Someone call a doctor. Swine flu (hysteria) is spreading. Newspapers are dying. Automobile companies are on life support. Mutants draw box office millions, as marketers engineer the next viral video. The U.S. economy sneezed, and the world collapsed. Politicians scrambled to resuscitate. And our climate is clearly running a temperature. Disease is America's metaphor du jour, and brand managers best check their vitals.
Tag: brand management
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.
Headaches for brands—and the people who manage them—are increasingly common when it comes to search results. More are on the way thanks to social media and the proliferation of smart phones. You should be aware of the impact on your brand because both social media and the use of smart phones to express opinions are growing quickly.
Back in August, social news aggregator Digg.com redesigned its service. The makeover was met with near-universal backlash, and sent traffic tumbling down 26% in the U.S. alone. Digg has since hired a new CEO, former Amazon exec Matt Williams, whose candid approach to this issue serves as a lesson in humility for businesses, and as an example for how companies should respond to resounding criticism in the age of the social media echo chamber. On Tuesday, Williams took to Digg's blog to convey two simple messages. First, we apologize for our mistakes. Second, here's what we're doing to fix the situation.
There has been much debate recently about whether or not Twitter is a meaningful tool for brands. But there's no doubt that consumers and marketers are having real, two-way conversations through Twitter that are producing measurable results for brands like Dell and Best Buy. Consumers want to communicate with brands -- and with the recent proliferation of participatory digital platforms, access to them and other consumers is easier than ever before.
Gap has finally shed some light on its new logo, which has had the industry buzzing and wondering why the retailer ditched its previous iconic mark. The logo, created with Laird & Partners, New York, is meant to be the latest "evolution" for the brand, which has been updating its product, rolling out pop-up stores and tapping hot designers such as Patrick Robinson. The logo is also in line with the label on Gap's popular 1969 jeans line.
I really like the ad campaign that the United States Postal Service (USPS) has been running for a while now. I just wish it was better, and I wish the USPS was doing more. The ads -- I'm guessing the campaign is called "If it fits, it ships" -- fire on all cylinders.
Google, the online search ad giant that rarely advertises, has decided it needs to advertise the fact that it is in the online display advertising business. And if that is not enough advertising about advertising, it has picked one of the most crowded advertising venues to get the message out — Times Square.
The question is this: how and how long would we have to live in a historical recreation to begin to to lose touch with the present day in a useful way. Human beings are wonderfully adaptive. We begin to recalibrate immediately. A couple of hours and we are sliding out of many assumptions and arrangements. A couple of days, and we are well down the slippery slope and this close to Stockholm syndrome. The reason this is useful for marketers is the shock of reentry. So much of good marketing is "getting our head out of the bucket" and "thinking outside the box" and otherwise relieving ourselves of the assumptions that prevent us from seeing what is "right before our eyes."
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.
Google rolled out the most significant change to its search page since the advent of search ads on Wednesday with what it calls "Google Instant." Rather than requiring searchers to hit "enter," results pop up -- along with corresponding search ads -- as you type in an attempt to predict queries from the very first character.
The content creation business is thriving these days, especially now that the Conventional Wisdom has all but freed it from having any direct connection or relevance to actually selling anything. Instead, one of the new deliverables of today's marketing is often a contest of some sort, which I think is even worse than not saying anything meaningful about a brand.
When Rilla Delorier assumed the post of chief marketing officer of SunTrust Bank in 2008, the banking crisis presented her with an opportunity -- to position SunTrust as a beacon in the storm, through new advertising from Mullen that launched in October of that year with the tagline, "Live Solid. Bank Solid." "The campaign launched based on research that we were doing with clients at the time that showed that people were waking up to living within their means," said Ms. Delorier, who previously was director-marketing for the bank's wealth-management business. "We went from concept to launch in six weeks."
