Thursday, November 22, 2007

Reebok's Run Easy Campaign is Poor

I was just contemplating Reebok's (herein referred to as rbk) Run Easy campaign. I admire rbk for many of it's accomplishments over the years, for it's overall size, etc, but the brand has definitely been refocused way too many times.

The latest example is the Run Easy campaign. The basic premise is to market rbk running shoes to those that aren't serious athletes. Rather, those that go out for a wimpy "jog". Now, why would anyone who's trying to at least appear fit want to wear a product that screams "I'm not that serious about what I do". The whole Run Easy concept suggests that rbk is confused about their running category. Here are some possible interpretation scenarios we can conclude about their run easy campaign and rbk running shoes:

1. Rbk running shoes simply aren't as good as the competition. As such, you can only run easy in our shoes. Run hard, and they just aren't up to snuff!!

2. Those who wear rbk running shoes aren't that serious about fitness. Hey, at least they're willing to readily and outwardly admit it by wearing rbk. But, if you want to be categorized in the poseur running department, wear rbk. This is similar to buying fitness equipment, only to use it for a few weeks before it begins collecting dust. Almost all home fitness products, particularly those via infomercials, end up very quickly in the back corner of the house, under a bed, in the attic/garage, or thrown away. People are as committed to fitness equipment as they are to eating healthy. They just don't do it very long!!

3. Rbk running shoes are actually as awesome as the best Asics or Saucony running shoe!! That's right, they're just as good. But, rbk wants to give you, the customer, more value, so they market it as a run easy product, which means it should cost less. (i admit, this scenario is confusing, but, so is the Run Easy campaign, so at least were in good company)

4. Maybe rbk is trying to grow the running category as a whole. If they're doing this, then arguably this campaign could be very effective, albeit in the short term. Why only in the short term? Consider this. If rbk is successful at "growing the category", then they will convert customers to running. But, as we've noted in some of the other interpretations, this creates a bigger problem. As soon as the customers are truly converted, they'll drop rbk products like a bad habit since their running shoes are only designed for poseurs, wannabes, or those who really aren't committed. And, if someone's truly committed to the "category" then they'll start buying product that performs. Once again, it's always great to build the category. But, with rbk's short-term product positioning strategy, as created by their ad campaign, their shooting themselves.

5. Arguably rbk is simply being honest in their marketing by admitting most people who buy running shoes simply don't run, aren't into it, and when they do, they run easy (i.e. to catch the bus, into the donut shop, out of the rain, etc). For these duties, I'm sure rbk shoes will perform quite admirably. However, is this how successful product should be marketed? Honesty and transparency should be paramount. However, this kind of honesty from rbk simply loses all the romanticism, dreams, and aspirations of those who run, or would take up running.

A few years back, it appeared that rbk was trying to transition to a more urban, lifestyle brand with athletic influences, all but conceding to Nike the reign of performance footwear. With this run easy campaign, it's as if they've reneged and decided they weren't quite ready to concede. Or, maybe this action is a result of the whole urban trend being in a slump more recently. Either way, it's symptomatic of major marketing confusion. But, the rbk consumer should be used to that, at least in the performance category, as it seems like rbk has been trying to figure out what they stand for over the last few years. And, during that time of confusion, Nike has continued to grow quite nicely and steadily.

Nike = committed
RBK = not committed

A simple marketing principle. Stay committed to your strategy, in both the up and downs. Now, if you are to stay committed to your strategy, that means you better pick a strategy that is sustainable over the long haul. Or, sell out before your trend goes in the dump!!!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Visceral, Behavioral and Reflective Design and Branding

I was reading the Diego Rodriguez's metacool blog and came across a post from a couple months ago. I'm in the process of developing and launching a new urban outdoor footwear brand and found his post very helpful and insightful. It seems like you either intuitively get certain things about business, marketing, design, or whatever other discipline you're in, or you don't. If you don't, you should find someone who does, such that everything's done properly. With that in mind, here's the basic gist of Donald Norman's model of human Cognition.

"If you want a successful product, test and revise. If you want a great product, one that can change the world, let it be driven by someone with a clear vision. The latter represents more financial risk, but it is the only path to greatness." -- Donald Norman

As Rodriguez summarizes, "a quick outline of his [Donald Norman] model of human cognition. First, we take in our external environment using two channels, one Visceral, which is the realm of things like looks, feel and smell; the other Behavioral, which is what allows us to create movement and take action. Operating on top of those channels is our Reflective processor, which Norman describes as the “… level that conscious and the highest levels of feeling, emotions, and cognition reside.” Most of what we call “branding” happens at the Reflective level".

