5 ways Verizon turned lemons into lemonade

After bullying AT&T for at least a year, Verizon’s advertising soured even more with their “Rule the air” campaign. Not only does it reek of arrogance but it also feels like a slogan that’s been ripped off an old Nike ad.

But, their new “Susie’s Lemonade”commercial has a brighter feel to it. Using kids can often have that effect.

5 reasons the Susie’s Verizon ad works

1. Great storytelling

The commercial starts with a dad going off to work. His cute, little daughter is sitting at her lemonade stand, and her dad hands her a phone saying, “Here, use this. It has a calculator.” By the time he comes home Susie has turned her lemonade stand into a lemonade empire.

2. Shows the product in action

Yes, the phone has a calculator, but we also see it processing credit card payments and more. Susie goes from phone to tablet to laptop to showcase Verizon’s small business capabilities.

3. Appeals by using something most people love—kids 

As implied before, who doesn’t like kids? Showing kids succeeding in “grown-up” roles is often a hit—as is the reverse too (remember the AT&T Blackberry bumper cars?). Kids are a symbol of imagination (as compared to the limited-thinking dad). Plus, when you see kids using the products the underlying message is that you can do it too.

4. Takes something that’s true and exaggerates it

We all know (at least those of us 40 and over) that our kids figure out our electronics way before we do. After all, “Dad” owns the phone but seems to think it’s best use for Susie will be as a calculator. Ha—is he in for a surprise! If he only knew all the things his phone ( and Verizon) could do.

5. Makes it easy to remember what the ad is for

Once again, a family member tipped me off to this commercial. My dad asked me if I had seen it. He described a good bit of it and then even remembered it was a Verizon ad. That’s the true test.

The audience might love a commercial and remember it well, but if they don’t remember what it’s for, then the ad can’t be considered a success.

Even Verizon’s tagline works: “The small business with the best technology rules.” It’s a better play off the “Rules the air” message. And it’s something small business owners know is often true.

This commercial helps lessen the fear of “how do I compete in that world?” that many small business owners have. It speaks to turning dreams into possibilities and inspires people to think that maybe they can do it too…with Verizon’s help, of course.

In conclusion, Susie’s Lemonade commercial rules! Don’t ya think?

Bud Light bottle boondoggle

Here we go…again. Bud Light advertising needs helps. This time the idea behind their commercial isn’t the problem. The idea behind advertising their product change is.

Here’s the commercial:

Cute idea, right? Using beer bottles as invitations to a party is a great way to get people together.

Did you spot the problem?

My brother-in-law did. My sister did. In fact, they’re the ones who told me about the commercial—I hadn’t seen it. And, actually, there are two problems.

The first is that Bud Light is encouraging people to use their keys to write their names on the bottles. Their KEYS. Um…hello?? Do the letters D-U-I mean anything to them?

Now, you may say, Coreen, don’t be such a prude. But hey, I know from personal and professional experience that you have to be careful with all sorts of things in advertising. For example, showing a kid riding a bike? You better have a helmet on him and make sure the helmet is on right, or your company is going to get complaints.

And drinking and driving is NOT something you want to even remotely encourage. Why risk it?

Image of Bud Light write-on bottleI know Bud Light was very careful to make the scene in their commercial an apartment party, so the assumption would be that no one is driving and they’re all using their apartment keys to scratch their names on their bottles. But, in real life, that won’t be the case.

The second problem is the product change idea itself. As Warren (not) G puts it:

I’m sorry, but if you need vortex, cold-activated, or write-on bottles to make me buy your beer, instead of me just wanting to buy your beer, then your beer is sh*t.

Well said, Warren. I agree.

Let’s hope the execs at Bud Light are listening.

Ping: Becoming advertising masters?

A tarnished and struggling Tiger Woods means a vulnerable Nike Golf campaign too. And Ping has decided to strike.

Who needs a golf superstar when you have a British Open winner with a name no one can pronounce?

Ping’s most recent commercial is an example of how superior copywriting can make an ad. Take a look at the video and the script below:

There are two names on my bag. One nobody can pronounce, even after I won the British Open champ. The second name stands for innovation and performance—Ping.  Get custom fit today, and start making a name for yourself. It’s “Wisthazen” by the way.

