Brands with Problems: Apple, Butterfinger and Arizona Iced Tea ~ Brand Mix

Monday, May 3, 2010

Brands with Problems: Apple, Butterfinger and Arizona Iced Tea

This may or not be a new series. We'll see. For now, it just a one-off collection of stories I read last week showing different problems for different brands:

1) Apple Problem: Being judged by who you once were, not who you are today
Part of what makes Apple Apple is the legendary 1984 Super Bowl ad which symbolized its status as an underdog fighting against powerful Big-Brother-like conformity. Apple has long since outgrown its underdog status yet this is still a part of its DNA. It usually benefits from this association but not always. As you can see in this clip from The Daily Show, Jon Stewart uses Apple's former underdog status to frame his attack on the company following the police raid on Gizmodo editor Jason Chen’s house (after he got his hands on the new iPhone).

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Key quotes:

“You guys are busting down doors in Palo Alto while Commandant Gates is ridding the world of mosquitoes. What the f**k is going on?”

Apple you guys were the rebels man, the underdogs. People believed in you. But now, are you becoming The Man? Remember back in 1984, you had those awesome ads about overthrowing Big Brother? Look in the mirror, man!

2) Butterfinger problem: Having self-control

When Joe Weller was CEO of Nestle USA, I'm pretty sure that this video for Butterfinger would not have seen the light of day. He wouldn't have liked it personally and it wouldn't have passed the family-values orientation that he applied as a corporate value during his tenure. But, hey, new administration, new rules. Which sets up two questions: How much should a company's brand values represent the values of the CEO? And, two: Just because Butterfinger now has permission to do this can kind of ad, should it?

3) AriZona iced tea problem: Being name profiled
This is funny, unless you happen to be responsible for marketing AriZona iced tea. As people upset by the State of Arizona's new immigration rules look for ways to protest, they have targeted AriZona iced tea and called for a boycott. But there's no real connection between the brand and the State--it's actually based in NY. I don't know why the originators picked the AriZona name--perhaps because it sounded cool and it lent itself to an appropriate funky-iced-tea-not-the-same-as-Lipton look? Bet they are starting to wish they'd called it Brooklyn instead. Meanwhile, P.F Chang's China Bistro, with its Scottsdale, AZ HQ, is keeping a low profile, hoping that people think that it's actually based in Beijing.

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