Taco Bell | Cantina Bell

I took a bit of a hiatus from the blog, but I am back!  I was inspired to discuss the new Cantina Bell menu after recently dining at one of my favorite fast food establishments, Taco Bell.

Does anyone else miss the Taco Bell Chihuahua?!?!










While I have not actually tried the new Chipotle-esque menu, no matter how tasty it may be I already know its going to flop.  Here are few other Fast Food Flops which all share the same basic dilemma.   *cough *cough … core competencies people

Wendy’s Super Bar

Now, as a child I did enjoy Wendy’s Super Bar.  (man, those garlic breadsticks were tasty!)  It was a classic choice when mom was working evenings and dad was stuck with 3 kids to feed.  Let’s go to Wendy’s gang!  …But let’s face it, it was a horrible initiative on Wendy’s part due to:  Poor economies of scale… I mean what else are you going to use tortillas and alfredo sauce with on the menu?  Wasted food, and a bar that needed to be fully stocked at all times.

McDonald’s McPizza

OK, although tasty, people don’t go to McDonald’s for a fresh from the oven pizza.  McDs, you can’t ignore your core competency: Cheap and Fast.  (no matter how much you try and force it)  Just imagine how much they spent on all those pizza ovens!  Ouch.

Burger King Table Service

This one is ridiculous, no one goes to a fast food establishment looking for table service.  This golden nugget of an idea was introduced in the early 90s, for dinner hours only.  If all you are doing is carrying a plastic tray to a table, why bother?  I would just feel absolutely silly escorting a BK associate carrying my food to a table.  It would be less absurd if I ordered from my table to begin with…but I’m not going to BK for a dining experience.  So why only offer half table service, Burger King?  Geesh.

So, back to Cantina Bell.  Taco Bell is NOT Chipotle.    Being a former Chipotle employee, I know first hand the amount or prep work that goes into all those fresh ingredients.  Taco Bell cannot successfully offer gourmet burritos in addition to their full menu.  I know those ingredients aren’t same day fresh, Taco Bell isn’t pounding out fresh guacamole at 7am.  Please.  Let’s not kid ourselves.  

The key to success if to be better at what you are great at doing.  Do not try to be mediocre at what someone else is great at doing.

I don’t see Cantina Bell lasting very long.  But we shall see!



So, I had written a post titles QR Code BLUE.  However, since then I have secured a new position at TimberTech this past month.  I just received my new business cards and noticed they have a QR code printed on the front.

There is nothing specifying where the code sent you once scanned, so I gave it a test.  I assumed it would take me to the main page on the company website which may or may not be optimized for mobile.  But I was wrong!

Instead of taking me to the company site, the scanned code took me into my phone contacts and entered my contact info, name, email, phones, etc.  I was pleasantly surprised.  The only thing, I wish there was something that told me what the QR code would do when scanned.  Such as:

Scan to save contact”  or

Scan before you lose this card” or

Have you ever lost a business card?  Scan me now.

A first hand example of a QR code that is not a waste of space and is completely helpful.  Yay Timbertech!

Celebrity Siri Ads: Poor move for Apple?

A friend shared this article, AdAge’s take on the new commercials turning Siri into a silly tool for the rich and famous.  I have to agree with the author on this topic, these new adds are a bit annoying and unrelate-able for myself and I’d say the rest of the 99%.

I mean, Hotpacho? Please. (Who makes gazpacho?) The Samuel L. Jackson spot, the most off target, just straight up annoys.  I mean, he can’t just look for mushrooms, organic please.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Zooey Deschanel, I just don’t think she is the right personality for Siri.  The fact she she rising in popularity exponentially may bring them some celebrity appeal, New Girl anyone?! (Great show) Shallow marketing strategy however.

This different commerical, is more in the ballpark for their consumer target.


Market v. Design Research

Let’s first start of by clearly defining these two terms.  Jon Kolko’s, Exposing the Magic of Design, includes a clear explanation of the similarities and differences of the two in a simple table I have re-created below.  (I recommend exploring the rest of this book as it is a fascinating read.)

Design Research Market Research
Focuses on people Focuses on people
Can be qualitative or quantitative Can be qualitative or quantitative
Borrows from the behavioral and social sciences Borrows from the behavioral and social sciences
Attempts to understand culture.  Looks at the styles, words, tools, and workarounds people use in an effort to inspire design. Attempts to predict behavior.  Looks at what people say they would do, or what they actually do, in an effort to predict what they would do in a new situation.
Celebrates the unique and peculiar.  The rare or obscure in observations can lead to a new or interesting design idea. Avoids the unique and peculiar.  The goal is to understand mass responses; outliers are frequently ignored.
Avoiding bias is irrelevant.  The goal is not to be objective but to instead to be rigorous. Avoiding bias is critical.  The statistical analyses of data require an objective point of view.

In this world, I believe the key is niche markets.  It is now more than ever, possible to sell extremely specialized goods and services to very specific markets.  The evolution of technology has made this a reality with the quick and many ways or reaching the people you want to reach. More so, allowing users the power to find and acquire the goods and services they want for specific needs. (hello, Pinterest anyone?!)

This is why design research and thinking are relevant.  Its the subtleties that matter, alot.  Uncovering those workarounds is crucial and just cannot be captured through traditional market research methods.  Surveys are convenient, but rarely reveal genuine behavior of the user. Many times the user is in an unfamiliar environment, and it is all about context.  Isolating one bit of the experience blinds you from the whole story.  Do you  just read the last chapter of a book?  No, you want the whole story, the process, the detours, and the stumbles, the “good stuff”.

