Is Workplace Design Reflecting Trends or Shaping Them?

Screen Shot 2016-08-25 at 8.43.41 AMOffice design is reflective of new work styles and the trends toward “agile” working. Many companies utilize and combine different styles like hubs, clubs, at home and roaming.

This brings up the classic chicken and egg question: are changes in the way people work requiring new office design approaches or are trends in design itself influencing the way people work? In my view, work itself is being redefined and design is playing catch up. Go back in time and note that in the 1950s and 60s many executives had their own offices and even a dedicated (almost always) female secretary- think “Mad Men.” Over time and to save money as companies were under pressure to trim costs, the now dreaded cubicle was invented – which gave people their own cordoned off space, but were hardly private. And now we have all sorts of variations including what WeWork calls the Hot Desk – a first come, first served desk in a common area; as well as dedicated desks in open space plans; sharing of conference rooms as the perennial private office.

WeWork, in fact, has become a global force in incubator spaces and is now in 15 cities in the US and 13 countries around the world. To read more see this excellent article in Design Week:

Self Driving Cars -Just Down the Road

Tesla's self-driving prototype

Tesla’s self-driving prototype

Implications are very positive for marketers as “drivers” will have more time 

It is not news that autonomous vehicle development programs are nearing market launch. Alphabet current has cars on the road and the projected timetable for commercial launches includes:  Uber and Volvo 2017, GM 2018, Tesla 2019, Nissan 2020 and Ford 2021. While most people are in denial, which is often the case with game changing technologies, soon our driving culture will change. Part of the promise is increased safety. This past year over 43,000 people in the U.S were killed in traffic accidents and this total is predicted to decline significantly with the advent of self-driving cars.

From a marketing perspective there will be new opportunities to get advertised messages and branded content in front of “drivers,” who will soon have more time on their hands to read magazines, use their mobile devices and who knows maybe even pick up a newspaper – wouldn’t that be a novel idea?

According to a report in the wall street journal Delphi Automotive and Mobileye, two leading auto parts suppliers are collaborating to manufacture “fully autonomous driving system that car makers could begin placing in their vehicles in 2019.”

This will change our culture, improve our time management and allow for advertisers to have new, more engaging ways to reach consumers during their daily commutes. Brands that start their planning early will have an advantage.

Top 5 Reasons Why “Top 5” Posts May Be Hurting Your Brand

Screen Shot 2016-08-16 at 8.56.23 AMRemember the old trick where someone would create an ad that said “Sex,” and then the body copy would read “Now that I have your attention, let me tell you about…” Dishonesty and trickery, while initially getting your attention, usually leaves people disappointed or worse yet upset and predisposed to not wanting what you are selling. How many times have we all been tricked into reading a blog post that promised the “Top 5” or “Top 10 Reasons?”  The rationale in favor of this blogging tactic is that “it must work, otherwise people would not do it.”  A valid point perhaps, but marketers need to ask if the net result is in fact brand building or rather aversion. So here are my TOP 5 REASONS WHY TOP 5 POSTS ARE HURTING YOUR BRAND:

Reason #1:  People are sick of it.

Reason #2:  Interest is converted to dislike.

Reason # 3: You bury the benefit or value of your brand.

Reason #4: Your brand is seen as not authentic

Reason #5: Awareness, in many cases is less important than preference

Is this a brand innovation? Wake up and smell the chewable tablet?

Screen Shot 2016-03-17 at 11.44.27 AMIt has finally happened. Technology is now taking away one of the last remaining true pleasures in life: the aroma and flavor of a nice hot cup of coffee. In case you haven’t seen it you might want to explore the latest craze from Nootropics, the creators of Go Cubes who claim to be “experts at cognitive enhancement.”  Kind of reminds me when my dry cleaner told me a few years ago that he wants to be seen as a “cleaning solutions provider,” instead of a plain old dry cleaner.  Non-the-less, the new chewable coffee made a great impression at SWSW, where it was offered as more portable than coffee, less expensive per serving and containing ingredients that temper coffee’s harsher effects. Created by techies, GO Cubes now face a brand challenge to appeal to a broader audience outside of geeky engineers trying to stay up all night to write a few more lines of code. Taking on coffee is most probably a thankless task as the coffee “habit” is a global, cultural phenomenon that does not conform to any kind of rational alternative no matter how convenient or cost effective. Pretty much all branding professionals these days know that successful brands must not only provide value but have to deliver an engaging customer experience. So, I invite anyone who is interested to sit down with the NY Sunday Times, a warm and crackling fire place and a plate full of chewable caffeine tabs, now known as the Go Cube. In my view the Go Cube will soon be rebranded the “Gone Cube.”  Goodbye and good luck!

Marketing Innovation and Leadership

As the chairman of the 2016 Marketing Hall of Fame, it is my special pleasure to congratulate three outstanding marketing leaders who will be inducted in the Marketing Hall of Fame at a ceremony to be held in NY on April 28th, 3 inductees

Bob Greenberg, founder, chairman/CEO of trailblazing agency R/GA; John Hayes, former chief marketing officer at American Express; and legendary marketing strategist and author Al Ries.

The three will be celebrated at the 2016 Marketing Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Thursday, April 28, 2016, 6:00-9:00 pm in the auditorium at PwC headquarters, 300 Madison Avenue at 42nd St in New York. For tickets and other information, please visit

The Marketing Hall of Fame was established by the NY chapter of the AMA ( to celebrate brilliance in marketing across all fields and industries. Each year, the program recognizes individuals who are making outstanding contributions to the field and inspiring a new generation of marketers.

