Thursday, December 6, 2012

Marketing's new normal.


Today I had the opportunity to be the guest speaker at Chapman University's Internet Communications class.  Cory O'Connor, the Assistant Professor who extended the invitation, knows a thing or two about shaping strong brands, having been Sr. VP for the Disney Channel.

My goal was to outline a few themes that have bounced around this blog, particularly that marketing communications professionals should embrace marketing's new normal by eschewing tired distinctions between "online" and "offline", "traditional" vs "nontraditional", as well as my favorite old school term – "new media."  Further to my crusade to simplify planning by stamping out jargon, brand pyramids and Venn Diagrams, I also outlined my simple belief that what is true in life is true in marketing – i.e., they way in which we form personal relationships mirror how we form brand relationships.



Friday, November 30, 2012

Why I love what I do.

First of all, I work in a profession that sits at the intersection of business and everything – technology, art, pop culture, entertainment, societal trends, media.  How can you not love that?

I get to solve business problems that help companies grow. I try to never forget why we do what we do.

I get to live each week as a commercial anthropologist.  The inspirations I need are constantly swirling around me, whether I'm on Facebook witnessing nascent online memes, seeing a new special effect in a movie, learning about new technologies in Wired, scanning relevant business trends in the Wall Street Journal, or walking through the grocery store and watching how people shop (creepy, I know).

I get to have weeks like the one I just had – one that reminds me that I actually have multiple careers:  I work in fashion (reviewing fashion trends for Charming Charlie); spirits (digging for insights for SKYY on why women love flavored vodkas);  fine jewelry (working with teams to define the true meaning of "love at first sight" for Tacori); travel (discussing positioning for Cunard Cruises); and bottled water (exploring angles on health and wellness for Dasani).

I get to engage in conversations about "what's next" – exploring new ways to link social media to retail; vetting new applications of interactive technologies in retail stores; investigating how Millennials value corporate social responsibility.

I get to inspire the next generation of talent, whether doing one-on-one training or preparing for next week's talk at Chapman University.

Most of all, and this has always been true, I get to work with really interesting, smart, curious and fun professionals.

Thirty years on, I love what I do.  This week was just another one of those weeks.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

What marketers can learn from the election.

There's little doubt that the line separating politics from marketing is fading with each campaign.  The purpose of this post is not to comment on that dynamic, nor to offer commentary on the recent presidential election.  Rather, it is to examine the aftermath of this campaign and see what lessons marketers can learn from these increasingly sophisticated and well-funded political campaigns.

Here are three simple questions a marketer can ask before launching a major new campaign:

Are you aligning your brand with emerging demographic trends?  Chances are your customer base looks nothing like you – it is increasingly multicultural; it must appeal to a new generation of well-educated and empowered women; it is consumed in gay and lesbian homes.  This doesn't suggest that a marketer should abandon its core customer group.  What this means is that we should stop treating "diverse" audiences as secondary or tertiary targets and make sure these customers are well represented in the brand's main campaigns and media strategies.

Are you using analytics to understand the science of persuasion?  Gut feel doesn't cut it nine out of ten times.  We live in a world of facts and analytics.  Use data to understand how consumers behave.  The Obama campaign team built a massive predictive analytics database to guide media selection, direct mail offers and advertising messaging.  Setting aside political leanings, this is precision marketing at its best.

Is the brand idea built on clearly defined brand equity?  Consumers, like voters, seek clarity.  This is not likely to change any time soon.  In fact, given the 24/7 media overload, clarity is more important than ever.  Obama's campaign organized all of its messaging within a simple one-word brand equity:  Forward.  It was clear and positive. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Leadership lessons from dancing guy.

Love this video..."Leadership lessons from dancing guy." So true, it's not about the leader, it's about the risk taken by the early followers. That's how movements happen.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Handbook for left brainers.

I was invited this week to speak to a group of marketing executives at Kimpton Hotels about how to become a more creative thinker.

If you're familiar with Kimpton, then you know the company is creative to its core.  Michael Depatie, Kimpton's CEO, exhorts employees to "celebrate the tries, even if they don't work."  Niki Leondakis, Kimpton's President, supports a culture of creativity by saying "if you're not willing to laugh at yourself and be silly, then we're probably not the company for you."

Clearly I was not there to inspire Kimpton to be creative, but rather to provide a framework and useful tools to help teams create bigger ideas more frequently.

