Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The same old "new normal"?

Today I saw a study on "The New Affluents" and how they will be behave differently from previous generations of people with more dollars than sense.

According to this study, affluent Americans are now into self-expression, not status.  They will not buy anything to impress others because conspicuous consumption is out.  Brand choices will be guided by perceptions of quality and authenticity.

Sure.  If that's true we'd all be driving a Honda.

I cannot remember the last time I heard somebody admit in research that they are shallow and driven by what the Jones' think.  Seriously, did the researcher expect that in the midst of the Great Recession respondents would agree that conspicuous consumption is a personal priority?

I am wary of research that predicts that consumers will respond differently during this recovery than we did following previous recessions.  As I posted at the onset of this recession, the narrative of the "new normal" (i.e., grounded values, cocooning, authenticity, personal fulfillment) always comes to the forefront during a recession, only to be followed by new cars, new houses and designer baby buggies during the shiny, happy days that follow.  This has occurred after every recession since the early '80s.  Marketers that bet against deeply ingrained human needs tend to lose.

To be sure, what will be different in this recovery is the power of social and online media to make us smarter and more empowered consumers.  But don't be surprised if we once again experience what Faith Popcorn once described as "the pleasure revenge."

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Three fools. One good agency.

Only fools would start a company just as the economy was about to crater, and do so on April Fools Day.

On April 1st, 2007, three guys at the top of their game left great jobs and corporate comforts to run away and join the circus.  The result was Barrie D'Rozario Murphy.

The agency was hatched over multiple breakfasts when Bob and Stuart made the tough decision to leave Fallon to launch their own agency, followed by multiple phone calls from Stuart persuading me that joining a 3 person shop would be more exciting than leading Saatchi LA's 300 person shop.  Stuart is quite persuasive.  And prescient.

We call our company a "grown up start up" – a handle Jon Bond kindly gave us one night in New York after we launched, inspired by several martinis and Jon's passion for giving brands a clear positioning.

Three years later, BD'M has earned the trust of marketers such as United Airlines, Bissell, Best Buy, Applied Materials, Compellent, Del Webb, UnitedHealth Group and our founding client, the Sunset Marquis.  Our work for the Chambers Hotel in Minneapolis garnered one of only two U.S. Gold Lions in Film last year at Cannes.  And the 4As named BD'M "best small agency in the U.S."  (Go to our site and read the tongue firmly in cheek ad we ran in the New York Times.)  But we take most pride in the talented people who have ventured from near and far to join BD'M.  We'd be nowhere without them.

A start up?  Not so much anymore.  Grown up?  Well, Bob, Stuart and I are still working on that part.

So this April Fool's Day, do something very foolish and follow your dreams.