Starbucks and other "experience brands" need to evolve into the age of brand meaning quickly. Why? Because the brands that win today are ones that drive social agendas.
Category: Brand Integrity
Davis Brand Capital today released the 2012 Davis Brand Capital 25 ranking, which evaluates brand management and performance comprehensively. It is the only annual ranking of companies that demonstrate overall, balanced approaches to managing the full spectrum of brand and related intangible assets, providing an indicator of total business strength and effectiveness.
In what can be described only as a singularly courageous move, the new JCPenney unveiled a Father's Day ad featuring real-life gay dads Todd Koch and Cooper Smith, and their children, Claire and Mason. It is widely considered a direct response to the failed hysteria of the "Million Moms" boycott of the retailer after it named Ellen DeGeneres its spokesperson. And, indeed, this read of events is likely. Something more is going on, though. The ailing retailer has found the courage to be relevant, and with bold social intent.
As a rule of thumb, marketers tend to avoid likening their products to excrement, even when its an apt comparison.
How can a business respond to both the radical changes in the market as well as the human challenges in the wind? Without a doubt, the blue ocean opportunity of the moment is trust.
Davis Brand Capital today released the 2011 Davis Brand Capital 25 ranking, which evaluates brand beyond its traditional marketing function and considers it as a blend of key intangibles. It is the only annual ranking of companies demonstrating comprehensive and balanced approaches to managing the full spectrum of brand capital, which provides an indication of the strength and effectiveness of an entire business.
“Building community.” It’s become a mantra. You can’t go a day of digitally deposited trade reading without gurus across the board - from HBR to Ad Age - opining on how brand building is linked to community building. The devil, of course, is in the details.
Yesterday’s New York Times featured an interesting look at the “divergent paths” of the iconic Swedish auto brands Saab and Volvo. Both were orphaned by their parent companies, GM and Ford respectively, during the global economic downturn.
The endless-loop news of Groupon's financial bleeding — largely self-inflicted — brings no joy to those who thought they were on to the next big thing. As Sunday's New York Times points out, the daily-discount site was all-too recently offered a stunning $6 billion from Google, but the time-tested combination of corporate hubris, greed and flimsy accounting got in the way of all of that.
Fast Company's cover story in the September issue is a must-read for any marketer, no matter the industry.
A note of thanks from World Market's CEO reached inboxes across the U.S. last Thursday, August 11, while financial markets around the globe were on a roller coaster ride and London experienced the worst riots in decades. At first blush, World Market's move was unusual and timely. Unusual, because consumers don't typically receive "personal mail" from a corporate leader and timely, because the note acknowledges the current economic woes. Unfortunately, these are the only two "positives." Ultimately, the note is memorable for all the wrong reasons.
Slate's insightful piece by Annie Lowrey, "Readers Without Borders," highlights one of the most cringe-worthy excuses for failure: the marketplace.
Intellectual property law fascinates me. The ambiguity and subjectivity involved in determining whether or not a trademark can be protected, or if it infringes on an existing mark, can make brand-naming projects painfully frustrating.
Davis Brand Capital today released the 2010 Davis Brand Capital 25 ranking, which evaluates brand beyond its traditional marketing function and considers it as a blend of intangibles creating value in the intellectual economy. The ranking compares the five key intangible categories by which the consultancy defines brand capital: brand value; competitive performance; innovation strength; company culture; and social impact.
Mormons and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or LDS - not to be confused with LSD(!) - have been on my my radar screen lately. It has nothing to do with HBO's popular drama Big Love or Mitt Romney's failed presidential campaign. Rather, LDS has embarked on a brand image campaign which, upon a closer look, is much more than a polished, high-gloss initiative aimed at a younger generation of potential disciples. In fact, it is both a timely move for a marketplace in search of answers and a bold competitive move among religious institutions.
The kid owned it. At a cultural moment when no one owns anything -- from BP execs to Wall Street banking honchos to members of Congress to sad little Lindsay Lohan -- this twenty-something kid sat down one-on-one, took a deep breath, and owned his decision. He's not responsible for the recession, for Cleveland's identity crisis, for salivating and hyperventilating media. He didn't hide behind a lawyer or an uber-agent/agency. He made a controversial decision about his life, and he announced it personally. Criticism comes with the territory, but he didn't hide.
LeBron James is a tease. Instead of Tiger’s plethora of women, LeBron toyed with ESPN, Twitter, Bing, VitaminWater, McDonald’s, Sprite, Nike, University of Phoenix, Cleveland, New York, New Jersey, Chicago, Miami, old media, new media, journalistic integrity and the general public at large. And it backfired.
Even though I've beat up on Volvo before, on a personal level I'm a lifelong fan of their cars. On a professional level, I have profound respect for Volvo's clear, consistent brand management. That's why their new advertising partnership with "Twilight: Eclipse" is so painful to watch.
PBS chef and 1999 James Beard award winner Lidia Matticchio Bastianich is a stark contrast to the Food Network's lineup of chef entertainers. She exudes knowledge and offers simple, clear instruction on her PBS show Lidia's Italy. There's no pageantry or pretense -- just a serious chef with a love and appreciation for Italy's many classical, regional dishes. Yet while I'm a fan of her show and her approach to cooking, her brand strategy lacks the refinement of her recipes. As meticulous and knowledgeable as she comes across on her program, the translation of the promise she establishes isn't consistently translated across her many ventures, most notably her restaurant Lidia's in Kansas City.
"My dad just got iced." I saw this status update on Facebook the other day and knew it probably had nothing to do with hockey or joint pain. A wee bit of research revealed that Icing is a new drinking game wherein someone gives a Smirnoff Ice to someone else, who must get down on one knee and chug it. If the person being "iced" pulls out their own concealed Smirnoff Ice, called "ice blocking," the icer has to drink both bottles. People are icing and getting iced all over the country largely due to the promotional efforts of now defunct website www.brosicingbros.com. Whether the game (and website) was conceived by Smirnoff parent Diageo (they deny having any part in its creation or promotion), or bored frat boys isn't important. Icing reveals the value of understanding complex social relationships, not simply studying (and catering to) demographics.
Last weekend, I took my two preschoolers to Six Flags. We walked through Bugs Bunny National Park, past Tweety's Twee House and Yosemite Sam's Tugboat Tailspin, my five-year-old nervously eyeing the 6-foot tall anthropomorphized rooster waving menacingly at her. "Mommy, what is that?" "Oh, that's Foghorn Leghorn," I explained. Then her wee brow furrowed. "Who?" The child had no clue. Neither did the heat-stroked fourteen-year-old inside, I bet. It was then I realized Six Flags has become less theme park than museum, teeming with cartoon icons put to pasture when cross-dressing, gun-toting, homicidal role models fell out of favor. Bugs, Elmer and Wile E. have joined Minnie, Donald and Pluto at the edge of obsolescence. Can WB bring them back from the brink?
In 2007, I lauded BP's rebranding for its aesthetics and the company's willingness to position itself at the forefront of social and cultural debate. But I questioned its ability and willingness to "walk the walk" of its "beyond petroleum" talk. Sadly, the Gulf of Mexico spill will prove an excellent case study on the perils of disingenuous branding.
Swiss Tourism has long struggled to promote its country in a modern, meaningful way, oftentimes relying on national cliche. The situation is compounded by an apparent lack of brand strategy or a sound understanding thereof. As a result, in its most recent attempt Swiss Tourism tells the wrong story well. Switzerland isn't the only mismanaged national brand, but as a Swiss citizen and brand strategist, I find this latest fumble particularly painful, if pretty, to watch.
When BP rebranded itself a few years back, it did so in a way that made the redefinition of its initials an overt gesture: "British Petroleum" would now stand for "Beyond Petroleum." In other words, we were asked and empowered to reimagine what "BP" means.
We spend a lot of time with clients talking about different communication platforms, the best content for each and the approaches that certain media demand versus others. Trying, in other words, to help brands understand seamless communication paired with appropriate voice. But sometimes the best way to understand these different platforms is simply to experience them. I had a particularly elegant social media experience with Sonos recently that's worth sharing because it illustrates graceful, appropriate and effective use of a platform.
Trouble. Oh we got trouble right here in Disney. With a capital T that rhymes with C and that stands for Chip and Dale and that rhymes with...Monorail. More than a few fans of the Happiest Place On Earth aren't on board with the new appearance of one of the park's iconic monorails. To drum up early buzz for its big December release of Tron Legacy, Disney has repainted one of its 11 trains to include an image of a light bike from the film and the "Tron" name.
Domino's Pizza has changed since we left her, and she's asking for one more chance. One date to prove things are different now. And she won't take no for an answer. There's the personalized billboards. The on-air dedications from the local deejay. Airplanes trailing messages across the sky, and random acquaintances showing up at our work, promising she'll make us happy this time. Plus, we've got the sneaking suspicion we're being followed.
Facebook seems unstoppable. The community boasts more than 400 million users, half of whom log on at least once a day, and 35 million of whom update their status at least once a day. In the first week of March, its traffic increased 185 percent compared to the same time last year, briefly beating out Google for most-visited site in the U.S. And according to comScore, it commands a 41 percent share of unique visitors to top social media sites, including Twitter, YouTube, MySpace and Ning. But history suggests that when it comes to destination sites, what goes up must come down. And Facebook has apparently learned a few lessons from AOL, Friendster and MySpace. Facebook Connect and Facebook's recent announcement to extend its popular "Like" feature to the rest of the Internet point to strategic shifts intended to help it avoid a similar fate. In a decidedly Google-like move, Facebook wants to follow you outside of its walls to become a more integral part of your entire Internet experience.
Poor CNN. The network is trying to be everything to everyone and, as is usually the case with such efforts, pleasing no one. Ratings are in the toilet and in every corner -- from the plush offices of Vanity Fair to the hallowed halls of NYU to the ash-covered continent -- one hears the jarring thumps of unsolicited advice. It's enough to make an executive producer drink more heavily than he already does.
Nike's new Tiger spot is drawing some praise, and much criticism, for its resurrection (and arguably, exploitation) of the late Earl Woods. A black and white Tiger, humbled but head-up, stares into the camera while the voice of his father asks "Did you learn anything?" No question it's a risk, but the ad works because it neither ignores the golfer's many indiscretions, nor does it imply that the Woods on the course is somehow separate from the Woods in the bedroom (or backseat...or backyard...). And it suggests mistakes on and off the course can lead to growth on and off the course.
One need not stretch too far, nor have particularly partisan views, to accept arguments that ours is a culture marked by institutional collapse. Confidence on Wall Street and in capitalism itself slipped with the tarnishing of names AIG, Lehman and Merrill Lynch (among others) during the Great Recession. Trust in the U.S. government eroded along party lines, calling into question the integrity of the democratic process, on the path to health care reform. Faith in the Catholic Church continued to fold just last week under the weight of yet another round of scandal fueled by priests preying on the most vulnerable. On somewhat lighter fronts: there is no longer a "most trusted man in news" when every adman is a newsman, and so many newsmen an advertisement (or plagiarist). Science is more politicized than ever, the clarity of its objective truths clouded by a climate of competing interests. If our cultural institutions are not as strong as they once were, where is one to place belief?
In a time when brands must move comfortably across contexts to extend their relevance and engage consumers, Lady Gaga's mind is prime real estate. Her latest brainchild, a 10-minute long mini-film for "Telephone," is a product placement hotbed. Miracle Whip, Virgin Mobile, Diet Coke, HP, Polaroid, Wonder Bread, and the dating Web site Plenty Of Fish all co-star, shaped by the artist into a surreal mashup that confirms the importance of brand to our cultural dialogue.
If you have a powerful singing voice you should sing. If you have a mediocre singing voice, you should sing and dance. In the business world, Zappos.com has serious pipes. The unorthodox retailer quickly climbed the customer service charts and stands alongside Nordstrom, Ritz-Carlton and USAA, companies long known for exemplary service. But despite legitimate talent and personality, Zappos choked recently when making the jump to advertising. Their first ad from Mullen, featuring puppets reenacting unusual customer calls, dials up the showmanship and distracts from their unique voice. As a result, Zappos misses some big notes and never quite connects with the audience.
We're fans of IKEA and have written on their past marketing successes and brand missteps. The company captures our attention again by tackling an area of its business that, for many, leaves much to be desired: the assembly of its products.
AshleyMadison, of "Life is short. Have an affair." fame, trotted out this Avatar-themed spot for broadcast during Sunday's Academy Awards. Then, in a move as predictable as an over-the-top Sharon Stone reaction shot, ABC banned it from the telecast. Funny that the nation's leading adultery enabler ends up flaccid on Oscar night. Why did those frigid execs give Ashley's aliens the cock block?
Tough times for automakers have turned the industry upside down. Household names like Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Saturn and Hummer have gone the way of the dodo. Saab narrowly avoided a similar fate with a last-minute purchase by Dutch super car manufacturer Spyker, a niche player that has intriguing plans for the quirky Swedish brand. Fiat and Chrysler became strange bedfellows. And Toyota is struggling through an historic, crippling recall. But one of the more interesting outcomes of the recent upheaval within the auto industry is Ford Motor Company's sale of Volvo to China's Geely.
In December, Davis Brand Capital announced the 2009 Davis Brand Capital 25 ranking. Toyota ranked #8 overall and was the top-ranking automaker. Since the release, Toyota has issued a series of historic recalls, and the brand has suffered a precipitous fall from grace. So far, the recalls affect more than eight million vehicles worldwide, with Toyota considering still more for its best-selling Corolla. And recall-related malfunctions have caused an estimated 34 deaths since 2000 in the U.S. alone, according to government data released this week. Beyond the direct financial, legal and ethical implications of the recalls themselves, Toyota faces a crisis of consumer confidence comparable to the Tylenol cyanide murders or the Ford Explorer/Firestone fiasco. Rebuilding consumer trust will require much more than a public relations war room and marketing blitz. Toyota faces a fundamental brand challenge that extends deep into its culture, its operations and its core meaning. As the story unfolds and an embattled Toyota hunkers down for the onslaught, important lessons from the crisis are already coming to light.
We recently voiced optimism that the Super Bowl launch of Dove's Men+Care line would challenge the alpha male ad genre, just as its revolutionary Real Beauty spot from Super Bowl XL confronted unhealthy female beauty standards. On Sunday, our optimism swirled its sad little way down the drain.
Last year, the economy in free fall, I expected both Monster and CareerBuilder to forego the silly punchlines and offer a clear message of help and hope to the millions of unemployed Americans watching the Super Bowl. I was disappointed. This year, the jobless number nearing 15 million, I tuned in certain they'd finally get it right. That the employment experts would share their most inspiring success stories: The father of four who, laid off after 15 years at the same company, found new opportunity through Monster. Or the young college grad who, thanks to Careerbuilder, discovered an obscure field to which she could apply her highly specialized degree. Instead we got beaver-fiddling and tighty-whities -- proof these job search emperors have no clothes.
Migros is Switzerland's largest supermarket chain and one of the 500 largest companies in the world. Known as the big M because of its iconic orange logo, the company employs more than 84,000 people and has recently posted sales of more than $20 billion. Turning 85 years old in 2010, Migros' unique history, business savvy and far-reaching vision make it a noteworthy case study for brands in and outside the category. Migros has been ahead of its time from its inception, and is a prime example of how a company can diligently build brand capital through innovation, social responsibility, thoughtful portfolio strategy and a careful management of brand voice.
First, Hardee's showed you its B-Hole. Then, Bud Light Lime gave it to you In the Can. Now Axe, with all the class and finesse we've come to expect from the brand, wants to Clean Your Balls. On the surface, this seems like nothing more than your typical nether regions marketing. But look under the hood, and Axe's down under approach has more in common with early marital aid advertising than beer and fast food.
This spring, Universal Orlando will open the much-anticipated Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which it promises will be "unlike any other experience on earth." If the park succeeds with what it's got tucked up the sleeve of its flowing robe, there's going to be a new owner of magical theme park experience (that sound you just heard was a 81-year-old mouse shaking in his over-sized yellow shoes).
As the year ends, we look back at the most read and shared posts from Unbound Edition's contributors, and a few more favorites chosen by our editorial team. We appreciate your continued readership and commentary and look forward to more dialog in 2010.
Microsoft ranks #4 on the Davis Brand Capital 25, besting twelfth-place rival Apple. Despite taking some hits in a year-long advertising tit-for-tat with Mac, Microsoft joins fellow technology brands IBM (#1), HP (#3) and Cisco Systems (#5) at the top of this year's list. The Davis Brand Capital 25 is the only annual list to evaluate brand as an amalgam of intangibles, including brand value, competitive performance, innovation strength, company culture and social impact. Microsoft's top-five ranking is a reflection of the company's successful management of its brand capital across a diverse portfolio of technology products and services.
On Monday Davis Brand Capital released the 2009 Davis Brand Capital 25, and IBM took the top spot. IBM's #1 ranking may surprise some at first glance. After all, brand is typically viewed primarily through a marketing lens, and therefore tends to be more closely associated with consumer-centric - and arguably more glamorous - companies such as Apple or Nike. But the Davis Brand Capital 25 examines brand more holistically: as a collective set of intangibles, including brand value, competitive performance, innovation strength, company culture and social impact. The following commentary and qualitative assessment of top-ranked IBM highlights the company's successful management of these five intangibles that comprise brand capital and provides context for its #1 ranking.
Davis Brand Capital today released the 2009 Davis Brand Capital 25 ranking, which evaluates brand beyond its traditional marketing function and considers it as an amalgam of intangibles creating value in the intellectual economy. The ranking compares the five key intangible categories by which the consultancy defines brand capital: brand value; competitive performance; innovation strength; company culture; and social impact.
Back in June, Miracle Whip broadcasted its condiment manifesto to Gen Y. Punctuated with the official quivery chalkboard script of all advertising-spawned youth movements and set to a swaying, poly-ethnic crowd kickin’ it kiddie-pool style, a bored (yet defiant!) voice-over proclaims: “We are our own unique, one-of-a-kind flavor. We are Miracle Whip. And we will not tone it down.” Hmmm. A hipster decree from a 76-year-old sandwich spread most famous for its supporting role in my great aunt’s deviled eggs? The campaign was hard to swallow.
Google's autocomplete search recommendations have spawned a new Internet meme. And before you keep reading, let me warn you: this post could rob you of your productivity today.
It always stops me in my tracks when a television anchor utters a phrase that somehow references the real world as separate from the world of television journalism. As in: "Well, I guess out there in the real world...." Say what? As if they forget, for a second, that the sets aren't real and the stories are. So it's probably not surprising that, in the latest CNN Opinion Research poll, 70% of the respondents answered "yes" to the question "Are the media out of touch with average Americans?"
Critiquing advertising for objectifying women is a bit like shooting fish in a barrel. Recent campaigns from Axe, Tag, Hardee's, American Apparel and others have arguably taken the degradation of women to new lows. But a new NC-17 iPhone app for Pepsi's Amp soft drink takes the proverbial cake.
The motoring and mainstream media alike have scrutinized Detroit's Biggish Two-and-a-Half ad nauseum. Both experts and the car-buying public are questioning Detroit's ability to innovate in the post-SUV cash cow, post-bailout world. And rightfully so. Admittedly, there are a few bright spots on the horizon. But the real innovation story likely won't be the much-hyped Chevy Volt or even Ford's Fit-beating Fiesta. And it certainly won't be the ridiculous idea that positioning Chrysler to compete with Cadillac will somehow save the beleaguered brand (have you seen Cadillac's sales figures, Mr. Fong?). I'm betting Detroit's next disruptive innovation will be the rebirth of Saturn.
The Levi's brand saddens me so. It could be so much cooler. It could, really, be the PBR of denim. Industrial, durable, worn-in and well-worn. American. Iconic. An underdog. But no. Instead of quietly offering itself up as what it is: a historied, high-quality, understated, no-frills alternative to the flash and arrogance of designer denim, it is clamoring schizophrenically to be everything to everyone. Oh, Levi's. What are you doing? Wait a minute. I know. It's called "trying too hard."
I just finished Dave Eggers' new book Zeitoun. It's the harrowing tale of one man's experience in New Orleans after Katrina. Completely unrelated, and with far less consequence, my husband just tried to get home from Phoenix on Jet Blue's red eye - a journey that took nearly 24 hours. So I have been thinking about man vs. system. The first is a terribly consequential tale, the other banal, but they are both about the systems we construct.
IKEA fans are all a-Twitter over the company's recent font change from Futura to Verdana. Designed to be easy to read at small sizes (like catalogs and computer screens), Verdana will be used in IKEA's print and digital communications. What seems on the surface like a simple, subtle shift -- one that arguably fits the company's brand of streamlined, smart, affordable design -- has triggered an onslaught of negative reaction so filled with bile that one might think the company switched to Comic Sans or Jokerman.
Usually, the city of Venice is partially flooded by water a number of times every year, courtesy of its slowly sinking foundation. However, these days the city called "La Serenissima," or most serene, is facing a different kind of flood -- one it is much less prepared to stem.
We're in a post agency age, would someone please notify the sports leagues? While middlemen everywhere cry out in pain, umbrella sports organizations from high school to the pros skip blithely along with blinders on, slicing their member institutions' intellectual property into ever smaller segments while their lawyers kick and scream at technological advancements and rail at the consumers themselves - yes, that's right, the very fans who comprise what ESPN dubs Sports Nation, otherwise known as the blood that courses through the veins of the mighty American sports machine. Does this sound sustainable to you?
Starbucks has a brand problem. Everyone knows it. Their founder knows it. And, to Starbucks' credit, the company is taking action. A brand problem, though, is a business problem. It's not a matter of addressing or re-dressing things. It's about operations, about the integrity of processes. Making the promise and keeping the promise of the brand can never be detached from the consumer experience. This is not good news for Starbucks; it's still faking it.
Some say Goldman Sachs has a brand problem. And the media pile-on includes the FT, New York Magazine, the New York Times and Rolling Stone with its oft repeated and colorful judgment of the company as a “giant vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity.” But I say, Mr. Lloyd Blankfein, light up a cigar and stick to your arrogant guns. I don’t think you have a brand problem. I think you have a brand which is working very, very well. To the chagrin of many others.
CNN and sister network HLN face a difficult brand challenge. As Teri Schindler noted in her recent post on the branding of broadcast networks, CNN is caught between a rock and a hard place with MSNBC’s liberal bent and Fox News’ right-wing “reality."
At a time when most leaders, including that of the western world, want to summon the “spirit of innovation” and change to reignite consumer confidence, a number of food companies prefer to bust that ghost before getting slimed by progress. From Wendy’s to Heinz to Haagen-Dazs, well-known brands are reminding us that it’s ok to push the “pause” button on innovation. None, perhaps, more joyfully than Post Shredded Wheat.
It’s a hard time to tackle branding if you are a television channel. What with the mishmash of shows, the plethora of “talent,” the multitude of distribution platforms, the unrelenting pressure on retaining audience and the changing media landscape, distinguishing the distributor is a difficult and possibly thankless chore. So many egos and properties, so many fragmented audiences, so little room for a clear, identifiable position. So little opportunity for a relationship with the public.
Last week, while Amazon was rewarding Zappos for their exceptional customer-centric culture, Buzzmachine’s Jeff Jarvis raged against the Cablevision machine. He lamented long wait times for repairs, unrealistic service windows and aggressive, uncaring service representatives. I add to his account my own recent experiences with some of the largest U.S. corporations, not in an attempt to trump Jeff, but to showcase how pervasive the problem with customer service has become. While some bright spots certainly exist (Zappos and Twitter’s ComcastCares to name two), the consistently negative experiences reported by consumers (anecdotally through social media and quantitatively through survey results) suggest that in today’s service economy, even our largest companies are failing the consumer, and ultimately, America.
Last night, So You Think You Can Dance celebrated its 100th episode. In addition to featuring encore performances by the greatest dancing talents to grace its stage over the course of seven seasons, it finally treated audiences to the uber-hyped performance of “brilliant” song-and-dance genius...um...Katie Holmes?
Hardee's “Name Our Holes” campaign sure has lathered up the Internet. AdAge calls Hardee's out for "upping the ante in the fast-food smutfest," and Reuters dismisses the campaign as “obnoxious.” Which it is. But it is also hilarious. It's easy to see why some claim advertising has reached an all-time low, but isn't something else going on here?
Last year’s economic meltdown has shone a disproportionate light on the financial and automotive companies. The brands and institutions within these two industries have been scrambling to respond with clear, overarching agendas — green, consumer-centric vehicles in automotive, greater transparency (and regulation) in the financial sectors. While less in the spotlight in recent months, the food industry has been equally frenetic, but has not clearly articulated a larger agenda. Do the many microtrends, from local and organic to simple and safe, add up to something more substantial?
On Tuesday’s DVD release of Mad Men’s second season and across recent promotions for the August 16 premiere of season three, we’re seeing an inspired, Draper-esque approach to making 60s era ad culture relevant to today's audiences. Mad Men’s marketing blitz blends past with present as skillfully and successfully as Weiner himself. This mashup of reality and fiction, a strategy also used to great effect by HBO’s True Blood and its advertisers, proves that brands willing to go off script are endearing themselves to new, loyal audiences.
Regardless of how you felt about Michael Jackson when he was alive, it is difficult to deny the extensive and irreplaceable contributions he made to music. It is also difficult to deny his truly amazing ability to reinvent himself as an artist in spite of --and in the face of-- personal tragedy and public scandal. As frail as he seemed, especially toward the end, Michael never stopped working on his image and music. A life lived in the public eye taught Michael from a young age to never stop moving. Sometimes forward, sometimes backward, and often times in circles. The Michael Jackson brand was truly malleable. For four decades he captivated us, for better or worse. Even in death he continues to do so.
The very notion of “agency” is becoming a footnote in today’s technologically reshaped marketplace and media. And it is within this environment that the bold, if not always adored, Katharine Weymouth, publisher of The Washington Post, has decided to act as others sit idly. Ms. Weymouth and others at WaPo decided to host sponsored “salons,” bringing together reporters, lobbyists and corporations for quiet conversation and, one assumes, a deeper understanding of each other’s interests. Call it influence if you must. It is, after all, only new to discuss this type of paid access, not to grant it. Denying such is as charming and annoying as newsprint itself.
According to the dictionary, “confluence” describes the flowing together of two or more rivers -- for example, where the smaller Missouri joins the roaring Mississippi. There is a similar confluence of strategy forming between the for-profit and non-profit sectors. And considering the reputational challenges damming many for-profit revenue streams, the non-profit sector may prove its contributions to the union to be more Mississippi than Missouri.
Steven Brill’s TSA “fast pass” company and creator of the Clear card has imploded. Verified Identity Pass takes with it more than $100 million in investor cash, the registration fees of approximately 200,000 travelers, and a dumpster-load of sensitive biometric data. The company provides only a message that it has ceased operations as of June 22, 2009 due to creditor problems, and posts a link to its privacy policies. The one message that seems to be coming out clearly in media is that Brill stepped aside from daily management some time ago. Got it: you are not responsible. Unfortunately, Brill isn’t done with us yet. He has one more bad idea that, like Clear, involves gathering up data, segregating worthy information from unworthy, and charging for it: Journalism Online.