To me, creativity is not a fluffy art, it is counter-intuitive problem solving.  The first step is to recognize and avoid the top three creativity killers:  (1) We accept assumptions and solve the wrong problem; (2) We know what we know and narrow the scope of our thinking to ideas that are familiar (perceptual narrowing); (3) We lock down too soon and don't pursue multiple solutions (divergent thinking).

My framework for creative problem-solving follows four steps:

  1. Define:  Create a ruthlessly well-honed statement of the problem – challenge assumptions; be specific about what you want to achieve.
  2. Know:  Gather new and relevant information to disrupt preconceptions.
  3. Collaborate: Remember that ideas get bigger when they result from the collision of disparate perspectives, experiences and people.
  4. Invert: Consider the problem from a radically different perspective to disrupt familiar mental routines and get to new and innovative solutions.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Re-imagine your website as a branded newsroom.


Ian Schafer's article prompts an interesting idea.

Normally we design websites to get people to visit the brand.  What if we changed the goal and instead designed a website programmed around socially shareable content?

By "programming" Mr. Shaffer is suggesting that we keep the content fresh and interesting on a daily basis, similar to the continuous editorial decisions made at an entertainment news website or TV network.

This would require that the website be led by an editor-in-chief charged with making daily content decisions about news/videos/tips that will increase the brand's chances of being shared within social networks.  Like the article suggests, the website would be run like a newsroom.

Love ideas such as this that totally reframe a problem.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The importance of brand empathy.

This piece from HBR corroborates they key themes I've advocated in my 4Es branding model.

HBR calls into question the commonly accepted belief that customers want relationships with brands.  They don't.  It goes on to point out that what customers seek is a sense of shared values.

That's why I've embraced a brand planning model based on the power of empathy.

As I've written previously, I believe that the way in which we form brand relationships mirrors how we form personal relationships.  Forces such as empathy, experiences, energy and endorsement help form our real life relationships.

Empathy tends to be the basis of our strongest and lasting personal relationships.  We connect with people who share our values, sense of style, even our sense of humor.  This holds true with brands.  Brand empathy occurs when customers project onto your brand their own attitudes and values.

Like people, brands are judged by what they do, not just by what they say.  We tend to believe something after we've experienced it first hand.  In marketing, well orchestrated brand experiences help turn perceptions into beliefs when customers sense a brands words and actions are in sync.




Monday, August 13, 2012

Nostradamus and social media

I've been in conversations lately in which people predict that social media will prove to be a marketing folly – a waste of time and money better spent in other channels.

This may or not be true.  I don't know.  I'm not sure even the great 16th Century seer could give us guidance.

However, I do believe that the way in which we'll use this medium in the future will be very different than how we're using it today.  It will evolve in ways we cannot yet see, and in doing so will become more useful for marketers.

Why do I believe this?  Sometimes the past can give us a clue to the future.

Back in the late '90s, and even in the early 2000s, the way in which agencies and marketers used the web bears no resemblance to the way in which we're using it today.  First of all, dial-up was the dominant access method, so it was unrealistic to use rich images and long-form video (the dominant form of interactive marketing today).  Second, we were very inexperienced in this new medium, so we treated the web as a one-way, broadcast version of a brochure.

Back in the 2000s, there were breathless predictions about the advent of interactive television.  The battle for control over this new form of marketing was being defined by the set-top box – the source of viewer interaction.  Or so we thought, until recently when we began witnessing the emergence of "second-screen" viewing, in which viewers interact with broadcast content through a smartphone, tablet or laptop.

In the case of the web, we couldn't see a near future in which broadband would change the online experience, and how the web would evolve from a broadcast medium into a service channel.  And as for interactive television, we didn't see the iPhone coming.

The moral of the story is that we should not define a medium's future potential based on our current practices and the current state of its technology.

So will social media evolve into a powerful marketing platform?  Probably.  But not in the form in which it exists today.  Savvy agencies and marketers will test, learn and be ready for what comes next.

Oh, in case you're wondering, @Nostradamus has 1,449 followers.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Homeward. Onward.

"Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore." ~ Andre Gide

This is one of life's bittersweet moments.  I'm choosing to lose sight of the shore in order to get back to the ocean I love.  After five amazing years, I have decided to leave Barrie D'Rozario Murphy and return home to Southern California. 

