Hello World: My Formal Introduction, Healthy Advertising and Millenials

stock-photo-18408408-marketing-concepts

My name is Pashun Ballard and I am a new contributor to Brandiose Marketing. I have 5-1/2 years of Marketing and Communications experience. I have worked in the television and radio industry for about 9 years prior to jumping on the marketing communication pool. I hope to give some expertise about social media campaigns, digital marketing, marketing communications branding and writing from a mid career level. I have worked in various different industries, so I have a generalist perspective.

I look forward to highlighting various marketing communications scenarios and case studies. Marketing affects various aspects of the real world. You can see the effects negative and positive of marketing, communications, and social media throughout our society.

How has health advertising and the upsurge in healthy eating affected fast food and soda sales? According to adage.com

“The amount of soda consumed declined 1.2% in 2012 — down to 1996 levels, with per capita consumption in the U.S. falling to 1987 levels. Still, the major brands increased pricing, leading to a 1.8% rise in retail sales. According to Beverage Digest, the category, which includes energy drinks is worth about $77 billion.

Soda consumption was steady throughout the 1990s, rising about 3% per year, before slowing in 1999. The category has been in decline since 2005.”

Read the rest of this entry »


Empty promises from US Airways

Exit sign in airplaneI didn’t expect to follow up on the previous post about brands destroying themselves through broken promises with another example of poor customer service so soon, but US Airways is too blatant to ignore.

You may be aware that US Airways is undergoing a merger with American Airlines and will be the surviving airline. It also will be the biggest. There has been much news reported about how this merger will benefit investors, the airline industry and US Airways employees. You don’t see or hear much about the impact on customers other than speculation about fares. And I can see why US Airways doesn’t advertise its customer service – because it stinks.

My brother experienced this first hand just a couple of weeks ago. He booked a flight that required a change of planes in Charlotte, N.C. His originating flight departed late because of weather and he landed about 10 minutes late. Incredibly, the plane sat at the arriving gate because – according to the pilot – there wasn’t an agent at the gate to direct departing passengers to connecting flights.

My brother said that people on the plane were yelling to the flight crew to let them off the plane. The pilot announced an apology and said he had called three times for a gate agent.  They all waited, standing in the aisle, for 12 minutes.

When passengers finally were allowed off the plane, my brother ran for his connecting flight. Great news – the plane was still at the gate! But no, the agent wouldn’t let him board because the doors had just closed. He asked her to find him a hotel. She told him no, his delay was caused by weather, which the airline has no control over and doesn’t compensate passengers for. He told her the delay was from waiting for 12 minutes to exit the plane and if it weren’t for that hold up by US Airways, he would have made it on the connecting flight before the doors closed.

The agent refused so he had to find and book his own hotel at a cost of $150 and was rebooked on a flight the following morning.

I started tweeting about how US Airways was trying to use bad weather on one leg of the trip to explain its poor gate service and get out of refunding my brother for a hotel bill he should never had to incur. This is not an unusual tactic used by airlines, which I pointed out in one of my tweets.

Suddenly, my brother heard again from a US Airways “customer service” representative, who this time admitted the airline was at fault, but said they still wouldn’t refund his hotel expense because the airline only reimburses when there has been a mechanical issue. Except this is not what the US Airline website says:

Non-diversion cancellations and missed connections

When a US Airways flight on which the customer is being transported is cancelled or causes a missed connection, due to reasons within the control of US Airways, creating an overnight stay for the customer, US Airways will provide one night’s lodging. US Airways will pay for:

  • Hotel room (US Airways will not cover: room service, alcohol, or movies, laundry or other hotel services)
  • Ground transportation (if not provided by the hotel)
  • Passengers without baggage will be reimbursed upon presentation of receipts for reasonable incidentals such as toiletries needed until they are reunited with their baggage

US Airways will not provide hotel accommodations when a flight is cancelled or causes a missed connection due to circumstances beyond our control, such as weather or Air Traffic Control decisions. Additional exceptions where US Airways will not provide hotel accommodations include:

  • When a customer’s trip is interrupted at a city which is his/her origin point, point of scheduled temporary stay or his/her permanent domicile.
  • When the destination designated on the customer’s ticket, and the flight on which the customer is being transported, is diverted to another city or airport in the same metropolitan area due to weather or other causes beyond US Airways’ control.

