The Big Mac of Brand Integrity

The beginning of a new year signals an opportunity to reflect on the person you were last year and who you want to be this year.

No matter the resolution, I think we can all agree that bringing a certain level of authenticity to the table is important to a person or a brand’s image – and generally, a good way to start off (and end) the year.

On that note, just two weeks into 2015, two major consumer brands are already shining a light on the reason why brand reputation can be your best friend or worst enemy.

As you may have heard, McDonalds released a feel-good TV ad during the Golden Globes this past Sunday as part of their brand relaunch. In an effort to reposition the Dollar Menu brand as the company that cares, one ad uses signs (literally) to depict McDonalds as a supportive helping hand for local communities. Despite it’s valiant efforts to refresh the struggling brand, McDonalds received immediate backlash for its good will.

Why? Because it wasn’t authentic.

McDonalds is an embattled brand that for years has received harsh criticism around unfair wages and a perception that it serves cheap junk food. Sales…

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2015 Food Trends: What we love, hate and can’t wait to start

Each January is jam-packed with trend analyses and predictions, and the food/beverage/nutrition world is no exception. Here, instead of restating what was or professing to know what will be, our cross-category team of food marketing experts shares its hopes and dreams for the good, the bad and the not-yet-developed trends.

FOOD MEDIA – Max Martens

A trend I hope to see continue:  

Printed recipe illustrations

Seeing recipe ingredients deconstructed and laid artfully side by side demystifies complex dishes and gives us publicists a way to gain awareness for ingredients that aren’t always visible in a finished dish.

HappinessIs (Source: HappinessIs blog)

A trend I hope to see fade:


They aren’t unique to food journalism, but in this genre I’m tired of seeing the likes of “the five pancakes to eat before you die” and “top 20 restaurants with secret menus.”

A trend I hope to see start:

Some sort of reconciliation between the extremes of typical eye-grabbing consumer food headlines

Deprivation and decadence. Diets vs. deliciousness. Let’s face the fact that food can be really good ­AND good for you if you do it right.



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Coca-Cola’s Fairlife Milk – A New Cash Cow or an Udder Branding Disaster?

If you’re a follower of marketing, branding, the food industry or consumer products in general, you probably saw the news last month that Coca-Cola is launching Fairlife – a “premiumized” (their word, not mine) milk product with more protein and less sugar than “normal” milk.

Frankly, I’m a little bit conflicted.

fairlife ad

On the one hand, it’s no secret that carbonated beverages are on the decline and the company doesn’t hide the fact that its brands include non-carbonated products like FUZE, Dasani, POWERADE, Monster and glaceau. This includes, by my count, six different water and three different tea brands. So I guess rather than launching a seventh water brand (#H2OhEnoughAlready?), if you’re going to capitalize on consumer desire for all things protein and all things naturally sourced, why not take a crack at revitalizing what is arguably the world’s first protein drink? And from a health and nutrition standpoint (as well as in support of family farms), I’m kind of happy to see a company put some marketing juice behind what’s clearly a better choice than a lot of today’s protein and energy drinks.

But that said it’s hard not…

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Ditch Your Agency’s Process

Choosing not to follow the rules laid out for you might just be the difference between mediocrity and greatness.


Browse a few communications agency websites and you’ll quickly see that every agency has a branded process for their work. They preach it internally and promote it to clients and in new business presentations. Many of these processes are proprietary, yet nearly every one of them includes some combination of research, strategy, creative development, and measurement. Each agency has its own unique twist, spin or terminology, but the basic building blocks are always there.

It’s so important to have a well-defined process and approach. Following a process is how we learn. It’s how we grow and hone our craft. No matter the industry in which you work, you must spend time practicing the basics. Where would Fred Astaire be without his first dance class? Where would Shakespeare be without learning the basics of sentence structure?

But the hard truth, the one most agencies never grasp, is that you can master the basics—you can follow them to a “t”—but that approach will never lead to great work.

Truly great work happens after you’ve mastered the…

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“Live Your Life’s Purpose and Unleash Your Joy” #WOY2014

patriceOur very own Patrice Tanaka was the keynote speaker at last Friday’s Washington Women in PR “Washington PR Woman of the Year” Award Luncheon in DC, honoring outstanding women in our profession.  Her keynote — not surprising for a purpose-driven PadillaCRT employee-owner and a leader whose personal brand platform is based on JOY – was on “Live Your Life’s Purpose and Unleash Your Joy!”   According to Tanaka, “Many of us can more easily cite our organization’s “purpose” than we can articulate our own individual “life’s purpose.”  She said despite growing evidence that “purpose-driven” companies outperform the S&P significantly – 1025 percent growth over a 10-year period vs. 122 percent for all S&P companies (Firms of Endearment: How World-Class Companies Profit from Passion and Purpose ), fewer than 20 percent of leaders can distill their own individual life purpose into a concrete statement, according to the authors of “From Purpose to Impact” in the May 2014 issue of the Harvard Business Review.  The authors go on to state, “…we believe that the process of articulating your purpose and finding the courage to live it—what we call purpose…

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Political Branding and its Progress (on Election Day)

It’s that time again – the polls are open and general election voting is underway.

