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Date posted: February 10, 2015

In an earlier post, we cited 12 well-known brands put up by Consumerist to see if you could tell whether the brand referred to a real person or was concocted by a marketing writer.

As promised, here are the answers and the stories behind them:

  1. Betty Crocker: While the “Crocker” part of the name was taken from an executive at the Washburn-Crosby Company in 1921, the “Betty” portion of this famous brand name was created out of thin air to appeal to female consumers for a Gold Medal Flour mail-in contest run in the Saturday Evening Post.
  2. Chef Boyardee: While the spelling is slightly different, this famous line of canned pastas is indeed named after their creator, Ettore Boiardi, who didn’t change the spelling of his last name when he arrived in America from Italy as a teenager, but who used the more phonetic “Boy-Ar-Dee” to sell his products to U.S. shoppers.
  3. Sara Lee: Sara Lee Lubin didn’t create the long-running line of cheesecakes and other treats, but her dad Charles Lubin did, and he named the company after her.
  4. Juan Valdez: Even though portraits of Juan and his mule Conchita have been gracing coffee products since the 1950s, the face of the National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia is just a fiction created to denote that a coffee product uses only Colombian beans.
  5. Totino’s: While it might sound like the last name a lazy author would slap on a fictional pizza joint, this famous brand of munchies-curing pizza rolls is indeed named after company founder Rose Totino.
  6. Aunt Jemima: While the Aunt Jemima name is fictional — and some claim it was taken from a character in a late 19th century minstrel show — the creators of the pancake mix and subsequent products used real women to play Jemima for decades. Just last year, descendants of some of those women sued Quaker Oats — now a part of PepsiCo — for allegedly failing to live up to promises made to these faces of the product.
  7. Duncan Hines: Not only was Mr. Hines a real person, he was in his 70s by the time he started selling his first baked goods, starting the company that has since carried his name. Before he ever got into selling food, he was rating it, compiling his reviews of restaurants he patronized during his years as a traveling salesman into a book, Adventures in Good Eating.
  8. Francesco Rinaldi: Those of you who weren’t around — or don’t remember — the 1980s may think that Francesco Rinaldi is a real guy who once created his own pasta sauces in a steamy kitchen somewhere. The Francesco Rinaldi brand came out of nowhere in the mid-’80s after it was purchased by the Canistrano family, creators of the famous Ragu brand of sauces: Before 1982, the history of the brand is a bit sketchy, but the company that has owned it for more than 30 years says the name is just a fiction.
  9. Auntie Anne’s: It’s hard to believe that this massive pretzel chain with some 1,500 locations started by Anne Beiler and her husband Jonas in 1988 with just a market stand in Chester County, PA. Anne sold the company 10 years ago, but her name remains.
  10. Jennie-O: Ground turkey products may not be something most people would immediately think to associate with their children, but in 1953 Minnesotan Earl Olson decided to rename his turkey processing company after his daughter Jennie.
  11. Denny’s: Everyone’s third-favorite place to get something to eat at 3 a.m. actually started out as Danny’s Donuts in 1953. Confusingly, the two creators of that shop were named Harold and Richard so even then it was apparently not named after any real person. Six years later, the growing chain changed its name from Danny’s Coffee Shop to Denny’s to avoid confusion with another L.A. eatery, Coffee Dan’s.
  12. Wendy’s: This one should be a gimme for even casual fast-food historians, as company founder Dave Thomas made it quite clear that he’d named the burger chain after the family nickname for his daughter Wendy (her given name is Melinda). The company’s namesake even popped up in recent ads for Wendy’s.

Thanks again to Consumerist for the fun— and the details.

How did I do? 67%— I was wrong on Sara Lee, Francesco Rinaldi, Auntie Anne’s and Denny’s.

How did you do?


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Date posted: February 6, 2015

It seems like every time I’m in my local cell phone store, the walls are covered with different phones than were there my last visit a few months before. The pace of new product innovation (NPI) is astonishing, and no doubt in part reflects what has rapidly become a “culture of the new.” What once was the domain of the fashion industry is now the concern of every industry. But for companies, what is the real value in today’s faster new product development?

A survey of chief supply chain officers by SCM World gauged how much value a high-performing supply chain could generate in terms of new product introduction. Four sectors were surveyed: hi-tech, consumer goods/retail, industrial, and health care/pharmaceutical. The results were interesting:

  • Almost three-quarters of respondents said that accelerated NPI delivered high or very high value, but compared to other sectors, the industrial group was the least likely to report this:
    • Hi-tech: 83 percent
    • Consumer goods/retail: 80 percent
    • Health care/pharmaceutical: 75 percent
    • Industrial: 59 percent
  • Not surprisingly, only 45 percent of the industrial group thought that skills related to new product development and launch were essential for supply chain talent. The average of all groups was 53 percent, with a high of 66 percent in the hi-tech sector. What was surprising was that the industrial group saw NPI value in top-line results (i.e., growth and revenue increase) at nearly the same high level as their hi-tech counterparts.

