Showing posts from January, 2013

Armstrong Debacle: Are Celebrities too Risky for Brands?

Once again, brands that thought they could borrow some magic from a celebrity find themselves swimming in confusion and controversy, like poor Mickey Mouse in The Sorcerer's Apprentice. From AdAge:

Within hours, Mr. Armstrong's endorsement empire fell apart as Anheuser-Busch, Trek, Easton-Bell Sports, 24-Hour Fitness, Honey Stinger, Oakley and other firms dumped the cancer survivor, even as some pledged to continue support of his Livestrong Foundation.

Nike's livid. The US Postal Service is dismayed. I'm not at all surprised.

Celebrity endorsements are a double-edged sword for brands. When the celebrity is hot and you're slicing the competition into prosciutto, life is good. When the celebrity trips and the brand falls on that sword, well, not so good.

The foibles of even the most upright-seeming celebrities are eventually exposed and magnified by social media and the Internet, association with stars is a minefield for brands. Eventually someone's going to step in …

Innovator Brands Disrupt Malt Whiskey Category

From a recent article in the New York Times Food & Wine section:

“It’s part of the pioneer spirit to try to do something by putting your own signature on it,” he said. “I’m not trying to make someone else’s product.” Those words, which perfectly capture the ethos of what I call "Innovator Brands," were spoken by an American craft distiller, Richard Stabile, one of a new generation of whiskey makers who are disrupting the "Quo Brands," staid, old-guard companies that have been doing the same thing for so long, they've forgotten what the word "innovation" means. Chip Tate, another of these rogue master distillers, puts it this way:

 “A lot of what we do is riffing on old traditions in new ways,” Mr. Tate said. “It’s like fusion cooking.”

It's actually much more like category disruption in the new tradition of Silicon Valley. 

Pretty much forever in the world of brands, malt whiskeys have been the exclusive province of Scotland. Names like Macallan, …

Upstart Brands Nip at Well-heeled Banks


“Banks aren’t doing a good job at innovating for consumers,” said Robert Dighero, a partner in the London-based venture capital firm Passion Capital. “Start-ups are nibbling away at some of their most profitable businesses.”

From FastCompany, Robert Anderson, Creative Director of the payment processing startup Square, notes:

"Well frankly, this industry has been neglected for so long that even putting in a modest amount of thinking in terms of modern user experience makes this stuff way better,"

In the wake of some of the most inexcusable scandals, after significant fee increases during the worst recession since the great depression, after generous taxpayer bailouts were gobbled up by financial services companies without so much as a thank you, (except for AIG, whose thank you almost became a f*** you) is it any wonder entrepreneurial Innovator Brands see the big brands as vulnerable?

London’s fast-growing start-up scene is trying to disrupt the financial statu…