Friday, February 20, 2009

What a great integrated marketing program looks like

If you’re looking for an inspiring example of a totally integrated marketing campaign, look no further than the Amgen Tour of California. Few programs pull it all together as effectively, and offer the potential to change as many lives worldwide, as this one.

The tour is the largest bicycle stage race in the U.S., covering 750 miles over nine days from February 14-22. It features the worlds top professional riders and teams including seven-time Tour de France winner, Lance Armstrong who is celebrating his return to bike racing, along with support of his Livestrong cancer survivor advocacy and Amgen’s Breakaway from Cancer initiative.

This campaign represents the fourth time Amgen has put its marketing muscle behind the world-class event. Their totally integrated program beautifully leverages virtually every marketing medium: advertising, worthy cause promotion, sponsorship tie-ins, celebrity involvement, public relations, local marketing events, merchandise, online, social media, live coverage on the web and on television.

As I write this blog entry, I’m toggling my computer between my document and Amgen’s live coverage. Levi Leipheimer, who won the 2007 and 2008 race, just won today’s stage six, 24.1 kilometer (15 mile) time trial event in Solvang, CA and extended his overall lead. Levi, shown here raising three fingers in anticipation of winning his third straight tour, finished in 30:40. He’s fast, averaging over 29.3 mph!

A culture built around improving people’s lives

Amgen, is a world-leading biotech company devoted to discovering, developing, manufacturing and delivering innovative medicines. Their therapeutics have changed the practice of medicine, helping millions around the world in the fight against cancer and other illnesses.

Amgen’s desire to improve people’s lives is ingrained into their mission and culture. One of the ways they express this mission is through philanthropics that advance science education, improve quality of care and access of patients and support community resources.

In 2005, Amgen introduced Breakaway from Cancer as a critical component of its sponsorship. “One person alone does not beat cancer. It takes a team. Amgen's sponsorship of the Amgen Tour of California provides us with an opportunity to support the millions of people affected by cancer,” said Stuart A. Arbuckle, vice president and general manager of Oncology Business Unit at Amgen. “Amgen is proud to work with our Breakaway from Cancer nonprofit partners to raise awareness of the vital programs and services they provide that support people fighting cancer.”

Ride with Amgen employees—if you can keep up

Tour sponsorship touches every Amgen audience from employees to health care providers to cancer survivors and their families to each and every one of us, worldwide including the tightly-knit cycling community.

Healthy lifestyle matters to Amgen. And they “ride the ride,” if you’ll pardon the metaphorical extrapolation. Amgen sponsors one of the largest corporate employee cycling teams—with more than 900 members.

Totally connected, strategically strong

By now, the connections should be clear: Amgen’s involvement in developing breakthrough cancer theraputics. The personal connection of employees who have survived cancer (several of whom are featured in its online marketing). Its employee cycling team. Its creation of Breakaway from Cancer. The involvement of cancer-survivor activist Lance Armstrong. Each is a natural fit and a reason this program is so strategically strong.

No single marketing medium can deliver the impact that all these levers working together can deliver. See for yourself, watch the final two tour stages live tomorrow and Sunday. And use the Amgen Tour of California as a model for your major integrated marketing initiatives.

Images: Amgen, Amgen Tour of California, Breakaway from Cancer, Lance Armstrong, Livestrong.

Blog content: ©2009 Paul J. Hydzik. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


Paul Hydzik grows brand value. As a brand marketer and award-winning creative leader, Paul has more than 15 years of experience driving business success from start-ups to blue chips. His strategic resume covers all aspects of B2B and B2C branding from go-to-market to consumer insight to identity development and all forms of marketing communication.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

How well do you know your customers?

The better you understand your customers, the better you can connect your brand with their wants and needs. Recently I saw one of my favorite “get to know your customer” strategies being used as the subject of a smart local television commercial.

Walter E. Smithe, a Chicago-area furniture retailer, is as renowned for the humorous advertising antics of its management team—brothers Walter, Tim and Mark Smithe—as for its custom-upholstered furniture. These guys really seem willing to get to know their customers. In the store. And beyond.

