How an Airline Gets 15+ million YouTube views in 3 Days

If someone had told me, I’d watch a five minute unsolicited Christmas YouTube video from an airline, I think I’d have suggested that person book into the home for the bewildered.

Yet, at time of writing, I and fifteen million other people have watched and wondered, oohed and aahed at the wonderful video produced by WestJet.

If I might paraphrase Churchill – “Never in the history of aviation has one video been enjoyed by so many in so short a time.”

The net result is likely to be an astonishing jump in the brand awareness for an airline that is really only known in Canada.

But just as importantly, the brand perception scores are likely to go higher than any of their planes. Twitter is all agog. Comments include:

“Tell me you wouldn’t fly @westjet after watching this! Absolutely brilliant!”

“Oh my gosh west jet is probably my favorite airline right now.”

“Such a great video! If you haven’t seen this, you need to! Thank you so much @WestJet for the reminder of what #christmasspirit is about!”

This is the kind of reaction that marketers can only dream about and the net result is almost certainly going to be a substantial increase in WestJet bookings.

Interestingly, over 2,000 curmudgeons have given the video a thumbs down! One can by cynical and believe that WestJet would not have done this exercise if they had not been able to promote it, but who cares? It made a lot of people happy on the day and has lifted the spirits of it more than 15 million people and growing, growing, growing.

Go on. Make someone happy today.

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Blackberry – When your Brand Becomes a Joke

I attended an excellent seminar recently hosted by the Chicago Association of Direct Marketing on the topic of mobile marketing. In attempting to assess his audience, one presenter polled the room of about 40 people as to what phones they used.

“How many of you have an iPhone?”

“Wow! Does anyone use an Android?…….. Hmm, just two.” ( In fairness, this was an advertising/marketing audience, so not at all representative of actual share.)

He then said: “I hesitate to ask, but does anyone have a Blackberry?”

What happened? The room broke into laughter. One person did raise their hand, swearing undying love for their apparatus.

How did Blackberry become a Joke?

Mobile users are well aware of the current problems embroiling the Canadian based Blackberry, but it is astonishing the level of antipathy that so many people now have towards what was a shining star not so long ago.

In 2005, Time magazine named Co-CEO Jim Balsillie as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. Balsillie and co-founder Mike Lazaridis were named 2006 Canada CEO of the Year.

Jim Balsillie and Mike Lararidis

At that stage, if you did not have a Blackberry, your colleagues looked down on you, smiled sympathetically and consigned you to Coventry. Remember when we all oohed and aahed at the President of the United States using a Blackberry?

Today, if that self-same colleague still has a Blackberry, you don’t even smile sympathetically. You look at them with derision and wonder if it is true that cell phone technology does actually impact the brain.

In July 2007, some poor suckers paid $227 to purchase a Blackberry share. They would get $5.75 for that same share as I write this.

What Went Wrong at Blackberry?

Quite obviously, the company misread the market and the impact of the iPhone and then Google’s Android platform. To be fair, they weren’t the only one to make that mistake. Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer famously said the iPhone “is the most expensive phone in the world, and it doesn’t appeal to business customers because it doesn’t have a keyboard.” The majority of industry analysts did not believe that corporate America would ever use anything but a Blackberry or allow its employees to use anything else.

In the end, Blackberry fell afoul of market dynamics. Consumers wanted apps and more apps on their phones, something not encouraged by the Canadian company. More and more developers were writing programs for the devices of their choice – Apple and Android and the momentum developed.

READ: Detailed report on Blackberry Demise at The Globe and Mail

Whether Blackberry will survive is anyone’s guess. Maybe a white knight will ride in and help them as Microsoft has done for Nokia. Who knows?

I am sure a Harvard Case Study will soon be written on the lessons from this corporate disaster, but the lesson everyone can take away today is that the world keeps changing and that none of us can take our success for granted. And God help you if your brand ever becomes a joke.

* * *

Seeking a speaker to Energize, Educate and Entertain your Next Conference?

For further information Contact Conor Cunneen – IrishmanSpeaks at 630 718 1643

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Ryanair Twitchat – Friday’s Best Entertainment

The ever-restrained Michael O’Leary

For a company that only recently joined the twittersphere, Ryanair sure has taken to it like a duck to water. At least it’s (choose your word) combative, brilliant, obnoxious, successful, sexist, discourteous, hated, amusing, irreverent, job creating, union hating CEO Michael O’Leary has.

