Phipps Mall in Atlanta is anchored by Saks and includes stores like Versace. It is Atlanta’s most high end shopping destination. Or was.

Several months ago, Phipps illogically decided to replace its food court with a Lego Land amusement center. Make sense to you? The Lego Land target audience is completely different than the Phipps target shopper.

You guessed it. Sales are down at Phipps stores. Store personnel are disgusted. Shoppers are disgusted. Mall elevators and escalators which used to be packed with high money shoppers intent on spending, are now packed with screaming kids and mothers not even trying to control them.

One of most obvious blunders for a brand that I can remember. One does not need be a professional to recognize this blunder.

AXIOM of Marketing – Smart People Can Do Dumb Things.

I am watching a 30 minute ad for Hoover presented as a Reality TV Show called Hoover Dirty House. It is essentially a 30 minute demo interspersed with testimonials. I am a die-hard Dyson fan and this ad makes me want to own a new Hoover Wind Tunnel Air.

Spectacular advertising. Kudos all around.

Whoever invented the curved shower bar introduced by Westin Hotels and now used in hotels everywhere should be awarded the Nobel Prize. Great improvement in an everyday habit.

I just was automatically refunded 72 cents by Amazon on an item I recently ordered and received.

At the same time, a friend found the price on a dress that she had purchased from Betsey Johnson(but not yet received) had been lowered. She called and asked for the new price and they said, “no, against company rules.”

One of the two companies is going out of business. Guess which?

Last night I drove down one section of freeway in Atlanta and counted 32 outdoor billboards.  Of these, 28 had messages and/or layouts that could not be read in the time that one single car drives by.  Whatever happened to the rules for “six words or less?”  I was taught this principle in college advertising.  Were you taught this?

I have also noticed the same problem with revolving banners and/or headlines on the Internet.  They change to the next before I can read them.  Who approves these kind of snafu’s?  Just wondering.

I am an Avis Preferred customer.  I recently landed at a smaller airport where Avis and Budget were sharing a rental counter as well as staff.   While they had a sign for Avis Preferred customers, there was only one line feeding both of the used car rivals, so I stood in it.  Everything was going slowly so I referenced the time as I took my place in line.  I STOOD IN LINE FOR 32 MINUTES TO BE WAITED ON, only to discover that Avis and Budget had rented their last cars to the cust0mers in front of me.  My on-line reservation meant nothing.  Looking at my reservation, the Avis rep explained that she was there to rent cars, not to save cars for reservations at that time of night.  An incredulous comment.

At the  next counter, Hertz had no line, and a very large lighted sign, “Cars Available,” so I stepped over.  The girl explained that Hertz was also out of cars as she sat right under the “Cars Available” sign.   I not-so-gently called her attention to the sign, and she replied, “Oh that sign is always up.  We do not know how to take it down or turn it off.  Besides it draws people to the counter.”   Hertz should be so proud of her.

I am much less loyal now to Avis, and have no intention to give Hertz another chance.   As a customer, I should be important to either as I have flown over 5 million miles so far in my career.

I took a cab that night.



How to Ruin a Brand

Shopping Centers are brands also. Phipps Plaza, Atlanta’s highest end premium mall, has just committed a no-no. Phipps which is home to Saks and stores like Versace and Barneys of New York, as well as high end restaurants, has converted its food court into a Lego Land.

Once a quiet haven for adult shopping is now run over with screaming out-of-control kids. I know that I will never go there again, and I suspect that many of my friends won’t either. Every mass retailer has failed there, so now they are running out their high end customers, soon to run out the high end stores.

A recent example from National Rental Car.

An associate rented a car from National for a week for about $125. She needed to extend the rental for a second week and that week alone was quoted at over $300. Wait. Not as stupid as it gets.

After much discussion of how such a discrepancy could exist, she asked what if she picked up a different car, same class for the second week in a new rental? The surprising answer was that if she extended her current car for a week, the bill was over $300 for the new week, but if she drove the first car back to the airport and rented the same grade but a different car for the new week, the cost would be only $100.

I am not sure who looks the most stupid here, the National Rental brand or the work associate who drove 30 miles back to the airport and traded cars and another 30 miles back to where she was working, and still stayed with National.

She does however report that the brand loyalty and connection she once felt for National is now reduced to a relationship based purely on price.

Her change is not in the best interest of the brand, National, which just slid back from Loyalty to one choice within her evoked set of several other companies, to be chosen in the future solely on price.

Talk about a SNAFU

I just saw an online news article on DealBook with the headline “Greenhill Says 2 Executives Die in Plane Crash.”  The article goes on to explain that two of the investment firm’s executives died in the New Jersey crash of a private jet.   Right within the article is a display ad for CitationAir that sells, “Give the gift of flight with a CitationAir Jet Card.”  How is that for bad positioning?

This was probably what is known as a “context” buy, where an ad is placed within articles with related content to what is being sold.  In this case the computers that placed the ad got related context, but it was negative.

Not as bad as naming a brand of luggage Amelia Earhart on purpose years ago, but a mistake never the less.

I am commenting on the new State Farm campaign which I just say for the first time this morning.

The situation of a wife catching a husband on line with his insurance agent and thinking he is talking with a woman leads one’s mind so far away from any kind of Expectation related to insurance, that the commercial never resolves itself into a real message.   The slogan of “Get to a better state,” is a nice try for Linkage to State Farm, but nothing in this spot leads me to even consider switching insurance.   In fact, the spot leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth for the Brand.