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July 25, 2017

written by Adam Faust

Good Marketing Can Do Some Good

Meet 11-year-old Chris Holland. I met him last week as he held up a sign that said, “Raising Money to Get to the Junior Olympics.” It was over 100 degrees and this cat was out there marketing himself like the internet doesn’t exist. I pulled over and told him there was a better way. Kudos to Chris for getting out there and at least doing something.

Houston for Holland

Chris’ mom and I started talking. He needs $2,000 to get to Detroit and they need to leave by Friday. They’ve raised a little, but not nearly enough.

This is not a handout. This is an investment in a athlete representing Houston and Texas in the Junior Olympics. He’s competing in three events (800 meter dash, 200 meter dash and the 4 x 800 meter relay).

Anyone who sponsors Chris for $40 or more will get a limited edition “Houston for Holland” shirt with a hand-illustrated lion representing strength, speed and pride. It just so happens to be Chris’ favorite animal.

Here’s how to support Chris Holland:

http://www.gofundme.com/houstonforholland

#houstonforholland

Advertising and marketing get a pretty bad rap. And, of course, it often deserves it. It actually eats away at me. So, when we saw an opportunity to do something worthwhile using marketing, we pounced.

July 21, 2017

written by Adam Faust

“Sandwiches” are for no one.
The team is hungry. It’s past noon and this meeting has no end in sight. You’re tasked with ordering lunch for a group of people you know pretty well, but not intimately.  What do you do? I’ll tell you what not to do, Boy Wonder: order “sandwiches.”
To that point, the next time an office associate proposes just getting some ”sandwiches” for the meeting, think about just slapping them right in the face. A slap is a serious matter, and should be reserved for only the most indecent of proposals. A platter of “sandwiches” is grounds for light corporal punishment. I still remember being served my first supersub at a family reunion like it was yesterday (it was 1992).  In a park in Missouri, the entire Faust clan was gathered to reminisce and eat off a 600 foot Blimpie sub during the six-hour reunion.

Hoagies and Grinders

I am placing “sandwiches” in quotations because I find them offensive only when they are grouped together in this most generic and inconsiderate way. When the party host offers me “sandwiches,” I see the whole practice as a shell game that I am assuredly going to regret playing. As I scour the serving tray, I do my best to act nonchalant as I ask if that is turkey or ham, tuna or chicken or, heaven help us,…egg salad. Besides, what is the common solution for not knowing the contents set before you? Oh, just bite into one of these mushy mysteries and see what you get. You’re just a hungry homo sapien. What do you care if you get meatball, falafel or fried fish? It’s a brown mass on bread and you’ll figure it out as you chew.

Hoagie don’t play that.
Now, watch me transition this into the world of marketing.

The Pontiac Aztek is the biggest failure in recent automotive manufacturing history. It failed for several reasons (you can read about if you care). One vital reason was compromise. This compromise was also hilariously foreshadowed in a Simpsons episode where Homer designs a car. A compromise is defined as an agreement that is reached by each side making concessions. Sandwiches are the ultimate concession (pun-intended). A sandwich made for everyone is ideal for no one. This is where so many marketers get it wrong. In their attempt to reach everyone, they end up speaking to no one. Most companies and agencies work very hard and spend a lot of cash to know their audience. But they’re so afraid of alienating someone (who will never buy their product), they miss out on speaking to the ones who actually want their product.

I get it. Why wouldn’t you offer your customers sandwiches? It’s easier and there is a heck of a lot less risk involved. Sandwiches are seemingly the safe choice. If you serve tacos al pastor, you’re going to disappoint vegetarians, pescatarians and Midwesterners (I’m allowed to make fun of my own family).

So…what if they don’t like it? Tough. They can have some sides or take their bland butt up to Panera Bread. Meanwhile, you’re going to surprise and delight the audience that never expected tacos al pastor. And, these are the people who matter to your business – or lunch meeting. This metaphor is starting to get a bit blurry.

This is not earth-shattering stuff. It comes down to the adage that if you try to say everything, you end up saying nothing at all. It is something we all know, but often don’t have the guts to pull the trigger on. The next time you scroll through Facebook ads or flip through a magazine, just take notice of all the “sandwich” ads, and the lack of al pastor. There’s a lot of ham and cheese out there.

So, remember, when you’re in charge of concessions, try and make some decisions instead.

July 13, 2017

written by Adam Faust

I bought $64 athletic shorts

I was running very late. My adult coed soccer league game was starting in 15 minutes, and I realized I had no shorts. I booked it down to Gap (150 yards from our office) to see what their new GapFit section had to offer. It was closed. As I ran back and contemplated how I’d look in jeans and cleats, I noticed our office neighbors, the cycling studio, RYDE, was bustling at 7pm. I popped my head in and asked if they sold men’s athletic shorts. I was elated when the chisel-jawed gentleman responded affirmatively.

“That’ll be $64.12,” he stated.

What the butt? “Seriously?” I responded.

“Yeah,” he responded knowingly. “But, these are the best shorts you will ever own.”

I should hope. I asked if they had any others on sale or perhaps some very large women’s shorts. Negative. I was at a crossroads. Spend near $70 on black shorts or risk missing our match against Goals Gone Wild. I bought the shorts.

If you’ve read or heard anything about the activewear trend, it has likely been that it is growing. I am not going to go into great detail because great detail is not my strength. I am going to show you two charts, and see what you can make out of the data.

 

What do you make of these numbers?

 

Who’s doing better?

Yoga pants are up and jeans are down. Lulu may have started it all, but now there are a lot of less expensive alternatives popping up. Kate Hudson started Fabletics to lower the price but maintain style. There’s a shop down the street, DYI, that creates every product right here in Houston. And, their stuff looks awesome.

(NOTE: I have not been paid for anything I have written. Like, ever. But I will in the future if someone has money for me.)

“I would drape myself in velvet if it were socially acceptable”

I think I am on board with this trend. I wasn’t sure where I fell on the topic when I started this. After being at the airport this week, I realized that since the activewear movement, I have seen a major decline in velour Juicy suits. Which is a good enough reason for me to support this shift in the market. When we choose comfort above all else, we risk ending up looking like a velvet-clad Costanza. It also promotes a healthier lifestyle. Even if after we adorn it, we may not always exercise, at least there’s a higher probability of getting a sweat on.

As people are getting more and more casual, they’re also clearly willing to pay for it. As for my $64 Rhone shorts, they are the best shorts I have ever owned. They fit great, stretch in elastic ways I didn’t know existed, and boast a handy media pocket so your media doesn’t hit you in the privates. They are as exactly as advertised. I don’t know if I’ll ever buy another pair, but they’re making a heck of a product and have almost exclusively five star reviews. I was curious if the old guard is getting a little uncomfortable, but don’t worry, Nike has some $150 sweat shorts. And, the price is only the second most alarming attribute. If your toting your phone, you’re in grave danger, because these sweat shorts are sans media pocket 😣.

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