The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Opposites Attract? [Should Ink Stink II]
January 8, 2008, 7:39 am
Filed under: Crap Marketing Ideas From History!

A while back I wrote a post about Mont Blanc’s seemingly mental decision to extend their brand into premium-priced aftershave.

Despite lots of discussion with various people, I am still none the wiser why anyone would do this – however just as I was happy to put the issue to rest and write it off as another example of strategy counting for nothing when companies think there’s money to be made – another moment of brand madness hit me square between the eyes …


For those of you who can’t see what I’m on about … it’s SanDisk’s licensing of Ducati Motorcycles for their ‘Extreme’ range of SD Cards.

SD cards … those little things you can now place in almost anything electronic for added memory storage!

OK … so they’re obviously trying to link the speed of a Ducati motorbike with the speed of their, errrrrrrm computer data cards … but come on, how absolutely shite is that?

No doubt SanDisk paid a small fortune to Ducati for the privilege of using their name and yet there are so many other ‘speedy things’ they could of associated with for a fraction of the cash …


Women In A Shoe Sale

A Fat Kid In A Cake Shop

Apple’s Launch Of iPods

Andy’s Lovemaking

Ducati 999

I have to say though, my personal fave of Sandisk’s ‘Extreme’ range is a USB memory card that resembles a motorbikes petrol tank.

No, I am not joking.

And apart from the fact it would immediately label you a complete twat … it’s so bulky that it defies the logic of portable memory storage!

I am [almost] willing to bet that the person who brokered this deal is a mad Ducati fan and did this in the hope of either …

[1] Getting a free bike


[2] Just being able to hang around like the bike groupie he/she obviously is

Freddie Mercury

At least when LG do alliances with Prada, Armani and soon-to-be-announced Rolex, there’s some logic to the dalliance [even if it almost always benefits LG more than the other brand partner] – however when brands like Sandisk [and pretty much any tech company that associates with Ferrari] do it, you can’t help but feel it’s done more for the ego of the CEO/Marketing Director than liberating the brand.

There’s a rather wonderful story that a few years ago, an International fast-food company paid well over the odds for a licensing deal with a very famous – but slightly outdated – children’s entertainment brand because the Marketing Director was gay and wanted to impress his counterpart.

If the story is to be believed, the strategy worked because supposedly when both families met up on the way to the 1998 World Cup Finals, the two men announced to their shocked families that they were in love, they they were going to attend the finals by themselves and on their return, were going to seek a divorce from their respective partners.

Unsurprisingly, the companies both men worked for were appalled – not just because they represented classic family values, but because one of the parties had [potentially] paid out millions more dollars for no other reason than to aid in the seduction of his counterpart.

Apparently they were both sacked – but got away without being sued because the embarrassment of the case would be potentially brand destroying.

I can’t say for certain this happened because I wasn’t there – but I was told this story by an incredibly senior executive at one of the companies involved – so my advice is that if you’re a shareholder in a company that suddenly announces it is doing a major strategic alliance, I recommend you look carefully at the specific people involved in forging the deal – because you might just find the only strategy involved is the one that benefits the individual rather than the company as a whole.

Just a thought 🙂

59 Comments so far
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Andy’s lovemaking – that’s genius – both small and rapid!

Comment by John

Why did I know you’d like that?

[Though it’s probably because you’re glad I’m taking the piss out of Andy rather than you 🙂 ]

Comment by Rob

You only slagged off Andy because you thought he was safely out of reach of this blog. Well he was till I sent him an SMS. Karma. 🙂

Comment by Pete

Just lulling you into a false sense of security oh one and only. And wait till George Parker finds out you’re comparing him to a geriatric hippy.

Comment by John

It’s only the 8th day of the new year and I’m already doomed. That’s a record – even for me!

[I love both George’s – Parker & Carlin – so that was actually meant to be a compliment. Oh well, 🙂 ]

Comment by Rob

Parker and Carlin but no Bryant? You really are doing your best to alienate your friends at the moment aren’t you Robert?

Comment by Pete

“Auntie George” is currently living the Billionaire’s life without having to pay a dime – do you really blame me for not liking him? 🙂

Comment by Robert

I like all Georges!

Comment by John

I never liked George, his wife and kids are alright, but he’s horrible 🙂

Comment by Pete

Except for those that any of you can associate with dubious behaviour! Obviously!

Comment by John

Nice save John …

[I do love it when George and Andy are away, ha!]

Comment by Robert

I like this post Robert but unfortunately the comments have reminded me how dear George is enjoying the time of his life so I dare not add any comment as my envy is pushing my blood pressure levels into dangerously high territory.