A day doesn’t pass without headlines proclaiming that social media is changing everything (as are mobile, geo-location targeting, etc.) Two recent pieces raised some valid, challenging points around whether social media is truly critical for every brand/property to participate in – or whether the question of becoming ’social’ should be evaluated more strategically against objectives and performance measures, without the urgent, ‘act now or lose out!’ sense of hype. The second piece also got us thinking about the different considerations and implications that social media represent for brands vs. media properties.
Tracking the effectiveness of advertising on the web was hard enough. Tracking it in the era of "walled gardens" could become that much tougher. The rapid shift of web audiences and marketer attention toward closely controlled properties such as Facebook or Apple's iAd platform is presenting a growing challenge for web analytics. Nearly a quarter of online time at the PC is now spent with social media, the lion's share of that on Facebook, according to Nielsen Co.
Chicago's Museum of Science+Industry (“MSI") is running a contest to pick somebody who'll literally live inside the place for a month later this year, in hopes that the winner will help promote it to the outside world. Visiting a museum is relatively cheap, easy, and offers at least the hint of a redeeming purpose, so it’s no surprise that the MSI isn’t hurting, nor are museums generally: over half of them nationwide reported attendance increases last year, and I’d bet MSI's 2 million-plus annual visitors make it one of America's most popular. But it's never too early to think about new visitors, nor too bold to consider improving on really good numbers. Bill Gates' adage that when companies realize they're in trouble it's already too late to do anything about it probably applies to museums, too.
You wake up with a brilliant idea, a new concept no one has thought of before. You develop a flawless marketing plan over morning coffee, word gets out and by noon, the best teams of specialists all call you. All these world-class designers, marketing consultants, media planners, and brand management professionals offer you their services free, just to be part of your breakthrough concept. By 3:00 p.m., four major global corporations have had their legal departments fax over contracts to form co-branding efforts.... Hey, let's get real. If it were this easy, there wouldn't be brand development and image management firms, nor all the activities (not to mention all the books on the market) designed to develop and manage brands. So until it gets this easy, brands either do well, so-so, or poorly--depending on how well they are conceived and maintained. If it's going well, good. If not, then you're suffering needlessly from the dreaded affliction: Brandus Interruptus.
The one-day flap over the "Chevy" name should never have happened. General Motors made a mistake by telling its employees to never use the "Chevy" name again and to refer to the brand only as "Chevrolet." A nickname is not a bad thing. It's a good thing. People who use a brand's nickname feel closer to the product than those who don't. As a matter of fact, nicknames are one of the most under-utilized aspects of marketing. If at all possible, every company and every brand should have a formal name as well as a nickname. Two names are better than one.
Could it be that BP may have a naming and branding issue? Of course it does, and their reaction might be to change their name to Amoco. But gas station owners seem to be divided. Some owners feel that the BP brand has cleaned up its image by hiring an American to run the company. And, as the Associated Press reports, others "Believe a successful turnaround with the existing brand will have a bigger payoff."
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.
While 2009 was arguably the year brands embraced the iPhone, developing apps left and right, the iPad doesn't seem to have inspired the same enthusiasm. Magazines have embraced the iPad, but despite the product's hype, larger screen and dual-touch technology, brands haven't followed suit.
That’s what Fake does best: Tend social sparks until they ignite and become full-fledged communities. Connecting people to one another is not just Fake’s hobby — she has made it her career. As the cofounder of Flickr, the landmark photography site, Fake provided a place for shutterbugs to share their work; they have uploaded more than 4 billion pictures. It was a seminal service that helped launch the era of user-generated content, spurring entrepreneurs to build Web sites and businesses based on volunteer contributions.
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.
Who cares if your content is fun, right? Does fun make the cash register ring? And what if you’re a business-to-business company selling dead-serious stuff? Won’t it undermine your credibility, marginalize your message, and disrespect your products if you don’t approach your marketing with gravity? In business, it’s tempting (and easier) to use the same boring words everyone else uses. But you’ll be far more approachable (and a whole lot more engaging) if you lighten up a little.
