Archives For May 2013

The National Geographic Society’s purpose is to inspire people to care about their planet. It is one of the largest nonprofit scientific and educational institutions in the world. Its interests include geography, archaeology and natural science, and the promotion of environmental and historical conservation. The National Geographic Society aims to be an international leader for global conservation and environmental sustainability.


National Geographic is celebrating its 125 anniversary this year. The National Geographic Society was founded in January 1888 as an educational society to increase geographic knowledge. In October 1888, the society began publishing the National Geographic Magazine as a benefit for joining the society. Using revenues from membership, the Society has supported many groundbreaking scientific adventures including Jacques-Yves Cousteau’s “Undersea World”, Jane Goodall’s “Chimpanzees” and Richard Byrd’s “First Flight over the South Pole”.

The National Geographic Magazine is famous and instantly recognized for the yellow border, stunning pictures, detailed maps and stories about the world. As a kid, I loved to flip through the magazine and look at the pictures. I alway felt better educated after looking though National Geographic Magazine, Very few people tossed the magazine out and they had a tendency pile up around the house.


Today, any publishing companies are struggling to find a business model that will work in a digital world. National Geographic’s subscription revenue has declined significantly over the past ten years. The value of becoming a member, once a matter of prestige, has eroded. National Geographic has evolved from a legacy print brand to a leading digital brand with global reach. National Geographic has made large investments in various forms of media including the internet, movies and television. The brand generates over half of its revenue from programming. The National Geographic Channel is available in 85 million homes in the United States. This summer the channel will feature returning series like “Ultimate Survival Alaska” “Life Below Zero” and new series including “Battleground Afghanistan” and “Eyewitness War”.


National Geographic is a great example of a traditional print organization that has fully embraced digital and broadcast media in a changing world to remain relevant to its customer base.

What comes to mind for you when you think of the National Geographic Society?


Power Bar is the original energy bar. The brand is in large part responsible for creating a new multi-billion dollar food category. Power Bar was founded by Brian Maxwell, a world-class marathon runner who was born in England and grew up in Toronto. In 1983, Maxwell was running a British marathon when he suddenly ran out of energy three-quarters of the way through the race. He became dizzy and weak and finished in seventh place. He was very disappointed. Maxwell was sure that low blood sugar has contributed to his loss and was determined to find a way to combat this problem.


He came up with a snack food that could be eaten before, during or after a race. His product would be low in fat, high in carbohydrates and give the body an energy boost. In 1985, Maxwell was still running marathons and supporting himself with a low-paying coaching position at the University of California- Berkeley. There he met Jennifer Bidulph, a 20 year-old nutrition student and began testing recipes for high-energy snack foods.  

After three years and creating hundreds of formulations, they developed a unique low-fat energy bar with a balance of carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, fibre and protein was born. Power Bar received mixed initial results. Serious athletes liked it because it met an important need-quick energy during competition. However the taste and consistency needed work. Maxwell knew his original product wasn’t perfect. But by getting feedback on early versions, he was able to modify it and improve it. His athletic friends tested the product and experienced performance improvements. Maxwell’s approach of purposely launching an imperfect product has been adopted by many well organizations recently as a new innovation tactic. Power Bar is another example of an innovation that was developed because a good product solution didn’t exist. Maxwell identified a job to be done and developed an innovative product to meet that need.

The bars quickly became essential equipment among top cyclists, runners and triathletes and their use soon spread to many other sports. Demand grew so much that today PowerBar products are distributed in over 35 countries and the PowerBar brand has become synonymous with nutrition, energy and optimum performance. Power Bar eventually became a $150 million dollar business by appealing to passionate athletes who needed an energy boost. In 2000, Power Bar was purchased by Nestle for $350 million.

After a break for the Memorial Day weekend and a slight case of writer’s block, I am back at it sharing stories about innovative brands. Please send me your feedback.

What is your favorite energy bar?

The Weber Grill was invented in 1951 by George Stephen who worked at Weber Brothers Metal Works, outside of Chicago welding metal spheres together to create buoys. While making buoys he came up with the idea for a better grill. George was frustrated with the uneven and uncontrollable flame of open brazier grilling. George cut a buoy in half, added some air vents and legs and invented the original Weber Kettle Grill. His innovation: a dome-shaped grill with a lid to protect food from the elements, while sealing in that only from the grill barbecue flavor. His goal was simply to cook a better steak. George’s post World War II invention was the beginning of the American Backyard Barbecue as we know it today. The Weber Kettle grill is an American Icon.


In 1985, Weber introduced a revolutionary line of gas grills—known as the Genesis®. This line of gas grills transformed the market, offering consumers precise heat control and virtually flare-up free cooking. With its patented cooking system, it was possible to cook anything you could do in your oven on your grill.