Partnering with Bob Barrie and Stuart D'Rozario and everyone at BD'M has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my career.  Bob, Stuart and I always joked that in 2007 we ran off together to join the circus – an experience I will always cherish and would never trade.  We had fun.  We did well.  Together, we built an award-winning agency that earned the confidence of clients such as Dell, Lands End, Del Webb, Wagner, Medtronic, Applied Materials, Best Buy and United Airlines. Along the way we were named "Best Small Agency in the U.S." by the 4As.  We won some EFFIES and a Gold Lion in Film at Cannes.  Not to shabby for our "grown up start up."

While I'm sad to leave the many friends I have in Minneapolis, my decision to return home is a happy one because it will allow me to spend more time with my daughters, plant roots and have just one place that I call home.  Also, those who know me well know that I'm a sea critter – I am happiest by ocean.  And as luck would have it, Lambesis overlooks the beach.  (Several of my friends told me they knew something was up when I posted recently on Facebook that I was no longer selling my boat.  I have clever friends.)

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do.  So throw off the bowlines.  Catch the trade winds in your sails.  Explore. Dream. Discover." ~ Mark Twain

Here's to knowing when it's time to set sail for new lands, and to knowing when it's time to point the compass back towards home.

Homeward.  Onward.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Celebrating creative brilliance in Cannes

I tip my hat to my peers whose work has been justly celebrated in Cannes.  This is the level of creative innovation that keeps me excited and passionate about my profession.  To echo the great Adidas mantra – impossible is nothing.

Here's some of the work that not only inspires me, but clearly inspired the judges in Cannes:

Solar Powered Annual Report:
Austria Solar and its design firm, Serviceplan Munich, produced this Annual Report that featured nothing on its pages until you exposed it to sunlight – a brilliant way to reinforce the company's mission.  (Watch this video to see it in action.)
Nike Fuelband:
Nike's new Fuelband is a sleek wristband that allows you to track daily calorie burn throughout the day.  It's brilliance is not just its design or function but its ability to seamlessly integrate the Nike brand into your entire day, beyond the gym. Kudos to Nike and R/GA.  (See the commercial.)
Mercedes Invisible Drive
How do you promote a zero-emission vehicle?  Make it invisible.  And that's what Mercedes and its agency, Jung Von Matt, did by covering the car with LED lights that displayed images from cameras mounted on the side of the car, creating the illusion that the car was "invisible."  (Watch the video.)








Thursday, May 10, 2012

A jargon-free approach to brand planning.

Today I had the opportunity to be the guest speaker at Chapman University's Internet Communications class.  Cory O'Connor, the Assistant Professor who extended the invitation, knows a thing or two about shaping strong brands, having been Sr. VP for the Disney Channel, so I was honored to get the call.

My goal was to outline a few themes that have bounced around this blog, particularly that marketing communications professionals should embrace marketing's new normal by eschewing tired distinctions between "online" and "offline", "traditional" vs "nontraditional", as well as my favorite old school term – "new media."  Further to my crusade to simplify planning by stamping out jargon, brand pyramids and Venn Diagrams, I also outlined my simple belief that what is true in life is true in marketing – i.e., they way in which we form personal relationships mirror how we form brand relationships.

As always happens when I speak to students, I think I'm the one who comes away more inspired about my profession when I see the passion they have to enter it.


Welcome To Advertising's New Normal.
View more presentations from David Murphy

Friday, April 20, 2012

Why diversity matters in advertising.

The imperative to create a more diverse agency culture is not something we should do because it is politically correct. It's something we must do to ensure the long-term success of our industry.

We are in the business of helping clients build their business through our unique ability to understand and connect with main street America. We did this well over the years largely because we tended to mirror the face of America.  As the American landscape continues to become more diverse, so must agencies, or we risk falling out of touch with consumers and becoming less capable of providing clients with fresh, relevant ideas.


In many states across the U.S., multicultural markets are increasingly mainstream – not just in California and New York, but also in states like Delaware, Maryland, Louisiana and Nevada.  In each of these states the white population accounts for about two-thirds or less of the total (2010 US Census).

If you want a glimpse of the future, look no further than the ethnicity of the youth market:  among people under 18 years old, whites make up only 57% of this cohort.  Millennials have grown up during a time marked by dramatic growth in immigration and racial integration.  Multiculturalism is simply a fact of life for this group, reinforced early on by Sesame Street, and later in the classroom, as well as in film and music.

