Monthly Archives: July 2016

Learning Business From Burgers

This Foodie Friday brings news that the folks at Chipotle are doubling down. As you’re probably aware unless you’ve been under a rock for the last few months, Chipotle has had some serious issues with E.coli outbreaks in a number of their stores across the country. I wrote about this problem a few months back so we won’t review the details here. Suffice it to say that it has been a disaster for the chain and sales have plummeted.

Español: Restaurant Chipottle Mexican Grill in...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the wake of that, the chain has decided to open another chain. This one will serve burgers and has launched the first outlet in Ohio, calling it Tasty Made. It will serve the same sort of fare as McDonalds, Burger King, and any number of other chains: burgers, fries, and shakes. They intend, however, to put the Chipotle spin on them, as explained in this article:

The company said the new restaurant chain will use “high-quality ingredients that are grown and raised with respect for the animals, the land, and the farmers who produce them.” The company said the new restaurant chain will use “high-quality ingredients that are grown and raised with respect for the animals, the land, and the farmers who produce them.”

That’s the same philosophy as the main Chipotle chain and it had been serving them well until the bacteria breakout hit. Now one could rightly wonder why they’d be thinking about a couple of things. First, why burgers? It would seem as if the field is pretty well saturated and there is even a high-end competitor – Shake Shack – that seems to be in the space already. Second, why now?

I often remind clients that eBay wasn’t the first online auction site, Amazon wasn’t the first online retailer, and that the iPod wasn’t the first mp3 player. They just did things better. We’ve all heard the line about building a better mousetrap and that’s what Chipotle did in their original incarnation. There isn’t anything wrong with their model although obviously, the recent execution leaves quite a bit to be desired. None of us should be afraid to get into a crowded space if, and only if, we really do have a product that is obviously better to the consumer.

Why now? Why not. Their model works and they need to do something to jump start revenues since the flagship brand isn’t recovering quickly. They have other infrastructure already in place for marketing, real estate, systems, and distribution. In fact, they have a couple of other ideas (pizza!) in the works as well. I’ve found that if we wait until conditions are perfect, we’ll generally be waiting a long time.

Our love of a good burger isn’t going anywhere. Let’s see if Tasty Made does. No matter what, it’s will be interesting to learn from them.

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Filed under food, Thinking Aloud

Restoring The Balance And Destroying The Blocking

If you are in business and you market that business at all, chances are that you’re using digital media of one form or another to do so. I suspect that much of your budget for that has shifted a bit based on how widespread the ad-blocking phenomenon has become. I’ve written about it a few times and the practice of installing ad blocking software on computers and mobile devices continues to grow.

While several ad agencies and the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) continue to denounce the software as violating the value exchange compact (attention to ads in exchange for free content), they’re finally getting around to studying ways to get consumers to turn off the blocking software. Both the IAB and Omnicom published some results of their studies and they’re enlightening.

Advertisements, Salem, Massachusetts

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

First Omnicom. Their study found that many ad-blocking users don’t dislike all advertising. They hate popups (who doesn’t!). 44% of those polled associate ad blocking mostly with blocking pop-up advertising. Popups are a type of ad that interrupts the content consuming experience, and that’s what’s pissing consumers off. As an aside, TV commercials do the same interrupting – is a remote control an ad blocker? Then there was this, as reported by MediaPost:

If consumers perceive a positive value exchange with websites, most are willing to go back to an ad-centric experience. In fact, consumers can be motivated to not only turn off their ad blockers, but will also disable them. Among those factors that would entice them to disable ad blockers, 28% would do so if the blockers slowed down their browsing speed, 24% if the ad blocker allows advertisements via payment, and 23% if they trusted websites to not serve annoying ads.  Consumers would disable their ad blockers if the website promised non-intrusive ads (35%).

In other words, people get that publishers need to monetize their content and don’t mind ads per se. They do mind being overwhelmed by ads or having to close several popups to get to the content they want. The IAB data echoed this:

A total of 330 people who said they used ad blockers blamed ads for making websites slower, either because the ads were too data-heavy or because there were too many of them…Not surprisingly, animated, moving and autoplay ads irritated consumers who used ad blockers the most, as did ads that covered up content and long video promos.

All of this sounds like common sense to me. Consumers don’t want their content consumption interrupted, delayed, or slowed-down. They don’t want to expend excess data loading ads. They understand the basic economics of the attention/value exchange but feel that publishers have tilted the balance too far in their own direction and are retaliating by blocking the ads that do so. If we’ll restore the balance the chances are good that they’ll go back to looking at the ads. Make sense?

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Filed under digital media, Reality checks

Protecting Your Brand With Common Sense

The Olympic Games are almost upon us. Like most major sporting organizations, the Olympic Committee and the US Olympic Committee protect their commercial marks aggressively. That intellectual property is a huge piece of the value they sell to official sponsors and keeping non-sponsors from doing ambush marketing is a big part of any sports organization’s daily life. It becomes front and center during marquee events. 

Companies find ways around this enforcement, of course. You’ve probably seen dozens of ads about “The Big Game” every January. You know they reference The Super Bowl even though it’s never said, don’t you. It’s a term the NFL tried to protect but was unable to.  The USOC and IOC are just as aggressive about terminology ranging from the obvious (Olympics, Games, Medal, Rio) to the less obvious (Effort, Performance, Challenge).

Today isn’t about whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing. Having spent much of my career selling and protecting commercial sponsorships of sporting events, you can imagine where I come out on ambushing. I do, however, have a bone to pick from the other side of my career, which is digital. I think it’s instructive for all of us.

Social media is social. Sharable. A conversation. More importantly, social media has become how many people learn and stay in touch with what’s going on in the world. Not in the USOC’s eyes, apparently. They sent a letter out last week which reinforces all of the aforementioned commercial restrictions around the upcoming games, especially with respect to athletes who may be sponsored by non-USOC or Olympic sponsors. But the letter went further.

“Commercial entities may not post about the Trials or Games on their corporate social media accounts. This restriction includes the use of USOC’s trademarks in hashtags such as #Rio2016 or #TeamUSA.”

It doesn’t stop there. The same letter sent by the USOC reminds companies (except for those involved in news media) that they can’t reference any Olympic results or share or repost anything from the official Olympic account. I think that’s pretty far over the foul line. Social media by definition is meant to be circulated and almost any sponsor will mention “going viral” as one of their goals. How can you tweet or mention anything about the games without using a tag that’s discoverable? Why wouldn’t you want broader attention drawn to your event if it’s not otherwise a commercial message? Yes, I understand (better than most!) how sponsors try to share the brand equity of the event without authorization, but if all they’re doing is retweeting your own post, how are they sharing brand equity?

Protecting intellectual property is one of the most important things any brand or business can do. There are limits, however, and that protection should hardly ever interfere with common sense and the world of social sharing. You certainly don’t want to be seen as a bully. Do you agree with that?

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Filed under sports business, What's Going On