Over the years, the brothers have sung the store’s tag line, “You dream it. We build it.” in commercials where they’ve been everything from music video stars...

To cicadas (“Cicada sale. They just won’t leave.”)…

To Jedi (“May the furniture be with you.”)…

The latest Walter E. Smithe spots feature a practice more marketers may want to adopt. We call it…

Riding the truck

In the commercials, “Surprise Visit #1, #2 and #3, the brothers take time from their management duties to climb aboard Walter E. Smithe delivery trucks to visit with their customers as furniture is delivered.

In addition to providing material for the TV spots, Riding the Truck gave the brothers an opportunity to gain vital insight into their clients.

It put them in direct touch with their customers at a critical part of the brand experience—furniture delivery. Here’s where anticipation of the arrival of custom-upholstered furniture turns into delight. Here’s where the customer has the delivery team move the furniture to just the right location. Here’s the moment Walter E. Smithe lives for: Truly satisfied customers. Passionate word-of-mouth advocates. Potential repeat customers. A thriving business.

The brothers also had a chance to observe, first hand, how well their delivery staff does their job. And how important that critical customer connection is to happy—and loyal—customers.

Works with your other audiences, as well

Riding the truck isn’t just for customer visits. It’s for getting to know every key stakeholder in the marketing cycle. From your distribution channel. To your sales team.

Ever hear, “the sales force will never buy that idea?” If you ask why, time and again you can’t get a concrete answer from anyone in the home office. Because no one’s been out in the field with the people doing the work recently.

Ride the truck. See what a day in the field is like. How they handle customer questions and issues. Share your ideas and ask how to make them better. Ask them for their ideas. Integrate this feedback mechanism into your process and watch a difference in response the next time marketing and sales need to join forces for a major initiative.

Isolation grows when you don’t ride

Working on a new piece of automobile business, we insisted that everyone on our team make multiple visits the auto maker’s dealers. And the competition as well. We posed as buyers and took test drives. We went through the sales process. We pretended to “kick the tires” while observing others in the act of buying. Watching the sales team in the act of selling. We hung out in the showroom and collected literature. We dropped off our cars at the service department to see how well that important end of the business was run. We went to auto shows. We surfed the net. Downloaded Consumer Reports and Edmund’s recommendations. “Rode” with online car fan sites.

When we presented our findings, it was obvious that our clients had not been inside a dealership in years—even to purchase their own cars, which they bought directly through the company. Their connection with the customer experience was remote.

All kinds of brands have the same issue. Their marketers don’t get out often enough to experience their brands as customers do, and as their sales teams do.

So get out of the office and connect

Want to know your customers better? Put down the spreadsheets. Step away from the analytics for a moment and the second-hand reports. Take a page from the Smithe brothers.

Get out of the office and go ride the truck for yourself.

Put your team on the truck as well. I guarantee you’ll learn something every time. You’ll generate better, customer-connected ideas and you’ll be armed with first-hand knowledge that will help you sell those ideas.

All images, Walter E. Smithe.

Blog content: ©2009 Paul J. Hydzik. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


Paul Hydzik grows brand value. As a brand marketer and award-winning creative leader, Paul has more than 15 years of experience driving business success from start-ups to blue chips. His strategic resume covers all aspects of B2B and B2C branding from go-to-market to consumer insight to identity development and all forms of marketing communication.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Your Website—Five Pillars of Peak Performance, Cont’d.

Part 2 of 2

Previously we wrote about the need for winning athletes to maximize their fitness in each of the five performance pillars: Cardio. Strength. Speed. Flexibility. Nutrition and rest. And we introduced the idea that winning websites have peak performance pillars as well.

  • Technical Design
  • Human Design
  • Branding
  • Strategy
  • ROI

Technical design and human design were covered in our previous blog, Your Website—Five Pillars of Peak Performance, Part 1. Today’s blog will continue to explore website fitness by examining the remaining performance pillars, starting with Number 3. Branding.

