Posts tagged “Brands

Why people love JetBlue

As folks who drink at the JuiceBar know, I write a lot about travel.

So here’s a travel story with a simple lesson.

It is amazing what happens when you are nice to people.  It is even more amazing when you go the extra mile and do something surprisingly pleasant.

imagesThe day started with a 4:30 am alarm from my BlackBerry.  I love my BlackBerry.  I hate my alarm.

I lay there thinking.  Can I stay in my bed?  Please?  God, it is early!  In my mind I sound like a 10-year-old.

By 5:15 I’m heading down the Dulles Toll Road ready to attack a day trip to Boston.  Leave at 6:30 am.  Grab a cab.  Make a 9 am meeting.  Break.  2 pm fly-by.  Head home on the 4:30 pm.  Able to make a meeting back in Northern Virginia at 7:30 pm.

The above is the reason I have not watched the movie Up in the Air.  The movie is way too close.

Slug through security.  People mover.  Gate B66.  And here is where things get interesting.

Flight delay.  Mechanical problems.

It is 6:15 and the agent is actually cheery.  Upbeat.  Moreover she’s open, honest and most of all accessible.  Next update at 7 pm.  Bing.  At 7 am she’s talking to me.  Next update at 7:30 am.  7:30 am comes and bing, she’s talking to me again.  Answering anybody’s questions.  More agents begin to cluster around the gate readying to move.  Decision made.  Next update will be at 8:30 and there’s a 9 am flight so let’s get everyone on to the 9 am flight.  Agents fan out.  There’s running through travelers like a California wildfire through Hollywood.  I timidly note to one agent that my meeting in Boston starts at 9 am.  So I don’t know if this whole flight is worth it.

He says to me, “Let me know what you decided and we’ll take care of you.”

Thirty minutes later, after a handful of emails and a couple of calls with my CEO, we pull the plug on the day trip.

I go back to a DIFFERENT agent and tell him my decision.  I’m so used to being abused, charged, and refused that I don’t even ask for a refund.

Turns out I didn’t have to.

“Oh, yes, Mr. Johnson.  My colleague mentioned that he talked to you.  Totally understand.  He already told me that we’re going to issue you a refund.  Should just take a minute.”

I love JetBlue — for today — because …

  • They were nice.
  • They were accessible.
  • They did something that they didn’t have to do.
  • In fact, they did something that others NEVER do.

I say that I love JetBlue today because I’m just as human (and fickle) as anyone else.  But if JetBlue continues to do this, they may be taking a lot of travel away from United.  At least from one traveler I know.

[ENDNOTE for anyone from JetBlue reading this.  It was the agents at Gate 66, flight 1250.  They were ALL great.  Please do something nice for them.]

Actions Always Speak Louder Than Words

This being Sunday, I thought a bit of theology combined with brand communication might be in order.

The lesson for this morning:  actions ALWAYS speak louder than words.

This is true in life.  This is true for brands.

A bit of background.

jamesLast Sunday I started on a series of email exchanges with friends on things theological.  What prompted the online discussion was a close friends’ bridling at the Pontiff’s message to the Kennedy family following Senator Ted Kennedy’s death.   The discussion took many different twists and turns and involved several people — some you’d recognize — but ended (or last left off at …) in a discussion of faith and works.  The closing observations even included the catchy and often derided “WWJD” or “what would Jesus do” acronym — and this favorably by a theologian of much repute seemingly not given to religious market hoopla.

For the un-initiated, the Christian theological debate over faith vs. works is a lively one.

The proponents of the latter inevitably look to and cite the book of James, a small book tucked away amidst the Pauline epistles.  The author is thought to be the half-brother of Jesus and some believe was written to counter any misperception from Paul’s preaching that good works aren’t important.  (If you’re REALLY interested you can look up “legalism” and “antinomianism“.)

