Category Archives: marketing

UConn Recruiting Loss Is Good for The Sport And For UConn

by Categorized: Entertainment/Tourism, marketing Date:

Don’t tell this to Geno Auriemma, but the decision by A’ja Wilson to play for her home state university in South Carolina instead of UConn should be good news for UConn fans.


A’ja Wilson, a McDonald’s All-American
Brian Spurlock / USA Today Sports / March 30, 2014


Sure, the imperial UConn women’s basketball dynasty would have grown if the 6-foot-4 guard-forward, ranked highest in the nation among high school seniors, had brought her talent to Storrs.

But let’s be honest here. The product — big-time women’s college basketball — stinks. We’ve got one dominant program, maybe a half-dozen Baylors, Notre Dames and Stamfords below that and then the bottom caves in.

That’s not good business and it’s not a formula for true success. Kudos to A’ja Wilson for showing hometown loyalty.

Competition makes sports.  Red Sox-Yankees. Federer-Nadal. Celtics-Lakers.  Deeper down, it’s about parity. The American Way. Everybody has a chance.

The NFL is the most successful league in the country, not least because football is a national sport with huge shared revenues. We’ve had seven different Super Bowl winners in the last eight years and ten different teams competing in the last five Super Bowls.

Think it’s all about winning? From 1996 to 2000, the five years when the Yankees won four World Series, they averaged 34,949 fans per home game. From 2004 to 2008, with zero World Series appearances: 51,190.

My colleague, the great sports writer Dom Amore, who covered the Yankees in the 2000’s, says that was due to a delayed effect, not parity. The Yankees made the playoffs in all of those years. Still, multiple rivalries helped the team’s gate.

And let’s look inside each game. How much actual UConn women’s basketball game action did you watch this year, from the tip-off Nov. 9 against UHartford to the last, victorious dribble in Nashville? Admit it — you switched to ESPN2 in the dull middle of the second half against Notre Dame to watch highlights of the amazing 2011 Masters tournament.

A breakdown of the historic 40-0 season, not including two silly exhibition games that the Huskies won by 65 points, tells the one-sided story:

  • Wins by 50-plus: 8
  • Wins by 40-49: 7
  • Wins by 30-39: 9
  • Wins by 20-29: 8
  • Wins by 10-19: 8
  • Wins by less than 10: 0

So as a UConn fan, say it loud: Thank you, A’ja.

Moe’s UConn Burrito Giveaway Totaled $435,000

by Categorized: Entertainment/Tourism, marketing, Small Business Date:

If there’s anything we like more than basketball championships it’s food discounts, and Moe’s Southwest Grill won the prize last week with $1 burritos after the dual UConn titles, capping a season-long discount worth $435,000 for Connecticut fans.

On April 9 alone, the one-dollar day, the 16 Moe’s franchises that participated ladled up discounts of about $140,000 to 20,000 customers, the co-owners of a group of Moe’s stores said Thursday.

The Moe’s stores rolled out the $1 offer — for burritos that averaged $8 at the regular retail price — after the men’s and women’s teams both won national championships.

For Dave Vorchheimer and Matt Rusconi, co-owners of a group of seven locations, the busiest were in West Hartford and Storrs, where about 200 people an hour lined up from opening to closing time on April 9.

“Up at UConn, Shabazz and the guys came in,” said Rusconi, who led the charge at that store. Yes, Shabazz Napier and the other “Hungry Huskies,” about four teammates, paid a buck for their burritos.

The partners have been sponsors of UConn basketball for five years, since the time when they owned just one Moe’s location, at West Hartford’s Blue Back Square. “We can’t explain how proud we are,” Rusconi said. “There was a huge party and we were proud to be a part of it.”

After every UConn home win, the Moe’s stores offered a free side of queso, worth $1. And the price of a burrito dropped to $5 for one day after the teams made it to the Sweet 16’s; then $4 for a day after they won their way into the Elite 8’s; then $3 for a day after they reached the Final Fours. Seventeen locations participated during the tournament, but one, at a highway rest area, did not offer the $1 burrito last week.

