Sustainable Marketing


I recently purchased a pair of Timberland Pro work boots for one of our warehouse employees. As I grabbed the box, I noticed a sticker on the side that took me by surprise; it looked like a Nutrition Fact label. Upon further investigation, I realized that it was a carbon footprint! It listed the climate impact, chemicals used, and the resource consumption of the company. Along with this, the amount of trees planted (over one million since 2009). This is the way Timberland is marketing their sustainable methodology to their customers.

Sustainability continues to be a growing movement, and rightfully so. Sustainability is based on the principle that everything we need for our survival and well-being depends, either directly or indirectly, on our natural environment. It is important that companies take the responsibility of ensuring we have and will continue to have, the water, materials, and resources to protect human health and our environment now and for future generations. Companies need to rethink and re-brand themselves to be conscious of improving their manufacturing processes to be more efficient in this regard. I find it commendable that companies are taking the responsibility for the overall health of our planet.

The bottom of the box gave more information. CAN A SHOEBOX CHANGE THE WORLD? it asks. Maybe not the box itself, but they are hoping that the message it sends could make a difference.  Timberland wants to be purposeful and show their customer that they are working to use alternative energy sources, are consuming fewer resources, and are thinking about how their manufacturing process affects the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the communities we live in. It’s great to see how companies like Timberland are using something as simple as a shoe box as a marketing tool. They are counting on the consumer to feel good about their purchase and that they are doing the right thing by supporting Timberland.

Have you seen other companies promote their sustainability methods in a creative way?

I look forward to reading your comments below.

Honeypots are not just for Winnie the Pooh

For those that saw the comedic satire The Interview, you may already be familiar with the term “honeypotting” or the far more vulgar alternative.  Honeypotting refers to putting desirable attributes upfront to lure a person in then taking away those attributes to accomplish one’s own self-interests.  It was a major theme in the comedy which uses the term with men and women doing it to each other.  However, I’ve been using it to describe television shows honeypotting the audience; such as TruTV’s Kart Life.  The show is about the youth go-kart circuit.  The first couple episodes showed some likable families, good rivalries, and a lot of karting.  Recently, they’ve pulled those desirable attributes but I’m committed enough to keep watching and the producers who did the honeypotting have a viewer they may not have. This is common with reality TV where producers lure the audience in with the promise of a juicy fight that may not even happen in that episode.  A final example in the entertainment industry is with comedy movies.  Some felt that The Interview was an actual attempt at honeypotting with a movie.  Granted there were a lot of conspiracy theories with this movie but comedies do have a history to luring an audience in with all the jokes in the commercials and then the movie not being good.  All these examples lead to a person or consumer feeling cheated.  Honeypotting is a good method to get one time customers but they will likely not return or spread good word of mouth.

Honeypotting has also been used with computer systems.  In this case, the outcome is for the good of the system and to “trap” hackers.  An attractive file is put into the system that a hacker would find desirable.  Once the hacker penetrates the system, what he thought was desirable is no longer available, and the person that created the honeypot file can now do the manipulating.  Both versions of honeypotting play on deception which is never a good business model.

Ever been to a Hipster Theater?

No…seriously…have you been? Yes, you say? Where? What’d you watch? Why would you say its hipster status? I bet I can top wherever you’ve been, but we can get to that later.

The movie theater experience has evolved much over time wouldn’t you say? Remember when Drive-Thru theaters were a big hit? Now those spaces are used for swapmeets. Remember when there was no stadium seating? Yea, that sucked as a kid, there was a big dome-ish dark spot that covered half the screen thanks to the guy sitting in front of you. When was the last time you appreciated the clarity of a movie? You’ve probably forgotten the imperfections from an actual movie reel.

As time has gone by, theaters became bigger and better; they took on strategies to differentiate themselves from their competition. Regals vs AMC, do you really care which one you go to? I do, but would the majority of the moviegoer population care? Probably not. So then how does a Theater intentionally differentiate themselves from another?  How about psychographic segmentation, specifically focusing on the “experiencers”.  People want variety, they want to experience something different and sometimes be out of the norm.  If you want to experience a different way of watching a movie, I’ve listed a few hip and cool places to try out.

Want to watch a silent movie? Check out Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theatre on Fairfax.



When’s the last time you visited the beautiful LACMA? Set a date night, visit the museum, take your photos and walk on over to Bing Theatre to catch an Indie film screened on 35mm.



Missed experiencing a drive in movie theater? Did you know that Downtown LA has one? Set aside a Saturday evening to visit the Electric Dusk Drive-In and experience the nostalgia.