This film, The Pursuit of Passion: Diversity in Advertising, makes the case in an inspiring way.


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Tips on starting a successful agency career.

I was invited last night to speak to the Chapman University Ad Club and offer career advice to these aspiring advertising agency professionals.

This is a switched-on group, many of whom are preparing to compete in the Ad Fed National Student Advertising Competition.  Having just judged the District 10 regionals in Shreveport, I know how long and hard they've been working on their presentation.

As I told the group last night, this summer will mark my 30th year in advertising,  I still love what I love what I do for a living, mainly because advertising sits at the intersection of everything – business, art, pop culture, technology, societal trends, the media revolution.

I thought I'd share an abbreviated copy of my slides in the hope that it will provide some inspiration and guidance to those who want to be equally passionate about their career in 2042.





Friday, April 13, 2012

What agency vets can learn from students.

I spent the last two days being inspired about my profession by college students who would walk through fire to get a shot at a similar career.

The occasion was AdFed's District 10 National Student Advertising Competition in Shreveport, where I served as a judge.  Students from 20 universities competed as full-fledged agency teams on a live case given to them by Nissan.  Their assignment was to help the automaker increase its share among multicultural millennials, and they did so by conducting their own primary research, developing positioning strategies, creating fully integrated creative campaigns against a $100m media plan that they researched, priced and designed.  The teams had been working on this assignment since last fall, and it showed.

I was in awe of their poise, their professionalism and their fearlessness.  They rocked it.

During my two days I couldn't help but think that agency professionals – those who already have the careers these kids covet – could learn a lot from these students.  This goes for me, too.

They did their homework.  They knew their content and exuded confidence in their points of view.  Too many times we see agency professionals "wing it" due to lack of prep time or sheer laziness.  This is apparent in meetings where it's often easy to spot the person who read the executive summary versus the individual who took the time to probe, dig and validate.

They showed passion and enjoyment.  They exuded the feeling that they had fun working on the assignment.  Clients love this, but too many times are left wondering whether or not the agency team actually likes the client's product or company.  (Think how that must feel.)

They behaved as an ego-free team.  Although they had their account director, media director and creative director, these were merely titles, not dueling fiefdoms.  They came across as one team with one dream.

They presented with confidence.  Granted, they had a lot of rehearsal time.  But it is often shocking how many times we see agency professionals unable to present.  We are in the communications business, and one that sells at that.  Presentation skills should be a given.  

They took risks with their ideas.  They behaved as if they had everything to gain and nothing to lose.  This mindset liberated them to present ideas that were unexpected and bold.  They weren't trying to play it safe or make people happy.  They played to win big.

This summer will mark my 30th year in the business, from when I started as an Assistant Account Executive at Ogilvy in New York.  Three decades later I am still passionate about what I do.  I love the left brain/right brain nature of the job.  I love that advertising sits at the intersection of business, art, pop culture, entertainment, anthropology, psychology and technology.  I love the smart, passionate and rebellious people this industry attracts.

My hope is that these kids will say the same thing in the year 2042.  Between now and then, I hope they never lose the traits they displayed this week, and that our industry embraces this next generation.  We need them more than they need us.  As I've written about before, the Millennial Generation has the skills to help save and reinvent Madison Avenue.  Let's give them their shot on their terms.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Lands' End chooses BD'M.

The best way to celebrate our five year anniversary is by adding a dream client to our roster.  We're thrilled to have been selected by Lands' End after a heavily contested review against some of the country's best shops.

The creative opportunities are boundless, particularly since the company was launched by a former advertising copywriter (see, ad folk can grow up and get a real job!) and cherishes storytelling and wit as part of its brand voice.  (By the way, I'm not putting the Lands' End apostrophe in the wrong place – it was born as a typo in the very first catalog and became part of the company's lore).

This latest victory helps mark our five year anniversary with continued momentum, adding to recent wins from Wagner, Dell and Medtronic.

