Saturday, January 31, 2009

When I think of the Super Bowl, even though I'm a marketer, my mind drifts more to food, drink, fun with friends and ranking the commercials. I'm into the game if it's a grid iron battle - and would be a fanatic if my Dolphins were there, but sadly we haven't been to the show in sometime.

Regardless, what I don't think about is the Super Bowl's logo. Brands are likely one of the most argued over in terms of importance and impact on consumers. For example, my colleagues and I have been wondering why time honored brands like Pepsi and Gatorade have changed their brand marks to now look like a beachball and the single letter "G". I'm assuming some marketer convinced them it was time to 'modernize.' In truth, I am less motivated to buy Gatorade because now it seems trendy instead of effective.

But when I read the following from Reveries magazine's Cool News of the Day, it made me realize the logo for the Super Bowl just hasn't been that much to look at - and for a day that is one of the most watched events every year, it's kind of surprising.

From Reveries... "The 43 Super Bowl logos 'draw a line through the league's growth, the trends of graphic design, even the vagaries of one nation's popular culture,' reports John Branch in the New York Times (1/28/09). John observes: "Flourishes arrive in the disco era, leading to a decade-long phase of red-white and blue badges. They look more like corporate logos, tinged with cold-war-era patriotism ... As designers moved to computers, their logos became more complicated, their palettes more varied" (gallery). Design critic Stephen Heller has a more brutal assessment: "I'll go out on a limb and say that all the logos starting with XVII are based on beer labels." However, he thinks this year's logo (designed by Landor Associates) marks a departure, suggesting it "looks like the Bank of America logo." The current logo is also the first to use the color green, in a nod to "the surf and turf of Tampa," where the Big Game will be held on Sunday. That's part of the design spec, as each logo, in addition to including those Roman Numerals, is meant to convey something of its host city or stadium.That's a tradition that started with Super Bowl XXI, with a rose representing the Rose Bowl. Only once was the logo changed, and that was post 9/11, when it was switched from a "festive" New Orleans motif to a more "patriotic" theme (images). Among other uses, each logo "is reproduced on $100 million worth of licensed merchandise."

If however you'd like to see new options, or create one of your own, the New York Times is inviting its readers to submit their own designs via email (link) with the best ones published on its blog, The Fifth Down.

If the game turns out to be a blow out - maybe creating a new logo will make you feel better. If not, have another beer.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Catching a Bzz

c21 recently moderated an American Marketing Association panel focusing on viral marketing and social media. Experts from Bzz Agent, a word of mouth marketing company, Facebook and CNN’s interactive marketing division offered numerous takeaways for companies that are planning or executing a social media strategy. Download the tips and resources here.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

What Crisis?

Between the misallocations of bailout money and the fleecing of investors, we’ve seen our share of crises in the news. As public relations practitioners, we know a crisis can arise at any time, and a well-laid plan inclusive of appropriate spokespersons, an escalation chart, messaging and media training best practices can be the difference between success and failure when it comes to the ever-critical (and rightly so) public eye. While your company may not be under the public microscope, you still have important audiences to consider if a crisis arises.

There are basic tenants of executing a good crisis communications strategy:
1) Take responsibility. Be accountable – immediately. Do not transfer blame. Highlight your company’s positive track record, which will help establish credibility in a time that it might be questioned.
2) Express empathy. Be genuine in demonstrating that you understand the frustration or loss that resulted from the crisis. This will help make you and the company human.
3) Offer a solution. It’s not enough to say “I’m sorry.” Be specific in steps your company will take to fix the situation and ensure it doesn’t occur again. This will help create or rebuild confidence.
4) Deliver. Follow through on your promises. Be prepared to illustrate your company’s progress to the media, key stakeholders and affected individuals. This will help rebuild trust.
Kudos to AirTran for prompt communication to the public after the airline removed Muslim passengers from flight 175 to Orlando, Fla. Which company deserves a slap on the wrist for its crisis handling? Post a comment and let us know your thoughts.