My next blog will be all about why I am closing all of my accounts at Wells Fargo. They are stuck in the 20th century in so many ways it’s hard to believe they are still in business.
But before I get to that, I have some ideas for the Department of Licensing, and my bet is that this applies to most states, not just my home, and current, state of Washington. My first such Driver’s License from that state is pictured to the left from 1982.
As much as I dread the notion of getting back in line at the DOL to renew a license, I have to give them a lot of credit – I just renewed my license online and that was fast and easy.
And even though the long lines are awful, I will give the state of Washington (and any other state that does this) some credit for the simplicity of their method of establishing whether someone is old enough to drink (helping bars and vendors that sell alcohol). In Washington, you are not allowed to look into the camera until you are 21, so a bar or vendor doesn’t have to look at your birthday and do the math to see if you can buy alcohol, all they have to do is look at your photo. Good thinking.
It does crack me up a bit that the way they could be sure it was an authentic license in 1982 was putting grooves in the orange section in the shape of the state of Washington so that when you tilted it back and forth in the light, the grooves would move like waves. Wow. How low-tech can you get, by modern standards?
I am a little bit surprised they don’t need a more current photo, but unlike my 1982 photo, the photo they took of me in 2007 is pretty much what I look like today.
So when I mentioned it in passing to my friend Mary that I am so delighted to not have to go to the DOL to renew this year, her reaction surprised me. She said, “oh I know, so you don’t get the judgemental looks about whether you really weigh what you say you weigh.” Nope. That’s not why. I really just don’t like standing in line for hours.
But it did get me rethinking.
What if they had a scale at the DOL that you had to use to verify your weight unless you paid a fee to waive the weigh-in? Or the photo, for that matter. Think about how much revenue states would generate if people (probably mostly women) could pay to fib on non-crucial details of their license. Let’s face it, women can wear their hair differently and become unrecognizable, what good is that photo anyway? Really.
There are 6.6 million people in Washington (presumbly about half are women). Obviously a lot of women in their 20′s couldn’t care less about whether it’s their real weight, but after that, who knows. If you charge $30 just for the waiver on the weigh-in, that’s upwards of $100 million (over five years) in additional revenue, and probably another $100 million to pay to re-use the same photo from last time. And if they wanted to charge $50 for a professional photographer to take your photo . . . Well, you get the idea.
Free money for states that need it. Why not?
The hands down best superbowl ad was the Audi vampire spot (click here). I had seen an advertisement in print form for the new Audi A7, touting its new headlights as being the closest thing to simulated daylight ever, and thought that was interesting enough. But to then marry that idea with the curent runaway popularity of, and fascination with, vampires was absolutely brilliant – with the idea that the driver unknowingly is about to kill all of his friends at the party because vampires can’t survive daylight. . . Love it. Not only great rethinking on the headlights, but to hang it on the coattails of something so edgy as vampires, with just the right tone, really well done.
Then Honda really hit a home run with its CR-V ad (here). Knowing that it needs to target the baby boomer generation with ads, getting Matthew Broderick to reprise his role in Ferris Beuller’s Day Off was probably not a bad idea for anyone, but to align it with its current marketing emphasis on spending time away, this really hit the nail on the head for them. So while Audi reached into the what’s hot today, Honda reached back to what was hot when baby boomers were kids to get something to resonate with them.
Downy Unstoppables, here, did something a bit lot Honda in going back to the past, getting Mean Joe Green to to a repeat of his Coke commercial from the ’70s (here) and it’s funny enough, especially if you are a fan of Amy Sedaris, but it seems to be off the mark in terms of target. I don’t think people watching the superbowl want to hear about laundry.
Acura (full length and very funny version here) missed the mark in a similar way with it’s spot with Jerry Seinfeld. While it’s true Seinfeld and Leno are famous for their love of cars, I just don’t buy that they would care about an Acura. I can’t get there. I thought Hyundai made the same mistake (here) with its cheetah spot – very clever, funny, and memorable, but I still think a Prius is faster zero to 60. I’m just sayin.
OK those are the best ads, even if a bit off target.
The worst one was the Chevy end of the world ad (here). I was with them through the entire thing, and even thought the Twinkies were a funny ending, but to suggest that their buddy didn’t survive the apocolypse because he was in a Ford broke one of the basic rules of the game. You never name your competition in a negative way, and suggesting that your competition is why one of your buddies is dead? Ugh.
GoDaddy was also pretty bad.
Overall winner – Audi. No question.
I haven’t blogged for a little while because I hadn’t seen any really great evidence of rethinking worth writing about. Then I read this article by Andrew Adam Newman, and WOW!
I do think Newman fails to mention what seems to me as the biggest point of all – which I will get to. The good news is that someone involved with marketing at P&G really gets the cultural change that has already happened, that will continue to happen and they have taken advantage of it in a great, great way.