One customer came in after the $1 day, Vorchheimer said Thursday, and said, “I’m glad you guys are still here, with the discounts I was afraid you wouldn’t be here anymore.’”

But of course, the stores’ actual cost wasn’t as large as the discounts.  And even though they never guessed they’d have to offer burritos for a buck, the owners figure 500,000 people paid attention to the promotion — and they’d absolutely do it again.

“It costs you a lot of money to make that many people open their eyes up,” Vorchheimer said. As for the wins, “a state without any professional teams, this is probably as exciting as it gets.”

“The staff was going crazy, working their tails off,” Rusconi said. “We were running around the state, transferring food…These guys dug in, man. They all did.”

NOTE: An earlier version of this post had an estimate of $120,000 for the value of the April 9 promotion, and said the $3 offer followed the men’s championship.

State’s Obamacare Exchange Beats Goal, Ranks High In CNBC Efficiency Rating

by Categorized: Health Care, marketing, Public finance Date:

Connecticut’s health exchange enrolled nearly 200,000 people between Oct. 1 and the deadline Monday — and the number will rise as people who eked into the system by March 31 finish their applications.

Here is the final tally from Access Health CT:

Total Enrollment: 197,878

Total Enrolled On March 31:  5,917

Private Plans: 76,597 (informal goal: 70,000)

Medicaid Enrollees: 121,281 (informal goal: 30,000)

Website Visitors Since Oct. 1: 801,509

Call Center Queries: 366,975

Enrollment Fairs: 78

Anyone who left a voicemail message or appeared at one of the state’s two storefront locations but did not complete an application will have a chance to do so by May 1 and still meet the federal deadline for a 2014 subsidy.

Maryland to use Connecticut system. Click here for story.

The last-day rush at Access Health CT's New Britain storefront Monday.  Matthew Sturdevant/The Hartford Courant

The last-day rush at Access Health CT’s New Britain storefront Monday.
Matthew Sturdevant/The Hartford Courant looked at the 14 states plus Washington DC that ran their own exchanges, using federal grant money. California was the most efficient, signing up 1 million people in private plans after receiving $1.07 billion from the feds, for an average cost of $1,046 for every person who signed up for a private plan.

Hawaii was the most expensive, coming in at $35,749 per private-plan enrollee. Obviously, as one commenter pointed out on the CNBC website, bigger states have an efficiency advantage because building a system of any size costs a lot.

Connecticut was more efficient than any small state at $2,552 per enrollee, making us the fifth most efficient state overall.  (Figures did not include the huge last-day rush in Connecticut and elsewhere, which lowered the per-enrollee cost.)

The average cost per enrollee in all of the state-run exchanges was $1,899 — a figure that was brought way down by the size and efficiency of California.

It’s notable that Connecticut barely beat its own informal goal of enrolling 70,000 people in private plans, but crushed its target of 30,000 Medicaid enrollees.  As it turned out, expanded Medicaid brought a much bigger pool than private uninsured residents.

And, said Kevin Counihan, the Access Health CT CEO, Connecticut made a smart decision early on to keep its system simple rather than tying it into the state’s systems for food stamps, temporary welfare payments and other social services. States that failed had more complex databases, he said.

Tallying just the cost of private plan enrollment makes sense if we’re trying to gauge the core goal of Obamacare, but, as Counihan points out, by ignoring Medicaid enrollment it misses the source of the biggest reduction in the ranks of the uninsured.

Any way we look at it, as the final numbers come in, the average cost per person will fall. And future years will cost a whole lot less now that the systems are up and running. That’s the hope, at least.  But remember, the exchanges will have to start charging a tax to operate after 2015.

Shut Out of Boston Casino License, Foxwoods Takes Key Spot On Fenway’s ‘Green Monster’

by Categorized: Entertainment/Tourism, marketing, Media Date:

Five days before Friday’s opening day at Fenway Park, Foxwoods Resort Casino said Monday it upped the ante on its Red Sox advertising package, taking “center position signage” on the Green Monster in left field.

The sign on the iconic wall is part of a new agreement between Foxwoods and Fenway that runs through 2018. Terms were not disclosed.

