The Power of Branded Apparel

Posted December 25, 2015 by marcichapman
Categories: Marketing

Tags: , , , , ,

Thanks to Microsoft for a great holiday ad and a perfect demonstration of the power of branded merchandise.

I saw this ad before a movie at AMC.  It shows Microsoft people, dressed in Microsoft branded hats, t-shirts and scarves singing to Apple employees.

Some of you who read my blog know that I have been working in the promotional goods industry for just under 5 years now.  I am CIO for a mid sized company that works with Fortune 1000 clients to help them buy their branded merchandise (my team creates the websites / estores they use to shop for the products and merchandises the products on the stores).

I enjoy my job, but I rarely have contact with the marketing teams or those who make the choices about what branded merchandise to purchase.  So I can become disengaged with the meaning and impact of what we do for our clients.  This commercial was a great reminder of the power of branded merchandise.

Imagine this commercial without the branded hats, t-shirts and scarves.  How would you know who they were and what brands were represented?   They walk through the streets of New York to get to the Apple store. How could you have picked them out in the crowd if they didn’t have the hats on?  And if the Apple team members didn’t have the Apple logo on their shirts, you would have entirely missed the message of peace on earth between these 2 big competitors.

Nice work Microsoft.  Thanks for the demonstration and reminder that logos and branded merchandise can speak louder than words.





Big Lots Goes Real

Posted December 25, 2015 by marcichapman
Categories: Marketing

Tags: , , ,

This blog is a shout out to Big Lots for using real sized women for their holiday ads.  I saw the first one for Black Friday and then the one that followed where they sang “Christmas doesn’t happen without me.”

It was so refreshing to see ads that don’t feature stick figures dancing and singing.  And to have the words of the song recognize how hard many women, moms and heads of households work to get the gifts and the holidays together was wonderful as well.  I can see the average Big Lots consumer saying to themselves, “Big Lots gets me.  They realize how hard I work to make the holidays special and they are going to help me do it.”  I would love to see their loyalty ratings before and after – I truly hope they get the jump they deserve.

The only thing that saddened me was to see the stupid comments on the YouTube site where I grabbed this link.  I am always amazed at the ignorance of the average person who feels the need to take the time to say something negative about an ad.  At least there were some positive comments on there as well. Sigh.  I long for the days when we didn’t have to see everyone’s opinion of everything.  But then I guess, no one would read my blog.  Drat.  Another catch 22.

Wishing you a happy and positive holiday season.


Nice Job GNC

Posted July 10, 2014 by marcichapman
Categories: Marketing, Media, Social Media

Tags: , , , , , ,

It has been a while since I have posted, but today I was inspired by GNC to write.

GNC has launched a new ad campaign called Beat Average.  You can view it here. 

I am impressed with this campaign for 4 reasons:

1. It has tremendous insight into consumer behavior and the reality of how we think and act.  They are truly holding up a mirror to the bulk of the population.

2. They are buying time in very smart ways.  I first saw it this morning as the ad that ran after I had played an on demand exercise video.  I had just worked out and it was almost a reward / pat on the back for me that I was not average today.  They understood me at that moment.  Nicely timed.

3. The ad is very motivating.  It is well written, filmed and edited.

4. They are launching this campaign in the middle of summer.  Usually, we see the “you need to diet and exercise” ads all crammed together in January (post New Year’s resolution) or in May / June at the beginning of swimsuit season.  GNC (who may have actually been late to the party for reasons beyond their control or actually made this a conscious decision) is not competing with all those other ads right now.  So their’s stands out.

Nice job GNC.  I may stroll over and get some Whey Protein Powder just to encourage such smart moves.

Happy Holidays 2013

Posted December 22, 2013 by marcichapman
Categories: Uncategorized

Tags: , , , , , ,

Dear Friends,

Just a quick note to send good wishes to you and your family for the holiday season.

For the past few years, I have done an Elf Yourself video to bring some cheer to the holidays. But I have to say, this year, I was less than impressed with the selection of video options. I ended up doing 2 of them, and think they are not my best work (you know me, always the critic).

So here are the links for you to enjoy – they are very silly and good for at least a giggle.

In addition, the site has a lot of problems loading the video. So please be patient (apparently 2013 was the year of internet technical difficulties – Obama’s Healthcare site isn’t the only one having problems). 

When I was having issues with the Elf Yourself site, I searched for another option to share in my annual letter. I found this great video that I like for a number of reasons:

1. It features a parody of one of my favorite songs from the Musical Wicked (and you know me and musicals!).
2. It demonstrates some terrific, creative, out of the box thinking by the young man who did the video. He took 2 ideas you wouldn’t normally put together and joined them beautifully.
3. It shows a terrific use of resources – when you don’t have a singing partner, be your own partner! I think that is a good life lesson. (No this is not twins singing – the boy does both parts).

So grab a cup of hot cocoa and enjoy some holiday entertainment.

Thank you for your friendship and support during the very challenging year of 2013. Wishing you a wonderful, happy, healthy and prosperous 2014. Please stay in touch.


A Little Seasonal Humor

Posted December 12, 2012 by marcichapman
Categories: General, Social Media, Uncategorized

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Taking a pause from my regular marketing messages, I wanted to share some humor for the season.  I found a few images that made me laugh.  I hope you enjoy them as well.

