Thoughts On Microsoft’s “Bae” Invite


Read about the Bae invite to get lit with lots of dranks here. 

Why is it so hard for the middle-aged to look hip and cool?  How many middle age men get ridiculed for being out of “vogue” and most middle-aged women are labeled Volvo driving soccer moms. Yes, it is true most of us have lost the battle with gravity, and any free time we may have after work and family obligations is not focused on discovering the latest trends in fashion or music. Heck,  I proudly admit that I buy shoes based on comfort over style or brand recognition, but does that make me a fuddy-duddy?

Why should I care?   I am okay with being a middle-aged man; I believe that the gray hair in my beard is just wisdom exiting my body, while the aches and scars I have accumulated during my youth provide a natural segue into a great story.   Shouldn’t an amazing company like Microsoft be comfortable with being middle aged?  I mean they had a spectacular youthful run in the 80’s and 90’s.  In the 00’s MSFT expanded into new markets during their early twenties and emerged in the next decade as a community leader and technology integrator. Microsoft mainstreamed personal computing, reimagined work productivity and transformed how the world communicates. Yes, there were some missteps, and more than once youthful exuberance got them in trouble but they are still synonymous with technological innovation and value creation. Not a bad pedigree for a middle company,

Sure they aren’t as shiny as Google or Facebook, but why should Microsoft a storied brand succumb to a disingenuine recruitment tactic?  I find it hard to believe that Microsoft recruitment tactic is to convince young developers that they are hip and cool?  Don’t they know that their recent recruitment effort was like a 45year old balding male divorcee trying to pick up a sorority girl as the trendiest Manhattan bar?  Didn’t someone say hey wait a minute, this is not befitting of our brand image?

When I think of Microsoft’s brand image, I think of integration, consistency, and global interoperability.  These are not expressions of youth but years of hard work, technological leadership, and innovation.  Microsoft should wear the badge of middle age with pride;  Microsoft is the elder statesmen in the technology world, the mentor to fledgling startups dreaming of achieving a fraction of the success that Microsoft has achieved.

As I have said before, I don’t pretend to be hip and cool, and I could care less if I am perceived that way. I believe my value to the younger generation is my experience, my ability to put their life into perspective and the vast network of resources that I can engage if required.

Microsoft has the same ability only exponentially bigger.  So why are they pandering to millennials with incomprehensible slang?  The only explanation that I can come up with is that they are insecure about their brand’s patina?  Unfortunately, they are not comfortable with their wrinkled skin and what’s even worse, this recruitment effort was like a Middle Aged woman getting a facelift to turn back the hands of time. Unfortunately, the result in every case no matter how good the plastic surgeon is a plastic façade that scares young people away instead of bringing them closer.  

So my advice to Microsoft is to be yourself, engage developers with a vision, test their skills with a real world coding challenges and engage them with a story that captures their imagination. Use your resources to shape their impression, if you want to be hip and cool, enlist a genuine millennial superstar to host a charity concert, have a celebrity chef cater the event but most importantly showcase why Microsoft is a technological giant in the land of start-up pipsqueaks.

Please , for god sakes don’t die your mustache, squeeze into a pair of leather pants and hit on sorority girls. That is totally gross and more importantly not in line with your professional brand image.

Target’s Target Market, Decided By Kids?


Sam Walton once said “There is only one boss.  The customer.  And he (she) can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his (her) money somewhere else.
TargetIt is a rough time in the mass merchandiser sector. Consumers are migrating away from brick and mortar stores like Target seeking the efficiency and flexibility that online shopping provides.  Why spend the time schlepping your kids to the mall or shopping center just to shop for school clothes for your children.  Most parents dread fighting traffic, the crowds and adding one more weekend task to their already chaotic life. If your family is kid centric like mine, then you can find a dozen reasons why buying junior’s new shoes online from an online retailer like Amazon or the direct to consumer (DTC) webstore from Nike is appealing.

