Monday, October 27, 2014

"Remember when"...I could have been a billionaire.

In April, 2011 Facebook launched Timeline to enable us to chronologically categorize photos and events.

In September, 2008 I scribbled this idea in an old journal that I recently stumbled upon:  Create a website called "Remember When" – a chronological scrapbook of the moments in your life.  

Yes, I had invented Timeline nearly three years before Facebook.  No, I did not do anything with the idea beyond writing it down in an apparent plot to torment my future self.

At the time I was inspired by the insight that many of us have a running stream of memories and events that are sometimes fuzzy on dates or details.  Was it in 5th grade or 6th that I took that camping trip with my childhood friend Mike Harris?  Was that memorable guys reunion trip to Vegas (that we really should not remember) in 2002 or 2003?  In what year did I spar with Muhammad Ali on the back of that plane?  Was the drunken Barney the Dinosaur at Lauren's 4th or 5th birthday party?

The idea was based on a wizard that would prompt and post memories along a timeline so that over time you could see the story arc of your life.  It would include multiple views into your life's chronology – through events or photos or pop culture milestones.

I also wrote about a community of friends posting recollections of shared memories, with an ability to overlay a friend's timeline on your own (what were you doing when I was doing...).  What kills me most is this next notation:  include a way to alert friends when you post a memory that includes them.  

So the moral of the story is this:  If you can dream it you can do it.  And if you do it...secure the legal rights before Mark Zuckerberg does. :)


Thursday, July 31, 2014

Meet Generation Z

I don't like the name Gen Z.

Given that this young cohort accounts for nearly 26% of the U.S. population, we could show them a bit more respect by giving them a better name.  They are not last in line, as implied by the letter Z, but in fact are at the forefront of new trends that will impact culture and commerce.

Unlike other generational names, Gen Z conveys little insight into the characteristics of this group.  Boomers aptly described the population boom that follwed WWII.  Gen X drew its name from the cohort's embrace of extreme sports, music and culture.  And the term Millennials came about for obvious reasons.

Gen Z (basically anybody under the age 18) will have an enormous impact on the U.S., both from a social and an economic standpoint – they deserve a better name:

  • Gen Tech, because they draw inspiration from technology, not just the internet.
  • Inclusives, describing their multicultural and co-creative nature.
  • Makers, tapping into their desire to build and create, not just watch and share.

Regardless what we call them, we should first get to know them.  This presentation from Sparks & Honey is a great starting point.

Monday, July 14, 2014

DE$IGN

This is a good video about the role that design can play in driving commercial success.  John Maeda is a graphic designer, computer scientist, author and all around big brain.  

Thursday, June 26, 2014

A quick peek inside Team Detroit.

My previous post summarized Team Detroit's commitment to training and inspiring the next generation of advertising professionals.  This video, produced by our winter crop of interns, gives a peek inside the agency and why it's a great place to grow your career.


Friday, June 13, 2014

David Ogilvy's "teaching hospital" is flourishing in Detroit.


David Ogilvy once described his agency as a “teaching hospital” – a place where young advertising professionals simultaneously learned and practiced their craft.  As the legendary ad man said, “Great hospitals do two things.  They look after patients, and they teach young doctors.   We look after clients, and we teach young advertising people.” Having spent the first 15 years of my career at Ogilvy, I can attest to the benefits of growing up in a culture of learning.  

Team Detroit has picked up the baton that David Ogilvy passed to the next generation and are proud to continue his teaching hospital tradition.

We start our training with the greenest of the green – our quarterly internship program, aptly named The Greenhouse.  Each quarter we take approximately 15 paid interns to work throughout our agency – creative, brand integration, digital marketing, design, media, etc.  In addition to their day-to-day projects, our interns experience job shadowing, community service, personal branding workshops and recruiter sessions.  (Check out our newest crop in the Greenhouse.)

Our Hi-Potential program enables us to spotlight future leaders and give them the chance to grow and shine, including the opportunity to shape Team Detroit’s presence at NewCo.

