Jun 29

Oops, they did it again

Just when JetBlue seemed to have found some smooth sailing comes news that they totally bungled yet another flight, destroyed some customer relationships in the process and did little to help their already fragile corporate image.

The most recent event occurred on a Fort Lauderdale to JFK flight.

While all airlines are impacted by weather-related delays, JetBlue seems unique in its inability to communicate with its passengers during an incident. Their lack of communications during the Valentine’s Day Massacre is now legendary. So, why one asks, can this airline not get its act together? Why, when they’re unable to make the connections and changes necessary to the get ill-fated Ft. Lauderdale passengers to their eventual destination, do the JetBlue managers fail to let their customers know what’s what?

Lots of pundits have lauded what JetBlue did to rebuild its image after those February disasters. But, this most recent calamity tells me the infrastructure remains unsound and continues operating on a wing and a prayer.

Thanks to Greg S. for the idea.

Jun 27

Americans simply don’t get a kick out of professional soccer

‘Fast’ Eddie Johnson was in town last night to get a feel for the New York scene and learn more about how we do things here. Eddie, you see, is our newest London employee and quite the amateur athlete: he plays cricket and soccer.

As we kicked around sports topics over a few drinks, Eddie inquired as to David Beckham’s impact on professional soccer in the States. I had to pause to recall that, indeed, the Euro soccer god with matinee idol looks was in fact toiling away for some American team.

That’s when I shook my head and told Eddie the sad truth about professional soccer here in the Colonies. Despite at least 25 years of all-out marketing, advertising and word-of-mouth, pro soccer has failed to take root in the States. Aside from a few avid fans (a la ice hockey), US pro soccer matches are primarily attended by ex-pats and foreign nationals. And why does this matter to soccer? Because America is the world’s largest market. Soccer could earn billions and billions in additional revenue if they could conquer the US market.

There are probably any number of sociological and psychological reasons why Americans have turned a cold shoulder to the sport. In my mind, though, it goes back to the product. For whatever reason we don’t find the product interesting. And when consumers don’t like a product or service, all the advertising and PR in the world can’t help.

So, Beckham can keep on bending it here in the States, but the only necks that will be bending to watch will be his fellow Brits and others from countries outside our borders.

Jun 26

Mets season a good barometer for managing life and business

The month of June has been a difficult one indeed for fans of the Metropolitan Baseball Club of New York. A once insurmountable lead shrunk daily as the team found new and increasingly depressing ways in which to lose. At one point, they’d lost 13 of 16 games, and saw their lead cut to one-and-a-half Mets_3 games.

But, led by their unflappable and implacable manager, Willie Randolph, the Mets have bounced back and won four straight games, several in dramatic fashion.

Randolph and the Mets are great examples of how best to manage image and reputation during down times. Like baseball, life and business are full of ups and downs. Viewing each as a marathon and not a sprint is the best way to manage success and failure.

So, when our firm lost one-third of its business during the dotcom crash, we tried not to get too far down. And, now, as we grow at annual rates of 25 percent plus, we try not to get too cocky.

Yankees and Phils fans, who were crowing a few weeks back, now find themselves eating crow as their teams stumble.

Steady as she goes’ is probably the best phrase I’ve heard for managing the highs and lows of life and business. And, how cool is it that Willie Randolph and my Mets are setting the example for all of us?

Jun 25

The Pope has obviously never driven on the FDR at rush hour

Those wacky arbiters of right and wrong have struck again. The Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Migrants and Itinerant People (catchy, isn’t it?) have published Christian Principles for Summer driving.

Among their bon mots are:

– ‘perform the sign of the cross before pulling out’ (adjusting the mirrors and fastening the seatbelt might also help)

– ‘pray vocally’ (I just did so on the Garden State Parkway when some maniac swerved from the far right lane to the left in order to make it to a rest stop)

– ‘feel responsible toward others’ Yeah, sure. Try doing that as you battle fellow motorists squeezing from six lanes into one before entering the Lincoln Tunnel.

Ordinarily, I’d let pass Pope Benedict’s attempt at pre-empting the AAA. But, when an organization is battling a perception that it is both irrelevant and out-of-touch, stuff like this doesn’t help.

Like any good marketer, the Pope should have first conducted some field research before publishing his tips. If he had, he’d know that road rage is rampant and swearing, rather than praying, is the M.O. of most angry motorists.

In short, rather than issue a list of unrealistic tips, the Pope should get with the times and instead suggest a new Beatitude: ‘Blessed is the car with overdrive, for it shall help the sluggish driver accelerate and pass with ease.’ Quick acceleration might forestall ‘passer’ or ‘passee’ from flipping one another the bird and keep everyone happy, even the Vatican.

Jun 22

JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge reflects poorly on company’s image and reputation

Why sponsor an event if you aren’t committed to making it a first-class experience?

Having just run the JPMorgan Chase Corporate Runners_2
Challenge in Central Park, I can state that it is the most poorly organized and, potentially, most dangerous race I’ve ever run. And, the JP Morgan Chase people either don’t know or don’t care.

