Behind Brown Eyes

21st century flogger. That's food-blogger, fyi. Now if it were the 17th century...
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Posts tagged "marketing"

For those of you who don’t know me—or haven’t roomed with me in college—I’m that girl who writes to or calls the customer service number when I have a bad experience with a product. You may think it’s ridiculous, or you may respectfully relate to it. But the fact of the matter is that I’m that girl—and I’m proud to admit it.

Feedback is so important. If there aren’t girls like me writing to guys like Ben & Jerry, how can companies remedy the unknown problems and diminish daily dairy disappointments? With that being said, here’s what I wrote to Ben & Jerry’s today, after yesterday’s first encounter with their Half Baked Ice Cream Bar…

Hi there,

I tweeted at your team yesterday and they told me I could detail my issue here. Yesterday at my company’s yearly team BBQ, they had a free ice cream truck stop by. I got a Half Baked Ice Cream Bar (which I had never had before) because I had been CRAVING your cookie dough ice cream and this was supposed to have cookie dough chunks in it. When opened the wrapper, I decided to crack open the bar and see how many chunks there were so that I could pick them out. (That’s my favorite thing to do, even when I get the ice cream). But to my surprise there were NO cookie dough chunks and NO brownie bites. It was literally vanilla ice cream dipped in chocolate. So I ate a bite of the chocolate and pinch of vanilla ice cream, and threw it all out in complete dissatisfaction. I was upset because I’ve tasted all different types of CCCD ice cream but yours is my favorite because the chunks are notoriously large and DELICIOUS. I was surprised that the bar had NONE. What I did see was a mere innuendo of a cookie dough chunk that I could barely taste. Other than that, nothing. What a disappointment. Please let me know what you can do; I really do love your brand and CCCD ice cream! So as a customer, I wanted you to be aware of the issue. It’s really not the quality or value I expected from a great brand. At least the ice cream bar was free! If I had paid for it and had the same experience, it would have been much worse.

Thank you for listening.


So my new #Nike shirt is pretty awesome. Throw in a hint of #neon yellow and I’m sold. Marketers of women’s #running apparel, let it be known; girls want bold looks, too!!! Quit it with the hot pink and light blue. Seriously. #hyperwarm #drifit #coldgear #marketing

The people who are close to the customer are indispensable. Be close to the customer—that’s where the action is.
Ken Murawski, entrepreneur and inspirational father

B&J's Cookie Dough Ice CreamYes!!! This is what I’m talking about! I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Ben and Jerry’s is using the photo-sharing platform Instagram—and “Capture Euphoria” hashtag—to engage brand fans and facilitate B2C interaction.

Great point: “One of the major challenges of social media is getting consumers to be social with a brand, instead of just being social about a brand. ‘Capture Euphoria’ is a great strategic campaign to increase user-generated content…When consumers know a brand will actually engage with them, it creates more of an incentive for them to interact with a brand…” 

Me and Joanna with @FetchRestaurant’s Executive Chef Adam Powers! Advice when we asked him about opening our own restaurant: “Don’t do it!…start small.” Fun brunch, delicious (cornbread) pancakes, and great concept—treating everyone as “man’s best friend” and giving back to the community by hosting pet adoption/benefit events. Love the “dog house” table idea—where 20% of your bill goes directly to the SPCA. Friendly staff, and a warm, comforting, vibrant atmosphere. What a lovely day in Warwick, NY with friends and family! (Taken with Instagram)

MetroCard with Ad SpaceThis article caught my eye—and truthfully, I have mixed feelings about M.T.A.’s decision. While I do think from a marketing perspective the ad space is quite valuable (and visible), I’ll be sad to say goodbye to the iconic yellow and blue card and M.T.A. logo. I’m not an avid subway rider by any means, but when I do need my card, I know to grab the golden yellow. Ask any local or commuter, and they’ll tell you the same. It’s brand recognition at its finest. We know the card—it’s looked that way since 1997 (The New York Times).

I’ve finally come to understand the basics of NY subway navigation. But those turnstiles still get me every so quite often. I swipe too fast, or I’m $.25 cents short when I think I have enough on my card from my last ride; they sass me to keep swiping at the same entry point or threaten that I’ll lose my money. (Scandal).

Let’s just hope MoMA doesn’t put Starry Nights on the card—for the city’s sake (and sanity). Black stripe aside, surely those tricky turnstiles don’t accept Visas!

MTA Turnstile

U by Kotex Tampons

Call me an extrovert, call me outspoken.

YES—I’ve called Kotex to quite kindly complain that I was upset by not getting pink tampons in my little black box of assorted sanitary products. (And YES, I find it funny that I had to click the word “insert” to add that photo on your right).