3. Branding

Is your branding strong? Does your online brand profile match your offline brand? The image? The personality? The brand experience? A peak performing website creates or reinforces the key elements of your branding. Test your site for peak performance by giving it a brand audit.

First, what is a brand, anyway?

The American Marketing Association defines a brand as a, “name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller's good or service as distinct from those of other sellers.”

But a brand is much more than this. A brand is a promise, say some. An expectation, say others. Better. Because a brand lives beyond the symbols. A brand lives in the minds of its consumers and stands on the relationships it builds with its audience—creating an emotional bond. As with us humans, the more passionate the relationship, the stronger the brand connection.

The process of branding is all about delivering on the essence of your brand everywhere people contact it. From the product itself to packaging to your media efforts. And of course, your website. Branding fitness breaks down into two key performance factors—design and, an emotive component, heart.


From a brand design perspective ask the following. Is your brand imagery strong?

  • Logos, fonts, color schemes, and other design elements used properly, prominently and consistently in the layout of your site?
  • Same with your brand symbols? If you’re Pillsbury, is your ever-ticklish Pillsbury Doughboy present? For one tire-seller, your Michelin man?
  • Does your voice—the language you use—follow brand guidelines consistently. For instance, Visa understands what it means to its customers well. Promotional offers are never “free,” they’re offered, “with our compliments.”
  • Are your brand taglines and messages incorporated as essential components?
  • Are your pages CSS (Cascading Style Sheet) template-based to ensure that key brand design, navigation and content are consistent, especially as revisions occur and new pages are added?


Winning athletes are highly competitive people. No mountain too high. No breakaway unchallenged. When the world’s best step up in the face of stiff competition and tough conditions, we say that they have heart. Soul. Emotion. Same with branding your website.

  • Can your customers grasp your brand essence—the guiding vision of your brand—from your website.
  • Is your personality well represented? Are you serious? Playful? Trustworthy? It should show. And be consistent.
  • Does your brand value come through?

Test your website’s branding fitness and see if you’re up the challenge.

4. Strategy

Why is your business on the web? Because your competition is? To generate awareness? Clickthroughs? Traffic? Leads? Sales?

Achieving peak performance requires that you set and periodically measure your website against your objectives. And just as athletes set goals, achieve them, then set new, higher goals, so should your web strategy.

Four questions:

  • What are your objectives for your website?
  • Are your web objectives strategically linked to your business goals?
  • Are you measuring what matters most—on a regular basis?
  • Is your web marketing integrated with your other media efforts?


When it comes to measuring what matters most—make sure you establish a clearly defined set of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

Start with your business goals and then relate them to areas where the web can deliver. Don’t be satisfied with surface attributes. Go deeper. Like quality leads generated, not just raw leads. Most valuable customers acquired or lost, not just all customers. Like profitable sales, not just sales.

What other value measures matter to you strategically? Perhaps you need to establish a leadership position. Or pave the way for sales calls by providing useful information in the form of white papers and reports. Perhaps you want to increase customer interaction. Perhaps you want to involve your customers or a wider group of employees in product design so you can go to market faster with better products.

Marketing integration

Integrating your web marketing with your advertising, promotion, PR and social media efforts is another way peak performers set themselves up to win. You may have to break down internal silos to get all your departments and agency partners working toward the same goal. But the impact can be well worth it.

According to New York Times article, “Making Every Second, or $100,000, Count,” Superbowl advertisers General Electric, E*Trade and others, sought “more bang for their buck” by integrating $3 million per 30-second TV spots with online efforts. “It’s more than a 30-second spot,” said Nick Utton, chief marketing officer at E*Trade in New York. “The Super Bowl is part of a total plan.”

Sadly too many marketers still miss this important strategy. "Only Two in Three Bowl Brands Ran Integrated Online Campaigns," according to Promo Magazine. The article quotes Reprise Media, the search and social media subsidiary of the Interpublic Group, that only about two-thirds of the brands that ran spots during the Superbowl bought pay-per-click search ads against either their brands or their specific products.” Consider it opportunity missed. Potential performance gains squandered.

5. ROI

Do you know the value your website is contributing to your business—your Return on Investment? Too many marketers don’t.