The TED conference began in 1984 with the simple goal of bringing the top minds of the Technology, Entertainment and Design industries together for short, thought-provoking talks with their peers. The for-profit, invitation-only gathering was largely unknown in its early years outside of the small community of innovators who spoke at and attended the annual conference. Twenty-five years later, a very different TED announces TEDx, independently organized local events designed to share recorded TED talks with and capture new inspiration from a global network of community leaders. The brand’s evolution is a case study for what our institutions of higher learning should be doing: leveraging digital strategies and new technologies to create global resonance for content traditionally constrained by bricks and mortar.
A fairly brilliant spoof of GM’s “re: invention” spot is making its way around the Net. It’s easy enough to make fun of GM from A to Z (A is for Aztec...B is for Buick...C is for Cimarron...), but this spoof points to something broader: a complete distrust of GM’s voice, message and methods. Any advertisement that begins with “let’s be completely honest” is setting itself up for mockery (and failure), especially in a networked world. Shame on IPG’s Deutsch and McCann agencies for letting that line make the spot, much less lead it.
Yesterday, I came across the most outrageously ludicrous fake marketing story about Del Monte and a James Bond tie-in from the geniuses at the Onion. Hoot! Holler! Sides splitting open! Then I realized it was REAL. I swear, I haven’t been so crippled by fear since Denise Richards was cast as nuclear physicist Christmas Jones in “The World is Not Enough.”
Although I am a novice knitter, I have a yen for yarn. I love to go to knitting shops to peruse the different colors, textures and sizes of the skeins. I imagine myself a master at the craft, fashioning jaw-droppingly gorgeous and unique scarves, hats, gloves, socks and sweaters out of sustainably harvested, hand-dyed Peruvian wool. The reality of my current knitting ability limits me to monochrome scarves and fingerless hand warmers but, still. I can dream. The popularity of knitting, and crafting in general, has been on the rise for a few years, so it’s always cool to learn about knitting retailers that are taking a new and different approach to brand, aesthetic and voice. Enter the cleverly named Wool and the Gang.
On July 30, 1993, the Missouri river’s Monarch Levee buckled, flooding Chesterfield Valley, Missouri. The rising waters quickly submerged a 10x30 public storage locker a few miles from the breach, drowning 15 years of my family’s accumulated artifacts. 15 years of photo albums. Within hours, our Kodak moments dissolved in a toxic bath of runoff and gasoline. Gone forever.
Ad Age released five new rules for marketing this week and invited emails for other “new rules.” At Patrick Davis Partners, we agree that these times demand new thinking by marketers. We even released our own thoughts about new priorities for a post-agency age last November. So with a nod to the “radical transparency” Ad Age cites, and a sense that one ought to practice what one preaches, we’re responding in an open letter instead of an email.
For most Americans, the conspicuous consumption of the late 20th century was not just a show of status or an assumed birthright in the land of plenty, it was an act of justified (if not inspired) patriotism. Prospering and buying things proved the American system worked. In our greatest moment of national crisis, George W. Bush called us to arms post-9/11, with the rallying cry of “go shopping” to support our economy and stabilize our nation. Consumption was the way to fight back; it was our role as citizens. Economic policies followed that fueled this citizen-consumer march into battle. But something else happened along the way, too. We didn’t just shop. We reconnected. We found new ways of expressing citizenship, and they can serve us well now as marketers, if we follow a few, new citizen-based rules.
As the Swiss bank's century-old secret slowly unravels, so goes the long-held, traditional notion of “trust me.” Of course, that isn’t true for Swiss banks alone, but no other banking system has been built on as strong a promise as “we will keep your money AND secrets safe.” As with any brand, the promise is only as strong as the operational realities that back it up.
The free markets are my friend. I love the business of business. I believe in the power of hard work and intelligence to create competitive advantage and great value, both economic and social. I tend not to be a fan of regulation (I am an entrepreneur, after all) but mainly because I have faith in people and companies to conduct themselves with a very high standard of ethical conduct. My faith is more than challenged these days. Thanks, AIG.
For Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, being the earth’s most customer-centric company means more than giving customers what they want. It requires inventing “on their behalf,” moving beyond dialog to predict future needs and develop the necessary skills to meet them. Such action begot Kindle, and through new collaboration with IBM, is moving cloud computing forward.
GE spends $3 million to bring Oz’s scarecrow to life in a Super Bowl spot riddled with future tense. Silly CGI. No real details. The message: efficiency through intelligence. Someday. Two weeks later, Google uploads a video to its Youtube channel. A new product, described in simple language by Google engineers and clearly connected to the brand through a compelling quote. Real data, real benefit - in percentages and dollars. The message: efficiency through intelligence. Today.
I have been following a brand for a while, on Twitter and in general. In 2004 I was walking down the fresh drinks aisle in my local supermarket in Amsterdam when it caught my attention. It was appealing, kind, real, and it stood out. It was innocent.
While banks across the U.S. were pleading for bailouts, ING Direct posted a 10-point Declaration of Financial Independence to a simple microsite and invited people to sign it. 20,000 people have. And as the surviving financial services companies struggle to find the right tone and message to comfort and reassure consumers in the new year, one clear voice speaks plainly and directly about personal responsibility and the basics of saving. Consistently delivered online and through frank messages by CEO Arkadi Kuhlmann, the ING voice is genuine, distinguishable in the market place and perfectly aligned with the company’s brand position and identity.
It was no surprise that during the 2008 presidential election the candidates were compared to brands and perceived as brands. And yes, the final two candidates did have trademarks. But does that really make them brands?
The post-agency age is upon us. With remarkable speed and effectiveness, technologies and consumer preferences have coalesced, forcing a broad and deep cultural demand for direct, honest relationships. The go-between agent is less relevant than ever before, and the global financial crisis is likely the final blow to the inefficient and long-suffering agency structure. Winning in the post-agency age will require these new priorities.
In this spot by BBDO Guerrero in Manila, a lovely cover of "Mad World" by Tears for Fears plays while each scene displays a double-standard in a working environment. A man is the "boss" while a woman is "bossy." A man is "persuasive" while a woman is "pushy." He's "neat" but she's "vain." He's "smooth" but she's a "show-off." "Don't let labels hold you back. Be strong and shine," says the copy at the end.
Logos define brands and they create corporate images because logos are what sticks in people’s mind and creates associations. Think Coca-Cola, Nike, or McDonald’s – what do you instantly picture in mind? Right, their logos. Great logos will never allow their consumers forget about the brand – it’s what prompts them choose one product over alternative: people tend to stick to something familiar, something that brings up positive associations. Here are 10 examples of missteps and how logos can potentially ruin corporate reputations.
Entrepreneurs usually lean toward one of two business mindsets – they’re either optimists who remain exceedingly positive about outcomes or they’re realists who downplay the good and see the bad as inevitable. When starting and running a business, does one inherently serve you better?
Perhaps at no time more than today—the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s assassination—will those words take on a darker dualism. This is especially so for the city’s business community, which must wrestle with a highly unusual mix of emotions: optimism over the thousands of tourists due to come to town, and dread over the reason why they’re coming. While Dallas’ residents come to terms with emotions ranging from guilt to anger, the proper stance for Dallas—the brand—to take is harder to determine.
From fast food to fast fashion, a glass telephone to plastic money, some brands don't merely influence our spending habits—they determine who we are. All are household names, not just on our shores but all over the globe.
Like fair-trade or organic, the Just certification informs consumers about the business practices of the companies that make what you buy. How much social justice have you bought today?
How do you create a logo for a company that doesn’t do one thing, but lots of different things? How do you visualize the abstract notion of innovation?
What company do customers feel most connected to emotionally? According to new research from Google and the CEB, customers are more emotionally connected to B-to-B brands, and it’s not even close.
Pre-IPO Twitter is trying to get in on Irish loopholes like Apple, Google, HP and Facebook before it’s too late. Such is the push-me-pull-you of global tax “planning.”
Nearly every automaker is working on some form of autonomous vehicle technology, but according to a new study, consumers are more interested in a self-driving car from Google than General Motors.
Yahoo, Google, Sony rate high, guess who's No. 1.
Does feminism need rebranding? Elle U.K. thinks so, and invited three British ad agencies—Brave, Mother and Wieden + Kennedy—to work on it with three feminist groups.
1,200 Submissions. 54 Finalists. 9 Winners. It all came down to one night.
Started in 1998 by Stanford PhD students Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Google has grown to be the leader in search, owning more than 70 percent of the worldwide desktop search market share.
Know what your brand promise is – what’s real and compelling about you – and never violate it.
Last week, Google+ announced some small updates to its platform. The news hasn’t made huge waves, but these two new features could spark some big changes in the way people create and find content on the web.
Giving is rewarding. It’s contagious. It’s good for your brand too.
What does it mean? And how does culture actually cause innovation?
Can an organization learn to move like a fighter pilot? Can thousands of people collectively Observe, Orient, Decide, and Act?
Where is that energy in our companies today? Where are the people leaping for joy, pumping their fists in the air, or weeping, either with happiness or grief?
So whether it’s adventure or astrology, it’s important for marketers to expand the brand experience. The only way to do this is to develop a real understanding of the target audience.
If you could promote change and function in a socially responsible way without sacrificing revenue and innovation, wouldn’t you?
Here are our top 15 most provocative quotes on accelerating human progress around the world—in no particular order—from some of the world’s leading authorities on development, technology, philanthropy, health, education, environment and other sectors.
Women-owned entities in the formal sector represent approximately 37% of enterprises globally — a market worthy of attention by businesses and policy makers alike.
Which clients do senior talent from the world's leading creative agencies most want to work with?
A new study funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation charges that fast-food companies have not adhered to the food industry's self-regulation guidelines when it comes to marketing to kids.
Export manufacturing has recently become the unsung hero of the U.S. economy. Despite all the public focus on the U.S. trade deficit, little attention has been paid to the fact that the country’s exports have been growing more than seven times faster than GDP since 2005.
A consumer advocate can be your brand's best friend.
Digital skills are in high demand and short supply. But first things first — how do you define a digital team when nearly everything is digital?
The lesson of Kodak’s debacle is that scale does not work as well as it used to. It stifles innovation, and leads to excessive corporate atrophy.
Small Sites Making SIx Figures In Revenue Won't Support Corporate Structures
Crushes don't last forever. You need to keep adding magic and generosity.
But Publishers Have Ways to Identify It
Professor Jerry Davis says the golden age of the public company, along with its income security and social benefits, may have passed and it's not clear what model replaces it.
America's largest media and entertainment companies are richer than ever. But their profits overwhelmingly rely on an anxious business model.
You want to change the world? Here’s what it takes.
No amount of advertising, tweeting or direct mailing can impact customers the way an objective peer review can. That’s because in the era of social media and online reviews, it’s not what you say about your business that matters; it’s what others say about you.
Want to influence the policies of the world’s major corporations? All you need is a good stunt.
As soon as we measure something, we seek to improve the numbers. Which is a worthwhile endeavor, if better numbers are the point of the exercise.
As part of its efforts to generate new sources of revenue, Foursquare is working with ad-tech company Turn to allow advertisers to use its treasure-trove of location data to retarget Foursquare users on other websites, according to executives familiar with the situation.
Retailers are already able to track your movements and activities in the physical world like websites do on the Internet. is that creepy? Decide for yourself.
Ask a CEO if they want to spend a pile of money on an analysis of their company's story, and they'll probably throw you out of their office. But if you tell them that you have a powerful insight that can help them raise the prices on all of their products, they might ask you over to their house for dinner.
Google has just announced via a blog post that it will be offering free, faster Wi-Fi hotspots at all U.S. company-operated Starbucks locations, which will get up and running sometime within the next 18 months.
Good writing: Businesses claim to practice it, support it, and value it. But more often than not, their money isn't where their mouth is. Poor grammar and jargon-riddled writing are rampant.
So what did we do to select the top 25 most innovative consumer and retail companies?
Russian Vodkas Feeling The Heat. Could Winter Olympic Sponsors Be Next?
One of the questions I am asked the most is, “How do you do it? How do you balance work life and home life?” The honest answer is, “I don’t.”
The dog days take a bite out of your workflow. Science is here to explain why that is.
Is there a specific set of traits that boost a person’s odds of being a successful start-up CEO? If so, do start-up capital providers seek out people with those traits regardless of gender?
Twitter is giving a big push to its TV ad targeting feature, which allows brands to send promoted tweets during ad breaks for your favorite shows.
As adults, our emotional relationship with logos is equally as profound. In fact, it is perhaps the most vital piece of branding there is.
While many business leaders are content to sit at their desk waiting for the phone to ring, in today’s competitive business environment, you must begin thinking differently in order to grow (or retain) your client or customer base.
No matter how you feel about Millennials, there’s no denying that they’re changing the world as we know it.
Mayer has provided some decent examples of ways to turn a company culture around – despite what the media’s had to say.
than any other profession I can imagine. What an opportunity...
We’re all conditioned to avoid conflict and say yes to even counterproductive requests and assignments.
Social savviness boosts sales, SMBs say.
To grow your brand, know what people find meaningful, connect with them thoughtfully, create joy they can’t live without, and believe in your employees.
Any promising new initiative — a stand-alone business venture or an innovation in an established organization — hits roadblocks and unexpected obstacles. Recently I've advised entrepreneurs and innovators about a different, seemingly better, dilemma: pop-up opportunities that look like short cuts to success.
On July 10, 2008, Apple launched the App Store, an online hub where iPhone owners could browse and download apps from third party developers. More than anyone could have expected, this became a defining moment in the history of personal computing.
The term thought leader is the highest of compliments, and arguably the hardest moniker to achieve.
The revolution will not be televised, but it might be tweeted. A new study shows that Twitter has a lead time on newswires for certain stories--including sports, disasters, and sometimes riots.
Initial reactions to Apple hiring Yves Saint Laurent CEO Paul Deneve have focused on the iWatch.
Here’s the million dollar question: What is it that turns an idea into an internet meme?
A CMO's job is to understand consumers first and foremost. And that means CMOs today have to build the brand, create consumer awareness, and drive conversions, just as they always have.
irtual teams have become a fact of business life, so what does it take to make them work effectively?
The European data protection activists behind the Europe v Facebook (evf) campaign group, that has long been a thorn in Facebook’s side in Europe, have filed new complaints under regional data protection law targeting Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Skype and Yahoo for their alleged collaboration with the NSA’s Prism data collection program.
A new report on the consumption of Digital News from the Reuter's Institute of Journalismin Paris, reveals that while more of us than ever get our news via social media, we don't trust social networks themselves as a source of news.
Maps on the Web has posted an infographic tiled “The Corporate States of America” that shows the most famous brands produced in each state in America.
While marketers strategize heavily around how to help consumers decide what to buy, how much time do they spend thinking about how they will pay? This area of innovation is where mobile payment companies want to play, especially in markets where such technology is less than ubiquitous.
Survey of 11,000 internet users in nine countries reports that paywalls and apps are increasingly part of everyday life
As with most things on the internet, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly where, when or how the first remixed movie came into existence, or whether remixes preceded supercuts, or vice versa, and so forth.
Owned by Twitter and launched in January, Vine is to short videos what Instagram is to snapshots: You shoot, edit, and share clips, all through a mobile app.
Conan O'Brien wants advertisers' money but also wants creative freedom with brand integrations on his show, a requirement that benefits both sides, he told Anderson Cooper in a packed house at Cannes Lions here this morning.
Freespace is a experiment in civic hacking, inspired in no small part by Burning Man. But it’s attracting the attention of Fortune 500 companies eager to find ways bring more creativity and innovation into their work spaces and companies.
Today e-waste has become one of the fastest-growing categories of refuse. We chucked out 2.4 million tons of it in 2010 and recycled just 27 percent.
The Supreme Court ruled this week that naturally occurring genes can’t be patented, which should be a boon for the host of emerging gene testing and patenting companies that are coming out of the Valley.
The NSA might be able to tap into your electronic data just like every other company, but it turns out that your personal information isn’t worth much at all--and you can calculate it just to make sure.
As the demographics of the American population continue to shift, marketers understand that the opportunities provided by the growing diversity of consumers in the United States are not what they used to be.
MTV is starting a digital content lab called MTV Other to produce short-form programming that will live on its new iPhone and iPad app as well as MTVOther.com.
Google Glass isn’t in the hands of consumers yet, but a pair of intrepid Glass explorers didn’t let that stop them from taking the thing apart to see what makes it tick.
Want to make more money? Make sure your employees feel like they’re working for something greater than just profit.
San Francisco federal judge tells Mountain View company to comply with FBI's warrantless National Security Letter requests for user details, despite ongoing concerns about law's constitutionality.
The real gap isn't between men and women doing the same job. It's between the different jobs that men and women take.
Advertisers don't want to invade any of their customers' sense of privacy. They just want an effective way of serving relevant ads or content to consumers.
Generosity is a commodity we should not hold on to
YouTube recently celebrated its eighth birthday, reminding us that less than a decade ago we had no access to cute cat videos, screaming goat clips and viral trends such as the Harlem Shake.
Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries is under fire about his comments on excluding people who don't fit with the brand.
Who cares if products are “Made in America”? Fewer people than you might suspect.
This constant frame of gender as a "women's issue" is one of the big obstacles to progress — in both countries and companies.
The increased complexity of the job has made CMOs more fulfilled, challenged and respected, resulting in a big shift in how long they stick around.
Every time there's a tragedy — be it 9/11, Hurricane Sandy, or the Boston Marathon bombing — there's an expectation that corporations will do something to aid the victims. "Something," however, has gotten ever more complex.
This means that brands are suddenly jumping into intense conversations with a real point of view, on issues that could be seen as quite controversial. All this for what feels like the first time ever!
Does a negative post on Twitter have infectious germs powerful enough to influence the behavior of tweeters? Maybe. Then again, maybe not.
Twitter shouldn’t have to make sure everything crossing its servers is factual or true, but it is in Twitter’s interest to themselves.
Mastering the ability to reframe problems is an important tool for increasing your imagination because it unlocks a vast array of solutions.
Going to market effectively these days, no matter what business you're in, means relating to customers as individuals — even if there are millions of them.
“You have to have that really tight narrative around the problem that you’re solving,” says Rahman, whose company created Jawboone headsets.
Will Carnival ever recoup its potential loss of revenue, and its loss of passengers? Will it build back its brand?
Lurking behind the question of jobs — whether there are enough of them, how hard we should work at them, and what kind the future will bring — is a major problem of job engagement.
A new building in Germany gets its energy from what’s growing inside it.
In the 80s, in the days of Michael Milken and Gordon Gekko, the rule on the street was “eat your young.” Nice guys finish last, hold your information, keep the rules to yourself, and win at all costs -- no matter who you have to trample.
From mobile banking to contraception, this is what she thinks is going to drive the next wave of advances for people in the developing world
Traveling is often tough for kids, but for children with autism spectrum disorders, it can be a completely disorienting.
Citing the threat posed by the North Korean government, the "hacktivist" group defaced the country's official Twitter and Flickr accounts yesterday.
You're waiting for the elevator in an office building, minding your own business, perhaps lost in thought. The door slides open and, wham!
Breaking the glass ceiling is only the beginning. In the C-suite, performance –your strategic vision, how you drive revenue growth, etc. –is what matters most.
Whole Foods has put about 50 such tap rooms, featuring exclusively craft beers (and sometimes wine), deep inside its stores nationwide.
Currently in beta, the new feature incorporates scents into Search. Google describes Nose as its "flagship olfactory knowledge feature enabling users to search for smells."
Across the industry, there aren't too many examples of agencies exhibiting the view that having your leader based in New York or London is old-school. But there are signs it could be moving that way.
The impact of this new way to source work and ideas has been significant. As crowdsourcing becomes a staple in cutting-edge marketing practices, it has come to represent a fierce challenge to the traditional agency model and the marketing industry in general.
How next-generation apps will market your brainwaves.
Where do most attempted hacks come from? You might be surprised.
As the Internet becomes the hub of political dialogue, religious issues are being drowned out by the most powerful voices on the web, which overwhelming support marriage equality and a woman’s right to choose.
Imgembed is the new embedding tool for photographs that allows for fair use of images on the internet.
About 7,000 starbucks locations offer a supposedly simple system for letting customers pay with credit and debit cards using square wallet. Starbucks even invested $25 million in the payments startup. So why can't baristas make it work?
The new rules of the hyper-social, data-driven, actor-friendly, super-seductive platinum age of television.
According to an online quiz created by my organization that has been taken by more than 500,000 people since 2009, employees are most proficient at implementing (sowing but not growing) the work they are assigned to complete.
When Maya buys a pair of running shoes at a sporting-goods retailer using her store loyalty credit card, that information is almost immediately diffused across a spectrum of consumer-data companies and databases, or as one data consultancy exec put it, "from your wallet to the world."
The show will be “a chance for visitors to explore the very physical history of the typefaces they already know,” says Monotype’s Type Director Dan Rhatigan.
Google's master plan for mobile is finally coming into focus.
Clarity Matters. While clarity and brevity may have become a lost art, understanding the importance of clear, lucid, and straight-forward communication is nonetheless critical to your success as a leader.
Do I buy enough from Amazon to justify paying $79 per year for unlimited two-day shipping?
Apple has indeed managed a significant turnaround in India’s smartphone market, according to new figures out from IDC today.
A growing number of agency media executives who grew up in digital are finding themselves overseeing the buying and planning of all media.
Google Now on Android is one of the more genuinely exciting developments for that mobile OS in recent memory, and new evidence today signals it’s on its way to the desktop, too.
The idea of being free from an office but having a space to work is exploding around the globe. Where has it taken off the most?
J.C. Penney's disastrous 4th quarter 2012 loss of $2.51 per share, which capped off a year with a greater than 30% same-store sales decline, should have come as no surprise.
You often hear of the lengthy approval processes required to get a campaign underway. That’s not always the case anymore.
Business news headlines featuring social-networking giant Facebook change almost as often and as dramatically as a teenager updates her Facebook status online.
Advertisers looking to escape the dreaded advertorial trap and give consumers content they'll actually read has helped create the boom in native advertising or branded content.
After launching last January in the U.S., Google has now expanded its Public Alerts system to Japan.
This sense of secrecy extends to the highest levels of the organization.
As Mason himself acknowledged in his resignation letter to employees, “If you're wondering why ... you haven't been paying attention."
Corporations assume that employer-sponsored volunteerism programs keep employees engaged while also making a difference to the social organizations they serve. And that's true, but there's more to the story.
2012 has been the year of growth for content marketing. Brands have begun to embrace the discipline as a vital part of their overall strategy. What was once a conversation on “why content marketing” has turned into a conversation on “how to.”
Twitter and Facebook usually aren’t the last click before an ecommerce buy, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t inspire or influence the purchase. Yet IBM’s Black Friday report says Twitter delivered 0 percent of referral traffic and Facebook sent just 0.68 percent.
Author and interaction design researcher Richard Banks shares his thoughts on the interaction between storing memories digitally and physically. Richard is the Principal Interaction Designer at Microsoft Research‘s Socio-Digital Systems group, a team analyzing how families use digital and analog media and building technological objects in response.
Seeing things in context is one of the most important features of human intelligence, and it plays a vital role in our relationships with others, including the relationship that a customer has with a company. By focusing on deepening the context of your customer relationships, you can ensure greater customer loyalty and probably higher margins as well.
Human behavior is nuanced and complex, and no matter how robust it is, data can provide only part of the story. Desire and motivation are influenced by psychological, social, and cultural factors that require context and conversation in order to decode.
The domestic diva, Martha Stewart, is watching her media conglomerate do not so good things. It just reported plunging sales and a second quarter operating loss of $2.9 million. Publishing and broadcast units reported losses, down 16%. Ad pages are evaporating for most titles. Wherever did all those loyal fans go?
On the heels of a deal with Facebook to promote Olympic conversations on NBC’s Facebook page, the broadcast network today is taking one more step to improve its social standing during the big sports event. It is linking up with Storify, the social-media “story creator”, to put streams of real-time Olympic content, curated by NBC journalists, across Today.com as well as NBC’s 10 owned TV station websites.
Jeremy Lin has just made the news again, as he leaves New York for Houston. Personally, as a New Yorker, I am terribly saddened, because he is not only a compelling player, who set a great tone for the Knicks…but he is also a savvy professional, who has pulled some interesting moves off the court, as well as on it. In fact, Jeremy Lin has taken personal branding to the next level – by trade marking his personal brand of mass hysteria – “Linsanity.”
In another sign that big brewers are starting to think small, Anheuser-Busch InBev is launching a series of Budweiser-branded brews named for the zip codes where they were created. Called "Project 12," the effort began when brewmasters at 12 AB InBev breweries created their own small-batch "tribute" beers, each with a distinct style.
Honest Tea has moved steadily toward the mainstream of the U.S. beverage business in recent years, as Coca-Cola has invested more and more in the brand. But since it was purchased outright by Coke last year, the Bethesda, Md.-based organic-tea and -juice startup has moved at the even faster pace that would be expected of a tiny company now backed by the immense marketing and distribution resources of the world's biggest soft-drink concern.
Ralph Lauren, Armani, Victoria's Secret, and Major League Sports Brands Among the 2012 Fashion Brand
For those of you out there who think brand and fashion have broken up and don’t even go to the same parties anymore, think again.
Best practices in exceptional customer service -- top CEOs share insights including...handwritten le
As corporations seek new ways to connect with customers, I set out to uncover insights from some of the top CEOs. Interestingly what emerged are some unexpected answers, like the value of simplicity and the power of the handwritten letter – both of which have elevated in importance in a complex fast-moving digital world.
It’s impossible to become a great business leader without being a great communicator—not a big talker, but a great communicator—as well. Famous entrepreneurs are known for their skilled communication with employees, vendors, investors and clients. It is one of the most vital traits they must have. Whether the news is positive or negative, they know it is best to be forthright, honest and timely. They know that people appreciate transparency and truth.
Today’s fast, furious and instantaneous news cycles allow leaders the opportunity to become active in media conversations and get discovered on a moment’s notice. As such, you must become more informed about the news that impacts your voice both directly and indirectly. Whether it’s a Twitter hashtag discussion, LinkedIn or Facebook group conversation, your local news, blog or national news story, you must be prepared to address the issues in a succinct and objective manner.
The rise of Millennials and the aging of Baby Boomers represent significant challenges for established food brands and traditional grocery stores, according to new study from investment bank Jeffries and business advisory firm AlixPartners. Over the next decade, Millennials (born between 1982 and 2001) will come of age and Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) will enter the next phase of their lives and spending patterns. As a result, established food brands and traditional grocery stores will be pressured at both ends by consumers with different value equations.
Google "Nordstrom tire legend" and you get over 800,000 hits describing a legendary example of great customer service. Zappos has established legends of its own through bend-over-backwards customer service. Apple has topped the American Consumer Satisfaction Index (ASCI) for years, perceived as the best company in terms of customer satisfaction. Of course, there are other companies with great customer service, but no one should confuse great customer service with being customer-centric.
