Tuesday, August 15, 2017

#HowAdvertisingWorks (on me) – Range Rover Velar

I recently was flipping through Automobile Magazine and came across an article about the new Range Rover Velar. It's stunning. Hadn’t heard of it before seeing that article. Today, the Velar was in my Facebook newsfeed. Remembering the article, I clicked into the content to see a 360-degree view. The insight: Awareness leading directly to engagement, without the help of any mass advertising. Planning earned media in sync with paid media can be a strong integration. Earned media adds third-party credibility.


Monday, August 14, 2017

#HowAdvertisingWorks (on me) – Advil Gel Minis

I’ve been fighting a cold and have been a frequent visitor to CVS.  While reaching for a box of Advil, I accidentally picked up a box of Advil Gel Minis.  Hadn’t heard anything about these mini pills, so I put them back.  I wasn’t sure it would deliver the same dosage as the regular pill.  Yesterday I was leafing through Rolling Stone and came across an ad for these Gel Minis.  My experience at CVS triggered me to take notice.  Yep, same dosage as the big capsule.  Next time I’m at CVS, I’ll get the Advil Gel Minis.

The insight:  Advertising is often actively consumed by its audience.  I notice bank ads when I'm shopping a mortgage.  Or car ads if my lease is coming due.  I noticed this Advil ad because I have a cold, and because I had a previous triggering experience.  


Sunday, August 13, 2017

#HowAdvertisingWorks (on me).

I’ve decided to note and document the ways in which marketing communications influences me. Some of these insights may seem simple. And in a way, that's the point.

We overthink advertising in boardrooms. We put the weight of the entire campaign on the shoulders of a single piece of content, forgetting how elements work together, and how triggers work in the customer's mind.

Stay tuned. Would enjoy hearing examples from others.  


Thursday, July 27, 2017

A new platform for the oldest form of communicating.

I was excited today to help co-host Ford Motor's Marketing Innovation Day because it focused on one of my favorite marketing topics – storytelling.

I've long believed in the power of storytelling.  Stories convey meaning.  And meaning trumps information.  Maya Angelou captured this so well when she said that "people will forget what you said, forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel."

And that's what is at the heart of storytelling.  Storytelling helps us to digest information because it connects information to emotions, and to connect us to each other.

What's old is new again, thanks to "Stories" on Facebook and Instagram.  Our most ancient form of communicating has found a new form of expression.  Traditional IF and FB posts tend to only show the highlights of our day.  Stories, by contrast, are spontaneous:  a more authentic snapshot of a story as it is happening, unedited and not curated.

According to TechCrunch, there were 100 million active users of IG stories within two months of its release.

This is a great opportunity for marketers to engage through deeper and more immersive stories - e.g., placing the brand out in the real world without the slick hand of Madison Avenue; bringing customers "behind the scenes" for an upcoming product launch; even showcasing origin stories and sources of inspiration from the company's designers or engineers.

Here's a link to some more perspectives on the power of storytelling.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Wikibranding driving online brand activism.

Ten years ago I coined the term Wikibranding when it occurred to me that social media would cause brands to become increasingly crowd-defined.  Ten years later, The NY Times has reached the same conclusion. :)

From today's article:  "Social media is the new TV.  In the era when television shaped mainstream consumer sentiment, companies enjoyed enormous power to alter their image through advertising. Then came the internet, which didn’t kill advertising, but did dilute its power. Brands now have little say over how their messages get chewed up through our social feeds.  Yes, they can run ads on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and everyplace else. But social media elevates consumers over corporate marketing; suddenly what matters isn’t what an ad says about a company, but what your friends think about that company."

Monday, April 24, 2017

Ford vs Tesla.

Insightful assessment of Tesla vs Ford. From a financial standpoint, Ford has had five straight years of profits amounting to over $24 billion, while Tesla's losses total $2.2 billion over this same period.

From a product standpoint, Ford's Fusion Hybrid is now outselling the Prius. (Plus, Ford is investing $4.5B to create 13 electric vehicles over the next several years.)