In cases where US Airways will not provide one night’s lodging, US Airways will provide passengers a list of hotels/motels, which offer a distressed rate when flight(s) are cancelled.

Whether or not this is legally binding is not the point. It constitutes a brand promise that US Airways has broken. I posted a link to this on one of my Twitter posts and, guess what – my brother got another call from US Airways. This time they offered to pay $75 of his $150 hotel bill.

Getting a full refund for a delay US Airways finally admitted was fully within its control and at fault should not require passengers to play Let’s Make A Deal for US Airways to honor its promise.

Assuming the merger goes through, passengers can expect this kind of “service” to continue. And we as the flying public are apt to see US Airways ad touting size and routes  – but not customer service.


FDA cigarette labels test public’s fears

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is using a classic example of  “fear appeal” to change the behavior of smokers.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration photo

Fear appeals use threats of highlight the negative consequences of not heeding the warning to change attitude and/or behavior. Remember the “Brain on Drugs” campaign back in the ’90s, where a fried egg represented the damaging effects of drugs on teenagers’ brains?

Or maybe you remember this “Don’t Drink and Drive” fear appeal:

Now the government is rolling out new and more graphic warning labels on cigarette packs that aim to show the dangers of smoking through images such as a diseased lung, a smoker wearing an oxygen mask and an emaciated cancer patient. You can view them on the FDA site.

According to USA Today, the new labels represent the most sweeping anti-tobacco effort since the surgeon general’s warning became mandatory on cigarette packaging in 1965. In addition to the grisly images, cigarette marketers also will be required to place 1-800-QUIT-NOW numbers on new packaging, the newspaper said.

“The goal: Slash consumption among the nation’s 43 million smokers and prevent millions more, especially teens, from ever starting.”

But will this particular fear appeal work?

Fear appeals are advertising messages that attempt to create anxiety in the targeted audiences to adopt a recommended response to the threat. Such fear-based advertisements are widely used in health-related communication situations such as health promotional campaigns and social marketing advertising.  The American Cancer Society’s “My Sister Accidentally Killed Herself” ad is one example.

While ads using fear appeal can be effective, as previous campaigns have shown, inappropriate use could also cause consumers to refuse to give their attention to and turn away from such advertisements when they feel intimidated, or even irritated.

Not surprisingly, tobacco companies oppose the new labels. It’s interesting that opposition also is coming from the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) and the American Advertising Federation (AAF) who are concerned it could “set a very dangerous precedent for all other marketers – that the government can tell companies what they must say and portray in their advertising,” according to the ANA.

What do you think – will these labels influence your decision to smoke? Do the advertising groups have a good point, or do you think their opposition stems from something else?


Don’t settle for weak marketing/communication objectives

How do you determine whether your marketing, communication or PR efforts are working? You track and measure results, right? But what if you don’t have specific objectives to measure? Then whether or not things are truly working is just a guessing game.

I’m surprised by the number of “plans” that I’ve seen that lack measurable objectives or any stated plan for measurement, and I’m continually amazed that CMOs and CEOs accept these from their internal staff or outside agency.

Objectives should be specific, measurable, achievable and challenging. Many marketers make the mistake of having directional objectives such as “increase brand visibility” or “generate new leads” or “increase name recognition.” The problem with these kinds of vague objectives is there’s no way to tell when they’ve been achieved or even if they have that there’s been any worthwhile impact. For example, does a 1 percent increase in name recognition achieve the objective “increase name recognition”? I suppose that there was any increase would mean that it does, but in most cases a 1 percent increase isn’t significant enough to satisfy management – especially when you weigh this against what was spent to achieve the 1 percent increase.

Setting measurable objectives means assigning numbers, for example:

  • “Increase name recognition by 10 percent”
  • “Increase target market online sales 25 percent”
  • “Capture 15 percent market share in the IT conference segment”
  • “Increase blood supply by persuading 35 percent of non-donors to donate blood for the first time”

Moving objectives from generic and vague to specific and measurable makes accountability possible and gives a more realistic picture in terms of results.

If you’re being presented with plans that don’t have measurable objectives laid out, at the very least, send them back and ask for revisions.