Therefore, the three primary steps in human cognition:
  • Visceral - the aesthetic
  • Behavioral - action
  • Reflective - emotions, feeling, and pure consciousness

So, for effective writing or tools of persuasion, you have Logos [Logic], Pathos [emotion], Ethos [credibility]. are the three steps in human cognition/design the same? I suggest that Visceral=Ethos, Behavioral=Logos, Reflective=emotion. Now, I must admit I've never read the book. I'm only going based on a couple blog posts I've read on the topic. Visceral appears to be Ethos, or Credibility, because as soon as someone witnesses good design, instant credibility is formed. All of a sudden, the viewer expects the designed object to meet a certain standard of intuitiveness, ease of use, efficiency, etc. Once this credibility is established, there's a logic behavior that must occur (i.e. Behavioral=Logos). The viewer then has to interact with the designed object. If the interaction validates the initial Visceral impression of the viewer, then the viewer experiences a reflective moment where they are validated on numerous levels. They have then connected to the designed object, brand, experience, etc.

The tough thing is design is constantly evolving. What was cool design a couple years ago may appear mundane now. I'm reminded of an article I read years ago about Oakley and their design process with their sunglasses. The designer would stress for weeks and months over the minutia. They would move design lines less than millimeters in various directions in order to ensure the most perfect fitting pair of sunglasses. This over zealous focus on product design has created an empire wherein Oakley is the definitive brand and product. Oakley, by far, is definitive emotional brand in the sunglasses space. No other brand even comes close.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Windows Haters Unite

I must admit, my first exposure to computers was on two different macs. But, for all intents and purposes, I am a very well-versed Windows user. I love how Apple has influenced different trends including product design. However, my cheap soul just can't justify the expensive entry price into a Mac machine. At least not yet. But, for anyone who knows what a computer is, and has ever used a Windows machine for longer than an email break at the Public Library, then you'll enjoy this gif. CLICK HERE to see the animation.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Worldwide Obesity

I found this interesting graphic that shows obesity levels in the top 27 "fattest" countries. Of course, we (the USA) are at the forefront. I'm actually surprised to not see more South American countries in this list. The obesity trend in the US is quite alarming. Every time I travel outside of the country, I'm always amazed upon my return how "fat" Americans are. I'm also amazed at how large the portions are at restaurants.

(source and drawing by:

Friday, October 19, 2007

iTunes Killer??

Amazon recently released their mp3 service. The catch? There are none. In fact, it's almost better than the iTunes store in most ways. Why? Well, because it DRM (digital rights management) free. I know, I know, iTunes offers DRM free songs to. Albeit, their DRM free prices are 50%+ higher than Amazon's. And, any mp3 you download from Amazon is fully compatible with iTunes and your iPod. Basically, Amazon mp3 offers you more songs for the same money.

Will Amazon's service kill iTunes? No. I'd be willing to bet a lot of money it won't. But, it gives all you frugalites out there a way to be smart and enjoy your music for less.

Mobile Phone Deals

I'm a sucker for good deals. I mean, really good deals. I get a kick out of talking to others and they say, "I'm buying a new laptop, but I'm getting one through my dad, he gets great deals". Or, "I'm buying it through a friend, they get a company discount". I'm sure we've all heard this. Then, you ask details about the purchase, the specs, and you find out they paid more than had they walked in to their local Best Buy or CompUSA. With a laptop, it's one thing.

Now, fast forward to mobile phones. It is absolutely stupid to pay much for a mobile phone these days. You can even get a the newest Blackberry Curve 8320 for TMobilefor free right now via Amazon. Now, we bargain shoppers know is not always the best place when it comes to price. But, when it comes to mobile phones, I have yet to find a source that is anywhere near as consistent as Amazon when it comes to deals.

I'm going to list a couple pros and cons about using Amazon for mobile phones.


-It's Amazon, not some flaky fly by night.

-You know the rebate is legit
-Shipping is reliable in relatively fast order
-You probably already have an account with Amazon
-Amazon always has steals when it comes to cell phones. It's a pretty good bet that if the phone is Free, or they pay you after rebates, on Amazon, then there's no way you'll find a better deal elsewhere. This makes it simple, check out the phone on Amazon. If it's free or less than free, no reason to shop elsewhere, you've found the best deal.

-Make sure you comply with the rebate terms. Well worth reading the fine print. Note that amazon has really cleaned up the fine print on their phone rebates. It doesn't take more than a couple minutes to read all the print.
-You have to wait for the phone to be shipped
-Defects/problems with the phone have to be handled via the service provider. You can't just walk in to the "store" where you bought the phone.
-Sometimes they don't offer all the phones that other resellers do.

I'm sure there are other Cons and Pros. But, over the years as friends have come to me for deals, when it comes to mobile phones, Amazonhas always come out on top as the best deal. Hopefully this helps!!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

It's Definitely been awhile!!

