Jack’s New Home

Brown Forman just announced a revised and revamped package for Jack Daniel’s. Bloggers and industry observers are starting to weigh in on the pluses and minuses, so I thought I’d jump in as well.

Once upon a time, manufacturers were frightened of package changes. Concerns about loss of heritage and denigrating the brand’s equity were always the main “don’t do it” arguments. But the most damaging concern was “what will the consumer think.” Over the years, I’ve even heard it said that a package change would suggest a product change and result in erosion of appeal among consumers.

Baloney. Well, sort of.

If a packaging shift involves walking away from the key elements of a brand’s equity then it is doomed. The best recent example of that is the fiasco with Tropicana. The main icon, an orange with a straw, was removed in favor of a nondescript glass of juice. As you may recall, the package change effort was a disaster and Pepsico reverted to the original in a hurry.

However, if a manufacturer evolves or tweaks the packaging by removing the clutter, making it less wordy and updating the message, I believe it enhances the consumer relationship and brand equity. I haven’t seen the new package as yet but from what I’ve read, the new Jack Daniel’s look does just that. Good for you for making the brave call.

One last thought — I call it the chicken soup approach to marketing. Turning a brand’s performance around based on packaging changes, major or minor, is like chicken soup when you have a cold. It may not help but it can’t hurt.

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Great Tsotchkes (aka Swag) I Have Known

In keeping with the theme of the last few postings on sales promotion, dealer loaders and assorted point of sale issues, I thought I would continue that theme particularly in light of the holiday season. The Advertising and Promotion Awards in the Nov/Dec issue of Beverage Dynamics also prompted me to address this subject.

First, for the uninformed, the Urban Dictionary defines Tsotchke as “free goods given by companies to consumers, buyers, trade-show participants or other target audiences to promote brand recognition or customer loyalty.”

So, here are some points of view on the subject including some picks and pans from yours truly…

The most consistent and impactful POS has to go to the Absolut folks, particularly their multi-case floor displays. In fact, Beverage Dynamics gave it 1st place for 2010. No wonder, since Carol Giaconelli at Pernod Ricard (and a Seagram alumnae) is among the most imaginative sales promotion people I know. Even after working on Absolut for many years and for different regimes, Carol maintains her creative edge.

While I’m on the subject, I suppose the Hall of Fame for floor displays with loader items has to be the Captain Morgan mirror. According to Sam Ellias, the CM guru back in the day, that promotion was a prominent reason for the brand’s early success. Apparently, all a sales person had to do was to show the mirror in order to get the question, “how many cases do I need to buy?”

I managed to find a photo online. Despite it’s popularity at the time, you can still get one on eBay for under $25.

Now to the pans…

There are lots of awards in Beverage Dynamics for co-packs, gift packs and cartons/tins. The so-called value added packaging. Sorry, but I still don’t get it. In this environment manufacturers expect to entice consumers with Tsotchkes? If you want to measure effectiveness go to a flea market or eBay after the holidays and you’ll find glasses, shakers and pitchers galore. I wouldn’t be surprised if most of them came from retailers.

The Hall of Shame best/worst sales promotion item of all time came under my watch on behalf of Coyote Tequila. Don’t get me wrong the promotion item was great. It was a back bar pedestal with a howling Coyote as the centerpiece with a bottle on the base. Each time the bartender picked up the bottle a button was triggered and the sound of a howling Coyote was heard. Very cool. Very effective.

Just one small problem — Coyote Tequila tasted like crap. As the saying goes, “I wouldn’t drink it with your mouth.”

And now, dear reader, I have two questions for you.

Care to share your nominees for the best and worst promotions you’ve seen now or in the past? Either hit the comment button or send me an email.

Also, as I went through the 40 advertising and promotion awards by Beverage Dynamics, there were lots of first, second or third place winners from many major suppliers — Brown Forman, Heaven Hill, Skyy/Campari, Pernod, Bacardi and others. None were from Diageo. I wonder why? It could be that their market position and brand shares allows them to spend in other ways. That would explain the dearth of POS recognition. But no ads, traditional or digital, made it either. Huh.

As we used to say in Brooklyn, wait ‘til next year.

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