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.


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.