A Look Back on 2011

As the end of the year approaches, it seems that most of the articles are reflecting on the last year. Journalists write about the best campaigns of the year, and the worst campaigns of the year.  They write about the most memorable parts of the year, and the most painful moments of the year.  Last year I wrote a post called the Final Post of the Year that went month by month through the best parts of 2010.  I really enjoyed writing that post and looking back on my past year so I figured I would do the same thing for 2011.

January

In January, I went to the Dolphins/Patriots game in Foxboro which is something I have wanted to do since I moved to Boston.  The Dolphins obviously got killed, but it was still a great time.

I also started my last semester of college at Boston University.  They had a few celebrations for seniors.

With Dean Elmore and John Battaglino

February

I had some exciting trips in February.  First, I went to Chicago for the first time.  I went to DePaul University’s PRSSA conference.  I wrote about it on an older blog post.  Then I spent the rest of the weekend exploring the city with my awesome tour guide, Nick Lucido!

Sky Deck!

The Bean

Deep dish pizza!

A week later I went skiing for the first time at Mont Tremblant.  It was definitely scary learning how to ski at first, but by the end of the weekend I was getting the hang of it.  But I have heard that your first time skiing should not be on this mountain.

March

In March I did something I had been looking forward to since I heard it opened.  HARRY POTTER WORLD!

April

This month started off bittersweet.  I went to Seattle for the PRSSA National Assembly.  I always looked forward to my PRSSA trips, and this one was my last.  The next committee was elected, and I was so excited and proud of them.  But it was also (potentially) the last time I was with everyone in my committee at the same time.  PRSSA continues to mean the world to me and truly made a huge difference in my life and my career.  I was also awarded with the Elaine Averick Outstanding National Committee Member Award.  Oh, and I caught a fish in the Seattle fish market!

The 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 PRSSA National Committees

The 2010-2011 PRSSA National Committee Saying Goodbye

Elaine Averick Outstanding National Committee Member Award

May

In May, I graduated from Boston University with a degree in Public Relations from the College of Communication and a degree in Business Administration from the School of Management.  I also received the Gerald Powers PR Scholarship, Blue Chip Award and Scarlet Key.

Scarlet Key

Blue Chip Ceremony

June

Even though I officially starting working on May 31, my new hire training at HubSpot started on June 6.  After six months of working, I can still say I love my job!

July

In July I spent a lot of time working and a lot of time enjoying Boston and getting together with friends.

BSMA Brunch

August

In mid-August, I co-founded a Young Professionals Network for the Public Relations Society of America in Boston.  Then at the end of August, Dreamforce, Salesforce.com’s annual conference that included 45,000 people this year, began.  My responsibilities at HubSpot all summer consisted of working on our presence at Dreamforce and planning for our HubSpot User Group Summit.  David Kirkpatrick of MarketingSherpa wrote a case study about our presence there.  It was memorable, exciting and turned out very well despite Hurricane Irene’s attempt to keep the HubSpot team in Massachusetts.

September

September was the HubSpot User Group Summit (HUGS) in Boston with 1,000 customers.  It was inspiring hearing many of the HubSpot customer stories and seeing how excited the customers and HubSpotters were to meet each other and learn from one another.  And I cannot leave out the balloon sprocket at the opening reception.  I had honestly wanted to do this since my first day at HubSpot!

October

October started off by going to Maine for the first time!  I have wanted to see more of New England since I decided to stay in Boston after graduation, and this was the first step.  I also had lobster for the first time.

Then all my dreams came true, and I FINALLY got the Verizon iPhone!

And I, of course, had to highlight it on my Facebook Timeline:

November

This month was busy, but at the end of the month, I went with HubSpot to Cloudforce.  It was great to see everyone who I had worked closely with all summer for Dreamforce.  And it is always fun to meet HubSpot customers and talk to other people about the company!


December

At HubSpot, not only are we around some of the greatest marketing professionals in the industry, but they constantly take the opportunity to teach us as well.  HubSpot, therefore, set up a program called HubSpot Fellows.  The CEO and co-founder of HubSpot, Brian Halligan, teaches a bunch of classes on leadership and helps us become better leaders at HubSpot.  It is an awesome chance to learn from Brian but also interact with other HubSpotters who are part of the program.

