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Archive for the ‘marketing’ tag

The Premium McWrap packaging is very nicely designed

McDonald's Premium McWrap 1I’m clearly no stranger to mar­ket­ing, but my career hasn’t yet brought me in touch with prod­uct pack­ag­ing. I like pack­ag­ing, and I’ve actu­ally bought things over the years because they were nicely pack­aged — stuff like candy,1 Altoids Sours, some ran­dom bike part… and yes, I’ve even bought myself a few low-balance gift cards2 to keep in my this is so awe­some file.

I recently found myself impressed with the card­board pack­ag­ing around the McDonald’s Pre­mium McWrap — I should prob­a­bly go ask for a clean one while they’re still avail­able. I guess I didn’t notice when they added this item to the menu, because I ordered my first one by mis­take. My annoy­ance at pay­ing about dou­ble what I expected turned to intrigue about as soon as I peeked into my drive-through bag.

Some of that price cer­tainly went into the pack­ag­ing design. What I found wasn’t a cheap paper-clad item like stan­dard McDonald’s wraps, but some­thing that actu­ally looks like a “pre­mium” product.

  • The box is rather thought­fully designed, con­tain­ing the food very nicely within — you know, what you want from a container.
  • It has a pull-and-tear strip for open­ing the pack­age… and nat­u­rally, the strip runs right past the Xbox ad unit on the front.
  • There’s a lit­tle tab sys­tem on the side of the box that’s there pri­mar­ily to indi­cate which wrap you ordered, but also to pas­sively edu­cate you on the rest of the lineup. (“Oh look, they also have sweet chili flavor!”)
  • It doesn’t look like this should work, but once you’ve opened the pack­age, the box eas­ily stands upright, even with the wrap inside.
McDonald's Premium McWrap 2 McDonald's Premium McWrap 3

Wait, was what tasty?

  1. Still pissed that my par­ents wouldn’t buy me Bub­ble Tape.
  2. Con­fuse your local cashier today — ask for a $1 gift card!

Written by Everett Guerny

February 25th, 2014 at 9:28 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tags: , ,

Winamp — “feel the love”

Winamp 2.95I prob­a­bly haven’t used Winamp in a decade, but learn­ing that it’s finally going away for good brought it back to the top of my mind this week.

Winamp wasn’t just my pri­mary digital-music-playing-thing1 — like many peo­ple, it was the first thing I ever used to play MP3s.

Yes Junior, back then Win­dows Media Player was for CDs and WAV files, and iTunes didn’t exist yet.2

What made Winamp so awe­some? I could devote a whole post3  to the genius of Winamp skins, and things I’ve been read­ing (1, 2, 3) over­whelm­ingly ref­er­ence the clas­sic “whip the llama’s ass” sound clip — which, in addi­tion to being a neat lit­tle brand­ing thing, was per­ma­nently imprinted on everyone’s mem­ory by being the first thing that would play after installation.

Those were cool, but my favorite Winamp mem­ory is some­thing a lit­tle less… super­fi­cial, per­haps? It’s a short piece of writ­ing that long ago was fea­tured on the “About” page of winamp.com:

What is Winamp? A player you say? No, no baby. Winamp is much more than that.

Winamp is a lifestyle. It is freestyle. Give me a word. Ver­sa­til­ity? Yeah. Vision­ary? Of course. Com­mu­nity? Now you’re talking.

Winamp lives because it’s users have a life.

Winamp is in the cof­fee house. On the lap­top. Of the guy. Who is writ­ing the screen­play. That you will be watch­ing next year.

Winamp is on the screen. In the club. Where the DJ plays the tracks. That get you through the night.

Winamp is with you. When you take your playlist. Push it to the ether. And share the music that you love. With all of humanity.

Winamp lets you put together the sound­track. That runs in the back­ground of your mind. And allows you to define your life.

Winamp is your skin. Allow­ing you to look and feel the way you want.