Just days after participating in his first tweetchat for which, as is usual,  he was roundly excoriated and sometimes praised, the head of the most successful / hated airline in Europe is taking to twitter again this Friday for another tweetchat.

Ryanair may have the worst customer service amongst the top 100 European brands, but for the 80+ million passengers it will carry this year, it keeps one critical promise. It is the lowest cost airline in Europe. O’Leary and Ryanair have figured out that a very high percentage of flyers will accept the level of service and comfort normally associated with their local transit authority. (OK, some transit authorities may feel insulted at this comparison, but you get the picture.)

Anyway, if you are looking for entertainment this Friday, check in for the @Ryanair twitchat with the hashtag #AskMOL . As you will see from a recap of of the first twitchat, it is unlikely to be boring.


The Guinness Brand Experience

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The Demise of the Dimon Brand

LinkedIn is showcasing an article by JP Morgan Chase Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon on The United States is Still in an Extraordinarily Good Position.

Kudos to his script writer (it is an excerpt from Dimon’s letter to shareholders) for coming up with a title that does grab attention, makes people laugh, and then wonder, exactly what Dimon was smoking to approve such a puff piece e.g. ” I have little doubt that a hundred years from now, there will be new technologies that, today, we never could have imagined.”

However, it is not the poorly supported logic that the U.S. “may be in a better position today than it has ever been inthat caught my attention, it is the almost universally negative and sometimes vitriolic reaction, the article evoked from LinkedIn members, a group that normally strikes me as being very restrained in commentary.

You can read the comments at the end of the article, (‘Brainwashing,” “The emperor has no clothes,” ” The general consensus is that you lied to the Senate,” ” Jamie Dimon is not an idiot – just a self-promoting whore,” etc.) but they sure do suggest that, for many, the legend of “Jamie Dimon – White-haired boy and all seeing business guru” is well and truly dead. CNBC and Fox Business excluded of course.

Choose your Audience Wisely

One interesting lesson that Dimon and all of us might take from LinkedIn readers’ reaction is: Choose your audience wisely.

I am sure that the JP Morgan Chase shareholders found his “brainwashing” reassuring when read in the context of the annual report, but when you take the same message and broadcast it to a less rose-tinted glasses group, well sometimes it just won’t fly.

Spoiler Alert re Dimon Brand Diminution

Given all the shenanigans in Wall Street and Corporate America, I do not believe Dimon (or any others) should be both Chairman and CEO. However, despite the Dimon Brand Diminution (I like that phrasing), I think JP Morgan can count themselves lucky to have him in the CEO role. One “whale” of a mistake should not necessarily result in job loss. Now, if he could only be more understanding of the mistakes his bank clients make…….

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What Conan O’Brien Can Learn from Obama

Quite simply, the White House Correspondents Dinner is one of the most entertaining programs of the year – any year. It shows us a different side of the Oval Office occupant, and whether it is Clinton, Dubya or Obama, all of them have shown good comedic chops.

Much of the response is due to great backroom comedy teams, but it seems obvious that the more recent occupants of the White House enjoying skewering the folks who have made life difficult for them in the previous year.



When it comes to comedic delivery, there is general agreement that Obama is very, very good. (OK, all GOP supporters can now make comments about the joke he has made of the economy.) What is intriguing is that the President is much better at delivering jokes than Conan O’Brien and for a man who has a great future behind him, O’Brien needs to start wising up.

I can only guess at the exorbitant fee, the gangly comic received for Saturday night, but he did not earn it. Worse, he did not give the impression he had worked at earning it. An average set of material (Obama’s writers blew O’Brien’s out of the water) was compounded by rushed delivery, stomping on audience laughter and little effort to suggest any spontaneity.



What is wrong with a stand-up comic making some effort to do stand-up material which to me means you stand up and deliver material you have practiced and memorized? It does not mean that you read material in a manner that only a ten year old would be proud of.

Even though his contract with TBS has been extended, the red-headed comic averages only 906,000 viewers per show – one million less than The Colbert Report. It is a viewership dwarfed by Jon Stewart who averages about 2.6 million per show.

