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Archive for February, 2006

H&R Block’s PR Nightmare

February 24th, 2006 by Bob Bly

Union Carbide’s Bhophal and Tylenol are classic cases of PR crisis management. And now we can add H&R Block to the list.

It was announced on the radio this morning that H&R Block screwed up its own tax returns, and owes the IRS $32 million in back taxes.

Already, according to the radio report, H&R Block has lost 250,000 clients as a result.

If you were the CEO, marketing manager, or PR firm for H&R Block, what steps would you take to manage this PR crisis?


Category: PR | 74 Comments »

The Great Madison Avenue Branding Rip-Off: Part II

February 14th, 2006 by Bob Bly

In an earlier post, I quoted top copywriter Richard Armstrong as saying that ?branding is just one of MANY credibility factors that go into an advertisement ? you CAN?T build your whole marketing campaign around it.?

Richard continues: ?The fact is that ?brand loyalty,? which is the Holy Grail of Madison Avenue, is really a mile wide and an inch deep for most customers.

?I have brands that I prefer among just about everything I buy … but virtually ever single one of them is negotiable. Show me that your product is cheaper and/or better than my current brand, and I’ll switch in a heartbeat.?

?I’m a big fan of Allen-Edmonds shoes, for example. For years, I was always telling people about how comfortable and well-made they are.

?A few weeks ago, I was telling this to a friend of mine, and he said, ?You should try Cole-Hahn, they’re better.? I said, ?No way!!? He said, ?Try them.?

?So I tried them. Guess what? I now wear Cole-Hahn shoes. So much for brand loyalty!?

The conclusion: brand loyalty is fleeting. Unless your advertising provides a compelling reason why the consumer should buy your product instead of competing products, you won?t be able to pull consumers away from those competitors. Right?


Category: General | 48 Comments »

Big Brother is Online

February 9th, 2006 by Bob Bly

According to an article in InformationWeek (1/23/06, p. 17), the Justice Department wants Google to turn over records on millions of searches by people who look at porn online. The goal: protect children.

Google does not want to cooperate in that this violates people’s privacy. It also erodes their trust in Google, which could hurt the company’s market share.

I am torn. Being a parent, I put kids first. But the government has no business looking at what I look at on the Internet.

Do you think Google’s records should be kept confidential … or turned over to the Justice Department to shield kids from online porn?


Category: General | 158 Comments »