Winamp is what it is and noth­ing more. But you are the one who makes it. Winamp is there for you. It is yours. What hap­pens next? You tell me. Down­load Winamp.

–jonathan “feel the love” ward

Read­ing it back then left me a bit misty, filled with this strangely inspired feel­ing. The piece comes to mind every once in a while, at which point I seek out a copy to re-read it. Look, I can’t point to any­thing in par­tic­u­lar that I wrote or cre­ated thanks to this inspi­ra­tion. But in some way, it made me think dif­fer­ently not just about the power of music, but the trans­for­ma­tive power of what would oth­er­wise seem like triv­ial soft­ware. Read­ing this made me feel like Winamp did more than just “play music.”

But in real­ity, that’s all it did. Or was there more?

Give me a word. Hyper­bole? Maybe. Awe­some? Undeniable.

  1. Until iTunes for Win­dows showed me the value in hav­ing a library of files. Yeah, I know Winamp has a library fea­ture, but I never used it.
  2. Oh, and by the way, MP3s were these things peo­ple used to lis­ten to before there was YouTube.
  3. And, shit, I may — Winamp was doing skeu­mor­phics before Apple did skeu­mor­phics before Apple stopped doing skeu­mor­phics.

Written by Everett Guerny

November 22nd, 2013 at 9:07 pm

No Ovaltine please — we’re cool.

As a kid, I didn’t know any­thing about Oval­tine aside from their com­mer­cials, so I hadn’t seen it as a spon­sor of clas­sic radio and tele­vi­sion, as a joke on Sein­feld, or as a big fat liar in A Christ­mas Story. I can’t remem­ber any of my friends hav­ing any­thing to say about it, either.

I was totally unbiased.

But from the company’s mar­ket­ing alone, I could tell that rich choco­late Oval­tine was uncool. I had never drunk any — and decades later, I still haven’t — but if I ever had, I cer­tainly wouldn’t have told any­one about it.

I’m not exactly sure why the stuff made my lame-sense tin­gle as a kid. Maybe because Oval­tine was named after a shape (and shapes are for lit­tle kids), or that its mar­ket­ing proudly pro­claimed that it was full of vit­a­mins (like every­thing par­ents love, and kids don’t), but what I sus­pect it was… was a lit­tle more basic than that.

Watched the ad above? Note the end­ing. “More Oval­tine, please!” closed all Oval­tine ads of my child­hood. My present-day cyn­i­cal, works-in-marketing self can imag­ine some agency sell­ing this con­cept to the Oval­tine com­pany with “Look, these kids not only love this vitamin-filled drink, but they love it so much they’ll develop man­ners and ask for it politely! Par­ents will eat this up!”

But my kid self saw things a lit­tle dif­fer­ently. “Wow, these kids are super-polite. That’s totally uncool.1 I don’t want this. Where’s the Nestlé Quik? That rab­bit is cool.”

There’s a mar­ket­ing mes­sage here, and it prob­a­bly goes a lit­tle some­thing like this:

If you have dif­fer­ent tar­gets, your mes­sag­ing needs to speak dif­fer­ently (use “code-switching”) when speak­ing to dif­fer­ent tar­gets — there’s peril to face when one tar­get receives a mes­sage tai­lored to another. It may fall on deaf ears, or maybe turn them off, entirely. Tell my mom about the vit­a­mins — tell me about the chocolate.

And so on. But there’s also a human mes­sage here:

Look, as you grow you’re encour­aged to “act your age” and as part of that, cast aside things and behav­iors asso­ci­ated with peo­ple younger than you, and instead do things that are more becom­ing for some­one as grown as you are. Soci­ety beats the kid out of you.

To be able to act your age is won­der­ful and arguably nec­es­sary… as long as you can still, as they say, “walk a mile” in smaller shoes when the sit­u­a­tion calls for it. And, of course, rec­og­nize why a kid — this kid, kind of grown up now — may not be inter­ested in your vit­a­min drink, how­ever how rich and choco­latey it might be.