Okay, maybe that's going too far. I don't really recommend firing your marketing manager. I do however believe that most companies will eventually need to hire or contract with a community manager, if they haven't already.
Struggling Eastman Kodak Co. said its movie-film business, a onetime cash cow, is shrinking faster than expected, raising fresh concerns about the viability of the iconic company's turnaround. The faster pace of decline puts more pressure on Kodak, which is still struggling to build profitable new lines of business. Kodak on Wednesday reported disappointing demand in one of its newer businesses—digital still cameras. Another, consumer and commercial inkjet printers, showed gains, but isn't expected to be profitable until 2012.
Not so long ago, brands were in the limelight. They were seemingly powerful, and virtuous. Any inconvenient truths were hidden by glossy packaging and one-way, big-bang marketing campaigns. Now, as organizations become ever more transparent, people can see behind the marketing facade and are questioning what they are told.
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.
Google Inc. is in talks with several makers of popular online games as it seeks to develop a broader social-networking service that could compete with Facebook Inc., according to people familiar with the matter.
We all understand the need for Marketing to positively and directly impact the sales cycle and win ratio. This is still an area of challenge for many marketers. Two studies this past spring, the CSO Insights 16th annual sales performance study of 2,800 companies and an Aberdeen study conducted with 472 participants, brought to the light the need for marketing to do a better job when it comes to both quality and quantity of leads.
Recent breakthroughs in neuro-science confirm what we marketers know in our guts, but sometimes forget in the day-to-day rush of preparing the next ad campaign launch. Namely, everybody feels (emotions) before they think (rational decision), and without generating the appropriate emotional response, no ad campaign can succeed. Here are some guidelines to help avoid that fate.
The rock-star CMO is dead, but the post-rock-star CMO is quietly living pretty large. The era of the high-profile, big-personality, high-production-value chief marketing officer -- which was already going wobbly as the recession began -- has ended definitively with the departures in the past year of the likes of Unilever's Simon Clift and Kodak's Jeff Hayzlett. Yet the less-ostentatious personalities that increasingly populate CMO slots have something their rock-star forbears lacked: power.
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.
Google has invested billions of dollars building dozens of different products across a wide swath of the technology industry, from productivity tools to mobile phones to e-commerce. As a result, many tech companies large and small have to think about a "Google plan" -- what to do if Google suddenly gets into their line of business? It's the same way companies used to worry about Microsoft during the last tech boom.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told ABC's Diane Sawyer this week that Facebook would "definitely think about" adding a Dislike button to the site, allowing users to express distaste for updates or pages on Facebook. But Zuckerberg is just humoring us: Facebook will never add a Dislike button, regardless of users' demands. Here's why.
As legend has it, the Dos Equis frontman "jettisoned his belongings" after his personal aircraft malfunctioned during a "routine circumnavigation of the world." Of course, it is "well known that the Most Interesting Man is a collector of priceless artifacts," and these items must be found. Called the Most Interesting Cargo Hunt, the Dos Equis-sponsored event was based entirely around this story, and like his perfectly crafted lines, every detail of the gathering was fine-tuned. It serves as an innovative example of how viral marketing has legs beyond social media and other traditional avenues.
Walk into a Barnes and Noble you can find dozen of books on innovation. There are books from teaching the ‘how to” to creative thinking”. Not many good ones simply because the subject is a moving target with rules being broken and created everyday, existing tools are getting obsolete, and best practices are often worst practices. Much that is held as common wisdom regarding how purposeful or successful innovation happened is wrong. This is not to say that all organizations are not innovative; obviously many are not thanks to our management systems and education.