Most serious grillers that I know have a strong emotional connection with the Weber Brand and would never consider buying another brand even if they could save a few dollars. I own both a Weber Gas Grill and a Weber Kettle grill and switch between them depending on time and the food to be cooked. I live in the Northeast and grill year round even in the coldest weather. This weekend both of my Weber Grills will be used extensively even if the weather does not cooperate. I must admit that I have a strong emotional connection with my Weber Grills. For me it represents family, friends, great meals, memories and the opportunity to experiment and try cooking new things like a turkey for Thanksgiving.

Weber logo

In 2013, the brand published its tenth grilling cookbook. Several of their cookbooks have won awards. The brand created Weber to support its growing, loyal and passionate fan base. It is a unique interactive web experience that provides content and tips for everything from selecting the right cuts of meat, to cooking instructions, real user stories, mouth-watering recipes and more all designed to enhance the grilling experience. Weber understands that its role is to sell more than grills but to provide tools and ideas to enhance the grilling experience. That realization has helped build a great brand.

Weber conducts and publishes an annual survey called the Weber Grillwatch Survey. Some interesting grilling trends have emerged:

  • Sixty-two percent of Americans own an outdoor barbecue grill. The majority of grill owners own a gas model (63 Percent); 51 percent own a charcoal grill.
  • Nearly one-half of grill owners fire up their grill year-round, Thirty three percent use their grill when it’s below freezing.
  • 61 percent of grillers report that they are grilling healthier food.
  • The Fourth of July is the most popular holiday of the year for grilling, with 86 percent of grill owners firing up the grill followed by Labor Day (75 percent) and Memorial Day (68 percent).

What is your favorite grilling story?

Earthbound Farms is the largest organic produce brand in the United States. Earthbound Farms was founded in California’s Carmel Valley in 1984 by Drew and Myra Goodman, young transplants from Manhattan, drawn to the natural beauty and richness of the land. They settled on a 2 1/2-acre raspberry farm and decided that doing the right thing meant committing to farming the land organically, producing food they wanted to eat themselves and would feel good about serving their families and friends. Their first crop was organic raspberries, which they sold at their roadside stand. They originally thought that they would live on the farms for a year or so.


In 1986, they became the first company to successfully launch pre-washed, packaged salad for retail sale. Their mixed baby greens and spring mix started a salad revolution. Today gourmet salad greens and packaged salads are staples at most grocery stores. Earthbound Farms is credited with popularizing spring mix salads.

The success of Earthbound Farms opened the door to organic food at big-name retailers like Costco, Wal-Mart, Safeway, and Albertsons. By 2003, Earthbound Farm’s line of organic salads, fruits and vegetables were available in 75% of US Grocery Stores.

Earthbound Farms has become the country’s largest producer of organic produce and is committed to becoming a catalyst for positive change in our kitchens and environment. Today, research confirms the environmental and nutritional benefits of organic food. Sadly, only 3.5% of the food we eat and beverages we drink are certified organic.

Earthbound Farms has received numerous awards and recognition for environmental sustainability. Myra Goodman has also published two organic cookbooks. Earthbound Farms is another story of two entrepreneurs who created a brand that has had a positive impact on society while making money. Earthbound Farms sales are estimated to exceed $460 million with earnings of $75 million before taxes, interest and depreciation.

Do you buy organic produce when it is available?

Tom’s of Maine is another great story of entrepreneurs who built an environmentally friendly sustainable brand and business.

In 1968, Tom and Kate Chappell left Philadelphia, where Tom worked for an insurance company, and moved to rural Kennebunk, Maine. As part of their goal to simplify their lives, they sought out natural, unprocessed foods and, unadulterated products. Unable to find natural personal care options for themselves and their children, in 1970 Tom and Kate decided to create and sell their own. They began with a $5,000 loan from a friend and the philosophy that their products would not harm the environment. From this small start, Tom’s of Maine grew and developed into a different kind of brand, one based on the belief that people and nature deserve respect.

toms of maine

Tom’s of Maine has been one of the pioneers of “green” business, manufacturing toothpaste and other personal care items from natural ingredients since 1970. The company’s products are biodegradable, packaged in recycled paper board with soy-based inks, and don’t involve animal testing. Tom’s uses wind power to run its manufacturing plant in Kennebunk, Maine, and donates 10 percent of its profits to charitable organizations.

When they first started out, this brand-new idea of natural products and sustainable companies seemed a little crazy to some. Over time more and more people have begun to believe that nature can provide many of the health benefits we need and that companies should minimize their environmental impact.