 

  1. Full dis­clo­sure: I was kind of a polite kid, and I def­i­nitely thought I was uncool. Shoe fits.

Written by Everett Guerny

November 5th, 2013 at 1:31 am

Can we just drop this?

If you’re not a rap­per pro­mot­ing your new album — and espe­cially if you’re a non-rapper who works in mar­ket­ing — can you do us a favor and not use “drop” to mean “the date on which [my thing] is set to be released”?

I’m sorry you’ve cho­sen e-mail spam or what­ever the fuck you do for a liv­ing, but talk­ing about the day your new cam­paign or what­ever “drops” doesn’t make you sound hip or hard or whatever.

There is one accept­able use out­side the rap game: are you a preg­nant woman dis­cussing the date your kid is due to be born? Then that’s… actu­ally totally cool.

“Lil’ shorty drops Novem­ber 7th. Yeah.“
–Expec­tant mother

Written by Everett Guerny

October 1st, 2013 at 7:09 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tags: ,

Movie Mom Advice from Netflix

Net­flix has me trained pretty well — I know never to read the red envelopes that show up at my place. These days, the flip side is always a promo for some exclu­sive orig­i­nal series I don’t care about. House of Cards is amaz­ing? That’s won­der­ful; let me know when I can actu­ally stream some god­damn movies, okay?

That’s why I was sur­prised when tonight’s Net­flix envelopes actu­ally man­aged to catch my eye. On my way back from the mail­box I found both clev­erly embla­zoned with dif­fer­ent life tips from movie moms. Tonight’s haul came wrapped in choice bits of For­rest Gump and Brave — timely for Mother’s Day and all that.

 

I won­der how many designs there actu­ally are in the series — I’m guess­ing far fewer than the hun­dreds the num­ber­ing sys­tem seems to sug­gest. I’ll be look­ing for more in a few days.

That’s actu­ally pretty sweet of them. I’ll… be sure to let mom know.

Written by Everett Guerny

May 3rd, 2013 at 2:13 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Tags: ,

Interchangeable Parts: Double-edge safety razors

This is the first in a series of posts about cool things with inter­change­able parts. What?

The first time I shaved, I used a cheap dis­pos­able razor that I hap­pened to find in the bath­room. I was 15.

These were dread­ful, by the way.

I didn’t know any bet­ter at the time, and I didn’t learn any bet­ter for a while. It was easy to just keep using pro­gres­sively bladier multi-blade car­tridge mod­els. Two blades to start, then four after a cou­ple of years. I stuck with four long after the world had moved ahead, but I soon caught up with the whole five blade deal.

Clearly my razor wasn’t the only tool in the bathroom.

I’d hear mum­blings from other men about bet­ter ways to shave, but the thought of my mother scold­ing me because I cut my throat open because I was using a dan­ger­ous razor still loomed large in my otherwise-independent adult brain. I was in my mid-20s by that point, but I’ll never out­grow that sort of thing because she’ll never out­grow not let­ting me hear the end of it if some­thing goes wrong.

It’s a good thing I didn’t lis­ten to hypothetical-her (sorry, mom) because if I had, I wouldn’t have picked up my first double-edge razor a cou­ple of years ago.

My what?

Double-edge razors are also known as “safety razors” because they were a heck of a lot safer than those big, scary straight razors that were com­mon before them.

It may seem ironic today, because it’s def­i­nitely eas­ier to cut your­self with a double-edge than with a car­tridge razor, but you know what else is eas­ier to cut with a double-edge? The hair on your face. Which is what matters.

Shav­ing with one of these sharp thin­gies requires you to take it slow, but that’s alright.

Seri­ously though, they’re actu­ally good

I use a double-edge razor because1 I find them to be more effec­tive, lead to less skin irri­ta­tion and fewer ingrown hairs, and over the long run, actu­ally be cheaper. It’s also nice that shav­ing this way leads to a lot less waste to be thrown away.