Happy New Year to everyone!

Super Bowl 2011 Advertisements

The entertainment during this year’s Super Bowl may have been unsuccessful, but at least the advertisements were great (well some of them)!  Between Christina Aguilera forgetting the words to the National Anthem and the Black Eyed Peas having a total fail for a performance, the advertisements may have saved the Super Bowl (not including the actual game, of course).  Below are my thoughts/reactions to some of the commercials that stood out (either positively or negatively).

First Quarter:

Bud Light: I usually don’t enjoy the Bud Light commercials.  They are normally the same thing: Person 1 is just SO excited that they have a Bud Light, and their entire LIFE is now better.  It is always the same exact thing.  The first commercial was the same theme as well.  BUT the second Bud Light commercial was a change from before AND for the better!  Bluntly incorporating product placement into Super Bowl ads, one of the biggest opportunities for product placement was genius and funny too.  Having a medieval play with random Bud Light product placements…genius…just genius.

Doritos: The first Doritos commercial was pretty elementary, but they definitely made up for it as the commercials continued.  The third commercial with the chip’s crumbs bringing everything back to life was pretty entertaining, and kind of creepy when it brought the kid’s grandfather back to life.  But still a bit more creative than the usual “DORITOS ARE JUST THE BEST” mentality.

Pepsi Max: Now I’m not a huge Pepsi fan (which would normally mean I wouldn’t write about it on my blog), but I have to mention the Pepsi Max commercial with the geek being made fun of by the “pretty, popular kids.”  Definitely entertaining watching the kids get shown up by the geek and his cool gadgets/toys.  Ya gotta love how nerdiness is the new “cool.”

Bridgestone: Kudos to Bridgestone!  I think you tapped into every person’s fear of hitting “Reply All” by accident and sending an e-mail out to many people who were not supposed to read it.  I’m sure everyone has done that once or twice.  Granted, Gmail has an “Undo” button now, but what about those e-mails you don’t realize you sent for awhile?  But anyway, Bridgestone just related to EVERY person who has ever sent an e-mail.  Great job, great ad.

Go Daddy: When I first started my blog, I used Go Daddy.  That year when I saw the Super Bowl commercials, I was so excited because not only did I use this service, but their commercials were so creative!  That being said, that time has certainly passed with the abysmal showing from them on this year’s ad.

Second Quarter:

Coca-Cola: Everyone expects the polar bear in these commercials, especially if the commercial isn’t going to be something unique.  I hate to say it because I am TOTALLY brand loyal to Coke, but this commercial was lame.  It was the same commercial they have ALWAYS had but with dragons, warriors, whatever they were.  I was hoping for something at LEAST as creative as their “Open Happiness” campaign.  I hope they bring something better a bit later.

Volkswagen: This ad was great.  The little boy trying to have Star Wars powers was absolutely ADORABLE.  I have nothing much to say besides good job, Volkswagen.  You got everyone’s attention in a positive way.  No complaints here, and I haven’t even heard any complaints on Twitter (which is even more impressive)!

Snickers: What was that?  Like seriously…you went from Betty White to that?  It wasn’t funny this year, and I stopped watching before I even knew it was a Snickers commercial (I only saw people tweeting that it was a Snickers commercial).  Not impressed.

Chevy: If you wanted to get the attention of any advertising and PR people, well you did it.  There are no complaints from this group as Facebook is more than an addiction – it is a way of life.  The tweets after this commercial were beyond excited as they saw the best possible scenario: driving AND having Facebook statuses read aloud.  Great job, Chevy.

Carmax: This was a commercial that definitely got an “LOL” out of me.  I had never even heard of Carmax before, but it definitely made a lasting impression on me.  Very catchy commercial, and definitely kept my attention the entire time.  “I feel like a kid in a candy store…”  Beautiful start!