The honor is open to any current marketing practitioner from the corporate, agency, research or academic worlds with a minimum of 10 years experience who is responsible for marketing innovations that have had dramatic impact on business results, raised marketing’s profile in business overall or moved the profession forward by creating new tools and approaches.

Past Marketing Hall of Fame inductees include Trevor Edwards, president, Nike Brands; Yvon Chouinard, founder, Patagonia; Shelly Lazarus, chairman emeritus, Ogilvy & Mather; Beth Comstock, CMO, GE; Joseph V. Tripodi, former chief marketing & commerce officer, The Coca-Cola Company; David Aaker, vice chairman, Prophet and BerkeleyHaas School of Business, UC Berkeley professor emeritus, and Philip Kotler, author and distinguished professor of International Marketing, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University.

Hear from Four Legends of Marketing: May 21 at the Marketing Hall of Fame 2015

Be a part of marketing history & hear insights from four legendary marketers in one evening: Shelly Lazarus (Chairman Emeritus, Ogilvy & Mather); Yvon Chouinard (Founder, Patagonia); Trevor Edwards (President of Brand, Nike); and David Aaker (branding author, Professor Emeritus, UC Berkeley).

It’s an event you won’t want to miss! On the evening of Thursday, May 21st, the 2015 Marketing Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will be presented by the New York American Marketing Association. Join us as we honor these marketing legends, who will each share a keynote speech with their views on brilliance in marketing.

Buy your tickets soon as we expect a sell-out! Join us for an evening of celebration, and connect over cocktails and appetizers with your peers. (Post to Twitter with hashtag #marketingHoF after purchasing your tickets, and be entered to win free entry to 5 New York AMA events!)

TICKETS sold here:


The struggles of another legacy brand: Avon

Screen Shot 2015-04-15 at 8.07.51 AM

The famous doorbell sound and the welcoming voice that proclaimed “AVON CALLING,” is remembered by many as beauty products sold to you be a friend or neighbor. Yet, times have changed as the do in so many traditional businesses. “Avon Weighs Sale as Woes Deepen” in today’s WSJ is yet another wake up call to legacy brands that the market has a short memory and more nimble competitors can quickly outmaneuver slower moving giants. I remember, several years ago meeting Andrea Jong who at that time was CEO of Avon. It was a genuine moment when she entered the room. She had real presence and spoke quite eloquently about the role that Avon plays in empowering women. Avon has always been much more that a beauty products company because the business model created armies of women who helped each other. Interestingly, the door-to door sales approach is still going strong in developing and international markets, which now represent a surprising 80% of the company’s current revenue. In the U.S competition from other direct sellers like Amway, Mary Kay and Herbalife plus retail competition from the mass market beauty brands has lowered Avon’s market share to 4.3% from a previous high of 10% in 2007. So now, when you hear the words “Avon Calling,” it is most probably the phone ringing at a NY investment banking firm looking to find a buyer for the US business. The brand will survive because it has significant goodwill but most probably needs a new distribution strategy. I wish them luck.

How will climate change impact brands?

Screen Shot 2014-05-06 at 8.58.41 AMClimate change is no longer a future scenario. It is here now. In a stunning and comprehensive report issued today on and reported in the NY Times, “Climate change, once considered an issue for a distant future has moved firmly into the present.” The implications for our society are grave and as the subject is debated in Washington and scientific circles, there will undoubtedly be more open discussion about the implications for marketers.

From the perspective of CSR and brand reputation it is time to consider the implications for how companies position their products, to what degree regional climate differences will impact sales patterns and how distribution concerns will need to factored into the supply chain.  This is just the beginning of what I believe will become an important topic in marketing in the months and years ahead.

Can you name the six generations of consumers?

World War II/Swing generations
Members of the WWII Generation were born in 1932 or before and are
aged 82 or older in 2014. Members of the Swing Generation were born
from 1933 to 1945 and are aged 69-81 in 2014.

Baby Boomers
The generation born between 1946 and 1964. In 2014, Baby Boomers are
between the ages of 50 and 68.

Generation X
The generation born between 1965 and 1976. In 2014, Gen Xers are
between the ages of 38 and 49.

Born between 1977 and 1994, Millennials are aged 20 to 37 in 2014.

Born between 1995 and 2007, members of iGen are aged 7-19 in 2014.

Emerging generation
The newest generation began in 2008 as the annual number of births
declined sharply with the recession. In 2014 members of this as-yet unnamed
generation are younger than 7.

The importance of the word “The”

In case you are late to the party, the official name of a country in the news a lot this week is “Ukraine,” not “The Ukraine.”  Lest you think this a small thing, it is a big deal to the residents and patriots of a nation that in 1991 established its independence from the former Soviet Union and formally asked the world to drop the “the.”  The difference between a “state” with an independent constitution and sovereignty is a meaningful distinction from a region or geographic area – as in say, The Arctic, The Azores or The Pacific Ocean.  The other factor, as a recent  article from the Business Insider points out is the derivation of the word Ukraine, which in Old Slavic was Ukrania or borderland, hence the need for the “the”.    [ I always wanted to write a sentence with the words “the the.”]

In any event, I wish them all well in this difficult time and hope that the interests of the citizens will prevail over a forced military solution to their sovereignty.

Google searches for "Ukraine" outnumber those for T"he Ukraine"

Google searches for Ukraine outnumber those for The Ukraine”