Author Archives: swilner

Will Amazon’s Holiday Pop Ups Up Its Profits?

Amazon UK House of Black Friday 2017 London

Via your classmate Antoine, who noticed this article on BrandChannel:

Amazon is ending the year by partnering with numerous brands. Calvin Klein made a deal with Amazon called the Calvin Klein Amazon Fashion retail experience, and the CK brand already has a partnership with the YouTube artist Lilly Singh, aka Superwoman. To give credibility to its offer, an online brand store has been created under the address, where only Calvin Klein products will be sold.

In a UK first, Amazon’s  “Home of Black Friday” pop-up opened last Tuesday, offering gift advice, prize giveaways and special celebrity guest appearances.

Another partnership, with automotive brand Acura, will create a documentary based on the journeys of motivated entrepreneurs conceptualizing products for the market.

Amazon’s partnerships are not only with for-profit organizations; the company is also working with World AIDS Day to host a co-branded with RED which features more than 150 different type of products such as fashion, cosmetics or kitchen goods with curated collections by celebrities such as Neil Patrick Harris and DJ Khaled. $10 of each product sold will go to Global Fund to bring medication and care services to those with HIV.

Lastly, an internal partnership:  taking advantage of its recent acquisition of Whole Foods Market: Amazon will open holiday pop-up shops inside Whole Foods locations, featuring Amazon’s high tech products such as Fire tablets and Amazon Echo smart devices.

All these opportunities will strongly reinforce the brand presence and yearly revenues for what is expected to be one of the best year for Amazon. As consumers, you certainly had e-mails from Amazon for Black Friday. Get ready, because it will not be the last time you will hear from the company. Are you ready to live every day with Amazon?


KFC in the PRC

kfc top

KFC’s Colonel Sanders has been resurrected by a number of actors in a number of campaigns in recent years. While North Americans try to keep up with “who” the Colonel really is, your classmate Caitlin has been thinking about the brand’s endurance in China.

This article talks about the success of the KFC in China and how it is the market leader and most popular in terms of American chains within the country. I found this article of particular interest to me as I was previously unaware of the success of KFC in China, due to its decline in North American culture. This article showcases many elements which prove how brands can transform their positioning to succeed in other markets. As we learned a critical element to successfully managing brands over time is innovation and being able to “keep the branded product- and its meaning- relevant.” KFC successfully innovated its brand to keep the service, menu and experience relevant to the Chinese market and its customers. A line that stood out to me in this article is “KFC went into China looking to change it and in the process, China changed the brand.” By catering the menu to Chinese culture and providing FEC payment options, KFC is a prime example of a brand that successfully achieved glocalization. They successfully maintained their brand and ensured they adapted to accommodate the needs and wants of the Chinese consumer. Additionally, based on the tech savvy culture, KFC also launched a promotion with a phone company, giving away a limited number of red phones branded with the KFC image and pre-loaded with K-dollars. Through these marketing efforts it is clear KFC understands the importance of making its brand known and continuously developing its brand equity. They adjust all operations to cater to the specific market and make the brand resonate with its consumers.

Speaking of Kanye…Introducing Big Baller Brand

Via your classmate Sinisa:

Big Baller Brand (BBB) is a new brand trying to penetrate a competitive apparel market dominated by Nike, Adidas and Under Armour. The brand is inspired by the 3 Ball brothers: Lonzo, LiAngelo and LaMelo Ball. Lonzo the most notable brother and oldest at the age of 19 finished his freshmen year at UCLA and has entered the 2017 NBA Draft.

The sports world is forever changed? This might be a bit far-fetched…. I watched some of Lonzo games during his freshman year and he’s definitely good, but will he be a superstar like Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant or LeBron James? These guys changed the sports world and the game of basketball with their play and even clothing lines, but is Lonzo there yet?

He’s not the consensus #1 projected draft pick, he didn’t take his team to the into the Final 4 of the 2017 NCAA Division 1 March Madness Basketball Tournament, he hasn’t even played a minute in the NBA or scored a point professionally… but his shoe has changed the sports world forever? I guess when you look at the $495 price tag of the ZO2 Prime, it has changed the sports world. There hasn’t even been a pair of Air Jordan’s priced this high in years, making the BBB the most expensive basketball shoes in the market.

