Thursday, March 26, 2009

marketing with love

i adore this article from ad age

kentucky fried chicken is filling potholes in their community - and branding them.

four or five years ago, i was working on a christmas catalogue an african-american beauty brand called carol's daughter. and the woman in charge of the project, clarisa, was someone i had worked with previously on an african-american haircolor brand called mizani.

both projects were really exciting for me because imho the african-american audience is underserved by marketing and communication. despite the fact that they ARE buyers of prestige products, the advertising geared specifically to the "ethnic market" is cheap and cheerful.

maybe not even so cheerful.

it assumes that they've got no money and even less taste.

ethnic hair products are generally embarassingly cheaply-packaged and full of questionable ingredients.

so i was excited about creating beautiful, sophisticated communication that spoke to an african-american woman's aspirations as well as her needs. work that was respectful and exciting. something that didn't speak down to her.

but in both cases, i suggested to clarisa that she reduce her advertising budget and instead do something that spoke the the community.

for mizani - how about helping women who've lost their hair to too much lye and haircolor? how about teaching them how to use products more effectively and how to protect their hair?

in the case of carol's daughter, it would have been the first christmas post-katrina. rather than an ad or even a printed catalogue i suggested they create a series of "travel kits" and deliver them to homeless families all over the american south.

they would gain the goodwill of the african-american community and they would also gain a lot of loyal users (because the products are great) who would purchase the products in the future.

needless to say, they ignored my suggestion.

i still believe that if you love your audience, you can always find a way to give them something to help them love you back.

because selling stuff is kind of like dating - and if you don't love the person you're trying to seduce - then sooner or later, they'll see right through it.

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