Staples: When you think of Staples, you think of the “easy” button and the silly “That was easy” line.  I think Staples did a really great job of showing their products while still maintaining their brand image with the easy button.  Very nicely done.

Third Quarter:

Etrade: Let’s just put it this way, you can never go wrong with a talking baby.  They will be funny no matter what.

Best Buy: Great line: “What’s a Bieber?”  I have nothing against Justin Bieber.  Personally, I think he is a great kid and very talented.  BUT it was a great way to get some attention for Best Buy by making fun of him.

Groupon: I am a big fan of Groupon.  Love the company, love the deals, love just about everything.  But I think they could have been a bit more creative with these advertisements.  They seem to be making light of serious situations around the world.  And while I sort of see their point, I just think they could have been more creative.

Chrysler: Using Eminem in this commercial was perfect.  “Lose Yourself” playing in the background was a great addition.  The brand was prominent, everyone’s eyes were interested in Eminem (especially since his appearance in the Brisk commercial wasn’t too exciting) and Chrysler got their message across.  Their cars were branded as cool, luxurious and made for a star.

BMW: Who doesn’t like game shows?  And who doesn’t love FUNNY game shows?  “Cram It In The Boot?”  Who thinks of something like that?  But it was complete genius.  It was funny, got the attention of America who loves game shows and showed the purpose behind the commercial: the fact that this car has more trunk space and can really fit all your possessions.  Great use of strategy and humor.

NFL: This was one of the greatest ads I have ever seen.  It may not have been the funniest or best at promoting a product, but it was certainly the greatest ad of the night.  Watching all of the different shows celebrate the Super Bowl was fantastic and so nostalgic.  From the older shows like Happy Days, Full House and Seinfeld to most modern shows like Friends and Family Guy, this compilation of shows was truly top notch.

Fourth Quarter:

Bridgestone: Bridgestone has done a great job tonight.  First with the Reply All and then with the beaver commercial.  Great use of a cute animal to get your point across (kinda brings me back to the Geico commercials that I used to look forward to).  But not only is the commercial cute and well received (at least on Twitter), but it really incorporates the car well.  A lot of commercials are cute and use animals that don’t relate as much to the product they are selling, but Bridgestone is able to do both.

Verizon iPhone: I could probably write a full post on this advertisement.  In fact, I will probably end up writing a post about the Verizon and AT&T ads that have been produced since the iPhone was announced on Verizon.  But tonight…tonight this single ad has made my ENTIRE NIGHT.  Not only does it show the sleek, magnificent iPhone, but VERIZON BROUGHT BACK THE “CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW” GUY!  That basically makes all my hopes and dreams come true.  Definitely the best ad of the night.  Perfect advertisement for the Verizon iPhone and PERFECT way and reason to bring back the original face of Verizon with the “Can you hear me now” actor.

And that’s that for this year’s Super Bowl ads.  Congratulations to the Green Bay Packers!  (And me, for picking them to win tonight!)

The Marriage of Verizon Wireless and Apple

On January 9, 2007 the iPhone was introduced on AT&T.  Four years and two days later, Verizon made the incredible announcement that the iPhone will be released on their network starting February 10.

As I said last week, I am very brand loyal especially when it comes to Verizon Wireless.  Yes, I have always wanted an iPhone, but I was NEVER going to consider switching over to AT&T.  Let’s be serious, there is no network that even comes close to being as reliable as Verizon.  Can you hear me now?  Yes, because I have Verizon.  Dropped calls are unheard of on this network!  But let’s get back to what happened today…

There have been rumors for months and months about the iPhone coming to Verizon (if not years).  After all, the iPhone is the phone that single handedly helps AT&T compete against Verizon.  When my phone broke in September (or you could say, drowned in a rain storm), I wanted to wait until the iPhone potentially came out at the beginning of the year.  I even subjected myself to using a Blackberry (see #downwithblackberry) for three long months as I awaited the iPhone.  So when the Wall Street Journal published “Verizon Finally Lands the iPhone” on January 8, I started to take the rumors seriously.  My “Verizon Wireless” Google Alert has been posting stories about the iPhone coming to Verizon for months, but until a reputable source published the story, I was not going to believe anyone.