Over the last several months, we’ve witnessed political commercials plastered with moral and ethical advertisements – each with a platform, message and agenda. Politicians and their campaigns are a close relative to any brand seeking to make a connection with a consumer. And, brands outside the election can learn a lot from the branding strategy used by the elected winner.

The earlier a candidate can drive their positioning and brand expression into voters’ minds, the more power they will have to win your vote. Political candidates, who want to be successful in building a campaign brand, should focus on creating good content online, use social media to promote themselves and build strong support in their communities.

Throughout history, candidates’ campaign strategies have continued to evolve, keeping up with changing media platforms, the impulses of their audience and the election process. Even before Reagan campaigned with bumper stickers and Obama tweeted, as early as the 1960 election between Nixon and Kennedy, politicians began to realize that a candidate’s brand hinged on more than ideologies and logos.

political branding pinterest 2

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Using the Visible to Infer the Invisible

trader joesHave you ever wondered why great experiential brands like Starbucks, Trader Joe’s and Costco do little to no advertising? It’s probably because they understand that in the mind of today’s consumer, actions speak much louder than words.

Though they are values most of us care about, brand traits like “trustworthy,” “ethical,” “fair treatment,” etc., have become more buzzwords than reality. Consumers are so used to hearing companies say that they do business by these requisite traits, that the words do not mean anything anymore. This is especially true when a business says one thing and does exactly the opposite. Consumers no longer trust a company’s words when they are trying to gauge a company’s values. Instead, they look to what is most visible to them—the behavior of that company’s employees.

In some of PadillaCRT’s recent research work, we found that consumers use the apparent happiness (or unhappiness) of a company’s employees as a way to gauge whether or not that company is trustworthy. When they see employees of a company like CarMax, Trader Joe’s, or Southwest Airlines genuinely smiling, helping one…

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How NOT to Get Lost In A Sea of Acronyms

Cartoonstock.comThere are nearly 100,000 trade associations operating in the U.S. today (per NPR), and in a marketplace as crowded as this one, it’s all too easy for your organization’s true purpose to get lost in a sea of acronyms. But groups like the American Physical Therapy Association, National Association of Broadcasters and National Restaurant Association prove how associations can use the principles of branding to bolster their relevance, nurture their relationships with members and other stakeholders, and reconnect with their central purpose.

Here are a few anecdotes:

Know Your Audience, Inside and Out

Before you can strengthen your association’s image, you must explore the issues and trends impacting your members, how those factors influence their perceptions and behaviors, and how they influence the perceptions and behaviors of their stakeholders. The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) set a good example of this when it engaged PadillaCRT in the development of its “Move Forward” campaign.

Research among consumers, physicians, health care professionals, insurers and APTA members revealed that while physical therapists were viewed very positively, consumers had a narrow definition of their capabilities and were more likely to access a physical…

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BuzzLine: I Can’t Get No… Satisfries



I try and I try and I try, but I can’t get no Satisfries. 

That’s because Burger King, less than a year after launching the low-calorie alternative to regular french fries, has decided to take them off the menus in about two-thirds of its North American stores. According to Bloomberg BusinessWeek, the fast food chain said in a statement Wednesday “that 100 million guests have ordered Satisfries, but the results were not persuasive enough for restaurant owners to want to continue serving them.”

Fast-food chains have worked hard to diversify their menu and offer healthier options (did you know you can get tuna salad on an English muffin at Dunkin Donuts?), but Satisfries have apparently missed the mark (even after the BuzzLine shared several tagline ideas at launch).

So what to replace them with?

In six words, what new healthy fast-food option might you suggest to replace Satisfries? Maybe…

  • Bunless double veggie Whopper Classic, Jr.
  • Frozen yogurt with edible celery spoons.
  • Roasted kale chips with sea salt.

Leave your new six-word menu item in the comments below. If we like yours best, you’ll receive a $5…

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When Journalism and Brand Management Collide

Recently, PadillaCRT hosted a “meet the journalist” breakfast that invited a local magazine editor to our office to discuss their role and answer questions regarding how we can provide relevant content and news ideas on behalf of our clients. During the conversation, we were reminded of what most of us in the PR industry already know – editors are busy, their outlets are understaffed and their inboxes are often flooded with hundreds upon hundreds of unrelated email pitches from PR professionals assuming that their audience will be interested, which is a huge pet-peeve!

But, as I walked away from that meeting, I was left thinking about the relationship between brands and media. Given the shrinking number of journalists reporting for publications and the onset of owned content, the landscape and connection between journalist, brand and PR agency is changing. Journalists are up against native advertising, eBooks, videos and more that are not usually distinguished as advertising or marketing and further blur the lines between editorial and paid content.

Getty Images

Similarly, the PR industry is being impacted by these changes. Fewer media opportunities mean more occasions to self-publish and syndicate. Some brands are…

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