Claim I’m irrational or simply ridiculous.

Hidden Valley Ranch DressingYES—I’ve called Hidden Valley to inform them about how frustrated I was with the production inconsistencies among their squeezable ranch dressing bottles (i.e., Some bottles actually have the hole in the top to squeeze out the dressings, and others merely have an imprint, an innuendo, if you will, on the cap of where the hole should be, yet there is no actual hole over the opening of the bottle). To which their reply was, “Well, some of the 16 oz bottles have them, and others don’t.” Since when are mechanics a variable in assembly line production? Odd.

Call me what you will, claim what you desire, but regardless of how you judge me (empathize? relate?), you and I share a common ground: we are consumers. We are unique individuals, and unique to the brands that surround us. Successful brands are able to reach beyond the surface of this notion and strive to really understand consumers on a deeper level—allocating time and resources toward effective, data-driven target marketing. They want to know who their primary end users are and what mediums will reach them.

Brands who truly know their customers speak to them and recognize their needs. How? They listen. By regularly engaging with consumers, and facilitating positive interactions, brands build trust and loyalty, establishing a strong foundation for long-term B2C relationships.

With that being said, I’m admittedly a consumer who wants to be heard. Customer service 1-800 numbers and e-mail addresses on product labels are there for a reason—and, should something go awry, are intended to be used. So if you ask me—well, you don’t have to. I’ll tell you here and now that I’m in no way ashamed of reaching out to a brand/company when I have any sort of product complaint. I’m sure every now and then companies wouldn’t mind hearing positive reinforcement from a local, vocal and satisfied customer—but unfortunately, I’d have to argue that in most cases problems precede praise.

Apple logoExample: We all love Apple. Golden Delicious is my favorite. Ok, I’m biased because I love to surround myself on my bed with all of my iDevices an arm’s length away, in awe and admiration of innovation at it’s finest. Regardless, let’s use this particular brand as an illustration. I love Apple and am constantly raving about their products to friends, family and colleagues. I have a MacBook Pro, iPad, iPod(s) and iPhone. Am I going to call Apple if my iPhone breaks or stops working? Unequivocally yes. Am I going to call to chit-the-chat about my obsession with their brand? Eh—unlikely.

Case and point: problems precede praise.

Thought: Wouldn’t it be interesting if it were the other way around? And instead we only called our favorite brands and companies not to report missing pink tampons or vent about product packaging inconsistencies, but rather to commend them for all the things we love about their product or service. It would change the whole nature of customer service, as we know it. And make many [customer service] representatives’ jobs a lot less difficult and a lot more enjoyable.

With all of that being said, I took it upon myself as a dissatisfied, frustrated, yet brand loyal customer to reach out to ConAgra Foods about my issue with Orville Redenbacher’s popcorn. Thought you might enjoy reading about my experience. And just so you know, one of their reps got back to me the next day. Read my letter and their reply to follow.

I wrote…

To Whom It May Concern,

Popcorn CollageI am very brand loyal when it comes to microwavable popcorn. I’ve tried Act II, Pop Secret, complimentary bags at hotels, and then some. But it always comes down to my love for the quality and original taste of Orville Redenbacher’s 94% fat free varieties—smart pop and kettle korn, particularly. I’ve never had a problem with the product until recently. We typically buy the bulk boxes of the standard size popcorn bags at BJ’s Wholesale Club. Not only for the great price, but for the convenience of having a stash of my favorite late-night snack readily available.

Burnt Bag of PopcornRecently, I’ve noticed that practically every bag I pop, bursts open and explodes in my microwave. That is, I press the pre-programmed “popcorn” button on my micro, which is supposedly intuitive, only to have the bag not open fully, get stuck on the turntable, and in an failed attempt to expand from the pressure and continual heat, burn a huge black hole through the bag. Literally. As you can imagine, this is a mess, annoyance, and honestly, inconvenience. The inability of the bag to give, or expand evenly (or at all, for that matter), causes hot, unpopped kernels to fly out of the bag and scatter throughout the microwave. At the same time, the giant black ball of popcorn—the nucleus, if you will—continues to burn and enlarge on the inside of the bag. But the bag won’t budge. Ultimately, this affects the editable, popped kernels, which are now burnt and singed from the burnt “nucleus.” And the rest of the bag, aside from what little is actually unaffected, is inevitably, unpopped kernels.

Popcorn KernelsI’ve come to terms with the fact that a good 1-2 tablespoons of kernels will always remain unpopped, in any given bag of microwavable popcorn. I’m ok with that—though it is a frustration that can at times outweigh even the great nutritional value of my favorite go-to snack. But the fact that nearly every bag I make these days leaves a mess in my microwave, let alone more than half of the bag entirely inedible, is a problem.