The QR code, or quick response code, is simply a two-dimensional bar code that came into being in 1994 and found a large audience in Japan. Stateside, however, QR codes — while clever for tying real-world objects to online content — have always remained on the outskirts of public awareness. Nonetheless, we’ve seen QR codes employed for creative purposes. The Detroit Red Wings interactive programs and the giant QR codes in Times Square come to mind. Each of these serves as prime examples of how QR codes could be on the verge of their breakout moment. What the technology needs in order to finally make it to the mainstream are applications that take the nerd-factor out of the QR code scan, and drive home the potential rewards of seeing a code, scanning it, and then engaging with the served-up content. Stickybits and SCVNGR are startups that integrate the barcode scan in intelligent and fun ways. They’re poised to propel the movement of the next generation QR code, and here’s why.
Business leaders face the most disruptive market conditions in decades as competition keeps increasing, large rivals continue to compete aggressively by buying market share, new entrants are more nimble and substitute products seem to pop up almost at every turn. To deal with these changes, telecommunication providers -- telephone companies, cable TV companies, wireless companies and satellite TV companies -- need to change their organizational design as "inside-out" structures that put products, not customers, at the center of the organization. They need to become truly customer-centric, and to get there, they need to take these three critical steps.
For every Intel that intentionally crafts its trajectory as a brand rather than as a mere product, there are dozens of brands such as LYCRA, KONI, and Dell that have developed a deep resonance with customers more by accident than strategic intent. To judge by their websites and communications, the owners of these brands are well aware of what their products do for customers, but unaware of what they mean to customers.
I watched with growing dismay and disbelief as Steve Jobs struggled through his press conference last week about the iPhone 4 dropped calls. It's a classic example of how not to conduct public relations.
General Electric has launched a private online community for its global network of 5,000 marketers. An intramural social networking platform called MarkNet, the program is designed to connect marketers from different GE divisions who normally wouldn't speak to each other because they belong to different marketing silos.
After thirty days of shouting, cheering up and suffering (I am Argentinean!), the 2010 World Cup is over. As football involves strategy to beat competition, working with teams and of course luck, I got to thinking that must be some useful learnings for brand teams. So, blow the whistle ref, and let's go...
The Devil's Advocate is a regular staffer in most offices. "Let me play Devil's Advocate" is a socially acceptable way to shoot down an idea. It's a guise that allows anyone to criticize an idea without offering an alternative. It's far easier (and safer) to tear down than to create. You can undermine what someone has just proposed without actually challenging them directly.
As more and more advertising dollars flow into social media, some Madison Avenue firms are seeking to grab a piece of the action. But it will be a tough fight as the space is overrun with companies seeking to own the segment, from start-ups to public-relations firms. "You can't walk out your house without bumping into a social-media expert today, says Sean Corcoran, an analyst at Forrester Research. "The reality is the space is still very much a Wild West."
Scott Monty is the global digital communications chief for the Ford Motor Company, and full disclosure, a force to be reckoned with in The Influence Project. He currently ranks at number 43. He likes to say that Ford subscribes to a combination Woody Allen/Yogi Berra theory for social media where 90% may be just showing up, but what's critical is what you do when you get there. Monty talked to Fast Company about Ford's strategy for combining online and traditional advertising, breaking out of comfort cliques to expand a customer base, and the trials and opportunities presented by living in a 140 character society.
Businesses both big and small are flocking to social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Foursquare. The fact is that a presence on these platforms not only allows companies to engage in conversations with consumers, but also serves as an outlet to drive sales through deals and coupons. And while major brands like Starbucks, Virgin, and Levi’s have been participating in the social web for some time now, the rate of adoption among small businesses is increasing too.
Apple will give iPhone 4 customers a free protective case, or "bumper," to remedy its much-publicized reception problems when the device is gripped a certain way. During a press conference July 16, aimed at quelling the controversy over the issue, Apple CEO Steve Jobs also said anyone who buys the iPhone 4 by September 30 will be eligible for a free bumper. And customers who are still unsatisfied can get a full refund within 30 days of purchase without being charged a restocking fee.