Do I admire Tesla and Elon Musk? Absolutely. And I admire even more seeing a 114 year old company reinvent its future.

Here's the article.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Job vs a Profession.

So happy today to be able to spend time with GTB's STRIVE team and talk with young professionals about ways to create a rewarding career in advertising. We discussed the difference between a job and a profession. When viewed as a profession, you commit to being in the business of building brands (not tactics); view your career as a journey of learning; know there is no substitute for hard work and preparation; and always have a POV. Above all, you dare to be wrong!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Facebook and Google want to be your TV network.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has publicly outlined the company's ambitious Video First strategy, an effort likely to be as big as its previous push into mobile.  At its core, the strategy is designed to make FB our first choice when we want to look at video.

The first steps are already in motion:  Introduced a video-only tab; started promoting longer videos in the news feed; launched a video app for Samsung Smart TVs, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV; and now will begin paying content creators for high quality, episodic content.

Not to be outdone, Google announced YouTube TV, a $35 monthly "skinny bundle" for cord-cutters, offering 40 channels and content from all four broadcast networks.

But the big news is the availability of live sports, one of the last viewing experiences that keeps many Americans, myself included, tethered by a cable wire.   But YouTube TV will include some regional sports from ESPN.

It's important to monitor the success and growth of each.  It's also important for marketers to think "video" and not "TV."  They sound the same, but they are not.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Virtual Assistants a growing reality.

Alexa, mark my words, literally.  Voice Assistants will set new expectations for how customers want to interact with brands, hardware, shopping sites and apps.

Then again, I saw this coming back in 2013 when I coined the expression #HandsFreeWeb in describing the future of web-enabled houses!

Now that Apple has announced HomePod, we will likely see an epic battle with Amazon Echo and Google Home for leadership in interactive voice.

Amazon Echo has become a surprise hit, putting Amazon well ahead of Google to lead the race toward applying natural human language to search and perform tasks.  In a race to catch up, Google Home also uses AI to understand what users are saying and respond conversationally.

Going forward, I can see a day when typing into a keyboard, whether a phone, tablet or PC, will be viewed as time consuming and old fashioned.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Want to work in Marcom? Learn to write!

This was drilled into me when I started my career at Ogilvy. I am a better business leader as a result. This is a must read...and do.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Your brand's multicultural strategy is also its growth strategy.

New census data shows that minorities are now the majority in 12% of counties across the U.S.  In 370 counties across 36 states, non-Hispanic whites accounted for less than half the population as of July 2015.

And this trend will accelerate.  Three quarters of Americans age 55+ are white.  Whereas among those aged 18-34, that figure drops to only 56%, and even lower among minors.

In explaining his greatness, Wayne Gretzky credited his father's advice to skate to where the puck is going, not where it is.

For marketers, that mean skating to an increasingly multicultural customer base.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

"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 and 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. 

Friday, March 11, 2016

Why I love working in advertising.

I love working in advertising.

We help companies care about their customers' hopes and dreams.  We help companies grow.  We get to collaborate with smart, funny, talented people with diverse backgrounds and interests.

Several times a year I serve as a guest lecturer at University of California, Irvine and Chapman University.  I enjoy mentoring the next generation of advertising professionals.  They remind me how lucky I am.  When I look out across the classroom, I see in their eyes that they would walk across hot coals to be doing what I do.

I always begin my talks with my profession of love and appreciation for my career in advertising, for being able to spend my days at the intersection of business and everything imaginable.  A day in advertising is a day spent absorbing market dynamics; social trends; new technologies; design; emerging media platforms; pop culture influences.  It's a business of ideas – ideas born of hard work, knowledge and serendipity.

True, it can be a day and night job.  And it can be emotionally draining and stressful.  But, again, we get to work in a business of ideas.  That doesn't suck.

