Monthly Archives: February 2011

Dear magimix

Dear magimix,

Thank you for your Le Duo Plus XL.

We’ve just finished the final batch of apple juice (frozen then defrosted) that the mighty Le Duo Plus XL helped extract from our modest Oxfordshire harvest, and my, my we enjoyed every single last drop.

The general rule of thumb is that Juicers – along with Breadmakers (to whom I gave thanks here), Lean Mean Grilling Machines (George Foreman), Toasted Sandwich Makers, Flavour Shakers (Jamie Oliver), Fondue Sets and/or Raclette Grills – are a good idea in theory, but in practise gather dust in the “duff cupboard” that can be found in every self-respecting middle-class kitchen.

But Le Duo Plus XL is different.

It’s easy to clean (relatively anyway) and easy to use as long as the operator recognises their own limitations and opts to use one feature only, discarding the multitude of remaining blades / drums / baskets / spindles / plungers / siphons / hoppers / nozzles etc. In our case, we went for the bit that means you can get the juice out of apples without having to peel them. There’s so much to be said for keeping it simple – like this beauty by Philippe Stark:

And thanks, magimix, for being another brand that has become the “generic”. Unless people refer to the “whizzer” or “blender”, they generally refer to their magimix, regardless of whether or not it is one.

There’s something strangely reassuring about brands that become the generic and although not the branding holy grail it might first seem, it must be nonetheless satisfying to hear people use your (proper) noun as a verb. Here’s a few other classics (some of which are not technically the generic as they’re from the same category…which in itself is mildly interesting):

And of course, the Godfather of generic brands:

Thanks again magimix.


PS – Special thanks to Paul who donated the  Le Duo Plus XL to us in the first place!

Flavour Shaker


Dear LactoFree

Dear LactoFree,

Thank you for making use of the “Killer Stat” in your latest campaign.

Nicorette, with their 1 Week challenge (which I posted about here), used their “Killer Stat” to create an entire communication and activation platform, and I love the way you have used your “Killer Stat” to go about dispelling myths.

With a stat like: “Over 90% who think they can’t have dairy, can, with Lacto Free”, that’s now 9/10 dairy avoiders who are questioning their behaviour – as long as they see the ads that is…

And thank you for your Dump the lactose not the dairy strapline:

I like its straightforwardness, although I have to confess that the “Dumped” / “Take me back” advertising idea (not to be confused with the brand positioning of course) does feel slightly forced, even if it is beautifully executed. But I’ll forgive you that.

Thanks again,


Dear Nicorette

Dear Nicorette,

Thank you for showing us the power of the “Killer Stat”.

According to your obligatory January advertising burst, “If you can make it through the first week, you’re…

Now that’s what I call a compelling piece of evidence and reason for quitters to try Nicorette.

And I love the way that you’ve used that piece of evidence to create the Nicorette 1 Week Challenge.

A few years back, I suspect that you might have just used the stat to create a convincing ad and be satisfied with a job well done.

But by creating – and learning from the likes of Kellogg’s (Drop a Jean Size) and Actimel (2 week challenge) – you’ve turned what was just an interesting and compelling stat into a communication and activation platform with a “Killer Stat” at its heart. Nice work.

Thanks again


PS – For those that are interested in seeing the ad, follow the link to the Nicorette website and click on the Watch Now tab

Dear VW (once again)

Dear VW (once again),

Thank you for your recent and sterling advertising efforts – the blogosphere (and 30m YouTubers) seem to agree that you were the hit commercial of the SuperBowl Ad merry-go-round, and I have to say, despite my heavily favourable disposition, I wholeheartedly agree. Thanks to my friend Andrew for sharing this link with me:

And please say thank you to your designers for staying away from the sparkly fairy christmas tree lights that we know you could be drapsing all over yourself like an over-excited 18-year-old on their first trip to Halfords. Your certainty and pride in not being an Audi is admirable, not to mention a very tangible representation of a decidedly sensible brand portfolio strategy – I would expect nothing less.


Thanks VW Group.