Basically, James says that faith without works is a bunch of hooey.  To prove his point (and my favorite part of the book) James writes in a prose laced with criticism something to the effect of the following:

“If someone is poor, hungry and needs clothes for the family and all you do is give them a smiley face, buck them up with some cheap words of encouragement, slap them on the back and say … ‘don’t worry … be happy.”  Well if you actually think that by doing that you’re really helping that person you’re an idiot.   Well ok.  You’re either an idiot or a hypocrite.  Because your actions always speak louder than your words — words being always cheap and oftentimes wrong (James also has a lot to say about that!).

Want to do something that will really help the poor and the hungry?  How about getting up off your fat, lazy ass and giving people something to eat?  How about dipping into your pocketbook and buying them some clothers?  Stop all the idle, hang-wringing, self-indulgent chit chat.  DO SOMETHING!!!

Or something to that effect.  Perhaps not that strident but I think I’m directionally correct.

Which leads me to the Washington Redskins.

washington_redskinsAccording to reports this week, the Washington Redskins are suing those season ticket holders who are unemployed, desolate, and out-of-luck or who otherwise, because of recent circumstances, can’t fulfill their contractual multi-year, thousands of dollars season ticket obligations.

Based on the reports in the Washington Post, among those being sued by the Redskins are unemployed grandmothers, recently laid-off and divorced moms and dads, as well as those who’ve lost their life savings to illness.

So you sue them.

Somebody should tell the Hogettes that they better keep their day jobs.

Last I knew there was a waiting list for Redskins season tickets.

Times must be really tough.

But not really.

According to Forbes, the Washington Redskins club is the second-most valuable, clocking in at an estimated $1.5 billion in value.  Snyder bought the club for $750 million.  Pretty good return, no?

Someone at the Redskins ought to wake up.  You can play “Hail to the Redskins” as much as you want.  You can market all the maroon and gold memorabilia that you want.  You can rent out players to civic and community events.

But at the end of the day it is what you do that matters.  Who wants to be a brand that sues its fans when they’re down and out?

Actions speak louder than words.

Happy (Belated) Mother’s Day

I spent Mother’s Day day with my mother in Arkansas.

She is 86-years-young and lives there just five minutes from my brother’s house.

ggparoushmomdaleMy brother and I spent the day with her rummaging through boxes of pictures.  The bulk were on modern Kodak paper.

But there was a box or two of thick, hard and very brownish ones.  Then there were these clear and shiny black and white ones about the size of a postage stamp.

We made it a project.  My bother manned the computer.  I sorted through the photos and cycled them through the scanner.  And while they were being moved from decades old sepia and paper to digits and pixels we’d have them up on a big plasma screen while Mom would look and explain the story behind each.

[The one here was one of her favorites.  That’s her in the middle with her brother.  Grandpa Rousch just got finished reading her “Peter Rabbit.”]

All mothers are saints.


The “all mothers are saints” thing is a myth.  I have heard enough stories from my social worker wife to know that is not true.  Some people are lucky and have mothers that teach them how to encourage, nurture, support, cherish, and love.  Others do not.

I am one of the lucky ones.

Born of humble mid-western farming stock, my mother combines a rock-hard work ethic with purity of love and caring that is all to hard to find in a modern life.  She is a reminder that old-fashioned is a compliment.  That simplicity and virtue is not only attainable, but something that can and should guide your life.  Most of all, she reminds me of what it means to be a parent and care for family.

And funny thing is.  She never told me any of this.  She just did it.

Thanks, Mom.

Happy Mother’s Day.

Assessing Brand Obama: The “Dog Year” Presidency

Recently I was asked to provide thought and commentary on President Obama’s first one hundred days in office.  The discussion takes place in Boston at an advisory board meeting this Friday.

I thought I’d use the Juice Bar as a handy note pad to jot down thoughts and float some trial balloons.

Let’s start with the unusual.  Typically people do that last.  You know … tell a joke, set the stage, identify the commonalities, cite historical precedent, and then wind it all up with a handful of pithy observations and quotable quotes that are supposed to get people to say “hmm … never looked at it that way …”  (Or if you’re the cynical sort (like me) the close often seems to be trying to get people to say “damn … that’s one smart guy!” … but I digress)

So for this first foray, let’s discard all the presentation foreplay and do what my friend Bink Garrison suggests and “start backwards.”