This year marks the eighth year in which the Connecticut casino has been an “official partner” with Fenway and the Sox — and it’s all the more crucial now that Foxwoods will face more competition from Massachusetts gaming resorts.  Foxwoods vied for the Boston area casino license with a $1 billion proposal in Milford but was defeated by residents of that town in a referendum.

Now Foxwoods is in a partnership hoping to build a casino in Fall River, vying for the Massachusetts license in that part of the state — a decision that’s months away.

“We believe the Red Sox are one of the finest organizations in professional sports and like Foxwoods, provide unique, once in a lifetime experiences for its guests,” said Foxwoods Resort Casino CEO Scott Butera in a written release. “The ‘Green Monster’ is the most iconic element of any stadium in the world.”

Even Yankee fans can’t argue that point, especially now that the center field monuments are

Foxwoods will have other Fenway visibility, including promotions. But the main Green Monster ad won’t be unveiled until Thursday.

In addition to its Fenway Park deal, Foxwoods has been an active advertiser in New York Yankees broadcasts, including its current status with the Yankees Radio Network.

The (Protein) Science Of Marketing

by Categorized: Health Care, marketing, Technology Date:

What are those little blue-and-white boxes on the Christmas trees at Protein Sciences Corp.?

Flublok containers, of course! They’re the perfect size and shape for an ornament, and the Meriden pharma company would like to see its breakthrough flu vaccine gift-wrapped this season and injected into arms across the world.


After years in development, Flublok won Food and Drug Administration approval earlier this year for the first flu vaccine that’s made entirely from cell cultures, free of eggs, antibiotics and mercury preservatives. They call themselves the Whole Foods of flu vaccine-makers and they’re turning out doses for delivery as we speak.


Manon Cox, left, the CEO and Dan Adams, executive chairman at Protein Sciences Corp. Dan Haar/The Hartford Courant

Manon Cox, left, the CEO and Dan Adams, executive chairman at Protein Sciences Corp.
Dan Haar/The Hartford Courant

Last weekend the company held a Flu-Block party at its complex, open to the public, to kick off National Influenza Vaccine Week, dubbed by the Centers for Disease Control.  On Thursday the firm hosted Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman and state Sen. Danté Bartolomeo, in hopes of sparking some sales of the $32 vaccine to the state.

It’s marketing time at Protein Sciences, which has 115 employees, mostly in Meriden, where all of this year’s doses for customers are being made. The firm is setting up manufacturing in Pearl River, New York, where Pfizer abandoned millions of square feet of space it acquired with the takeover of Wyeth.

Sales for this flu season are shaping up modestly with the company aiming for a breakout heading into next winter. “We knew going in that this was going to be a market research year,” said Dan Adams, the executive chairman.

No, the boxes on the trees at each of Protein Sciences’ two buildings are not filled with the product.  It may be marketing time but this is still a drug company.


Online Buying Spree in China, Debt In US

by Categorized: Commerce, Consumer, marketing, Retail Date:

What’s the biggest online shopping day of the year? Cyber Monday? How about the last weekday before Christmas when shipped gifts can arrive by the 25th?

No and no. According to Chinese web sites including Xinhua, Monday had the world’s highest volume of online sales of goods. That’s because it was 11/11, or “Singles Day” in China, a sort of anti-Valentine’s Day that started on college campuses, according to Business Insider.

And on this day, singles celebrate — by buying lots of stuff.

More than 200 journalists waited for data at, a huge shopping site, Business Insider reported, based on a dispatch by Xinhua.

Here in the United States, we’re just starting to rack up debt — but that’s what we will do is great numbers, a new survey shows.

Fifty-seven percent of Americans with children said they’re willing to take on debt to make their children happy this holiday season, according to a Harris Interactive survey released Monday by Lexington Law, a law firm specializing in consumer credit.

And the picture will get ugly for low-income families, the survey suggests.

“Those with a household income of less than $35,000 are willing to accrue an average of $700 worth of debt in order to make their children happy for the holidays,” Lexington Law said.