A corporate blog is one tool in a strategic mix of communications media that a company can use to reach and interact with its customers and prospects. It can be an excellent communication and recruitment tool when created with a clear voice and a consistent content schedule. But before you sign up, here are eight tips to consider.
Two venerable brands have recently sidelined their names in favor of initials. National Public Radio now wants to be known as "NPR" while the Young Men's Christian Association — the YMCA — has abbreviated its abbreviation to, simply, "The Y." But aren't "NPR" and "The Y" already de facto brand names?
Zappos, the online shoe retailer, is legendary for its employee culture and customer service. Paying employees to quit; offering customers free shipping both ways and a year to make returns; and hiring 24/7 phone reps who are as courteous, kind, and upbeat as Four Seasons concierges are all part of the Zappos formula. When I caught up with CEO Tony Hsieh in California a few months ago, we spoke about how his company's culture came to be, and about selling the company to Amazon for $850 million last summer (a deal now worth more than $1 billion with the appreciation of Amazon's stock).
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."
What do senior management executives at CPG companies and retailers think about corporate social media strategies? Top executives were probed on this topic, along with many others, as part of the research for a just-released 2010 Grocery Manufacturers Association/PricewaterhouseCoopers financial performance report -- and the insights gleaned are more specific and practical than marketers might imagine.
While marketers traditionally were the direct channel and voice to the customer, creating direct mail, advertising and corporate press releases. CMOs today must develop advocacy programs in order to scale, increase credibility and demonstrate commitment to customers. In doing so, marketers will develop a low-cost trusted unpaid army of customer advocates.
Designing a new brand platform for a 160-year-old organization is no easy task, particularly when that organization is as diverse and well-known as the YMCA. The new brand platform involved a two-year development process that looked to reflect the character of the more than 2,600 individual "Y" organizations around the country.
What do a small chocolate maker, a global tire manufacturer, a natural-foods company and an insurance company have in common? They all believe that acting with integrity is helping their businesses perform better. The recession was caused by a culture of capitalism that was characterized by an all-consuming pursuit of profit that put integrity on the back burner and made irresponsible business practices acceptable.
I like to step back periodically and look at why companies need to go green. Besides the inherent business logic of creating value by getting leaner or innovating to solve customer problems, what are the forces propelling this movement? Understanding this explicitly can help companies think about solutions systematically.
All across the planet, entire nations were gripped by every moment of the FIFA World Cup, while here in the States another early exit by the U.S. side virtually guaranteed four more years of American indifference toward the sport of soccer. But even the most ardent soccer novice can admire the sports marketing successes of this global spectacle. So here are five World Cup lessons you might consider incorporating into your own marketing efforts.
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.
Executives at the company formerly known as Lucky Goldstar were more familiar with the old ways of doing things, despite the manufacturer's transition to the more premium LG -- as in "Life's Good" -- branding in the U.S. in 2004. Those outside the marketing department frequently asked him how much new marketing ideas would cost. Instead of appeasing them with a price tag, Mr. Lee, VP-global brand marketing, LG Electronics home entertainment, offered insight. He told them to think about the strategy behind the marketing before worrying about cost.
Whether they were enthralled or appalled by Thursday night's telecast of basketball star LeBron James's announcement about his future, few people, it turns out, could turn away. The hour-long ESPN special, dubbed "The Decision," drew 9.95 million viewers or 6.96 million households, the equivalent of a 7.0 national rating, according to preliminary figures provided by ESPN over the weekend.
The NBA's hottest free agent is no longer free: LeBron James announced his decision last night to join the Miami Heat after the New York Knicks signed Amar’e Stoudemire. Miami is hardly the launchpad New York could have been for James, according to Interbrand's analysis, as it does not "enable brand stretch or provide an outlet for LeBron to continue building his brand to the extent that other markets provide." James, however, isn't looking to be the next Michael Jordan (Magic Johnson, maybe) and doesn't want to carry a team (and city's) hopes on his shoulders alone. MSG head James Dolan commented before Johnson's decision, "It takes courage to play where the lights shine the brightest."
