Should we advertise to kids?

Posted by Joe Cannon

Advertising to kids is a controversial topic. I regularly enjoy Slate’s daily podcast called The Gist (click here for a listen — start listening at 2:55 and it finishes up at 11:11). Recently the show’s host Mike Pesca, interviewed professor of pediatrics and researcher James Sargent. Sargent, an opponent of advertising to kids, has done some research to back up his opinion. For instance, Sargent found advertisements for fast food that target kids focuses significantly less on food (more on movies, premiums, or characters), while ads targeting adults emphasize the food. See example of a recent McDonald’s Happy Meal ad below (to read more about McDonald’s latest Happy Meal ads, see this article in the Atlantic).

You might show this ad in class and ask students about whether they believe advertising to kids should be regulated. It might generate an interesting discussion and the podcast might help you give the students something to think about.


“Whole Foods takes over America”

Posted by Joe Cannon

Image: Whole FoodsWhole Foods is a remarkable success story. While you wouldn’t think a company nicknamed “Whole Paycheck” would fare well in a down economy, since 2007 the grocer has seen revenues double and profits triple! This article, “Whole Foods takes over America” (Fortune April 10, 2014) provides a deep dive into the alternative grocery store’s strategy.

The article provides some background and examples to use when you cover segmentation or retailing. You might ask students “Who is Whole Foods target market?” You may have thought you knew (I did) and was surprised by what I learned. Also, ask “How Whole Foods’ strategy compares with that of the larger regional grocery stores in your market (or Trader Joe’s or Walmart)?


Rory Sutherland – “Life lessons from an ad man”

Posted by Joe Cannon

I am not sure how it took me so long to see this TED Talk (it came out at least four years ago). in this talk, Rory Sutherland describes how advertising can add value to goods and services by changing our perceptions.

This would be a great video to show on one of your first days of class — it will help you demonstrate how effective marketing adds value.


Selling Tips from the Guru of Persuasion – Robert Cialdini

Posted by Joe Cannon

I (Joe) recently attended The Thought Leadership for the Sales Profession Conference at Columbia University. It was a great conference and one of the highlights was a presentation by psychology professor Dr. Robert Cialdini who is probably the world’s most renowned expert on persuasion. At the conference, Cialdini was interviewed for an article to appear in Selling Power magazine and this video was recorded. The audio quality is not the best, but the content is excellent. Cialdini offers some great tips.

This 10:27 video would be great to show when you cover personal selling.


Technology Is Changing Our Relationship With Driving

Posted by Joe Cannon

Screen Shot 2014-06-30 at 7.18.05 AMSome technological and social cultural trends are beginning to have an impact on how Americans drive. Think about smartphone based services like Uber and Zipcar — which may make car ownership much less necessary. Google’s self-driving car is on the horizon. And people are more and more interested in city living. This Fortune article “The end of driving (as we know it)” (June 12, 2014) highlights these trends.

I like to encourage my students to anticipate trends and think about the future. I will have them read this article and ask a series of questions:

  • What industries could see these trends as threats?
  • What industries might see these trends as an opportunity?
  • What new goods or services might leverage these opportunities?

Encourage your students to move beyond the immediately obvious examples — automobile manufacturers — and encourage them to consider other industries (say hospital emergency rooms that do a lot of business from automobile accidents — which should decline significantly with self-driving cars).  These questions are designed to help them recognize and anticipate change. You might use this when you cover the external market environment, demographics, consumer behavior, or marketing strategy planning.


Can new packaging and a new logo stimulate sales?

Posted by Joe Cannon

Screen Shot 2014-06-27 at 3.33.21 PMDoes the subconscious influence our purchasing behavior? And if so, can we understand how that works? A U.K. based design firm, Elmwood, believes the answer to both these questions is “yes” — and it has applied its expertise in this area to package design.

Gressingham Foods decided to see if Elmwood’s ideas could boost sagging sales of its duck breasts. Whereas most meat products were using rectangular logos and packaging, Elmwood suggested a curvy new package and logo — theorizing that customers subconsciously feel more comfortable with rounded shapes. Gressingham attributes a startling turnaround in duck sales (from a decline to 47% growth with no additional spending) to the changes. This article in AdWeek How Package Designers Use Science to Influence Your Subconscious Mind” offers more details.

This article might fit well when you cover packaging, product, or market research.


We call it scrambled merchandising

Posted by Joe Cannon

Scrambled MerchBest Buy calls it “floor optimization” and Staples calls it “Beyond Office Supplies” — we call it scrambled merchandising. In our text books we define that as “retailers carrying any product lines that they think they can sell profitably.” This Wall Street Journal  article “Home Depot, the Place to Go for Toilet Paper” (June 5, 2014, non-subscribers may need to click here) describes some of the changes in consumer behavior that are driving growth in scrambled merchandising.

We cover this topic in our retailing chapter. It might provide you with some examples to use. You might share the strategy with your students and then ask them why they think these companies are using the strategy before sharing contents of the article.


Is it a “game changer”?

Posted by Joe Cannon

The advertising industry can sometimes laugh at itself. Here you can join in on the joke…

Maybe you show this in an advertising class — possibly following a crazy example of creativity.


Retailers see opportunity in tracking consumer movements — consumers don’t like it

Posted by Joe Cannon

tracking-shoppersMarketing managers are  excited about opportunities to leverage location data from consumers’ cellular phones. There are many potential uses of this information – maybe you get a coupon “text message” for $1.00 off of Dreyer’s new Cinnamon Bun Fun Slow Churned ice cream just as you approach the frozen food section at your local grocery store. Starbucks might text you a discount on a Frappuccino as you approach a Starbucks store. Of course Starbucks might also use that data to know that you have recently visited a rival coffee shop — and maybe that fact will get you a bigger discount. You can only begin to imagine the potential for this data. This article recognizes that this invasion of privacy doesn’t exactly appeal to consumers — “Consumers hate in-store tracking (but retailers, startups and investors love it)” (Fortune, March 24, 2014).

This article might be used to stimulate discussion on technology, privacy and ethics.


New Product Development – The Elite Airplane Seat

Posted by Joe Cannon


NG-JCL-SeatLong-form articles are fading into the past. Yet the New Yorker occasionally offers deep dives on interesting marketing-relevant topics. I had some time on a recent plane ride, so I found time to read “Game of Thrones” (April 21, 2014). For this article, author David Owen researched what airlines are doing to “woo the one percent” — more specifically, how they design airline seats. (Full disclosure, I read this from the typical tourist class seat). Owen talked with design firm James Park Associates, about the work they have done for several airlines. To check out some images from Singapore Airlines Next Generation Business Class Cabin and Seat click here. It is a fascinating look at new product development to enhance the air travel experience.

This article might be used to provoke a discussion about how airlines differentiate their services. Who is the target market for this first class treatment? What could be done to woo the other 99%?