It’s been two months since Jeff Jones stepped into his role as executive VP and CMO at Target Corp. In that time, he’s adjusted to his move from the agency world, as president of McKinney, back to the client side. Jones, only the third CMO in Target’s 50-year history, met me in a busy Brooklyn Target store this morning to talk for the first time since his appointment–his “dream job,” he said–about the challenges Target faces, the experience he brings and what makes him an ideal candidate for the role, and how he plans to lead marketing for the discount retailer at a time when that task has never been more daunting.
When a brand becomes a bully, it loses something vital. So much money, so many egos and so many governments are involved in the Olympics now (and they have so little competition) that it has become a sterling example of what happens when you let greed and lawyers run amok over common sense and generosity.
A mobile-display ad from none other than one of world's biggest mobile-ad sellers, Google, won the first Mobile Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions ad festival today. In what's essentially business-to-business marketing, Google's winning campaign "Hilltop Reimagined for Coca-Cola" was designed to show adland that online and mobile display advertising aren't as low-rent or constraining as is often thought.
The shaving brand, Gillette, (Procter & Gamble) has been running a television commercial which shows actor Brandon Quinn in far-flung locations, and claims one ProGlide cartridge blade lasted him 5 weeks on the road. It is impossible to put a reliable number on how long a shaving blade lasts, not least because all the variables are personal: including skin type, hair type, tolerance for drag, etc. But the news is that the huge and successful marketing machine behind the Gillette brand has seen *now* as the moment to come forward with a blade longevity number.
Southwest Airlines just recorded its 39th consecutive year of profitability—in a business sector where profits can be excruciatingly tough to come by. How does Southwest do it? In part, by keeping operations simple. Simpler operations mean fewer things that can go awry and botch up the whole process.
There will be plenty of bits spilled over the next few days about whether Apple is going extinct, whether Jobs’ touch was integral to the Apple experience, and whether this was “The.Worst.Keynote.Ever.” I posit, however, that Apple still has a few good years left and this keynote – a precise and well-orchestrated experience dedicated mostly to software – is proof that the Apple vision runs far deeper than the efforts of a figurehead CEO.
PepsiCo has tapped Mauro Porcini, 3M's longtime design guru, as its first chief design officer. Mr. Porcini will be charged with creating a culture of design at PepsiCo as well as globally managing design for a variety of key food and beverage brands. His reach will extend from package design to advertising, industrial design and digital experiences.
As the cable landscape has changed dramatically, so too have networks' branding challenges. When there were just a handful of cable networks, it was easy to sort your news from your reality channels. But as choices proliferate and programming blurs, networks are increasingly introducing revamped slogans and logos to set them apart.
Apple Inc. occupies an enviable position in the tech world. But it also faces unique challenges—including charting its course after the death of the visionary Steve Jobs. The Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher spoke with Apple's new chief executive officer, Tim Cook, about the future of the company's signature product lines, and what he plans to change.
It was Giorgio Armani's obsession with health that led to his brush with death. For 10 days in May 2009, Armani, one of the most influential fashion designers and entrepreneurs of our time, lay in a hospital bed with what he describes as "a very serious" case of hepatitis. The cause of his illness wasn't the stress that comes from juggling a global empire of clothes, accessories, furniture, cosmetics and real estate. It was the supplements. Even though Giorgio Armani single-handedly built a billion-dollar brand his own way, where does his empire go from here?
As tourists start returning to the Gulf of Mexico two years after the disaster that marred its name, BP would like to rebuild its image as an oil company that actually gives a hoot about the environment.
In one sense, perhaps the most important sense, a brand is a promise. Think of some top brands and you immediately know what they promise: McDonald’s, Coca Cola, Budweiser, Ford, Apple, MetLife. It takes a lot of time, money and very hard work to build and maintain great brands like that, brands that can speak volumes in just a few syllables.
I don’t blame you if your first reaction after reading the headline is to say, “Only 2?” There are probably dozens of significant leadership lessons to be drawn from the JPMorgan Chase debacle. But it’s unlikely I will live long enough to write such a comprehensive piece – so we’ll go for the Big 2.
J.C. Penney's "Fair and Square Everyday Low Pricing Strategy" is not as successful as new CEO Ron Johnson expected. During its first quarter under the new pricing strategy, same store sales dropped by 18.9%, store visits decreased by 10%, and the average spend was down by 5%. As a result, the retailer lost $163 million (compared to earning $64 million in the first quarter of 2011) and suspended its quarterly dividend. J.C. Penny's stock, which bounced above $43 per share after CEO Ron Johnson enthusiastically announced the new pricing strategy in January, now trades below $30.
The longest-term impact of the $2 billion dollar loss will not be on the bank itself, and maybe not even on future regulation, but on the overall perceptions of a society as it clings to the hope that someone somewhere is doing the right thing and always will
'The Guardian' huffed and puffed and made one of the year's best ads. Did it sell papers? Newspapers aren't known for their compelling self-promotion. Yet in the grip of their existential crisis, that's what they need—a riveting argument for their own value, evolution and place in the cultural conversation. In late February, London ad agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty delivered just that for The Guardian.
In an era when entire companies and long-time brands are disappearing, why do Americans trust certain brands and not others? What is trust?
The summer batch of Hacker School will be 40 students, and our goal is to have them accept at least 20 women, with Hacker School retaining full control over the admissions process. In other words, 20 times the number of women in the current batch. What will it take to get there?
Adam Lashinsky's new book Inside Apple offers lots of intriguing material about Steve Jobs and the strategic choices, design principles, and business tactics that created the most valuable company on earth. But for all of Lashinsky's behind-the-scenes material about Apple's legendary leader, it was a public story about Apple's new leader, CEO Tim Cook, that captured my attention — and offered a powerful insight for leaders everywhere looking to create value in their organizations.
Remember Next Issue Media, the “Hulu for Digital Magazines” consortium made up of the biggest names in publishing? It has finally delivered something worth talking about: Call it Netflix for Magazines. The pitch is simple and intuitive: All the magazines you want, delivered digitally to your tablet, for a flat fee of either $10 or $15 a month.
The era of social media is bringing more transparency to ski resorts' daily snow reports, with skiers and riders using smartphone apps, websites, tweets and video to spread the word in real time, particularly if traditional reports are off. And the industry itself has been quick to embrace social media to get the word out
What ideas are you building your company on? It’s an important question for all organizations, and some companies are responding with innovative and inspiring answers. Ideas shape our thinking, animate our endeavors, and serve as the foundation upon which we scale our institutions and companies.
There are a couple of things that make a brand great: engendering good feelings to consumers and using those feelings to inspire them to make a purchase.
In the faltering economy, the importance of customer service has reached new highs, overtaking even price as a purchase determinant, according to a J.D. Power report.
A CFO won't make decisions without reliable metrics based on time-tested performance indicators. So why do so many sane, rational marketers think they'll get a pass when it comes to social media?
Attention all those who like to gripe about lousy customer service and companies (I'm looking at you AT&T and airlines everywhere) that tend to provide it: there's a new place for people to get their complaints heard, and it means business. The site is called Gripevine, and it's more than a platform like Facebook and Twitter on which frustrated customers can broadcast their complaints and hope for a response.
Best Practices: From First To Worst - Continental In A Post United World, Lessons In Next Gen Custom
Despite the numerous attempts by CEO Jeff Smisek to gloss over the issue with increasingly slicked up, feel good, on board welcome ads, Continental’s customer satisfaction numbers have reached the abyss of United’s. While United Holdings may tout their most admired status in the airline industry by Fortune, the award is measured by corporate executives, airline executives, boards of directors and industry analysts
As both an avid golf fan and a curious marketer, I’ve noticed a renewed enthusiasm for the premier professional ladies golf tour, the LPGA. To learn more about the LPGA’s turnaround, I had a conversation with the organization’s CMO, Jon Podany.
Since January 2010, the health care giant has recalled tens of millions of products, mostly over-the-counter items such as Tylenol, Benadryl and Motrin, but also syringes, hip replacements, contact lenses and prescription drugs, due to manufacturing problems that seemed to permeate every corporate nook and cranny.
Tucked in an area north of Cincinnati is an office-warehouse building that looks like a movie set. It contains fully functional mockups of two homes (one upper-middle class, one lower-income) complete with kitchens, bathrooms and laundry rooms. It has two mock grocery stores and a virtual-reality lab where you can fly over store shelves. This is the Beckett Ridge Innovation Center, or BRIC, in P&G parlance. And P&G, whose innovation record has come under growing scrutiny, hopes it can deliver.
More than ever, the core drivers of brand loyalty are emotional rather than rational. That’s the takeaway from the 2012 Brand Keys Customer Loyalty Engagement Index (CLEI), which marks the survey’s 16th year. While emotional engagement factors have become more critical each year, the influence of two core, overarching components rose markedly in 2012: the brand’s “values” and the consumer’s brand “experience.”
Super Bowl ad prices have risen faster than inflation or viewership. Can they really be worth it? The most-expensive 30-second slot during this weekend’s Super Bowl cost a shocking $4 million. That’s a hundred-fold increase in the inflation-adjusted average price of a spot since Super Bowl I in 1967. Even at the recent 2010 low point, ads sold for $2.65 million, up more than 20 percent from where they stood in 2000. What drives increases of this scale, and how can it possibly make sense for companies to pay such sky-high prices?
Jacq and I just watched Adele Live At The Royal Albert Hall (amazon affiliate link), and though every song was just wonderfully done, I found myself fascinated by what Adele was doing in between each song. Because even though most people would be interested in hearing her belt out her amazing repertoire of hits, what I took away from the performance was Adele’s real magical ability: the ability to resonate with her audience.
Discount voucher sites are all the rage. Groupon, Living Social and a host of other players are entering the mushrooming markdown market. This begs the question if discount sites are good news for brand value? In summary we don’t think so. It may be good for short term revenue spikes and potentially contribution margin boosts but not long term brand value. This is based on our experience with hotels, spas and restaurants to name a few. Let us share how we arrived at this position.
Facebook Inc., the social network that filed for an initial public offering yesterday, listed rivalry with Google Inc., regulatory scrutiny, hacker attacks and the shift to mobile technology among the risks it faces. Facebook’s competition with Google, Twitter Inc. and other social-networking providers could impede growth, the company said in the risk-factors section of its filing. Facebook also said it would face competition in China if it manages to gain access to that market, where it’s currently restricted.
While most companies are all over Facebook and Twitter, CMOs confess they are at sixes and sevens with their digital marketing strategy. The Boston Consulting Group reports that 77% aren’t sure where best to reach their customers, a critical component of any digital strategy. And 55% say they have only “minimal or informal metrics to measure the impact and return on investment of digital marketing efforts.”
Most every company says it values its customers, and hates to 'walk away' from them. Leaders are called on to make tough decisions they believe are in the best interests of their companies. And sometimes, these decisions advantage some customers at the expense of others. That doesn't make them bad decisions, just risky ones. But leaders of some of our greatest brands act like they have forgotten (or never knew) what every junior brand manager surely knows --- to test potentially risky messages and find ways to mitigate their negative impact. Instead, senior leaders are acting like bulls in a china shop, awkwardly and prematurely broadcasting their strategic decisions in ways that destroy their company's (and their own) reputation and value.
Good design is like pornography: You know it when you see it. Incredibly subtle Supreme Court justice jokes aside, design really can make or break a company--especially for an “early adopter” technology that hasn’t quite caught on yet. Convincing people to do anything that’s out of their comfort zone (in our case, getting them to pay with their phones using LevelUp) is tough. But one of the benefits of being somewhat early to a market is getting to define what an entirely new experience means for a person. In this instance, design, function, and brand can become one
Puma can’t yet legally discuss its Olympics marketing strategy, according to Remi Carlioz, the company’s head of digital marketing. But to get an idea of how Puma will promote its star athlete and three-time Olympic gold medalist sprinter Usain Bolt, one need only turn to the Middle East. In mid-January, Puma sent 10 bloggers to Abu Dhabi to cover the company’s sponsored boat, Mar Mostro, as it competed in the third leg of the Volvo Ocean Race. Puma has recruited bloggers to talk about the brand before, but this event marked the first time it tested Tumblr. (The bloggers were also encouraged to post to Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #marmostro.)
When Ridley Scott created Apple's iconic "1984," the company's board didn't want it to air. Newly hired CEO John Sculley, veteran of many a Super Bowl ad as CEO of Pepsi-Cola Co., agreed with the consensus: It's a waste to run an ad that doesn't even show the product. Apple ended up selling off some of its planned Super Bowl ad time and ran "1984" in the 60-second slot it couldn't unload. The rest, as they say, is history. The Macintosh did change the world as Steve Jobs said it would, and Apple is the most valuable company on the planet.
There are many people who have gifts for selecting the best items, and helping you buy wisely. This has always been a hot trend. Reviews have an impact on buying behaviors. Aside from trying to game or buy reviews, which I don't recommend, how can you find what really affects behavior? Social influences is part of that. Which is why tools that allow people to display what they read, listen to, and buy are making such strong inroads. For example, my boards on Pinterest are a mix of things I have done, and things I might like to do.
Trying to figure out what’s on sale when and then waiting for the next sale to buy particular items can be frustrating to consumers so J.C. Penney Co. — in its first major overhaul of its retail arm since former Apple exec Ron Johnson took over as CEO in November — is attempting to make things much easier. The company this week announced that its stores are doing away with having seven kazillion different items on different sales simultaneously and just “marking down all of its merchandise by at least 40% so shoppers will no longer have to wait for a sale to get the lowest prices in its stores.” The move comes as jcpenney, as the chain rebranded itself at the 2011 Oscars, is re-rebranding with a new logo — following the previous year's rebrand at the 2010 Oscars (check out the logo progression below). What was that about trying to avoid consumer confusion?
The brand new Land Rover Range Rover Evoque started 2012 off right – with a prestigious North American Truck of the Year win at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan. This topped off a terrific 2011 for the Tata Motors-owned brand, with Land Rover sales up an impressive 19.6% to 38,099 in a new car market that grew by 10.6%. The success of this off-road brand is in stark contrast to its former competitor, GM’s Hummer, which logged no new sales last year and like so many Hollywood marriages, failed to survive to the 10-year anniversary it would have celebrated this year. As you may recall, on February 24, 2010, eight months into its post-bankruptcy life, and nearly eight years after debuting the H2, GM officially announced they would begin the wind-down process for the Hummer brand. The last Hummer rolled off the Shreveport production line in 2010. So how did these two brands with arguably analogous products end up with such different fortunes?
Establishing consumer relationships through mobile marketing, as with any successful, productive relationship, inherently requires a mutual exchange of value. Whether consumers are opting-in for brand communications via SMS or engaging with the brand in a single instance through scanning a QR code, the onus is on the brand to deliver value in return for customers’ valuable time and information. Without the perception that value has been exchanged for value, the relationship becomes essentially one-sided and unrequited attempts at interaction on the part of the consumer will spell the end of the relationship – perhaps permanently.
Shortly after taking the top job at J.C. Penney Co. last fall, Chief Executive Ron Johnson signed up for the company's email alerts. He was shocked by what landed in his inbox. The former Apple Inc. retail executive was deluged by sales announcements, sometimes two a day. He and his team counted 590 separate sales last year. They didn't bring in shoppers—Mr. Johnson's team found the average customer purchased only four times a year—but they did crush prices. Alarmingly, he learned nearly three-quarters of Penney's products sold at discounts of 50% or more. Three months into the job, J.C. Penney Chief Executive Ron Johnson is planning a far-reaching but risky overhaul of the department store format.
Risk has come to Facebook. Scrabble is one of the top iPhone apps. And several board games are enjoying a long life on game consoles. In the digital age, you better be ready to Hasbro-down. A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away families had a game night--once a week they'd pull out a stack of boxes from a closet and everyone would flex their knowledge of trivia (Trivial Pursuit), vocabulary (Scrabble), or even their real-estate management skills (Monopoly, natch).
Senior management teams set the course for their organizations and are often the leaders who first recognize when big change is needed. These teams are also often made up of people with drastically different styles, personalities, and visions. Bringing these voices into alignment around key goals and opportunities is the essential first step toward accelerating strategic results for the organization.
Carnival has a massive PR crisis on its hands, and its handling of it is making things even worse for the cruise line. The Costa Concordia disaster has left at least 16 people dead, with 17 still missing. But it's not so much the circumstances of the crash ruining the brand, it's the company's terrible management of the crisis.
Usually the question comes right after I tell an audience that I put former Procter & Gamble CEO A.G. Lafley on my "Innovation Mount Rushmore" as a reminder of the importance of investing time and energy to understand the target market.
There is an old saying that hindsight is the only exact science, and it's true. The news that Kodak's long fade to black has finally ended with the company filing for Chapter 11 protection (a way of protecting it from bankruptcy while it attempts to restructure) has prompted an avalanche of retrospective wisdom about great companies "fumbling the future" (as the title of a book about Xerox once put it). And it's easy to see why. Kodak is like Coca-Cola, a brand-name that defined an industry. One of its products – the color film Kodachrome – even became the title of one of Paul Simon's most famous songs. You can't get more iconic than that. And the company was an industrial giant – at one time (1976), for example, it had 90% of film and 85% of camera sales in the US and was regularly rated one of the world's five most valuable brands. So it seemed inconceivable that a company as large and successful could disappear. And yet it might.
Esquire magazine, a monument to male vitality, seemed about to keel over in 2009. Famous for laying down a much-followed literary track with an article in 1966 by Gay Talese titled “Frank Sinatra Has a Cold,” the magazine found itself gasping for breath and fighting for survival. Amid the plague that hit the magazine industry back then, Esquire was worse off than most. Beaten up by a crop of lad magazines like Maxim, then hammered by the flight of advertisers and readers to the Web, Esquire suffered a 24.3 percent loss in advertising pages compared with 2008, which was almost as bad, by the way. A Web site for investors, 24/7 Wall Street, predicted in 2009 that Esquire would be one of “Twelve Major Brands that Will Disappear” the following year.
Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis, who made the BlackBerry a leading business tool but then presided over its precipitous decline, said they would step down on Monday as co-chairmen and co-chief executives of Research in Motion. The two men, in developing the innovative device that was the first to reliably deliver e-mail over airwaves, turned a tiny Canadian company into a global electronics giant. But they are stepping aside after disappointing investors and leaving customers wondering whether RIM still has the ability to compete, and perhaps even survive, in the rapidly changing markets for smartphones and tablet computers.
Some years ago, I hosted a blind tasting beer party where everyone voted for their favorite and least favorite beers from a collection of microbrews and mainstream brands. Although there was no clear winner, there was definitely an outright loser. I was thinking about that party when I read about Coke’s decision to kill its White Coke can before the scheduled end of its holiday season run. This was primarily a story about customer confusion -- there was not enough difference between the White Coke can and the Diet Coke can and people were getting confused and buying the wrong one. But there was a side-story that some people thought that the Coke from the white can did not taste the same/as good as the Coke from the red can. Ridiculous, you might say. Not that surprising, I thought, based on my own experience from that beer-tasting party.
In the 20th century, a select group of leaders — General Motor's Alfred Sloan, HP's David Packard and Bill Hewlett, and GE's Jack Welch — set the standard for the way corporations are run. In the 21st century only IBM's Sam Palmisano has done so. When Palmisano retired this month, the media chronicled his success by focusing on IBM's 21% annual growth in earnings per share and its increase in market capitalization to $218 billion. But IBM hasn't flourished because it kowtows to Wall Street. In fact, five years after Palmisano took over, IBM stock was stuck where it had been when his tenure began.
Barbara Scott just hit the trifecta of computer security breaches. Since the New Year, Ms. Scott has been a victim of three separate cyberattacks. Two weeks ago, the online auction site eBay said in an e-mail to her that there had been suspicious activity on her account. On Monday, she received an e-mail from Zappos and another from 6PM, two online shoe retailers owned by Amazon. Both messages alerted her that — once again — her information had been compromised.
In its midcentury heyday, Sears, Roebuck & Co. was the Wal-Mart of its era—the largest retailer in the world with more than 350,000 employees. But it is in an epic freefall. After decades of decline, the Sears ended up in the hands of investment manager Edward Lampert, who purchased the company in 2004 and merged it with Kmart. The new combined entity, known as Sears Holdings Corporation, was consistently losing money even before the recession. The Sears Tower, the company’s iconic skyscraper, no longer houses any Sears’ employees and—the ultimate indignity—had its name changed to the Willis Tower in 2009. On Dec. 27, it announced that in light of poor holiday sales, 100-120 Sears and Kmart stores would have to close. An even bigger blow came last Friday when CIT Group said it would no longer provide loans to Sears vendors.
It’s an age-old question that small businesses and corporations alike seem to be divided on at the start of each year and beyond. When business is slow, is it better to market your business more using every marketing and social media tool available or taper off until the economy picks up? Or in some cases, just stop marketing altogether?
Customers, employees, shareholders and taxpayers hate large corporations for many reasons. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed a lengthy list of corporations for which there is substantial research data to choose the 10 most hated in America.
Google is taking Googling yourself to a whole new level, by folding users’ personal data into Google search results. The personalized search results pull data from users’ Google accounts such as Picasa and Google+, and offers users the option to toggle between searching their own personal data and searching the Web as a whole.
The acquisition of Twitter by Google is the ultimate strategic buyout. We know that Twitter turned down a $10 billion buyout offer from Google sometime in early 2011. There have also been other overtures made over the past several years by Google, Facebook and Microsoft. Surprisingly, Twitter is still independent. Why hasn’t Google paid up with all of that cash on its balance sheet? How could Twitter turn down $10 billion when the company isn’t worth anywhere near that based on earnings or even projected earnings (1999 style)?
Barnes & Noble lowered guidance and its stock is getting crushed. It's thinking about spinning off its Nook business--both hardware and digital ecosystem. That won't save it.
The differences between social media influencers and the online strategies of other groups are so marked that it is worth asking the question what do social media influencers do that the rest of us don’t? What can we learn from these differences?
It takes years to build a good reputation, but seconds to damage it beyond repair, as executives at companies from Dell to Domino’s certainly have found out. This was a sentiment echoed by executives at the Senior Corporate Communication Management Conference in New York when discussing social media and corporate reputation and how to embrace the new reality of immediate communications.
Sydney Finkelstein, the Steven Roth, Professor of Management at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College, published “Why Smart Executives Fail” 8 years ago. In it, he shared some of his research on what over 50 former high-flying companies – like Enron, Tyco, WorldCom, Rubbermaid, and Schwinn – did to become complete failures. It turns out that the senior executives at the companies all had 7 Habits in common. Finkelstein calls them the Seven Habits of Spectacularly Unsuccessful Executives.
It’s not easy being the Ford Motor of the Internet. And that, in short, is the predicament facing AOL, according to its chief executive, Timothy M. Armstrong, who spoke Tuesday as part of the three-day UBS media conference in New York.
On Black Friday, Patagonia ran a full-page ad in The New York Times telling consumers not to buy one of their jackets because it takes so much water and energy to make. This was one element of the company's Common Threads initiative, a brilliant brand-within-a-brand that offers a roadmap for companies trying to promote themselves as environmentally friendly.
When Chief Marketing Officer Leontyne Green joined Ikea in 2006, it was experiencing explosive growth, adding multiple locations a year. Today, the U.S. is still a top-performing market for the Swedish company, but the brand is in transition.
Most often, analysis of brand strategy is focused on a name brand consumer product and its conventional efforts, such as John Deere's social marketing strategy, Benetton's scandalized ad campaign, Dr.Pepper's questionable "men only" positioning or Apple doing... anything.
If you're a retailer and you're not generating a non-stop flow of customized, interactive content, the writing's on the wall: Publish or perish.
Everyone wants their own mobile application. In the last year, I have heard this consistently. In fact, mobile analytics firm Distimo claims 91 of the top 100 brands have their own mobile app (up from 51 just 18 months ago). On the surface this sounds great, right? I can use my big brand name to get people to install my application, and then I can market to them via the palm of their hand whenever I want. If you're a big brand, I have no doubt you will get a ton of downloads. But downloads are a vanity metric; they don't measure success.
How do you make a decentralized global apparel company without a single, cohesive voice around the world, no e-commerce, and a lagging digital presence into a unified global brand with a vibrant digital, social and e-commerce strategy, with eight million Facebook fans, dwarfing any other jeans marketer and e-commerce growing 40% per year?
Our fifth annual survey on the way organizations use social tools and technologies finds that they continue to seep into many organizations, transforming business processes and raising performance.
L’eggs has launched its first ad campaign in 15 years—but it may be too late to pull nylons back from the brink of extinction.
Google+ Pages is the game-changer for brand presence on the web in a leap over the social networking garden wall and the next digital manifest destiny combining search and social.
What if 70 percent of brands in the world disappeared overnight? Most people wouldn’t care, according to a new study of 50,000 people in 14 global markets performed by Havas Media, an international communications firm.
Google+ has been billed as a Facebook killer, its user homepage layout borrows heavily from Facebook, and now there are free self-service branded pages for marketers similar conceptually to what Facebook introduced in November 2007 – almost four years ago to the day. Despite all of this, Google+ is different. This is largely because Facebook the company has only one eponymous flagship product, and Google the company is using Google+ as both a networking hub and a social layer across its diverse suite of digital products.
Google officially launched brand pages on Google+, ending months of waiting. The Web giant's pitch to convince businesses and brands to sign up (and unseat Facebook's dominance as the go-to social destination for businesses):
Most global packaged-goods and beauty marketers focus predominantly where the growth is these days: developing markets. Others are benefiting by catering mainly to upscale households left unscathed by the recession in developed markets. But L'Oreal has stood apart by actually stepping up its focus on the U.S., from where it expects to provide 70 million of the billion new consumers it hopes to add globally by 2021, ranking it just behind China and India in strategic importance. And it is doing so with the broadest portfolio in the business, operating in mass, prestige and even retail via such outlets as Kiehl's and Body Shop units.
After months of speculation with almost no official confirmation, YouTube has finally announced its long-awaited channel strategy in a post to the company’s blog late Friday evening. The announcement falls in line with what had previously been reported in the press: namely that YouTube will be expanding its lineup of channels to include new offerings from a variety of partners, including well-known personalities and brands in the Hollywood, music, news, and sports worlds.
What Peter Drucker would say about the e-tailer's foray into book publishing.
Between 2006 and 2010, American brand loyalty has declined sharply. During that same time span, fewer consumers self-reported that “owning the best brand is important to me.” Why did this happen? One glaring reason was that the recession diverted priorities, particularly among the jobless, away from brand names and toward lower prices.
In 2006, Dove launched its True Colors campaign to spark a global conversation about the definition and perception of beauty among women of all ages. Its research found only 2% of women considered themselves beautiful; and body anxieties begin at an early age with 72% feeling great pressure to be beautiful, when girls feel badly about their looks, 60% disconnect from life, avoiding normal daily activities like attending school or even giving their opinion.
Apple television rumors have swirled for years. But only now do we know that when speaking to his official biographer, Steve Jobs was keen to reinvent the television. And after ages trying to polish it into a user-friendly interface to video content he finally felt he'd "cracked it." Excitement has grown quickly since this revelation, but one analyst--Gene Munster--has checked with his sources and says that test HDTV prototypes are already in the pipeline, suggesting the device could be en route sooner than we thought.
