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USF Branding — Be BULLISH.

So woke up Sunday to page 1A in the Tampa Bay Times, complete with photo on the jump page.

USF works to remake its muddled brand. Right now, ‘it doesn’t really say anything’


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So this happened — Go Bulls!

So about five weeks ago I joined the University of South Florida (USF) System as Chief Marketing Officer.  A coming home of sorts, back to Tampa and back to higher education, two things I really love.

Green Ties

I’ve been charged with working with the USF System (Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota/Manatee) to develop a branding campaign that will tie it all together and tell the incredible story of the USF journey over the past 60-plus years.

There will be challenges, but the opportunities are huge.  Stay tuned as we begin the journey.

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Damn, I just poured gravy on my Cobb Salad

I don’t know about you, but I think I’ll be eating Christmas dinner for the next week. Turkey, ham, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, peas, cranberries, applesauce, biscuits, pies and more.

Not that I’m complaining. My average meal is pretty standard fare but the holidays always put me over the top.


I don’t feel bad though.  The average person eats more than 7,000 calories on Christmas day. That’s more than three times the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s recommended daily caloric intake.

I try to be good, starting with a healthy breakfast of . . . bacon, eggs and cinnamon rolls. Might have a pancake or two, too.

Not going to eat lunch because dinner will be mid-afternoon, but I end up snacking until then.  Then I pound down the 7,000.

But so much for dinner and now leftovers.

I’ve just poured gravy all over the Cobb Salad I was having for lunch two days after Christmas!

Trying to defeat some of those 7,000 calories, I was going to have salad for lunch. The salad dressing came in a little plastic container that looked just like the container that held the leftover gravy.  Knew I should have left it in the gravy bowl.

And I ate it, nevertheless. And it was good.

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Creativity Trumps Big Data

Some marketing execs are having a hard time dealing with Donald Trump’s win and it will take time for the nation to come to grips with change. But as we all know, change is inevitable and it’s generally a good thing.

Change is not always easy. For those of us in the marketing & communications business change is constant. New tools and analytics, big data, small data, snapchat, instagram, sprout, vine . . . not, there’s that change thing.

And this won’t make you feel any better: A Forrester Research Report says at least 30% of CEOs will fire their CMO’s for “not mustering the blended skill set they need personally to pull off digital business transformation.” The report cautions CMOs to “develop their art and science acumen to survive.” Because, the report states, companies “with analytic-focused CMOs underperform, while marketers with both analytic and creative skills helm the strongest companies.”

Forrester just confirms what we all know, creativity is king when it comes to brand development and differentiation.

The report comes on the heels of a great article by brand guru Bob Hoffman which he titles:

The Opposite of Data (http://adcontrarian.blogspot.com)

You don’t need an MBA to figure out that most of the really big marketing successes of our time did not come from data analysis or business models or strategy briefs or professional marketers. They came from daydreamers with a hunch:

Steve Jobs
Walt Disney
K. Rowling
Mark Zuckerberg
The list could go on for weeks.

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Political Advertising — Bad for your brand

I’ve never been a fan of political season. The ads have taken over the airwaves and print waves and you just can’t escape.

From a marketing perspective, the season also presents challenges during an election year. Mid-November when things are cranking up for the Holidays would seem the perfect time to launch a new campaign or amplify an existing one.

But be warned, survey says Political Advertising can damage the message and the brand.  And because you can’t avoid it . . .

That leads me to a question though; what happens to a political ad that appears after a political ad?  Is Hillary’s message dismissed if it runs after Donald’s?  Is Donald’s obscured by Hillary?  If so, the campaign with the most advertising — the most money to spend — wins the ad effectiveness battle.



Reprinted from Ad Age:

When a brand ad runs after a political ad — even one with a positive message — it’s perceived as less effective and appealing, according to a study by J. Walter Thompson.

The online study, conducted in partnership with Forethought, looked at Survey Sampling International responses from 3,600 people ages 18 and older in September.

Twelve recent spots from presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were used in the research. Half of the ads were “positive,” or did not denigrate either opponent, and the rest were “negative,” or attack ads. The brand ad used in the study was a 30-second Extra gum spot called “The Story of Sarah and Juan.”

One of the key findings from the survey was that political advertising, regardless of whether or not it is positive or negative, stimulates negative emotions from consumers.

Participants who viewed the brand ad after a political ad perceived the brand spot as 32% less relevant, 29% less entertaining and 27% less appealing, the study shows.

“What’s really interesting is that the negative response to the brand ad wasn’t limited to the ad itself; there was a negative response to the brand overall,” said Mark Truss, global director of brand intelligence at J. Walter Thompson.

Not only did Extra’s brand reputation drop 34% by survey participants who saw the spot following a positive or negative political ad from either candidate, the brand’s product value declined 32% and perceived product quality decreased 24%.

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A Tough Row to Hoe: Economic Growth in Rural America

The timing of Dean Barber’s commentary on Rural Economic Development couldn’t have been better.  We are just off the Florida Rural Economic Summit here in Orlando and getting ready to roll out a Rural Florida marketing campaign following next week’s Enterprise Florida/Team Florida Marketing meetings.  So stay tuned.

Here’s Dean’s column in full.  A good read for anyone interested in economic development in Rural America.