When Nike, Adidas and Under Armour all pass on signing Lonzo to an endorsement deal and don’t want anything to do with the BBB prototype shoe what do you do…. You compare your shoe to a Rolls Royce and jack up the price since like a Rolls Royce not everyone has the disposable income to buy a ZO2. “If you can’t afford the ZO2’s you’re NOT a BIG BALLER”

Big Baller Brand has received a lot of buzz on social media, however the over 51,000 likes and re-tweets translated into only 500 pairs of shoes sold in the first week. The brand is looking more like an overpriced version of the Starbury shoe…


Oh Say, Kanye See….









Via your classmate Vincent:

When you hear “brand,” you often think of a corporate brand image. With Pepsi and United Airlines recently making headlines with brand blunders, is it time corporations take some inspiration from individuals who have been able to make negative press a positive thing? A recent article on ( essentially praises Kanye West for his ability to draw attention to himself – arguing that any PR is good PR. Anyone who has watched his interviews might conclude that he is borderline sociopathic; but is he really? He might just have an absolutely perfect understanding of what it means to attract attention and garner more buzz for his upcoming business ventures and music production.
His famed wife, Kim Kardashian, knows how to do the same. Sure, she’s had a tape or two (not that I’ve seen them) and tons of controversial imagery released to the public over the years but what remains true is people want to know what she’s up to. This can’t be any better for her brand. I think one thing to note about all these individuals is their ability to stand out, and remain consistent and true to their brand: Kanye West will always be Kanye and Kim will be Kim.
Is it an individual’s values that we are attracted to, or more so the fact that they are who they are and the public almost rewards them for their unique characteristics? See Donald Trump for further supporting evidence. In the article, president and CEO of a global marketing agency JWT says “it’s a matter of being able to find and activate those consumers to see who you are,” and “that doesn’t necessarily take a lot of money. It does take a lot of effort”. Is this something that corporate giants can take home and learn from? Are those millions of dollars in ad-campaigns going to the right place or has the internet completely changed the way a business should develop and maintain it’s brand?

For automotive brands, tires aren’t the only thing requiring alignment.

via your classmate Mayusanth:

When you hear the word “Lamborghini,” you may think of a brand known to build fast, exotic, luxury cars. The Italian car maker has always differentiated itself with its sleek design and performance, as illustrated by the Hurcan, Aventador and Gallardo models.  Recently, however, the company announced that it will be entering a new market with a Hybrid SUV with a 4.0 twin turbo V8 producing over 600 hp.

This is surprising given that the target demographic for SUVs might be family-oriented individuals who might take their kids to hockey practice or a soccer game. For me, ‘SUV’ and ‘sports car’ do not go in the same sentence. Producing a 4.0 Twin turbo V8 SUV, is like injecting Redbull into a 5 year child. There is no need for that much power! Besides, it’s illegal to go upwards of 120km/h on most North American roads. Possibly most importantly, customers probably do not buy the “Lamborghini brand” for sustainability, but for style and performance.

Therefore, a hybrid version of a Lamborghini might damage its overall brand equity and brand loyalty. Customers love Lamborghini’s brand elements: the roar of the engine, the speed and the luxury. With A sustainable hybrid powertrain, you cannot get the same feel and experience. Furthermore, Lamborghini competes in the super luxury sport cars market with low volume and high exclusivity. By introducing a Hybrid SUV, the brand seems to be deviating from a successful business model into a high volume market. As a result, I believe this will tarnish their existing brand perception and customer loyalty.

According to the article below, Lamborghini’s CEO believes that this SUV model will double overall sales without compromising the existing brand. I have to disagree; I believe customers will see this as a “profit generation” strategy and will call their bluff by ignoring the new vehicle. One thing is very clear to me: Lamborghini is desperate and looking for new avenues for growth. However, I would argue that spinning off a hybrid SUV from an established luxury brand isn’t sporty, it’s stupid.

Can the Lazaridis MBA be its own leader?