"Happy chic" designer Jonathan Adler took some time away from whatever he's doing now to help put together eBay's first storefront. It's located in New York City, naturally. Each item in the storefront has a QR code; if you scan a code with your eBay phone app, you're directed to a special purchasing page within the app. What's that, you say? No, it's not a slightly more complicated version of browsing the site on your computer. Shut up. It's a dynamic and totally new 24-hour shopping experience.
Google+ is the fastest-growing social network in history, with 40 million users since its June launch. To help them focus, Google’s quietly shuttered a number of products, removing iGoogle and Google Reader’s social features and closing Google Labs, Buzz, Jaiku and Code Search in the last two weeks alone. But in doing so, they also killed off one of its oldest and most useful tools, from its most popular product.
The days of holding up two fingers to a bartender and getting a couple of glasses filled with generic beer from a tap are long gone. Instead, today’s pub-goers select their frosty-cold beverage from a long row of branded taps and receive their suds in a glass emblazoned with the particular logo. This is not your grandfather’s glass of draught.
When it comes to brand love, consumers are notoriously fickle -- particularly when it comes to technology. That's apparent when combing New Media Metrics' Leap Index, which measures emotional attachment to brands to predict purchase behavior.
Despite online video and commercial-skipping DVRs, companies still spend 38 percent of their advertising budgets on television ads and just 1 percent on online video. YouTube is trying to change that.
If we're headed into a second-dip of the recession, no one told Google. The company turned in a 33% surge in revenue in the third quarter on big increases in search, display, and increasingly, mobile advertising.
Last month, CEO Reed Hastings announced that the company's DVD and streaming businesses would be split: The DVD-by-mail service would be rebranded as Qwikster, while the streaming service would remain under Netflix. Consumer reaction was overwhelmingly negative, just as it had been for the company's recent price hikes. Many found the announcement confusing (customers would now have to deal with separate websites, usernames and passwords, movie queues, credit card bills, and ratings systems), and senior Netflix execs came out to reaffirm the decision, calling it a "natural progression" and part of a "long-term marketing opportunity."
She's just Jenny from the block? Come on, no one believes that. And you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who thinks Jennifer Lopez actually drives a teeny-tiny $20,000 Fiat.
One constant of the outpouring of grief over the death of Steve Jobs has been modified Apple logos, including creative use of apples in front of Apple stores. What few realize is that this capacity to fiddle with Apple's most recognizable bit of brand identity, and at the same time not lose any of that identity, speaks to the power of even the simplest element of what the Apple brand is.
Ahh, July. We miss you so. The world was newer then, the air fresher, the people a little nicer, and there used to be something called Qwikster.
Nike is setting up a a venture capital fund -- the Sustainable Business & Innovation Lab -- to invest in startups working on alternative energy and green innovation, reports Bloomberg.
Jeff Bezos announced a new family of Kindle’s today, including the Kindle Fire and Kindle Touch. But he also had one more thing. The Kindle Fire tablet is coming with an entirely new mobile browser called Amazon Silk. The browser is “cloud-accelerated” in that it splits tasks between the cloud and the device.
On a conference call earlier this year while discussing Target’s (TGT) 2011 same-store sales forecast, Chief Financial Officer Douglas Scovanner noted that his company’s biggest rival, Wal-Mart (WMT), had been taking heat from Wall Street for its weak retailing performance. The largest player in the marketplace had yet another quarter of negative same-store sales, he said: “People are picking on my big brother.” For years, Target has benefited from such comparisons. Target’s merchandise was trendier, its commercials hipper, its employees happier—or so the meme went. Of late, however, Target has found it increasingly difficult to tell that story.
Walmart Labs Senior VP-Global E-Commerce Anand Rajaraman took the stage at Ad Age Digital today in San Francisco to explain why exactly the world's largest retailer would buy a social media startup.
Is Facebook a friend of news companies, or is it a rival? No matter how much success publishers have piggybacking off its traffic, they can’t escape the cruel math: The more of their time consumers spend on Facebook and other social networking hubs, the less they have left over for news sites.
Every now and then, the business world presents us with a lab experiment that we can observe in realtime. Netflix's announcement that it is splitting off its DVD-by-mail business from its streaming business is just such an experiment.
Movie delivery service Netflix has just announced that it is rebranding its DVD-by-mail service as Qwikster and that it will keep calling its streaming service Netflix. Shocking news yes, but already the Internet has found one immediate chink in the company’s rebranded armor, other than the fact that, like a multitude of other failed companies, the name ends in “ster” …
Walmart is in a bind. Its retail empire is based on a simple proposition -- everyday low pricing -- but recent surveys show price gaps between it and rivals have actually narrowed or disappeared. And, in fact, most of its shoppers no longer believe Walmart has the lowest prices.
Plum TV appears to be dying on the vine — and on the Vineyard, as the lifestyle channel geared at America's playgrounds of the wealthy is in the pits of despair
Proving, once again, they've got a sense of humor, the marketing wags at Ben & Jerry's are rolling out a limited edition ice-cream flavor in the US: Schweddy Balls, named for a punning 2007 Saturday Night Live skit featuring Alec Baldwin as a guest a fictitious NPR radio show ("Delicious Dish").
Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz's message about finding common grounds for action has nothing to do with coffee grounds. Shultz is on a campaign to restore confidence in America and the American economy. He wants to ignite a contagious upward spiral of confidence.
Amazon.com Inc. said it is testing a major redesign of its website, an overhaul that could refashion the way people shop on the world's largest online retailer. The new site appears to have been streamlined for use on a tablet computer, online-commerce experts say, indicating that the Seattle-based retailer is trying to improve the shopping experience on Apple Inc.'s iPad—or its own competing device. Amazon is expected to release a tablet in coming weeks, people familiar with the device have said.
In January 2010, Toyota faced a nightmare situation for any brand, but particularly for one that staked its reputation on safety and quality: The company had to recall 2.3 million vehicles because of faulty accelerator pedals.
There's now measurable evidence that a brand’s philanthropic activities can influence shopper behavior and ultimately purchase decisions, and that gender nuance is a factor. The Integer Group queried 1,200 Americans about factors influencing brand preference when choosing between two companies with both benefiting a cause, and selling a product similar in price and quality. The top answer for both men and women was "personal relevance of cause" (70%).
For many of Apple’s customers, investors and fans, the most important thing about new chief executive Tim Cook is that he is not Steve Jobs.
When Russell Weiner took the helm as CMO of Domino’s Pizza, he knew that the status quo was not acceptable. The company had been experiencing same store sales declines for three straight years and change was needed.
Last night in after-hours trading, Apple's stock dropped precipitously. The prophets of Apple's doom emerged after a very long hibernation. Even those bullish on Apple's prospects could hardly muster more than lukewarm praise of Tim Cook's appointment to CEO of Apple Inc, saying, "he's pretty good, but he's no Steve Jobs." We believe they're all missing the point. Jobs has managed to perform the ultimate feat of leadership — he's embedded himself so deeply within the cultural fabric of Apple that the company no longer needs him.
At first blush, the consumer appeal of a business like Groupon seems pretty obvious. The popular deal-of-the-day Internet start-up sells vouchers to restaurants, spas, and other local businesses at major markdowns--and who wouldn't want to score a 100-dollar sports massage for 50 bucks?
It’s always a danger to look into the crystal ball, everything is so distorted by the glass. But if everything remains as is, it’s hard to look at Google and not foresee the California company winning the future of social media, social technology, and all the bitstreams in between.
As IBM celebrates its 100th birthday, many observers are rightly calling attention to the many strategic changes the company put itself through to remain relevant amidst dramatic technological and economic change. But one of the biggest transformations IBM went through is less about computers and more about culture. Over the last decade and a half, the company has realigned its HR practices and strategies to move away from the analog ways of the past and to embrace a variety of 21st century approaches, including some highly unconventional ones.
I will confess I don’t believe I’ve ever had a meal that actually progressed from soup to nuts. Maybe “from salad to ice cream” might be a better way to give the impression of tracking a meal from beginning to end, but “soup to nuts” is the idiom we’re stuck with. And now Google can say that Android fulfills it, with its $12.5 billion purchase of Motorola Mobility. (That’s assuming regulator approval, which we probably shouldn’t just assume at this point.) Instead of being simply the provider of an operating system for smartphones and tablets, a Google+Moto pairing would also produce some of those phones and tablets itself, rather than relying exclusively on a network of producers (HTC, Samsung, LG, etc.) to actually design, build, and distribute the hardware.
Google has made its largest and boldest acquisition yet with the $12.5bn purchase of Motorola’s mobile-phone division, a deal the search company hopes will bolster its Android smartphone system.
Since the daily deals site Groupon launched in November 2008, its story has been about huge numbers, giant savings, and astronomical growth. According to one accounting, it is the fastest-growing company, ever. According to its own accounting, it has become profitable far sooner than most tech startups. Wall Street seems poised to reward it with an initial public offering valuing the company at as much as $30 billion. But are all these big numbers based on questionable metrics? And can Groupon really keep up the soar-away growth justifying that fantastic valuation?
Levi Strauss is working hard to make itself a global brand. To that end, Levi’s has been beefing up its human capital, the better to bring its global campaign and corporate citizenship message to the world.
There is a fundamental shift that social media necessitates in business today – the need to transition from “Me First” to “We First” thinking. For decades Me First thinking and behavior has dominated how we have conducted business, treated the environment, and how consumers and brands have interacted. Despite decades of short-term profits, the long-term consequences of this approach have been catastrophic. They include the economic meltdown of 2008, the global recession, and the persistent economic problems that plague countries and societies around the world today. As a result, there is a growing awareness that we must begin shifting business towards a more collective and socially responsible mentality in which companies and consumers think about building a better world as much as they think about profits. Given this, the question is, how can brands move towards this responsible and collective mentality? The answer is, by adopting We First thinking.
The label on the bag of coffee stated that it was "private reserve" as if it were a glorious handmade cabernet sauvignon that had been lovingly and fastidiously set aside by the proprietor and made available to an appreciative soul such as me who had discerning taste and an extra dollar or two to spend on a hedonistic treat.
Anheuser-Busch InBev NV is redesigning the Budweiser can for the first time in a decade, seeking to reinvigorate sales of the storied brew. The company unveiled a new, bolder look Wednesday that makes the Budweiser "bowtie" symbol the centerpiece of the label and goes much heavier on the color red than previous versions.
I was astounded recently to see a Pepsi ad that shows Santa on vacation somewhere in the Caribbean. There he is in a Hawaiian shirt, dancing in the sand, surrounded by noisy, happy sun-seekers. The tune is Montell Jordan's new jack swing staple from 1995, "This Is How We Do It."
Two weeks ago I published an excerpt from a research paper titled “Pastel Injustice: The Corporate Use of Pinkwashing For Profit” that highlighted the business practices of companies who promote breast cancer awareness through the use of pink products and messages to consumers.
You're aware by now that Fabio is the summer stand-in for Isaiah Mustafa, and that Old Spice's ad agency, Wieden & Kennedy, is producing content for YouTube and Twitter that plays off the work it did for the "Man Your Man Could Smell Like" campaign. As of this writing, there's a spokesguy "duel" going on (Mano a Mano in El Bano) involving playful videos that consumers can comment on. It's sure to win some brand-engagement award later this year. Look for it to get referenced as a stroke of genius in pop marketing books, too. Every CMO needs to see this exercise for the time-waster it is.
A recent story in the Wall Street Journal brought into stark relief the mistake of thinking that exceptional creative doth a strong brand make.
Not long ago, market research shop Millward Brown released a ranking of the world's most valuable brands. For the first time, Apple topped the list. The value of its brand was $153 billion, up 84 percent year on year. Yes, Apple spends lavishly on promoting its brand, but the study attributed the spike in brand valuation to the impact of two products — the iPad and, to a lesser extent, the iPhone.
Strolling along 42nd Street I overheard a mischievous, baseless and ill-informed comment by a millennial to his friend, “There is no such thing as voice or text or music or TV shows – they’re all just data.” He’s right, but our need for words is ancient, and a powerful brand voice can make us question everything we think and do.
For years now, Netflix has been among the Web's most loved companies, scoring tops (or, this past year, second) in customer satisfaction for online retail. Netflix deserves this respect because it delivers a complex service that, 99 times out of 100, just works. DVDs arrive remarkably quickly. Streaming is synchronized across your many devices. And, prices match or beat competitive options. So it was surprising that such a firestorm sprang up when Netflix announced its pricing changes for DVD+streaming.
Samsung's journey from low-cost OEM producer to a global brand name synonymous with innovation is an admirable one. The process of turning away from the basic elements responsible for your original success is a perilous and brave move. I can only imagine the resistance involved when an established, hierarchical company like the old Samsung decides to introduce practices that threaten the status quo.
“The recession has been good for us,” says Steve Cannon, Mercedes-Benz’s vice president of marketing, only half kidding. While this quintessential luxury brand faced a more challenging environment, Mercedes still managed to emerge from the recession with renewed momentum, launching five new models and building share of market, as it is looking to its 14th consecutive year of sales growth in 2011.
Let social media mavens debate whether Google+ will succeed as a 'Facebook killer' where Buzz did not. I think they'd benefit from a quick look back at a failed innovation Google quietly DNR'ed. It offers a sobering reality check for anyone who believes that great people, great skills, great wealth, a great brand, and a great opportunity invariably lead to great innovation, They don't. Not even for Google. There's a valuable lesson here.
If sex sells, then nudity cannot be far behind. At least that is what Zappos, the online retailer, hopes with its new advertising campaign featuring naked models doing everyday things like jogging, hailing a cab and playing Frisbee in public
The whole world seems to have woken up to the notion that great ideas can come from anywhere and anyone. Exhibit A is the effort to write a new constitution in Iceland where the surge of crowdsourcing, mass collaboration, co-creation, and open innovation initiatives is seeking to channel those ideas and leverage that talent in every realm of endeavor. But when it comes to taking those ideas and turning them into a comprehensive view of the future, a compelling set of priorities, and a genuinely involving and ongoing collaboration with a community of stakeholders, there aren't many instructive models.
In 2009, I purchased a Flip HD camcorder. Around the same time, Cisco purchased Flip, the company, for about $600 million. It was never clear precisely what Cisco was up to, but with YouTube being a big deal, some form of Internet connectivity seemed to top the list of the possible "synergies." It took Cisco just a year to change its mind, announcing in April of this year that it would shut Flip down.
It's one of the toughest challenges in retailing: appealing to new, often younger customers without alienating shoppers who have long been loyal fans. When the transition is handled badly, things can go south in a hurry. Ask Talbots, which tried to entice thirtysomethings with cocktail dresses and frilly tank tops and left the pearl-wearing career women who had shopped there for decades feeling jilted.
The other day, a legal firm asked whether strategic brand building could help grow market-share in today’s economy. I thought this was an interesting question. In our discussions, we talked about what branding could mean for legal firms. I have seen remarkable advertising from all sorts of professional services firms, but rarely if ever have I seen marketing from a leading law firm.
Steve Jobs turned Apple Inc. into the world's most valuable technology company with high-tech products like the iPad and iPhone. But one anchor of Apple's success is surprisingly low tech: its chain of brick-and-mortar retail stores.
Lots of organizations come to our company, Advertising for Humanity, asking for "a new brand." They typically mean a new name, or icon, or a new look and feel for their existing name. Lots of people think that brand begins and ends there — that once we shine up the name they can stick it below their email signature, pop it on their website, and, voila, they have a new brand. Much of our work consists of disabusing people of this notion. Brand is much more than a name or a logo. Brand is everything, and everything is brand.
Brand marketers have long been intrigued with the use of scent as a potential differentiating feature. Maybe it all started with Smell-O-Vision, an ill-fated technology that was used to pump different smells throughout movie theaters in 1960. Smell-O-Vision stunk — it died after just one movie. Nowadays, scent is a key part of any number of beauty and cosmetic products, typically targeting women. Increasingly, though, scent plays an important role in men's products, especially deodorants. And the latest innovation is a masculine knock-off of a concept that was first aimed at women in 2005 — the scented razor.
Italian jeweler Bulgari SpA and sports-car maker Maserati SpA have succeeded in China largely by portraying themselves as the ultimate male status symbols. But the two recently joined a growing number of luxury brands in China that have revamped their marketing tactics to also appeal to self-made female entrepreneurs, a rapidly emerging market segment that also wants high-end baubles and toys.
A series of recent stumbles at Target Corp. has some retail experts questioning whether the cheap-chic discounter is losing its cachet.
Executives usually don’t badmouth their former companies, but the ones that are no longer with Pabst Blue Ribbon after it was sold last year to billionaire C. Dean Metropoulos and his two sons don’t mince words. “If our core PBR drinker knew that what they were drinking is owned by guys like these, it's the last beer they'd want to drink,” stated the former director of marketing to the Chicago Tribune.
TOMS Shoes is ready to kick off the "Shoes" in its brand identity, rebranding with a campaign (which we previewed in March) dubbed "What's Your Next Chapter?" that will be unveiled in a series of events with its partners across the US tomorrow.
The ‘emotional’ revolution that has engulfed the marketing world is undeniable: brands are constantly seeking to win our wallets by way of our hearts. The mythmakers of Madison Ave did so by crafting poignant stores that masked products’ imperfections or downright uselessness. Though today’s marketers are forced to meet a slightly higher standard of credibility, their goal is still to teach us how their brand is supposed to make us feel. It seems it’s not enough for soap to clean and moisturize – it must also compel us to philosophize about what it means to be beautiful
Brand advertising seems to be on its way out. Take Starbucks, which used to advertise its coffee shops. And very effectively, too. Today, the brand is strongly positioned at the top of the coffee-shop market. What's next for Starbucks? The company's recent decision to drop the words "Starbucks coffee" from its logotype seems to indicate where the company is going. According to media reports, Starbucks is in the midst of a transformation from a coffee company to a food and beverage organization
June's Harvard Business Review features a story by Procter & Gamble Chief Technology Officer Bruce Brown and me on "How P&G Tripled Its Innovation Success Rate." The article's core message is that P&G achieved that result by approaching the creation of new growth businesses in a highly systematic way, building what Brown and I call the "new-growth factory."
The New York Times has reported that brands have started to turn their attention to the one group of people amongst us who may still have disposable income during these times of recession – the over 50s. And for good reason. Statistics show that they not only have more money to spare, they earn more, spend more and have more job security than younger consumers. They also avidly consume more media.
You know the bag. The chocolate-brown leather canvas emblazoned with quatrefoils and the LV monogram is immediately recognizable as the international symbol of globetrotting luxury. The Louis Vuitton brand is the most valuable brand in luxury, according to a new study from Millward Brown. But in a world with knock offs on street tables from New York to New Dehli and rappers like Kanye West pronouncing himself the "Louis Vuitton don," how does the world's most famous luxury brand protect its image?
When Puma transformed a venerable soccer cleat made famous by Brazilian footballer Pelé into a sneaker in 1998, the shoe known as the King sparked a global fashion sensation and an eightfold surge in Puma revenue in as many years. Yet ever since the German sporting-goods maker was bought by French luxury house PPR in 2007, the brand has performed like David Beckham during his Los Angeles Galaxy years.
In the annals of shady public relations stunts, Facebook’s attempt to surreptitiously plant negative — and highly misleading — stories about Google into leading media outlets will surely go down as one of the most ham-handed in recent memory.
Your brand is your favorite. After all, it's yours. You understand it, you helped build it, you're obsessed with the nuance behind it. Your organization's actions make sense to you, you sat in the room as they were being argued about... you might even have helped make some of the decisions.
Remember the Pepsi Challenge? Launched in the mid-Seventies, it was a blind taste test, heavily used in Pepsi's TV advertising, in which participants invariably would pick Pepsi over Coke as the better-tasting cola. It spoke directly to relevant brand equities that helped Pepsi-Cola mount a rising challenge to Coca-Cola over subsequent decades. Well, there’s a new Pepsi Challenge in town. But it has nothing to do with taste-testing, cola or even Pepsi per se. As part of PepsiCo’s ever-expansive Pepsi Refresh community-revitalization project, Pepsi Challenge is now the name of an online activity that encourages users to submit ideas and weigh in with solutions.
In many ways, Martha Stewart, lifestyle mogul extraordinaire, is the original maker.
In the same way China approached its preparations for the Beijing Olympics, businesses have fully detailed each sensory impression a product will have on consumers. One company's ultimate objective: Become a global leader in car manufacturing. Look out, Detroit.
A lot of us remember when the role of the CMO was much simpler. Information flowed in one direction: from companies to consumers. When we drew up our plans and budgets, the key metric was consumer impressions: how many people would see, hear or read our ad? Today the only place that approach still works is on Mad Men. Now information flows in many directions, consumer touch points have multiplied, and the old, one-size-fits-all approach has given way to precision marketing and one-to-one communications.
What makes one brand survive a reputation crisis better than others? While it would take a PR and branding genius to help, for instance, BP restore its tarnished image, how about less extreme examples? Consider the recent New York Times expose on General Electric that revealed how the corporate behemoth paid no taxes in 2010. GE made $14 billion in profits in 2010, $5 billion of that in the US — but its US tax bill is negative $3.5 billion. And yet, GE's reputation has not suffered as much as BP, Toyota or Goldman Sachs, at least so far, according to YouGov BrandIndex, the consumer perception brand research service.
The wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton might seem entirely frothy and unworthy of the time of busy executives. It seems an inconsequential event — no new international alliances are formed, no policies will change within their home nation, and the young couple doesn't seem all that interesting. But the April 29 nuptials are one more example of the coming of the experience economy, in which people pay for the chance to participate at particular times (Farmville, anyone?), and expenditures on goods and services come in bundles tied to particular events.
Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, has swung its bulk into the fast-changing world of social networks by acquiring a small California company that it will use to explore new ways of reaching shoppers digitally.
Many companies now have senior officers in charge of customer experience. The executives' role is to define the attributes of the customer experience in partnership with their operational colleagues, organize the customer-satisfaction-measurement process against those attributes, and encourage remedial action wherever warranted. What they hardly ever have, though, is an approach to evolve the design of the customer experience, let alone create a new experience.
BEIJING—Burberry Group PLC is outfitting its stores in China with the latest digital technology, including touchscreens for customers and iPads for staff, at the start of a world-wide campaign to shake its stiff, older image and win over younger customers.
Toys "R" Us will soon be selling iPads alongside G.I. Joes, PlayStation games, and Legos. And did you know? One in five U.S. teens owns a tablet PC (which basically means an iPad). iPads: Apple's doin' it for the kids.
Google Inc. is working on a major overhaul of YouTube as it tries to position itself for the rise of televisions that let people watch online video in their living rooms, according to people familiar with the matter. YouTube is looking to compete with broadcast and cable television, some of these people said, a goal that requires it to entice users to stay on the website longer, and to convince advertisers that it will reach desirable consumers.
Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks, is not an empty suit. It's not just that Schultz doesn't favor suits (at the talk I heard him give last week, he was wearing a cardigan sweater) but also that he has a heart, which he is willing to wear on his sleeve, and a mission in life that's not limited to profit.
Just 13 years ago, Apple was on the verge of bankruptcy. Today, it is the world's most admired tech company. Steve Jobs can be credited for the drastic turnaround. But how did he do it? By thinking differently, innovating, and being controversial.
From a Lady Gaga prayer bracelet to special sushi rolls at restaurants, the disaster in Japan has led to a rash of relief efforts. But as consumers become increasingly skeptical of cause-related marketing, celebrities, organizations and major marketers have to walk a fine line, trying to help without appearing to exploit the tragedy for profits.
Much is being written about the impact that new communication technologies and channels (blogs, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube) have on traditional marketing. The deeper question is: Will these new communication channels actually force material changes not just in the way companies market their products but in the strategies and operations they use to develop and build those products as well? In my view, the answer is an emphatic yes. It's another instance of the proverbial medium that changes the content.
Netflix Inc. is in advanced talks to distribute a forthcoming television series directed by David Fincher and starring Kevin Spacey, said people familiar with the talks. If such a deal were to come to fruition it would add a new competitor to the television industry by increasing the degree to which Netflix vies with premium-cable television channels like Time Warner Inc.'s HBO.
The magic lies in how it's managed, and that must come from the very top of the company.
At SXSW, the chief of one of America's favorite online shoe stores lets Fast Company in on his newest idea, a lifestyle and business brand with partner Jenn Lim named after his bestselling business book, "Delivering Happiness."
Starting this week, Progressive's perky sales clerk will push a new in-car product the company claims will be as transformative for the insurance industry as the iPod was for music -- a device that plugs in your car and tracks how and when you drive.
You could argue Warner Bros.' test to rent, and soon sell, "The Dark Knight" and other films on Facebook is just another promotional deal on the world's largest social network. But it isn't, and that's why it sent shivers through the media industry: not for what the deal is today but for what it could easily mean.
Well, that didn't last very long. About a month after announcing a major exclusive deal with retailer Target, Lady Gaga has dissolved the partnership citing Target's corporate culture of anti-gay rights political donations.
To no one’s surprise, including mine, Apple once again has the industry all abuzz about their latest innovation – the iPad2. After months of speculation and free press, Apple unveiled—through their charismatic and enigmatic leader, Steve Jobs—how they intend to extend their dominance over the rapidly expanding tablet market with the iPad2. As much as I admire Apple’s relentless pursuit and delivery of innovation, it’s their stranglehold on customer sentiment and the media in particular that I find even more impressive and, frankly, enviable. The question is, “Is it sustainable?”
Joel Martin, principal of Eight Mile Style Music and co-owner of Eminem's song catalog, is used to getting the cold shoulder from Michigan automakers who have generally found the rap artist's song lyrics too spicy for their mainstream audiences. So, imagine his surprise when he got a call on his cellphone one day last December from an assistant at his Ferndale, Mich., office that said "The president of Chrysler is here looking for you."
Mark Zuckerberg says social dynamics of the kind Facebook pioneered will one day be a core part of every industry. In the first installment of our new series, we take a look at some companies that are "baking in" social right from the start.
As the network replaces 'Playhouse Disney' with 'Disney Jr.,' preschool shows will shift emphasis from teaching ABCs and 1-2-3s to imparting social values in their storytelling.
Me, I got my Valentine early: I didn't have to watch the Super Bowl ads this year until, you know, the Super Bowl. It was fannnnnntastic. I got to experience the game like a normal slob, with a lap full of taco dip and genuine curiosity about how unfunny the Bud Light spots would be this year. It fell to my colleague Ken Wheaton to harvest the crop ahead of time.
America needs poets and thinkers as well as engineers.
#1 Thing You Need to Learn from This Post: Your brand is at greater danger for its complicity in events on other side of the world than for a social media blunder.
With familiar and storied brands like Saturn, Pontiac, Hummer and Mercury recently heading for the automotive graveyard, the idea of bringing back Italian brand Fiat to U.S. showrooms this month after a 27-year hiatus may seem like fool's errand. But don't tell that to Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne, who is also CEO of Chrysler.