Five years ago this month we launched BD'M as the agency creating the beautifully distinctive Rhapsody in Blue campaign for United Airlines.  Today, BD'M is a multi-faceted agency:

  • We work across a diverse range of categories, including technology (Dell, Medtronic), DIY home improvement (Wagner), lifestyle (Del Webb) and now fashion (Lands' End).  
  • We are creatively diverse.  In addition to creating award-winning print and TV for our clients, BD'M is deeply immersed in app development (Medtronic), mobile and interactive (Dell), events and promotions (Del Webb). 
  • Lastly, through our alliance with Tag: Worldwide, we are also geographically diverse, with teams in Shanghai, Delhi and London serving our two global assignments with Dell (Public Sector and Large Enterprise).

Not bad for our grown-up, start-up.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

#Leadership Matters.

I have on my desk a quote that a very dear friend of mine gave me years ago when I was President of Y&R in Southern California:  "Those on top of the mountain didn't fall there."  I've kept it there for the past seven years as a reminder that it takes a lot of hard work to get lucky.  And lucky I've been!

I recently revisited a speech on leadership that I gave to the Executive MBA program at the University of California Irvine's Merage School of Business.  I shared with these executives what I've learned about leadership through observation, trial and (much) error.

Here's a summary of some of the core beliefs I've developed over the years:
  • The role of leadership:
    • Great leaders don't create followers – great leaders inspire more leaders to achieve things that matter.
    • Great leaders define the organization's inspiring "why."
    • Telling employees what to do is management.  Showing employees how to do it better is direction.  But inspiring people to make a difference is leadership.
    • CEOs need to be the Chief Talent Officer.
  • The traits of great leaders:
    • Leaders communicate a short list of priorities that remain consistent over time.  They get the organization to accomplish these goals by prioritizing alignment over consensus; by driving the mission deep into the organization through "line of sight" goals"; by providing people with the necessary resources and support; and by establishing accountability through clear measures of success.  
    • Leadership is about credibility.  Words and actions must be in sync.  If not, why should people follow your words?
    • Leadership is about humility – "we > me." 
  • Leading change:
    • When attempting to inspire change in an organization, leaders need to understand the "Principle of the 20th Row."  The average employee seated in the Town Hall Meeting wants to be sure that this is not another "lucite block" exercise.  They need to hear what leadership will begin doing differently before they themselves decide to work differently.
    • Great leaders earn their reputations during the dark days, not the glory days.  As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, "The ultimate measure of a person is not where they stand during moments of comfort, but where they stand during times of challenge."
  • How leaders fail:
    • According to Ram Charan, leaders tend to fail for the following reasons:  They lose touch with what is going on the marketplace; they don't confront reality (hope is not a strategy!); they don't make things happen; they don't take action on poor performing direct reports.
    • Employees don't measure a leader by the greatness they advocate.  They measure the leader by the mediocrity they tolerate. Again, words, values and action must be in sync.
I am reposting the slides in the hope that it might just inspire one other future leader.




Friday, February 10, 2012

What's true in real life is true in marketing.

I’ve embraced a simple truth when it comes to brand planning:  what’s true in real life is true in brand building.  Over time and across categories, I've observed that the ways in which people form personal relationships mirrors how they form brand relationships.

Forces such as empathy, experiences, energy and endorsement 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; people who always seem to be up to something new and interesting; they are likely the people you trust most because their reputation is consistent.

What’s true in real life is true in brand building.

These same human dynamics –  empathy, experiences, energy and endorsement – create a clear and actionable planning model to help marketers create more customer-centered brand platforms.

Empathy

Empathy is persuasive because it is seductive – by creating a common ground, empathy draws people closer to you.

If empathy is how we bond with each other, it stands to reason it is how customers bond with brands. We gravitate towards brands that get us.  Empathy occurs when customers project onto your brand their own feelings and attitudes.  Define a brand's source of empathy with its customers and you'll find its essential truth.  What's the basis of your relationship with your customers?  What is it you share in common on a deeper level?  What are your shared values; your shared dreams; your shared sense of style?  

Empathy isn’t a squishy measure.  We find its surrogates in the leading brand equity research models.  Brand Asset Valuator, one of the world's largest and most robust brand equity tools, identifies personal relevance as one of its leading indicators of brand health.  Research International’s Equity Engine measures affinity as a key measure of brand equity.  We also find empathy in B2B research in measures such as understands my company's needs and trust.

Experiences

Like people, brands are ultimately judged by what they do, not just by what they say. We tend to believe something after we have experienced it first hand.  

Building awareness only goes so far.  Successful marketers orchestrate immersive experiences to turn perceptions into deeply held beliefs and behaviors.

