Crunch’s private gym body tarp commercial: simply hilarious!

Saw this one tonight in the taxi. Soooo funny! It is simply the funniest commercial I have seen here in the USA for a long long time!

Crunch is a health club with locations in New York City, LA, Miami and some others. It ‘s philosophy is simple:

There are no judgments here – No too much or not enough. No glares of disapproval. Here we keep open minds. We are nurturers. We seek only to encourage, empower and entertain. There is no one type. There is no one reason. There is no one way. What we are is a diverse community; what we have is a culture of fun; what there is, is room for everyone: all kinds of people with all kinds of goals who’ve chosen to come reach them with us
Crunch. No Judgments.

What a great way to differentiate in the health club market!!

That philosophy is exactly what the commercial is all about, enjoy and have a good laugh!

Time Warner & Fox cable deal: how much are cable providers willing to pay to stay in the game?

The whole Fox vs Time Warner contracting mess was interesting to follow. For those who don’t know what happened: Fox demanded about a dollar per Time Warner subscriber while Time Warner was willing to pay 30 cents per subscriber.

What this shows is that content providers are getting power back as they are not solo dependent on cable providers delivering their content (and advertising) to viewers. Back in June I wrote a blog post that questioned how long we consumers are willing to pay for the convenience of watching content through cable versus the internet (link). Now it seems content providers have woken up and turned this up side down: how much are cable providers willing to pay to stay in the game. They can do so as virtually any program can be obtained through the content provider network, or iTunes.

I am very curious to see how this all plays out in the next two years. One thing is for sure: during 2010 I will make steps to remove my 100+ USD per month cable contract and go to an internet solution. Thinking about a Mac Mini for that…. anybody any tips?

Amazon Prime – best thing ever for consumers (who pay) and killing competition in a blimp

amazon-primeI got last month a trial to Amazon Prime. For those who do not know: Amazon Prime requires a 79USD membership per year and as a result you get free 2 day shipping on products that qualify for Amazon Prime. And…. there are many many many products that qualify!

So, what has happened in terms of my consumer behavior over the last month… I simply go to Amazon for pretty much everything and bypass any other online retailer. Baby stuff? Should I go to Babies  R Us? Probably before Amazon Prime I would have but hey… with “free” shipping at Amazon why would I pay anything to Toys R Us for shipping? Camera stuff? Previously I would go to Adorama or B&H Photo Video, now I go directly to Amazon. Computer stuff? Previously Newegg, now Amazon…  and so on.

Amazon plays this smart. On top of me switching from other online retailers to Amazon I also see an uptake in stuff that I order from Amazon… because its so easy, no need to pay for delivery and the package will be at my home in two days… Why bother with anything else?

Lessons: ask consumers to pay a relatively small fee for something that could limit their online purchases (benefit retailer) and take away the biggest frustration for consumers when purchasing online (delivery fee and delivery times). By applying the benefit to as many products in Amazon’s catalogue Amazon virtually has a common differentiator against vertically (focussed) online retailers. On top of Amazon’s sharp pricing it is one way to differentiate competition.

Volvo, Abba, Ikea and no more Saab

Classic-Saab“Differentiate or die”… it cannot be more true for Saab.

A brand loved for what it was is sadly gone. After GM took over Saab was never really able to get back to its roots in terms of design and differentiation.

GM forced Saab to be part of the GM family. Saab cars started to be build using the same platforms as the other brands in the GM family. That was the beginning of the end. No more differentiation, no more ‘weird’ design elements, no more standing out from the competition and eventually no more Saab.

Now Happy Jetting on any airline, thanks to JetBlue flyers collection

jetblue-happy-jettingThe New York magazine came today with a surprise: a small booklet with useful ‘products’ for those times one is not flying on JetBlue. The whole booklet is just so fun and so smart! It truly builds on the brand slogan “Happy Jetting” in a very funny way and more important hits home run in terms of differentiation. I am sure that this campaign will increase the playfulness JetBlue. Do check out the brochure online.