As Pandora rumbles toward a possible IPO, its founder and Chief Strategy Officer Tim Westergren talks to Fast Company about the secret ingredient in its future formula (hint: it's not an algorithm).
It's getting hard to not like Walmart, or at least the way it has been throwing around its considerable weight to make the world a better place for the last three years or so. I never thought I'd write that.
Microsoft managers probably shouldn't bring iPhones to business meetings. Ford employees shouldn't commute to work in BMWs. Coca-Cola employees likely shouldn't drink Pepsi on their lunch breaks. As a rule, companies with strong brands and competitive cultures expect more than a modicum of brand loyalty from their employees and contractors. But with employment opportunities tight and economic recovery slow, a profound organizational transformation is taking hold. "Loyalty to the brand" is mutating into "Living the brand." Brand values — not just brand value — are seen as core competitive differentiators.
Another iconic brand is messing with its logo. To commemorate its 40th anniversary, Starbucks today unveiled what its PR team calls a "subtle but meaningful update." We'd call it a hot mess. Meaningful? Only to Starbucks. Subtle? Not at all. In fact, the focus on the brand's mermaid and scuttling of its name jettisons the distinctive black and green color combination that nearly everyone associates with Starbucks.
Pepsi's Superbowl ad campaign is looking to be a mind-bending exercise in crowdsourcing. First, Pepsi and Doritos announced "the 10 finalists in the Crash the Super Bowl challenge" which will "compete to be one of six consumer-created ads – three for Doritos and three for Pepsi MAX – airing during the Super Bowl XLV broadcast." That same day, Catholic activists announced their own crowdsourcing effort: "Ask Pepsi-Doritos to reject a commercial that blasphemes the Holy Eucharist as Doritos Chips and Pepsi."
Brands have been in the content business for more than 50 years, but some of the biggest marketers in the world -- including General Electric and Johnson & Johnson -- are today finding that emerging media and digital platforms are dramatically changing the game in terms of how that content is distributed and how consumer conversations can be controlled.
Amazon's cloud computing has revolutionized American small business, but can Amazon beat rising competitors?
Corporate reputation is very fragile. What takes years to build can be ruined overnight. Just ask BP, Toyota or Goldman Sachs. This year some of the nation's biggest companies and corporate brands faced disasters, privacy breaches and product recalls that underscore the fragility of corporate reputation and consumer trust in big companies.
So I was talking Monday to John Mackey, the co-founder and co-CEO of Whole Foods Market. We were getting ready to do an interview that will appear in the January-February issue of HBR and on the website Big Think. But the Big Think cameras weren't quite ready yet, so we were just chatting. I asked Mackey about the more-vegan-than-thou diet that he's been following for the past couple of years. One of its distinguishing characteristics is that it bans the consumption of many non-whole — that is to say, processed — foods. Such as olive oil.
Which corporate brands are the world's most influential? Each year we at TLG try to answer that question in the International Index of Thought Leadership. We ask influential "opinion formers" from business, politics, the media, and NGOs in the U.S. and the UK to rank companies on five behaviors identified by Henley Business School as common to high-impact or "thought leader" organizations: a pioneering spirit, rigor, objectivity, authenticity, and clarity, with clarity as the most critical.
Leaders from the tech and finance sectors are having an ever greater impact on the nonprofit world. Nowhere is this most apparent than at the Omidyar Network, a philanthropic investment firm started by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar.
When it comes to luxury store retailing, properly rewarding a customer who spends $200,000 a year could be as easy as a walk in the park, or Park Avenue. But recognizing those dedicated shoppers who spend upwards of $1 million a year takes more than diamond points – this kind of shopper requires sincere eloquence.
Project RE:Brand is a web series that pairs five design and branding experts with five small business owners to assess and revitalize their brand identities. PSFK reached out to some of the participants in Project RE:Brand to ask the question; “Does Branding Still Matter?”
It's a languid, late-summer Wednesday afternoon at the offices of online handmade-goods marketplace Etsy, and Chief Technology Officer Chad Dickerson is sitting at a table in a conference room decorated to look like a cartoonish version of the interior of a Mercury-era space capsule. Surrounded by fake panic-button consoles, plush jet packs, and quilts depicting outer-space views of moons and planets, Dickerson is peering at his laptop screen to report a particularly important number that he's just been asked to look up: "We've got 263 search results for 'Justin Bieber.'"
We all know the fundamental issue: consumers are suffering from attention deficit disorder brought on by too much choice. Now the moral imperatives brought on by concerns over global warming—to buy local, to buy green—are layered on top of an already bewildering variety of alternatives. People are recognizing that every purchase decision has consequences, but figuring out what the consequences really are is tough.
Many North Americans would scarcely believe their ears if they heard what Gina Burton has done. A Toronto mother of two in her early 50s, Ms Burton drove a Volvo for 10 years. But, she says, “I just don’t think that the last Volvo drove as well as the others.” So in August, she traded in her Cross Country estate for a Buick Enclave, one of GM’s upscale crossover sport-utility vehicles.
So was the Gap's logo debacle really a debacle, or was it a clever sleight of hand? In response to my post last week, some of you said: wait a second — what if this was a genius move by the Gap, garnering a boatload attention with minimum effort?
“Big cities have international people,” Ralph Lauren said. “Tourists come wanting to buy souvenirs.” So the biggest one-man brand in fashion is getting bigger on Friday, when Polo Ralph Lauren opens a 22,000-square-foot store at Madison Avenue and 72nd Street in Manhattan. The store, built to resemble a mansion, will be the brand’s largest women’s store and will also feature home collections and new lines of lingerie and fine jewelry.
10 changes that will continue to affect the top marketing job going Into 2011.
Peter Drucker once commented that “trying to predict the future is like trying to drive down a country road at night with no lights while looking out the back window.” Though we agree with Drucker that forecasting is hard, managers are constantly asked to predict the future — be it to project future product sales, anticipate company profits, or plan for investment returns. Good forecasts hold the key to good plans. Simply complaining about the difficulty does not help.
At TEDxChange, Melinda Gates makes a provocative case for nonprofits taking a cue from corporations such as Coca-Cola, whose plugged-in, global network of marketers and distributors ensures that every remote village wants -- and can get -- a Coke. Why shouldn't this work for condoms, sanitation, vaccinations too?
Gap has announced on its Facebook Page that it is scrapping its new logo design efforts, acquiescing to a torrent of criticism coming primarily from Facebook and Twitter users. Last week, Gap unveiled a new logo, one it called “a more contemporary, modern expression.” The retailer’s customers were not so thrilled about the change, and Gap decided to ask users for their logo design ideas instead. However, that course of action has now been reversed, as well.
Here's a thought: 21st century organizations need not just half a brain — but a whole, full, complete brain, where both halves work in unison and harmony. Let me explain, by way of an example. It hurts your eyes to look at it. It's making designers world-wide recoil in amazement and horror. The latest installment of Aliens vs Predator? Nope — it's the Gap's new logo.
It sounds absurd, but you can't argue that in the marketing industry we're seeing very real progress toward removing humanity from the process of making and placing brand communication.
The one constant in the marketing industry is that it is ever-changing. Over time marketing has faced countless challenges, be it from disruptive new technologies, consumer empowerment or ongoing advertiser trust issues. As a result, the marketing community continuously adapts to achieve its goal to successfully connect with consumers. The following 10 examples show the marketing industry's strength in turning challenges into opportunities for growth.
Thanks to the emergence of location-based services such as Foursquare, Gowalla, and now Facebook Places, millions of users are recording their daily adventures and broadcasting digital breadcrumbs to their social graph. However, the brand value of a check-in on a location-based service is debatable, and its ROI unclear.
In the last decade, we've had two wars (Iraq and Afghanistan), two automobile bankruptcies (General Motors and Chrysler) and two radically new social-media sites (Facebook and Twitter). We've had a housing crisis, a banking crisis and a dot-com bubble. Three of our four leading airlines have gone bankrupt. And the fourth one (American Airlines) is losing money. We've witnessed the incredible rise of Google and Apple. And the incredible fall of A.I.G. and Lehman Brothers. "Everything has changed" is the message marketers have been reacting to recently. And because everything has changed, marketers believe they have to change everything in their marketing programs.
The recession has given retail a swift kick in the butt -- but in the case of Target, it's done so in a good way. Using the recession as a catalyst, Target has made fairly radical shifts to its agency structure, marketing and media approach and overall business operations.
Levi's makes pants; jeans, specifically, but its brand aspires to art and beyond. I used to think this was utter nonsense, but now I'm wondering whether the company's marketers shouldn't get some credit for being so wantonly experimental. It might put them out of business, but it sure won't do so boringly.
I'll make it really simple for you to see the difference. Fundamentally, this is a conversation about putting the human being first or putting the brand/idea first.
Struggling companies all share something in common. Their sales and marketing efforts are at odds. Sometimes, they are even at war. The marketing team lectures the sales department, saying that if only the salespeople would follow their advice, their problems would be solved. Meanwhile, the sales department always says it needs something else from marketing. The salespeople are clamoring for the silver bullet that will convince the most ardent skeptic to buy. The root cause of this situation is that sales and marketing have different views of the world.
Taking a government bailout, getting hit with accusations of fraud and now a class-action discrimination suit have all led to Wall Street powerhouse Goldman Sachs' steep decline in public reputation. According to YouGov, at one point it fell further than even BP and Toyota. But now that it's settled with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Goldman is trying to put a new face on the company -- one that associates Goldman with companies such as clean-energy firms and with the creation of jobs.
We have entered a Golden Age of marketing technology. There are now thousands of software applications built for nearly every aspect of marketing. We have more choices, with more capabilities, at more attractive economics, than ever before. Yet most marketing organizations today lack the technical leadership to fully harness this power.
When consumers are overwhelmed with options, marketers should give them what they really want: ways of shopping that lower the cognitive demands of choosing.
Elon Musk looks like a kid who just walked into a toy factory. The 39-year-old CEO of upstart car company Tesla Motors stands on the main floor of the New United Motor Manufacturing plant and looks with awe from one giant piece of machinery to the next. The car factory, known as Nummi, is located in Fremont, California, but it’s an industrial city unto itself. It encompasses 5.5 million square feet and contains a plastics molding factory, two paint facilities, 1.5 miles of assembly lines, and a 50-megawatt power plant. Since 1984, Toyota and General Motors had run Nummi together, producing as many as 450,000 cars a year here until it was shuttered in April. Now, in a remarkable turn of events, Musk owns the place.
If you want to be a 21st century company (or economy), if you want to survive and thrive during this Great Stagnation, you've got to to have the courage, foresight, and determination to step up to a higher rung on the ladder of innovation. It's time to master what I sometimes call "I-squared": the art and practice of institutional innovation.
Inside the $2.4 billion plan to change the way you think about the most iconic restaurant on the planet.
The thriving Internet shoe retailer has made its name and a lot of money by being eccentric.
Pepsi is so happy with its "Refresh Project" social media marketing campaign that it has renewed funding for 2011 and will expand it to the rest of the world. This year it will give away $20 million to the good works projects that win the most supportive votes from consumers, representing "true democratization of the philanthropic process," according to a company spokesman. I say it's really dumb, and not just slightly dishonest.
As the digital and social opportunities risk morphing into that all-too-familiar blend of noise and clutter, the simple foundations and "boring basics" really matter. So while the brand "app" may at times feel like yet another one-off, it may in fact represent the most important cornerstone of digital strategy.
As we get more engrossed in the idea and practice of digital experiences, are we missing out on the opportunity to build better physical experiences with brands? There's a huge opportunity here to fuse the world's of design and art with technology and create something new. As way of inspiration, I think it's good to look at the work of artist Olafur Eliasson- who's spent a lot of time trying to understand how we "see", manage, react to and interact with space.
A recent post from BBH Labs turned our attention to a short video clip from management consultant Tom Peters, in which he discusses his perspective on how storytelling isn’t just a marketing hot topic of the day, but rather something that is in our genes as human beings – we translate everything that happens to us in life into stories. If we communicate this way amongst each other as people, why should it be any different when brands speak to consumers?
Meet Jack. He has an abiding interest in soy protein isolate. Or carob-seed gum. Or high-oleic sunflower oil. And can't stop talking about any of it. Jack just met Jill. Yet Jill is edging away from Jack at the gallery opening. Or "unfriending" him on Facebook. And we don't blame Jill. Yet, this is precisely the opening gambit used by many marketers trying to engage with people. This self-absorbed approach is incompatible with basic human nature. And this should come as no surprise, as it is also incompatible with common sense. Yet, it's a trap brands fall into too often, obsessing over the minutiae of what separates them from other brands within a particular category.
What does winning look like at your organization? Defining success may sound simple, but few strategic plans come to grips with this question. Instead, management teams fall back on broad-brushed vision statements. "To be the best ... the biggest ... the leading ..." that lack the specificity employees need to implement the strategy or provide the benchmarks that leaders can use to measure progress. Should growth strategies be visionary? Certainly. But they should also be concrete. That's what Plan to Win is all about.
We've all had the experience of knowing someone we would recommend for a job but wouldn't bring home to dinner. The reverse is also familiar: There is someone we're happy to have to dinner but wouldn't recommend for a job. In the first instance, we're sure our colleague is competent, but we feel no real personal bond. In the second instance, we respond to the warmth of our friend but don't feel he is competent for a particular role. According to a recent study of more than a thousand representative U.S. consumers, people respond to brands in much the same way they instinctively perceive and judge one another--on the basis of warmth and competence.
In this installment we review the various aspects and formalities of bringing a brand alive, truly alive in social media. Everything begins with establishing the rules of engagement in order to define the boundaries, context, and objectives for conversations. Guidelines such as “don’t be stupid,” “use common sense,” “stay positive,” is not the most useful approach to steering representatives or consumer experiences. While many brands possess a brand style guide, many have yet to adapt it to the social Web.
American workers are mad as hell, and they’re not going to take it anymore. That’s the clear message of flight attendant Steven Slater’s emergence as a “working-class hero,” after he threw his job away with a tirade against passengers and a slide down an exit chute. Slater’s fifteen minutes of fame may be winding down, but his heady time in the spotlight—he was the subject of numerous tribute songs and his Facebook fan page drew more than two hundred thousand people—suggested just how frustrated employees are with stagnant pay, stressful working conditions, and obnoxious customers. Still, there was something a little surprising about the adulation. After all, the public comprises customers as well as workers, and everyone knows that the contemporary customer is mad as hell, too—fed up with inept service, indifferent employees, and customer-service departments that are harder to negotiate than Kafka’s Castle.
If for one reason or another, you’d slept through the past five years, only to find yourself suddenly awake in August 2010, you’d quickly realize the world of advertising and marketing has fundamentally changed in three major ways. First, subconscious or subliminal communication (and research) has become part of the vocabulary of most marketers. Second, power has shifted from brand owners to consumers - even the most powerful brands know that successful campaigns have to systematically engage consumers, who will in turn use their mighty word of mouth to spread the messages opposed to relying on big media budgets do the work. Third, 2010 is shaping up to be dominated by guilt. Guilt for spending money in the midst of a debilitating global recession, guilt for polluting the world, and finally, parental guilt, as kids increasingly engage in their own online world, far removed from traditional values that were previously the exclusive domain of the family. So what does this mean for a marketer in 2010?
The second tenet of the Marketers' Constitution states, "Marketing must build real, enduring, tangible brand value." A marketing environment in which brands are launched, built, tracked and precisely valued will allow businesses, across the marketing ecosystem, to make strategic decisions about how best to build and protect their brand.
Nike's Mark Parker brings together extreme talents, whether they're basketball stars, tattooists, or designers obsessed with shoes.
In early 2008, Microsoft Corp.'s product planners for the Internet Explorer 8.0 browser intended to give users a simple, effective way to avoid being tracked online. They wanted to design the software to automatically thwart common tracking tools, unless a user deliberately switched to settings affording less privacy. That triggered heated debate inside Microsoft.
Tony Hayward, the departing chief executive of BP PLC, is unrepentant about how the energy giant responded to the U.S.'s largest offshore oil spill. In his first interview after agreeing to step down from the top spot this week, Mr. Hayward said he did everything possible once the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded and sank in the Gulf of Mexico, by taking responsibility for the spill, and spending billions of dollars to stop the spewing oil and clean up the shoreline.
At the heart of the Ryanair business model is differentiation of the finest and most deliberate kind. I would - in all seriousness - rank Ryanair next to Hermès or Pret a Manger in terms of brand positioning and execution. Ryanair’s brand associations centre on three key themes: low-price, no nonsense and aggression. Don’t underestimate points two and three.
In psychology, the term "identified patient" refers to a family member — often a child or a teenager — who gets scapegoated for behavior that is actually just a predictable response to dealing with an unhealthy family. Tony Hayward is BP's identified patient.
BP’s board is expected on Monday to name an American, Robert Dudley, as its chief executive, replacing Tony Hayward, whose repeated stumbles during the company’s three-month oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico alienated federal and state officials as well as residents of the Gulf Coast. The planned appointment of an American to run the London-based company, which was confirmed by a person close to BP’s board, would underscore how vital the United States has become to BP.
Everyone knows they should eat fruits and vegetables. Few people hear it from fast-food companies and snack purveyors. That is changing as companies that make foods rich in fat and salt aggressively market healthier options.
A brand crisis can take many forms, which can linger differing lengths of time, depending on the survivability of the brand. Every corporate brand crisis is unique; each has a starting point when the CEO becomes responsible for the survival of the company. BP's bumbling management of its Gulf crisis, its seemingly endless decision-making process, not to mention post-crisis effects that will last decades, make this crisis unprecedented. Tyco, Texaco, Dynegy, IBM, Enron, Worldcom and Citigroup are a few of the crises we've studied. Some companies survived not only intact but emerged stronger than ever. Others were destroyed, or forced to merge. A handful limped on, weakened but not ruined.
Most companies are barely prepared to deal with unhappy customers who use social media to air their gripes. Now they must be ready to respond when organized entities, such as Greenpeace, wage massive campaigns against their brands using social media channels.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs addressed these issues Friday from the company's Cupertino, Calif., headquarters. His take? There's a small problem, but one that was blown out of proportion by the press. For once, it may be hard to argue with Apple's best salesperson. What are the ramifications for a brand that rarely deals with a crisis on this level? Experts agree that Apple will be just fine.
Mr. Steinbrenner became a marketing asset who not only enhanced the Yankees' brand, but helped rebuild the U.S. Olympic Committee's brand and transformed his own personal image through TV commercials, a hosting gig on "Saturday Night Live" and signing off on the self-deprecating pop-culture portrayal of him on "Seinfeld."
One only needs to note the proliferation of Victory Gardens during World War II or the past year's explosion of community plots to know that when economic times are tough, Americans head back to the garden. But today's gardeners are also sowing seeds for weight-loss and environmentalism, according to legendary American seed company Burpee, the country's oldest and largest seed purveyor. As Burpee CEO George Ball noted earlier this year, sales of Burpee seeds are up 15-20% in 2010, and consumers are not only turning the soil to save money: Ball says that people are looking to the garden for emotional and physical growth as well.
By now you've heard the offense against basketball star LeBron James' one-hour TV special to announce his team choice -- that it was narcissistic, sullied his brand and blurred the journalistic line for ESPN. But what you haven't heard is the defense of the man who helped put the show together: uber-agent Ari Emanuel, who says "The Decision" forwarded the paradigm for advertiser-funded programming.
Domino’s last week introduced an industry first: A transparent pizza. The chain, working with Crispin Porter + Bogusky, attempted to one-up competitors on the authenticity front by announcing that all the photographs of its pizza that will appear in ads will from now on be devoid of “fancy food artistry” or “fancy touch-ups.”
Corporate social responsibility, or CSR, means companies aligning their values with a greater good and taking action to have a positive effect. They often do so through "cause marketing," joining forces with nonprofit organizations and focusing ad campaigns on those philanthropic relationships. Why are more companies than ever flaunting their good works this way? Partly, experts say, because they realize that their employees want to be part of a business that does more than just make money.
Did ESPN just get "mediajacked"? Come Thursday, in prime time no less, ESPN gets the exclusive. But to do it, the Disney sports network appears to have sacrificed revenue -- and even some journalistic control by letting Mr. James choose one of his interviewers -- in exchange for the ratings and buzz the event is likely to provide. Commercial revenue from the special program -- which is being called "The Decision" -- will be donated to Boys & Girls Club of America, a charity that ESPN and Disney also support.
When I started out in advertising almost 20 years ago, the firm I worked at had a simple mantra. Promise a lot. Deliver more. And we did. It was our "ad" you might say and the founder of the firm believed that every day we had to live up to that ad. If we didn't, then over time we'd fail and eventually that failure would cause us to lose many a client. I've never forgotten that lesson but alas I'm reminded every day that companies around our fine country have.
Levi's annual Fourth of July campaign, Go Forth, this year focused on the theme of work and on the residents of the recession-battered community of Braddock, PA. Check out its latest campaign above and after the jump, including a spot for Levi's Workshops, inviting the public to "roll up your sleeves, get your hands dirty, and get down to work" at workshops located across the U.S.
Digital is fast becoming so pervasive for marketers that it may soon lose its meaning as a separate media designation, according to Procter & Gamble Co. Global Brand-Building Officer Marc Pritchard. It's one of the many ways the company is changing through a brand-building organization he brought together last year that encompasses all areas of marketing communications.
Wal-Mart's move to eliminate 20 million metric tons of greenhouse gases from its supply chain in the next five years is impressive. It's also an example of the world's largest retailer exerting a blunt form of regulatory vigilantism.
You've seen him in those commercials for BP. An unassuming man wearing an orange polo and wire-frame glasses approaches the camera as he walks along a generic dock and says, "I'm Darryl Willis. I oversee BP's claims process on the Gulf Coast. BP has got to make things right, and that's why we're here." Mr. Willis has been setting up and overseeing BP's claims offices in the affected Gulf Coast states -- a juxtaposition that some commentors on black-focused blogs said has undertones of racial perfidy. Nonetheless, Mr. Willis, a married father of two children, has become the most visible face of BP. Ad Age spoke to Mr. Willis via phone as he was en route from Florida to New Orleans.
The public image of Goldman Sachs, the investment bank, has suffered in the wake of the credit crunch with a famous article in Rolling Stone magazine describing the organisation as a “great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity”. BP is widely perceived to have compounded the damage done to its image by the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico through a poor public relations and crisis management strategy in its aftermath. What affects reputations in turn affects brands. It is too soon to say how badly the Goldman Sachs and BP brands will be affected but it seems certain that they will be. And what all of these examples highlight is how hard it is to manage reputations.
A campaign for a clothing brand is rolling up its sleeves, figuratively and literally, as the ads are set in an actual distressed town and the advertiser donates money to help revitalization efforts there. The campaign is for the flagship Levi’s brand sold by Levi Strauss & Company, and it is the start of the second year of an initiative that carries the theme “Go forth.”
There’s no shortage of big initiatives going on at Facebook these days. We sat down with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg this week to talk about the state and future of Facebook and its surrounding ecosystem. Zuckerberg shared his thoughts on recent changes to the Facebook Platform, competitive dynamics he desires amongst developers, the surprising growth of the social games business on Facebook overall, his vision for Facebook Credits, market perceptions of Facebook’s revenue streams and overall revenue numbers, what the company learned from its period of serious interest in Twitter, and Facebook’s company culture around money.
I think I've finally got the answer, and I can thank two smart CMOs for coming up with it independently of one another (you know who you are): Your brand is what's going on when you and your customers aren't looking. That means that branding is how, when and why you and your consumers choose to see and talk about it.
BP PLC, under intense legal and political pressure from President Barack Obama, agreed Wednesday to put $20 billion into a fund to compensate victims of the Gulf oil spill, and said it would cancel shareholder dividends for the first three quarters of this year to offset that cost. BP said it would pay another $100 million to a separate fund to help oil-industry workers sidelined by the Obama administration's moratorium on deepwater drilling.
Kicking off Nielsen’s Consumer 360 conference in Las Vegas, Irene Rosenfeld, Chairman and CEO of Kraft Foods addressed the ways reaching consumers have changed significantly over the last twenty years and how the Internet and social media are increasingly important components of overall marketing strategies. Previously, brands acted as teachers, according to Rosenfeld. Marketing was designed to build an image around a brand with the expectation that consumers would be attracted to it; they would aspire to the brand. Today, that “paradigm is upside down,” as brands want to learn from consumers and find ways to connect with them.
In one sense, the public has never been more informed. This is the first spill that has been covered in real time, with streaming high-definition video on desktops and televisions everywhere, network anchors racking up miles flying back and forth, and throbbing info-graphics that track the mess. We can all see the video for ourselves: an angry plume that looks like hell has been breached and is sending a dark, massive emissary to the surface. But to look for clarity amid the murk is a daily riddle. The size of the spill has been a moving target, with estimates recently doubled to 25,000 or 30,000 barrels a day, even after BP stanched some of the flow.
Undeterred by criticism of a new TV commercial featuring its leader, BP PLC is pressing ahead with a major ad campaign—in an effort to rescue its badly damaged image—as torrents of oil continue to spew into the Gulf of Mexico. "We are preparing a series of ads to air over the next days and weeks," said Andrew Gowers, a spokesman for the British oil company. President Barack Obama blasted the company on Friday for reportedly spending $50 million on television advertising as the company scrambles to fix its leaking well.
The Pew Research Center released an interesting study last week that offers some sobering — if unsurprising — insights for the news business. Researchers examined top news stories in the mainstream press as well as what news got traction on blogs, Twitter and YouTube. A main finding was that what’s hot on social media differs — a lot — from what leads in the mainstream press. But what’s even more interesting, I think, is that what’s popular on one form of social media differs significantly from what’s trendy on another. For example, Twitter’s domain is technology, not surprisingly. Blogs and the mainstream press focus more on politics and government. Also not a shocker. As my kids might say: “No duh.” But what isn’t so obvious is what this might mean. I’ve written before about how I believe the real reason many people don’t subscribe to news online — or in print — is about commitment, not money. This study crystallizes my thoughts. I suggest these findings illustrate the radically different way today’s consumers think of news, compared with the past. It’s not brand based. It’s not even platform based. It’s based on niche, which many have said before. But the niche isn’t just in the content or the subject matter; it’s in the mechanism of transmission.
Facebook Inc. Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg defended the company's privacy practices and expressed regret for some of his behavior during the company's early history, speaking at the Wall Street Journal's All Things Digital technology conference Wednesday.
Is quality important? Yes. Is Innovation important? Absolutely. Is service important? Of course. Is it desirable to be the industry leader? Sure. However, in more and more categories, as I perform brand audits, I find that large numbers of companies in many categories make these claims, so much so that the claims have become hollow.
Kentucky Fried Chicken, the serial phony immortalized in some of the most stunningly dishonest marketing efforts of the past 10 years. The chain's latest outrage is a promotion with the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, in which 50 cents is donated to the foundation for every special pink bucket of chicken purchased -- that is, for every 20 grams of sodium, every 2,500 calories, every 120 grams of fat in KFC's smallest pail. Whoa. How low can you go?