That’s when my world exploded, and the clues just all appeared.  Fast Company published “Verizon’s iPhone Tomorrow: Everything You Need to Know” on January 10 explaining everything that was going on.  To quickly summarize this article, they displayed the invitation from Verizon to the press event, stated that Gizmodo was not invited (which could possible be due to their disagreement with Apple when they leaked the iPhone 4 pictures) pointed out that Verizon’s official tweets were coming from an iPhone instead of the web and wrote about the design and plan for the Verizon iPhone.  Gizmodo commented in their article “The Verizon iPhone Will Be Announced on January 11” saying they were not invited to the press event even though they are normally invited to Verizon press conferences, but they still love Verizon anyway.  What great sports!

So while I was basking in the glory of all these articles, journalist Jon Swartz from USA Today tweeted “Any Verizon customer who’s been waiting for a chance to buy an iPhone? Can I interview you?”  My fellow Verizon supporter, Jenna Glynn, tweeted back at him saying “@jswartz652 you should talk to @RSprung! She is a Verizon SUPERFAN & tomorrow is her Christmas.”  He immediately got in touch with me, interviewed me and published an article entitled “Would a Verizon iPhone be a hit?” quoting me!  More excitement for my Verizon holiday!

This morning was quite exciting.  I set myself up in front of the computer with multiple websites open awaiting the 11:00 press conference starting time.  Engadget was posting live from the event.  Lowell McAdam, President and COO of Verizon, began the press conference right on time (I really adore him).  Some key highlights:

11:00 am: “Okay, it looks like you’re expecting a big announcement. I don’t think we’ll disappoint. If the press write something long enough, eventually it comes true. We’re very very excited about our announcement today.”

11:05 am: “This is putting us at the hub of the wheel driving this industry. Collaboration is the key to innovation. We’ve worked with partners across the industry.”

And my favorite:

11:06 am: “Today we’re partnering with a giant of the industry, and that’s Apple.”

11:06 am: “Late in 2010 we started offering the iPad… today, we are extremely gratified to announce that the iPhone 4 will be available early next month.”

And some quotes from Tim Cook, COO of Apple:

11:09 am: “Tens of millions of customers have purchased the iPhone around the world. Customers have downloaded billions of apps. I am incredibly happy, and I can tell you all of Apple, is very very excited to bring the iPhone to Verizon’s customers.”

11:10 am: “We’re incredibly pleased to give Verizon’s customers the choice we’ve been waiting for. We’ve designed an iPhone 4 which connects to the CDMA network — and it has all the features that you’d expect. Like FaceTime. Features like Apple’s stunning Retina Display.”

11:11 am: “5 megapixel camera, HD video… the custom A4 chip. But most importantly, it provides an integrated customer experience that’s far beyond what anyone else is providing. From iOS, to iTunes, to the App Store — they’re all designed to work together.

And some quotes from Dan Mead, CEO of Verizon Wireless:

11:13 am: “We’ve built our business on building the very best network — and now our customers have a choice for the iPhone 4 on the nation’s most reliable network.”

11:17 am: “On February 3rd our existing customers will have an opportunity to pre-order… on February 10th, everyone will be able to order online, in stores, or in Apple stores.”

And right as this was announced, the beauty that you see below was updated on Verizon’s website AND Apple’s website!

And Mashable posted “It’s Official: The iPhone Is Coming to Verizon.”

Check out the Wall Street Journal’s great recap (and video) at their article “Verizon Wireless to Offer iPhone 4 in February

I’m expecting AT&T to come out with all sorts of insults about how you cannot go on the Internet while on the phone, but the truth is Verizon is the superior network.  They have the more reliable service.  There is a reason Apple felt the need to bring the iPhone to Verizon customers.  AT&T was unable to fulfill all of the needs of the iPhone.  Enter: Verizon!

And that’s that!  The iPhone 4 will be on Verizon starting February 10, and my entire life is now complete!

What are your thoughts about the release?  Disclaimer: Negative comments are not welcomed on #VZWiPhone Day!