They’ll have to put it on credit since 55 percent haven’t saved for this year’s gift-giving, the survey showed. As for households with more than $75,000 in income? They’re willing to take on an average of just $300 in debt.


Top Global Brands From Connecticut: Three Winners, Several Snubbed

by Categorized: Consumer, marketing Date:

Three Connecticut names, led by General Electric, are among the world’s 100 most valuable brands in an annual listing by Interbrand that came out Monday.

Apple passed Coca-Cola as the most valuable consumer name, charging ahead by 28 percent from 2012 to $98 billion. Google also passed Coke for the No. 2 spot.

GE holds its spot as No. 6, valued at $47 billion, up 7 percent.

Smirnoff, the vodka developed in Hartford by the old Heublein Co., slipped to No. 95 from No. 90, even though its value increased by 5 percent to $4.3 billion. It’s now owned by London-based Diageo, which has its North American headquarters in Fairfield County.

And the third Connecticut brand: Otis elevator, perhaps, or Carrier air conditioners? Both of those United Technologies Corp. brands have about $12 billion in sales.  Nope, they’re not direct-to-consumer enough for Interbrand, apparently.

How about Travelers, Aetna or Stanley? No, no and no.

Yale University would easily crack the list but only for-profit brands were considered.

It’s Duracell, the battery company based in Bethel, which has a long Connecticut history and is now owned by Procter & Gamble. Duracell joins the list for the first time since 2009, at No. 85, ahead of Chevrolet, Heineken, Starbucks and MasterCard, among other household names.  Duracell comes in at $4.6 billion.

The values assigned by Interbrand are for the brands, not the companies behind the brands.

Here’s the Top 10, with values in billions:

1. Apple, $98

2. Google, $93

3. Coca-Cola, $79

4. IBM, $79

5. Microsoft, $60

6. GE, $47

7. McDonald’s, $42

8. Samsung, $40

9. Intel, $37

10. Toyota, $35

As Fall Season Starts, Global Spectrum’s Hartford Presence Comes Together

by Categorized: Economic Development, marketing, Media Date:

The Hartford presence of Global Spectrum is taking shape as the company that’s managing the XL Center, Rentschler Field and the business operations of the Hartford Wolf Pack prepares for its first big event Thursday and moves its national development office from Glastonbury to Trumbull Street downtown.

Global Spectrum, a Philadelphia firm affiliated with Comcast, was picked earlier this year by the Capital Region Development Authority over AEG, which was running the XL Center, and the Bushnell, which managed the Rent in East Hartford.  GS has a core staff of about 50, mostly from the two previous firms.

“We kept a large majority,” said Chris Lawrence, general manager of XL, the Rent and the non-hockey operations of the Wolf Pack, the American Hockey League affiliate of the New York Rangers. “There were some new people, some people left.”

And of course, there’s a new name for the XL Center’s main tenant, as the 2 1/2-year-old Connecticut Whale trademark was put back on ice, or rather, off ice in a controversial decision that Global Spectrum supported but did not make.  With Howard Baldwin no longer in the picture, the idea is, or should be, to build on the hockey tradition that Baldwin helped greatly, without aspiring to bring back an NHL team — a goal that diverts attention from what Hartford needs to accomplish now.

The football season starts Thursday at Rentschler as UConn kicks off against Towson. At that and other big events, GS can have as many as 200 people on hand including concessions, ticketing, security, set-up and management.

On Wednesday, Global Spectrum unveiled its new LED video display scoreboard system at Rentschler, which will bring live video and instant replay. The system, which cost state taxpayers $1.67 million, features a 73-by-28-foot main board and 2-foot-high “ribbon displays” for each side of the stadium.

“We are committed to providing the ultimate fan experience here at the stadium,” Lawrence said in a written release. “We expect the fan interaction and general in-game atmosphere to improve significantly.”

Separately, Frank Russo, the Global Spectrum senior vice president in charge of business development for the company, is moving his office to 150 Trumbull Street this weekend. There, he and Chris Silver, and more staff to be added, will run Global’s global efforts to add to its roster of more than 115 venues under management.