How does a company inspire its consumers and what does it mean for business growth? Inspiration Blvd, a brand-consulting firm in Alpharetta, Ga., surveyed 1,752 consumers to identify America's top motivating companies. Conducted online, the survey asked consumers to pinpoint influential indicators--such as innovation, reliability, growth, charity--and to freely describe companies they see as inspiring. The goal was to determine a correlation between successful companies and companies that inspire their consumers, says Terry Barber, chief inspiration officer of Inspiration Blvd. "We set out asking whether companies that inspired others were more likely to connect and draw shoppers," Barber says. "We see now there's a strong link between the message consumers take away and how they act on it."
Facebook's imbroglio over privacy reveals what may be a fatal business model. I know because my students at Parsons The New School For Design tell me so. They live on Facebook and they are furious at it. This was the technology platform they were born into, built their friendships around, and expected to be with them as they grew up, got jobs, and had families. They just assumed Facebook would evolve as their lives shifted from adolescent to adult and their needs changed. Facebook's failure to recognize this culture change deeply threatens its future profits. At the moment, it has an audience that is at war with its advertisers. Not good.
When top executives set out to build well-regarded companies, most start in their home countries. If they're successful, strong business practices and values they craft there will translate overseas. As companies become more connected and businesses more international, creating a first-class reputation across borders is critical. For some companies, this can be the difference between success and failure. So what is the secret to earning esteem that spans the world? And which companies are best at doing it?
Like motherhood and apple pie, corporate social responsibility has achieved iconic status as a feel-good pursuit. Corporations around the world have embraced its charitable philosophy and created divisions devoted to its pursuit. The problem, however, is that corporate social responsibility — by design and definition — can only go so far. Because no matter how widely a firm defines its reach, and how generous its leadership grows, the primary objective of any for-profit firm in a capitalist system will still be as Friedman described it: to maximize the returns of its shareholders. Or at least not to engage in any activity that undermines those returns.
Comparing Starbucks and McDonald's may not seem to make sense at first, but the two chains actually have a lot in common--namely, they both promise quickie and easy food and beverages on the go, and both companies have recently ramped up sustainability efforts. In the new book The HIP Investor, author R. Paul Herman attempts to compare the two mega-chains. Below, we do the same.
What's a brand? You realize that no two people, let alone two marketers, agree on the answer. It's a word, a metaphor, an analogy, a concept or some sort of thing with an existence and personality dependent on whomever is doing the defining, where they're doing it, and what they hope to accomplish.
Greenpeace's organized brandjacking of Nestle SA's Facebook page is making CMOs afraid of social media. There is good reason for this: The power has clearly turned to those that participate, and now detractors are starting to organize using the same organized marketing campaigns that companies create.
Striving to do more good is associated with greater profitability, equity and asset returns, and shareholder value creation. But that's still not good enough. Today, the bar is being raised: success is itself changing. Those are yesterday's metrics of success — more importantly, maximizing good lets companies outperform on tomorrow's measures of success.
For big companies, bounding back from corporate scandal, financial malfeasance or public disaster is difficult--but it isn't impossible. Looking at companies that have come back after business downturns, product problems or corporate scandal, several experts on corporate reputation and crisis management helped Forbes identify 10 companies that have made, or are making, turnarounds after corporate hard times.
BP's chief said the company could have done more to prepare for a deepwater oil leak, as the British oil giant met with affected residents Thursday and embarked on fresh efforts to stem the vast slick now threatening the Gulf of Mexico shoreline. BP PLC Chief Executive Tony Hayward has come under mounting pressure over the spill, caused after a drilling rig BP was leasing, the Deepwater Horizon, caught fire and sank last month. The accident killed 11 workers and raised fears of widespread ecological damage.
If Facebook were smart and open and meant what it said about the benefits of publicness and transparency that it now expects of the rest of us, then:
What can Procter & Gamble learn from Method, the San Francisco purveyor of natural home products? How about Fidelity Investments — could it profit from observing Zurich's Sustainable Asset Management? What lessons are offered to mainstream companies by mission-driven companies, those small- and medium-sized enterprises that balance profitability with social and environmental goals? By studying them, mainstream companies can get beyond the fruitless debate over whether it pays to be responsible, and move onto a far more important issue: How they can make being responsible pay.
BP isn't all bad any more than Petrobras is all good. But, unlike Petrobras (and its informal boss), BP seems to have forgotten the number-one rule in marketing and management: walk the talk. BP is a victim of a disingenuous ad campaign that worked too well, and you have to wonder if its reputation will ever fully recover. Writing in HBR in 2007, reputational risk consultant Robert Eccles and his co-authors presciently noted, "When the reputation of a company is more positive than its underlying reality, this gap poses a substantial risk...BP appears to be learning this the hard way." BP doesn't yet seem to have absorbed the lesson, but other companies can surely learn from its mistake.
Consumer groups have been fighting what they see as the prevalence of online tracking, where online advertising is selected for a certain user — perhaps because he once visited a company’s home page, perhaps because he showed an interest in automobiles or baby products, or perhaps because he is a middle-aged man. As opposition has intensified, companies like Google and Yahoo have adjusted their own privacy policies in response to consumer concern. Industry groups, while arguing that free Internet content depends on this type of sophisticated advertising, have issued their own self-regulatory principles.
U.S. antitrust enforcers are taking a keen interest in recent changes that Apple Inc. made to its licensing agreement with iPhone application developers and are likely to open a preliminary investigation into whether the company's actions stifle competition in mobile devices, according to people familiar with the situation. The Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department, which are jointly tasked with enforcing federal antitrust laws, are holding discussions over which agency would hold the inquiry, these people said. Apple, the FTC and Justice Department all declined to comment.
In the face of turbulence and change, culture and values become the major source of continuity and coherence, of renewal and sustainability. Leaders must be institution-builders who imbue the organization with meaning that inspires today and endures tomorrow. They must find an underlying purpose and a strong set of values that serve as a basis for longer-term decisions even in the midst of volatility. They must find the common purpose and universal values that unite highly diverse people while still permitting individual identities to be expressed and enhanced. Indeed, emphasizing purpose and values helps leaders support and facilitate self-organizing networks that can respond quickly to change because they share an understanding of the right thing to do.
Tony Hayward thought he had finally slain all of BP PLC's demons. Now a new one has reared up, and it's the size of Puerto Rico. BP's chief executive is coming under mounting pressure over the vast spill spreading in the Gulf of Mexico, which was caused when a giant drilling rig there caught fire and sank, with the loss of 11 crew members. The oil, still spewing from the well on the ocean floor, threatens to blacken the Louisana shoreline, and BP's reputation.
Journalists are already getting warmed up for the next big Apple event, the Worldwide Developers Conference in June, where they will most likely get a look at the next generation of the iPhone. But there might be fewer people lined up, and not just because we got a peek inside the new model when photos of a prototype were leaked on a blog two weeks ago. We also got an unflattering peek inside the company itself.
It is a sign of the times that corporate reputation, not brand-building, dominates today's headlines and boardroom discussions. In an environment where company behavior has had a direct impact on individuals' livelihoods, this isn't surprising. Of course it's a little surprising that the attention wasn't there before, with intangible assets accounting for more than 50% of market cap (even after the recent dips in the stock market). And like the stock market, reputation is more volatile than ever--just ask General Motors, Goldman Sachs ( GS - news - people ) and Tiger Woods about that. Perhaps the challenge hasn't been in understanding the value, but rather what companies can do about it.
In the days ahead, a clue to the long-range growth strategy of Starbucks Corp. will become apparent, though not at its vast chain of coffee shops. Instead look down the coffee aisle of your local grocer. Starbucks is rolling out Via instant coffee—so far sold only in its own shops and a couple of retail chains—to tens of thousands of supermarkets, mass merchandisers and other outlets in coming weeks. The product's migration from coffee counter to grocery aisle reflects one of the food industry's hottest trends: putting more restaurant brands like California Pizza Kitchen and P.F. Chang's China Bistro into grocery aisles.
Facebook has the chance to turn a problem — negative publicity about its latest privacy shifts and confusion about how to control them — into a business opportunity: It could become the protector of your identity instead of a threat to it. That’s a service we need.
Federal prosecutors have opened an investigation into trading at Goldman Sachs, raising the possibility of criminal charges against the Wall Street giant, according to people familiar with the matter. While the investigation is still in a preliminary stage, the move could escalate the legal troubles swirling around Goldman.
Reputation is a "soft" concept that most managers and employees don't feel is their job to manage. Instead they view it as the role of senior executives, or of functions like corporate communications, marketing, advertising, or public relations. While this is certainly true to some extent, it may also be a cop out. For example, two firms that are consistently at or near the top of the "most reputable" companies list (based on extensive consumer surveys by the non-profit Reputation Institute) are Johnson & Johnson and The Walt Disney Company. Despite having many types of businesses, J&J emphasizes through its "credo" that every employee has a responsibility to put the well-being of the people they serve first. Similarly, Disney makes every employee feel responsible for the entertainment products and services they provide. So maybe their positions on the top of the reputation list are no accidents.
Is there anything creepier than a big, beer-breathed celebrity athlete exposing himself in a night club and hitting on underage girls, all the while protected by an entourage of off-duty cops? Well, yes. It’s the big, corporate sponsor — Nike, in this case — that continues trying to sell product with the creep as their role model.
Saw The Joneses over the weekend. This movie has kicked up a bunch of articles about stealth marketing and who's using it. As their tagline says, They're not just living the American dream, they're selling it. Now, this isn't really a new approach, brands have been using stealth marketing for quite sometime. BzzAgent created some controversy when it first started a few years back because their agents were not disclosing the fact that they were promoting a product.
The legal and political consequences of the complaint brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission against Goldman Sachs have drawn most of the public's attention, but it is the cultural fallout that will be the more meaningful legacy of the case. The fuzzy link between a real asset like a home mortgage and a synthetic collateralized debt obligation is hard to grasp for people focused on Roth IRAs and pretax health care expense accounts. By ignoring the need most of us have to see how investments are linked to tangible assets, Wall Street generally, and Goldman Sachs specifically, have given us ample reason to believe the truth of the charges.
The baleful consequences of the Great Recession cannot be resolved by maintaining the same approaches as when we created it. The "new normal" in business means many brand owners need to leverage something much larger than a re-take on marketing. They need to accelerate their collaboration with consumers, so that principles such as "for people, for planet, for profit," combined with tools of the web and next-generation media, can transform brands' role in the economy, society and business.
So strong was the antibusiness sentiment for the first Earth Day in 1970 that organizers took no money from corporations and held teach-ins “to challenge corporate and government leaders.” Forty years later, the day has turned into a premier marketing platform for selling a variety of goods and services, like office products, Greek yogurt and eco-dentistry.
After a week in which an estimated 102,000 flights were canceled in and out of Europe due to the Icelandic volcano eruption -- costing airlines, travel agencies and the like tens to potentially hundreds of millions of dollars -- nearly every airline was back on schedule today as airports lifted travel restrictions. Even so, an estimated 250 people were still stuck at JFK and living in a veritable "Cot City" on the fourth floor of Terminal Four, waiting to be re-booked or fly stand-by, meaning it was another day for marketers to try to engender some goodwill for their respective brands by offering aid to frustrated flyers.
I'm convinced the time is now for a fresh, new -- perhaps even difficult -- conversation on trust. And like any good conversation, we need to start with many more questions than answers. Marketers in particular need to ask really hard questions. Trust is the currency of effective advertising, and yet it's so curiously evasive and increasingly murky.
The following 10 companies stand out as prime examples of how social responsibility can be productively coupled with sound strategies to advance goodwill, while building sustainable and impressive businesses. They provide the leadership to demonstrate how marketers can pursue both objectives simultaneously. As such, socially conscious companies have stepped up their efforts with increasing effectiveness and productivity. It is an impressive movement and one that invites society at large to do even more. Let's use these as examples for "how to get it done" so that we can effectively expand our efforts to give back.
"Brands are dying," we're told. As a result, we hear that branding is no longer relevant. So now, what do we do?
It's the trillion dollar question. Justin Fox, in a recent post here, put it this way: "I don't think anyone has come up with an argument for or description of better business behavior that has anything like the elegance and power of the economists' 'incentives matter.' As long as it remains possible to get rich via less-than-upstanding behavior, and enjoy those riches, a lot of people in business will choose that path." I call it the egocentric question: "Why is doing good in our self-interest?"
As Tiger Woods prepares to tee off at The Masters on Thursday, the humbled athlete is not the only one counting the cost of his fall from grace. The 34-year-old golfer’s reputation as a clean-living and dedicated sportsman and husband was undone when his infidelities were spilled across television, newspapers and internet sites in the wake of a mysterious car accident at his home in late November. Mr Woods’ success on the course had enabled him to line up lucrative sponsorship deals off of it, with brands including Accenture, Nike, Gillette, Electronic Arts and Gatorade signing him up to lucrative sponsorship deals. Some estimates suggest that the arrangements made him the world’s first sports star to make $1bn in career earnings.
Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a fan of Google. This isn’t a post to describe my personal affection for a corporate entity, but it is an attempt to describe one element that I find particularly appealing. Don’t Be Evil. This phrase is Google’s infamous, informal corporate motto. I love it. Not only does it help reinforce my romantic, naive teenage dreams that I could become the next Richard Branson or Bill Gates just by doing good in the world, but it also helps prove that in the new business world, evil is bad for business.
Marshall McLuhan once famously said, "The medium is the message." Here's what he meant: "The 'message' of any medium or technology is the change of scale or pace or pattern that it introduces into human affairs." Today, the meaning is the message. The "message" of the Internet's social revolution is more meaningful work, economics, politics, society, and organization. It promises radically more meaning: to make stuff matter, once again, in human terms, not just financial ones. And that's never mattered more.
Will Walmart, not Whole Foods, save small farms and make U.S. healthy?
In the recent film Up in the Air, George Clooney plays a human resources consultant who prides himself on his ability to humanely deliver the difficult news that an employee has been let go. He sees his job simply: do his very best to turn a negative situation into something, anything more positive. The film reinforces a lesson that many of us have learned in 2009 about the connection between human resources and brand management. The manner in which companies part ways with their employees has a potent and lasting effect on the former employee, employees who remain, and the brand.
It has never been more important to turn your brand into a service. Jaded, time-poor, pragmatic consumers yearn for service and care, while the mobile online revolution (it's finally, truly here!) makes it possible to offer uber-relevant services to consumers anywhere, anytime. Basically, if you're going to embrace one big consumer trend this year, please let it be BRAND BUTLERS!
Should we be surprised that the biggest fight over freedom of expression in years involves Google, a company that produces algorithms rather than articles? Probably not. Google executives struck a blow for free speech in China last week when they announced they were moving their service to Hong Kong after a series of mounting conflicts with the government over the privacy of its users and the free flow of information. That would seem to put Google in league with newspapers, television news divisions and other outlets that look to protect information from government control. But no, Google insists, it is definitely not a media company.
It didn't take long for Julie Liu -- late 20s, smartphone-addicted, constant Googler -- to get hooked on the online review site Yelp. Where to eat Friday night? Read some reviews by random anonymous diners. Oh, that looks good. Book a table online, show up, eat. But after Liu and her sister opened Scion restaurant in Dupont Circle, they saw Yelp from a different angle. Liu said Yelp's salespeople phoned repeatedly, telling her that if she advertised on the site, negative reviews would move lower on Scion's page and positive reviews would move up.
A company shows anxiety on its face — that is, on its Web site, which has become the face of the modern corporation. Visit sites for recently troubled or confused enterprises, including Maclaren, Toyota, Playtex, Tylenol and, yes, John Edwards, and you’ll find a range of digital ways of dealing with distress.
Starbucks has lately found itself in the middle of a debate between advocates of “open carry” gun rights and of gun control; the former have held armed meet-ups at several of its locations, and the latter have demanded that the coffee chain prevent this from happening. Seeking to duck these fresh salvos in the long debate over how firearms fit into American life, the company has issued a statement that such matters ought to be worked out “in the legislatures and courts, not in our stores.” Well, sure. But drawing a line between official institutions of lawmaking and the daily sphere where citizens move about is not so easy. And one thing the pistols-and-Frappuccino moment has demonstrated is that this is acutely true for a business with an image carefully devised to blur the line between public space and commercial space.
The announcement that Tiger Woods would finally begin his 2010 PGA season with an appearance at the Masters Tournament didn't surprise me. My belief has always been that he would step forward to rebuild his brand. The love of the game, if not the love of the fame, is just too important to him. This announcement, along with the continuous bad news about Toyota and other long-standing brands under duress did, however, get me thinking about how much harder it is to transition and reposition a brand in the digital world than it was in pre-Internet days. With information about everything from culture to commerce immediately accessible and sharable on social media, no topic is immune to scrutiny or commentary. This has marketing folks asking some very good questions about strategies for working through both planned and unavoidable changes in brand status.
Coca-Cola once famously defined its market as “throat share”, meaning its stake in the entire liquid intake of all humanity. Not to be outdone, Indra Nooyi, the boss of Coke’s arch-rival, PepsiCo, wants her firm to be “seen as one of the defining companies of the first half of the 21st century”, a “model of how to conduct business in the modern world.” More specifically, she argues that Pepsi, which makes crisps (potato chips) and other fatty, salty snacks as well as sugary drinks, should be part of the solution, not the cause, of “one of the world’s biggest public-health challenges, a challenge fundamentally linked to our industry: obesity.” To that end, on March 22nd she unveiled a series of targets to improve the healthiness of Pepsi’s wares.
This is a nation that builds dams, high-speed rail lines and skyscrapers with abandon. In newly muscular China, sheer force is not just an art, but a bedrock principle of its seemingly unstoppable rise to global prominence. Now China has tightened its grip on the much more variegated world of online information, effectively forcing Google Inc., the world’s premier information provider, to choose between submitting to Chinese censorship and leaving the world’s largest community of Internet users to its rivals. It chose to leave.
Since March 2007, when Viacom first accused Google in a $1 billion lawsuit of profiting off thousands of unauthorized copyrighted clips that once appeared on YouTube, most of the conflict had smoldered out of public view. Once the case documents were unsealed on Thursday, all the spite roared into the open. Google attacked Viacom for chopping up e-mails from YouTube's founders in an obvious attempt to invent sinister-sounding messages. In Viacom's motion for summary judgment, the parent company of Comedy Central and Paramount Pictures railed against Google and YouTube for developing "serial amnesia" during depositions and also for failing "to preserve and produce" key documents--a no-no in civil proceedings. So, is this just legal gamesmanship, or have both sides gone too far?
On March 13, a Virgin America flight from Los Angeles to New York was diverted from John F. Kennedy International Airport to Stewart airport in Newburgh, N.Y., due to severe weather, and the passengers and crew waited in the plane on the tarmac for over four hours. The crew was anxious, babies were crying, mothers were anxious, and the passengers were unruly — to the point that one woman was taken off the plane by police. The entire ordeal was documented by David Martin, the CEO of Kontain.com, on his company's iPhone social-media application.
The day when commercials are indistinguishable from the programs they support finally arrived -- just before 10 p.m. Eastern last Thursday night. That's when an ad for Dr Pepper ran after NBC's insider-y sitcom "30 Rock," making use of recurring character Dr. Spaceman, played by comic Chris Parnell. In the spot, which was paired with a more-traditional TV commercial for the soda, Mr. Parnell's fictional medical practitioner decried boredom and told viewers how drinking Dr Pepper could banish it. A few moments later, viewers saw the credits roll for "30 Rock." Staffers from "30 Rock" were not involved in the creation of the commercial, according to a person familiar with the situation.
A top Chinese minister warned Google Inc. "will have to bear the consequences" if it stops filtering its search results in China, suggesting there is little room for compromise in the high-profile showdown over censorship. Friday's remarks were the sharpest words yet in an unusual duel that could set a precedent for international business in the country and could escalate tensions between the U.S. and Chinese governments.
Allergan and Medicis Pharmaceutical are the Coke and Pepsi of vanity medicine. Allergan makes Botox Cosmetic, the well-known injectable anti-wrinkle treatment. Medicis markets Dysport, a competing anti-wrinkle shot, in the United States. The Food and Drug Administration has approved both drugs to smooth skin furrows between the eyebrows. And now Medicis has introduced a new marketing campaign that pits Dysport directly against Botox, essentially issuing a Pepsi challenge for the wrinkle wars. The campaign is even called the Dysport challenge.
Toyota has announced three major recalls covering a total of eight million vehicles globally since October 2009. The recalls are for defects that have been associated with 52 fatalities and 38 injuries so far. Not surprisingly, the business media and notable Toyota experts are starkly pessimistic. We looked at 108 Wall Street Journal articles discussing Toyota during February, 2010, and found that 106 were negative to Toyota. In a recent column by Dennis Seid, Jeffrey Liker, an economist and author of The Toyota Way observed that the hearings and the resultant lawsuits could severely damage the company in many ways.
If any company seems well-positioned to both influence and profit from a generation of environmentally aware youth, it's Walt Disney Co. And Robert Iger, president and chief executive of Disney, insists the company is doing just that. Mr. Iger sat down with The Wall Street Journal's Alan Murray to talk about the new green strategies the company applies to everything from its theme parks to its movie studios, as well as changes Disney has seen in consumer attitudes. They began the conversation by talking about the company's conservation campaign—Friends for Change—which so far has reached more than a million children, he says.
With embarrassing vehicle recalls and testy congressional hearings behind it, Toyota Motor Corp. is planning an assault next week on its critics as the company digs in for a mammoth legal battle. In a media event planned for Monday and a Tuesday address to 1,000 suppliers, the Japanese auto maker plans to defend its electronics systems. It will roll out independent experts like the head of Stanford University's auto-research center to discredit a study that suggests electronics are to blame for sudden acceleration in some Toyota vehicles.
Renzo Rosso, the tattooed, Ducati-driving founder of denim giant Diesel, owns some of fashion's most cutting-edge labels. In addition to the popular jeans-maker, Mr. Rosso's holding company, Only the Brave, includes celebrated European fashion houses Viktor & Rolf and Maison Martin Margiela. But Mr. Margiela is gone, as is the designer of Diesel, which Mr. Rosso founded in 1978. Mr. Rosso has replaced them with unknown teams that rank lower in the brands' hierarchy than business executives. The new creative director at Diesel is a magazine editor, not a clothing designer. Mr. Rosso believes his brands need trend-spotters more than someone who can craft a hemline.
At a time when other financial services firms are rolling out flashy multi-million dollar advertising campaigns aimed at rebuilding consumer trust, Citigroup is unveiling something that seems far more simple: a blog and videos featuring top executives. The company this week launched a new branding campaign including a fresh Web site, new.citi.com, and print ads directing people to it. The Internet roll-out features personal blog posts from Chief Executive Officer Vikram Pandit, as well as testimonial videos from CitiMortgage President Sanjiv Das and CitiRisk's Chief Risk Officer Brian Leach. By featuring the executives, the company aims to position Citigroup ( C - news - people ) as a more transparent, accessible and conversational corporation.
There's a struggle with defining "branding" in digital. Some people claim that brands should be about utility, others that we need to build brand platforms and yet others think that brands should entertain us and give us something to talk about. Yet overall, surprisingly little has changed in the actual branding strategies in the industry. Something is wrong here.
"Good taste" is rarely used to describe great advertising, but Domino's is going to town with it. It just announced that it has doubled its quarterly profits after telling its customers that it had fixed the taste of its pizzas. It didn't "improve" things or follow any other standard operating procedures of the marketing world; in fact, it violated some of the basic tenets of advertising, such as telling the truth. Critics lumped it into the category of "mea culpa ads" (such as the billboards London's Evening Standard newspaper ran last year apologizing for the crappy quality of its content). Domino's went one better, though, by running documentary-style spots of consumers likening the crust to "cardboard" and topping to "ketchup." It was called extreme and even bizarre. Comedian Steve Colbert got in on the commentary.
Facebook, the world’s biggest social network, is selling more ad spots to big companies like Wal-Mart Stores, Procter & Gamble and PepsiCo. But the site’s pages are also home to countless ads from smaller companies that can be funny, weird or just plain creepy — those suggesting you are, say, eligible to get a free iPad because you are exactly 26 years old, or entreaties to see what your offspring would look like if you had a child with a celebrity.
"Caution. Not all hazards are marked." I couldn't help but notice this sign on the side of a ski trail during a recent vacation in the mountains. As I slowed my descent I thought about how this sign could apply to any number of things in this crazy world. Being in the brand business, I also thought about how apt they were relative to navigating the current marketplace. It's one thing to watch as consumer attitudes shift and you alter your product or service to meet the new conditions. It's another to sense that something's on the horizon and be the first in the category to address it. The ability to do so has always separated the good brands from the best brands.
Judging from its branding and the griping of its competitors, Apple customers are hip, aware, and enlightened, yet its shareholders recently defeated resolutions to make the company more environmentally responsible and affirmed instead their uncool unconcern about anything other than profits. There isn't just a disconnect here, but an entirely topsy-turvy arrangement.
Is it possible to have a coffee, buy a car or go shopping without saving the world? Not these days. And now you can also host a pancake breakfast, send Girl Scout cookies to the troops and shelter stray pets, thanks to a friendly corporate sponsor. In addition to the now-requisite cause marketing, brands such as Quaker, Pepsi, Prilosec and Bisquick are turning to so-called microsponsorships of a few hundred or few thousand dollars that go straight to the consumer to fund their own pet project. The most visible of these is Pepsi Refresh, in which consumers can apply for grants ranging from $5,000 to $250,000.
I am in Tampa waiting to fly back home to New Jersey and, thanks to the snowicane but rather than sitting in the usual information vacuum to which airlines subject us, I am watching as Continental shows us the status of the flights that were supposed to bring our jet in from LA to Cleveland to Newark to Tampa. I saw the flight to Cleveland canceled, then the one to Newark canceled, and I figured we were doomed when I saw the aircraft number for my flight erased. But then I saw us assigned a new jet, one that flew into Tampa from Houston last night. That’s simply amazing. Continental is practicing operational transparency. It opened up information is already has to us, the customers, so we can be informed and empowered.
Ever wonder what is really behind this thing we call "identity? " It's one of those words that attracts a variety of meanings, ranging from a company's name and logo, to its business definition (Fuji: We're a digital imaging company), to its image in the marketplace, to its values.
Brand loyalty is crucial for brand health. Ad agency founder Jim Mullen once said: "Of all the things that your company owns, brands are far and away the most important and the toughest. Founders die. Factories burn down. Machinery wears out. Inventories get depleted. Technology becomes obsolete. Brand loyalty is the only sound foundation on which business leaders can build enduring, profitable growth."
The wave rolls in every day at noon Manhattan time. It gathers invisibly, out in the digital netherscape. A few minutes before the hour, the online retailer Gilt Groupe blasts out an e-mail, and a hush falls over many a workplace, as phone calls are cut short and spreadsheets minimized. Gilt Groupe is in the business of selling high fashion at deep discounts, and as you might deduce from the company’s name, with its Frenchified “e,” it presents itself as an exclusive club. In reality, that’s just artifice—Gilt is a viral-marketing phenomenon. During the hour after its weekday sales kick off, between noon and 1 p.m., the company claims, its site is visited by an average of roughly 100,000 shoppers. For that time, it might as well be the most crowded store in New York.