Pongr: A Dream for Anyone Brand Loyal

If you read my blog, you know one thing about me for sure: I am extremely brand loyal.  I am brand loyal about everything from what I drink to what technology I use (cameras, phones, etc.) to even what shampoo I will use.  So when Pongr, a game that highlights brand loyalty at its best came out, I knew I had to try it out.

The purpose of Pongr is to show how people interact with a brand on a daily basis.  Everywhere you turn, you are surrounded by brands.  Pongr adds a gaming element to it and has players take pictures of themselves and others as they interact with various brands.  You are then “employed” by the particular brand and move up the ranks from intern to CEO.  They recently added more components to the game which definitely make it more challenging and exciting.  In addition to submitting pictures to the website, you must recruit others to “work” for the brand, promote the pictures you take on Facebook and Twitter and create deals that the brand could potentially use.  For example, if you send in a picture to Pongr for Android, you can get 10% off of an accessory (I think I used this when I was trying to become CEO of Android).

Every brand you can think of needs a CEO.  All you have to do is submit pictures through your phone (yes, feature phones work too which was great for me because I did not have a smart phone when Pongr first came out) or even through e-mail.  You simply send your pictures to the brand “@pongr.com.”  For example, when sending pictures to Verizon, you send it to “verizon@pongr.com.”   When sending pictures to Apple, you send it to “apple@pongr.com.”  You can even send pictures as a JPEG and attach it to an e-mail to send them in.  This way of sending pictures made it really fun for me because I could look back at old pictures of myself interacting with different brands and send them in.  It is always fun to look back at old pictures, and this time you are playing a game while doing it!

To celebrate the holidays, they decided to award a few of the newly appointed CEOs.  The first person who became CEO of a Fortune 500 company was given a $500 American Express gift card.  The person who submitted the most creative picture of their favorite pair of shoes would win free shoes.  And my favorite, the first person to become CEO of Android would receive a free Android phone.  After the death of my Droid back in September that resulted in my hatred for Blackberry (thus, the #downwithblackberry hasthtag I have been using in most of my tweets), I was determined to be reunited with Android again.

So every day since the contest was announced, I recruited others to play Pongr, sent in pictures, created deals and promoted the pictures on Twitter.  Part of the excitement of Pongr is that you never know when you will reach the position of CEO.  At the end of December, I was finally promoted to CEO and won my Android, the Droid X (which I just received a few days ago)!  Pongr has not only combined my love for brand loyalty and photography but has given me quite possibly the greatest gift possible: a Droid!

To hear more about my rise to CEO of Verizon, check out this blog post.

I recruited many people during my rise to CEO of Android.  Some of their thoughts are below!

Amy Bishop: “Some of the things I like about Pongr:

  • The ability to display and promote the brands that you support and use everyday
  • The chance to win contests and deals by just sending photos of your daily interaction with brands
  • Before my smartphone, I also loved that I could upload photos just by sending an email on a regular computer.”

Lauren Gray: “I like that you can win real prizes and submit pictures of what you are doing with the product/brand.  It’s also fun to “recruit” people because not many other geo apps have that recruitment aspect.”

Eric Mendes: “Pongr is an innovative startup that allows users to express their love for their favorite companies to the world.  Personally, I love how Pongr allows users to interact with one another and how the site maintains close contact with their users through social networks such as Twitter.  Always feels like a small connected family.”

Kara Robinson: “Pongr allows consumers to directly connect with and promote the brands they use most often.  It is a win-win situation for the brand and the consumer.  And, it’s tons of fun!”

If you have played Pongr and have some thoughts you would like to share, let me know, and I will post them above with the others!  (More are expected to come later today too!)

Check out Pongr on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube!

Complain Online Lately?

It is pretty much a known fact that I am brand loyal.  Whether it is VerizonPoland SpringsStaplesJetBluePantene Pro-v,FedEx (I’m literally looking around my room and naming off brands), I stick to what I like and feel comfortable with.  No, this isn’t a blog post about brand loyalty again, but it is a post about what goes happens with some of the other brands that I haven’t had the greatest experiences with.

