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The United Brands of America

Brands by State

A map of America with each state represented by its most famous brand. I don’t know who counted the votes here, and I’m surprised by a few picks: Caterpillar over McDonalds in Illinois, Wendy’s over Tide in Ohio, and Verizon in the #1 spot for New York. Meanwhile I’m wondering how the folks at Tropicana are feeling about Florida.

Tide: Detergent of Choice Among Dealers

Last year my daughter’s 4th grade science project involved splashing cherry juice on scraps from a white cotton t-shirt, and testing the cleaning power of various laundry detergents. She emerged from the lab unable to perceive a difference among the contestants — the popular brand (Tide), the eco-friendly brand and the generic alternative from Safeway. They all performed about as well as the control wash, nothing but cold water.

Tide meanwhile is 50% more expensive than other similar liquid detergents, and shoppers still buy twice as much of it as its nearest competitor. And it’s not just winning the mindshare game among the coveted Chief Household Officers, either. Jugs of Tide — not just any brand of liquid laundry detergent, mind you, the National Retail Federation’s report calls out Tide specifically — are disappearing from store shelves and ending up in the hands of drug dealers.

From New York Magazine:

As the cases piled up after his team’s first Tide-theft bust, [Organized Retail Crime Unit sergeant] Thompson sought an answer to the riddle at the center of the crimes: What did thieves want with so much laundry soap? To find out, he and his unit pored over security recordings to identify prolific perpetrators, whom officers then tracked down and detained for questioning…. It turned out the detergent wasn’t ­being used as an ingredient in some new recipe for getting high, but instead to buy drugs themselves. Tide bottles have become ad hoc street currency, with a 150-ounce bottle going for either $5 cash or $10 worth of weed or crack cocaine. On certain corners, the detergent has earned a new nickname: ‘Liquid gold.’ The Tide people would never sanction that tag line, of course. But this unlikely black market would not have formed if they weren’t so good at pushing their product.

I’m going to ask my daughter to re-run her experiment. I mean, how can anyone say Tide isn’t the most bad-ass of laundry soaps?!

200 Brands With the Largest Ad Budgets

Would you have guessed that Chevy spends more than Ford or Toyota? Or that Macy’s spends more than Target? Other rankings that surprised me: Arm & Hammer spends more than Gatorade, Kia spends more than Volkswagen, and Ashley Furniture spends more than Ikea.

Check out this great infographic that ranks the top 200 brands by the size of their 2009 and 2010 ad budgets.

Top Auto Ad Spenders

The top two in each category (first, second):

Auto: Chevy, Ford
Retail: Walmart, Macy’s
Apparel: Skechers, Nike
Telecom: AT&T, Verizon
Restaurants: McDonald’s, Subway
Food and Beverage: Coke, Campbell
Beer: Budweiser, Miller
Cleaning Products: Tide, Clorox
Financial Services: American Express, Chase
Beauty and Personal Care: L’Oreal Paris, Olay
Insurance: Geico, Progressive
Consumer Electronics: Microsoft, Apple
Media: DirecTV, Dish Network
Drugs: Lipitor, Cialis

IPG Emerging Media Labs Recommends Cause Marketing

From Mediapost:

“In an increasingly personalized media landscape, the surest way for brands to engage consumers is through cause marketing, according to new analysis from IPG Emerging Media Lab’s team of digital experts.”

THX 1138 film
Banana Joe download

The Chair movie download

The Mystical Adventures of Billy Owens movie

P&G’s Digital Hack Night event last week seems to support that point of view: P&G staffers and 40 pals from the outside raised $100k for charity in 4 hours selling vintage Tide t-shirts


Also check out Deb Schultz’s post The Chair release on the Digital Hack Night. She thinks the evening’s key take-aways had less to do with cause marketing, and more to do with the emerging culture of conversational media. Importantly, the grammar of this new culture isn’t overproduced: “Many of the P&G folks thought the first task was to figure out the messaging of the campaign, where as the external folks just dived right in in plain English.”

Maybe we all already know more about conversational marketing than we thought.

P&G Digital Hack Night Raises $100,000 for Charity

Yesterday evening I blogged about P&G’s Digital Hack Night, an idea-sharing event that stole its format from reality TV: “A contest among groups of digital marketing experts, Apprentice-style, in an effort to tap social media tools to sell Tide t-shirts for charity.” Participants used their Twitter feeds, their Facebook networks, their own blogs and their friends’ blogs (friend-willing, that is) to raise money for Tide’s Loads of Hope disaster relief program.

Fellow participant Peter Kim summarizes the key business take-away best:

“At the end of the evening, P&G’s CMO Marc Pritchard remarked that in the future, all employees should get involved in activating connections similar to what had just been witnessed.

“The significance of that idea is staggeringly huge. This is a company with 138,000 employees starting to realize the value from having all of its constituents connected and activated. They’re also learning about new tools to change the process of engagement. Events like ‘Digital Night’ help recalibrate the company’s mindset.

“P&G is taking steps to make social business a reality.”

There’s also the non-business part: In 4 hours, P&G staffers and 40 of their pals raised $100,000 for charity. Yup, Tide benefited from tons of free publicity last night. Wouldn’t you love it if every brand with a marketing budget used its resources to funnel money to non-profit causes that need the cash? Go, Tide.

Chas in his Tide t-shirt

To clear up some confusion I’ve seen in posts, comments and Tweets, P&G didn’t pay me or (as far as I know) any of the other participants to attend the event. No free plane tickets or hotel suites, either. Everyone there does business on some level with P&G, and business partners visit one another to talk business and share ideas on a schedule that works for both parties. I’ve done sessions like this with dozens of clients and partners over the years. But this was the first time I’ve attended one that raised $100,000 for charity.

P&G Digital Hack Night: Selling Tide T-shirts for Disaster Relief

I’m at P&G’s Digital Hack Night, and the format is like a reality TV show: A contest among groups of digital marketing experts, Apprentice-style, in an effort to tap social media tools to sell Tide t-shirts for charity.

Tide t-shirt for charity

It’s amazing how competitive this group gets when you put them on teams!

Speaking of which, hook me up and help the cause. You can buy your t-shirt here. Sales through midnight eastern time will count.

Facebook Struggling to Deliver for Brand Advertisers?

From the Digital Domain

column in the NY Times:

“Independent experts on Web advertising have been watching, however, and what they see is a myriad of difficulties in making brand advertising work on social networking sites. Members of social networks want to spend time with friends, not brands.

“When major brands place banner advertisements on the side of a member’s home page, they pay inexpensive prices, but the ads receive little attention.”

Tide In Facebook

The article cites P&G’s most successful campaign in Facebook, for Crest Whitestips, which used free concert and movie tickets to entice 14,000 members to become “fans” of the brand, 4000 of whom later relinquished their fan status. The article also cites a Tide 2X Ultra campaign that invites visitors to submit “favorite places to enjoy stain-making moments,” which, you’d figure, would spark plenty of activity. But so far there are 18 submissions, two of which come from P&G employees.

Randall Stross, the article’s author, concludes:

“Brand advertisers on Facebook can try one of two new approaches. They can be more intrusive, but the outcome will not be positive. Or they can create genuinely entertaining commercials, but spend ungodly sums to do so.”

There’s a third path: genuinely entertaining and relevant campaigns that don’t cost ungodly sums. Check out what J&J’s Acuvue, BMW, and Intel have done, to name a few. I wish they were paying FM and Graffiti ungodly sums!