Do You Believe?


Christmas is just a few days away.  Do you believe in Santa?  Macy’s does!

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I am an advocate of hybrid marketing – a blend of classic marketing combined with the collaborative, interactive tools of Web 2.0.  Accordingly, hybrid marketers understand that in order to best communicate with their target market, they need to employ combined marketing tools and pinpoint their brand’s MTP (Multiple Touch Points).  Macy’s is a noteworthy example of a great hybrid marketing organization.

For the last nine years, Macy’s has been utilizing the “Believe” campaign for their holiday season marketing push.  One key element is they have been partnering with the Make-A-Wish charity where they donate $1, up to $1 million for every letter to Santa they receive.  This year they implemented the Santa Project, a social media movement asking consumers to post Santa belief related photos, messages or videos on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or YouTube – #Santa Project.

Do you believe?

Oxford English Dictionary 2017


OED is updated four times a year (March, June, September and December) – revised versions of existing entries and new words.  In anticipation of the update, I researched some of the new possibilities like “beardtastic” (adjective): having perfect facial hair.  An existing word that I believe needs to be revised – “awesome.”

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awe•some ‘ôsəm/ (adjective) extremely impressive or daunting; inspiring great admiration, apprehension, or fear.  Synonyms: breathtaking, awe-inspiring, magnificent, wonderful, amazing, stunning.  “The band is truly awesome.”

To me, the use of the word awesome gained extreme prominence in 2016 and has evolved into one of the most over used words in America.  Awesome is used to describe just about everything.  Awesome now appears to be the norm!  Chef Ming Tsai (Simply Ming) uses the word all the time.  “Chef, your sesame noodle dish topped with uni is awesome.”  NBA players dunk all the time.  Dunks are no longer awesome.  Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte was introduced thirteen years ago; at first it was awesome, but now we expect Starbucks to introduce a new seasonal beverage every year.

The new definition of awesome?  Something that is good, satisfactory, acceptable approved.  “Girl, you look awesome in your new distressed jeans and black North Face jacket.”

Have an awesome holiday season!




Pearls of Wisdom


Recently I read an interview with Edward Dolman, Chairman and CEO of Phillips international auction house (contemporary art).  Below are some pearls of wisdom about leadership and management that resonated for me I would like to share these gems with my readership.  An early Christmas gift!

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Question: Who was the biggest influence in your life?  Answer: My mother, who was fiercely feminist, both tough and compassionate, taught me big lessons.  She never accepted the rigors of a rigid society and did not believe in the status quo.  She instilled in me an independent way of thinking and the desire to challenge the status quo despite criticism by those who cling to it.” 

Question: What makes a great leader?  Answer: “Great leaders inspire a different level of belief and support by their teams.”

Question: What would you tell a young person starting out?  Answer: “Always look for the path less traveled.  Have the confidence to take the path others may not view as the right one.  That is what disrupters do; deliberately look to do things differently.”

“The Obstacle is the Path.” – Zen Proverb

Interconnected Branding


Globalization fueled economic, social and cultural upheaval in 2016 – Brexit, the rise of far-right politics in Europe, Trump’s presidential election upset, an attempted coup in Turkey, etc.  Future Trend: Smart marketers will now work harder on communicating how their brands are interconnected to the world and their local communities.

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Two brands that are on trend in their communication of being interconnected to the world and their communities are Starbucks and Vermont Teddy Bear:

  • Starbucks – This past year, Starbucks launched Upstanders, a series of videos, podcasts and short stories that highlights individuals across the U.S. who make a difference in their respective communities (e.g., fighting homelessness, food waste solutions, etc.).  Starbucks has always practiced interconnected branding, dating back to their corporate commitment to 100% ethically sourced coffee.
  • Vermont Teddy Bear – #BeyondTheLastStitch is their new marketing movement that details how their superb craftspeople from all over the globe (e.g., Nepal, India, Yugoslavia, etc.) settled in Vermont to create their handcrafted line of unique Bears (Made In USA) that have bought joy and happiness to millions since 1981.