But it is a very good post and I will buy you a lovely luncheon if you spill the beans on which companies/people were involved in the gay scam you mention.

Happy new year to you and all who come here.

Comment by Lee Hill

That’s two of us who need a lie down then Lee.

Happy New Year to you too …

Now will someone – anyone – write a serious comment about this post? Jeez, I try and write something halfway normal and all I get is tangent abuse. Mind you, I should be used to it by now – that’s all that happened last year as well, ha!

Comment by Robert

That Freddie Mercury .jpg is BANNED IN CHINA 😉

OK. You know what I think about Montblanc fragrance. Its a luxury brand, its a duty free purchase as are luxury pens and fragrances and I happen to like the brand. (Monty is in the Beijing shop getting a new nib right now waiting for the Haikus I’m going to write – I kid you not)

Ferrari and SD cards doesn’t on the surface seem to be an alliance that works well. One is a luxury car and the other is a tech accessory. I don’t think they suit each other but in principle all entities that thrive off fossil fuel driven profits need to find a technology partner. Only technology can now help us overcome the accelerated culture that seemingly will lead to our demise. Something like fighting fire with fire .

On a brand partnership level I noticed the Ferrari Shop at The Place in Beijing over the weekend. Its an obvious attempt to flog accessories under the Ferrari name. I think Ferrari are way off piste with this money grubbing policy at the moment and it shows in everything from their Ferrari sweaters to the Ferrari Key Rings that damage their brand.

I do believe that when there is a genuine interest in brands to extend their portfolio in areas that the brand are truly interested in, then their is a chance to prosper. The flip side of that is so many brands in say China are international imports and their raison d’etre is to make money. It shows in everything they do from the way they speak to the way they nervously follow eachother. There is not enough vision or leadership which is a deep irony because it is the same leadership and vision that established the brands in the first place.

Some people don’t quite get that if you get into this business for money than all you get out of it at best is money. But brands? That’s in a different league. It takes balls and belief. A desire to do things a different way.

I still think Montblanc makes sense as a luxury brand extension. Particularly because Dunlop who make tires also make damn good mens fragrance 😉

Comment by Charles Frith

Perceptive as ever Mr. Hill.

Comment by John

The great smell of rubber Mr. Frith?

Comment by John

I knew I could rely on you Mr Frith.

And while I am shocked NP must be incharge of the censorship rules of China [given the ban of the Freddie Mercury pic] you – as usual – raise some interesting points.

Ferrari and Lamborgini [it’s never Ford is it, ha!] are total whores with their brand.

Hari told me yesterday they even have a childrens push chair with their name on it. I can sort-of understand ‘JEEP’ going into this area [or even Tonka] but Ferrari?

I mean what sort of sad-bastard Dad would pay a premium for a push chair just because it has a Ferrari badge on it. Hell, it’s not like the kid would know who they are – and even if they did, they’d probably prefer Fisher Price.

Of course brand extention is a valid strategy for growth and prosperity – however like you said, when an alliance is done without a genuine association/interest between the brands involved, everyone can spot it for the sad attempt to shortcut the sales process that it really is.

What’s worse is this approach tends to end up either undermining the whole strategy or only benefiting one of the parties involved – so it just fucks everyone up in the longer term.

This is especially bad in China because lets face it, most Western brands ventured there because they thought it was the gold rush all over again.

The irony is that while many Western brands have gone in with this ‘lets pickpocket the locals’ attitude, the reality is that it’s the Chinese who are pickpocketing the Western brands because not only are they reaping the rewards of this excessive foreign investment, but in many cases, they are able to plagarise the ‘mother brand’ for their own gain.

Maybe this is why many companies do so many alliances – in an attempt to stay one step ahead of the piracy, and while I can understand it from some twisted profit-protection point of view, it’s not exactly building a solid brand for the future, especially when you flog your name to fucking SD cards!

As for the Montblanc aftershave – go for it Charles, you might also be interested in the Playdoh version, another example of brand vanity.


Comment by Robert

The smell of rubber eh, Charles?

Are you helping that woman out that I mentioned on the blog yesterday?


Comment by Robert

I love Ferrari cars. But it makes me sick how much they whore their brand out. It’s playing into this whole “luxury” craze that’s sweeping most of the world at the moment. Unfortunately I think one day they (and other like minded brands) will regret it.

Comment by Age

I hope some of the money-grabbing scum regret it Age … starting with the Hendrix family who sold his soul [literally] to those Vodka wankers.