But the heart of our teaching hospital is the training we provide to people at all levels throughout Team Detroit.  We invest in over 140 training programs covering topics as varied as emotional intelligence, digital technologies, leadership development, team building, presentation skills and so much more.  Many are in-person workshops; others use online and mobile technologies to allow people to learn at their own pace.

It’s long been true in advertising that the best professional development comes from the clients with whom we work.  Spend time working with blue chip marketers in complex, competitive categories and you will get better at your craft.

I’ve been lucky to count among my clients some of the world’s best-known companies, including Ford, American Express, The Coca-Cola Company, Sony, Dell, P&G, Mattel, United Airlines, Hilton, and Callaway Golf.  However, my time working in automotive leads me to believe that this category is probably the best training ground for young advertising professionals.

Young people working on an automotive account receive a master class in brand planning, including brand architecture, portfolio branding and global branding.  They learn ethnographic research, trend analysis, how to balance of rational vs. emotional persuasion. 

Working on a car brand offers exposure to a wide range of career-building skills, whether through debates on design strategies or the application of predictive analytics or how to orchestrate successful product launches.

These up and comers will become fluent in retail marketing.  This is a category in which brand and retail must work in harmony.  Learning how to match media and incentives with demand and competitive dynamics is a critical skill.

And since interactive marketing is increasingly central to successful automotive marketing, these digital natives can flourish, whether in analytics, online, mobile or social.  (In fact, well over half of Team Detroit is immersed in digital marketing.)

Several times a year I get to play hooky and serve as a guest lecturer at the University of California, Irvine and at Chapman University.  I always describe to these graduate and undergraduate students how much I love what I do for a living, because a career in advertising allows us to work at the intersection of business and almost everything imaginable.  Nowhere is that more true than in automotive.  And nowhere is that more passionately embraced than by the 1,500 people at Team Detroit.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Vision of the future, from those likely to invent it.



A fascinating & quick read – POVs from leading thinkers such as Marc Andreessen, Reid Hoffman and others. 


Which industries will tech make obsolete? Which technologies will soon be antiquated? What futuristic tech will soon be commonplace.


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Marketing as a service.

What if we re-imagined marketing as a way to serve customers?  What if we designed it as a way to provide real-time value and utility to customers?

Our SXSW panel at explored these issues and more.  Marketing as a service harnesses Big Data to provide more meaningful and helpful experiences for customers.  It is a principle born of the belief that the dynamics of customer loyalty have fundamentally changed.  Loyalty can no longer be solely defined by customers staying loyal to a brand.  Because the internet provides us with unlimited choice, the tables have turned – brands must now demonstrate their loyalty to customers by serving them.

Monday, April 21, 2014

The power of design in a connected world.

Michele Silvestri, who leads Team Detroit's global design practice, along with fellow designer Christine Jones, led one of our more popular panels at South by Southwest, discussing how design can help brands become more elastic and integrated in a hyper connected world.

Friday, April 11, 2014

The evolution of storytelling: brands as broadcasters.

This is the keynote address from Team Detroit's panel discussions at SXSW, given by Toby Barlow, our Chief Creative Officer.  We are hard wired to understand stories.  Stories convey meaning.  They help us understand ourselves and our world.  And while the nature of storytelling keeps changing as media platforms evolve, the principles of great stories are timeless.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The audience has an audience.

Here's the video of my speech to the 4As conference last week.

Marketers must remain relevant at a time in which consumers are themselves the broadcasters, sharing content with their own audience via social, mobile and online channels.  By adopting a brand syndication model, with the persuasive power of video's sight, sound and motion at its core, marketers can authentically join the conversation.

Friday, March 21, 2014

A look at two Americas.

Informative report from the Wall Street Journal illustrating America's rural/urban divide.   The gulf has never been wider or more stark – something to think about when creating national marketing strategies.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

What leading CMOs are thinking about.

CMOs are beginning to last longer in their jobs.  Executive search firm Spencer Stuart reports that CMO's are staying in their post an average of 45 months, a marked increase from 2005 when the average tenure was only 23.5 months.