Let’s start with questions …  questions that have been nagging me ever since I was given this assignment … and questions that suggest a conclusion or two about what is making the Obama presidency different.

Today’s questions is …

Where did the time go?

As I said, the topic suggested for this panel is “Obama’s First One Hundred Days.”  Notice something odd about that?

Yup.  You’re right!  President Obama is not close to being in office one hundred days.  I haven’t had the time to figure out when his “One Hundred Day” mark will be — but my guess is that it is sometime around Easter (BTW, Happy Mardi Gras!).

So why start talking now — in the dead of winter — about something that is not going to take place until Easter?  Is this advisory board of mine a bit goofy?  Not really.  Seems there are a lot of other people interested in discussing this topic well in advance of its actual occurrence.

Google “Obama’s First One Hundred Days” and you get nearly 71 million results (all in .23 seconds!).   For a guy that has been in office just a little over a month, President Obama already seems to many as comfortable as an old pair of jeans … so much so that folks are already writing the obituary of his first 100 days right after his first news conference.

Maybe it was the Democratic primary that wouldn’t die.

Maybe it is the effect of watching the nation’s economy and your personal wealth slowly but inexorably melt away.

Maybe it is the ubiquitous and inescapable media that takes any event and expands, extends, and makes a five second event last for five days.

But the Obama presidency already seems like dog years — every day in real time seems like seven days to us normal humans.

The Spirit of Christmas

Merry Christmas!

Did you get the “Christmas spirit” this year?  Yes?  Well what kind of spirit was that?  I’m just checking cause a lot of what I see out there doesn’t synch with my idea of the Christmas spirit.  So just for fun I typed in “Christmas” into Google News this morning.  Here’s a sampling of what I found:

The Queen’s annual Christmas talk was one of a “sombre” Christmas that, according to Her Majesty, conjures “feelings of uncertainty.”

“Hallelujah!” “Joy to the World!”

Paris Hilton’s Christmas spirit took the form of a pink Bentley.

“Away in a manger … no crib for a bed ..!”

According to reports, Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has called Jews animals will say Jesus, if alive today, would be against bullying, ill-tempered nations.  (Someone needs to tell him that Jesus was a Jew)

“Peace on earth, good will toward men.”

Google, with a gazillion dollars in market cap and sitting on billions in cash, canceled its Christmas bonus and instead will give its employees a cell phone.

“I have no gifts for him pur-um-pa-pum-pum … Me and my drum.”

The annual Disney parade will be hosted by Ryan Secrest and Matt Dallas, star of the television program in which he plays Kyle who has the 2008 version of the “virgin birth” … a boy without an umbilical cord and belly button living inside a chamber, until he woke up in the middle of a forest covered in pink fluid.”

“Oh come, let us adore him.”

There was the guy who dressed up as Santa and massacred people.  There was the WalMart shoppers who trampled to death the poor soul chosen to open the doors to the store.  And indeed, most stories were about shopping, retail, and sales.  So much that one story retold the quote from Bill O’Reilly who said in 2005 that, “Every company in America should be on its knees thanking Jesus for being born.  Without Christmas, most American businesses would be far less profitable.”

Not the spirit of Christmas that I know.

“Fear not, for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people” … “For unto you a child is born.  Unto you a son is given.”

Have a Merry Christmas.

Watch Out … They’re Fading Fast

It is the day before Christmas and there’s still shopping to do.  What to buy?

A watch?  Huh?  I say that because I open up the Washington Post on the Monday before Christmas and every other page is a full page ad — a FULL PAGE — of nothing but watches.  OK.  A full page ad isn’t as much as it used to be.  But still.  That is some heavy spend.  All for something that fewer and fewer people seem to use.

What is it with Christmas and watches?