Dear Direct Line,

Dear Direct Line,

Thank you for casting Alexander Armstrong in your most recent ad campaign – he’s a comic genius:

Those that like this should try to track down the BBC Radio4 version of Weak at the Top – with Armstrong as John Weak, Marketing Director of Smokehouse PLC. Written by Guy Browning (available here), Weak at the Top is a MUST listen / read for anyone that does, or has ever, worked in Marketing.

But thanks Direct Line, for not making the campaign / idea reliant on Armstrong – smart strategy in a world of celebrity misdemeanors. Plus we get to enjoy these:

And thanks for being brave enough to redirect your Paul Merton and Stephen Fry powered, remote controlled telephone and mouse into more recessive but critical roles for the denouement. Freshness with jingo-istic brand continuity guaranteed – nice.

Thanks again


Dear VW (again),

Dear VW,

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

There are so many more reasons to thank you – in addition to when I thanked you for your wonderfully simple and enduring VW Polo positioning here, and when I thanked you for your Split Screen Bus here –  that I’ve decided to show my gratitude by dedicating a series of thank you posts to you.

In my humble opinion, you deserve all the praise I’m going to dish out.

First up it’s your Golf – aka Rabbit in some of the further reaches of the globe – now in its 6th generation.

As it happens, I’ve just bought a second-hand Mark IV Golf (as predicted when I was thanking Renault for their Megane Experiment here and here), and whilst I fully recognise that we’re still in the so-called honeymoon period, once again I’m exceedingly happy.

So why did I go back to a VW Golf so confidently? Well I think it’s because of the perfect brand storm that you have so expertly created and crafted in my mind over the years, which is made up of 4 principal elements:

1) A consistently simple Brand Promise of “Reliability” – ingrained into one of the dark recesses of my brain the indelible phrase “If only everything in life was as reliable as a Volkswagen” is alive and kicking, no doubt thanks to ads like these:

2) Unflinching product performance and delivery (in my experience) against that Brand Promise – in 4 years of previous Golf stewardship, I never had a major problem…just reliable, economical, fast and stylish motoring – perfect.

3) Celebrating the past, but keeping the message fresh, by making it real and humanising the brand:

And my most favorite – and human – of all:

4) Those 3 little letters – need I say more? (TDi sounds a bit like GTi, so that’s OK)

Plus the fact that everywhere you look you see someone driving a Golf. Cialdini’s principle of Social Proof in action once again.  Vicars, Mums on the school run and rude-boys who spend their every last penny on pimping their rides – they all look happy and comfortable to be driving a Golf. Just like me.

So thank you VW for your Golf – you’ve created a brand that I feel both strong affection for and admire in equal measure.


Dear Berocca

Dear Berocca,

Thank you for the positivity of your positioning, which is very nicely executed in the “You, but on a really good day” strapline. You have very elegantly side-stepped the Problem-Solution-Communication-Cliche that so many brands seek, but often fail, to avoid. .

Sure, it’s of paramount importance that products and brands do solve consumers’ problems (aka meet their needs), but bringing those problems to life in front of consumers’ eyes doesn’t make for a very compelling brand message and is tiresomely cliched – and thus open to parody such as this:

It may be true that people with debt problems do persistently hold their heads / look worried / are on the receiving end of meaningful and concerned glances and glares from their partner, but to recreate those emotions on screen is slightly rubbing salt in the wound, not to mention patronising.

Generally, unless humourous self-deprecation and/or satire are involved, people don’t tend to feel comfortable seeing a negative image of themselves, so for a brand to underline and cement their targets’ misery is not so smart. This is why the Special K lady is a size 12-14 and not a size 20.

So the fact that you, Berocca, have identified a positive positioning in the equilibrium-plus (as opposed to the equilibrium-minus)  territory is admirable. It would have been so easy to show a tired, washed-out business man suddenly become a master of the universe on account of his Berocca. It would have made the point, but in a way that was completely undifferentiated – i.e. not a clever brand strategy!

And thanks for the tone of voice of some of the blurb on your website – I particularly like “Drinking it won’t change your life, or transform you into that person with the disturbing white teeth on those posters.” Beats OK magazine who, as I posted on previously, do promise to transform your life.

Thanks Berocca – I don’t feel any affection towards you, but I do admire you.