L.A. drive-in movie theaters


Trying to plan something out with your friends on a weekend night? Grab some blankets, snacks, and drinks and check out the schedule for Eat See Hear. They are a pop up movie theatre around the LA area accompanied by food trucks and good times.



So where do I feel is the most hipster place to watch a movie? At a cemetery…yes, with tombstones and all. Cinespia at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery is a place to go at least once to watch a film. It’s a bit weird, but it works.



The norm may be going to a Regals or AMC to watch the opening of a blockbuster film, but with so many young, enthusiastic variety-seeking individuals, entertainment doesn’t have to be so boxed in these days. Take a weekend and go experience the difference 🙂

Reach Out and Touch Someone (Creating Nexus part 1 of 2)

From the late 1970’s to the late 1980’s the Baby Bell’s and AT&T ran an advertising campaign reminding us to “Reach out and touch someone.”

This poignant campaign reminded consumers how important it is to keep in touch, a message not lost on marketers.  A marketer’s job is to build connections with customers, but how they go about this will determine whether nexus is created for their organization.

If marketers could magically sell goods and services without making connections with their customers they would be in GREAT shape. Federal law generally protects an organization from creating nexus MERELY because it has customers in a state.  The issue is how much of a connection can you make before nexus IS created?  Most states would argue only a little connection is needed (they want the tax revenues after all).  Unfortunately, the test for nexus isn’t as simple as whether you are physically present in the state and can “reach out and touch” your customers.

Over the next two posts we will discuss the following five ways marketing activities may create nexus:

  • Providing phenomenal customer service
  • Protecting your organization’s product image/placement
  • Providing services in a state
  • Owning real or tangible personal property in a state
  • Using marketing affiliates


In every geographic market, there are likely to be competitors who offer similar or substitute products or services; a logical way for marketers to differentiate their organization and demonstrate value to their customers is to provide exemplary customer service.  Following are some examples of situations where providing exemplary customer service may create nexus.

Replacement or Repair

First, consider a situation where a customer outside your home state has a key piece of equipment provided by your company and the equipment malfunctions or breaks.  As part of your marketing philosophy of providing exemplary customer service, you may send an employee or other representative out to repair or replace the malfunctioning equipment (whether for a fee or not).  Even though your employee or representative is only in the state temporarily, this may create nexus.

Training or Retraining

Next, consider the situation where a customer outside your home state loses a key employee on short notice and that employee is responsible for operating the equipment or using the service you provide.  Of course your philosophy of providing phenomenal customer service dictates you help your customer (whether for a fee or not) by training a replacement employee.  If training this employee involves you sending an employee or representative to your customer’s place of business, this may create nexus.

Market Research

Finally, consider the situation where you have a key customer in another state and you want to conduct market research to determine ways you may add more value to the product or service you provide.  Because inconveniencing the users with surveys is not in line with your customer service or research philosophy, you send an employee or representative out to meet with them and ask questions about their use of (and satisfaction with) the product.  Even though your purpose for the trip is not related to your customer specifically, the presence of your employee or representative may create nexus.

Be sure to reach out and touch our next post To Be, or Not To Be (Creating Nexus part 2 of 2) | Global Marketing Professor, where we discuss the remaining four ways marketing activities may create nexus.

Christopher La Puma is a graduate of Stanford University, with a JD and LLM (Tax) from Georgetown University Law Center.  He has 18 years experience in domestic, state and international tax planning and controversy and is currently enrolled in Chapman University’s Executive MBA Program.

Joshua Applegate is the Director of Finance at IOS LLC where he manages accounting, finance, and human resources.  Before joining IOS Joshua ran his own tax and accounting practice for 9 years.  Currently Joshua is working on his MBA at Chapman University with an expected graduation date of May 2016.

Surviving a Timeshare Presentation

Have you ever been sucked into a timeshare or resort package presentation? You know, the one where you have to give up 90 minutes (a.k.a. half a day) of your vacation time to listen to a high-pressure sales pitch, usually in return for a gift in exchange for said time? I recently had my first, and presumably my last, such experience.

Upon checking in at a resort in Cancun, Mexico this past December, my husband and I were immediately approached by a Legendary Preferred Destinations representative. Diana, a petite woman with a sweet demeanor and a kind smile, seemed innocuous enough, but that’s how it starts. Before you know it, with promises of a no-pressure, no-obligation presentation, which included family tickets to a nearby adventure recreation park that was already on our vacation itinerary (saving us $300), we were signed up for a 90-minute information session to take place the next morning.

An alarm bell should have sounded when we were told to make sure to bring a credit card and driver’s license, as well as that my husband and I both had to be there for the presentation; they don’t want the excuse of “I need to discuss this with my wife/husband,” only to leave and never return. Well, you know how alarm bells are – there’s always a snooze button.