Wishing you a wonderful holiday season and a very happy and healthy new year.

cell phone

ho ho huh



brown nose


And just to end with a bit of social media merriment:

friends me

Social Media Then, Now, Tomorrow

Posted September 11, 2012 by marcichapman
Categories: Social Media


I am including a reprint of a post from Peter Kim entitled “What’s next for business and why I joined @RGA“.  While the end of it is a sales pitch for his new company (so I have removed those parts), I thought this post gave a great overview of where we have been and where we might be headed with Social Media.

As I have said in the past, the way we communicate with customers will continue to evolve.  In the end, if you do not offer good value or good information to your customers or potential customers; you will not create an ongoing relationship with them.  Always keep in mind what you value you have to offer and keeping the price and quality in line with the expectations you create.

Here is Peter’s post:

“Let’s face it. Great brands need to be thinking about what’s beyond social business. You might be thinking, “Wait a second…the social business era has just begun!” And if so, you’d be correct…

Let’s rewind it back:

2003 – 2006: Early Adoption. Professionals viewed social media with curiosity and kept an eye out on the trajectory of corporate+consumer engagement. Despite early brand experiments like Randy Baseler’s Boeing blog, most companies were skeptical of the long-term impact of this emerging media/technology. However, some unlucky brands would eventually have no choice but to participate, as detractors used new outlets to broadcast their dissatisfaction – and mainstream media amplified the discontent. Early adopters including Charlene Li, Steve Rubel, and Robert Scoble explained to the world what needed to be done.

2007 – 2009: Early Majority. Brands decide to get involved. They’re getting educated, listening to consumers using new technology, rolling out internal collaboration platforms, and starting to consider how to integrate “social” into existing operations. However, as the global financial crisis caused the world to slide into the Great Recession, budgets were slashed and program momentum stalled. The silver lining to financial meltdown? Brands had to get clever with what they had on hand and also had time to think strategically about integrating social into their businesses. Thinkers like Jeremiah Owyang, David Armano, and Chris Brogan help move brands, big and small, put pieces together and move forward. I identified over 300 brands using social media marketing.

2010 – 2012: Mainstreaming. Budgets start returning to brands and technology adoption starts to hockeystick. The term “social business” becomes increasingly adopted and companies go on record to report return on investment from their initiatives. The pace of social technology acquisitions and IPOs picks up as investors seek to monetize their bets. Social business leaders including Scott Monty, Michael Donnelly, Richard Binhammer, and Bonin Bough have pioneered the creation of corporate social media teams and the presence of this construct is now common for most brands. So what now? Social business certainly still has a way to go. Many brands still lack coherent strategy and tactics for coping with two-way engagement, not to mention internal change management. However, the trail has been blazed by pioneers like IBM, Coca-Cola, and Dell for others to follow.


The mainstreaming of social business will continue throughout 2013, as brands focus on scaling programs externally and internally. Emerging challenges like SoMoLo (social/mobile/local) will occupy attention even further. Most approaches are focused on building four of five capabilities outlined by Umair Haque: singularity, sociality, spontaneity, and synchronicity. I see this playing out primarily in employee education and consumer engagement, with a focus on training, tools, and measurement.


But what’s next? Solving for social at scale requires determining solutions for today, not tomorrow. That’s delivering on mainstreaming. Along the way, the concept of “social business” risks losing meaning, similar to the reductive definitions placed on originally expansive concepts like BPR and CRM. Is the pinnacle of social business success equal to the presence of robust two-way communication? That’s difficult for many brands and a step forward for sure, but ultimately limiting. It’s only focused on plateauing on the top of the social media S-curve…


…Recognizing the value of “functional integration” for brands is very much in line with my thoughts around owning experience ecosystems. In a world of increasing connectedness, brands must employ a holistic point of view with regard to consumer relations, employee collaboration, and value chain management. This requires thinking through communications and how they’re aligned with products and services.

“Social” describes everything we do, but technology always underpins the change. As Deb Schultz has said: technology changes, humans don’t. The rise of social business has not been about figuring out humans – it’s been about how people and companies use new technology to communicate, transact, and entertain. Being ready for what’s next means taking today’s social business investment and expanding into a broader approach to functional integration.”

Social Media – It isn’t news

Posted September 8, 2011 by marcichapman
Categories: Customer Service, Marketing, Media, Social Media

Tags: , , , , ,

I attended a presentation last night at the University of Chicago Marketing Round Table.  The presenter, Jonathan Salem Baskin, made some interesting points about social media that I wanted to share.

He recently wrote a book where he traces social media throughout history.  With many major technology innovations in the past, our ability to connect with others has increased.  The social media concept isn’t new (he gave some great examples in history – the telegraph, the radio, the telephone, television, expressways built in the 50’s – all things that allowed us to connect with others in a new way).   Facebook and Twitter were the most recent examples.  And there will be others in the future that we can’t correctly predict now.  Technology innovations will always be developed to help us connect better with others.  In other words, technology change is a constant. 

While I didn’t agree with everything he said, I do think the part of his discussion that was impactful was the reminder that since technology changes will always be there, we should be focused more on the messages we give to our customers and less on the technology

We need purpose driven content – something that is meaningful to our audience. 

We need to consider who we are targeting and how they want to hear from us.  Finding your most receptive audiences and have a conversation with them if it will enhance the relationship.  If not, do not waste their time.

And I would add that if you are delivering a stellar product or service and doing it in a way that provides awesome customer service; your customer will reward you.  Great marketing – social or traditional – cannot make up for a bad product or bad service.