We’ve tried microwaving the bags by manually entering times and using the instructions on the product’s packaging. (And I can assure you, as an avid popcorn popper, I am putting the bag in with “this side up.”) We’ve even tried a Reader’s Digest tip of placing the microwave bags in the freezer prior to popping—which actually proved a temporarily effective solution. However, I just haven’t been having any luck lately.

Perfect PopcornIf there’s any way you can advise, I would appreciate hearing back from you. I want to continue using this product. I love the taste, I love the brand. But if I can’t find a satiating solution, I may have to set aside my oath to Orville, and sacrifice the quality and taste I’ve come to love for a brand that promises the perfect pop.

I look forward to hearing from you soon, and thank you for your time.




ConAgra Foods logo"I am so sorry to hear that our Orville Redenbacher’s popcorn is not popping correctly and leaving a mess behind for you to clean up! I am thankful you emailed us so I can get all of the details you supplied over to our Food Safety and Quality experts. Krystina, please know this isn’t the experience we want you to have with our products so those details will be very helpful for us. Thank-you so much for your loyalty to our brand. I am sending coupons your way via regular mail, please give us another try."

Orville Redenbacher's LogoReaction:

"I sincerely hope that the information I provided will help your quality experts remedy the popping issue. Thank you for the coupons as well—I will certainly give Orville another try. Maybe the box we bought had defective bags. I appreciate your help and the great customer service too."

Banana QR code: strategic or ineffective? I oddly dig it, placement-wise. However, telling me to “Scan for Mad Fun” didn’t get me to download an iPhone app to check it out. So I’d claim the call to action ineffective. Now, ask me to scan for a free bunch of bananas or discount code, and I’ll act. Who are they targeting anyway? Moms with iPhones who would take their kids to see the movie but don’t have time to play mobile games? Or pre-tweens who would be more likely to see the movie, but don’t have iPhones to engage with the code? #socialmedia #foodforthought (Taken with instagram)

I’ve never had a Slurpee. Proof: I even spelled it wrong when I first tried to type the word. For that matter, I’ve never even walked into a 7-Eleven. But is it weird that I’m strangely interested in going now because of their new line of Sugar-Free Slurpees? Based with Splenda (my favorite, though-probably-toxic-in-the-long-term, artificial sweetener), and ironically, only 20 calories. Ironic because a regular 8oz Slurpee is only 60 cals.

Fanta Sugar-Free Mango SlurpeeMaybe I’m more in tune with this promotion for a few reasons. Here’s what I’ve come up with:
  • FREE Sample of Fanta Sugar-Free Mango Slurpee Lite: May 23 - 7.11oz containers, 11a.m. to 7p.m. Bleh to Mango, but free is worth the taste ain’t it?
  • Low cal.
  • Sugar-free: better for you in general but also complies with the rules of the #50DayChallenge. Craving something sweet? Hit up the 7-Eleven nearest you for a Slurpee-Lite.
  • Comparable to a Sonic limeade/slush, but definitely more local and accessible. Unfortunately, I’ll have to wait until August for the Fanta Sugar-Free Cherry Limeade #fail. At that point, I may as well take the 35 minute drive to my aunt’s house and hit up one of (I believe) two lone Sonics in New York. My other problem—why can’t we* have a sugar-free version of the Watermelon Lime in my wonderful birthday month of June?! That’s my absolute favorite drink of choice from Sonic! Bleh, again. As if the Mango for two months straight isn’t bad enough!
Regardless of the rationale and reasoning, call me Curious Cathy today. So the better question is, who’s down for a free Slurpee Lite on May 23?

*Don’t you love how when you want something very specific, you always speak for everyone using “we”? As if what you want, is really what everyone else around you wants too. I do it all the time—maybe I’m the only one. Perfect retail example when you’re really mulling over different sizes, styles and colors of clothes in Loft (yesterday), “Do we (using both hands as a gesture and pointing to the product you’re referring to) have the light green pants in the Classic Kate? The Marisa Moderns just don’t usually fit me right.” They always reply so apologetically, and correctly, “No, we don’t.” Food for thought, use it as you wish.

Well, @brookeariel and I’s taste test confirmed that #JIF is in fact better than #Skippy #peanutbutter. JIF has molasses, making it sweeter and creamier; Skippy is dry! @jenvlock, you were right! Good call. Now I know why smart moms choose it. I’m a JIF brand convert and I’m never goin’ back! (Taken with instagram)