So why the increase in job security?   I am seeing more and more senior marketing leaders focussing on enterprise marketing solutions, not just branding strategies.  CMOs are getting closer to their customers through Big Data, digital technologies, multicultural trends, and more contemporary media strategies.  They are working more closely with their company's CIO to develop smarter, data-driven strategies.  This is a welcome change from the days when a new CMO would put their stamp on the company by firing the agency and developing yet another advertising campaign.

The new CMO agenda is focused on four big questions:
  1. How can data and analytics help optimize my company's marketing investment and mix?  How do we embrace Marketing Cloud solutions to get more accurate marketing attribution?  
  2. How fast can we become a "mobile-first" marketing organization to get even closer to our customers, one that embraces "mobile as a service"?
  3. How can we better engage customers who are tuning out of mass media?  Can we lessen our dependence on big campaigns and instead re-imagine marketing communications as an always-on, content publishing discipline?
  4. How can we build a coalition of growth by serving our core customers as well as an increasingly multicultural America?   

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

What MBAs can learn from kindergartners.

What do you get when you mix 20 sticks of spaghetti, one yard of tape, one yard of string, and one marshmallow?  A deceptively simple design exercise that reveals clear and instructive lessons in collaboration and innovation.

During an innovation forum today at Team Detroit, Elyse Pachota on our Enterprise Digital team introduced me to The Marshmallow Challenge, which asks teams to build the tallest free-standing structure out the spaghetti, tape, string and marshmallow (which must be placed on top of the structure!).

Watch Tom Wujec's TED talk in which we learn how The Marshmallow Challenge underscores the benefit of rapid prototyping, iterative ideation and the need to uncover hidden assumption early in an innovation process.

Wujec also reveals how Kindergarten kids embrace these innovation principles better than MBA grads and CEOs.  (CEOs score better only when their Executive Assistant participates.  Seriously, I know.)

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Brands as Broadcasters

Several months ago I attended the Future of Storytelling Conference (#FoST) and helped lead some workshops on "Brands as Broadcasters" and "The Empathetic Corporation."  Great experience.

Yesterday I participated in a follow up conversation held via Google Hangout where a few of us explored these themes more deeply as part of an ongoing effort to harness the power of storytelling, both its timeless principles, and also the new non-linear forms of storytelling.


Monday, January 13, 2014

The future of advertising is in Motown.

If you're looking for the future of advertising you will likely find it at the intersection of real time analytics and custom content creation.

Team Detroit, Ford's global marketing communications agency, is putting this to work today for the launch of the 2015 F-150 – revealed this morning at the North American International Auto Show.

Our Content Studio combines the talents of our analytics, strategy and creative teams collaborating side-by-side with Ford's marketing team (which also includes real time legal input).  Walking through the room feels more like a news room than an advertising agency, and that's the point.  The team's goal is to use real time social sentiment analysis to inspire custom content that responds to the conversation surrounding the launch, thereby amplifying the impact of social media and public relations messaging.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Trends for 2014 and beyond.


The second edition of Ford’s annual publication on micro trends, Looking Further with Ford, examines the drivers of change and the complex response of consumers worldwide. This collection of 10 micro trends reflects our view of the attitudes that will alter consumer dynamics across the globe in 2014 and beyond.

Compiled and curated by Sheryl Connelly, who leads Global Consumer Trends and Futuring at Ford Motor Company, it also includes contributions from WPP's Global Team Ford.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Power of Empathy

I write frequently about the power of empathy.  (Remember, what's true in life is true in marketing.)  But I never thought about the contrast between empathy and sympathy.  This piece nails it. (As usual, as does RSA's animation.)

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Cord cutters, aka, the death of TV.

This article from Business Insider provides a clear and fact-based analysis of the upheaval in the TV/cable industry as more and more Americans cut the cord and instead get their video fix via broadband, through services such as Netflix, Hulu, Apple TV, Aereo, ABC.com, et al.  This massive change in media consumption patterns is the bi-product of new generational trends, broadband, economics and, of course, the declining quality of network television programming.  (As the great poet Springsteen sang, "57 channels and nothin' on.")

