Saturday, December 31, 2011

How did Margaritaville go upscale?

Forget classic cognac, single-malt scotch, beautifully bottled vodka, even hipster bourbon. Nowadays the most stylish spirit for the 1% appears to be tequila. So no wonder that Patron and other designer-label tequilas are trying to stake their claim in this profitable market.

But perhaps it's just as much the other way around. Patron and others have positioned their tequilas as premier brands to the upscale audience, which very likely has wooed away a number of yacht clubbers and business titan-wannabes from their Glen Fiddich. Quite an accomplishment for what used to be little more than a cheap ticket to frat boy drunkenness.

Why was this monumental perception shift successful? My guess is that, by changing the setting for their tequila and giving it the sheen of exclusivity, these brands have been able to be simultaneously perceived as individualistic and superior, rebellious and successful, familiar and new to the scene.

Of course I'm not the first to notice tequila's social climbing. In fact, BusinessWeek ran an article on the subject nearly four years ago. But take heart, one of my goals for 2012 is to be up with the curve at the very least, if not a tad ahead of it.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Why 9 & 3/4?

It comes from Harry Potter. Platform 9 & 3/4, located in the very real King's Cross Station, is the place where young wizards catch the train to Hogwarts. But to get to this platform, riders must know the way, which just happens to be through a brick wall.

I'm no Harry Potter fanatic. Barely a fan, even. So why cop an obscure reference from it as the title of this blog? Because Platform 9 and 10 take you to obvious destinations, the places where Muggles tread, while 9 & 3/4 takes you to magic. It's worth the seemingly crazy search to find the non-obvious entryway among the bricks and between the mortar lines. You just never know what magic you might find.

And that's what I feel strategy, at its best, can do. The milk deprivation strategy, better known in its "Got milk?"creative execution, is an overused, outdated, but still incredible example from advertising.  I'll post 9 & 3/4 examples I find, as I find them.

And yes, I'm hoping to uncover some 9 & 3/4 platforms myself.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Just a game

In my youth, I fancied myself a bass player. Stanley Clark was my first bass hero, and his album "School Days" a longtime fixture on my piece-of-junk turntable. I mostly listened for his chops, so the relatively tame tune "Life is just a game" didn't get as much play. It's more or less Fuzak with some mellow humming and singing. Here are the lyrics:

So life is just a game / and there's many ways to play. / And all you do is choose. / La, la, la, la, la. <Throw in a few fast licks, repeat>

Stanley's known for musicality, not meaningful lyrics. But since I recently switched from creative to strategy at my super-sized advertising agency, these lyrics have become my motto. This blog is about me figuring out how to uncover the best strategic choices in the game of business. My goal is to cast a wide net here, to include everything I come across that seems relevant, from obvious to tangential. Could come from the game theory book I'm reading right now but don't really understand, or from the losing game of Scrabble I just played with my family.

My goal is for regularity as much as quality. So if you see a couple posts here a week, you'll know things in strategy are good. If not, maybe I chose wrong.