Thursday, June 30, 2005
I remember back when Buick WAS "just a car company."
Remember driving by the grayed out Buick lots and how depressed they made you feel? Remember meeting your first Buick salesperson? Remember their ashen skin, their sunken eyes, their dragging gate? Remember the way they'd shake your hand just a little too long - their pleading looks, their sallow faces that seemed to beg for something but couldn't quite express what?
Remember the Buick cars? Remember how your energy - even optimism for life itself - seemed to pool in your feet and threaten to leak out as a clear, waxy pus whenever you rode in one? Remember how your head would feel stuffy and your memory seemed to be hazy even after the shortest of rides?
Remember the Buick showrooms - you know, the ones lit by bare incandescent bulbs in moldy basements?
Remember the Buick car ads? Do you recall the one where the bland family gets into their new Buick station wagon and cries? That's all they do...cry.
Remember when Buick was "just a car"?
On the surface, this web-ad is designed to entice the consumer-crowd that Buick is becoming a vehicle manufacturer that sells SUT/SUV/Minivan type vehicles.
But the underlying message is this - "You've ignored Buick before because it wasn't noteworthy. But now, since we've departed from what Buick was, Buick is better!"
Read between the lines - Buick is a brand in search of an identity.
It's rather surprising that Buick let this ad out at all. It's demeaning to current Buick owners and solidly positions the new product line as an after-thought.
In all fairness, Buick could have made this idea work - at least better.
Instead of the negative comparison and overly-optimistic hope-mongering, Buick could have said something like -
Three new SUV's worthy of the Buick name.
Groceries to Grandparents, in Buick style.
The Buick family is growing, just like yours.
Instead, Buick chooses to dis itself and its customers.
A while ago, Oldsmobile brought out, "This is not your father's Oldsmobile."
It insulted dad.
It made growing old sound bad.
Dad's Oldsmobile could have been a darned good car (the 442 was pretty cool, too).
I'm smelling a GM downsize of another brand.
PLEASE don't let it be Pontiac (Pontiac still has a Brand).
They're just a car company.
Sunday, June 19, 2005
There is an intrinsic problem with "...exceeding expectations" - the expectation will soon exceed all abilities to satisfy it.
Here's how it works.
Start: I expect a great hamburger.
Next: I get a great hamburger.
Next: The great hamburger becomes the standard.
Next: The standard becomes the expectation.
Result: The great hamburger is not great anymore.
Next: Hamburger is FREE! with the purchase of a Star Wars toy.
Can a business continually "exceed expectations"?
Can God create a rock so big He can't move it?
Now, onto the attached graphic - can the HyVee pharmacy provide a guarantee that is BEYOND the limit?
Can HyVee provide 110% service?
Of course not.
Yes, I see that the 110% is actually a reflection of the 10% price guarantee, but it's a stretch and more of a reflection of poor copywriting and concepting skills.
Anyway, this is just a gimmick. Everyone knows that the whole is the sum of its parts.
2+2 cannot equal 5.
The problem with these messages is not that they're cheesy gimmicks, but that they - well intentioned or not - set an unreasonable tone that eventually jades the market place.
A long time ago, I created a slogan for a company that used the word "good."
The client wanted "great."
Actually, the client wanted, "GREAT!!!!"
The problem was, we weren't GREAT!!! nor would we EVER be.
But we could always be "Good."
Damn good, in fact.
"Good" was a word people could understand.
"Great" is a word that sets some pretty tall expectations. Most of the time, they fall short.
I suspect HyVee wants to be good.
And so, I suggest that they eliminate the 110% slogan and go with something they can manage...
HyVee Pharmacy - the most expensive pharmacy on EARTH!
HyVee Pharmacy - have your arm & leg ready at the payment window!
HyVee Pharmacy - so expensive, Bill Gates makes payments.
HyVee Pharmacy - everyone on earth says we suck.
Then, even the slightest gesture of employee kindness is going to be seen as a blow-mind experience.
Customer: I had this amazing experience today.
Customer's friend: Oh yeah?
Customer: Yeah. I had to get my Vicodin refilled.
Customer's friend: Oh yeah?
Customer: Yeah. At HyVee.
Customer's friend: Oh noo!
Customer: No! It was actually...pretty cool! The girl was very nice, she said hello and everything!
Customer's friend: Noo! Hello?!?
Customer's friend: Yeah! Then she said THANK YOU!
Customer's friend: I don't believe it!
Customer: It is true! Then...you know what?!?
Customer's friend: No! Tell me!
Customer: She stapled the receipt to the bag and actually billed my insurance company!
Customer's friend: You're kidding! I'm going to have to go there!
Or maybe they could just promise to give 50%.
HyVee is a regional grocery store that has a reputation for excellent service and great training of young people. My family shops there and we like it.