The BEST Blog Post in Town — Made with Real Pomegranate and Blue Berry

I always laugh on the bus ride home when I see ads claiming to be (for instance) “the BEST comedy club in town.” It highlights the difference in strictness of each industry for marketing claims.

During my limited time thus far in brand management for consumer packaged goods (CPG), I’ve already spent a vast share of my time meeting with lawyers and regulators. In extremely competitive marketing environments, such as personal care or packaged foods products, regulation is extremely tight on what claims can or can’t be made. Generally, you can trust the label more than any other marketing materials. This is because their competition will be the first one to pounce if they’ve claimed something remotely into the grey area, which would cost the company millions in recalls if it was on the actual packaging. Thus packaging will have the most conservative claims. 

In CPG, superiority competitive claims needs to be backed up by very expensive research that must be accessible if requested, and describe exactly when and how the data was accurate. If the competitor were to make just a 0.1% change to the related product in question, then you’d no longer be able to make that claim without running another expensive study. The strictness will also vary depending on how much a false claim could potentially harm the consumer. i.e.: health claims versus flavour claims. 

For example, one company saying it lasts 24H while the competition says 8H is a very big deal. That means that the company has spent a lot of time and money on ingredients and tests to prove that claim. They’re now willing to take a stand to protect that claim as a differentiator. Ironically, consumers may not even notice the difference on the packaging. 

But when the actual name of the a food item is based on flavouring rather than a substantial amount of the real ingredient, I definitely question whether we’re protecting the consumers enough. This case between POM and Coca-Cola may well set what that bar is by determining if the FDA rules should be the floor or the ceiling for food claims—the base minimum, or the sole requirement. Does Coca-Cola have the right to claim it’s a pomegranate and blue-berry beverage based on its taste, when it only contains 0.3% of the ingredient? We’ll soon find out. 

So after spending my day talking with lawyers about which claims can or can’t be made about a particular underarm deodorant, you can see why why I laugh when I read “the BEST comedy club in town.” In my industry they’d be asking “On which day did they conduct the study? What was the market research methodology and sample size? Were the results statistically significant? How can they prove that this is true consistently from night to night?”

Marketing is truly unique from industry to industry. 



In mere weeks I’ll be graduating with a degree in marketing from a prestigious University. I’m looking forward to many successful meetings back in the real world, such as this. 


When life gives you lemons, make LuluLemon-ade.

Sin-sheer-ly apologizing with “cheeky” ads, is a brilliant way for Lululemon to handle negative PR.


The Ultimate Social-Media Design Template

If you’ve ever planned out social media campaigns you’ve probably spent a lot of time taking screen captures so that you could built templates for graphics and posts. This comprehensive cheat-sheet infographic gives you all the dimensions you ever wanted in amazing detail. The picture above is just a small sample

Find more detail, and even a handy spreadsheet style breakdown at http://bit.ly/XNDdTM

Happy designing, 



iOS app based on Beck’s REWORK tribute to Philip Glass lets you create your own remixes of the iconic composer’s music. - explore-blog


I’m fascinated by the way that technology is making music interactive.


In some ways it’s beautiful because it’s how music began. A community of inclusion with drummers and dancers gathered around fires in Africa. Nothing was permanent, and no one was left out. In other ways I find it scary, as it seems to destroy the permanence and perfection of a choreographed moment that defined recorded music of my childhood.


Then I start asking questions about who the musician really is? Or whether that even matters. Regardless of all of this, the audience is loving it, and that’s the way it should be. What do you think?


todd j. al



As a side-note: I was lucky enough to do sound for Philip Glass during a live 3-piano performance of Tubular Bells in Calgary. One of the highlights of my life was the private 30 minute concert I witnessed while he warmed up without knowing I was still in the theatre. And if you don’t know who Philip Glass is, then go watch “Koyaanisqatsi: Life Out of Balance” immediately. 