Here are Business Insider's major conclusions:
  1. People are unplugging.
  2. Cable TV ratings are sinking.
  3. Fewer people are watching TV.
  4. Ratings for some major TV events are in decline.
  5. For the first time ever, the number of cable TV subscribers at major providers is about to dip below 40 million.
  6. Cable and broadband companies are increasingly unable to retain customers.
  7. For the first time ever, less than half of subscribers at major broadband companies now subscribe to cable TV.
  8. Fewer households actually have TV.
  9. Few households have TV because they are watching video on mobile devices instead.
  10. Mobile video is booming.
  11. Tablets are stealing prime time, the period we used to devote to TV.
  12. Ad dollars are following eyeballs, shifting from TV to digital media of all kinds.
  13. Ad revenue increases are masking the macro decline in TV.
  14. People who are unplugging from both Cable TV and broadband internet are likely going to free wifi.


Monday, November 18, 2013

The power of the first follower.

I've always loved this lesson in leadership.  It's not the leader that sets movements in motion.  It is the first follower that shows the courage to be the first person to stand up and embrace change.  The organization tends to model this behavior, not that of the so called "leader."

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Beautiful storytelling.

This online film series from Intel and Toshiba brings together so many powerful elements – the power of storytelling, the acknowledgement that digital media is a powerful branding platform, and the energy and momentum we can create when we let the audience own, personalize and share the message.

Ideas like "The Beauty Inside" are what inspire me to work in this business.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Digital marketing as a service.

Today at a global marketing meeting I was asked for my point of view on which company is doing digital right.  My answer?  Delta.  The reason I chose Delta is two-fold:  First, they're using digital to reshape marketing as a service (MaaS); second, they are quickly distinguishing themselves in an industry often associated with poor customer service.

I admire what Delta has done over the last few years to employ digital tools to transform marketing into something that serves customers and not simply sell to them.  Witness these examples.

The Delta mobile app provides friction-free service.  I can shop, book and manage my account while sitting in Starbucks.  It will help me remember where I parked my car at the airport.  The iPad version even includes something called Glass Bottom Jet, in which I can watch the world pass underneath me in-flight.  Several weeks ago, in that wretched moment when the baggage carousel stopped without first producing my bags, the app enabled me to scan my boarding pass and find my bags.  That is mobile marketing as a service.

Delta uses social media (@DeltaAssist) to provide real-time, personalized customer service.  Their social service team attempts to resolve customer complaints on the spot.  It's impressive.  A colleague recently told me how on a recent flight his family's seat assignments were scattered throughout the plane.  So, after not receiving help at the boarding gate, he tweeted his plea to @DeltaAssist and received a direct message resolving the issue by seating his family together.  That is social marketing as a service.

By the way, I'm posting this using GoGo in-flight wifi, a standard on almost every Delta flight.


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Native Advertising 101

I found this primer on native advertising – aka, content marketing – to be very helpful.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Persuasion and the Power of Story.

Jennifer Aaker studies happiness, and how stories can affect our happiness; she believes that stories are more meaningful–more memorable, more impactful, and more personal–than statistics alone.  This short film captures the persuasive power of storytelling.


I've long believed in the power of stories.  Stories convey meaning.  And meaning trumps information.  


Friday, September 13, 2013

The future of storytelling.

I've frequently posted about how great brands tell great stories.   So you can imagine how geeked I'll be to attend this event in NY next month.

Stories are a very potent form of communicating. Stories help us understand. They convey meaning. And in an overwhelming and fast moving world, meaning trumps information.
   

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The hands-free web.

Three innovations seem to be signaling the future of how we will interact with technology.  We may want to call it the hands-free web.

Google Glass, Apple's Siri and now Leap Motion's gesture controller all point to a similar future, but are getting there by different roads.

Google Glass enables us to "wear" the internet, having it always on and within sight.  Siri signals a future in which we may have Siri-enabled homes that allow us to access the web with simple voice prompts (and we can only hope a later version will understand that "find restaurant" does not mean "blind astronaut").  And now Leap Motion's gesture controller takes us one step closer to feeling like Tom Cruise in Minority Report, controlling technology through intuitive hand movements.