Long term success is no longer assured by the quality of the product or service – it's about the total experience.  Every interaction defines the brand, e.g., the craftsmanship of the packaging, how the phone is answered; the quality of the customer service team (are they brand ambassadors or employees?); the online experience; events; the trade show booth; mobile gaming.  You name it, the list goes on.  Why?  Because experiences turn perceptions into beliefs.

Again, this is not a soft measure.  The 2011 Brand Keys Customer Loyalty Engagement Index shows that customers are increasingly defining value through the total brand experience, and that experiences have a strong impact on customer decision-making.

Energy

Energy is a powerful force.  We’re drawn to its heat and light like moths to a flame.  Energy casts an aura of infectious momentum that people often interpret as being successful, innovative or popular.

Again, what’s true in life is true in brand building.

Think of those friends in your personal life who never stand still – those rare individuals who actually have an interesting answer when you ask “what’s new?”  We enjoy having these people in our circle of friends because the relationship never gets stale or predictable.  They inspire us.

Just as we desire this in our friendships, we seek this from the brands we choose.

Brand energy can be channeled in many ways.  Richard Branson is a master of using PR stunts to create news for Virgin.  Hyundai has gained share through a steady cadence of new product launches and bold customer service initiatives. Marketing practitioners know full well the attention-getting power of the words “new” or “introducing.”  Most often this comes through well-sequenced product introductions, in which every 6 to 12 months we are re-inspired to explore what the brand has to offer.  Most marketers are good at planning launches.  Maintaining energy requires that we think through what happens in the months after a launch to project a sense of ongoing momentum.

It is the absence of energy that causes otherwise loyal customers to get bored; to flirt with other brands; to spice up their life by trying something new and interesting.

Endorsement

Building empathetic brand relationships, immersive experiences and an aura of energy and momentum will fall short if word-of-mouth runs counter to personal perceptions.

Word of mouth didn’t begin with social media.  We thrive on the opinions of others.  From our earliest years to adulthood we learned to seek and follow the opinions of friends, embracing what’s popular at the moment.  Social media simply put on steroids what used to happen on the playground and at the proverbial water cooler.

If brands are built on empathetic relationships, then we must acknowledge that the relationship is now a menage a trois.  In a social media environment, brands are increasingly defined by the relationship that exists between the product and the customer and the other customers who also use the product.  (This observation is why I coined "wikibranding" at an ad:tech panel years back.)

Many marketers assume that customer advocacy is a way to convert others in the customer’s circle of friends.  While this is often true, advocacy can also serve a bigger goal, because giving customers channels through which to share their experiences is also a customer loyalty strategy.  When a customer advocates a brand, they are deepening their commitment to the brand by putting their name and reputation on the line. 

What's true in real life is true in brand building.

The true power of this planning approach is in mapping out the "4Es" as a holistic strategy. Each of these dynamics – empathy, experiences, energy and endorsement – can inspire specific, integrated and measurable tactics.


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Social TV: second-screen viewing

Since my recent post on how the Super Bowl mainstreamed Social TV, I read the announcement that Turner Entertainment is creating companion apps to enable second-screen viewing for its hit shows like Conan and Big Bang Theory.

These apps will use audio-fingerprint technology, similar to Shazam, to offer viewers deeper content and offers that correspond with the action in the program.  The trend toward second-screen viewing recognizes that TV viewers are increasingly watching TV with the remote in one hand and the smart phone or tablet in the other.

The dream of interactive TV is alive and well.  However, unlike the early prognostications that viewers would interact with the TV screen through their set top box, the interaction is likely to take place through the ever present smart phone.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The mainstreaming of Social TV.

The 2012 Super Bowl set a new high water mark for Social TV.

TV has long been a personal experience, perhaps shared in real time by one or two fellow couch potatoes in your den or the following morning with co-workers.

Social media has changed that.  Now TV is shared in real time with friends and strangers who share your passion for Grey's Anatomy or SNL. This trends blows up during major events.

According to Bluefin Labs, the 12.2 million social media comments during and after the Super Bowl represented a 578% increase over last year. During the final three minutes, tweet volume was about 10,000 tweets per second.  There were 985,000 comments about the commercials alone. (That's wikibranding in action.) H&M/"Beckham", Chrysler/"Clint", and Doritos/"missing cat" led this conversation.