Prius costs less now than in 2007

…or so a bus ad I spotted this morning told me.
Branding is largely a heuristic tool that we use to help us classify, categorize, and associate things in our minds. The problem is that once we’ve classified something it tends to stay that way until we have a reason to reevaluate. Take your high school nickname for instance that may still follow you years later.
What Toyota is facing right now is trying to bridge the gap on the product adoption curve between the early adopters and the early majority. The challenge is that people that wanted to go electric previously had already classified the prius in their minds as out of their price range. More ads about features wouldn’t help, because they’ve already set their brand heuristic.

"Prius costs less now than in 2007" is just a witty little to-the-point way of targeting customers that may have been interested in the product a few years ago, but had not taken action due to price—most likely the early majority. The ad doesn’t tell you that price, just that it’s time for that group of prospects to reevaluate their categorization. That’s smart and simple marketing. 

todd j. al


Possibly the most inspiring and well planned ad campaign I’ve ever seen

Agency, Solve, took video 8 months apart for a before and after interaction between Medifast’s weightless customers. We’ve all seen before and after photos in this industry before. They leverage the consumer behavioural idea of aspirational opportunity recognition—creating a gap between where the customer is now and where they realize they could be. Much of advertising is aimed at creating that gap, but weight loss has tended to focus on a happy perfect life that I’d bet many potential customers thought of as unrealistic. The clever editing in this series hands out an emotional punch that makes it seem more than just realistic, but completely possible. Very impressive work. 



Reblogged from Andy Mao

99% of the time you’re off course

Tony Robbins once suggested that you need to handle goals as if you were flying a plane. 99% of the time you’re off course and just making small adjustments. What you don’t do freak out and assume you won’t make your destination with every little bump. 

todd j. al


Using Effort or Ease as Design Tools in Presentations

Summary: To make your audience remember your key takeaway, draw them in with easy and clear ideas that make them willing to put in the effort, but when you get to that one main point—your key—make them work for it.

Being a business student, I see more than my fair share of horrible presentations. Students tend to use Power Point as a building tool, using titles as place holders and then filling in the pages with bullet points until the slides look full enough. Very little thought goes into design, or layout, or font, or story - unless there’s one person that’s willing to sacrifice their own personal time to “pretty it up”. The result is a lot of text heavy presentations that no one wants to sit through, and certainly won’t remember.

Since I spend a lot of time trying to simplify ideas in my presentations so that my audience will actually pay attention, enjoy, and maybe even remember what I’m trying to say, I was particularly interested when I read about perceived effort in Alexei Kapterev’s book "Presentation Secrets".

In one experiment, two groups of students were presented with instructions for an exercise. One group received the instructions in an easy-to-read font (Arial), and the second group in a difficult-to-read font (Brush Script). After reading, each group was asked to estimate how difficult they thought the exercise would be and how much time it would take. Readers in the first group assumed that the exercise would take on average 8.2 minutes to complete, whereas readers in the second group though that it would take nearly twice as long, 15.1 minutes. There first group also thought that the exercise would flow quite naturally, and the second feared that it would be a drag.

In this specific case Alexei is referring to fonts such as the common comparisons between serif fonts (those with flourishes at the end of each line) versus sans-serif fonts (those without flourishes), but the idea expands to most visuals. How we present our information has an important effect on the amount of effort our audience is willing to put in towards following along. So simple is better, right? Well there is another side to consider. 

Research on depth of processing has conversely told us that we’re more likely to remember something that we had to put more effort into. i.e.: we learn more doing something than simply being told about it. 

So our style effects our audience’s perception and actions. If they find it challenging, they’re less likely to put in any effort, but more likely to remember it if they had. Conversely, if they think it’s easy they’ll remember less, but are more likely to pay attention. We can use this knowledge to our advantage.

Draw your audience in with easy and clear ideas, that make them willing to put in the effort, but when you get to that one main point that you want them to take away, make them work for it. Consider repeating the idea after each section, or make them say it along with you/for you, or give them an acronym with multiple humorous interpretations and have them contribute their own. In order to accomplish both objectives we can use the balance between ease and effort as a design tool. 

todd j. al