Glass still involves the presence of a physical object to access the web – ie, the glasses.  This technology is pointing toward a cool future, but I don't think it's the final destination.  My hunch is that future will be "touchless" – the web will surround us and require no physical objects or interaction – and will be accessed through a combination of voice and hand gestures.  Of course, that is until we have a chip embedded at birth. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Rethinking Apple's culture.

Today a judge found that Apple conspired to raise the price of eBooks in collusion with the leading publishers.

Brands are often an extension of a company's culture.  (Think Harley, Oakley, Wal-Mart, etc)  That is why I believe Apple's challenge won't be solved through advertising.  The company must rethink its culture – be the company that democratizes great things instead of being elitist and evil.  (Wasn't that the moral of Apple's epic 1984 spot?)  Culture shapes values and behavior, which in turn shapes a brand's persona.

We fell in love with Apple because of its values, and because it always seemed evident that company's actions (product, pricing, promotion, etc) were in sync with its values.  In real life, when a person's words and actions are consistent, we call that credibility.  So too in brand marketing.  (Remember:  what's true in life is true in marketing.)

My greatest hope is that Tim Cook will invest more time getting Apple's culture right again.  Because we know how inspiring Apple can be when its values and behaviors are in sync.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Creativity for left brainers.

Over the last two days I led a live case study for MBA students at the Merage School of Business at the University of California, Irvine.  Their challenge was to identify a new flavor for Dasani Drops that is relevant to the brand and could drive incremental sales.  I am grateful for the hard work shown by all 12 teams and am excited to get two teams in front of my friends at Coca-Cola.

Beyond evaluating the soundness of each team's research and findings, I was also looking for signs that they were willing to color outside the lines.

In the innovation workshop I run for left brainers, I explain that creativity is not a dark art – it is simply counter-intuitive problem solving.  Yet if corporate whiteboards could talk they would tell tales about the three most common creativity killers:
  • We accept assumptions and end up solving the wrong problem.
  • We know what we know and narrow our thinking within well-trodden mental paths.
  • We aren't comfortable pursuing multiple solutions and lock in too early on a solution.
The innovation framework I teach exhorts left brainers to embrace four catalysts for creativity:
  • Define:  As Norman Berry once said, "Give me the freedom of a tightly defined strategy."  Challenge the definition of the problem you've been asked to solve.  Create a ruthlessly well-honed problem statement.  A more accurate definition of the problem will inspire more specific, imaginative and effective solutions.  (The design team tasked with creating a better water bottle for bikers recast that challenge as creating a better way for bikers to hydrate.  The outcome was the Camelback.)
  • Know:  Michelangelo is said to have tweeted, "A man paints with his brain and not with his hands."  Creativity flows from knowledge, not guessing.  Category knowledge is essential.  But limiting our knowledge to this can stifle fresh ideas.  New information from other categories and seemingly unrelated trends will disrupt preconceptions.  For example, a few of the Dasani teams looked beyond water to examine trends in flavored vodkas and emerging culinary taste profiles.
  • Invert:  Not to be outdone by Michelangelo, Einstein once quipped that "Imagination is more important than knowledge."  The process of inverting a problem requires that we pick it up, turn it upside down, and see it with fresh eyes.  If we are in the hotel business, let's solve the problem as if we were in the entertainment business.  If we are in the packaged good business, let's ask ourselves how Apple might solve this problem.  By inverting the problem we free ourselves from the ankle bracelets that trap us within the conventions of the category in which we work.
  • Collaborate:  One of my favorite maxims is "We > Me."  The era of the lone genius is dead.  The biggest ideas result from the collision of disparate ideas, perspectives and people.  Collaboration isn't about brainstorming with people who are similar to you; it works best when you're brainstorming with people who are dissimilar to you – people from disciplines outside of marketing; people with a different lifestyle or upbringing; people who might look at the problem from a very different perspective. (For example, if you're brainstorming products for kids, don't limit brainstorming to parents – throw in a few teachers who actually spend more time with these kids than parent do.)

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Apple rediscovers the power of empathy.

Empathic Marketing is a model for integrated marketing that I developed from a simple human observation – what's true in life is true in marketing.  It was inspired by my observations over time and across categories that the ways in which we form personal relationships mirror how we form brand relationships.  The 4Es of relationship building – empathy, experiences, endorsement and energy – shape our best and most lasting relationships, both in real life and with the brands we embrace.