I recently spoke to a group of University of Michigan students who asked me to share my advice as they embark on their careers.  Here's what I told them:

  1. Pursue a profession, not a job.  Whatever you decide to do, be the consummate professional. Accumulate skills and knowledge.  Be great at a few things and not simply average at many things. 
  2. Be curious.  Embrace your career as a journey of learning.  You need not know everything.  But you need to ask more interesting questions of those who do know.  Questions provoke ideas and progress.
  3. Fail.  Learn.  Repeat.  (Need I say more?)
  4. Be accountable.  Blaming others is not only is a waste of time, it's a wasted opportunity to learn and grow.  Victimhood serves no purpose.  
  5. Be dependable.  We value people who do what they say they're going to do.  (True in life, true in business.)  Demonstrate early on in your career your ability to get things done.  
  6. Solve problems.  Don't whine about problems.  It's what we're paid to do.  The sales graph pointing downwards is a problem.  Unhappy franchisees is a problem.  High bounce rates on a website is a problem.  Negative brand perceptions are a problem.  We fix problems. 
  7. Have a voice.  Meetings aren't a spectator sport.  Have the courage to show you are a thinking individual.  Always have a point of view.  Don't worry about whether your perspective is right or wrong.  Expressing your idea will be a catalyst for others to challenge or build upon it.  And this is how ideas are born, from the collision of diverse perspectives.
  8. Reimagine yourself, often.  Don't allow yourself to grow stale.  Enroll in the training your company offers.  Accept opportunities that force you to learn.  Creative people must continually evolve.  Years ago I had the good fortune to attend a talk given by George Martin, the legendary producer of the Beatles.  This was his lasting lesson from the Beatles – they experimented and took risks and, by doing so, avoided a repetitious formula.
  9. Always ask "why" and "why not."  These two seemingly simple questions pack tremendous power.  Why challenges the status quo while also signaling curiosity.  Why not is the eternal anthem of optimists.  It's hard to go wrong navigating by these two questions.
  10. Learn to be a commercial anthropologist.  I believe this is central to succeeding in advertising.  Your anthropologist side requires a fascination with people and the strength to observe without judgement.   The commercial side is a constant reminder that advertising exists to help companies sell.  Keep both sides in equal balance.  Too much human observation without bottom line impact isn't good.  Too much selling devoid of human insights creates a commodity business. 
My parting advice to these students is always the same:  I don't care what you end up doing.  But thirty years from now, make sure you can stand up and say "I love what I do for a living."  

Friday, March 4, 2016

Hard work and luck.

Companies can be customers.  Or clients.  Or even partners.  But to me they have been teachers.  I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with 17 companies listed in Fortune Magazine's 2016 compilation of the world's most admired companies. 

P&G – Coca-Cola Company – Unilever –  UnitedHealth Group – Aetna – American Express – JP Morgan Chase – Hilton – Sony – Medtronic – Applied Materials – Pulte Homes – Best Buy – United – Ryder Systems – Toyota – Ford. 

I continue to learn from all my clients. 

Thursday, February 11, 2016

How social media is changing new product reveals.

This New York Times article offers a fascinating perspective on how social media is changing product reveals.

This is now the case in fashion.  I wonder if this dynamic is also in play in automotive and consumer electronics – two industries that also reveal products well in advance of the on-sale date.

Interestingly, the music industry is embracing a different reveal strategy – artists now "drop" a new release with no advance notice.  In doing so they own the social news cycle,  burning hot and bright at the very moment when the "product" is on sale.

Something for marketers to consider.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Making companies better.

Can the approach that revolutionized product design change the way entire companies are organized and work?  Can a corporate culture be design centric?

Design Thinking simplifies complexity and makes customer interactions more intuitive and enjoyable.  It emerged out of Stanford's D-School and IDEO.  It is not about aesthetics – it's a business strategy to achieve differentiation, customer loyalty and satisfaction.

Design Thinking forces a company to embrace a more intimate understanding of its customers and their interactions with the brand, and then be very reductive in creating more valuable experiences.  Principles such as user empathy, rapid prototyping and learning from failure make Design Thinking practical and action-oriented.

This practice has been embraced by companies as diverse as Hermann Miller, Apple, Kohler, 3M, Method and Target to improve products and customer experiences.  David Butler, Coke's head of innovation, stopped using the squishy "D-word" and instead talks about how his team can "make stuff better."