The nature of value generated by NPI was assessed across the groups based on four types of value: top-line results, bottom-line results (i.e., cost savings), compliance with regulations and strategy, and “soft value,” such as PR and better supplier relations. Here’s how the sectors saw value generated:

PERCEIVED VALUE OF PRODUCT INNOVATION Hi-Tech Consumer Goods & Retail Industrial Health Care/Pharmaceutical
Top-line results 47 percent 40 percent 46 percent 22 percent
Bottom-line results 36 percent 31 percent 26 percent 26 percent
Compliance with regulations and strategy 34 percent 31 percent 32 percent 37 percent
Soft value 26 percent 37 percent 32 percent 44 percent


In an e-book by Bob Ferrari, managing director of the Ferrari Consulting and Research Group, the case is made for tight integration of NPI and supply chain management. It’s well worth reading, particularly as this is a development we’re likely to see across all commercial sectors—sooner rather than later.

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Date posted: February 5, 2015

Part One – The Quiz

As a writer, I’ve frequently worked on the development of brand names or project names for B2B companies, but rarely have they involved personification. Not that I wouldn’t love to give an algorithm a face, or even have my name associated with one, but that sort of thing rarely happens in the world where I work.

Not so in the B2C arena.

Consumerist recently posted a delightful quiz asking if you knew whether a branded product was based on a real or fictional person. I scored 67%— and have no idea how that stacks up against the norm; but thought that the readers of this blog might enjoy trying their luck.

Today I’’ll post the Consumerist quiz; a few days later the answers. Let’s see how you do! Are these brands referencing real people or imagined ones?


  1. Betty Crocker
  • Real
  • Fiction
  1. Chef Boyardee
  • Real
  • Fiction
  1. Sara Lee
    • Real
    • Fiction


  1. Juan Valdez
    • Real
    • Fiction


  1. Totino’s
    • Real
    • Fiction


  1. Aunt Jemima
    • Real
    • Fiction


  1. Duncan Hines
    • Real
    • Fiction


  1. Francesco Rinaldi
    • Real
    • Fiction


  1. Auntie Anne’s
    • Real
    • Fiction


  1. Jennie O’s
    • Real
    • Fiction


  1. Denny’s
    • Real
    • Fiction


  1. Wendy’s
    • Real
    • Fiction


      Come back for the answers and the stories.

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Date posted: February 2, 2015

A number of interesting articles have appeared on B2B content marketing last month, which remains a very hot topic in the business press. These two in particular caught my eye:

The Business2Community blog points out eight content marketing trends to look for in the coming year:

  1. Content marketing will be more targeted and personal.
  2. Content marketing will used more paid placements.
  3. Content marketing will use more marketing automation tools.
  4. Content marketing will use more professional writers.
  5. Content marketing will focus more on distribution.
  6. Content marketing will marry social media.
  7. Content marketing will be increasingly mobile.
  8. Content marketing will become more graphic with visual storytelling.

On Forbes, Jayson DeMers points out five mistakes commonly being made in content marketing strategy:

  1. Right content, wrong audience.
    The author says this may be the most common mistake he sees businesses making, and points out to avoid it: test out a variety of content with your audience. “Consult your analytics to see which content has performed well in the past, and emulate that in terms of format, readability score and promotion and distribution methods, notes DeMers.
  2. Not tracking and measuring the results of your content marketing efforts.
    According to the 2015 B2B Content Marketing Trends report, 49% of B2B business owners are still having trouble measuring the effectiveness of their content.
  3. Assuming your readers can’t see your motivation.
    “When creating content, don’t hesitate to be transparent in revealing your motivation.,” advises DeMers. “Your audience is usually able to quickly deduce what your motivation is anyway, and being transparent about it can help build trust.”
  4. Not knowing how your content fits into your marketing funnel.
    One of the best ways to make sure your content works within your funnel is by using appropriate calls to action. For each piece of content you create and promote, understand exactly what you want the reader or viewer to do next.
  5. Not paying enough attention to the distribution of your content
    Effective content marketing involves content planning, content creation and content distribution. Unfortunately, it’s very common for marketers to get the first two correct— but to neglect the third. According to Contently’s State of Content Marketing report, this is the year when content marketers will finally understand the need for a distribution strategy

I would add another to DeMers’ list: not getting content when you expect it. Content marketing strategy involves timing— getting the material to market when it needs to be there. For those employing professional writers to help develop content, making sure they meet deadlines without fail is a priority.

It’s certainly one of ours that our B2B clients depend on.



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