Less than 50 words. Simple, to the point and subtle even. Who needs a flashy Tiger Woods when you have a wry British Open winner in Louis Oosthuizen?

Ping is smart. They’re not pretending you will know who their golfer is. They know you won’t recognize him and they’re taking full advantage of that, with a sly sense of humor and a powerful message. The man won the British Open with Ping golf clubs. Kind of speaks for itself, doesn’t it?

Since Tiger’s demise, golf fans have been in need of a new leading man. Without any one name stepping up to grab the spotlight, Ping is making moves to become the new leading brand.

Well played.

LA Fitness vs. The Y: Anatomy of a free pass

Trying out a fitness center before you join is important. You want to make sure you’re comfortable there and the place suits your needs.

Fitness centers know they have a better chance of getting you to join once you come in. That’s why they offer free pass promotions a few times a year. Common sense, right?


So let’s see how two different gyms handle that free week.

Spring Valley YMCA

First I went to my local Y. Kathleen, one of the women at the front desk, was the first person I met. She was very friendly and immediately offered me a tour. The Spring Valley YMCA is huge, so I was happy to be led around.

The facilities were nice, offered everything I needed, and the place was hopping. While we were checking out the indoor track upstairs, a member started talking to Kathleen and then said to me how the Y is a wonderful place and I should join.

So, great facilities and equipment, check. Plenty of wipes to clean the equipment after use, check. Friendly atmosphere, check.

I worked out several times during my free week and felt as welcome as a regular member. As my week went along, I only had two concerns: One was price. It costs a hefty $58 a month to be a member. The second was that the place seemed very busy all the time, so I wondered if I would always be able to do the workout I planned on each time.

Photo of LA Fitness One-Week Free Pass

LA Fitness

Next, I went to LA Fitness. I showed my free pass coupon to the woman at the front desk, and she went and got a salesperson. Friendly atmosphere? Not so much, but I did get a nice tour from Mark, the salesperson.

The facilities were great, and a bonus was that all classes were included with membership. That would definitely save money over the Y.

After the tour, things went downhill. Mark brought me back to his desk to show me prices and try and get me to sign up—without me trying out any equipment yet. Strike one.

Mark showed me two different prices, neither one of which matched the offer ($29.99 a month) on the flyer I was sent, which was also where I got my free pass. I told him I wanted to try out the gym first and make sure I liked it before I enrolled. He then told me if I signed up that day or the next, he could give me this special price (which, yes, finally matched the flyer I was sent). I felt like I was sitting with a car salesman. Strike two.

So, I finally did get to go workout, but I got the feeling he really didn’t want me to. And Mark hinted that I’d have to talk to a salesperson each day I came in.

On my way out the door, the general manager, Joe, was waiting for me. He stopped me and tried to sell me on enrolling that day. He talked for a while pushing the sale, so I finally said to him, “You really don’t want me to work out for free this week, do you?” He tried to say that wasn’t the case, but he couldn’t keep eye contact while he did. Strike three, I was outta there.

Mistakes made

Overall, both organizations made mistakes. The Y’s biggest mistake was that no one ever called me after my week was up to see if I wanted to join. I love the way they were hands off during my week there, but the free pass should definitely come with a follow-up call.

Especially after comparing my experience there to my day at LA Fitness, if we could work out a deal on the price, my answer would probably be yes.

LA Fitness’ biggest mistake was they made my experience all about what they wanted. They wanted a sale, period. They didn’t care what I wanted. I am absolutely okay with a sales pitch, but if you’re offering a free week, you have to mean it. Then, set up an appointment on my last free day there. I’d happily talk about options at that point.

LA Fitness lost a sale. I was very interested in joining. And the Y is at risk of losing a sale too. Lucky for them, I’ll probably call them.

Lessons learned

  1. Deliver on the offer you made.
  2. Make your customers’ experience all about them, not about you.
  3. Follow up with your customers. You can’t address their concerns or make a sale if you don’t talk to them.

Pretty simple stuff, don’t you think?