In a recent Conference Board MarketingCharts report, “Marketing Execs Struggle to Show ROI,” half the companies surveyed report measuring ROI for less than two years. More than one-third still report making no efforts to measure ROI at all. Reasons include lack of resources, lack of connection with performance objectives and inadequate focus.

For a competitive athlete, winning has clear measures. Cross the finish line first. Jump the highest. Or longest. Have the fastest time. Score the most points, goals, runs, touchdowns, bullseyes. Take the fewest strokes. KO your opponent.

If you’ve done your pillar 4. Strategy homework and set clear objectives based on your business goals, your measures should be clearer and more meaningful as well.

Calculating ROI for an e-commerce website can be straightforward. Take the revenue generated, look at the lifetime value of that customer, factor in costs and compute. Go deeper and refine your information by analyzing offers and customer segments to find those that deliver the highest combination of revenue, profit and share of wallet.

If you provide business services, your objective may be to attract new customers using a knowledge leadership strategy. You might measure white paper downloads and track them against qualified sales leads and customers acquired. Go deeper by tracking leads with your partners against conversion rates and average sales value and profit to see where the best leads are coming from.

About costs

ROI needs to consider what it costs build in website functionality and to maintain it. Then compares those costs with what that functionality would cost to provide if done by the business elsewhere.

Returning to the white paper example, how much would it cost to print those papers, inventory them and fulfill requests by conventional mail? What it would cost for UPS to track a package via a call center vs. online?

Be careful though, just because you can shift some services to the web doesn’t mean they’re valued equally by your customers. Airlines were able to reduce ticketing and staffing costs by providing self-service functionality and e-tickets via the web. Some airline customers are huge fans. Others frustrated.

Web analytics services that help you determine ROI costs range from free (as with Google Analytics) on up. The key to success is basing your measurements on sound objectives—whether they’re easily quantifiable like a cost savings or more qualitative, like brand image perceptions.

Understanding your ROI is a start, not a finish. Knowing your ROI helps you make better decisions. Like a winning athlete, your goal should be to benchmark and improve.

It isn’t how much it costs to make improvements, it’s what kind of return you get on your investment—as it delivers on your objectives. If it costs $1/2-million to upgrade your website, that’s big money. If you have the ROI numbers that show your $1/2-million investment can generate $3 million in additional profit, you’re on your way.

Use the five pillars and test your site's fitness

Our goal with the Five Pillars of Peak Performance is to help you realize that a winning website is based on a combination of factors that are unique to your business.

Just as an athlete must achieve their goals in each of the five pillars of athletic performance, your website needs to excel in technical design, human design, branding, strategy and ROI in order to deliver winning performance for your business.

Photos: ©2008 Paul J. Hydzik ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Michelin Man, courtesy of Michelin Tire.

Bicycling images were made during stage three of the 2008 Amgen Tour of California as some of the world’s best professional racers were completing the tough Category 1 climb up Sierra Road en route from Modesto to the San Jose, California finish. The 2009 tour begins today. Follow America's premier bicycle race here:


Paul Hydzik grows brand value. As a brand marketer and award-winning creative leader, Paul has more than 15 years of experience driving business success from start-ups to blue chips. His strategic resume covers all aspects of B2B and B2C branding from go-to-market to consumer insight to identity development and all forms of marketing communication.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Your Website—Five Pillars of Peak Performance

Part 1 of 2

Top athletes know winning requires that they achieve their fitness goals in all five performance pillars: Cardio. Strength. Speed. Flexibility. Nutrition and rest.

Websites have peak performance pillars as well.

Your website’s got to be pumped in all five performance areas in order to deliver the results your business demands. This has never been more true than today where marketing activities and budgets are under careful scrutiny. Coach your website to top fitness in all five pillars to ensure it makes a winning contribution to your marketing mix.

  • Technical Design
  • Human Design
  • Branding
  • Strategy
  • ROI

1. Technical Design

Is your website technically fit? Does it present itself well to search engines? Does it achieve a higher Search Engine Results Page (SERP) ranking than your competition?