Apple has long mastered the 4Es.  At its launch, it struck an empathetic bond with creative souls everywhere who yearned to think different.  Its stores, not to mention its its design and packaging, created experiences that transformed perceptions into deeply-held beliefs.  Its legions of fans created a peer-to-peer endorsement network.  And Apple's steady cadence of new products created a aura of infectious momentum and energy.

However, I believe that Apple's advertising lost its emotional stickiness years ago, probably around the iPhone launch when it's communications focused more on app functionality.  The new iPhone campaign fixes that.  It artfully reminds us of its intimate and irreplaceable role in our life, not through app functionality, but through authentic emotional empathy.




Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Why I love teaching.

One of the reasons I love teaching at Chapman University and UC Irvine's Merage School of Business is having the opportunity to inspire just one student to pursue a profession that pays you to connect the dots between business and almost everything imaginable (technology, art, social trends, pop culture, media...). It's a huge investment of time, but this feedback from that "one" student makes it all worthwhile.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Liberating marketing from old vocabulary.

In my recent talk to the students at Chapman University's Internet Communications Program, I exhorted this next generation of marketing ninjas to help liberate marketing from the antiquated vocabulary that fosters silos in how we think and act:
  • We must reject tired distinctions such as "traditional vs non-traditional" marketing.  (There is only traditional thinking...and this is punishable by irrelevance!)
  • We must admit that terms such as "new media" represent old thinking.  (If you want to make anyone under 25 laugh, refer to mobile as "new media.")
  • We must not allow "offline and online" to live in separate silos.  (In a world of QR codes and second screen viewing, is anything truly "offline"?)
  • We cannot restrict "brand advertising" to mean TV and print.  (The Internet is the most powerful branding tool ever.  Storytelling.  Sight, sound, motion.  Peer endorsement.  Experiences.)
  • We must embrace media as a source of creativity.  (How and where a brand appears is as important as what it says.)
  • We need to enthusiastically embrace metrics, both hard and soft.  (Ignore store traffic and nobody will care about the awareness gain.  Similarly, click through rates at the expense of emotional relevance and differentiation will not matter if the brand degrades to commodity status.)
Finally, we must break with the past.  Old branding models are out of step with the way in which people consume media and interact with brands.  Instead, new models such as Empathic Marketing build brand relationships by mirroring the ways in which people tend to form real, human relationships.  These 4Es of real relationships –  empathyexperiencesenergy and endorsement – form a clear and measurable brand planning model to help marketers create more customer-centered brand platforms.  After all, what's true in life is true in marketing.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Introducing Empathic Marketing.

Yesterday at Chapman University's Internet Communications Program I shared my approach to Empathic Marketing, the integrated marketing model I developed from a simple, human observation:  What's true in life is true in marketing.

Empathic Marketing was inspired by my observations over time and across categories that the ways in which we form personal relationships mirrors how we form brand relationships.  

Forces such as empathy, experiences, endorsement and energy help shape our real life relationships.  Think about the people with whom you enjoy your most lasting relationships.  It’s likely those individuals who “get you” because you share the same values, sense of style, point of view or sense of humor; these same people are likely those with whom you've enjoyed truly memorable experiences; they are likely the people you trust most because their reputation is consistent; people who always seem to be up to something new and interesting.

What’s true in life is true in marketing.

These 4Es of real relationships –  empathyexperiencesendorsement and energy – form a clear and measurable brand planning model to help marketers create more customer-centered brand platforms.



Friday, April 19, 2013

Lessons in leadership from an accidental CEO.


One of my favorite quotes is in Tom Peters' book, Re-imagine"If you don't like change, you'll like irrelevance even less."  This quote always serves to remind me that life, let alone our careers, is a journey of learning and growth.

Today I was invited to give a talk on leadership to the Executive MBA program at the University of California Irvine's Merage School of Business.

My lessons in leadership are a work in progress.  They are skills I've learned through trial and a lot of error; skills that I'm constantly refining; skills that I hope will inspire these Merage students to develop a style that is tailored to their unique talents and personalities.

