Tag Archives: Innovation

Print Ad – Drambuie “A Taste of Excellence”



The main objective of this ad is to modernize the Drambuie brand and make it’s product more attractive to a younger generation of consumers.  The target audience for the ad is younger adults (probably age 25-40) with disposable income, who are in creative industries or have a creative background.  The ad attempts to reframe Drambuie, a liquor that is generally consumed by older generations, as an attractive, hip, refined drink choice.  This is conveyed visually through the moonlit, monochrome landscape with the Drambuie bottle emphasized in sharp contrast.  These visuals are allusions to surrealist artists like Dali to Escher, and would appeal to this younger, creative class.  The message is also conveyed through the new slogan “A Taste of Excellence”, and the copy beneath it reading “Discover the unique blend of aged scotch whisky, spices, heather honey & herbs”.







When life gives you lemons, make Gatorade

In a previous post I mentioned the role of failure in innovation.  As we explore the importance of failure in this Innovation course, it’s becoming increasingly clear how fear can hold you back or stand in the way of potential opportunities, both professionally and personally.

I recently read an article that I found to be an inspiring reminder of the power of failure.  It’s the story of Gatorade’s “01 Prime”, a drink pouch that was marketed as a powerful pre-workout carbohydrate boost for athletes.Image

The idea for 01 Prime is a cool innovation story in itself. Gatorade observed that many young football players pack bananas in their sports bags as a light and healthy snack before practice, but faced the problem that their cleats would mash the fruit in the bag before they had the chance to eat it.  The product development team at Gatorade sought to make a solution to this problem, and the result was 01 Prime.  Gatorade launched the pouch and established a new product category in the sports drink market. However, there were inherent problems with the packaging design; the pouches were prone to leaking, which defeated their purpose of a cleaner alternative to smashed bananas. Gatorade faced negative consumer attitudes and reviews about 01 Prime, and a fallout ensued.

But!  That’s not the end of the story, it’s actually where it starts to get good. Gatorade’s president, Sarah Robb O’Hagan, personally focused on managing the fallout, and reframed the failure of the product as a company lesson.  She emphasized the importance of trial and error.  Here’s what she had to say about it:

“We could have waited another six months to ‘get it right,’ but we would have missed both the summer season and a great learning opportunity. In fact, the leaky pouches caused everyone to revisit their assumptions about the packaging, which led to an even better ergonomic design and superior packaging materials.” 

The lessons learned from 01 Prime ultimately became the foundation for the re-invented G Series product line that was hugely successful.  So it turns out that Gatorade’s “failure” ultimately pushed them to create a better product. I admire O’Hagan for how she took the shame out of failure, and instead commended her team for revisiting their approach to packaging and design.

No one likes to fail. Especially not MBA graduate students. We usually do not even see failure as an option, and we’ve trained ourselves to avoid failure at all costs. But this mindset stands in the way of achieving truly innovative thinking. We need to un-learn our approach to failure and give ourselves the opportunity to take risks, because innovation does not exist without risk.

The key is in learning from the failures, having the fearlessness to move on, and bringing the experiences you’ve learned back to the drawing board.


This is a video from Deutsch, an advertising agency based in Los Angeles, humorously chronicling their experiment with “invention strategy”.

The story behind the video is that Deutsch needed to rebuild the company’s website and re-design their digital capabilities.  Winston Binch, the Chief Digital Officer, had been questioning the relationship between ad campaigns and product development, and decided to test the “invention strategy” idea.  It’s a way to embrace invention thinking and combine it with advertising as a sell-able product to customers.  In Binch’s own words, “…in today’s world you have to think in real time and be a lot faster than ad agencies typically are. That’s where we came up with this notion of an invention service.”  Binch decided to try a new approach to a digital campaign, and created 30 Days to Beta: an experimental process that re-designed Deutsch’s website in 30 days.

As the video explains, a team was assembled and immediately set on a sprint.  They were self-managed, which sped up the process by eliminating the need for all the meetings that Binch refers to in the beginning of the video.  The process was designed to be more “agile” with a focus on “lean development”, indicating a new faster approach to advertising which usually takes months to put together.  The result is an ad campaign and a product that are both assembled at the same time.

There are a lot of innovative skills put to good use here: the questioning of the advertising process, and the observing of the creation process.  But what I most admire about this project is their willingness to take risks and try something new, and their ability to recognize their shortcomings and learn from them.   They acknowledge the criticisms they received via social media, and I like how they took those real-time questions into consideration during their 30 day re-design.  I also like how the tone of the video satirically pokes fun at Deutsch at times… it’s refreshing to see an agency that doesn’t take themselves too seriously.   The #30Days2Beta campaign is an interesting experiment, and I’m glad that Deutsch chronicled it for us all to see.

Parisian streetwear, classic poets, & innovation skills

My roommate just returned from Paris, and got me a gift from one of my favorite boutiques in the world, Colette.  Admittedly most of the clothing at Colette is out of my price range, but they have a great range of street wear, especially t-shirts, that both my roommate and I are crazy for (who cares if they’re made for men?).

She brought me back a t-shirt designed by Quatre Cent Quinze, a Parisian street wear company that, in the words of their own website, is “… inspired by arts such as music, paintings, cinema, and its graphics breathe the vibes of Hip-Hop too.”  The shirt is part of a line they designed featuring famous poets of the past, paired with hip-hop lyrics of today.  Below is the one she got for me, featuring the poet Arthur Rimbaud, along with the tag that came attached to it.



How does this relate back to the topic of innovation? When I saw this design, I immediately thought to our Innovation class and the five discovery skills of an innovator we have been reading about in Jeff Dyer’s book The Innovator’s DNA: Mastering the Five Skills of Disruptive Innovators.  The skill I thought of in particular was “associational thinking”.  Associating is the way that innovative minds synthesize connections across seemingly unrelated fields, ideas, problems, and/or questions.  Associating involves seeing the intersection between these different areas or ideas, and being able to use knowledge of one to better understand, or even improve, another.

This t-shirt design is a cool example of associating in the context of art and design.  The designer took two very unrelated fields (19th-century French poetry, and post-millennial hop-hop) and found a connection between the two.  Knowledge of the poet and the rapper were applied to one another to highlight the similarities in their work and lifestyles.  This, in fact, became the basis of how I explained “associating” to my roommate when she asked what we were studying (though I made it clear that although it would be really great to study Colette t-shirts, it’s not really part of the curriculum).

While this isn’t necessarily an example of “innovation” in a typical sense, I thought it would be a fun way to show the association thought process in action… it helps get those innovative juices flowing.

We be innovatin’


I want to start with a short introduction.

Though it may not seem like it at first glance, this is an academic blog for an MBA class at Mills College on the topic of “innovation”. We all have to create innovation blogs as a course requirement. I started my blog, but quickly felt like it was becoming boring and lacking in creativity or originality… what an unfortunate paradox for a blog that is supposed to be on the topic of innovation.

So, I decided to scrap my first blog and change it up to be more reflective of my personal interests, highlighting innovation in ways that are cool and creative and that any of my peers would find amusing/interesting beyond the scope of an MBA class.

So, here’s to setting the bar high.  I’m excited to get excited by different products, companies, ideas, and people.  Let’s get innovatin’.