Russo, a Glastonbury resident, ran the old Hartford Civic Center from 1974 to 1983 and had several other local roles including acting president of the Greater Hartford Convention and Visitors Bureau.

“This is definitely a ‘homecoming,'” said Russo, who holds a masters degree in public administration from UConn, in a written release. “It feels so good to move back to where my roots in this industry first took hold.”

The whole point of CRDA bringing in a unified, well connected group was to spark more events and more attendance, and Lawrence is optimistic. Highlight of the fall concert season is a three-night stretch on Oct. 25-27 featuring Pearl Jam, Drake and Phish, with hockey games on the Wednesday nights before and after that run.

“It’s exciting, three high-profile events three nights in a row,” Lawrence said.

As part of the changeover, GS is moving the Connecticut venues to its own ticketing system, New Era, and phasing out Ticketmaster.

There was a tiny bit of confusion this summer as ticket-buyers were directed to go to Ticketmaster outlets such as the one at Westfarms mall, which did not sell XL Center events. Global Spectrum has no plans to open local New Era ticket locations, said Lawrence, whose assignment before Hartford was the Glens Falls Civic Center in upstate New York — but he said that should not be an issue.

“The amount of tickets that are purchased an an outlet these days is reducing almost daily,” he said, “so it’s not really a concern of ours.”

GS will set up kiosks in the atrium of the XL Center, marketing director Erin Bilton said.

Lawrence declined to give numbers for season ticket sales of the Wolf Pack but said that effort, like the overall startup of the firm at the two venues, is off to a good start.

“We feel very positive about the way things are going right now.”




A Law And A Cause Hit The Airwaves As Obamacare Marketing Begins

by Categorized: Health Care, Jobs, marketing, Public finance Date:

Nearly 10 percent of the state’s residents have no health insurance, and Kevin Counihan and Jason Madrak have a good picture of who they are and even where they live.

But for Counihan, CEO of the state health exchange that will start selling Obamacare  coverage on Oct. 1, and Madrak, the marketing chief, knowing details about the nearly 350,000 uninsured people is one thing. Persuading them to enroll in a health plan is something else altogether.

On Monday, the health exchange — called Access Health CT — launches its $15 million public marketing campaign, including TV ads, to reach as many of those uninsured people as possible. The idea is to get at least 100,000 of them to enroll in a health plan for 2014.

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Stanley Black & Decker Unveils New Logo, Tagline

by Categorized: Manufacturing, marketing Date:


Stanley Black & Decker has unveiled its first new corporate logo since 1995, and fans will be relieved to see the famous black-on-yellow color scheme is still in force for the New Britain-based maker of tools and security systems.

Some things are sacred in corporate life despite constant change.  The difficulty this time was that since the 2010 merger with Black & Decker, the company has two names — Stanley and Stanley Black & Decker.  Unlike many firms, I’ve yet to see SBD catch on, though headline writers would appreciate that moniker.


The idea behind the brand identity, Stanley says, is to portray the company’s heritage and modern global scope at once. The company hired Lippincott as a consultant, and came up with the a tagline that sounds sleek:

“Performance in Action”

“The brand now participates in a vast array of markets, from Healthcare and Security to Engineered Fastening and Oil Pipeline Services to Hand Tools and Power Tools,” said  John F. Lundgren, the Stanley chairman and CEO. “We wanted a logo that truly represented the size and scope of the brand.”

The thought is that the angular cut does the trick.  For a company like Stanley, messing around with the logo and tagline is a big deal because it its history.

“In 170 years, we’ve had three basic logos,” said Scott Bannell, vice president of corporate brand management. “I believe that this new logo has the strength and power to carry us for decades to come.”

Bannell was with the company when I wrote about the brand retooling in 1998. At the time, Stanley was not in the security industry other than the core automatic door business, and hardware such as door hinges was still a key product.

The old, homey, “Stanley helps you do things right” was replaced by the more modern “Make something great.”

800px-Stanley_Works_logoAnd back then, the marketing chief, Kenneth O. Lewis, talked about the yellow and black.  With the company becoming ever more global it was a big job, he said, just to get the yellow tone and hue correct in all places.