The underlying goals are different.  Design research seeks inspiration for design (either formative or evaluative), while market research predicts behaviors (Kolko 31).   Both types of research have their purposes and value, but it is important to discern when and where to use them.

I love discovering unique opportunities to make a positive change in a person’s life.  I crave being immersed into a complete experience or culture to find inspiration!

This topic segways nicely into Design Thinking which is a another animal to dissect in a future post.  Briefly put, it is where Analytical Thinking overlaps with Intuitive Thinking, resulting in a 50/50 mix of validity and reliability.  (visualized below courtesy of Roger Martin.)

Just for fun…check out SNL Taste Test!


Kolko, Jon. “The Value of Synthesis in Driving Innovation.” Exposing the magic of design: a practitioner’s guide to the methods and theory of synthesis. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011. 31-32. Print.

“Design Thinking” and Innovation: Part 1/2 : Mutually Human Software : Custom Software Strategy and Design, Mobile, Web Application, Product & Service, Software Craftsmanship, Ruby on Rails, Grand Rapids, Michigan.” Mutually Human Software : Custom Software Strategy and Design, Mobile, Web Application, Product & Service, Software Craftsmanship, Ruby on Rails, Grand Rapids, Michigan. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 Mar. 2012. <http://mutuallyhuman.com/blog/2011/10/31/design-thinking-and-innovation-part-1-2>.



The word on the street is that QR codes are out, and Google goggles are in.

I stumbled upon this article, showcasing some epic QR code failures of  last year and felt inspired to write about the topic.  QR codes are not a new technology, but new to the average consumer like you and me over here in the US.  They originated overseas in Japan, being used for over a decade by Dens0 Wave.

There are people who swear by them and others who think the abstract black and white shapes are useless.  I am still researching both sides of the argument, but at this point in time I consider them cumbersome and irrelevant.

Why?  Let’s look at some key points.

QR Codes aren’t safe.

These little squares store data, but we don’t know what exactly that data is.  We take a chance by scanning it into our devices on a hope and a prayer we don’t end up on some malicious site.  Or worse, becoming a victim of identify theft as some codes can gain full access to your phones data.

Humans are visual (and visceral) animals.

We just simply cannot make an emotional connections to an abstract black and white square.  They resemble nothing to do with the product or service being advertised.  Purchase decisions are driven by emotion not logic.  We need stimulating imagery and color.

Consumers don’t care.

About 5-10% of the American public has ever scanned a QR code.  The only reason why most people scan them is to secure a discount or coupon, and that is one of the only reasons I would personally ever scan one.   This  article highlights some rather dubious uses of QR codes.

So, in the beginning I mentioned that Google Goggles are the new “QR code”.  I have experimented with both and have to agree, Google Goggles are much more simple and secure and FUN!  There are no risks of getting sucked into malware sites or anything of that nature.  You simply pick something to scan and information is safely at your fingertips.  Scan anything from text, books, landmarks, art, food, beverage, labels, etc.

So what has been your experience with QR codes or Google Goggles?  I would love to hear other points of view.

Dr. Pepper 10 macho madness?

Alright folks, I’m sure most of you have seen the Dr. Pepper 10 commerical, but if not take a gander below.

Dr. Pepper 10 Commercial

I have mixed feelings on the ad.  Its definitely a conversation starter.  Let’s start with the facts.

This is an example of Extreme Consequence advertising tool.  Showing an absolutely absurd reason for using the product, drinking Dr. Pepper 10.  Over exaggeration has it place and can seem clever at times.

I am curious how many out there are put off by this ad?  I myself find it verging on disgustingly annoying.  But perhaps therein lies its genius; to piss off the women so they buy Dr. Pepper 10 AS WELL as the men.

Actually, my first encounter with the product was on the shelf on a grocery shopping trip.  What’s this, something new?  I was sold automatically.  I had switched to diet soda for a while now, but still missed the full flavor of the original.  So this was an amazing discovery!  I can still have some of the Dr. Pepper original flavor but only 10 calories.  Win Win!  I then see the commercial sometime later and was shocked by the tagline, “Not for Women.”  I was immediately offended.  Why can’t women seek a low-calorie alternative to diet?  What men are really that self-conscious to drink a diet soda?

I think there is a better approach. I’m a big fan of the new Direct TV commercials showcasing a chain of unfortunate events.  Have a look below.

Don’t wake up in a roadside ditch.

This is an example of Inversion.  The key idea here showing what would happen if you didn’t use the service in an extreme way.  I can see this being a great tool to apply to Dr. Pepper 10.  The “Kind of Diet Drink”.  I envision a dude at a house party going for a can of Diet Dr. Pepper and a slew of unfortunate events result…  OR  …he could have picked up a can of Dr. Pepper 10 and a slew of rather awesome stuff happening during his evening as a result of his social beverage choice.


“The Web is what you make of it.”

Dear Sophie


This new commercial from Google Chrome is so heartfelt, love it.  It yanks the emotion right from your soul.  I am seriously considering doing this for my own children someday… or some version of this.  The idea of writing to my children from day 1.  Although by the time they grow up, not sure if email will still be an option, things move so flippin’ fast these days.

Inaugural post

Hello viewers!

Well, this is the beginning of my new blog tailored toward my professional interests.  I am a consumer strategist creating blissful unions of people with products.

This blog will host my varying thoughts on such topics as advertisements, innovation methods & patterns, marketing methods, social media strategy, and other marketing and design topics.

I hope y’all enjoy!