It is known that negative feedback about a company has a larger impact than positive feedback.  People want to know the bad things that are happening in the world.  The good news is not always as interesting, and the public tends to ignore it.

Within the last year, I have come into a habit of complaining about brands over the Internet when I have a bad experience.  My first instinct is to immediately pull out my phone or computer and tweet about the bad experience, update my Facebook status or even write a blog post about it.  When did this sudden change come?  Why do we all of a sudden feel the need to complain publicly instead of dealing with the problem by ourselves and moving on.  I guarantee there are much worse things in life than UPS not delivering a package on time (see, there I go again with my “not so subtle” complaints).

I remember when I was younger, my family was going on a trip to Florida.  When we got to the airport, our flight was canceled and I swore that we should never fly with that airline again.  I started telling everyone (who would listen at least) that we should always fly Continental, and it became an ongoing joke with my family.  (This was the pre-JetBlue days).  But when did it become necessary to tell as many people as possible and in real time when a company drives me crazy?

Honestly, I want to be the one to tell one of those amazing stories that I complained about a company on Twitter, they DMed me and fixed all of my problems.  I would LOVE to write a blog post about how my flight was canceled (even though JetBlue would never do that), but they came to the rescue and fixed it!  That is actually 95% of the reason that I tweeted a lot when I was stuck in Dallas in March (the other 5% was because I was very angry).

Advertising Age just wrote an article called “Are Major Marketers Training John Q. Public to Whine on Web?” This article was exactly what I was planning to write my blog post about.  There are so many stories published about companies virtually “coming to the rescue” to fix a problem.  As more and more companies invest in digital to increase revenue via Twitter and other social media outlets, more and more consumers take advantage of the possibility that their problems may be solved quicker than they think.

So what does this teach us?  To complain about our problems publicly?  To take word of mouth communication to the next level?  To target companies that have departments to handle virtual complaints?  Will the companies really be able to handle the massive amounts of complaints they receive?  Sure we hear some of the solutions to the problems, but how many issues do they really resolve?

And to end my blog post, I need to give a special shout out to Verizon for the the launch of their new campaign Rule the Air.  Check it out on the website!

 

Verizon & Z100 Partnership to Encourage People to Stop Texting & Driving

Today I was driving around town running errands and listening to Z100 (oh the beauty of being back in New Jersey).  A commercial came on about their newest partnership with none other than Verizon Wireless.  If you know me, this clearly earned my undivided attention.  They are starting an initiative called “Please Don’t Text and Drive.”

Basically, high school students have the chance to take a pledge that they will not text while driving.  The pledge says, “I pledge to not text while driving.  I also promise to avoid using my cell phone at all times while operating a vehicle, for both my safety and for everyone I share the road with.  I’ll also encourage my friends and family to do the same.”  The high school that has the highest percentage of participants will win a free concert with Jason Derulo.

Even though I have to admit I am guilty of texting while driving, I think this partnership is so smart.  Z100 is the perfect outlet to reach a lot of teenagers in the tri-state area.  Verizon Wireless is the carrier of the majority of cell phones in this area as well.  The right company (Verizon) is trying to get the attention of the drivers who are most guilty of texting and driving, and they are using the perfect outlet to do so.

Verizon’s first promise is to their customers.  In addition to providing them with quality service, they are not taking the extra step to protect them and work toward eliminating a problem.  When companies take this extra step to connect with their customers, they can be even more successful.

A few months ago I saw a billboard on the way to New York City from Verizon asking drivers to stop texting while they were operating a vehicle.  These subtle advertisements, especially while people are driving, can really make a difference and make people remember the dangers of texting and driver.  Like I said before, I do text and drive, but when I saw this billboard, I did not text and drive for the remainder of my car ride.

Z100 has the right idea to use their connections with artists to partner with Verizon for a good cause.  I do not know much about Jason Derulo, but he is doing a great thing by offering his time to make a difference in high school students’ lives.

Overall, great campaign, great ideas, and a great marketing strategy by all parties involved.

