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Dr. Ahuvia and the Brand Love Phenomenon

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aaronahuviaWhat brands or products do you absolutely love that you cannot live without? Most of the time consumers flock towards things like smartphones, iPods, and the like. Last week the American Marketing Association, Detroit chapter, put on an event entitled ‘Brand Love’ with Aaron Ahuvia, Ph.D. at Schoolcraft College. Dr. Ahuvia is the foremost authority on this topic as he was the first researcher published in this area over twenty years ago.

Ahuvia’s explanation of brand love starts with human evolution. “Humans adapt old capacities to new situations,” Ahuvia said. He went on to say, “Love is powerful.” A perfect way of exhibiting this is through anthropomorphism; this is when people take something that is not human and give it human qualities. An example of this is shown in a video of an iCat robot named Daisy. Studies showed that humans had a very difficult time shutting down the robot. Those studied began to develop an affinity for the robot, and when asked to shut it down, Daisy began asking the person not to. See the video here.

Another way this is exhibited is through the saying we heard so many times in our school days: “If you love it so much, why don’t you marry it?” One woman, Erika La Tour Eiffel, did just that. She married the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

Ahuvia found that most people actually do love things other than people. The most common things were nature and engaging activities, but closely behind were products and brands. Take a look at Brand Love Central to see the model he developed from this and other studies. Further research by Ahuvia showed that Brand Love helps create sustainable growth and stability in the marketplace.

Is there a formula for success, a love potion of sorts, for brands? Why yes, there is. In fact, there are four key characteristics of brand love, as follows:

  1. Quality and Trust: A brand must start by making sure its products or services maintain quality. Once quality is achieved, trust will need to be maintained. High standards for quality and trust must be present to foster brand love.
  2. Intrinsic Rewards: “Do you love the product or are you just using it?” asks Ahuvia. There is a difference. Certain products people love, while other times people just love the outcome. Ahuvia explained this to the group through tools. Some people use tools because they love fixing motorcycles, for example, while others find love in not only the fixing of the motorcycles but also in the way the tool works, is designed, and functions.
  3. Part of Myself: In this characteristic, Ahuvia explains a term he developed called ‘Looking Glass Love.’ This is a love where we see our own reflection in things that we love other than people. Apple exploited this type of love perfectly in their Mac v. PC television advertisements. The target market was that of a younger generation of people who saw themselves as the Justin Long type compared to the stodgy PC type. This section of brand love brings the deeper connections of love forward.
  4. Part of My Life: “Absence makes the heart grow indifferent,” says Ahuvia. The longer a consumer does not use a product or service, the easier it is to go on without it. To continue to nurture the love, the brand must be a part of the person’s life.

Brand love speaks more for products than it does services. It is most relevant for categories that provide many benefits, have a pleasure aspect, and relate to identity. How will you foster brand love in your business?

Read the original article on the Talent Zoo blog Beneath the Brand at: http://www.talentzoo.com/beneath-the-brand/blog_news.php?articleID=17185

An Exclusive Interview with Mad Men’s Janie Bryant

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janie_bryantMad Men is coming. The date has been announced for the premiere of Mad Men season six, and you can feel the excitement building. Fans are begging for details, but AMC has only allowed the release of a few glamorous cast photos. Who is behind the industry-changing costume design on Mad Men? Janie Bryant.

Last week, I was fortunate enough to sit down for an exclusive interview with Mad Men’s Emmy® award-winning costume designer. Throughout our 25-minute conversation, Bryant took a few moments to answer some questions that may be of interest to fans of Mad Men and readers at Talent Zoo. She reflected on her costume design choices, adding the ’60s style to clothing options in today’s ad agencies, and thoughts on a new clothing line.

Don: How does it feel to be responsible for changing the fashion industry with your Mad Men styling?

Janie: I’m glad we’re talking about this because, just so you know, I am not a stylist; I am a costume designer. It is about creating a story about the characters through costume design. They are completely different jobs. A lot of people don’t know there is a huge difference in professions. Styling is about developing someone’s own personal style. Costume design is about creating and telling the story of a character through their costumes. On Mad Men I design the costumes and I build from scratch, I rent from costume houses in Los Angeles, I work with vendors from around the country to purchase vintage clothing, and I often redesign vintage garments as well.

Don: Got it. I had no idea there was such a big difference. When you’re telling these stories through this costume design, you really changed how some people are dressing out there. Since the show started you’re seeing a lot more skinny ties, and a lot more of the tailored suits for the guys at least.

Janie:  And for the women, too. It’s been incredible to see this whole fashion movement and designers being inspired from my work. I come from a fashion design background. That was my first career and I moved into costume design. I have always felt like costume design was one of the characters of this show in particular, because in the 1960s so many things happened during the decade, not only in terms of fashion but also socially and politically.

