Archive for June, 2008

Coke or Pepsi?

June 25, 2008

Marketers are really driven to persuade and help determine your preference.  Hey, someone has to help you with making decisions about all of your options out there – why not let it be us?!  As marketers we need to be targeting consumers now and for the long haul, meaning parents of future consumers.

I was dining at Friendly’s with my two young sons recently and overheard a conversation at a nearby table that got me thinking and reminiscing.  The child (about 11 years old) asked the waiter for a Pepsi.  The dad said, and I quote, “We drink Coke, ask for a Coke.”  The kid asked for the Coke (which Friendly’s serves) and went on about his business.  On the spot I was reminded that I had a huge impact on my children’s preferences as consumers.

When I was in college, my sadistics… err, I mean statistics… project was on Coke vs. Pepsi.  I set out to prove that one political party preferred one brand or the other.  Shockingly, I was right.  Which, now, has made me think about politics and how we are influenced by our parents political views as well.

Looking back at how my parent’s have influenced my buying patterns and how I shop now, I realized that they have had a GREAT impact and it is even transcending another generation.  I grew up never having a sandwich with mayonnaise.  We had Miracle Whip – after all, who could not use a tangy zip?  When my sister decided that she preferred Hellman’s there was cause for outcry in our household.  My mother immediately blamed the parents of my sister’s then best friend, Sharron.  Nevertheless, my mom purchased a tiny bottle of Hellman’s for my sister, while the rest of us continued on with Miracle Whip.  Though this is just one example, I could name hundreds (keep in mind that my parents are major foodies – and this plays into our buying habits as a family on the whole – I think we all spend more on fine-dining than the norm).

Ok – here is where I ask for your participation!  Leave a comment or send me an e-mail (Nicole (at) peoplemakinggood (dot) com) and let me know your preference: Coke or Pepsi products and how you tend to vote, democrat or republican.  We’ll post the results here and on our FaceBook page soon.  And for you over achievers – how have your parent’s persuaded your preferences?

Still lovin’ that tangy zip,



The Next Big Thing (or the current thing that will soon, finally, be big)

June 24, 2008

I have good reason to think that the next big thing is right around the corner. Like six months away.

Except its kinda been the big thing for the last seven years or so. I’m talking about green and socially responsible solutions to the many crises we face today.

I know, I know, you’re thinking “Wow, there’s a news flash, you just figure it out today genius?”

I’m not talking here about all the focus on green, all the thousands of innovative firms springing up, the billions of column inches of press that the green movement has garnered these last bunch of years. I’m blogging about the capital markets.

Remember the frenzy? Its etched in my brain, my startup rode the wave and ended up hanging ten in the early ‘90’s. Not the outcome I was working for, but boy did it open my eyes. I was STUNNED by the amount of capital that was pouring into the markets. Since that last implosion, capital has been as hard to come by as hen’s teeth. (I have sack of hen’s teeth BTW, email me if you want to buy some. They’re very expensive).

Where are the ducats? Dammed up. Waiting for the right time to flood into the markets. And that time is coming…soon (sinners repent!).

Our VC back in the day was Kleiner Perkins. They dumped $30 million into our wildly speculative idea. It seemed insane to me, even though I worshiped our concept. But this was a small gamble for them. Who was made a partner at KP last year? Al Gore. Hmmmmm, gotta get you thinking.

So here’s the thesis: liquefied coal, domestic oil exploration, trade restrictions, trade quotas, subsidies, agriculturally derived ethanol…none of it is sustainable on the numbers, and none of it will propagate our country’s stock-in-trade, which is brilliant, world-leading innovation.

As soon as the markets get the signal that public policy will favor new energy sectors (i.e. INNOVATION), all that pent up capital will flood the market. Right now, hedge funds are under regulatory scrutiny, the mortgage securities market is crushed, the US dollar is upside down, hedge fund oil speculation will soon be front-and-central in the House, and all that cash is looking for a happy place to go.

Write it down, call me up: no matter which candidate gets sworn in, February 2009 will see a deluge of capital searching for the 20X return hurdle. Smart companies, and those that have the wherewithal to invest in their brand in this dismal economy, will be popping the champagne corks in 12-months.

Ken Liatsos


June 8, 2008

I recently broke down and joined Costco, it just started to make dollar sense to buy office supplies for our company in bulk.