 

Verizon and AT&T…Winner: Verizon

So I think everyone knew this post was coming.  OBVIOUSLY I have to discuss the Verizon and AT&T ads that seem to be the only television commercials right now.  I wanted to provide any readers with examples of both Verizon and AT&T commercials, but (to my delight) every time I typed in “AT&T holiday commercial” or “AT&T map commercial,” etc. Verizon commercials came up.  So I’m going to share 2 of my favorite Verizon holiday commercials: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xup4tGGstgM and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YMAjLdpun20&feature=related.

Ironically, as I started typing this article, the AT&T commercial came on.  I typed in a quote from the commercial into YouTube and finally found a video (even though there was 1 AT&T commercial on a page of Verizon commercials – either Verizon knows how to pick better keywords, or AT&T is really nowhere to be found) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=igdyXceBZLA.

But anyway, back to the beginning.  How did this even start?  AT&T sued Verizon a couple months ago claiming that their ads were “misleading” and thus taking away a large part of their market share.  However, AT&T has inadvertently helped Verizon’s map campaign by drawing attention to it.  Granted, being a Verizon fan, I pay more attention to these ads, but I would have never been so excited over them as I was after I heard about this ridiculous lawsuit.

AT&T is not even denying the factuality behind Verizon’s claims.  Verizon says it has “5X more 3G Coverage.”  AT&T is not denying this but simply saying they have more coverage than Verizon’s ads show them to have.  However, a holiday promotion like the one Verizon uses would not have been focused on as much by potential consumers without the attention AT&T drew to it.  AT&T wanted Verizon to take down these commercials, but Verizon’s lawyers wrote a brilliant statement stating why the ads would stay up including one of my favorite lines, “AT&T sued because Verizon’s ads are true and the truth hurts.”  To further hurt AT&T’s cause, a federal judge denied AT&T’s request to force Verizon to take down these ads.

AT&T made a HUGE mistake by calling attention to these ads.  Even if they had won the lawsuit down the road, by the time Verizon’s ads are done playing (when the holidays end), the lawsuit would not be over.

Everyone makes mistakes.  I have many friends who use AT&T and constantly complain about it.  Many just put up with its service because they want an iPhone.  Soon enough Verizon will come out with something better than that, but for now I can settle for watching them win minor battles like this one.

And to close, one more Verizon holiday ad:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4JgrBtn8XdU&feature=channel.

Brand Loyalty – Do You Follow This Rule?

Brand Loyalty – How does it happen?  From a good experience?  From a bad experience with competing brands?  What makes a person decide they will pay a higher price for one product over another SIMPLY because of its brand?  How are some brands worth millions of dollars, like Coca Cola?

In my Marketing class, I was asked “Are you brand loyal?  For what brands?”  It was funny to hear this question directed toward me because among my friends I am known to base my purchasing decisions off of the brand.  From Coca Cola to Red Bull to Verizon to LG to Poland Spring to even Advil (I NEVER take Tylenol), my decisions are based entirely off the name on the label of the package.

For example, I have always ADORED Verizon.  I cannot even grasp the notion that I would ever have another cell phone carrier.  However, with my Verizon phones, I will never buy a Motorola or Samsung phone; it will ALWAYS be LG (see my earlier blog post about LG phones).  My first phone was an LG phone, and of course, I was in love with my phone being a teenager with a cool new “toy.”  My next phone was a Samsung phone, and I went through 7 of them in a year and a half.  I think my brand loyalty to LG was instilled after this bad experience because I refused to buy anything but an LG phone after that (my new two phones were LG, and I have been completely satisfied with them).

Clearly, that was an example of a good experience leading me to be brand loyal.  But have you ever had a bad experience with another brand that pushed you to be brand loyal to a new brand?  During Passover, I am stuck drinking water with a Kosher for Passover label.  The brand: Evian.  I know everyone thinks that all water tastes the same, but I bed to differ.  I don’t know if it is the way the different companies purify the water or the plastic bottle they choose, but water tastes different to me.  As for Evian water, I cannot STAND it!  It may be because I drink only Evian during Passover, which is associated with other food that doesn’t taste good, but I have become 100% loyal to Poland Spring water.  Even when I am at college, I buy Poland Spring bottles in bulk, even if that means carrying them from the convenience store to my apartment (even though I have beat the system by finding a place that delivers them to your doorstep with no shipping cost).