Well, it's been a long while since I've posted to this blog. I'll admit, it's hard to keep motivated. Tell you what, start clicking on my Google AdSense ads, and I'll instantly become motivated. How does that sound?? [does it always have to be about money]

So, in contemplating what to do with my blog, I realized I should start writing again to improve my communication and writing skills. After all, I did minor in English in school. And, I chose English because I liked the tools of writing and persuasion. So, for my first post in over a year, I've chosen to update all with some great websites I've found, perused, and visit.

Here are some:

Ikea Hacker Blog - Here's a cool blog that features DIY twists on existing Ikea furniture. I love the design language of a lot of stuff at Ikea. However, i struggle with the apparent poor quality of their products. I must admit, i don't own anything from Ikea (other than the less-than-stellar shrimp, egg, bread, lettuce leaf concoction I ate last time I visited their store). But, I've helped friends move who own some of their furniture. Every intimate, as in the side of the dresser is smeared against my face as I attempt to heft it up some stairs, interaction I've had with Ikea furniture (e.g. Dressers, Shelves, Tables, Beds) has revealed poor, particle board quality. Sub-par faux wood prints, and furniture failure under nominal moving loads. Alas, their design language still rawks!

BluDot Furniture - Wicked cool, tres moderne furniture. This company was started by Charlie Lazor, also known for his flatpak prefab home. Bludot features some really cool furniture with, at times, beautiful lines. I'm not overly keen on contemporary stuff that loses functionality. But, I think a lot of stuff on bludot manages to balance functionality with minimal design intrusion. Good design is something that blends and doesn't stick out. In some ways, though, BluDot looks like a premium Ikea. Hopefully the price is indicative of quality. Something not found too often in Ikea stuff.

Flatpak House [see also Dwell by Empyrean] - The whole prefab architecture movement is awesome!! Too bad it's still very expensive. Another really cool prefab home, that is much more affordable, is the Rocio Romero LV and LVL home. The biggest drawback of this, though, is the price. You'll easily pay $150/sq. ft. with these homes. Arguably, you're getting real, modern architecture design for that price. But, it's still not cheap. A few homeowners may find it less expensive. There was one family, though, that built a Rocio Romero LVL home for under $100k. And, the home looks quite nice. I haven't looked into this, and if anyone knows, please update me, but it looks like they sanded the Plywood floor and finished it for the flooring. Which raises a good Eco question: IF you're building a home and trying to be sustainable in the process, why put down flooring on TOP of the wood plywood? As you can see here, the plywood can be finished quite nicely. How sustainable are you really??

Some other PreFab Highlights:
WeeHouse -small, almost rinky-dink type homes. Ready to live in a shoe box?? But, combine a few together, and you've got a comfortable pad.
Eds Shed -prefab home in London. Very, very modern design. I like the wood. But, it has such few windows, i wonder how much natural light comes in. This is one thing I like about the Rocio Romero design, there's gobs of natural light. I like the idea of positioning your home such that when you wake up from the Sun washing over you in the morning.
Napa Prefab - LV home extremely nicely finished.
Move Modern - great resource for modern, contemporary designs, features, for sale, etc. Includes prefabs.
Royal Homes, CANADA - More prefab, modern coolness
Euro Prefab the LoftCube - here's a very expensive (given it's 420sqft size) prefab in europe. They just finished building their first proto overlooking the skyline of Berlin.

Since I'm in process of launching a footwear brand, see
placeholder website, I guess that makes me somewhat in the fashion, trend, consumer goods coolness side of things. So, i present to you a list of blogs focusing on such things.

Sartorialist I love the layout of this blog. Super simple, very few words, but pictures that really capture the essence of the blog, which is to showcase real life people, wearing real-life fashion. As he says, "I always felt that there was a disconnect between what I was selling in the showroom and what I was seeing real people (really cool people) wearing in real life". Hence, the Sartorialist.
Freshness Mag - The sneaker craze continues.
Shoebum - more outdoor oriented blogger.
CoolHunting - more sneakers from the hunter himself, Josh Rubin's Coolhunting


I love business and have to keep up on the latest. As a start-up entrepreneur, I wear a lot of hats. Since my education was in Finance and English, I needed to learn about branding, marketing, etc. So, I frequent these blogs:

Brand Autopsy - This is a great blog with continual mini-case studies.
AlarmClock -fairly comprehensive blog on dealflow, usually in the tech area. It seems like if it's hot in Silicon Valley, AlarmClock covers it. If it's not hot in the Valley, good luck.
AdAge- I subscribe to their newsletters which are always highlighting various Ad/Marketing campaigns, their effectiveness, opinion letters, etc.
Springwise-Another newsletter I subscribe to. Absolutely awesome newsletter for those that love to come up with business ideas. Chock full of new ideas, this newsletter features new, innovative business concepts that are launched worldwide.

Hopefully this is a good primer for learning and linking.