What are some of your favorite interconnected brands?

More Crop Per Drop™


Last month I wrote about the key issues foodservice will encounter in 2020.  I highlighted that consumers are becoming more knowledgeable about food thanks to the Internet. Consequently, storytelling will be essential.  One company that does a great job is Lotus Foods, winner of SMARTKETING’s seventh Gretzky award.

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Several years ago, at a conference I met Caryl Levine and Ken Lee, leaders of Lotus Foods.  Back in 1995 they founded their company with the vision to support sustainable agriculture, specifically handcrafted exotic rice grown on family farms in remote areas of the world.  Their story?  Certain varieties of their rice are grown using the System of Rice Intensification (SRI), the process of cultivating rice where small-scale farmers double or triple their yields while using 80-90% less seed, 50% less water, minimal chemical inputs.  These varieties of SRI-grown rice are called “More Crop Per Drop”  bring special attention to water, a diminishing resource in the rice-growing world; an opportunity for small farmers to produce more food under healthier conditions and make more income.  As a company, they have won numerous awards over the years and have been active participants in the Clinton Global Initiative to alleviate poverty.

Lotus Foods: Great story!  Caryl and Ken: Good people!  Two individuals I know are passionate about making this planet a better place.  Congratulations Lotus Foods, winner of SMARTKETING’s seventh Gretzky award – skating to where the puck is going to be!



The year 2020 is just around the corner.  Last week in Chicago, I pulled together a diverse group of industry professionals and moderated a roundtable discussing some of the key issues we will all encounter in 2020.  Below is a summary of those issues.


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  • Alternative Channel Competition – We discussed the recent restaurant shakeout. We all agreed that there are too many seats and not enough posteriors in foodservice, plus suddenly, quality, convenient food is now readily available in competitive venues like C-Stores, Retail outlets (Vetri pizza restaurants in Urban Outfitters), movie theaters (AMC), etc.  In addition, we are all concerned that unless Casual Dining reinvents itself, it will disappear as a segment.


  • Situational Eating – Even though we discussed the eating habits of the different demographic groups (e.g., Millennials), we all agreed that eating occasions are being determined by time of day and location as evident with breakfast 24/7 and snacking. In addition, guests are becoming more knowledgeable about food (e.g., labeling/ingredients, sustainability, etc.) thanks to the Internet.  Consequently, those manufacturers and operators who refine their story telling will come out on top.


  • Big Data – The number one current day to day challenge and in 2020 is how best to utilize all the data, customer insights that are available.


What is your foodservice vision for 2020?

Terms and Conditions

Blink:                                                                                                                                       Remember*

*Take time to read the fine print.

The above is the closing line to an old post titled Speed, On SaleThe spine of the post was about the effective marketing tools companies use to lure consumers into ownership.  Beware of Amazon’s subscription program.

Read On:                                                                                                                                      Amazon’s subscription program, Subscribe & Save was first introduced in 2007.  It enables registered consumers to have their favorite consumable items like household staples (e.g., coffee, paper goods, etc.) refilled automatically and delivered on a regular basis.  Buried in the terms and conditions is that the program’s 5 percent discount is applied to the price of the item at the time that the order is place.  Anyone that is an Amazon regular, knows their prices can fluctuate over time, especially for those subscribers that have utilized the service for a couple of years.  An example, is Folgers Coffee.  In June a 30.5-ounce tub cost $6.64, but by late August it had risen to $12.50.  Today’s price is back to $6.64.  Another example is a 3-pack of Lysol disinfecting wipes which were $8.95 at its lowest before it peaked at $17.91; an 100% increase.

Bottom-line: Amazon prices are always shifting.  Whether you save money through their subscription depends when your order is placed.  Regardless, Subscribe & Save is a classic example of a company’s marketing ploy to lure consumers into ownership.

Beware: Always read the terms and conditions of any marketing promotion before signing on the dotted line.