Allstate Insurance is running a campaign in which the threats of trees falling on cars, teens nicking car bumpers, and pets trashing upholstery are portrayed by a character named "Mayhem." I think it's scary good advertising. The actor, Dean Winters, is wonderfully smarmy. He was hilariously memorable as Tina Fey's self-adoring idiot ex-boyfriend on "30 Rock," and in these spots he cheerfully promises mayhem on dark roads and in crowded parking lots. He's perfect because he's sinister in the same way that stripes threaten to clash with plaid. I get the point but I'm not scared. Which is why the critics' complaints that the spots resort to fear mongering are plain wrong. Mayhem's mischief is an expression of reality; fate (or chance) is capricious, and that's why there's such a thing as insurance in the first place. So these ads manage to tell the truth, which is 1) an immense accomplishment for the category, and 2) directionally illustrative of what other advertisers should do.
These ads have been huge viral hits. Old Spice will certainly move a little more product and a short-term boost in sales is certainly nothing to be ashamed of. However, in the long term, is Isaiah Mustafa, the ad's star whos exposure has landed him a production deal with NBC, the only real beneficiary? Maybe worse yet, is Old Spice, by laughing at itself, hurting its brand? Is Old Spice making the age-old advertising mistake of confusing making consumers laugh at your brand with engaging consumers with your brand?
The speed of media fragmentation and innovation means that our jobs, never easy, are more complex every day. I get flop sweat every time I'm reminded that Twitter was launched at SXSW in 2007. Repent! The end is near! So is this not an original idea? One helpful distinction currently being discussed by people such as Brenda Zimmerman at the Schulich School of Business in Ontario is the difference between the complicated and the complex.
Are organizations really preparing themselves for a day where engaging in public will become more mainstream, ubiquitous and even expected? In other words, will the organization truly be “social” when they need it most? To help answer this question, I’m going to list a few core “plays” that your organization should be incorporating into their gameplan if they truly want to move toward making their business more “social”.
What did I learn on Take Our Board Members to Work Day? It's a nice idea but our day revealed that nice ideas don't often translate into reality. I didn't change ROI's understanding of my job; it's as if he and I live on two different planets. We certainly don't share the same language, though there's one thing on which we agree when it comes to the many disconnects.
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.
In search of new business models, some media and retail companies are treading on each other's turf online. One of the latest examples is Lockerz Inc., a youth-targeted media website that doles out points to members for watching videos with ads, taking surveys, signing up other friends, and completing other social-networking tasks. This week, Lockerz—which says it has amassed 16 million registered users—is launching a shopping component that lets users redeem those points, dubbed PTZ, for discounts from its own online mall from brands including Sony Corp., Ben Sherman Group Ltd. and Nintendo Co.
For a company that has made a big business of indexing third-party websites, a substantial part of Google's display success hinges on its ability to milk YouTube and its other owned and operated properties such as Gmail and Google Finance.
It's inevitable that as organizations navigate the complex world of sustainability, they will experience some internal cognitive dissonance about how they operate. Nobody said it was easy to balance the competing forces of (a) the inertia of how things have always been done, (b) the desire to meet the assumed needs of customers (for, say, welcoming, well-lit rooms), and (c) new pressures and questions about environmental and social performance. But forcing your customers to confront these choices or, worse, making them do the work themselves, is not a good option.
I've been thinking about the power of a particular kind of brand leader: founders. Many of the companies I admire are still run by their founders, or the founders at least still play an active role. Often the founders have come back after the company ran into trouble, showing just how important a role they play: Shultz at Starbucks, Dell at Dell, Jobs at Apple, Chuck Schwab at Schwab.
Brands are owned in the minds of target audiences and observers have been quick to redefine BP as “broken promise.” This broken promise is likely to manifest itself in lower stock prices, lower company valuation, boycotted gas stations and decreased market share and profitability over time.