I still believe real brand ‘status’ is more about exclusivity then just premium price points, but I wrote about that a ton of times, but just incase 🙂

Comment by Robert

I agree with this post wholeheartedly. Brand unions can be a very powerful strategy but too many organisations seem to utilize them because they see it as a way to cut back on the necessary investment in their core property.
Great post.

Comment by Andrew Peterson

Ferrari as well as Ducati (unlike Volkswagen or Yamaha) are no brands anymore. They are stars. So Ferrari can put their name on whatever they like…toilet paper, condoms, colon hydrocleanse…it will always be that they’ll make a fortune and their partner will be the sad moron.
Unfortunately the same goes for Ducati and SanDisk what is sad because I really love SanDisk for inventing the USB-Flashcard. No more connecting my digicam to my Mac with tons of cables. Just a small card…brilliant.
But as long as both brands aren’t the same fame status it will always be that one partner will profit more or one will look like the absolute deadbeat.
Nike and Apple for instance was genius. Two famous, loved brands get together to create something new and amazing. Kaching, bloody tops.
LG and Prada was ridiculous as the phone is shite and a brand like Prada simply doesn’t fit to the ugly and bad quality phone culture of LG.
Nokia and WESC is slightly better but as well a desperate try to get street credibility.

The best solution for a cooperation is when both partners create something new. The young, unskilled and slightly bad looking brother of this duo is the “let’s just put both our names on a product, we do the technique and you come up with some fancy accessoires that’ll make as look cool”-cooperation, commonly done by mobile companies. The smallest, most disgusting and malformed brother unfortunately is the one done by SanDisk. The “we are absolutely desperate and have no appeal to people so we spend a fortune on cooperating with a famous brand to cover the fact that we are to stupid to build our own one what we never really learnt while studying business administration and international management at that fancy university”.

Respect to the man in the ice-cream van.

Comment by Seb

Hello Andrew …

Not sure if you’ve popped on here before because your language is far more intelligent than the usual comment that’s bashed out 🙂

I understand where you’re coming from and without doubt some companies approach alliances with the wrong attitude, but in the right circumstances, it has the power to jump-start a brand into both the public’s conciousness as well as aspiration.

Sometimes. 🙂

Comment by Rob

I like your post Seb a hell-of-a-lot.

I don’t totally agree with it [of course] mainly because whilst Ferrari are most definitely a ‘STAR’, you imply that it means they’ve earnt the right to flog themselves to death without any risk of the public developing a negative reaction to them.

You might not of meant that – and I appreciate I’m putting words into your errrrrm, mouth/blog – but my view is that whilst they’ve earnt the right to be abit more flagrant with their brand associations, if they don’t keep investing in why people should regard them with the esteem they currently enjoy – it could all end in tears. Sure it won’t happen overnight – but as the Pantene shampoo ads say, it will happen.

I’ve written quite alot of posts about this, but for me the brands/stars that have the greatest longevity [and social infiltration] are the ones who continually fight for consumers to adore them – not those living off some past glory.

NIKE have it … Virgin have it … Apple have it … Tesco’s have it … Google have it … Radiohead have it … lots of brands have ‘it’ … but not nearly as many as those who don’t 🙂

I do have to say I absolutely agree that the best associations tend to be when both parties create something new and exciting – yet inherently linked to what both of them are associated with [ala the NIKE/APPLE collaberation] … it’s just sad that many companies vision only extends to the end of the week because there are some amazing products waiting to be developed as a byproduct of real brand collaberation.

Comment by Rob

I absolutely agree.
No, wait. I disagree.
a) Tesco don’t have it.
b) Ferrari can do whatever the fuck they want as long as it’s not related to war or discriminating. But with the rest they can go nuts, buddy. They only give their logo for cooperations so it doesn’t affect their product. The cars will always be a dream for most man. Nobody will care where their logo is. Even if it is on a vaginal shower.

Comment by Seb

I’d marry any girl who had Ferrari vaginal shower.

Comment by Age

Sorry mate but Tesco’s absolutely have it.

Whether you like them or not, people appreciate they are a brand who continually fights for their customers loyalty – not by just making food cheaper [though that is one area they have done very well in] but by creating opportunities that help their customers [and the wider society] become a better place.

This can be in areas such as the original ‘Books For Schools’ program right through to the mad, but brilliant ‘Trim Trolley’ … which is far better than most brands who say “WE CARE” then carry on regardless.

Sure TESCO’s are doing it for their own purposes, but they appreciate they can make money whilst making things better – which ultimately is the best magnet for consumer growth.

Of course this is just my opinion however a survey a couple of years ago said the British public trusted Tesco’s more [interms of having their best interests at heart] than the British Government.

