Sunday, March 25, 2012

Brand Madness.

On Sunday mornings we treat ourselves to a real newspaper. The New York Times in print.  Despite all the extras that come with electronic media, there’s nothing like the scale and flexibility of reading a real pub like the Times.

Jumping from section to section. Full-page, large images you can’t duplicate on an iPad or laptop.
And there she was this morning, on page 5. A gorgeous blonde touching up her ruby red lipstick and holding a vintage makeup mirror as she peered seductively out of the corners of her eyes.

Immediately, I thought of MAD MEN. Was this a promo for the show’s two-hour season premier tonight on AMC at 9 p.m.? She looks a lot like January Jones. 

I studied her beauty. Her long neck and the crisp print dress with an angular neckline descending from her shoulders to her bosom. Circa 1960’s.

Finally, I bothered to read the text. It was indeed an Estée Lauder ad for a new MADMEN collection of lipstick and creme rouge.

Wow! The way that woman looks tonight. This morning. Anytime. It  says we can make you feel like MAD MEN does. Now that’s branding. Simply put, it’s about style.

Without a word. Or a single note of a jingle. Not a glimpse of the logo. And the image told women it’s time to live like you're part of your favorite TV show.

Some marketers get so uptight they insist on following formulas for logo locations and taglines. They don’t realize that’s not what makes branding successful. It’s the aroma, the aura, the hum, the sixth sensation that defines brand character.

The old Apple logo was multicolored and lacked design just like their early products. When Steve Jobs reconnected with his company he brought a sense of flare to products and services that were just as sublime as the handsome silhouette of the current bitten Macintosh.

Now everybody’s trying to copy Apple. The same thing happens in television. ABC’s PAN AM attempted to fly in MAD MEN’s airspace but is struggling to gain altitude amid rumors it will be permanently grounded this May.

Lincoln is trying to draft behind MAD MEN’s high-octane leadership with TV ads starring John Slattery. Slattery plays the slimy advertising exec, Roger Sterling, on the hit show. But they couldn’t capture the iconic MAD MEN look like Estée Lauder did, and had to yack too much about Lincoln’s style and technology instead of suggesting it.

What if they had used vintage Lincoln cars and had “Roger” buying one at his New York City dealership, recreated to look like the 60’s?

Now that would say Lincoln luxury is an American icon like great advertising. But instead, the Dearborn ad men chose to emphasize their logo and features. They missed the point.

The carmaker could buy a ton of spots on tonight’s special AMC show, maybe even provide classic Lincolns for the driving scenes and still not bag the brand power they hoped. Because their cars haven’t been cool for a long time.

Lincoln should start with a vehicle design makeover before they try to rub shoulders with a leader. That’s what Apple did.

Gotta go. MAD MEN is on. And “Roger” just mentioned Oldsmobile.

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