When I heard “presentation,” I imagined a room with chairs set up for a large group of people and a speaker going through power point slides about all the great things that their program has to offer. It wasn’t like that at all; we had our very own presenter. Over breakfast, he started off by asking us questions about our travel destinations, expenditures, habits, etc. He then gave us a tour of the resort’s deluxe rooms, members-only private pools, and informed us of all the great amenities that are for exclusive use to members. We definitely felt the wow factor, which he could tell by the glazed looks that were starting to show on our faces.

He then took us into another room, one that was filled with small round tables, with three chairs to every table. They were mostly filled with other couples and a program representative. He led us to an empty table, and we sat down to talk about the numbers. This is where the relentless, high-pressure, sell really kicks in. We were already past the 90 minutes, and I started getting anxious about the kids and what they were doing – did they have breakfast, are they looking for us, do they want to know our plans for the day, etc.

Admittedly, he was a very good salesman, with all the right marketing material, and the offer was a great value; however, it wasn’t flexible enough for the type of travel my husband and I prefer to do. The representative just wouldn’t take “no” for an answer, always coming back with a better offer. We tried it all, “No thank you,” “No, that won’t work for us,” “NO!” “NO, NO, NO!”


We finally walked out without signing on the dotted line. Side note, the kids were just fine; it turns out that teenagers in an all-inclusive Cancun resort don’t really notice that their parents are gone.

Have you had a timeshare experience? Positive? Negative?

Customer Loyalty…Disloyalty – Wal-Mart

Customer Disloyalty: Wal-Mart

I believe in order to gain customer loyalty, the consumer’s actual experience has to match, if not exceed, the expectations presented via marketing. A TV ad or online promotion can promise the world of wonder, but if the actual delivery of the product or service is not held to the same standard or expectation of the promises, the customer will be disappointed and skeptical of any return business. And if the disappointment is repeated and subpart quality is proven to be the norm, it will not only turn away customers next time around but keep customers away for life. Such is a case for me with Wal-Mart.

At first glance of its TV commercials, its stores appear clean and uncrowded, its staff friendly and knowledgeable. It has promoted itself as the price leader in the industry and its Black Friday mayhem are widely broadcasted. However, its in-store experience is a different story. From the entrance on, you are met with a sense of overwhelming chaos with long lines protruding outside of the dedicated space of the in-store McDonald’s, malfunctioning shopping carts that cause metal clashing sounds, and disorganized shelves with misplaced products. Even in the area of price leadership, with growing competition from online websites, Wal-Mart is not always the best value in town.

Although it provides the convenience as a one-stop-shop for weekend errand runs, the customer experience is far below its competitors, such as Target. Both Wal-Mart and Target operate under similar business models and offer similar products. However, Target’s shopping experience is superior to that of Wal-Mart in aspects of clutter, equipment functionality, and overall presentation of its stores. Despite its higher price point compared to that of Wal-Mart, the value added by these factors, to me, are worth the extra cost. The unpleasant experience of Wal-Mart stores not only affects its own business profitability but also those of its vendors. If a company signs an exclusive deal with Wal-Mart, it can be negatively impacted by the customer perception that is projected by Wal-Mart.

A big part of the shopping decision consists of the actual experience that cannot be compensated by the glitz and glamour of a marketing campaign. My personal perception of Wal-Mart demonstrates that although a company’s marketing strategy plays a significant role in its successful operations and longevity, the products and services it offers is a core competency that is at the heart of its customer retention and loyalty.



Advertising’s Disruptive Evolution

Have you ever wondered whether your company’s latest advertising campaign was effective in reaching its target market? The evolution of the digital landscape has forced marketers in all industries to reevaluate their business models in order to remain competitive with the latest start-up staffed by disruptive entrepreneurs and tech-savvy web developers. The emergence of internet-based marketing platforms such as Google, Twitter, and Facebook have upended the status quo of public relations and left legacy advertising agencies searching for ways to keep pace.


One of the companies embracing this challenge is Hill Holiday, a Boston based advertising firm with over 40 years of marketing expertise serving firms such as Johnson & Johnson, Chili’s, and Merrill Lynch. The company’s latest solution is an in-house incubation start-up deemed Project Beacon. This group isn’t developing the next Super Bowl commercial or trade show event, but is instead, focused on experimenting with the latest digital technology to help clients better allocate their marketing budgets. Project Beacon’s latest product, BrandFeed, does just that by providing an analytics platform for marketers to view the success of their latest marketing investment in real time. The BrandFeed subscription enables companies to actively monitor their social media campaign and quantitatively discern whether their intended message is adequately capturing their target audiences. This service provides marketers with the tools needed to measure success rates in ways that were previously unavailable or fractured among various services. This latest product represents just one of the many applications Project Beacon has developed to help clients manage their digital presence in the evolving digital landscape.