Another aspect of branding that surprises me is the amount of money some of these brands are worth.  In 2009, Coca Cola’s brand value rose 3% to $68.73 billion according to Interbrand.  (Among the other brands with top values are IBM, Google, Nintendo, and Sony.)  How is a brand able to be worth THAT MUCH money?  It is truly fascinating that a company can earn so much money off of a brand.  Granted, everyone recognizes Coca Cola’s red color and font, but it is still impressive that they earn that much revenue through its brand recognition.

Brand loyalty surrounds my life, but how many other people base decisions off of brand loyalty?  How many consumers would stick with an Apple iPod if another company came out with a similar iPod?  How many consumers pay more for energy drinks like Red Bull when drinks like Monster are larger but cost less?  (I am guilty to that one!)  Stay tuned for another blog post about branding (our regional conference theme)!

The Power of Apple

A world dominated by Apple products has come before us.  From Mac computers to iPhones to iPods, everywhere you turn someone is using an Apple product.  Whether in the classroom or on the streets, Apple products have become an integral part of every person’s life.  Every person will at some point be affected by the overwhelming influence of Apple on your everyday life.  Even Steve Jobs will find his way in your heart and your home (whether through media interest in him or his products).

AT&T’s move to sell iPhones may have been the smartest decision the company could possibly make.  Not only did revenues skyrocket, but the brand name of AT&T became more common.  Customers switched to their services just so they could have a part of this iPhone fetish.  Verizon may make this smart strategic move as well in the next year (http://atlanta.bizjournals.com/atlanta/stories/2009/04/27/daily5.html?surround=etf).  However, the potential of Apple is phenomenal.

Their techniques to promote the company are unlimited.  From the advertisement shown above in the New York Times showing the iPhone’s infinite tools to YouTube videos such as,http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZxtyxCAxGNE&feature=related, Apple takes every opportunity to demonstrate its capabilities.  Its partnerships with other phone companies are a very smart strategic move to ensure the success and increased publicity within the telecommunications industry.  Additionally, with new and improved iPhones coming out periodically, Apple secures the attention of all its major shareholders.

So what can we learn from Apple?  We cannot create its products.  We cannot compete with its popularity.  What we can benefit from is its impressive techniques to advertise and promote its products, despite its exceedingly high cost, across the country.

To LG or Not to LG

I have a confession to make.  I have an obsession (even though I prefer to call it a strong sense of comfort for) with Verizon Wireless.  From the phones to the service to everything that embodies this company, I respect and adore it.  However, how did this company get such a reputation?  How come all of the people in my area want to have service with this company?  How are the various phones, LG, Samsung, or Motorola distinguished for one another.  Though one day I hope to work at Verizon and promote these issues, I have some thoughts about it at the present time.

The PR on Verizon services are endless.  From the famous “Can you hear me now commercials” to the various promotions of its products, I have seen PR for Verizon quite frequently.  For example, at the Boston Marathon, Verizon had a booth with random promoting tools being given out to random people (myself being included).  Additionally, every time I see a high quality commercial for a cell phone, I know Verizon is going to be the carrier.  The new blackberry, Storm, commercial came on, and it was clear this advertising and promotion belonged to Verizon.

How do you decide on an LG or Motorola or Samsung?  In the past, I have been a big advocate of LG phones.  They have always proved to be reliable and reputable.  Even though I have not had the greatest luck with my chocolate, I still have faith in this brand, as well as Verizon, who have dealt with my issues with this phone with the greatest ease.  However, with the new phones coming out, I may consider purchasing a Motorola as my parents have had a lot of success with it.  Is it the word of mouth marketing or just experience that really helps a person make a decision on a phone?  Or is it the PR or advertising that convinces a person on what decision to make with phones?  I guess I will find out this December when I purchase my upgrade from Verizon.