It was only after I began shav­ing with one for the rea­sons above, that I real­ized another ben­e­fit: I’m shav­ing with an open sys­tem of inter­change­able parts.

Fuck yeah, inter­change­able parts

Since safety razors have been around since the very early 1900s, any patents on the sys­tem have long-since expired. That means that any­one can cre­ate han­dles or blades that are com­pat­i­ble with every­thing else avail­able for the sys­tem, which leads to a wealth of choice for both han­dles and blades… which of course means low prices.

What excites me much more than the poten­tial for sav­ing money (sorry again, mom) is the poten­tial for cus­tomiza­tion that such an open sys­tem allows. Basi­cally, I can pair any razor designed for this stan­dard—fat han­dles, skinny han­dles, short han­dles, shiny onesdouchebag ones, ones from the future, uh, this one—with any blade that I want. This means I can sep­a­rate the style from the sub­stance; I can pair my favorite han­dle with my favorite blade and have what is, to me, the ulti­mate shav­ing machine.

Also, cheap

Ever heard some­one com­plain about how expen­sive it is to shave, or more specif­i­cally, to buy refills for a car­tridge razor? I prob­a­bly don’t need to explain the razor and blades busi­ness model that car­tridge razors fol­low. (If you like pay­ing a lot of money for the rest of for­ever, you’ll love it.)

If you perused those Ama­zon links above, you’re prob­a­bly won­der­ing what’s wrong with my idea of “cheap.” Well, the double-edge razor turns the razor and blades model on its head; in this world, the han­dle is the more expen­sive item, with $30 US not being unusual for the more com­mon brands. How­ever, this buys a qual­ity metal instru­ment that will likely out­live you… and you def­i­nitely make up for it with the blades — 10¢ or 20¢ blades are common!

The future

The double-edge shav­ing sys­tem isn’t going anywhere.

While it’s obvi­ously less pop­u­lar now than it was in its hey­day (but so were fedo­ras, and cool guys still wear those), we know how the Inter­net changes things; retail­ers can use it to sell obscure prod­ucts to weirdos every­where, the kind of things mass-market brick-and-mortar loca­tions would never bother stock­ing on their shelves. I don’t mind buy­ing online and wait­ing a few days, so I can have any blade I want deliv­ered to my door.

Cheaper, bet­ter and ulti­mately, more inter­change­able. That’s why I shave like this.

  1. I don’t use them for the same rea­sons these strange shav­ing gear fetishists do.

Written by Everett Guerny

April 12th, 2012 at 10:28 pm

Deliciously clever dessert marketing

dessert

I went to a restau­rant recently, one that could be placed com­fort­ably in the same genre as Cheese­cake Fac­tory. Nice atmos­phere, food’s great. But what stood out most to me was the way they mar­keted desserts.

What would you think the top rea­son is that peo­ple don’t order dessert? I’d guess that the first or sec­ond (the other being health/weight con­cerns) is that their entrée leaves them too full to eat more. How do you sell a dessert to some­one who’s too stuffed to eat one? Get them to order it before they’re stuffed.

Our server ini­tially men­tioned, then reminded us on almost every appear­ance she made at our table, that all of their desserts are deli­cious, made-to-order and take up to 30 min­utes to pre­pare, so my din­ing com­pan­ion and I should get our dessert order in early if we don’t want to wait.

This might not give a non-critical thinker pause, but — you know — I tend to notice when someone’s reach­ing for my wal­let. I also under­stand that restau­rants tend to run at pretty slim profit mar­gins, and how impor­tant attach rates of desserts, drinks and appe­tiz­ers are to their business.

They really want you to have that slice of cheese­cake, even if they’re prob­a­bly going to be box­ing it up to-go. Clever, huh?

Written by Everett Guerny

December 17th, 2011 at 5:09 pm