A one-stop fitness test for the technical aspects of your website is fast, easy and free. The HubSpot WebGrader tool will score your website on more than 50 different technical Search Engine Optimization (SEO) variables—including both on-page SEO (such as meta data tags, heading and image summaries and readability) and off-page (including domain age and expiration, permanent redirect, Google PageRank and last crawl, traffic rank, inbound links, blogs and more).

Hundreds of thousands of companies have used WebGrader to analyze their websites, so the comparison data is well grounded. WebGrader also suggests areas where improvements in technical areas may help your site score higher. It only takes a few moments to run.

Take a baseline now. Make improvements to your site. And run the tool often to check your progress. The best athletes always know who the real competition is, so check your competitors as well.

Search Engine Optimization is a huge and important topic. Getting it right is a work continually in progress. If you're interested in more detail on how search works, you might start by looking over my earlier blog, "SEO: 3 Simple Rules" for some additional suggestions.

2. Human Design

With all the attention paid to the technical aspects of optimizing websites for search engines, marketers sometimes forget the human connection that drives business.

Ask yourself, is your website designed for your audience? All your audiences? Each with their own particular reason for visiting?

While human design fitness testing is perhaps not as easy to quantify as technical design, designing for people is vitally important to both immediate results and long-term success. Peak fitness on this performance aspect calls for excellence in two key areas—content and usability.


Write and design your site for people first, not search engines. Deliver amazingly relevant content. Valuable information and useful tools. Deliver real value for your audience. Separate yourself from your competition. In other words, become a “Content Marketer.”

According to Junta42, self-described as the go-to site on such matters, Content Marketing is the practice of, “creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience—with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”

Consider why your audience has gone to the internet to visit your site. Are they there to do business with you? To confirm your expertise? To see what your management team has to say or to download your annual report? To learn, research a purchase or discover new information and new things? To communicate and socialize? To be entertained? To buy? “Everyone Uses the Internet for a Reason” says Dosh Dosh.

Remember, marketing is not about going to the masses anymore. It’s about allowing each individual to find their niche. See how you connect.

Finally, ask if your content is updated often? Without fresh content your site’s fitness wanes. Give viewers a new reason to build or strengthen your brand relationship.


Make life easy for your audience. Test your website’s usability fitness by asking these questions.

  • Is your site structure clear? Is your navigation easy and consistent—throughout the entire site? Have you created a path for visitors to follow? Your visitors shouldn’t have to guess where they are, where they’ve been or where they’re going. Have you provided a site map?
  • Are your inside text links styled so that hyperlinks are clearly emphasized with an underline or other consistent visual cue?
  • Does every page include a text-based menu, frequently at the bottom, to supplement fancy Flash or Spry menu systems that can sometimes give visitors difficulty? Or make it impossible for those using text-only browsing?
  • Can your visitors get back to the home page easily, from the menu bar? From your logo? From every corner of your site?
  • Is a significant segment of your audience mobile? Have you designed your site to be mobile friendly?
  • Have you provided a search tool, one that keeps your visitors with you instead of dumping them into another site?
  • Do your landing pages clearly describe the benefits of what you offer? Are they optimized for action? Do they make it plain what you want your audience to do? Download a webinar or useful widget. Sign up for your newsletter or blog. Take advantage of a limited time offer. Buy…now.
  • Speaking of eCommerce, are your shopping carts optimized to close the sale?
  • Are feedback forms short? And do you avoid asking for unnecessary and off-putting information?
  • Have you supplied complete contact information including business phone number, e-mail address, postal address or PO Box? For multiple locations and offices?
  • Have you tested your site—actually tested it—with your customers and other key audiences? Can visitors quickly find what they need? Can they recover from navigation and other errors? Smart web marketers actually let their customers design their sites for them. Of course, this means continually testing. Do you?

How’s your website’s fitness so far? If your technical and human design are at their peak you’re doing well. But your overall fitness isn’t yet assured. Check back for Part 2 tomorrow as we discuss the remaining three pillars of peak website performance—Branding, Strategy and ROI.