Don: That would definitely be a lot of pressure.

Janie: I don’t mind the pressure. I love period design. I really do I love it. And I love that people have been so influenced by the show. I love that the fashion industry has been inspired by the show. I love that there has been a whole movement in men’s and women’s wear that is based around the costume design of the show too. I love it.

Don: That is absolutely great. We were talking about how your clothing choices in Mad Men really speak as much for the characters as their dialogue. Do you ever second guess any of your clothing choices, and which characters are the most difficult to dress?

Janie: Well, it is all about careful balance. Of course there are at times when, yes, I do change things around but it’s also about instincts and really using those instincts. We shoot each episode of Mad Men within eight days so there is not a lot of time for changing or rethinking things. Also, it is just about knowing the character. I’ve been the costume designer on Mad Men since season one so I really know them well. I have lived with these characters for a long time, but not quite as long as Matt Weiner, the amazingly brilliant creator of Mad Men. With six seasons in, I have my color palette for each of the characters and their silhouettes set. I like to maintain some kind of continuity of their silhouettes and carry that through each episode, but again, it really depends on what is going on with the script. It all starts there. It’s about reading the script. It’s about breaking it down. It’s about understanding what the characters are saying to each other. It’s about understanding the mood or the tone of each script and how that character is going to best show the emotions of each scene through their costumes.

Don: Out of all of the characters, which one is the most difficult to dress?

Janie: I don’t really approach it that way because it’s not really about that for me. It is more about the challenges of what I want to say with each scene. Also, it’s more about the pure volume of people. It is more about figuring out how all of these pieces are going to fit and work together. I like to approach it essentially when there are all the principles in one scene and all of the background characters in one scene as like it was a painting.

Don: That is a very intriguing thought. The landscape of office attire today is very casual compared to the Mad Men era. What do you think the impact would be on today’s workforce if the same standard of professionalism and style existed today?

Janie: [laughs] I wouldn’t call the Mad Men guys very professional — grabbing women’s asses and drinking in the office. I don’t think one era is better than the other; I think it is an evolution. We definitely live in a more casual and comfortable period of time. Do I think it looks better to be dressed up and all put together? Yes, but I don’t know if we can ever really go back to that way of being so put together and not being comfortable. People are used to being comfortable now.

Don: I understand completely. That is a very good point.

Janie: It can be compared like this — would people in the 1960s wear corsets like they did in the Victorian era? No. If you look at all of the different decades, each really gets more and more casual. Then again, I think people have also been inspired lately to dress up more and really do understand that different way of how they feel when they’re really dressed up. They understand the feeling of looking great as opposed to when they’re not taking as much care. I think it’s about education and I think it’s about knowing how to dress up. There is a time and place for everything, you know.

Don: So along with that, when you’re looking at the characters, they look so put together. It’s definitely a different style and era.

Janie: That’s called permanent press fabric. The fabrics of that period were engineered to not wrinkle. It’s a whole permanent press era. That’s why so many of the fabrics were blends. That was the whole trend to stay pressed all day long in that period. Our fabrics are different today.

Don: That is very true; most clothes today are 100% cotton. You don’t see many blends out there.

Janie: Yes, and thankfully not. They don’t breathe. That’s why manufacturers stopped making them. The trend is different now. It’s more comfort. It’s breathable fabrics that are not focused on being permanently pressed. It’s about being permanently distressed [laughs].

Don: So, how do you recommend advertising professionals today add Mad Men vintage flair to their work attire?

Janie: Well, I’m a huge fan of menswear, and whether I am designing the suits for the cast or I’m renting vintage suits, it’s all about proper tailoring. As far as the ’60s era, it’s the skinny ties, the skinny lapel, and flat front trousers. Men were also wearing a lot of accessories in that period like tie bars, cuff links, monogrammed belts, beautiful watches, bracelets, pinky rings and so much more. For the men, it was definitely a time of accessories. And for the women, again, it’s about having clothes fit to your body. I always recommend people having a good tailor or seamstress. For the women, the design has really changed from when we first started the show to season five. Then [season one] it was all about the sheath and now [season five] the times have changed and definitely more of a square and architectural shape became the fashion. The thing is for women it is really hard to say what exactly is that Mad Men look. Iconically, I’m sure everybody thinks of Joan in her tight-fitting sheaths and her wiggle dresses. Now it’s about Megan in her Zou Bisou Bisou minidress.

Don: Sure, it’s all about finding your niche and seeing what works best for you.

Janie: Exactly.

Don: Do you have any future plans of creating your own fashion label? Would it take a page from the Mad Men era or would it be completely unique?