Calling on brands to help consumers simplify their selection and purchase experiences makes sense; in the past, brands have served as the most important institution and clarifying mechanism there is in the marketing world. They have acted as liaisons between company and customer; they're descriptors, promises, expectations and attitudes, all together. But brands themselves have caused great consumer confusion of late. We recently completed an in-depth study of 1,488 consumers; as the results attest, 70% perceive the brands they know, based on memory, in the categories they want to go shopping for, as confusing. And at the point of sale, brand confusion more often increased rather than decreased.
Feature proliferation is the name of the game in new product development. Most innovation in the market is composed of incremental improvements to what's been done before. Yet those new features often outpace what the consumers actually want. In the case of the Fusion, Gillette had to launch a marketing campaign specifically targeted to their own Mach3 consumers. Instead of campaigning to steal share from competitors, they had to practically beg their own consumers who were plenty happy with the earlier Mach3 to upgrade to the more expensive Fusion. They over-served the market.
Dell Inc. vowed on Thursday to fix the profit problems of the business segment the company started with selling desktop and notebook computers to consumers. The computer maker laid out plans to shift to more cost-competitive computer designs, cut manufacturing costs, line up longer-term sales deals with retailers and save money by shipping more products in ships rather than by air freight.
For better or worse, the NCAA has been shuffling around schools and conferences for the past couple weeks, but the conference names have gone largely untouched. The Big Ten, which formerly had eleven teams after the addition of Penn State in 1990, now has twelve schools. The Big Twelve is now down to ten. Neither of the two conferences executive committees are coming close to changing the names.
In 2009, the dart landed on movie star Kevin Costner. Despite the fact that Costner had never been to Turkey, ever flown Turkish Airlines, or had ever expressed even the most passing interest in Turkish Airlines - the “Dart of Truth” was infallible. Costner was contacted out of the blue, and paid a small fortune to fly to Istanbul and make a series of TV and print ads in which he was made to “feel like a star” on Turkish Airlines business class service.
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.
As it becomes clear (at last!) that message control is dead, corporations in every industry are scrambling to learn about social media so they can incorporate it into their marketing mix. Fear and misconception abound. Here are the top four issues companies cite, debunked.
This month’s Forum covered an email marketing company which had experienced great success as a trailblazer years ago. But now as the gap between the company and the competition has narrowed, the company realizes the need to respond with a robust next generation solution. The founder explained the history of the company, introduced the company’s new offering, and asked for advice on the best customer value proposition for this new version – should it be a suite of brand management and marketing services OR an email marketing provider which also offers related services?
A brand has to have a reason for being. It should make a difference in the world in some way. Moreover, a brand has to have an organization that powers it -- an organization that is passionate and committed to bringing that brand to life in all facets of the company. The power of a brand starts from the people who create the experience every day. And the purpose the brand represents needs to come through at every possible touch point.
Once, chief marketing officers built brands. Now, their primary duty is communicating what the brand means for the financial well-being of the firm -- and they are going to need to be increasingly skilled at that going forward. Marketers of the future "are going to have to speak the language of the rest of the organization," said David Reibstein, professor of marketing at the Wharton School.
These days more and more hospitals are finding that the importance of a strong marketing program cannot be overstated. But hospitals looking to rebrand should understand that changing your image isn’t just an external process; in order to truly redefine the way your customers see your organization, you must change the way the members of your organization work together and interact with the community of which they are integral parts.
For any brand, you should constantly be aware of consumer trends and be willing to make changes as needed. You have to stay proactive and thoroughly research both your existing customer base and new audiences that you want to attract to help you decide what to change and what to keep the same. You've got to stay ahead of the trends.