So why would Target focus on the very reason why I don’t want to go their physical store?  The answer is simple follow the dollars, teen related purchases account for $117.6 billion in US discretional spending.  Target estimates that the youth related purchases account for  $25 billion in high margin annual sales.  Target realizes that getting kids to buy in to the Target brand of hip, funky, cool clothing will provide the

The answer is simple follow the dollars, teen related purchases account for $117.6 billion inTeenage Consumer Spending US discretional spending.  Target estimates that the youth related purchases account for  $25 billion in high margin annual sales.  Target realizes that getting kids to buy in to the Target brand of hip, funky, cool clothing will provide the differentiation from their physical and virtual competition.

So off to Target we go… but wait… how do you get kids to follow the plan? Well, this is where it gets tricky because most 10+ year olds can smell a gimmick 100 yards away.  During the recession Target lost the bubble on what made them special, they began to differentiate with lower prices, which any marketing class student will tell you is an unsustainable strategy.  This was evidenced by their slogan “Expect More. Pay less” however consumers perception of Target indicated that shoppers felt that they were paying more for less.

After years of declining sales Target remembered its secret sauce. To re-capture market share they need to generate sustainable brand differentiation by catering to the wants and desires of their target market (youth).  This is dangerous territory because today’s youth can be fickle if they feel pandered to, Merchandiser’s must genuinely seek out their input and then deliberately integrate preteen and teenager input into their product plan. (kids today are inherently suspicions of institutions) and can be very vocal of their displeasure if they feel slighted.  Based on their focused research they discovered that kids want to be unique but not different.  So how do you walk that fine line.  Easy…. Like Target you have kids draw it.  Currently, Target engages with close to 1,000 kids ages 4-12 nationwide developing one of their signature brands.

Most retailers conduct research on kids.  Target on the other hand integrates kids in the entire process.  Kids are advising the clothing designers, helping produce multimedia ads and informing merchandisers of store physical layouts.  This approach can sometimes become contentious because well this shouldn’t be a news flash but spoiler alert kids and adults don’t always see eye to eye.  So why bother with all this drama? Well Target realized that in order to capture the hearts and minds of the decision making unit they needed to increase the odds.  Kids today have a significant sway in consumer purchasing decisions.

Target experienced a shift in its typical consumer from a boomer mini-driving suburbanite mom to an urban ethnic millennial.   Target’s strategy is to develop products & marketing material that appeals to the parent’s projection of love while still satisfying the youths need to express themselves.  This is a marketing play on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs focusing on the desire for love and belonging.

The school lesson for the day is not to follow the fashionable trend in both business and apparel purchase.  This may seem counterintuitive but is it pure genius when you think about it.  If you spend all of your time chasing the latest management or marketing fad you may miss the big picture strategy of chasing your consumer which in the end is what the retail game is all about. Paraphrasing Sam Walton “your customer will spend their money somewhere else”  if you don’t pay attention to them.  So if your consumer wants to buy online and pick it up in the store give it to them.  If your customer wants a fun shirt that works for both girls and boys then produce it. So what do you want?  Well, if you are like me you want a kid that feels confident in his own skin, one that sticks out from the crowd just enough to be recognized but not bullied and you want value because why should we spend a ton of money on a t-shirt that will get stained or out grown before it goes out of fashion.








Top 7 Ways to Enjoy Beer Festivals Like a Lady

Get your waterproof mascara ready, it is beerfest season! With the Oregon Brewer’s Festival around the corner (and many more), we’ve got you covered.

Here are our tips for getting the most out of your beer festival experience.

  1. Get your leg day in with squats over the porta potty. Because you won’t want to sit down.
  2. Come prepared-with to-go tissue.
  3. Be ready for the long lines.
  4. Make a plan for the inevitable beer fumble. Bust out the good ol’ bend and snap.
  5. Feeling embarrassed? There is always more beer.
  6. Don’t get paralyzed by too much variety.
  7. Take a cab, don’t drink and drive.