Richard Saul Wurman is an architect and graphic designer known for sparking debate. In 1984 he founded nonprofit TED and began holding annual events to stir up conversations about technology, entertainment and design. More recently, Wurman is appearing in Web videos to create chatter about a new topic: emissions, cars and the hope for a cleaner environment. Nissan Motor tapped Wurman and other thought leaders in December as part of a year-long marketing effort geared to make more people aware about the impact of emissions on the environment. Wurman and other luminaries, including Swedish designer Marcus Eriksson, appear on in videos a Web site called Journey to Zero that many might miss as being a message from Nissan.
I believe strongly that, rather than business injecting business values onto our communities to business ends, we really need to turn the tides and teach business how to espouse human values again…or as Gary Hamel writes in his excellent column, put soul back into business. It is human beings, after all, that are necessary to the success of any business (whether employees or customers).
After reading that headline, I can see some (maybe lots) of you scratching your heads saying: "Wait a minute -- trust is a not a technology!" A decade ago that would have been true -- it is not now. Our digital lives were once confined to e-mail, some web surfing and an occasional online purchase (for the braver among us). A mere decade on and our lives are increasingly being lived online. Yet, while our dependence on the internet has grown exponentially, the technologies we use to navigate the sometimes dangerous, somewhat untrusted waters of the internet remain the same -- largely confined to incremental improvements in narrowly defined segments of security or access. The unfortunate result is that the trust gap is more "gaping" than ever.
Some prestigious brand-name pharmaceutical companies that once looked askance at the high-volume, low-cost business of generic drugs are now becoming major purveyors of generic medicines. Just don’t call them no-name drugs.
One of the greatest challenges I encounter today is not the willingness of a brand to engage, but its ability to create. When blueprinting a social media strategy, enthusiasm and support typically derails when examining the resources and commitment required to produce regular content. Indeed, we are programing the social web around our brand hub, which requires a consistent flow of engaging and relevant social objects. Social objects are the catalysts for conversations — online and in real life — and they affect behavior within their respective societies.
The world's biggest retailer, Wal-Mart Stores, and Procter & Gamble, the world's biggest consumer-products maker, are jointly creating a made-for-TV movie, in an effort to promote "family-friendly" alternatives to what they say is increasingly risqué TV fare. The two advertising heavyweights have teamed up on the two-hour "Secrets of the Mountain," to be broadcast in April on NBC. The movie, which focuses on a single mother who brings her family to a mountainside cabin, highlights values—such as generosity, honesty and togetherness—that Wal-Mart and P&G executives say are in short supply on television.
Toyota’s recalls and disclosures in recent months are part of a lengthy pattern in which the automaker has often reacted slowly to safety concerns, in some instances making design changes without telling customers about problems with vehicles already on the road, an examination of its record shows.
Today, as the globe struggles with an historic economic decline, it's time for a new revolution. I'd like to advance a hypothesis: Today's great competitive challenge isn't going from Good to Great. For people, companies, and countries, it's going from great to good.
A new report from the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council report indicates that marketers are under-valuing perks, discounts, deals and additional service opportunities, as customers give them high marks. Both customers and marketers agree that deeper engagement and personalized contact drives loyalty.
When the going gets tough, costly good intentions can go out the window. Company spending has been squeezed by the global recession and budgets for corporate social responsibility have suffered disproportionately. A survey of U.K. businesses by KPMG and Business In The Community found a third of companies cut their corporate social responsibility budgets in 2009. Corporate philanthropy has also been hit, with a study by the Giving USA Foundation revealing that charitable donations by U.S. companies fell by 8% in inflation-adjusted terms in 2008.
While the reviewers pick apart Apple's iPad, one unassailable argument remains: We are not just living in digital times, but on digital time. From getting news to reading the latest best-selling novel, to watching reruns of Gilligan's Island, most of the content, products, information and entertainment we enjoy is available with a click. Consumers are conditioned to get what they want when they want it. I'm not sure this "double-click mentality" is necessarily a healthy thing, but it's real, and the reality has huge implications for marketing and media executives. People want things that are immediate and convenient. Woe to marketers--even bricks-and-mortar retailers--that don't get this. Double-click gratification is a table stake.
The frequent question asked of the design community is of its value to business. The query itself makes little sense. Quite simply, the role of designers has always been to translate and communicate the value of a business idea to consumers. The best designers can do far more—they can help companies connect and establish a dialogue with consumers, thus enabling firms to innovate more efficiently. The challenge for most corporations today is about how to innovate while mitigating risk. For consumers, choices are made by balancing the need for evolution with the force of habit. Designers are trained to understand how people think and how to make things. For this reason, there are four basic areas in which design has an important role to play in value creation.
When the Vancouver Olympic Games kick off on Feb. 12, visitors will find café furniture made from pine-beetle-salvaged wood, drink out of bottles made from 30% plant-based materials, and their beverages will be delivered via hybrid vehicles and electric cart. All are elements of Coca-Cola's first zero-waste, carbon-neutral sponsorship. The effort has been years in the making, beginning with a relatively simple recycling effort for the Athens Olympic Games in 2000. Since then the company has layered in additional elements, like environmentally friendly coolers and shirts made out of plastic bottles.
Not so long ago, financiers ruled the roost at the glitzy annual gathering of the global economic elite here in the Swiss Alps. At this year's gathering of the World Economic Forum, the unofficial theme seems to be, "First, kill all the bankers." The ire directed at bankers from all sides is palpable, acknowledged Donald Moore, chairman of Morgan Stanley in Europe, as he stood alone reading some charts amidst the hubbub at the forum's Global Village cafe. Asked which other groups of people have been similarly unpopular in Davos in the past, he said: "terrorists."
Long the quality and efficiency standard-setter, Toyota now has an ostrich-sized egg on its face — a problem with sticking accelerator pedals that led to global product recalls and a suspension of production and sales. There are important lessons to be learned from Toyota's stumble: Competitive success is fluid. It depends on continuously discovering better ways to do work. The capabilities to do this are powerful but fragile and need constant reinforcement. Relentless attention to their development can lead to great success; conversely, a loss in attention can have grave consequences.
Modern capitalism can be broken down into two major eras. The first, managerial capitalism, began in 1932 and was defined by the then radical notion that firms ought to have professional management. The second, shareholder value capitalism, began in 1976. Its governing premise is that the purpose of every corporation should be to maximize shareholders’ wealth. If firms pursue this goal, the thinking goes, both shareholders and society will benefit. This is a tragically flawed premise, and it is time we abandoned it and made the shift to a third era: customer-driven capitalism.
As Toyota’s problems mounted in North America with the announcement of a halt to sales and manufacturing of the bulk of its cars, commentators in Japan fretted Wednesday that the automaker’s problems could seriously hurt the reputation of the rest of Japan’s manufacturing sector. “Toyota’s reputation for safety is in tatters, and it is inevitable that its image among consumers will suffer,” the Sankei Shimbun daily said.
When it comes to innovation, many executives in the consumer goods industry are chasing Apple. Who can blame them? While most retailers spent the holiday season slashing prices, Apple reported record earnings by enchanting audiences with iPhones. Now, as retailers try to re-engage consumers this year, executives are trying to replicate the "Apple thrill." But focusing exclusively on product innovation is a mistake for most companies, say executives who gathered recently at Berglass + Associates, my company, to discuss innovation.
Steve Jobs is walking the same path as Walt Disney. As soon as California’s Disneyland was completed, Walt knew he had made a terrible mistake by not securing the surrounding real estate. He had built this wonderful destination but his oversight allowed hotel chains and restaurants to come in and make more money off his customers than he did. So Walt immediately went to Orlando, FL and built Disneyworld the right way. The moral of the story is that Steve Jobs is not someone you want to depend on for your livelihood. His goal is to build a closed digital neighborhood where Apple (AAPL) controls who makes money and who doesn’t. I'll bet that in one of those Apple board meetings that Google (GOOG) CEO Eric Schmidt used to attend, he realized that Jobs was on the verge of building AppleWorld and he's been scared ever since.
There's a war going on in the business of sports. On one side are the sponsors that pay millions of dollars for their brands to bask in the publicity surrounding certain teams and events. On the other: a growing number of companies that crowd into the spotlight without paying—sometimes by bending, or breaking, the rules.
When Time Warner Cable was tussling over fees with the News Corporation, it did something that would have been unthinkable in the backrooms where deals were once struck: it hired a political consultant to mount a public campaign against its own client.
According to the 2009 Cone Consumer New Media Study, an online survey by Opinion Research Corporation among a representative U.S. sample of 1,048 adults, comprising "new media users," 44% of American new media users are searching for, sharing or discussing information about corporate responsibility (CR) efforts and programs and are highly confident they can have an effect on business.
Here's what the economic historians of the 23rd Century are going to say about the 20th. "They built giant, globe-spanning organizations, that employed tens of thousands of people working around the clock, to produce... sugar water, fast food, disposable razors, and gas guzzlers. Perhaps the defining characteristic of the paradigm of 20th Century capitalism was its astonishing lack of ambition. Rarely in history has such a void, a poverty of imagination been so deeply woven into the fabric of humankind's economic systems."
In May 2009, Absolut Vodka launched a limited edition line called "Absolut No Label." The company's global public relations manager, Kristina Hagbard, explained that "For the first time we dare to face the world completely naked. We launch a bottle with no label and no logo, to manifest the idea that no matter what's on the outside, it's the inside that really matters."
Yahoo’s Chinese partner issued a scathing criticism of the US technology company at the weekend, calling it “reckless” for publicly supporting Google’s threat to quit the country in protest over a wave of Chinese cyberattacks. Alibaba Group, in which Yahoo holds a 40 per cent stake, said it had “communicated to Yahoo that Yahoo’s statement that it is ‘aligned’ with the position Google took last week was reckless given the lack of facts in evidence. Alibaba doesn’t share this view”.
At its height, NBC was the very model of what a television network should be. With iconic programming, enviable ratings and spectacular business success, the peacock network delivered plenty of laughs along the way with “The Cosby Show,” “Seinfeld” and “Friends.” Nobody is laughing anymore. Today the network is in shambles, brought down not just by the challenges facing broadcast television — fragmenting audiences, an advertising downturn — but also by a series of executive missteps that have made its prime-time lineup a perennial loser and, most recently, turned its late night programming schedule into a media circus that threatens the lucrative “Tonight Show” franchise.
For most marketers, the growth of multicultural segments became a business imperative after the 2000 Census and the generational focus shifted from boomer to Gen Y. If you're managing a large brand today, you are likely addressing these opportunities through some combination of targeted Hispanic, African American or Asian, and youth-marketing initiatives. But today that segmentation is not enough; a bigger change is emerging that is more meaningful than just demography.
In the post below, on Google standing up to China over its spying on dissidents and censorship, I note how Zeit Online calls Google a quasi-state — in a post under the headline “The Google Republic” — and Fallows says Google “broke diplomatic relations with China” as if Google were a nation. What this says, of course, is that the internet is the New World and Google is its biggest colonizer: the sun never sets on Google.
U.S. government officials and business leaders were supportive but wary of taking sides in Google Inc.'s battle with China, a sign of the delicate tensions between the growing superpower and the West. The White House said it would wait to comment until China responded to Google's threat to bolt from China, over censorship and alleged cyber spying. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke called Google's charge that it and dozens of companies were hacked "troubling" and encouraged China "to work with Google and other U.S. companies to ensure a climate for secure commercial operations in the Chinese market."
On Dec. 13, Accenture decided to end its six-year sponsorship of Tiger Woods. The next day, Roxanne Taylor, the global consulting firm's chief marketing officer, presented the concept for a new ad campaign to Chief Executive Bill Green. Amid salacious headlines about the golf superstar's alleged extramarital affairs, the new campaign, based on an idea Accenture's ad agency already had on hand, was put on a fast track. It would replace images of Mr. Woods with a lineup of animals pictured in ways designed to jibe with Accenture's longstanding slogan: "High Performance. Delivered."
Most of the marketing rules we lived by just five years ago are practically obsolete. The industry has faced more changes in the last five years than in the previous 50. Let's face it, there's no point in improving broken legacy models. Since necessity is the mother of invention, let's not waste this recession and instead use it to rethink how we go about branding in this new decade.
In a post-recessionary world, trust has moved from the individual to the corporate realm. It is one of the most important issues that business organizations face when it comes to the future of their brands. A 2008 study by the Chief Marketing Officer Council found that some 99% of customers surveyed said they would either scale back or terminate relationships with companies that fail at building customer trust. In the past, trust may not have seemed like a natural part of management's role, but these days it is a critical part of every business, one proven to have an effect on the bottom line. Customers need to see that a solid foundation has been built within a business and that their needs will be addressed--especially in times of crisis.
Google’s stunning declaration that it would stop cooperating with Chinese Internet censorship and consider shutting down its operations in the country ricocheted around the world Wednesday. But in China itself, the news was heavily censored. Some big Chinese news portals initially carried a short dispatch on Google’s announcement but that account soon tumbled from the headlines and later reports omitted Google’s references to “free speech” and “surveillance.”
In the midst of every marketing meeting, there comes that point where the entire room leans forward in their seats. The tension heightens. There's an almost palpable sense of voyeurism; everyone strains toward the reveal of that titillating morsel that represents insider access. And the question is asked: "So, what's the consumer insight?" The strategist slowly rises and says, "We always knew that the consumers say this, but did you know that they really do this?" Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it's shock and awe time. As a planner at heart, that's my bread and butter. What this very authentic example of consumer-insight fetishism raises is the question of what to do when your brand represents one thing but consumers are searching for another. Said differently, what can be done when your brand marketing becomes more about reflecting the reality of your consumers and less about your brand's aspirational identity? To keep your unique brand-driven narrative alive and prevent it from turning into a slow-moving episode of "60 Minutes," there are a few things that I believe every marketer should strive to do.
UBS AG Tuesday issued an employee code explicitly banning staff from helping clients cheat on their taxes, as part of the Swiss bank's effort to restore its reputation after a messy U.S. probe into hidden offshore accounts. "We do not provide assistance to clients or colleagues in acts aimed at deceiving tax authorities," according to the code, which is prefaced with remarks from UBS Chairman Kaspar Villiger and Chief Executive Oswald Grübel. The code, which also addresses issues such as financial crime, competition, confidentiality and diversity, is meant as a response to wrongdoing in UBS's U.S. offshore arm, which has since been shuttered.
Sir Richard Branson has begun his assault on the financial industry with the purchase on Friday of a little-known private bank as a launchpad for a fully fledged business. Virgin Money, the personal finance arm of Sir Richard’s company, is buying Somerset-based Church House Trust, which has 3,000 customers and no branches, for £12.3m.
The buzz is palpable about Apple's plans to announce a tablet computer later this month. I think it's instructive as to the function and uses of conversation. Apple is a company that has utterly shunned the social media campaigns that have displaced more old-fashioned ways to waste consumers' time. It has no Twitter feed, provides no payola to twentysomethings so that they’ll blog about its products, and I bet it would happily ignore a request for comment from the President if asked. It doesn't talk. Apple does.
While most CMOs have laid forth their plans for 2010, many are still seeking a way to innovate in a time of uncertainty. Where are the opportunities? With the recent dramatic drops in marketing spending, there has been one category that continues to grow. Throughout 2009 we saw the launch of many national cause-marketing programs (see sidebar: Dawn, H&R Block, Pepsi, Sonic Drive-In) at a time when marketers were watching budgets more closely than ever. With this rise in popularity comes the question: Where is cause marketing headed in 2010? While the rules of a successful cause campaign remain solidified, the category is set to change dramatically in 2010.
Coca-Cola today has a market capitalization in excess of $100 billion because the perceived value of its brand is significantly higher than the sum total of all the assets of the company. In my years with Procter & Gamble and Heinz, I have come to realize that no matter what the product or service, the key principles for building a great brand remain the same. By staying true to these seven principles, a marketer can weather economic highs and lows while building an iconic brand for target consumers.
Happy New Year! I hope you had a great holiday and you are as excited as I am about kicking off 2010! After the long hard haul of 2009, I’m eager to see business get off to a fresh start this year. It’s impossible to know exactly what the New Year will bring, but I’m confident more attention will be paid to brands and brand-building. That’s because there are at least three key areas that I see brands having an immediate and significant impact in.
Call it 2010. Call it twenty-ten, or even 2K10. No matter how you refer to the last year of the first decade of the 21st Century, everyone in the marketing is wondering what the past few sobering years will mean for brands and consumer behavior. It doesn't take a seer, or even a branding professional, to declare that consumers will continue to demand value, no matter which direction the economy goes. Consumers have learned--some the hard way--that financial discipline is a must. They will also demand that the values practiced by the companies with which they choose to do business are good and honest and trustworthy. And lest any company thinks it can put one over on anyone, a text, a blog, a YouTube video or a Tweet will quickly prove otherwise.
In a manifesto-like e-mail message sent last month to all Google employees, Jonathan Rosenberg, a senior vice president for product management, told them to commit to greater transparency and open industry standards. Rather than hoard knowledge to exploit it, he wrote in “The Meaning of Open,” share it and watch Google and the entire Internet prosper. With the Chrome browser, however, Google’s inclusive principles are being put to the test: a new version of the browser allows, one might even say encourages, users to stop Google ads from appearing. How Google got to such a position speaks to the inherent dynamism (or is that chaos?) of business on the Internet.
Scripps Networks Interactive Inc. pulled its Food Network and HGTV channels off Cablevision Systems Corp. early Friday morning after the two companies were unable to reach an agreement in a year-end negotiations over carriage fees. Cablevision's agreement to carry the Scripps channels expired at midnight Thursday, and Scripps warned subscribers Thursday that its Food Network and HGTV channels may be "dropped from your TV lineup," as another contentious negotiation over programming fees spilled into public view.
Time Warner Cable Inc. and News Corp. traded barbs on Wednesday as they face a New Year's deadline in their landmark fight over TV-programming fees. If the fight remains unresolved it will threaten millions of cable-TV subscribers with the loss of Fox broadcast programs, including big football games, in coming days.
The US Treasury will become the majority shareholder of GMAC, the former lending arm of General Motors, as part of a restructuring announced on Wednesday. GMAC is to receive $3.8bn in new government investment via the troubled asset relief programme, the Treasury said, in the final stage of filling a capital hole identified in the “stress tests” on banks earlier this year. The deal brings to a close a busy end to the year for the Treasury’s $700bn Tarp scheme, with most elements of the bail-out programme winding down and companies such as Bank of America and Citigroup racing to repay the government and escape restrictions on pay and hiring.
Media companies would be better off handing their online video activities to Google’s YouTube video-sharing site than pursuing home-grown efforts such as Hulu.com and the US cable industry’s TV Everywhere initiative, according to senior Google executives.
In my last blog, I argued that people don't care enough about their information environments to prevent overload. This week I am focusing on a related behavioral change that has important implications for companies that produce information products and services: As information grows in quantity, consumers of it are willing to accept lower quality. I call this willingness satisficing — being satisfied with sacrificing quality.
It’s hard to argue that 2009 wasn’t the year of Twitter. Yes, the questions about monetization loomed over the young web company as soon as it started gaining popularity, and they’re still largely unanswered. But people loved this new way of communicating via 140 character messages that go out to everyone who wants to hear them. So much so, that everything else (even money) wasn’t very important.
“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” – Mark Twain Remember that quote. In 2010 the very best marketers, PR professionals, and social media consultants will put data at the center of everything they do. For anyone unfamiliar with these concepts, just as with social media, data marketing may seem opaque or intimidating at the beginning. The only way you ever learn is by jumping in headfirst — become a data nerd, because data nerds are changing the world.
The coming January issue of Technology Review features an important article discussing if cloud computing is secure enough for broad public use. ‘Security in the Ether’, written by David Talbot, brings to light some of the serious technology concerns from cloud based applications including Gmail, Twitter and Facebook. Mr. Talbot interviews security and cloud experts, some who agree that our data and information is too vulnerable in the cloud, and the standards for business and public use are not secure enough.
The AP lists the status of six newspaper companies that have declared bankruptcy: Tribune, Freedom, Philadelphia, Sun-Times, Journal Register, Star-Tribune, representing 66 daily newspapers among them. Mostly they are using bankruptcy merely to restructure the debt they shouldn’t have gotten themselves into in the first place — the debt that nearly killed them. Often they are leaving in place vestiges of the legacy management that made those bad decisions and did not make the brave strategic moves the digital age demanded. Tragically, none of them has used the great if difficult opportunity bankruptcy gives them to reinvent their businesses and themselves.
Condensing The Economist’s thoughtful articles into 140-character bursts may challenge the synthesising skills of its reporters. But that this most established of media organisations should embrace social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook shows the value that publishers and broadcasters attach to them.
Google faced increased global resistance on Friday to its plan to digitise books when a Paris court ruled that the internet group had violated the copyright of authors and publishers by scanning French books held in US libraries without consent. The court ordered the group to stop scanning without prior authorisation titles published by La Matinière, the company that brought the case, and instructed it to pay €300,000 ($429,000) in damages and interest. Google said it would appeal.
Stung by criticism that their megastores shutter mom-and-pop shops, Wal-Mart officials are offering to rent space in the lobby of a new Chicago store to neighborhood businesses. Wal-Mart’s tenants already include a dog groomer at a store in north suburban Zion and an Uncle Remus fried chicken outlet in its only Chicago store, on the West Side.
Cadbury's chief executive will today make a staunch defence of the confectionery group's future as a standalone company as he urges shareholders to reject Kraft's £9.9bn hostile bid. Todd Stitzer, along with Cadbury chairman Roger Carr and chief financial officer Andrew Bonfield, will unveil the company's formal defence to several hundred investors in a 90-minute presentation.
Sunday was the second anniversary of the sale of The Wall Street Journal to Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation. At that time, a chorus of journalism church ladies (I was among them) warned that one of the crown jewels of American journalism now resided in the hands of a roughneck, and predicted that he would use it to his own ends. Here we are, two years later, and The Wall Street Journal still hits my doorstep every morning as one of the nation’s premier newspapers. But under Mr. Murdoch’s leadership, the newspaper is no longer anchored by those deep dives into the boardrooms of American business with quaint stippled portraits, opting instead for a much broader template of breaking general interest news articles with a particular interest in politics and big splashy photos. Glenn R. Simpson, who left the newspaper back in March, is not a fan of the newsier, less analytical Journal.
Warren Buffett believes his best deals during the economy's biggest belly flop since the Crash of 1929 may well turn out to be the ones he didn't do. Mr. Buffett slammed the door on one opportunity after another during the most harrowing stretch of his storied career. That impulse, he says, left him with the financial firepower he needed last month to strike the biggest deal he has ever done -- Berkshire Hathaway Inc.'s $26.3 billion purchase of railroad Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp.
Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s 25-year-old chief executive, is finding out first-hand what it is like to reveal a bit too much about himself on the internet. Since the social networking website began revamping its privacy settings on Wednesday, Mr. Zuckerberg has made much more of his personal information available to all of Facebook’s 350m users. Once private pictures of him hugging his girlfriend, drinking from a plastic cup next to a keg of beer and shirtless at a pool party, are now doing the rounds on gossip sites. Facebook graphic for ICN Similar scenarios are playing out across the globe as Facebook’s users are prompted to reset their privacy settings, and encouraged to make more information available publicly.
Bowing to calls for restraint in tough economic times, Goldman said that its most senior executives would forgo cash bonuses this year. Instead, the 30 executives will be paid in the form of long-term stock — an arrangement that means they will not get big year-end paydays, but one that could turn out to be enormously lucrative if Goldman’s share price rises over time.
Jeffrey Immelt, General Electric’s chief executive, said on Wednesday his generation of business leaders had succumbed to “meanness and greed” that had harmed the US economy and increased the gap between the rich and the poor. Mr Immelt’s attack on his fellow corporate chiefs – made in a speech at the West Point military academy – is one of the strongest criticisms by a top executive of the compensation and business practices that prevailed before the financial crisis.
Google is stockpiling a wealth of user data. With its search engine, its advertising services, its applications, its new free DNS service, and more, the company has an incredible perspective on exactly what users are looking at. Many fear that Google could abuse this information or allow it to be abused, either for profit or to prosecute citizens who aren't necessarily guilty. In short, fears that "Big Brother is watching you" have been replace with fears that "Google is watching you". Google's recently responded to such doubts, blasting those that would harbor them. Google CEO Eric Schmidt commented to CNBC, "If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place."
General Motors has shaken up its management team just three days after Fritz Henderson was sacked as chief executive. Ed Whitacre, GM’s chairman and acting CEO, put his stamp further on the majority US government-owned carmaker by announcing a new management line-up. Nick Reilly, head of GM’s international operations, was sent to Europe to finish the contentious restructuring of Opel and Vauxhall that has taken nearly a year, and 77-year-old industry legend Bob Lutz has moved into an advisory role.
Today we’re not at all surprised to hear names like Chris Matthews and Lou Dobbs tossed around as candidates for higher office. And while it used to be that only political aides of notable talent, people like Bill Moyers and Pat Buchanan and George Stephanopoulos (and, well, Chris Matthews), could make the tricky transition from politics to TV news, now it’s the politicians themselves — Joe Scarborough, Mike Huckabee — who find themselves ensconced as hosts on a cable-TV set. The door between politics and television news now isn’t merely revolving; it spins so fast and so continuously that a fair number of people no longer seem to belong neatly on one side or the other. Is Sarah Palin, at this point, a politician, or is she the star of some “frontier family” reality show? In fact, she seems to realize that the changed environment allows her to be both at the same time.
In today's fiercely challenging marketing environment there's a popular line of thinking that the new ultra-savvy and demanding consumer is now in charge--that they in fact, "own the brand and they're not giving it back." We're all aware that in 2006 Time magazine gave their much-heralded "person of the year award" to "You," the consumer. User-generated content is many advertisers' favorite new method of involving users. Social media is being touted as the magic elixir capable of breathing new life into every brand. And just this month, Forrester Research released a debate-fueling report claiming that brand managers should be renamed "brand advocates" so they can more easily "go with the flow" of consumer input and opinion. To all of this I say: Let's take a minute to step back.
McDonald's is going to change its logo in Germany, casting its iconographic golden arches against a green background to invoke its respect for the environment. I can't decide if the idea is irrelevant or insane. Or both. Central to the decision would be the premise that fast-food customers make eating decisions based on corporate environmental policies. If comparisons between hamburgers or fries net out in a tie, McDonald's must believe that it'll win because it's doing good things for the planet.
Has Wikipedia really peaked as The Wall Street Journal's recent headline "Volunteers Log Off as Wikipedia Ages" suggests? The data presented by researchers cited in the article present a good case to support the headline. However, this is where our ongoing strategy process with the Wikimedia Foundation comes in. Wikimedia is engaged in the community's first-ever strategic planning process. The challenge of participation in the community is a primary thrust of the work. Our animating question is: what will it take to cultivate, grow and sustain a strong community to support the next stage of Wikimedia's development?