Photos: (c)2008 Paul J. Hydzik ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Blog content: ©2009 Paul J. Hydzik. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


Paul Hydzik grows brand value. As a brand marketer and award-winning creative leader, Paul has more than 15 years of experience driving business success from start-ups to blue chips. His strategic resume covers all aspects of B2B and B2C branding from go-to-market to consumer insight to identity development and all forms of marketing communication.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Using Social Media Strategically: Ford

News to Tweet about! The 2009 Ford Hybrid autos were just selected as “Greener Choices” by the environmental group, American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). Ford tweeted the honor today from their FordDriveGreen account on Twitter.

Twitter is a social networking website on which users communicate online (and via mobile technology) by sending and receiving short 140 character messages called updates or tweets. These updates appear on the user’s profile page and are delivered to Twitter users who sign up to receive them.

Good news travels faster

Proud Ford’s update links to their “Ford and the Environment” website and delivers an online press release which supplies all the details.

ACEEE “Greener Choices,” “are widely available gas-powered cars and light trucks with automatic transmissions.” The 2009 Ford Escape Hybrid earned a superior “green score” and is rated for 34/31 miles per gallon in city/highway driving. Ford’s 2009 Ranger, was also listed. And all these vehicles meet low emission standards. Good news, indeed.

Using social media wisely

As Ford considered its entry into the social media marketplace, it's clear that it was smart and strategic. And human.

Their Twitter bio tells, “Ford Motor Company is committed to making affordable environmental technologies in vehicles people want & value.” And because people have conversations, not huge impersonal conglomerates, the FordDriveGreen account is managed by @ScottMonty. Scott is head of social media at Ford and, according to his Twitter bio a, “husband, dad…and generally nice guy.” This smart move keeps FordDriveGreen human while also maintaining the value created for Ford should Scott one day move up the corporate ladder or onto otherwise greener pastures.

Asked “Why Ford tweets?” for an excellent Mashable article, “40 of the Best Twitter Brands and the People Behind Them,” Scott explained, “It’s part of a larger social media strategy to humanize the Ford brand and put consumers in touch with Ford employees.” Hard to think of any other medium besides Twitter that instantly puts you directly in touch with the people who run and converse about their businesses.

How do Ford’s social efforts compare?

At the time this blog was written, FordDriveGreen has earned an enviable 97.6 out of 100 from the HubSpot TwitterGrader (try it yourself on your Twitter account at ). TwitterGrader measures the reach and authority of a Twitter user and bases its score on a combination of the number of followers you have, the power of your follower network, the pace of your updates, your profile completeness and “a few others.”

Tweet cloud looks right on mission and message.

environmental ford escapehybrid rt car #ford looks likeplug-in vehicle new battery ..we're ford’s fuel-efficient willelectric driving #naiasecoboost’s twin ecoboost fuelgreat fusion ford's mpg green

In good company

Ford’s effort with FordDriveGreen puts them in good company with other smart social media users, including competing auto makers Chevrolet and Honda, grocer Whole Foods, banker Wachovia (yes, a bank!) and more.

What conversations does your business want to join? Create? Encourage? Just remember, Strategy First, Tweet Second.

All visuals: Ford


Paul Hydzik grows brand value. As a brand marketer and award-winning creative leader, Paul has more than 15 years of experience driving business success from start-ups to blue chips. His strategic resume covers all aspects of B2B and B2C branding from go-to-market to consumer insight to identity development and all forms of marketing communication.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Best-Branded Superbowl Ads

2009 brought us an exciting Steelers-Cardinals football game, decided only in the last moments by a “must deliver” play. It also brought the expected bevy of hopped-up television commercials, all vying for our attention.

Instead of being satisfied to look at the edgy creativity, special effects (3-D anyone?), irreverent humor and entertainment value, each year I like to focus on how well the spots deliver on branding.

Considering the big dollars that were spent to produce and air these commercials, marketers have a right to expect that their brands break through the clutter, not just their spots. How many times have you recalled every detail of a TV commercial but couldn’t remember the brand? At $3 million a 30-second pop, even one time may be too many!