They still make nice gifts, right?  Ask John Mayer.  He reportedly gives Rolexes to (some) of the women he gets “romantically involved” with (I think that means he is having sex with them).

But not everyone is John Mayer.   And watches seem to be going the way of the buggy whip, particularly among young people (the object of my shopping for today).

Here’s a snippit from a story written a year ago by Martha Irvine of the Associated Press

In a survey last fall, investment bank Piper Jaffray & Co. found that nearly two-thirds of teens never wear a watch — and only about one in 10 wears one every day.

Experian Simmons Research also discovered that, while Americans spent more than $5.9 billion on watches in 2006, that figure was down 17 percent when compared with five years earlier.

Why buy a watch when a cell phone will do?  Apparently it is a sentiment widely shared.  I read in the New York Times that 2009 isn’t looking good for our Swiss friends.  Is time is running out?  Will the watch make a comeback?  Will, as some claim, the watch have to turn it into some Dick Tracey type multi-function device in order to survive?

Too late!  The smart phone got there first.  I think I’ll go buy one of them.  Then again, it we are in a recession and the kids already have a phone.  I think I’ll buy (another) book.

Merry Christmas!

Brand Bail Out Meets Brand Incompetence

Let’s bail out the auto industry.

We’ve done it before and it was “successful”.  Looking back at the 1979 government-sponsored bailout of Chrysler … a few surprises.

Guess who opposed bailing out the auto industry?  It was … General Motors!  Then GM Chairman Thomas Murphy condemned the Chrysler bailout in 1979 as “a basic challenge to the philosophy of America.”

That is, GM said this was darn-near unAmerican!

Another interesting point.  All of the key ingredients that Peter Cohen said made the Chrysler bailout successful — including a new plan, new management, new technology, and some serious shared sacrifice — don’t seem to be part of the current $25 billion proposal.

The oppositions to the bailout is mounting.

The problem is, as reported in the Wall Street Journal, people just don’t trust American auto makers any more.  That is, they think that auto industry management is a joke.

My favorite quote:

“There’s the feeling that next to financial services, automotive execs are the dumbest people in the world,” said Thomas Stallkamp, a former Chrysler president who worked at the car company when it received emergency government loans in 1980.

Ah, there’s the rub.  Why do people oppose the bailout?

Because people think that auto management is incompetent.

It is a bit like Bobby Jindal — the GOP’s newest and arguably smartest face — said about the Republican Party.  Why did voters reject them?  In his words, they were fired “with cause.”

People rally around brands in trouble.  And people rally around those who suffer from a brand in trouble.

But it is hard to get people to rally around brands that are just stupid.

Explaining a Brand’s Success: An Obama Case Study

Note, before reading the following you should know that I worked and voted for Barak Obama for president.  With that as an important caveat, here’s my brand lesson from the Obama victory.

JFK, the president to whom the current president-elect is most often compared, once said:

Victory has a thousand fathers, defeat is an orphan.”

In this case, the President was talking about a defeat (The Bay of Pigs).

But let’s consider Kennedy’s quote in the context of Senator Barak Obama’s historic presidential victory over Senator McCain last November 4th.

Today there are many “fathers” being offered up explain Obama’s victory.

Most attribute the “father” of the Obama victory to history.  Specifically, the timing of the market meltdown and economic crisis.  Others say the “father” of the Obama victory was, in fact, a woman — namely, the McCain’s pick of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as a running mate.  Still others say the “father” of the Obama victory was technology.  In this case they were talking about the incredible online money and organizing machine that the Obama campaign was able to build.

All would-be “fathers” list their reasons and point to alleged “causal” relationships between one action or development and Obama’s surge in the polls in the last 30 days.

But could the “father” of the Obama victory be simply this — of the two, he was simply found to be the better brand?

He won every debate … and by wide margins.  Could it be that people simply looked at both brands and said to themselves,

“Hmmm, I’ll take that one.”

Could the brand lesson from the Obama campaign be … start (and end) with a good product?