In 1988, after 18 years in business, the Tom’s of Maine leadership realized that they needed to formalize their values and beliefs into a document to help guide the future growth and management of the company. Led by Tom and Kate Chappell, the team met and grappled with such philosophical concepts as ethics, science, legality, emotion, and morality and how it all applied to running a sustainable business eventually emerging with a clear Reason for Being.

Tom’s of Maine is very clear on why they do what they do. Their reason for being is outlined below:

  • To serve our customers’ health needs with imaginative science from plants and minerals
  • To inspire all those we serve with a mission of responsibility and goodness;
  • To empower others by sharing our knowledge, time, talents and profits
  • To help create a better world by exchanging our faith, experience and hope.

In 2006, Tom’s was purchased by the Colgate-Palmolive Company. The terms of the purchase stipulated that the policies and company culture of Tom’s of Maine, a crucial part of what makes the company so valuable will be retained.

Have you tried any Tom’s of Maine products?

Burt’s Bees is an “Earth Friendly, Natural Brand of skin care products. Burt’s Bees is a brand that believes in the power of a purpose, and doing business the right way. Burt’s Bees operates under a business model referred to as “The Greater Good” which outlines that all company practices must be socially responsible. To reflect this philosophy, Burt’s Bees uses natural ingredients, engages in environmentally friendly business practices, and extends its humanitarian efforts to the community at large. They manage their business to a triple bottom line; people, profits and planet. Burt’s Bees creates natural, Earth-friendly personal care products formulated to help you maximize your well-being and that of the world around you.


The origin of Bert’s Bees is also an inspiring entrepreneurial story. Bert’s Bees was founded by Roxanne Quimby, a mother and waitress and Burt Shavitz, a beekeeper in Maine in 1984. The two teamed up to sell candles made from the beeswax created as a by-product of Burt’s honey business at local fairs. Over time they expanded into the skin care business. Today, Burt’s Bees has nearly 400 employees with products available through approximately 30,000 retail stores in the United States, as well as Canada, UK, Taiwan and through its online store. In 2007, the Clorox Company acquired Burt’s Bees for $913 million dollars. Clorox acquired Bert’s Bees to learn from their business practices centered on environmental sustainability.

The brand’s purpose is to help create and educate people on truly natural products that have a positive effect on both humans and the world. Their brand promise is to deliver Earth Friendly, Natural Personal Care for the Greater Good.

Burt’s Bees culture and operating model has been built on the following beliefs:

  • Natural products should be 100% natural.
  • Companies should be transparent.
  • All packaging should hold to the highest standard possible of environmental sensitivity.
  • The rights of both humans and animals should be preserved.
  • We believe in giving back.
  • Taking care of people who make its business what it is.

The company’s vision for future is to become the #1 natural personal care business in the world, adored by consumers, desired by its customers and working in harmony with the environment. 

Burt’s Bees has been a pioneer in sustainable business practices.

Have you tried Bert Bees products?

Last week Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the launch of New York’s largest tourism campaign in decades committing nearly $60 million to grow the industry, create jobs and attract more visitors to the Empire State. Tourism is the fifth largest employment sector in New York generating more than $29 billion in wages in 2012. One out of every 12 jobs in New York is tourism related.

“I LOVE NY” is one of the most successful and innovative state branding campaigns in history. When it was launched in 1977, no other state had done anything like it. In 1977, William S. Doyle, Deputy Commissioner of the New York State Department of Commerce hired advertising agency Wells Rich and Greene to develop a marketing campaign for New York State. Doyle also recruited graphic designer Milton Glaser to work on the campaign.


In 1977, New York State was in the middle of a deep economic slump and New York City was crime-ridden and bankrupt. After some initial research, the State convinced the legislature to invest $4 million dollars, a huge amount at the time with the promise of brining in $8 million in revenue.

The “I LOVE NY” campaign was a star-studded extravaganza. Entire casts of Broadway shows and celebrities like Frank Sinatra and Liza Minnelli declared their love of New York in popular television commercials. Steve Karmen wrote the “I Love NY song and Milton Glaser created a famous logo. The first campaign exceeded expectations and brought in $28 million in revenue for New York State.

The trademark I LOVE NY logo is one of the most recognizable in the travel industry. The logo has taken on a life of its own and has been promoted on state souvenirs for years.

The “I LOVE NY” campaign has been successful in rebranding New York City but has had less effect on upstate tourism. When most people outside of the state hear New York, they think the city not upstate. The recent challenge has been to expand “I LOVE NY”  to represent the New York State Brand, not just a New York City Icon. Recent creative executions have leveraged the city and a New York attitude to promote both the city and state.

I applaud Governor Cuomo’s to decision to invest in building the “I LOVE NY” brand. The state has a great story to tell. The city and upstate has so much to offer to travelers, students and businesses.

What is your favorite place to visit in New York?