My criteria

Branding matters because branding creates value. For the businesses that market them. For the consumers that love them.

So I ask…How well does the spot convey the brand essence? Does it deliver on the brand promise? How quickly does it connect with brand imagery? What associations will we make in our minds about the brand after having seen the commercials. How well does it build, reinforce or change our perceptions about the brand? Does it increase our sense of connection with the brand? Will we feel great about our brand choice?

Again, it’s not just how memorable the commercial. It’s how memorable and desirable the brand as a result of the advertising. Will the ad drive preference? Will it drive sales? Will it create or stir brand passion?

Watch all the ads at Fanhouse. Or see what Bob Garfield of AdAge has to say about this year’s crop.

My top 3 best-branded spots

Budweiser “Fetch” From the opening instant, you know this is a Bud commercial. All the elements are there, the red Budweiser cap, the Clydesdale, the dalmatian, the red wagon stacked with cases of America’s lager, the music. The story has Budweiser warmth and charm. A Bud worker tosses a stick for the dalmatian to fetch. “Good boy.” The Clydesdale, not to be outdone, races off only to return with an immense tree branch in his mouth. “Showoff,” the man tells the Clydesdale. Bravo.

Coca-Cola “Picnic” The spot opens on a lazily snoozing picnicker, basket to one side, Coca-Cola to the other. Switch to a lady bug’s perspective on the distinctive bottle. Instant brand recognition creates anticipation and expectations for the story, formed from a history of well-branded ads. Bumble bees, grasshoppers, dragonflies and more work together to abscond with the picnicker’s beverage. Knocking it over. Rolling it downhill. Floating it downstream. A powerful beetle uses its giant horn to open the bottle and share Coca-Cola with his insect friends. “Open happiness.” “Alec Baldwin” This spot opens on the Hollywoodland sign and the highly recognizable Alec Baldwin, looking very “30 Rock.” Alec plays an alien who spoofs television’s ability to rot our brains. “TV only softens your brains.” he smirks. Now, thanks to hulu—which brings TV to your computer—turning your brains to mush is even easier. “What are you going to do, turn off both your TV and your computer?” Tagline spikes the brand connection. “Hulu. An evil plot to destroy the world. Enjoy.”

Best-branded campaign

  • Budweiser. In addition to “Fetch,” Bud’s advertising included 60-second spots, “Clydsdale Generations,” (a “story of strength, triumph and oats” for a horse that found its true calling) and “Horse Love” (“Ain’t no mountain high enough” to keep this Clydsdale from his girl, Daisy).

Notable mentions

These spots were still very strong. Very creative. Broke rules. Made a statement. Broke through. And earned a notable mention. “Moose” We fly in through the window of a lavish executive office. The camera circles around to the sounds of opera music. We see the boss, relaxing with feet up at his desk reading the paper. Centered behind him on the dark wood paneled wall is a giant moose head. As the camera continues to circle we see the plain white office on opposite side. Suddenly we realize the rest of the moose is literally sticking through the wall and an employee is hard at work at a cheap metal desk directly beneath the “business end” of the moose. “Need a new job. We can help.” Monster of a spot. Creates the tension. And the resolution.

Bridgestone “Moon Dancers” This spot takes us to the Moon where two astronauts race their dune buggy around the Lunar landscape to hip hop music. They head off to collect rocks, and dance a bit, only to return to find their vehicle in a more common urban situation, up on blocks—tires stolen. Could have used a bit a brand reinforcement up front, but the performance message comes on strong.

Agree or disagree with my selections. As a brand marketer, however, take heart in my method. Look at your brand advertising. And your competition. In addition to creative excellence, examine how well your ads connect with your customer on branding. And win the strategic fight for customer mindshare—and business.

Photo credit: screen grabs from TV commercials watched on Fanhouse.


Paul Hydzik grows brand value. As a brand marketer and award-winning creative leader, Paul has more than 15 years of experience driving business success from start-ups to blue chips. His strategic resume covers all aspects of B2B and B2C branding from go-to-market to consumer insight to identity development and all forms of marketing communication.