But before I get to that, I have to bring up something on the opposite end of the spectrum that is evidence that someone involved with marketing at Restoration Hardware is way, way, way out of touch. Last year I got their Fall catalogue, which by itself is notable because I don’t get many catalogues because I do most of my shopping in person or through Amazon. I have been into a Restoration Hardware, but I don’t shop there, so it’s already a waste of at least the two dollars it costs to send a piece of first class mail to someone (all in costs from paper, postage, transportation, ink, etc. – just ask Steve Shivers over at doxo). Then I picked it up and opened it. Very dark photographs of a lot of things I have no need for. And as if that’s not enough – the catalogue was 615 pages long (see photo). I immediately pictured a fleet of US Postal Service making a special run, loaded up with these catalogues that weigh a lot. What a spectacular waste of money. If they feel really need to do a catalogue, call the people at ZMAGS and make it digital (and add some color to the photos). I am still not going to read it, but at least they won’t be wasting so much money.
Back to P&G.
I love the idea of an ad interrupting another ad with a completely unrelated product (though both owned by P&G, at the risk of stating the obvious). That’s awesome, and the beauty is that it’s totally brand aligned with the Old Spice campaign of late with Terry Crews (there’s a very funny compilation video of him out on YouTube and here). I will admit I had not previously heard of Charmin Fresh Mates, but the idea is pretty simple and might even be more eco-friendly. The really big point that wasn’t mentioned in the article was the cultural change that it reflects. Two, actually. First of all, short summaries of things (like news headlines) are not new, and in some circles there is a special word, other than blurb, which is “squib” for that short summary. What is relatively new, fed largely by Twitter, is the need to express things with very little time or space in which to express them – the tweet. The other thing that is also not new, but is far more prevalent in our culture is the interruption. Text messages interrupting meeting discussions, e-mails interrupting work on a document – we are getting interrupted all day long now. This P&G move is a combination of the two in a very elegant way – the 30 second ad spot is so 27 seconds ago . . . it’s too long. P&G only needs half the time to, in effect “Tweet” their ad, so the interruption happens after they have delivered their message and they can deliver another message in the remaining time. Awesome.
Have you noticed that most airlines don’t accept cash these days for inflight things like drinks and food?
I totally get the logic of not wanting to make change for people for all of the food items. It’s a great, simple rethink that makes those transactions so much easier for everyone. Everyone that is except people who don’t have credit cards.
I don’t understand how it can be, given what every note of US currency has in the upper right corner, in all CAPS no less. ALL DEBTS PUBLIC AND PRIVATE is pretty unambiguous.
And we are told that federal laws apply to flights, since they tell us it’s a violation of Federal Aviation Association law to smoke on a plane. They even say that on international flights which I find ironic (how do US federal laws apply to flights leaving Singapore, for example), but that’s a topic for another day.
I have wanted to ask this on flights before, but worry that if I ask the question, the air marshal will put me in a headlock and then the dreaded “list” that gets you special treatment at the security line. I may now be immune to that list because I signed up for the clearme.com service which is AWESOME, by the way – no more TSA lines – now they just need to be in more airports.
So please, explain to me how this is legal.
If you somehow missed it, they turned Michael Lewis’ book Moneyball into a movie that premiered last weekend. Given how much coverage it got, I was stunned to see it come in third place at the box office, behind the re-released Lion King of all things.
I have been aware of the book and Billy Beane since Beane turned the baseball world on its ear by proving that the old school measure of talent, batting average, was necessary but not sufficient to make the best decisions about hiring, and talent is everything in baseball – or to put it in Yogi Berra-oid terms – 90% of baseball is 50% talent.
Beane showed that things lke on base percentage, slugging percentage, even the number of walks a player gets can have greater statistical impact on the outcome of games – and of course winning is what matters in the end. And for years, Beane was the only one managing a team this way, so he had the advantage and his team did better while spending less on their talent (because everyone was still so focused on batting averages). Now everyone follows this model so the playing field is once again relatively level (albeit a new higher level).
Friday I was listening to NPR and they were talking about the book and the movie and why the book was such a huge hit and the person they were interviewing said it really well – he said the reason Moneyball was such an “important” book was because it rattled an entire industry by showing it the set-in-stone metrics that industry was using were not enough, and that sent ripples into other industies suggesting that they rethink their metrics as well. In many respects, my book Rethink is a guide to helping organizations do just that.
After I heard that piece on NPR I saw two different articles in The New York Times talking about two very different companies who have followed the Moneyball/Rethink logic and offer some great examples of non-obvious changes.
The first one, about Marvin Windows and Doors offers a couple of great nuggets. This company has a no layoffs policy which is really rough in this economy. But this is no Kumbya article. Because Marvin kept employees while other competitors laid people off and shut plants, when there were bursts in demand – Marvin was not only able to address this when others could not – the result was an actual gain in market share. The message is that short sighted layoffs cost their competitors market share as the recession hit them. The article wisely points out that if Marvin were public, this would never have happened – but that’s yet another argument against a company being public – it so often drives such short-sighted decisions, that things like this are not possible. Great story.