A couple of smart marketers recognized this by integrating a social aspect into their Super Bowl promotions. Chevy offered an app to use during the game as part of a real time car giveaway. Coke let viewers stream the Polar Bowl and watch the bears react in real time to the game and the commercials.

Social TV requires that we plan a conversation, a social experience, not just a campaign.  Yes, we want to reach our audience. But then what?  Enable the conversation with social tools.  And, as always, inspire the conversation with a killer creative idea.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Stop piracy, not liberty.

Show your support.  Let Congress know your point of view on SOPA and PIPA.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Gaming as a form of strategic marketing.

We've all seen the brief: raise awareness, shape new customer behaviors, launch a new product and generate revenue.

Historically, this brief has been answered through an advertising campaign.  But in a world in which collaboration and experiences often trump one way communications, gaming is fast becoming a bankable marketing strategy.

A while back I attended a thought-provoking presentation by Dr. Jane McGonigal, a leading game designer and researcher, about the social benefits of gaming.  Dr. McGonigal believes that gamers exhibit four personality traits that are essential for problem solving:
  • urgent optimism
  • social collaboration
  • blissful productivity
  • epic meaning
Perhaps inspired by Albert Einstein's quote – "Games are the most elevated form of investigation." – her work focuses on ways to harness gamers' collective intelligence and creativity to solve societal challenges, such as imagining a world without oil, or new ways to bring water to sub-Saharan Africa.

Now companies are embracing gaming as a business strategy.  Within the past few months I've witnessed B2B gaming initiatives from IBM, Cisco, GE, SAP and Microsoft.  Each is using gamification to engage customers in a deeper brand narrative, or to train sales people.

BD'M used gamification to help United Airlines sell its new suite of Travel Options.  We designed a game around each Travel Option – e.g., Line Jump Hero, Legroom Legend, Mileage Ace – that could be played online or on smart phones.  After being played over nine million times and generating millions of dollars in incremental revenue for United, The Mobile Marketing Association named the Optathlon games the best mobile promotion in 2011.

This new presentation by PSFK provides a thorough and clear case for gaming as a business strategy.  Gaming has the potential to communicate; to teach; to solve; to alter behavior; to raise money.  It does so through its unique ability to tap into peer competition and one-upsmanship; stakes and rewards; exclusivity and access.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Marketing to the 66%.

A big issue confronting marketers is the shrinking middle class consumer.  Let's call them the 66%, after accounting for the famed 1% and the 33% of Americans living near or below poverty levels (an even bigger issue).

The middle class, a core target for most marketers, is hurting because technology and process-driven productivity increases is eliminating middle management jobs in manufacturing and service industries.

In 2011 marketers witnessed what the WSJ calls the "Barbell Effect."  Marketers catering to wealthy consumers fared relatively well.  Sales at Saks and Nordstrom were strong, as were sales for Mercedes, Land Rover, Porsche and BMW.  At the other end of the "barbell," sales at dollar stores and discount chains spiked as the middle class traded down, causing marketers such at Heinz and P&G to focus on discounting and bargain brands.

What should marketers do?  I'd suggest CMOs look at what Hyundai has done over the last few years to drive a remarkable surge in sales.  Several years back, Hyundai began addressing the fundamental issue depressing sales -- FEAR. The vast majority of consumers are not facing layoffs or home foreclosures, yet they curtail spending because they're understandably anxious about the future.

Hyundai launched its Assurance program, allowing consumers to return their new car within a year of purchase if they lost their job. (Sales jumped 14% that month while the industry was down 37%.)  The company followed that by sweetening the program by offering to pay the vehicle loan or lease for 90 days while the owner looked for work.  Moreover, Hyundai has also made buyers feel smart – another way to alleviate fear – through its warranty program, styling and quality.

Looking back on my recession-themed posts (a topic I look forward to not writing about in the future!), the strategies suggested at the outset of this recession remain applicable today:
  • Reduce anxiety by making consumers feel smart; 
  • Appeal to consumer's need for emotional security and "cocooning";
  • Get closer to your best customers through true loyalty incentives and CRM; 
  • Consider tiered pricing and value options; 
  • Invest in innovation – "new" is still a powerful lure; 
  • Finally, don't let a good crisis go to waste – refocus and reprioritize all elements of your product portfolio, marketing and media mix.