It may have been easy to miss if you don't work in the world of corporate led cause related marketing, but Corporate Social Responsibility (or CSR) programs are in the midst of a crisis. The subject of the debate mainly centers around two big issues: brand value and authenticity. On the one hand, CSR programs are attacked by shareholder groups and business investors who argue that they are a needless distraction and remove money (and value) from the investors of a business. CSR programs are also attacked by industry watchdogs and groups who argue that businesses only engage in CSR programs to create an artificial connection with consumers and claim allegiance to causes they don't really care about. On the other side, those who work on these programs make a more idealist argument - that companies can do well and do good at the same time.
I can all but guarantee that someone you know and care about is planning to go shopping on the day after Thanksgiving. You need to intervene.
Digital is so yesterday. It will soon be 20 years since the advent of commercially available digital services such as America Online, multimedia, mobile phones and widespread use of personal computers. The American household went digital long before marketers embraced technology and the Internet. Now, as companies struggle to get their "digital strategies" in order, they will be surprised to discover consumers have moved on to the "post-digital" age.
I believe if Social Media warranted a mantra, it would look something like this, “Always pay it forward and never forget to pay it back…it’s how you got here and it defines where you’re going.” This is the credo I live by and something that has only been reinforced as part of my daily regiment, online and in the real world. Paying it forward and paying it back is the balladry of reciprocity, the undercurrent of social media and the currency of the social economy. The words, “what comes around goes around” and the overall spirit of karma reminds us that there may be personal rewards and satisfaction for helping and contributing more than we take away from our environment. In sociology, this form of alternative giving is referred to as “generalized reciprocity” or “generalized exchange.” In the same vein, the idea of giving something to one person by paying another is credited to Benjamin Franklin, which would ultimately serve as the defining foundation to “Pay it forward.”
Here's something I've been thinking about for some time now. You see, there is this company. It publishes over a hundred RSS feeds and several email newsletters, but not a single blog. The only conversations this company entertains are the ones it starts itself or is subpoenaed into. Conversations it doesn't like, it tries to silence.
Shocked -- again. That's how I felt when I saw in BusinessWeek yet another example of marketing being totally misunderstood. An article titled "At Amazon, Marketing Is for Dummies" said, "Instead of lavish ads and splaying its logo everywhere, it invests in technology and distribution -- and the results are startlingly effective." Last time I checked, product and distribution are two of the essential pillars of marketing. What the article didn't say, but should have, is that Amazon has built its business without much advertising. So? This stands in stark contrast to the dot-bomb when hundreds of companies were created, and CMO became the title du jour. The prevailing "get large or get lost" wisdom drove companies toward publicity stunts, Super Bowl one-offs and multimillion-dollar sweepstakes and away from anything resembling marketing strategy. Brand-building gave way to branding. Marketing became soft, and credibility faded. Here we stand, on the verge of economic recovery, with brands having nowhere to go but up. Marketing should be leading us through growth, but it's not. And we all have a role to play.
Web 2.0 has changed the way companies look at their brand – ceding more and more responsibility to their brand communities - the people who surround the brand. The ubiquity of social media has created awareness of the role customers play in building (or destroying) brands. That awareness of the human impact on branding has rubbed off on the people who build the brand from the inside out.
The wretched economy has forced many consumers to, well, consume less, or at least less avidly than they did before the bubble — or bubbles, if you count Wall Street and real estate — burst. What, then, has that meant for the cause marketers, which depend on the kindness of shoppers to raise funds for nonprofit organizations, associations and assorted other doers of good deeds?
Maclaren is a small private company with a big public problem, one that it has not handled well. On Monday, Maclaren announced that it was issuing repair kits for up to 1m pushchairs it had sold in the US over the past decade after 12 cases in which children’s fingertips were chopped off in the pushchairs’ hinges. By that afternoon, its website had frozen and its phone lines were overwhelmed by parents. Meanwhile, the British company founded in 1965 by Owen Finlay Maclaren, the inventor of the “umbrella-fold” buggy, told non-Americans they would be treated differently.
Ritz-Carlton has become a leading brand in luxury lodging by rigorously adhering to its own standards. It is the only service company in America that has won the Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award twice, and Training Magazine has called it the best company in the nation for employee training. Its unique culture starts with a motto: "We are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen." One of its remarkable policies is to permit every employee to spend up to $2,000 making any single guest satisfied. Ritz-Carlton codifies its expectations regarding service in "The 12 Service Values," "The Credo," "The Three Steps of Service," "The 6th Diamond" and other proprietary statements that are taught to all 38,000 employees throughout 73 properties in 24 countries. Simon Cooper, who has led Ritz-Carlton for the past eight years, talks about what makes Ritz-Carlton, well, the Ritz.
So what is customer advocacy anyway? Well for starters, they don't have to be your customers—they can be any part of your entire constituency. Employees, business partners, friends—you name it. But here's the point. You need them more than ever. Right now, if you are planning social initiatives, your biggest challenge is going to be manpower. Someone has to do the listening, the outreach, the customer service, the participation, the engagement with others in the ecosystem. Some parts can be automated (such as an algorithm in a listening tool technology), but many other parts require actual people. So at some point you'll have to scale, and you're going to need a passionate, engaged group of people to advocate on your behalf. So how do you do it?
Private label is at something of a crossroads. Rising out of the shadows of its humble, “no-name” generic past, private label today has blossomed into a $100 billion industry. While the media and analysts are fixated on sales numbers and growth expectations another story frequently gets little air play: Private label has the freedom (and not the baggage) to seize opportunities to leapfrog name brands in such critical areas as ingredients, flavors, preparations and even packaging. Looking through the lens of contemporary consumers and shoppers, we see that the rapidly changing private label landscape is far too complicated to be adequately explained by aggregate sales or customer transaction sales data alone. Our Private Label 2010: Redefining Meaning of Brand report moves beyond simplified discussions of sales data to present a holistic consumer and shopper perspective on private label that accounts for the role of the economy, new meaning of value, distinctions in retail formats, product categories, name brands and, of course, private label brands.
These days, lots of people ask me: "Phew! So, the crisis is over, right?" Wrong. The real crisis is in the DNA of the industrial economy — and it's just as lethal as ever. Most businesses are socially useless. They're about as useful to society (to paraphrase Gloria Steinem) as bicycles are to fish. Sound controversial? If it does, it only underscores just how out totally of touch with real value we've gotten. (Here, for example, are Paul Krugman, Simon Johnson, and Lord Turner all discussing social uselessness.) What has socially useless business cost just over the last five years? $12 trillion at a minimum. Those are the costs of the various bailout packages for socially useless banks.
Open source, open access, open standards, open architecture — all are part of why so many have fallen in love with Facebook, Firefox, WordPress, and — I’ll say it because everyone else is saying it — Twitter. They’re all flexible platforms, invite user opinions, and enable co-development and co-creation to varying degrees. The “open web” and its underlying set of technologies have indeed made a big impact on how we interact and engage with online properties, sites, social networks, and the like.
I wrote about Stern as a pioneer in my book. He rethought radio networks and built his own. He brought satellite radio to critical mass. But satellite radio was always a transitional technology, waiting for ubiquitous connectivity that would enable on-demand programming anywhere. Now our phones can give us radio and soon Stern will be ready for them; they will make him portable. There’s a larger trend at work here: Entertainers (radio, music, comedy, books, columnists, even filmmakers) will have direct relationships with their audiences. Like Stern, they won’t have to work for companies or go through them for distribution.
A few weeks ago, I had lunch with a friend prior to an evening speech. After some small talk about life, the universe and everything, our conversation naturally turned to the abysmal U.S. economy. “Things are really tough right now,” she explained. “I’ve tried to get everyone to understand the importance of branding in this very difficult environment, but I don’t think they get it. In fact,” she added. “Our customers hate that word.” “What word?” I asked. “Brand?” “Yea. The non-profits we work with have a real aversion to the whole notion of branding. I guess they don’t really understand the concept and how it applies to them.” They’re not the only ones.
In 2007, Self magazine released results from a study titled GOOD, which examined how women react to cause marketing. Its findings encouraged cause-supporting companies to make the move from telling consumers about how the company was giving back, to telling consumers how they were helping the company give back--the consumer feels better about herself when she supports "good" companies. Self recently released GOOD 1.5, which delves deeper into women's responses to cause marketing and is relevant given how different the economy is from 2007. Cynthia Walsh, executive director of marketing for Self, said that while many marketers expect consumers to care less about "good" in this environment, the opposite is actually true.
Just when brands thought they might muster a passable social-media "sense and respond" defense against the brutal realities of consumer nastygrams or Google search-result hogging, or just when they figured out a few tricks for managing Wikipedia and all those activists and product recalls that make their way onto your entry, brands must now contend with yet another trust broker that wraps candid conversation around their cherished homefront, whether they like it or not.
The imminent publication of Forrester’s new report on the challenges facing clients - “Adaptive Brand Marketing: Rethinking Your Approach to Branding in the Digital Age” is a welcome turning of the spotlight toward client organizations. Without question agencies of all sizes, shapes and persuasions need to get their collective acts together and transform into leaner, more agile, more creative, & more technology- and data-fuelled businesses. The best in the business are no doubt all plotting how they can come out of this recession leaner, meaner, quicker, better. But that’s kind of pointless unless clients adapt too.
How Sean Maloney and brand guru Deborah Conrad are helping Intel's first carpet-dweller CEO reengineer the company once known as Chipzilla -- and free the bong.
For all the focus on marketing ROI, some companies miss the forest for the trees, because improvements won't happen through tactics alone. They need a new approach, applying marketing analytics to business decisions -- call it return on brand -- that can more than double marketing ROI through a cross-functional implementation of integrated business analytics. Many companies use accountability programs to measure and optimize marketing and media investments; their valuable insights can dramatically increase revenue and profits if implemented correctly. They often fall short, however, in their ability to act on this information and realize true marketing accountability ROI.
Branding Is Dead! Long Live Brands?! Many pundits have declared the death of branding and it would be difficult to argue to continue typical branding activities. Creating an image to serve as the “face” of a company, refreshing a logo or tagline in an attempt to reinvigorate the business, developing advertising campaigns to “get our name out there” – the business value of these efforts can indeed be questioned. Today’s savvy consumers are likely to see through a brand façade. They can easily find out if the business practices, products, and people behind a brand are what their ads say they are. And they’re more likely to trust their own experience or the recommendation of a friend or even an online reviewer than a company’s own chest-thumping. In fact, one could argue that the historical role which brands played – that is, serving as symbols to guarantee a certain of level of quality – is no longer relevant or useful today. But that is not to say that brands themselves are no longer valuable.
Having just returned from vacation, (hence the break from blogging) I had the distinct pleasure of keynoting Silicon Valley AMA last night at Cisco’s Telepresence suites in Santa Clara. In my opening keynote, I had a specific message to marketing leaders in the valley to think holistic about social. I outlined some of the major impacts to other departments beyond marketing.
In April, when Domino’s suddenly had to grapple with the fact that a YouTube video of a couple of employees doing disgusting things with the company’s food was circulating rapidly across the Web, it was bad for the pizza chain’s business. But Domino’s problem turned out to be good for business for a fast-growing segment: companies that track Web chatter. Text mining, which is already used by some Wall Street traders to track issues that could affect stock prices, is now employed by many top marketers, including Cisco, Hormel, Microsoft and Intuit, as a sort of blunt instrument to gauge online sentiment about a brand.
This morning, Seth used his much respected blog to reveal the news about Brands In Public. If you missed it (and if you did, you should really adjust the volume on your Internet), Brand in Public was designed to show the world just how much Seth cares about your brand. Yep, he loves you so much that he has sent his team of goblins out to register your Brands in Public company page for you, fill it with scraped content (blog posts, tweets, Google News, Trends, etc) and then lock it down so that you have absolutely no way to touch or control it. Unless you pay him.
While Americans have spent the summer seeking new remedies for their financial ailments, attending noisy town-hall meetings on health-care reform and trying to find something to occupy their time besides the travails of Jon and Kate, it was pleasing to read that these issues have not had a completely negative effect on what the rest of the planet thinks of us. This was made known in a recent New York Times op-ed in which the author noted that, over the last several months, the United States' brand has been seen more positively in the eyes of the world. This bit of news was reassuring to me and got me thinking about how the very idea of "good brand, bad brand" has taken on new meaning in this age of renewed thriftiness, environmental consciousness, corporate responsibility (or, flagrant lack thereof) and, most of all, consumer vigilantism arising from our all-digital-all-the-time marketplace.
Marketers caught on early that emotion sells product. "Would your husband marry you again?" screams a Palmolive ad from 1921. (Not unless you scrub with Palmolive soap, honey.) Today, Heineken has promised warmer international relations via handoffs of Premium Light from mountain men to Indians to ballerinas. And, of course, Axe has sold young men on the fantasy of hooking up with deodorant-loving nymphomaniacs. Emotional appeals are ubiquitous. They're also interchangeable. It would be just as easy to pitch Heineken as an aphrodisiac and Axe as a global harmonizer ("Peace starts in the pits"). And that's the problem: It's all stick-on emotion. Sometimes that works brilliantly (see: Corona). Other times, it's as weird and clumsy as an adhesive moustache -- remember Carl's Jr. and Paris Hilton's sexed-up hamburger ad? Fortunately, there's a better and more sustainable way to create emotion: Mean it.
Meet the man with a nearly uncontainable design challenge: making Coke even bigger (and staying ahead of Pepsi).
Companies as diverse as McDonald's, Ford, and American Express are revamping their marketing to win back that most valuable of corporate assets.
While the concept of personal branding has taken off corporate branding seems to go in and out of favor. Economic cycles may have a lot to do with that. With the growth of the Internet and social technology tools, personal branding activity and opportunities have exploded. On the other hand, in some ways, the arc of Web 1.0 to 2.0+ (not to mention this current economy) has seduced many marketers into being focused on tactics at the expense of strategy including branding. Hot media tactics often substitute for the "strategy." If you are skeptical that brands still matter in the age of 1-1, millennials and social media, or if you are trying to run a business and make numbers and don't have the patience for brand consultant-speak or theories, here is a quick, simple refresher on good old fashioned branding that works today, that can help you frame your marketing and other operational tactics...to drive business results.
Every so often the vocabulary of business adopts new words that filter into the mainstream business psyche. For example, the language of brands and branding is now commonly used and understood across a range of sectors— from universities to social enterprises to small businesses. Over the past year or two, the new vocabulary has brought in “sustainability,” whether it is to talk about the environment or general business operations, about communities or the future. Google the term and you’ll see that “sustainability” has 28 million definitions—only a few million short of the 34 million entries for “branding." Words that become common business parlance can shift in meaning and, in doing so, become open to a multitude of interpretations.
Given that innovation is the only sustainable advantage these days, advertisers need to allocate at least 10% of their marketing budget to foster it, even in these economically challenged times, said former eBay and Best Buy CMO Mike Linton, who spoke to an audience at the Aberdeen Group's Chief Marketing Officer Summit here yesterday. Innovation, by Mr. Linton's definition, is any action taken by the brand that changes consumer behavior in favor of the company, and that can range from a new product to a new way to service customers.
For decades, companies from Cisco Systems to Staples to Bank of America have worked to embed the basic techniques of Six Sigma, the business approach that relies on measurement and analysis to make operations as efficient as possible. More recently, in the last 5 to 10 years, they have been told they must master a new set of skills known as “design thinking.” Aiming to help companies innovate, design thinking starts with an intense focus on understanding real problems customers face in their day-to-day lives — often using techniques derived from ethnographers — and then entertains a range of possible solutions.
Customer support is tactical, a cost-center, and the clean-up-kids at the company. Well, that’s the mentality that needs to change. Instead, customer support can be strategic, a value center, and proactive towards customer needs. The lines between marketing and support continue to blur, as customers share their experiences (most recently, Dooce vs her Whirlpool washing machine) the support experience she has becomes a PR task. Support organizations must quickly evolve as customers connect to each other –and share their stories –using social technologies.
You’re going to hear more and more people in the social media space start using the term “social business” in the coming months. It will likely replace “community building” as the corporate catch phrase of the moment. Trend setters in the industry like Charlene Li, Jeremiah Owyang, Peter Kim and random other former Forrester Research employees now cashing in are already tossing it around. It puts a prettier wrapping paper on the larger payoff for what social media thinkers do. What the term implies, at least from my perspective, is that the business in question, or what they’re trying to sell you, is one that is not driven by products or services.
Google has an image problem – not a PR problem (that is, not with the public) but a press problem (with whining old media people). Google is trying hard – too hard, perhaps – not to argue with the guys who still buy ink by the barrel. Google is only causing them to buy fewer barrels. And newspaper people will use their last drops of ink to complain about Google’s success and try to blame it for their own failures rather than changing their own businesses. What should Google do? I think it needs to become news’ best friend.
Failure to recognise the value of building a brand internally will cost a company its competitive advantage. Failure to implement internal branding should cost the CEO his or her job. Sustainable competitive advantage can only be achieved by the consistent meeting of customer expectations. In simple terms, this means that the brand has to keep its promise. While the more glamorous application of external brand-building — through campaigns in a variety of visible media and communication channels — is necessary for connecting with customers and other stakeholders, it should follow the brand platform established internally, and not lead it.
Here's a test. Ask five to 20 of your employees to explain what your company's customer value proposition is. How many different answers do you guess you'll get? Answer: somewhere between five and 20. This is, of course, in addition to the response, "What the heck do you mean by a value proposition?" This is slightly exaggerated to illustrate a point. But, in the many years with which we have advised on and written about customer-driven strategies, there has been a common pattern: massive inconsistency in people's ability to clearly articulate their company's value proposition.
Every 90 days, I report to Wall Street and our shareholders on the financial health of our company--called to the carpet when results are bad, receiving a pat on the back (if memory serves) when numbers are good. Many years ago, we put corporate social responsibility on the agenda for these quarterly financial calls, because as a critical component of our effort to be a responsible business--fiscally and socially--it felt not only appropriate, but necessary. Guess how many times I've been called to the carpet by shareholders for not delivering satisfactory CSR results, or how often we've received a comment or question about our CSR programs on these quarterly calls? Never. The silence isn't an indication that we've perfected corporate responsibility--far from it--it's an indication that shareholders don't find CSR performance relevant.
Amazon just announced that they're spending $800,000,000.00 (looks better that way) to buy Zappos.com. But wait. Amazon already has plenty of shoes. Amazon already has great technology. Amazon already has relationships with Fedex and UPS. What you buy when you spend that kind of money is what matters now.
GM's CMO Robert Lutz was recently told an awful truth: "In my group it is just uncool to drive a GM car -- even if they are as good as the imports." He replied: "I guess it depends whether you have your own personality or whether you are a lemming-like follower of current trends. I think an audacious and bold person with a mind of his or her own would go to a dealership and see that our new vehicles easily trounce the foreign competition. . . . It's uncool to drive an import." It's hard to assess how many ways this violates the marketer's handbook...but I'm going to try.
It landed with a resounding electronic thud. On Tuesday evening, the Silicon Valley based Techcrunch blog received a zip file containing 310 stolen documents from the micro-blogging start-up Twitter. That thud is still echoing through Silicon Valley. It is, of course, all-too-easy to bash Arrington as a William Randolph Hearst 2.0 willing to use any unscrupulous means to dramatically compound his publication’s already significant readership. But given that I’m writing this in the Daily Telegraph, a newspaper that published “leaked” content about MPs expenses, I’m certainly not going to join the bloodythirsty mob baying for Michael Arrington’s head.
Word has it that Yahoo is going to debut new branding in the fall, courtesy of a newly-hired CMO who has a newly hired coterie of her favorite branding gurus. There's nothing surprising about this news: one of the first things new top marketers usually do is hire new vendors to reinvigorate or change the brand. It's what they do.
While Professor Joe Plummer and I may not see eye to eye on everything (see my post on the definition of engagement), there is one thing we definitely agree on: an enterprise can achieve optimal results only when its business and its brand are aligned to work in synergy. When business and brand are out of synch (as happens all too often), the return to the company and shareholders is compromised.
GoodGuide, a Web site and iPhone application that lets consumers dig past the package’s marketing spiel by entering a product’s name and discovering its health, environmental and social impacts. “What we’re trying to do is flip the whole marketing world on its head,” said Mr. O’Rourke. “Instead of companies telling you what to believe, customers are making the statements to the marketers about what they care about.”
Until recently, the yardstick used to evaluate the performance of American corporate leaders was relatively simple: the extent to which they created wealth for investors. But that was then. Now the forces of globalization and technology have conspired to complicate the competitive arena, creating a need for leaders who can manage rapid innovation. Expectations about the corporation’s role in social issues such as environmental degradation, domestic job creation, and even poverty in the developing world have risen sharply as well. And the expedient, short-term thinking that Wall Street rewarded only yesterday has fallen out of fashion in the wake of the latest round of business busts and scandals.
I’m well aware that I have been painting myself in a corner - or rather, I fear that media and journalism are: I’ve been arguing that charging for content online - news content - is futile and that print as a vehicle for advertising and a source of profit is unsustainable. Thus, online advertising is our only hope. But advertising will decline. For I’ve also been saying that the internet enables direct relationships among companies and customers: Your product is your ad and customer your ad agency. It’s only when that doesn’t work that you need to advertise. Advertising is failure. Welcome to the chaos scenario.
When McDonald's launched its corporate social responsibility blog at the beginning of 2006, its title — Open For Discussion — signaled the company's readiness to engage with the blogosphere. Eight months later, it faced widespread criticism for the limitations of that engagement. McDonald's could have learned something from the tale of the Trojan Horse: beware of g[r]eeks bearing gifts.
Unlike the ironic sentiment often expressed when quoting (or, as in this case, vitiating) Shakespeare's Richard III, I am not suggesting that attention is unimportant. I am, however, suggesting that businesses obsession with attention is misplaced, at best. And the fact that major industries have evolved to feed this obsession, simply adds to the problem.
Have you seen Starbucks new campaign? The one designed to remind you of the "Starbucks story?" From the announcement video to the ads themselves, Starbucks is making the first mistake of modern advertising - they're telling you when they should be showing you.
The world of communication and product delivery is changing as the Web evolves and new services are introduced, enabling us to gain faster access to information, download richer media more quickly, and rapidly voice our opinions and feedback near and far in a wide variety of methods, including text, voice, video and imagery. As customers become more savvy and in tune with these new tools, we are also expecting those offering products and services to adapt, and as such, I thought it made sense to put forth what I believe are key tenets of a new consumer manifesto for today's real-time world.
Yesterday we got the results from the Treasury regarding the stress tests. The results were on one hand extraordinarily troubling, i.e. how is it possible that banks still need another $75 billion in funding to withstand future buffeting? On the other hand with this additional capital, the US Treasury deems these institutions financially capable of handling whatever future financial troubles befall them, which provides the confidence we need to grow our economy. The market has responded by bidding these banking stocks up, the NYSE Financial index is up about 10% this week and 87% off its low. While I am encouraged by the strong response of the market to these financials, I told you earlier in the week that I would be revealing the results of my own “brand” stress test.
The more transparent a market, economic theory holds, the healthier it will be. Information asymmetry — where sellers know crucial information that buyers cannot access — pollutes the market. Think toxic assets. The movement toward fuller transparency in the financial markets has a direct parallel in the ecological impacts of consumer goods. Signs suggest a trend toward greater marketplace openness about the environmental and health consequences of products — a trend with strong marketing implications.
Yesterday, I wrote about how I didn't necessarily understand (or believe) Best Buy's plans to expand significantly its private label technology products business, and its hopes that incorporating customer feedback would let it make simple improvements that the big name brands might miss. I think there's a far bigger, far more radical, and much more likely sustainable opportunity for the company to pursue: Services.
In a couple of weeks we’ll be partnering with Microsoft to give a joint presentation to some IT and Marketing directors about the idea that their two disciplines are starting to (or needing to) work much more closely these days. Regular readers will recognise this as a favourite theme of ours - we like to think that the best marketing ideas are actually company operations that happen to be really appealing or compelling to customers too. One of the many advantages of this line of thought is that marketing is completely integrated into the business and you don’t have to spend money to build marketing programs that then build your business, you simply spend money on building your business.
One of my pet peeves is the elevation of corporate mascots and celebrity spokesmodels from sales promotion tactics to brand strategy. Only now I'm thinking that in certain circumstances, they really are one in the same. Almost. Consider Geico and Priceline. Both businesses offer pretty generic, unsexy products (insurer and travel agency, respectively) that compete primarily, if not solely, on price. Good luck trying to attach emotional or other intangible attributes to such brands, right?
Salmonella. Drug violence. Now swine flu. You think Mexico's development and tourism marketers are having a few sleepless nights? Only this nightmare is real.
No, not its inane brand image campaign and logo nonsense. I'm talking about its announced intention to spend $6 billion to take control of its bottling and distribution operations. I think it is the smartest branding move the company has made in recent memory.
We've written much on what we know will be virtues of a successful 21st-century brand: trustworthiness, durability and accessibility, distinct from the core values (or motivators) they ultimately support. For instance, a brand may value Independence (Harley-Davidson, say), and exercise its virtues of Trustworthiness, Durability and Accessibility to ensure that its core value is understood, and motivating, at every turn. We as a practice don't assign values to brands; we simply apply these virtues to brands in when designing for their values, whatever they may be.
Last week, I began the journey by talking about two different types of brands: Brand Promises and Brand Religions. Today, I'd like to paint a hypothetical scenario of where awareness marketing might go for those brands that are implicit promises. Next week I'll tackle religions.
So what is effective brand building in the new digital world? What is the best way to prime the pump? As I started to think about that, I realized the answer depends on the nature of the brand to be built. And, as I was chewing that over, the Microsoft story hit my inbox and I realized that it captured the essence of two distinct characters of brand: promise and religion. These two characters of brand occupy two totally different places in our mindscape, and so have to be treated differently, no matter what branding channel you choose to use.
If it acts like a duck (all the time), it's a duck. Doesn't matter if the duck thinks it's a dog, it's still a duck as far as the rest of us are concerned. Authenticity, for me, is doing what you promise, not "being who you are".
The post-agency era is upon us. With staggering speed and efficiency, consumer preferences and digital technologies have coalesced to create a broad and deep cultural demand for direct relationships. In this disintermediated market, do we need go-betweens at all?
Competition? Sure. Rotten economy? No doubt. But there's a larger, deeper reason the green giant is drinking the dregs: It ignored everything that made its customers loyal.
Four years after delivering the speech called "The Audacity of Hope" that would launch him toward the White House, Barack Obama has become a case study in audacious marketing, an object lesson on why you should forget inherited notions of whom your audience can be.
In a way, there’s something kind of cool about a company that changes its logo every decade or so: Each new logo is like a cultural milestone - a snapshot if you will, of that decade’s graphic flavor, and how tastes change over time. But I guess once you get past the cool time capsule thing, you kind of have to wonder: Has each change in logo actually resulted in some kind of benefit for the Pepsi Cola company?a