After cruising the aisles for paper towels and printer paper, I headed over to the food section to check out what they had there. Two inch thick Australian lamb chops? Whoa!! Whole, untrimmed prime beef tenderloin? An amateur chef’s delight, I can butcher my own cuts! My favorite tomatoes, that Campari variety that actually taste like tomatoes, hard to find those reliably in my local market!

All of it went into the cart. I had discovered a foodie wholesale paradise.

Then to the cheese section. Genuine Italian water buffalo mozzarella in water? I’ll take two. Got a lot of tomatoes to eat – like about 40, given the two trays in my cart, so I can use all this mozzarella, easy.

Then it dawned on me as I wheeled to the checkout: those two trays of tomatoes each had exactly 20 tomatoes in them, still on the vine, with not an inch to spare in the tray. What are the chances I wondered? Going back to the produce section I checked it out. Sure enough, every tray had exactly 20 tomatoes, sacked up five trays high in crates, three crates high. These were tomato science projects, wrapped up in plastic packaging science projects made out of petroleum, and trucked hundreds of miles.

Over to the fish section. Yep, every filet was exactly the same size. Fish clones. From Norway. So either they were farm raised, or worse, the product of factory trawlers netting up entire ecosystems of fish out of the North Atlantic.

The tenderloins? Yea, same deal, exactly the same, corn feedlot meat. And so on with pretty much everything else.

Well, it was mighty disappointing, but it all had to come out of the cart. After all, I spend my days working really hard to help our clients compete against agribusiness. This Costco stuff, incredibly appealing as it is, is exactly what we need to find competitive alternatives to. This was going against everything: LOHAS companies and their dedicated Lohasian customers, the booming localvore movement, keeping agricultural lands in sustainable production, responsible energy use, lower carbon footprints, getting away from mono-culture.

The farm over in Cambridge will have great tomatoes ready in two weeks, I can wait. Woodstock Water Buffalo is back in business and making buffalo mozzarella, I’ll hit the site and see where I can get it locally. That livestock farm up in East Hardwick will be at the local farmer’s market on Sunday with their grass pastured frozen beef.

Costco won’t go away (and I hope they never do, they are an enlightened company), but, with hard work, and in time, local infrastructures will develop to allow national chains to regionally source much of this stuff. Whole Foods Market is already seeing the light, or more likely feeling the consumer pressure. Local is truly the next organic.

(I kept the lamb chops. Just this one time. Don’t tell Artie at Winding Brook Farm up the road in Morrisville).


Ken Liatsos
PMG Creative 

Save My Manolos!

June 2, 2008

I went to pick up some shoes that I had repaired this weekend at the cobbler.  While I was chatting with the business owner, we started to discuss how the art of shoemaking and shoe repair is dying. 

Crap!  Who is going to put new plastic tips on the heels of my favorite pair of C. Labels or put one of those sole strengtheners on the bottom of my Manolo Blahnik’s? (For the record – I have no idea what the technical terms for these things are that save my shoes – just that they do!)

Driving away from the shop, I got to thinking.   Who is in charge of PR for the cobblers of the United States?  Clearly there is one big missed opportunity here!  With the box-office smash hit “Sex in the City” just out this past weekend where the characters are known for their expensive and fabulous footwear as well as the continued concern about rising gas prices and recession, timing could not be more perfect!

There is in fact, an association for cobblers and shoemakers called the Shoe Service Institute of America.  Not an easy group to find; they do not appear easily in a Google search of cobbler associations in the United States.  This is a public call to all shoemakers and cobblers associations… please invest in some PR!!  Strike now – the iron is hot!!

My goal is perhaps self-serving.  One, I get to write about what I know – PR.  And two, maybe a little pr push will help more people enter into this noble and worthwhile trade as a demand will be created for the service.  On a socially responsible front, we change out our shoes too often, hopefully donating them to charity… but chances are too many shoes that still have sole get tossed. 

At PMG, this is what we call being opportunistic.  If you are indeed a member of the Shoe Service Institute of America, give me a call, I will strike you a hell of a deal!

Think you have a story that could help boost your bottom line?  Flush it out and call your media friends… you might just find your company on the front page of the paper!

Well heeled,

Nicole Ravlin