Off & Running: As Candidates Announce Run for the White House, Attack Ads Follow

Democrat Donkey Republican Elephant Mascot Boxing

We’re more than a year and a half away from the 2016 U.S. presidential election, but candidates have already begun making their official declarations to run.

Conservative firebrand, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz was the first to announce officially. Kentucky Sen. Paul Rand followed suit and came out swinging against reporters in his first TV interviews. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made it official on Sunday, a surprise to … well, no one.  The only thing that came close to overshadowing Hillary herself was the chatter about her new campaign logo. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio declared on Monday. This election has the potential to be history making with the possibility of Clinton become the country’s first woman president and Rubio becoming the first Hispanic president.

This is only the beginning. Other presidential hopefuls are still weighing their options, waiting in the wings for the right moment to announce or playing coy with the media and the public. According to the New York Times, at least a dozen Republicans and a few Democrats have already expressed an interest in running.…

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H&M “Fake Underground Metal Bands” Accidentally Create an Amazing Publicity Stunt

Heavy metal imagery has been ripped off by pop culture and high fashion for years. The spikes and studs normally associated with this dark and anti-mainstream culture are now adorned on high heels and are found throughout women’s fashion. Even Chris Brown and Kanye have been spotted with sporting some metal fashion. You can even pick up a Judas Priest inspired t-shirt at The Gap (which they are getting sued for) and Urban Outfitters will sell you a “vintage” Megadeth leather jacket for $375.

Taking this a step further, the newest player to this trend has been H&M as they recently released a product line full of fake metal bands utilizing entirely imaginary band names and logos.
In conjunction with the clothing, music, videos, promotional materials and social profiles for all of these fake bands erupted over night. Strong Scene Productions claimed ties to all of H&M’s bands in an effort to help spotlight the new clothing line.

At this point, heads were spinning and the metal blogs were on fire as it appeared H&M was behind the deep guerrilla marketing of these assets…

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Life at the Push of a Button

If you haven’t already seen the latest launch from Amazon, watch this video before you even bother reading the rest of my post. Seriously.

Amazon took the first step this week in creating a direct line from home to store without the need for an iPhone, iPad or iCloud. The tech giant launched what they’re calling the Dash Button, a little USB-looking button, which enables consumers to reorder the toothpaste they’re running low on (while they’re thinking about it).

At the push of button, you get your favorite product delivered straight to your door –


The thirsty future of the Dash Button? Probably not.

tomorrow – via Amazon Prime, which has become a staple in my apartment (mainly from my responsible roommate).

So, are these buttons the new automated shopping vehicle? Is this the first of many blinged out buy-it-now buttons? I think so and here’s why:

1. There’s barely a path to purchase. In fact, there is none. There are minimal barriers to entry – and what brand wouldn’t want that? Consumers are purchasing your product at the exact moment they need you. Small brick…

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From Your Cup to the Global Stage: 5 Reasons Why Coffee’s Future is Brighter than Ever

This month, I attended the most buzz-worthy conference of the year. No, it wasn’t SXSW (although the crowd in attendance was probably equally stimulated) – it was the National Coffee Association’s Annual Convention. And, yes, it was just as delicious as it sounds.

Between sipping samples from vendors around the globe, I absorbed a lot about coffee’s past, present and future. My lessons began with the legend of Kaldi the goat herder, who first discovered Coffea Arabica when his flock became unusually frisky after ingesting some bright red berries while grazing in the Ethiopian hills, and progressed to philosophical discussions on the increasingly dynamic, venture capital-backed Third Wave movement.

While coffee’s trajectory thus far is a fascinating one, the key insight I left with is that the industry’s future is exceptionally bright.

Here’s why:

1-      Health Halo in the Making. Coffee has a myriad of health benefits that are backed by sound science, but are not yet widely acknowledged by consumers. Dr. Alan Leviton, of Harvard University Medical School, shared data showing that regular coffee consumption (3-5 cups/day) is associated with decreased risk of Type 2  Diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and cancer or malignancies. Basically, the more coffee people drink…

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Hot Beauty Trends of 2015

Buzz Bin 3.12 Photo 1Soy, papaya, greek yogurt and daisies. Sounds representative of a beautiful picnic in Central Park, right?

Think again.

They’re just a sampling of the latest skincare ingredients hitting the market, as I learned at the annual Cosmetic Executive Women Product Demonstration Thursday night and at the Personal Care Products Council (PCPC) meeting in February.

CEW members swarmed Thursday’s event, which sells out every year, looking to get their hands on the hottest beauty products from the best personal care companies.

Brands like Burt’s Bees, Dial, and St. Ives explained the need for constant formulaic reinventions with natural ingredients like the ones above. At both events I also heard about the newest trends shaping the beauty market, outside of product claims.