Janie: I do. It will be unique to my designs. As a costume designer I am working from the Mad Men scripts and I love the period. I love the ’60s. It’s a great period, but as far as my own design aesthetic, my brand is much more modern glamorous and sexy with an edge. But hopefully soon you’ll see that. [laughs]

Don: Soon, yes. I know a lot of people are asking you questions about upcoming things. On Twitter I see a lot of people are asking you questions about season six of Mad Men.

Janie: I know, I can’t tell you anything about that.

Don: I understand. I actually think it is funny that people ask because everyone knows how tight the set is and everything.

Janie: We’re all hush-hush around here. As for other current projects I’ve been working with some amazing brands. I’ve worked with Banana Republic on the Mad Men collection and we have just announced our third collaboration, which is really exciting. Last year I worked with Maidenform on designing their 90th anniversary capsule collection and I still work as their brand ambassador. Also, I’ve been working with Hearts on Fire®, a diamond company which I love. Then I’ve been working with oneCARE company on a product called Downy Wrinkle Releaser® for fabric care. I love textiles and fabrics and have been working with them a lot, which has been great.

Don: It sounds like you’re staying pretty busy then.

Janie: [laughs] Well it has been busy, but it’s been really fun and really creative. I’m just working on it day by day.

Day by Day is the only way for someone as motivated as Janie to work. Her costume design on Mad Men is so spot-on that it almost feels wrong to call them costumes. It is almost more believable to think she took a DeLorean back to 1962 and filled the trunk of with as much clothes as she could. If you didn’t think working on the set of Mad Men was enough, she is brand ambassador to three brands, wrote a book called The Fashion File, designed three lines for Banana Republic, and is working on her own future line. There are four big takeaways from our conversation: find a good tailor; approach challenging situations like artwork, making every brushstroke count; to be successful like Janie you must have passion and love for what you do, and; as much as you ask, you will never get a spoiler on Mad Men.

Janie is clearly a large part of the genius behind the success of Mad Men. How has her costume design affected you? Discuss.

Article originally published on Talent Zoo at: http://www.talentzoo.com/news/An-Exclusive-Interview-with-Mad-Men-s-Janie-Bryant/16784.html

Ford’s Gone Scrappy

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Engagement. That is one of the key ideas behind getting consumers involved in your brand. After the American auto industry had their troubles, Ford had to reinvent the way it did its marketing or it would fail. One of the ways they did it was through engagement.

In a presentation at Madonna University by Jim Farley, Group Vice President, Global Marketing, Sales, and Service at Ford Motor Company, he said the company is “…very scrappy. Big, but scrappy.” What Farley meant by being scrappy is that the company changed their thoughts towards marketing. “When I came, marketing was an afterthought to sales,” he said. Farley changed all that. Ford had little time and money to get it right. They had to think on their feet and did not have any room for error.

Error they did not. Farley mentioned a number of scrappy marketing things the automaker did to reinvent the brand. These stood out the most:

  1. Focus ST Commercial: Ford closed down the streets at night in Key West. They brought in two new Focus STs and professional drivers. People gathered in the streets to watch the ‘race.’ Ford then asked those who came out to take video with their phones. Onlookers sent the videos to Ford and in the end it was the first user-generated cell phone commercial. It cost Ford virtually nothing. Watch the commercial.
  2. Focus Movement: In the Focus Movement, Ford launched the 2012 Ford Focus with Doug the Puppet. This was the first launch of a car by way of sock puppet. Scrappy? I think so.
  3. Mustang Customizer: Ford launched the Mustang Customizer, where consumers can go to the website and create their own new dream Mustang. Each week they list the fan-generated car of the week on their Facebook page. Ford’s success with this customizer has gone so big that it has pushed Mustang to have the largest following of any car in the world on Facebook with 4.58 million likes and counting.
  4. Random Acts of Fusion: For Random Acts of Fusion, Ford hired Ryan Seacrest and Joel McHale to give away 100 brand-new Ford Fusions all across America. The pair are giving away cars quicker than Elvis gave away Cadillacs. Along the way, Ford is filming a documentary. One look at ‘Random Acts‘ and you can tell that it is a brand builder that is revolutionary for the likes of an automaker.

These are just four examples of Ford’s brand-building success. Every example has a couple things in common. One, it has never been done in the industry before. It is socially engaging. It is out-of-the-box. It also hits its target market dead on. Farley’s bet on keeping the big automaker’s marketing ‘scrappy’ was what some in the beginning may have seen as risky, but it paid off.

What ways could being scrappy pay off for other brands?

Article originally published on the Talent Zoo at: http://www.talentzoo.com/beneath-the-brand/blog_news.php?articleID=15901