The other article is about a company called cater2.me and tells a good story about adding middlemen in an economy where disintermediation is the juggernaut du jour. Cater2.me does something really simple, but the rethinking going on is more subtle than Marvin Windows, or the Oakland A’s. Cater2.me delivers food to offices. Really simple idea, not new, but their pitch is where the rethinking comes in. When you have highly paid salaried employees, it’s “expensive” to have them walk out the door and go to lunch every day. If you bring good food in and have them eat in the office, that 20% or 30% or 60% increase in productivity you get from those employees makes for a very simple business case for the company to cover the cost of lunch. Don’t think of the cost by itself, think of the cost in terms of the overall outcome you seek – winning at whatever it is you do.
There you have it.
I think someone is about to become a third party candidate in the Presidential race and I think we are going to get some hints about it today.
There have previous rethink posts about alice.com and Coinstar in how they have taken very traditional two party transaction business models and in a very seamless way, added a third party to the equation, both with a lot of success – in business.
Just last week I was talking with my friend Scot, saying that the only way the Republicans can win the 2012 Presidential election is if a third party candidate enters the mix and takes votes away from Obama (in what has almost always been a two party race). While Scot agreed, he was quick to point out that taking Democratic votes is a very different thing from taking Republican votes.
So this weekend when I saw the full page ad in the Sunday New York Times from Howard Schultz talking about his new organization Upward Spiral, seeing the people behind it, with a company called No Labels, I figured this was it. Although their logo is a little confusing to me in that it’s not a spiral, It’s very red, white, and blue.
Why do I think this is meaningful?
1) Full page ads in The New York Times and USA Today aren’t cheap and they don’t help Starbucks much
2) The event tonight is the day before the big debate among Republicans – that can’t be a coincidence
3) Just take a look at who is behind No Labels – major inside the Beltway people, not some bunch of red-blooded baristas
4) Someone last night suggested this was just Howard getting behind a cause he really believes in – and by the way, I think a lot of people are going to respond well to the message. If that were the case, then why the association with No Labels?
5) Howard doesn’t have anything more to prove. He put his book at #1 on the best seller list, he has made loads of money at Starbucks, and has even come back to help them at a time when they struggled. Jumping into politics makes some sense.
Is it Howard? My guess is no. As my friend Ross said “I’ve met the guy and he’s as inspirational as toast.” Any third party candidate at this stage has to be a bit of a wild hair (remember Ross Perot? different Ross from the one I quoted, by the way) and that’s not Howard.
But it’s perfect timing, the issue is clear and basic, and I think this could be a majorly disruptive moment if executed well, and really make the element of “3″ a huge factor come next election.
Any guesses as to who it might be? I think Jon Stewart or Colbert would be greatly disruptive, I just don’t think they need the headache.
If you have not seen the movie “Up” you should. There’s a scene where there are dogs at a dog park and they have collars that enable them to speak English to humans. In some ways it’s very touching – it’s as if they have always wanted to communicate with humans and now they finally can. There’s a video of that part of it on YouTube here. The hitch is that they are still dogs, so while conveying their true feelings to humans, they can still be distracted by things like squirrels.
So I was talking with my friend Michael about how many people at work get distracted by so many things that they should not be focused on, and we agreed that it would be funny, and useful to call those “squirrels” in a work setting. Michael then went so far as to suggest that he should have squirrel stickers to hand to people to let them know that even if they are talking about something with amazing potential (which is often the case), it’s still a distraction from what we really need to accomplish.
So I decided to make those squirrel stickers for Michael, because I think it’s a fun way to make a great point.
I have never had stickers made before, so I did an internet search in my browser (though I really wasn’t browsing – I was actually intent on buying something, but that word choice is the subject of another rethink blog) for stickers. Zazzle came up and I went to their site and to their credit, they have a pretty good user interface and their sticker-maker technology is good. So I uploaded my squirrel image (below) and placed the order and paid extra for overnight delivery – knowing I needed it on August 31.
So on August 30, I went back to the order confirmation e-mail I got to check on the status of my order and to my amazement I learned that my order had been cancelled. After a little back-and-forth with customer support, they claim they sent me an e-mail explaining that the order was cancelled for some policy reason that they didn’t / wouldn’t explain.
Michael (who loves thousands of miles away from me) was to be in town on August 31 and I intended to give him his squirrel stickers and Zazzle completely failed me in my attempt, and worse, they made no effort to remedy the situation, let alone explain it. They need to do some serious rethinking over there or they will be out of business.
I was angry, but I was not about to give up. There’s a Kinkos (which I guess isn’t called Kinkos anym0re – I guess it’s FedEx Office). I went to the Kinkos at the Washington State Convention Center and they took good care of me. I had my stickers in less than three hours and it was less than Zazzle was going to charge me. Hooray for Kinkos!