Here are three you should know about:

1.    Online beauty sales outshine traditional stores.

When we were kids, our moms depended on department stores for skincare. Today, if you’re not shopping at MAC or Sephora, you’re buying beauty online. In fact, about 47% of Americans purchased more beauty products online in 2014 vs. bin 3.12 photo2

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#HigherEd: In Wake of Sweet Briar Closing, Important to Evaluate College Branding

Sweet Briar

For students, faculty, staff and alumni, news that Sweet Briar College is shutting down is heartbreaking. For single-sex and coed colleges nationwide that share Sweet Briar’s small, rural, liberal arts profile, it’s a warning.

The shrinking pool of college applicants intensifies competition among schools that aren’t Ivy League, state flagships or well-known private colleges. Kids who do apply are keenly aware of the tight job market and often suspect rural locales which, however charming, don’t offer much in the way of internships. And the cost of going to college keeps rising.

It’s a thorny environment.

This past spring, Harvard business school professor Clayton Christensen predicted “that as many as half of the more than 4,000 universities and colleges in the U.S. may fail in the next 15 years.”

What to do about it is the subject of a great deal of serious thought by serious men and women in the academic world and elsewhere. This isn’t the place to second-guess their efforts, except to say this: branding is critical.

Consider how powerful brand is to the sale of a $5 jug of laundry detergent, a $500 phone or…

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Humanizing Your Brand, On Purpose

Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending Ragan Communications’ Social Media for PR and Corporate Communications Conference at Disney World. I was overwhelmed by the wealth of information I gathered, the caliber of the speakers, and of course… the magic of Disney.

Speaker after speaker addressed the need to humanize your brand – to put a face on your company and give outsiders a behind-the-scenes view of your organization in order to create connection. So, rather than give you a simple recap of the conference, I’m going to attempt to humanize my company’s brand. Inspired by the honesty and raw beauty of this post, I give you my story – the story of a girl whose own health struggle led her to a fulfilling career in healthcare communication.

In high school, after a run-in with a nasty case of mono that landed me in the ER twice, I noticed a change. Playing my favorite sports seemed harder than it used to, the comfort of my bed was more attractive than an evening with friends, and I started to get sick. All. The. Time. For three years I went from doctor to doctor searching for answers,…

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How to Honor Independent Research

All things being equal, media and consumers trust studies without corporate or branded backing most. Edelman’s 2015 Trust Barometer confirms that academic experts are twice as credible to consumers as CEOs.

credibility of spokespeopleWe are quick to call out bias, which makes a new report published by the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee last week so significant. An independent, government-backed advisory panel announced that drinking more coffee is good for you. It was the first time in 40 years the committee weighed in on coffee consumption and said that up to five cups of Joe a day are A-Okay.  Now, federal endorsement for drinking coffee seems imminent.

If you work in the coffee business, I think you would agree: It doesn’t get much better than this.

One important question remains: How do you leverage positive and independent health research? Everyone agrees independent research ranks highest in credibility. But since you don’t own it, you can’t customize the study to fit your communications needs. Or can you? I spoke to our in-house RD and Manager of Nutrition Communications, Joanne Tehrani to find out.

Here are three…

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5 Lessons Learned About Internal Brand Building

Any and every organization can learn and benefit from a proactive internal brand-building program. By learning more about internal brand building, any organization can uncover and energize the hidden brand power that resides inside its culture.  In this cramped blog space I will restrain from providing a comprehensive how-to guide of internal brand building. Instead I will take a more compact, practical approach and pass along a few key lessons learned after 10 years of developing and implementing internal brand building programs. Here you go.

  • If I can name it I can know it. Define the organization’s brand platform in a way that is understandable, relevant and believable to all employees. Most organizations have defined their brand to support marketing and communications professional’s tactics (external brand building). As a result the language is tuned to resonate with external audiences. Tag lines and positioning statements are the exclusive language of marketers and can easily turn-off rank and file employees. Before any organization can expect employees to embrace the intentions of the brand, the language must be practical, less marketing-ese and easily translate the brand’s intentions and character into action. A brand must be defined so an employee can name it,…
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    Chocolate Cupcakes and Corporate Identity

    Last week, Fox News published the Hungry Girl’s guide to outsmarting Valentine’s Day overeating. It’s dedicated to recipes options that won’t “ruin your budget, waistline, or the mood”.

    Valentine’s Day aside, the majority of religious and civic holidays have become synonymous with overeating. The national Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders even describes over-eating around the holidays and on special occasions as a “normalized” part of American behavior.

    All you have to do is google “holiday overeating” and you’ll find hundreds of articles describing tips to avoiding binge eating and over indulgence – as well as one that includes five ways to avoid a post-holiday heart attack. But this got me thinking – are the holidays the issue? Or, are we causing the problem?

    Let’s talk about food-specific holidays. According to The Nibble, a magazine dedicated to specialty foods, there is a food dedicated to just about every day of the year.


    Photo Credit: Flickr – Farrukh

    Here’s a taste of your food holiday options:

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