Here are some of my favorites:

The Knee Jockey: everybody who has been on Finnair tourist class from Helsinki – New York should standard get one.


And for that same Finnair flight it would be great to have that seat back peeper:


What will you order? 🙂

When you connect your brand to a country make sure you do it all the way, Air-O-Swiss case

Recently I was in the market for a humidifier. East Coast USA gets quite dry during winters and I wanted to make sure the apartment stayed at a comfortable level. Not knowing anything about humidifiers I went to my favorite online retailer Amazon for some investigation and product comparison. This is how humidifiers look at Amazon.


Well…. it appears that pretty much all humidifiers have problems of some sort. Just read those endless stories on Amazon.. What I did learn was that it is important to have one that is easy to clean and does not make a lot of noise.

So, I had to make up my mind and found one humidifier made by a company called Air-O-Swiss from Switzerland (obviously)! What could be better than a humidifier made by a company from Switzerland? The country in the Alps? Images of the mountains, the clean air, the lakes, the snow, the purity immediately came through my mind… and I was even more convinced after visiting the Air-O-Swiss website:


Don’t you just see Switzerland boozing from the site? The mountains, the snow and even the flag of Switzerland in the logo and displayed as favicon in your browser address bar! Air-O-Swiss has it all connected to Switzerland: I wondered whether the company should just rename itself to Air Of Switzerland.

So, with all that knowledge I was super convinced! I was willing to pay the extra dollars for a product from Europe. It would be something different than all the products here in the USA that are made in China (clean air in China anyone?). I placed my order at J&R and picked up the humidifier later in the day. The sales box design was again boozing Switzerland. I was even more convinced this was the best choice. Air-O-Swiss has its brand identity in order, it is all working really well!

At home I installed the humidifier, turned it on and enjoyed the fresh humidity with a taste from the Alps and Europe. It was a total feel good!

Air-o-Swiss... made in Korea!
Air-o-Swiss... made in Korea!

The next day when I brought the sales box to the paper recycling a total disappointment started to sink in. Just when I unfolded the sales pack I noticed a little note … “Made in Korea”… WHAT???? Gone was that wonderful fresh air of Switzerland feeling… gone was the feeling I had bought a European product…. gone was the feeling that my humidifier was somehow better than all those “Made in China” versions…

Here is what I would suggest to Air-O-Swiss: when you tie your brand so close to your country Switzerland (from brand logo and other visual identity elements) and when you ride so hard on the Switzerland ‘fresh air Alps’ train don’t damage those great differentiators by assembling your products outside of Switzerland. It really turned a great story into disbelief.

It’s OK to tell me why something is wrong… but do tell me where I can do right!

Do not buy... but where should I buy?Today I had an interesting experience when going to our neighborhood shop called the Amish Market. The Amish Market differentiates itself from the other Manhattan supermarkets by offering some more non-standard products, it’s cozy interior and friendlier staff.

So I was surprised to see protestors in front of the entrance advising (e.i yelling) to stop buying at Amish Market and handing out papers with the Why. I took the paper, read it and thought…OMG this is not good, lets do better! And then I realized… the message only focussed on why it was wrong for me to shop at Amish but no word about where I should go in stead! Puzzled I asked one of the protestors what he would recommend. The protestor was even more puzzled me asking him something and had to ask one of his buddies to get the answer. Unfortunately his buddy had not much of an idea either. Got some names of other super markets but none of them are in our neighborhood.

There I was, knowing there is something better but no idea where. Truthfully, I entered the Amish market and decided to figure out where to shop in the future at a later stage.

As with many things life, including brands and technologies it is so easy to point out all that is wrong or you feel you do much better. As believers it is even more easy to get totally fixated on that message completely forgetting the purpose: make consumers switch! Unless you give consumers smooth and instant access to something better and something they can believe in switching turns out very difficult.

