September 30, 2010

Albert Lasker : The Original Mad Man As the advertising industry prepares to a weeklong celebration in New York, its sobering and weirdly appropriate that the masters of brands ignore their past. Few of us want to admit that the fundamental concepts, approaches, techniques and strategies we use day-in and day-out were invented and perfected before we were born by long-forgotten pioneers like Albert Lasker. Lasker, the subject of a new biography titled “The Man Who Sold America” by Jeffrey L. Cruikshank and Arthur W, Schwartz published by the Harvard Business Review Press, grew up in Galveston, Texas. The son of an over-achieving German immigrant, he started in journalism, transitioned to newspaper ad sales and eventually joined, ran, grew and prospered as the leader of Lord & Thomas, he first modern full service ad agency based in Chicago. Credited with innovations in branding, reasons-to-buy copywriting, consumer research, direct marketing, visual merchandising and package design, retail pricing and merchandising, radio advertising, public relations and political advertising, Lasker, who became both a mogul and the confidante of Presidents and captains of industry, competed with J. Walter himself, Ray Rubicon and other ad pioneers. He virtually created brands like Sunkist, Sunmaid, Palmolive, Van Camps, Kleenex, Wrigley, Lucky Strike, Campbell Soup, Quaker Oats and he re-branded the American Cancer Society. Along the way he hired Emerson Foote, Fairfax Cone and Don Belding, who eventually inherited his accounts. His approach to behind-the-scenes self-promotion, client schmoozing and business development is still widely used. Bi-polar, Lasker was insightful, energetic and frenzied and periodically clinically depressed, so much so that he spent long periods out of sight in treatment. In contrast he spent long periods developing integrated communications tactics that led to the election of Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge and to the defeat of Upton Sinclair for governor of California. A patron of the arts, a serial entrepreneur, a philanthropist in education and healthcare and a Zionist, Albert Lasker’s life story is a wild ride of ups and downs populated by the emerging brands and the personalities of the early years of advertising, mass media and political propaganda. And while we like to think that each day we are creating countless original ideas, its grounding and humbling to understand who came before us, how they invented modern marketing to respond to the economic and social changes of the times and how enduring brands came to be. “The Man who Sold America” is insightful and inspiring even for jaded Mad Men.
Online Couponing is UP 49% If you think only little old ladies clip and use coupons; think again. But if you think that the recession has recruited and empowered a new generation of savvy coupon seekers and users; you just might be right. According to a new survey from RetailMeNot a leading personalized coupon distributor and data from, 80 million people saved $57.4 million using 1.6 million printable and downloadable coupons from 66,883 retailers during the last six months – January-June 2010. Socially driven services like Groupon are adding fuel to this fire which generated $192 million in retail sales, an increase of 49% over the same period in 2009. Consumers saved an average of $29 per online coupon and $5 per printable coupon. There seems to be variations in which stores or retailers used these coupon formats. Online coupons generally seem to have higher face values than their printable counterparts. But customers are not only eager for the savings, the actively seek out coupons and deals from online merchants. The top 10 most searched are Victoria’s Secret, Amazon, Kohl’s, JC Penney, Dominos, Macy’s, Enterprise, Old Navy, Pap John’s and Best Buy. Other hot brands include IHOP, KFC, Subway and DQ. Maybe there’s something about Midwestern thrift (5 of the top 10 zip codes of printable coupon users are in Midwestern states) or something about getting over on leading chain retailers, but consumers seem to be looking for ways to reduce necessarily and recurring expenses. Food, pizza, restaurant dining, clothing, haircuts, car washes, gas and oil changes top the list of printable coupon categories. Coming soon are more, easier to use mobile coupons and codes that will be distributed digitally and will eventually rely on electronic interactions between hand units and POS systems. Brands are already distributing online and printable coupons using Facebook, Twitter and selected blogs. Expect this trend to accelerate as we approach a holiday season where the forecasts for growth are iffy. Here are 3 tips to insure your success in using online coupons: Be Clear and Simple. Online shoppers scan. They don’t read. Make the offer BIG and bold. Make the time frame easy to see. Specify qualifications, shipping costs and if the offer can be combined with others. Put the terms and conditions upfront in big type. Go Low Involvement. Don’t make customers download software to print coupons.Offer PDFs and simple ways to print or store the coupon quickly. The more time lapsed; the less likelihood of redemption. Do the Backend First. Don’t even begin the coupon game until you’ve road tested the underlying technology. Make sure that POS, credit card processing, shopping carts and accounting systems can accept, process and fulfill their wishes

Danny Flamberg

I am a veteran marketing consultant working with leading and emerging brands

The Typepad Team

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