Published on September 18, 2016 — Featured in: Economy
by Dean Barber
President/CEO at Barber Business Advisors, LLC: Corporate Location Analysis and Economic Development


A report released last week by the Census Bureau showing that Americans, rich, poor and middle class, saw their incomes rise last year was greeted gleefully by economists.

But in rural America, where I have spent much of my time of late doing economic development consulting work, the reaction will be more of a shrug. The government may say the economy is getting better, but many of the people in non-metropolitan counties aren’t feeling it.

Still, the report was eye opening. For the first time since 2007, the median U.S. household saw a healthy bump in income last year — up 5.2 percent to $56,500 from $53,700 in 2014. Much of that gain came from the drop in the unemployment rate that created more paychecks for American workers.

No doubt the economy has improved. Unemployment is at 4.9 percent, down from its October 2009 peak of 10 percent. Home foreclosures have eased dramatically, with 97 percent of major metropolitan areas logging rates below their Great Recession peaks in the first quarter of 2016, according to Realtytrac.com.

By the end of 2015, net private business investment had recovered to pre-recession levels, according to the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank.

A crucial takeaway from the Census report last week was that economic gains were not isolated to the rich. Poor Americans, those at the bottom 10th percentile of the income scale, saw the strongest gains, with 7.9 percent growth over the last year.

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Almost as big as the Saturn V

Jeff Bezos, a graduate of my alma mater, Miami Palmetto Senior High School, has unveiled plans for Blue Origin’s next generation of launch vehicles.  And they are massive.  Almost as big as the Saturn V that took Americans to the moon and back.

Can’t wait to see one of these big boys blast off. New Glenn away.

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Passion Rules!



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What’s with car commercials these days

They are either loud and obnoxious, or repetitively boring.  But I’m just not getting Walt Whitman and Volvo. This seems a very odd approach to brand differentiation. But then a Swedish car company owned by the Chinese is certainly a very different brand than it was a decade ago. It is different, but . . .

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Passion Rules!Screen Shot 2016-08-30 at 8.53.24 PM



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“It won’t be the Sunshine State Nation.”

By Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist

A new state branding campaign will be unveiled Friday backed by an initial $10 million that touts Florida as a great place to grow a business.

Enterprise Florida, the state’s job-recruiting arm, will introduce the new campaign at its board meeting in Tallahassee. The new state business brand was fast-tracked, as Enterprise Florida quickly sifted through dozens of potential advertising agencies and, later, dozens of storyboard campaign ideas before picking one.Screen Shot 2016-01-27 at 9.37.25 PM

Bill Johnson, Enterprise Florida CEO, had promised he would deliver a new chief marketing officer and a new state business branding campaign within his first year at the helm. With the hiring in October of Tampa Bay marketing veteran Joe Hice, formerly with the Moffitt Cancer Center and the person who led the team that created the University of Florida’s “Gator Nation” brand, Johnson is honoring his own timetable.

Enterprise Florida won’t share the branding campaign slogan in advance, but in an interview, Hice laughed as he promised this: “It won’t be the Sunshine State Nation.”

What it will be is a campaign that combines, after all the vetting, the surviving two ideas pitched by Jacksonville ad agency St. John & Partners, whose clients include the Florida Lottery, Zaxby’s and the Daytona International Speedway.

“There’s an urgency to get out there with the Florida story,” Hice says, “and to tell that business story over and over again.

“Florida has done a great job of promoting the state as a destination for families and tourists,” he says. “Now we have an opportunity to take advantage of that awareness and start telling the business story along with that other story.”

To many, a new state business branding campaign cannot come quickly enough. Florida stopped marketing the business scene here more than a year ago, even though the state is enjoying big-name corporate relocations and job growth in the past year second only to larger California. A previous attempt in 2013 to create and market a business brand by Enterprise Florida flubbed.

The campaign’s slogan was “Florida. The Perfect Climate for Business.” But it featured people wearing orange ties, which felt dated and alienated some businesswomen who felt it was not inclusive. And too many of the visual scenes in the campaign featured Florida sand, which many business leaders criticized for sending the wrong message —that the state was still a place dominated by tourists and retirees.

That campaign was also backed by just $1 million that Enterprise Florida set aside from its general budget.

The new campaign has more clout, backed by $10 million approved by the state Legislature. It includes $8.5 million in recurring funding, to help maintain the campaign over time — an unusual commitment for Florida’s here-today-gone-tomorrow funding style.

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Enterprise Florida names new SVP & CMO and it’s Me!!!

ORLANDO, Fla. (October 6, 2015) – Today, Secretary of Commerce and President & CEO of Enterprise Florida, Inc. (EFI), Bill Johnson, announced the appointment of Joseph S. Hice Jr. to the position of Senior Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer for EFI. Hice will oversee all EFI marketing and communications activities.

“I am confident that, working with our team, Joe will take Enterprise Florida’s marketing program to a new level in raising awareness, managing perceptions and influencing public opinion in support of our economic development activities,” said Secretary Johnson. “I look forward to working with him to aggressively and effectively market Florida as the best state in the nation for business. Our state has an incredible business story to tell and I know Joe will lead us in our efforts to get that story out there.”

Hice has spent more than 30 years as a marketing, communications and public affairs executive at  prestigious institutions  and businesses including the  Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, the University of Florida, North Carolina State University, Harley-Davidson Motor Company and Segway Inc. Currently, he is a partner with Tampa-based Well Strategics, a communications firm specializing in clients doing business in the healthcare and wellness industries.

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