Thank you Amazon for Frustration-Free Packaging

amazon-packagingToday visitors are greeted with a message Jeff Bezos on the success of an Amazon program called “Frustration Free Packaging”.

Well from the bottom of my heart I can say Thank You for reducing wrap rage since 2008!

Only last week I still experienced a frustrating package. I had bought a ScanDisk Memory Card for my DSLR. It took me ages to take the plastics off! The process included scissors and some Dutch swear words… So frustrating!

So, I am happy to read that Amazon takes its mission statement serious:

to be earth’s most customer centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.

And it makes to total sense… frustration free packaging  it is a great differentiator. With the volumes Amazon is making they can actually influence behavior of suppliers and manufactures.

So Amazon, bring it on! With more and more consumers behind more and more customer centric ideas both shopping and enjoying products will become more and more pleasant!

Lexus LFA 350K sports car: why did Toyota not introduce a new brand?

Lexus LFAWith quite a few posts about car brands lately you might think that I am an actual car enthusiast. Truth to be told: not so much and at this moment I actually do not even own a car! So what is with the interest in the car industry? I simply think there are lots of interesting things happening. Brands are trying to reestablish, re-associate themselves or find ways to take a bigger bite of the pie.
This week I was reading about the Lexus LFA, a 350.000USD(!!) Lexus race car. Yes, that’s right: a 350K Lexus! The car looks stunning and according to Car & Driver the mechanics are really good as well. In fact according to C&D the LFA is on par with a Ferrari 599GTB of about the same price. C&D asks the question “in what parallel universe is this thing remotely Lexus-like?”

The fact that a comparison with Ferrari was made me wonder as well why Toyota did not opt to create a new brand for these high end sport monsters.

What would you think about the following:


Lexus? It simple does not work… this is a different car category than the once Lexus is competing in.  With Lexus in the category of high end race cars I am getting confused with Lexus: what is Lexus all about?

Would have something like Veloce have worked? I think so!


By creating a new brand, let’s say Veloce,  Toyota would have had all the freedom to build a high performance race/sports car brand. In fact by doing so, Toyota could stretch Veloce down with models around 100K and compete with the iconic Porsche 911 model, especially now Porsche has given up their unique brand position since focussing on SUVs and 4 door cars.

The fact that Veloce is by Toyota is fine, most people also know that Lexus is by Toyota and yet they are happy to pay the extra dollar. At the same time Toyota is racing in the Formula 1 so it has at least some credibility.

And finally on colors: Ferrari is red and Veloce could by white.


It works very well! White is the color of purity, which works very nice against Ferrari when executed properly.

What would you have done as brand manager at Toyota HQ? Let me know your ideas!

Porsche Panamera – I wish Porsche would stick with 2 doors sports cars

panameraThere is no doubt about it: the Porsche Panamera is a great looking Porsche! It has all the beautiful Porsche design details and it looks way more part of the family than the Cayenne.

The Panamera advertisement in the newspaper reads:

Until now, you had to choose between a four-door car and a sports car. With the Panamera, the contradictions and compromises end.

And that was the moment I realized something was wrong! I would have hoped Porsche would just remained to be that 2 seat super sports car! If you would be interested in a 4 seat sports car you would after all compromise for a Mercedes CLS class or something similar. With wife (or husband) next to you and kids on the back seat there is not going to be so much sports as there would have been with a 911 or Boxter that you would drive alone.

Porsche is / was(?) the symbol for sports cars: in my mind 2 seat sports cars. No “sports” SUVs or four-door “sports” cars. There are not many SUVs and four door cars on a race track, for a reason… it’s not really sporty… So, surely, Porsche will make some serious money with the Cayenne and Panamera but the downside is that the Porsche brand imagine has changed in a blimp. It has gone from those desirable high performance sports cars to well…. all kinds of cars with a sporty feel to it.

What do you think? Right or wrong line extension?

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