The advertising industry’s emphasis on product development as a supplement to promotional campaigns represents a paradigm shift in the advertising world that has only just begun.  One of the ways this trend is having an impact is by changing the revenue model of the legacy marketing firm. The traditional model was for firms to bill clients for the hours worked crafting their next campaign concept and developing the various elements to implement that campaign such as a series of commercials or ad placements. This model ensured that marketing firms were compensated irrespective of the success of their individual campaigns. This caused the primary brand equity for a traditional advertising agency to be the reputation they had acquired in the marketplace over time. Project Beacon embodies Clayton M. Christensen’s concept of disruptive innovation within this context of the traditional advertising agency. Project Beacon is Hill Holliday’s attempt to bring disruptive innovation in-house before the latest Silicon Valley start-up does it for them. Professor Edward Boches of Boston University put it best when he said, “The smart agencies have learned that they have to disrupt themselves before they get disrupted.”


I believe the new revenue model has followed another one of Christensen’s concepts which is the ‘Job to be Done’ framework. Much in the way one would “hire” LinkedIn to help expand their professional network, modern marketing agencies now realize that they are not being hired to simply create and develop the client’s next campaign, but to also be able to quantify the campaigns success in achieving the client’s targeting objectives. This new model has been rejuvenated to compensate firms for actually creating value rather than simply by hours billed. A critical component of this model is being able to quantify the success of the campaign in real time. By being able to quantify the successful elements within a campaign, marketers can adjust their advertising mix and better utilize the marketing budgets at their disposal to capture the customers they value so deeply. How is your marketing department or advertising agency quantifying the success of its latest campaign?

Adapting to Customer Wants: Keep Up Hollywood

A major competitor to movie theaters these days are the various home theater options viewers now possess. Just as there are many reasons to watch in the theater, there are many reasons to watch at home. This could be for comfort, cost savings, or a feigning interest in a mediocre movie release season. There are also options that are many times only available outside of the theater. Whatever the reason, movie watching at home has developed over the years and is only getting more relevant.

Home theater options have been a big industry for over forty years. Since the launch of early formats, like Beta and VHS, customers have been excited to watch movies on other formats than complicated and pricey 8mm reels. Fast forward to the present, and the digital age has upped the game to another level, leaving short period formats, like LaserDisc, HD DVD, or even Blu-Ray for that matter, left behind as a nostalgic memory at best. Even then, stronger offerings like DVD, which had been the standard for almost fifteen years, are inevitably being lost to streaming and downloadable content. Netflix, Hulu, OnDemand, Amazon Instant Video, and many others are all options to get the home viewing experience. Even premium and basic cable stations provide more content than ever, but are at the mercy of which films the studios release to them and at what cost.

The true disc believers still have the RedBox option, which (sort of) rose from the ashes of the fallen Blockbuster/Hollywood Video days. I remember not too long ago going to Blockbuster, I was the last of a dying breed. RedBox is really a “kiosk Blockbuster” that could have happened years before its time. Some studios are still pushing that disc format, not wanting to stray from the norm, much like I was avoiding moving away from my local Blockbuster.

It boils down to the difficulty studios face to keep up with the home viewing methods customers prefer, which would make anyone hesitant on determining the best horse to bet on. I have a hard time keeping up with it, and I really enjoy watching movies on the most current format. I can only imagine how foreign this all might be to the occasional viewer. Distributors should focus not only how movies are viewed at home, but more importantly, how the customer wants to view them. With so many options, it is really important that the right movies make it to the right viewers. Currently, to get as much content as possible, a mix of them all is necessary, so availability is key.

As history shows, what customers really want is to see the content they want to see for a reasonable price, and they are willing to pay for this as most formats had big sales at the time it was relevant. Why not give them a better option? Often times I’ve thought to pay more for my Netflix subscription to get exactly what I want and lose all of the content that I don’t necessarily need. Sorting out customer behaviors and wants is a big hold up, but it becomes much worse for the sake of profit and inability to keep up with the latest demands.

In the meantime, I will continue my personal efforts on knowing what the new way to watch is. I recently was reading up on a newer site that is gaining interest, Popcorn Time. It offers the latest content with limited to no cost. Although the biggest hurdle it must overcome is the dreaded piracy label it has already been tagged with in its early stages.