O’Brien has reason to be disappointed at how the NBC debacle turned out, but his consistent bitterness is tiresome. When he accepts that ratings decline forced NBC’s hand, and works at going back to the basics of his craft, he will hopefully resurrect a career that is coming dangerously close to being peripheral in the world of late night television.

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Why the Apple Experience Isn’t For Everyone

Ron Johnson in better days with Steve Jobs

Ron Johnson in better days with Steve Jobs

So JCPenney CEO Ron Johnson is out. Just 16 months after leaving Apple to join the ailing retailer in a blaze of glory, Johnson’s strategy – described by activist investor and JCPenney board member Bill Ackman as “something very close to a disaster” is now being replaced by the man he replaced, Mike Ullman!

Under Johnson’s tenure, the share price has fallen from a peak of $42 to a current $14. Traffic for y/e 2012 was down 13%, resulting in a sales drop of 25%. Yes, that is something very close to a disaster and is not the results JCPenney expected when it hired the wunderkind who managed Apple’s retail concept so successfully, and had been instrumental in creating a great Target retail brand.

See JCP Q42012 Results Presentation

So What Went Wrong?

The biggest difference between the Apple retail story and JCP is that with Apple, Johnson was creating a new experience and environment that customers with reasonably high level of disposable income had never known. He and Steve Jobs executed brilliantly, and it seems that no matter what time of the day you visit an Apple store it is packed with customers all wishing to spend a lot of money for very cool product.

With JCP, the man was trying to change the way a nation that is hooked on coupons and price promotion shopped. Unlike Apple, department store customers generally do not want to spend a lot of money and they very rarely expect very cool product. I remember rambling into a Chicago JCPenney store on Black Friday and was amazed at how few people were in the store, and the products struck me as being very average. (Don’t get me wrong here. I like Kohl’s a lot. That is a store that gets the customer experience  in a low key manner, and has a wonderful direct marketing program, as my wife continuously attests.)

Despite what we like to believe, “a great experience” is not always critical to our buying experience. Just ask Michael O’Leary of Ryanair, the low cost Irish airline that carries more passengers than any other, gets more complaints than any other, but they still come back. Why? Because consumers will trade off the experience for price quite often.

Lessons for Marketers

School districts are often encouraged to put genuinely healthy food e.g. broccoli, on the kids school menu. However, it is completely unrealistic to expect kids to change an eating behavior that has been inculcated in a home environment that doesn’t even know how to spell brocolli (sic). Johnson’s belief that he could change America’s shopping behavior might be endearing (and ultimately sensible) but there is a bit of a broccoli strategy about it and ultimately, it proved unrealistic.

Few doubt that Johnson is anything but a great retailer and already the pundits are suggesting he might even return to Apple. The crucial lesson here is to understand your customer base, understand their disposable income and don’t believe you that just because you have a sensible idea, it can actually develop into a successful strategy.

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FC Barcelona and Manchester United: Greatness Takes Time

Barcelona celebrate another victory

Barcelona celebrate another victory

Even the most die-hard Manchester United fan (moi) would have to admit that the finest football team in the world at the moment is Barcelona. Some commentators suggest the Catalan club is the finest club football team the world has seen containing arguably the greatest player ever in Lionel Messi.

The club has been so dominant in recent years that you tend to think they have always been giants of the world stage. Not so apparently.

In an interview prior to the club’s second leg game against AC Milan (which of course, they won 4-0), Barcelona center-half Gerard Piqué explains that Barcelona was once a non-entity on the European and even Spanish scene. “We went through 90 years not winning anything important until Johan Cruyff came along but in the last 10, 15 years we’ve changed the history of this club.” As you can see at FC Barcelona website, Piqué is a better footballer than historian, but there is no doubt the team had many fallow years.

The “yute” of today may not know that Manchester United went twenty-four (long) years without winning the English league title. During that period, they were even relegated to what was then the Second Division and caused this (then) young fella to shed a few tears.


Barcelona and Manchester United are proof positive that greatness doesn’t happen overnight or come easily. It takes hard work, dedication, re-dedication, belief and more hard work to get to the top and all of that and more to stay there.

If right now, you are struggling business-wise or personally, if you feel your competitors are eating your lunch, remember that even the greats go through tough times. You’re great, aren’t you?

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