SOTB: Twilight Zone edition ~ Brand Mix

Saturday, October 3, 2009

SOTB: Twilight Zone edition

One Friday night, back in October 1959, America slipped into the Twilight Zone for the first time. Some have never left....

1) Twilight Zone Intro: YouTube

"There is a fifth dimension, beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call the Twilight Zone."

The series, created and often written by its narrator and host Rod Serling, ran for five seasons. According to my YouTube research, this was the first season's intro sequence. The more familiar "dee-dah-dee-dah-dee-dah etc"music intro was used in the second season.

2) Cheating Death - Snus & Placebo Effect: The Colbert Report

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Cheating Death - Snus & Placebo Effect
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorMichael Moore

This week's "Cheating Death" segment of The Colbert Report featured Camel Snus, new tobacco pouches that are: "Perfect for when you need a nicotine fix and when you don't mind looking like the pig-faced people from the Twilight Zone."

In the same segment, he covered the news that placebos are getting more and more effective, a topic also discussed in Wired and Mind Hacks. As the Wired article says: "The fact that an increasing number of medications are unable to beat sugar pills has thrown the (drug) industry into crisis." The drug makers have done such a good job convincing people that their drugs work that now they are getting better even when they only take a sugar pill meaning that the same drug makers can't beat the statistical hurdle rates that would allow them to launch new drugs. Very TZ.

3) Why The Saturn Brand Was Destined To Fail: Mark Ritson
Earlier this week, "Saturn was Plutoed" (from @fritinancy) when Penske pulled out of the deal to buy the brand from GM. Although many people loved the brand for its cars and its "no-dicker stickers," Mark Ritson says: "Weep not for the loss of Saturn." He thinks the brand was doomed from the start (back in 1985) because it was never set up to be profitable. Rather than succeed in its mission to defend GM against Japanese imports, it turned out to be an expensive failure that stopped GM fixing its core business problems. Mark Ritson says Saturn is a classic example of a failed fighter brand, a topic he covers in more depth in this HBR piece. (I've written about fighter brands as well.)

4) Commentary: Starbucks Via Instant Coffee - Breaking the Brand: David Vinjamuri
Back in the 50s, when the Twlight Zone started, instant coffee was in its heyday. Since then it's been gradually fading away. So it's surprising and curious that Starbucks has chosen to launch VIA, its own instant coffee. David sees the VIA launch as the culmination of a series of steps that has gradually take the company away from its original mission and towards being a convenience brand that will compete head-to-head with McDonald's and Dunkin' Donuts.

This BusinessWeek article sheds some light on the VIA launch. It seems like the technical challenge of producing an instant coffee that tastes as good as ground coffee has fascinated Howard Schultz for a long time. So, when the company finally succeeded in this mission, there was no doubt that the product would actually be launched regardless of the brand implications.

5) Does IBM have elves? Do ads bleed meaning? Grant McCracken
Turns out that the guy who is playing the "pious MD in a lab coat" for IBM is also playing an elf in a Castrol oil ad who's thinking with his dipstick. Grant asks whether this matters or not. I remember a kind-of similar problem when we had signed up Dixie Carter for a Coffee-mate ad and she didn't want to do the ad as Julia Sugarbaker, the character from Designing Women that she was known for at the time.

6) 100 GREATEST HITS OF YOUTUBE IN 4 MINUTES (now with list!) Hadouken!
#1 on the Viral Video Chart is this video mash-up with more than 1.5 million views to date.

That's it! Back soon with more stories from the world of brand strategy. More thoughts and comments also available on Twitter (@martinjbishop).

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