hypocritical : talking the talk without walking the walk

February 28, 2006

Flashback: Mis-marketing the Portland Trail Blazers

NOTE: This is an interesting fragment I've had sitting in my drafts folder for almost a year. Almost to the day. And given the recent news about the Blazers potentially being on the auction block, I thought I would release this incomplete thought. Because, truly, a fragment is much more representative of the team than a complete thought. Now, now, don't you fret, snookums. I've more bile to spill on the subject. Just consider these misaligned snippets a foul-tasting hors d'oeuvre.

ORIGINAL DRAFT March 10, 2005

Okay, this one may be a little rambling. So, buckle your seat belt, gentle reader, it could get bumpy. (If you already feel like you know about the public relations nightmare that is the Portland Trail Blazers, please feel free to skip ahead.)

Here, in scenic Portland, Oregon, we have a major public relations problem. Oh sure, the scenery is beautiful, the weather is mild, and the people are friendly. But we have a problem, a plague, that really takes away from our fair city, especially in other towns throughout the United States. That bundle of bad PR is the Portland Trail Blazers, a walking, talking, and breathing marketing nightmare.

When I first moved to Portland, and even before that, it was love, love, love for the Blazers. Memorial Coliseum was always sold out. Always. The players were seen as positive influences in the community. They were respected and revered. They were All Stars in the league. Unfortunately, slowly but surely, that began to fade. And it morphed into what we have today.

Some would argue that the slide began with the 1984 NBA draft. In the second slot, Portland selected Sam Bowie at center. Who was chosen next? By Chicago? Shooting guard? Anyone? Anyone? No worries. Portland (well Beaverton) would eventually get a piece of him, as the folks over at Nike turned him into a marketing masterpiece.

Now, some would argue the erosion occurred when Blazer management started breaking up the team that met up with Jordan in the 1992 finals. Nevermind that these guys continued to play as All Stars with their respective teams for many, many years to follow. And still others would say the most recent slippery slope began by trading, Brian Grant, one of the most well-liked Blazers in history, and others for Scottie Pippen. And some would say that hit a new low, when they fired coach Maurice Cheeks, just recently.

But none of that really matters. They continued to build a team of unruly upstarts. They tried to find young talent. They tried to build a team. Everyone does it. But why is it that no one has quite the PR problem that the Blazers do? You canít tell me that every other NBA team doesnít have just as many troublemakers as the Blazers. So whatís the problem?

Well the front office thought the way to fix the problem was to rebrand the team. Not change their identity, but change the Blazer brand. Okay? Got it. Good. Hold that thought while we jump tracks.

I'm reading the paper today. I donít intentionally read The Oregonian, but sometimes it's laying there, minding its own business, and I get suckered. And I start reading it, unaware. Unwilling victim. Anyway, I read an article on Michele O'Hara. The name sounds familiar. Where do I know that name? And I see that she's renaming her brand consultancy, from Nerve to Luminous.

Interesting. Nerve Nerve Nerve. Oh yeah. Nerve was the agency that was spun off from the Thomason Group, a local car dealership. While their creativity brought the auto group a ton of recognition, it also started to erode some brand equity that they had had built.

Now, I also discover that Nerve was brave enough to try to take on the worst marketing/public relations season in Blazer history.... (At this point, I really start trailing off into completely unintelligble gibberish. There may--and I stress may--have even been a few expletives. Suffice it to say, the campaign didn't exactly "work out," given the current status of the team. Or maybe it did? They did manage to bring the public opinion of the team to all new lows. Perhaps this was the intent?)

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Flashback: Mis-marketing the Portland Trail Blazers

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February 22, 2006

Join Bode.com for a Nike URL faux pas

Am I the only one who, tired and sluggish after watching hour-upon-hour of over-hyped-yet-sub-par American performances coupled with hours of inane Visa commercials featuring either Olympians who have withdrawn from the games or Lilliputian men ingesting Brobdingnagian burgers, has a bit of difficulty understanding directions? Am I the only one, festering with some strange schizophrenia of national pride coupled with a pervading sense of schadenfreude every time one of my countrypeople takes a showboating-digger or fails to meet the expectations we had been pre-conditioned to expect, finds it just a wee bit difficult to retain something like a URL?

Did Nike even think about this? Did they do just the teensiest bit of market research? Did they even consider the brain-addled state of those in the grips of Olympic fever?

Well, okay, maybe Iím the only one who didnít get. Iím willing to admit that. I am, after all, not always the slickest stone past the hogline.

Whatís that? Youíre still here? Oh, another commercial break, I see. Well, on with the story, gentle reader.

So, finally, after listening and listening, I acquiesced. I dragged my fatigued and deflated self over to my keyboard and begrudgingly, Olympic-fever quickly returning to 98.6 F, finally did succumb to the suggestions, and, like some brainwashed hotbox denizen, finally chose to join.

With careful fingers, I quickly typed in the URL that might sustain me. The URL I had been told join: bode.com.

But you see, hereís where it gets interesting. Because, I wasnít actually supposed to go there. Because bode.com has nothing to do with Bode Miller. It has to do with Nationwide Commercial and Civil Litigation Lawyers Bode & Grenier, L.L.P.

You see, Nike wanted me to go somewhere else. But, like every other red-blooded American with an unpronounceable Eastern European name thatís watched a few too many hours of Bob Costas cracking wise, I donít pay attention so good. So, even though I now realize that they must have been asking me to go to joinbode.com, at first blush, it just didnít stick.

And thisófor as much as they spent on the advertising campaignóranks right up there with Mr. Millerís performance in the Games, in my opinion.

Now, does it match the ineptitude of the Arlington Pediatric Center? Potentially. And it most certainly surpasses the strangely provocative Sunkist misspelling of its own name. Again, I quote Adam Sandler, "Who were the ad wizards who came up with this one?"

You see, hereís the thing. The campaign and the site? They planned for him to lose. Well, okay, maybe they didnít plan for losses of this magnitude. But they compensated for it. So, if you go there (and I donít necessarily recommend it, especially in your condition), you get to hear our boy Bode talk about how participation is as important as winning.

You see, for Bode it seems, it really is about the game. And Iíd like to believe that. Iíd like to believe that because heís on the borderline of not even competing.

But you know what? Most of us will never get there. Why? Because weíre staring at bode.com wondering if thereís a lawsuit pending.

And thatís why the true failure of the whole Bode Miller campaign doesnít really fall on the shoulders of his performance. The failure is really that of the ad wizards.

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Join Bode.com for a Nike URL faux pas

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February 20, 2006

How I spent my long weekend

LOGO2.0 part I and II
Originally uploaded by Stabilo Boss.
Why, typing in URL after URL after URL, of course. More gradients, big type, and nonsensical naming than even I could bear. It's so nice to be back in 1998.

You really have to view it full size to get the full impact.

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How I spent my long weekend

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February 19, 2006

When good (Starbucks) presentations go bad

Maybe this is better left for the expertise of someone like Garr Reynolds, or maybe I'm just a little taken aback by the fact that Starbucks is usually on top of its identity game. But I'm curious...

How could something that starts out as thought-provoking and compelling as this:

So quickly devolve into this?

Not enough for you? You little glutton, you. Feel free to grab yourself a tasty beverage (for more effective spit takes of incredulity) and a little something to eat (do not ingest this presentation on an empty stomach) before you sit down with this 117-slide-PowerPoint-tour-de-force of a discombobulated Starbucks presentation.

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When good (Starbucks) presentations go bad

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