So this makes me wonder if Design Thinking can go beyond "stuff" and make entire companies better.

For example, applying Design Thinking to a professional services firm like an advertising agency could have a tremendous impact.  It would inspire us to reorganize in a way that emphasizes what clients value most (e.g., ideas, innovation, results).  We'd simplify how we solve complex marketing challenges to create more time and space for big ideas.  We would emphasize rapid prototyping and use an iterative ideation process to create bigger and more effective ideas.  And together, agency and client, we would have to become more comfortable with risk, an essential ingredient in a test and learn culture.

Team Detroit was born of change.  If any team is capable of being the first to apply Design Thinking to itself, it is us.  After all, it's what we do!

Monday, August 24, 2015

How digital video changes story telling.

Thought provoking discussion on how storytelling differs between TV and digital video.  This goes deeper than length.  It's about breaking free from the traditional closed loop story arc (having a beginning, middle and end) to a more open ended storyline.

Monday, June 8, 2015

What we're doing online.

Great infographic.  It is mind-blowing to see the change in our online behaviors and growth of new platforms in just three years.

source: BusinessInsider.com

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Google's take on the future.

I met with the team from Google today and continue to respect the ideas that come out of the Googleplex.  Yes, they're always right on the verge of Big Brother type stuff.  But the stuff they do helps organize our lives and enable us to do more (consistent with their mission!).  Since the future of Google is increasingly the future of us, this is worth watching.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Happy Birthday, Moore's Law.

Today is the 50th anniversary of Moore's Law.  And I'm typing this on a tiny device that is smaller, more powerful and less expensive than any of its predecessors, yet will be larger, less powerful and more expensive than the device I will likely be using in two years time.  

I became enamored with the power and clarity of Moore's Law when I worked with Applied Materials to help market the world changing merits of nanotech. Moore's Law is one of the primary reasons why we live in awesome times, and why business is increasingly more productive. 

Thank you Gordon Moore.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Never stop learning.

It was good advice then, it remains vital advice today, given the increasing pace of change.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

SXSW Panel: What marketers can learn from political campaigns.

From the emergence of mass media via Television, political campaigns have used the medium with great effect to build belief in their candidates. From Eisenhower’s patriotic “I like Ike” campaign, to LBJ’s “Daisy Girl” commercial, campaigns used the broad appeal of television to create belief. Today, technology has democratized conversations and put power into the hands of real people—emphasis on real.

What can Madison Avenue learn from this transformation?

In this panel, we discuss how brands and marketers can adopt the road-tested tactics of successful political campaigns, including smart data segmentation, rapid response, emotional storytelling, and influencer engagement. By moving supporters up the ladder of engagement and asking them to take more and more meaningful actions on behalf of the things they care about, brands can create a community of advocates prepared to act on their behalf anytime, anywhere.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

What's the state of relationships in a digital age?

As humans, we need to be safe; we want to belong; we yearn to be loved; and, most of all, we hope that we matter – to our friends, to our families, within our communities, and to the companies with which we do business.  Relationships help satisfy these basic needs.  That’s why we seek them. That’s why we need them. 

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to give the keynote address at the annual JD Power Automotive Marketing Roundtable in Las Vegas and pose this question to the audience: What is the state of human relationships in the digital age?  This isn’t an abstract question. As marketers, we have no choice but to confront and resolve this question.  (Click here to see the speech.)

I’ve come to embrace a simple truth about marketing – what’s true in real life should be true in marketing  Listen to our vocabulary:  Brand relationships; Customer relationships; CRM.  If our goal truly is to build customer relationships, then we should dig deeper to better understand how people form real, personal relationships. 

As marketing becomes increasingly driven by data and technology, we must re-learn how to forge more personal, more authentic customer relationships.  In a digitally-driven world, the 4Es of personal relationships—empathy, experiences, endorsement and energy—gives marketers a clear framework for creating relevant and lasting customer relationships. 

After all, to connect with customers that increasingly prize authenticity in companies and brands, it pays to remember that what is true in life should be true in marketing.