I often refer to my self as the "accidental CEO" because I never set as a goal occupying the top box on the org chart.  Instead, my goal has always been to take on new challenges and to keep learning and growing.  Years ago, when I was President of Y&R in Southern California, a friend of mine shared with me this quote:  "Those on top of the mountain didn't fall there."  I've kept this on my desk for the past seven years as a reminder that the harder I work the luckier I get.



Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Seven universal stories all marketers should know.

I've written frequently about the power of archetypes and storytelling in creating enduring branding strategies.  After all, archetypal personalities tend to transcend time, cultures and geography.  We are hard wired to understand the Ruler, the Jester, the Magician, et al.  Defining a brand in archetypal terms will resonate more deeply with consumers than surface level "tone and manner" statements.  As for stories, I think we can all agree that stories convey meaning, and in the media saturated world in which we live, meaning trumps information every time.

This piece published in Adweek offers a very helpful insight into the seven archetypal plot lines told in literature and movies.  Every brand marketer should know these time-tested narratives.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Challenging misperceptions of challenger branding.

T-Mobile's new campaign is a promising example of challenger branding in action.

A common misperception of challenger branding is that it is simply a case of the #2 or #3 brand tweaking the category leader.  However, challenger branding is more nuanced than that.  There is a range of challenger branding models:

  • "The higher cause" – challenge consumers to lift their sights and opt for something more meaningful than what's offered by the status quo.  Dove has championed this approach in its "real beauty" campaign through its opposition to the falsehood of media-defined beauty.
  • "For all of us" – a democratization strategy in which a brand liberates and makes available to the masses what has heretofore been exclusive or out of reach.  Target democratized chic design, starting years ago with the Michael Graves toasters.
  • "Change of the guard" – the classic storm-the-palace strategy in which the leader is repositioned as out of touch and out of date.  Apple epitomized this with its famous 1984 commercial.  Years later, it seems Samsung is using this very same strategy against Apple to market its Galaxy smartphones.
  • "Counter culture" – an approach that enlists bands of co-conspirators to zig when the category leader demands that we zag.  Miracle Whip has employed this successfully in its underground war against mayonnaise.  Apple played in this area for years with its exhortation to "think different."
  • "The common man" – an empathic strategy that challenges the category elite by siding with the common sense point of view of the average person (if there is such a person).  Miller High Life's "delivery guy" rants are a text book example of this in action.
  • "Total rethink" – a moment in time in which a marketer draws a line in the sand and declares that "there's got to be a better way."  The new T-Mobile campaign is the latest example of this approach.


One final and important point about challenger branding:  never confuse challenger branding with competitive advertising.  Challenger branding should feel like a movement; a moment in time in which things will be different from this point forward.  Consider Bing's effort to challenge Google.  They conduct product comparisons that show that people prefer Bing over the category leader.  But it doesn't feel like a call to arms or an invitation to rethink all you've known to date.  It simply offers up the facts and invites us to try Bing.  Perfectly effective comparison advertising, but not challenger branding.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Is Facebook fatigue setting in?

Yes, according to a new study from the Pew Research Center.  Some highlights:

  • 27% of Facebook users in the US who were surveyed reported that they plan to reduce the amount of time they will spend on the site.
  • The study found that 61% of Facebook users have taken a break from the site for several weeks or more.
  • A lack of time and interest seem to be driving this trend.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Social media demographics.

We're beginning to get a better understanding of who is using social media, thanks to new research studies such as the one released recently by the Pew Research Center (and published in Adweek).  Some highlights from the Adweek article:
  • Two-thirds of internet users engage in some form of social media, with Facebook being the dominant platform.
  • Women are more likely than men to use social media, and are five times more likely than men to use Pinterest:
  • When in comes to ethnicity, Blacks and Hispanics are more likely than Whites to use Instagram and Twitter.
  • Not surprisingly, social media uses is highest among 18-49 year old internet users.  Among the 50+ segment, Facebook by far the preferred platform. 

  • Level of education doesn't seem to drive social media usage overall, but it does seem to influence the relative choice of platform.