To begin with, organizers permit way too many runners to compete in way too confined a space. They also do a horrendous job of separating the walkers from the runners so, at almost every half-mile or so, I was running right up the back of an unsuspecting walker. There’s absolutely no crowd control either, so we runners had to dodge everything from pedestrians trying to scoot across the course to, believe it or not, a woman walking her dog against the flow of thousands of runners. Someone should whisper in that dog whisperer’s ears. Talk about animal cruelty!

To add insult to injury, the official race clocks seemed to have had issues as well, so no one was quite sure what their time was.

Added up, these snafu’s make me wonder if JP Morgan Chase can’t manage a 3.5 mile race, how could they possibly do a good job with my assets?

It’s time for the company to either find something else they can manage well or get their act together on the race. Here’s one runner who has grave doubts about ever competing in a JP Morgan Chase event again.

Jun 21

Two smart image moves

It isn’t often that one major politician makes a smart image move. Today, we can point to two.

Michael Bloomberg’s disengagement from the Republican Party makes perfect sense and positions him beautifully to become the Ross Perot of the 2008 election. Unlike his predominantly right-wing, pro-war party, Bloomberg has proven to be his own man on various issues. He’s also been a superior NYC mayor. And, his bottomless pockets ensure he’ll be able to spend and spend to support his candidacy.

Hillary Clinton’s new commercial to announce her official campaign song is outstanding in so many ways. First, it parodies the final minutes of the final Sopranos episode that has the whole country talking. More importantly, though, it’s funny. And ‘funny’ and ‘Hillary Clinton’ aren’t words that are necessarily connected very often.

So, hats off to Bloomberg and Clinton for their smart image moves. That said, my money is still on Al Gore to come out of nowhere and run away with the election.

Jun 20

Cadillac is more like caddy shack

When I was beginning my PR career in the late 18th century, my bosses would often refer to a Cadillac client’s/prospect’s product or service as aspiring to be the ‘Cadillac’ of its space.

In those days, Cadillac was synonymous with luxury and status.

As we now know, that was then and this is now. Aside from a few drug dealers and pro athletes who like to tool around in tricked-out Escalades, no one goes near the Cadillac brand. In fact, there’s new proof that, when it comes to luxury, the tables have really turned on the once mighty brand.

According to a Scarborough Research/Radio Advertising Bureau study, Volkswagen owners have a media household income of $77,914 vs. $59,565 for Caddy drivers. Volkswagen? Ouch! I can remember when the VW bug was seen as a low-end, counter-culture means of transportation to and from the Woodstocks and Monterrey Pop Festivals of the era. Now, though, VW is clearly leaving Cadillac in the dust.

Caddy is in a freefall and I, for one, see no way for them to avoid the abyss. When their aging owners finally die so, too, will the brand.

Jun 19

Sony sneak attack on Manchester Cathedral deserves more than an apology

The latest in a long line of screw-ups by the one-time corporate golden boy, Sony, is a real beaut.

‘Resistance: Fall of Man,’ one of Sony’s latest computer games, simulates a shootout between soldiers Ps3resistancefontus_2 and aliens inside a church that bears a striking resemblance to Manchester Cathedral in England. Church officials demanded the game be immediately changed or withdrawn, especially in light of gang-related gun violence in the city.

Sony responded only with a letter of apology.

If we wonder how and why incidents like the Virginia Tech massacre seem to be happening in increasing numbers, we need only look at the incredibly obscene violence that comes from video game makers like Sony.

For once, I agree with church officials. Sony should yank the game from store shelves and start practicing some corporate social responsibility.

Jun 18

Two recent examples of two wrongs never making a right

I was pleased to see N.C. District Attorney Mike Nifong disbarred for his horrific handling of the Duke Nifong_2 lacrosse nightmare. But, I was saddened to hear that the players’ families now want to pursue criminal charges against Nifong and won’t rest until they see him behind bars. I might feel differently if the kids were mine, but I don’t see how Nifong’s serving jail time accomplishes much of anything, except revenge.

In the same vein, I see that that opportunist par excellence, the Rev. Al Sharpton, met with the L.A district attorney in the aftermath of the Paris Hilton ‘tempest in a teapot’ to demand equal justice for all. I’d like to think that Sharpton really is looking out for the little guy. In reality, though, he’s just a headline-seeking grandstander looking to capitalize, once again, on others’ mistakes.

Jun 15

Oh no, not Bo

O’Keefe & Co., a Virginia-based PR firm, announced it has secured one-time movie star and heart Bo_derek_gallery_main throb, Bo Derek, to help celebrate its 10th anniversary.

Founder Stephen O’Keefe said Derek, the star of the 1979 movie ‘10,’ was ‘…the perfect 10 to help us celebrate an almost perfect 10.’ Oh.

No offense to O’Keefe which, I’m sure, is a great firm, but Bo Derek? Bo Derek was yesterday’s news within six months of the film’s release. And, if she was a 10 then, her star appeal today has to be about .10.

And, what about poor, old Bo herself? This gig is quite a comedown from those heady days spent frolicking on the beach with Dudley Moore.

Sorry, O’Keefe, but hooking up with Bo Derek to celebrate a 10th anniversary rates, perhaps, a 1 on a scale of one to 10.