Of course the flaw in my argument is that the public probably thought the local Fish & Chip shop had their interests more in mind than Blair’s mob but lets move on eh, ha!

As for Ferrari being able to do what the fuck they want. I can understand why you say that – and maybe you’re right – however if their associations are continually dumbed down, mass market and inapprorpirate, I am of the belief the consumer will start to find/look for other alternatives because cred is something that starts to be undermined.

It happened to Disney and it could happen to Ferrari if people start to know them more for their associations than their own brand.

Maybe 🙂

Comment by Rob

Even though they’re the sort-of woman you’re Mum warned you against Age?

Comment by Rob

And do you mean a shower shaped liked a vagina?

Wouldn’t that mean you’d be indulging in a ‘golden shower’ type-of-scenario?

Not that I know what that even means. Honest.

Comment by Rob

No way Rob. My Dad at least would be so proud if I managed to snag a woman with a high end luxury vag! Ha!

OMG how wrong of me. OK gents, enjoy the night shift I’m outski!

Comment by Age

Dear Mum … please forgive Age his reckless comments, he’s young!.

Hell, if that doesn’t wash with you – how about the fact he’s a nice guy who is senstive, smart and kind?

Alright – he’s Italian – does that work?

Anyway on his behalf, I say sorry. 🙁

Comment by Rob

Briilliant. It’s 7:14 in the morning in Hamburg and we’re already talking about a luxury vag. But that’s what I love about this blog, you’re from branding, Ducati and SanDisk to a vaginal shower in the glimpse of a light.

Comment by Seb

ARGH sorry Rob!
Signora Campbell, sono molto spiacente. Prego lo perdono!

Comment by Age

Age: Creep! 🙂

Seb: As you can tell, nothings changed while you’ve been gone, ha!

Comment by Rob

the models by thr bike are good though


Comment by np

Ok, I am very worried about this post!

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Hello NP – your first comment of the year and you don’t even say ‘Happy New Year’. You’ve changed since you joined TBWA, ha!

And Mr M … you have obviously forgotten how this blog works. I spend a while writing something I feel is important and no one pays the slightest bit of attention. It helps keep me ‘real’ – well that’s my excuse anyway 🙂

Comment by Rob

And to prove nothing has changed – NP has shown his typing capabilities are as terrible as ever.

That gives me a nice warm feeling.

Comment by Robert

It was a good post though!

Comment by Rob Mortimer


[Maybe Freddie should start a “Does Rob C Look Gay Today” blog, hahaha]

Comment by Rob

And Seb is wrong – no company can do whatever they want – ask Burberry (even if it wasn’ty entirely their fault). When Ferrari weren’t winning races they were nowhere near as cool as they are now. Stardom is related to core performance and
extensions should tie into that – sure the disk people look the more desparate in your example but others will think what have Ducati got to do with disks? exyensions related to your core ability (and not adjectives that describe them such as rapid) are sensible – they’re have strategic coherence. Extensions that relate to a shared audience are much more worrying because a shared attitude/need is what you should be focussing upon.

Comment by John

Can anyone spot the professional here? It certainly ain’t me! [But you already knew that!]

Comment by Rob

Actually Rob, I can’t. Nope – are you giving clues on that one?

Comment by Marcus

Yes. Lee.

Comment by Rob


Comment by Marcus


Comment by Rob

Who me?

Comment by Marcus

I’m not asking – I’m telling, hahaha!

Comment by Rob

this ducati sundisk card is just like age’s ferrari vag shower- what the fuck?? just trying to make something that’s ostensibly crap, hot and sexy?

Comment by lauren

Are you saying to me that the Sandisk USB is now hot and sexy because it has a Ferrari logo on it? Please tell me no my lovely Lauren …

Comment by Rob

Ferrari were way cooler when they had Mansell and Berger.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

🙂 Amazing!

Comment by foundress

I do the typing thing on purpose you know

(happy new year mate)

Comment by np

have no fear rob. i was merely saying that it was trying to appear so.

Comment by lauren

This blog is a weapon of mass confusion. I’m very glad it’s back.

Comment by Pete

Indeed Pete, its a mindwarper…

Comment by Rob Mortimer

There’s been a lot of burning rubber in my lurve life Doddsy. I’ll drop you a few tips in my next email. I love this blog 😉

Comment by Charles Frith

I’m leaving now.

Comment by fredrik sarnblad

Leaving? LEAVING?

You’re not allowed to leave. Oh hang on, yes you are, you don’t work for me anymore. Unfortunately.

Comment by Rob

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