers know how to get the most value from your money, and they have experience doing it in all types of situations.

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May 21, 2004

I am officially the world’s worst blogger. I talk about the power of the medium all the time, but I just suck at getting the discipline to regularly update this. I see things of interest to me and say “must blog” and then another day has passed and no blogging done.

So, today I told a co-worker that she must blog and I knew as I was saying it what an absolute loser I have been at doing this myself. So, another effort shall be made.

If I am not here daily, send me a nasty little note. Please.