Via your classmate Aaron:

If you’re reading this, you’re probably on the internet and using a web browser. Companies may place a JavaScript tag on their website and participate with online ad exchanges through their marketing agency. When you visit that website, a “cookie” is left in your browsing history and the products/services you viewed earlier may show up on another website or social media platform later reminding you about that brand. This process is known as retargeting and is designed to change a “window shopper” into a future “customer” by promoting an offer and an actionable next step to engage that customer with their brand.

Lazaridis MBA participates in ad exchange, however its effectiveness is questionable. As a current student enrolled in the MBA program over the last 3 years, I’ve been targeted by the Lazaridis MBA to “be a leader”, “earn [my] one year full-time MBA in Waterloo”, “earn [my] MBA with CPA, part-time,” or “attend an MBA Information Session.”

How effective are these ads promoting student enrollment when it’s being advertised to existing students?

Moreover, the websites participating on the same ad exchange platform vary from BlogTo, Best Buy, Business Insider, Expedia, and various gossip blogs. Can Lazaridis MBA be a leader in ensuring their ads are placed on websites consistent with their brand? How does purchasing a new TV relate to earning my MBA in Finance? Why if I’m reading about strange things seen on the TTC, I get an ad is encouraging me to earn a Full-Time MBA in Waterloo? Why would reading an article about human rights and the Russian government become a good time to enroll in a full time MBA program?

Brand misalignment is really apparent when two conflicting ad banners are not consistent with each other, for example in the image above, in which the Lazaridis MBA is asking me if I’m a leader, while a Google Ad is asking me if I’m living with a sociopath.

I would argue that Lazaridis MBA needs to revisit their marketing strategies and speak with their agency to confirm that their briefs, concepts, and branding are consistent across all retargeting efforts and to ensure they are getting their return on investment. Perhaps, when the contract is up for renewal, the Laurier MBA marketing team could revise their brief and have a tissue session, so the examples highlighted here don’t continue to happen and devalue the brand.

Curious on how retargeting works on your Facebook account? Check out Marketing Land link below.


What the !@*%!# Kraft Dinner?


via your classmate Sandeep:

I came across a Mother’s Day video by Kraft that opens with a mother with a house full of children. The mother turns out to be Dr. Melissa Mohr, an expert on swearing. She reveals that a recent study by Kraft Mac & Cheese found that 74% of mothers admit to swearing in front of their kids. Under the premise that she can help mothers deal with “less than perfect parenting situations,” Mohr expresses her frustrations with her kids by using creative language such as, “What the frog!” However, when she slips and utters something vulgar, she is “beeped” and an icon the shape of macaroni pasta appears in front of her mouth.

At a first glance, the video is pretty light and fun. However, when you look a little bit deeper, the brand management team is being pretty strategic in their approach. Some of the things I noticed were:

  1. The video right away caters to mothers; this is interesting because mothers are probably the typical people who purchase Kraft Macaroni and Cheese for their kids. This is a great tactic as it targets the shopper rather than the person actually consuming the product.
  2. The video makes reference to a recent study by Kraft Mac and Cheese. This is also very interesting as there is almost a quick subliminal message here. I did not hear it the first time I watched it, but it definitely stood out a second time. The ad could of done a better job on making this obvious, but I do not think it was much of a loss.
  3. The video uses macaroni throughout to cover up swear words. This is a good object to use, because it is exactly an image of the product they are promoting. However, because it is shaped like a smile, I first thought it was a banana. In addition to this, I first thought that the video did a poor job in bleeping the swear words, but then I realized this could also be strategic. If the ad did not push the envelope a bit, it would not catch my attention.
  4. The colours used in the home and the Mohr’s clothing are similar to the colour of the Kraft Mac and Cheese packaging. This definitely seems like it was planned.
  5. At the end of the video, a reference is made to being a good mom and when you can’t, there is always Kraft Mac and Cheese (the product is known as Kraft Dinner in Canada, but this was an American commercial). Once again, the branding team is catering to the buyer of the product. The last scene also shows a bunch of kids sitting at a table, which shows that Mac & Cheese can be a great meal when entertaining kids.
  6. Finally, the ad does a great job of showing the viewer the product at the end, linking the viewer to their website ( and then also showing some free ear buds.

Overall, I think the ad is fun, but is carefully put together. Would this make me buy the product? I am not sure, but I’m not the target of the communication.