Nokia has been forced to issue a profit warning as the company continues to struggle to compete against Apple, Research In Motion, and other smartphone makers. The company, which remains the No. 1 mobile phone maker in the world, said its second quarter will likely end up at "the lower end of, or slightly below, its previously expected range of €6.7 billion to €7.2 billion," according to the company.
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.
Brands should pay attention to Collaborative Consumption, a movement promoting a cultural shift towards “sharing, bartering, lending, trading, renting, gifting, and swapping.” Brands are already incorporating “peer-to-peer” exchange, from established sites such as eBay and Craigslist, to rising brands such as Zopa, Swaptree, and Zipcar. People are changing what and how they consume goods and services, largely enabled by online and wireless technology.
AT&T Inc.'s website, unable to handle the demand for Apple Inc.'s new iPhone on Tuesday, had difficulty processing orders and in certain instances appeared to reveal subscribers' personal information to strangers. Although the scope of the problem and its underlying cause couldn't immediately be learned, some AT&T customers, who were logged into AT&T's website as themselves ended up in other users' accounts.
What’s the biggest factor behind most successful marketing initiatives? A great product? Brilliant communication? Retailer backing? All of these are of course important. But research for our latest book highlighted one other essential and over-arching ingredient: brand leadership. Digging into the successful growth of over 100 brands we found that in most cases a human story emerged about a leader who aligned, engaged and inspired the whole business.
The ongoing tragedy of BP’s well disaster makes me both sad and mad at the same time, and I’ve been trying to think if there is anything useful to learn from this difficult situation. As I’ve been reading about the tragedy, I think there are at least three things that leaders who are performing large scale innovations can learn from.
Mello Yello, Coca-Cola’s longtime competitor to PepsiCo’s Mountain Dew, is channeling the spirit of 1979 in an attempt to break out of its perennial also-ran status. The new Mello Yello cans, which began appearing on shelves over the last few weeks, hearken back to the brand’s introduction that year with a pair of green- and light-red L’s “strolling off the edge of the can,” as Coke describes it.
They are among the World's Hottest Brands, an Ad Age Insights global report that tells the stories of 30 brands succeeding on a global, regional and local level. The goal was not to create a list of the largest global marketers or rank the brands that contribute the most to their company's market value -- plenty of others tackle those lofty questions. Rather, we sought to chronicle the brands percolating at the local and regional level; sometimes great marketing lessons can happen in your backyard, sometimes halfway around the world.
The absurd move by General Motors to force the use of the name "Chevrolet," over the popular "Chevy" -- whether a PR stunt or not -- is growing evidence of the invisible cognitive force that keeps marketers confused and wavering. Want to know what that force is?
Google is not known for its marketing; the product markets itself. But as Google attempts to translate its one mega-success -- search advertising -- into other lines of business, marketing is becoming a more important part of what the search giant is all about.
One of the most challenging things for a large successful organizations is to create an innovation large enough to make a difference. When a company’s on the brink of death, they will entertain many radical alternatives, but economic health is the enemy of change — which is one of Microsoft’s great problems.
When we think about marketing, who do we vote in? I could have taken the question to Twitter -- it's filled with marketers! To make things more interesting I asked it on LinkedIn instead, inviting many of my peers in marketing to give their take. This time I invited 50 of them from my network, and two responded in addition to many from groups.
Kodak has just friended Facebook, and it has a status update for you. Soon, you’ll be able to log into your Facebook account at Kodak’s retail photo-printing kiosks in stores like CVS and Target to print photos. You also will be able to access Picasa and Kodak Gallery online albums, as well as take advantage of a couple of useful new editing features.
On Tuesday, G.M. sent a memo to Chevrolet employees at its Detroit headquarters, promoting the importance of “consistency” for the brand, which was the nation’s best-selling line of cars and trucks for more than half a century after World War II. And one way to present a consistent brand message, the memo suggested, is to stop saying “Chevy,” though the word is one of the world’s best-known, longest-lived product nicknames.
BP hasn't asked Twitter to shut down @PBGlobalPR, but it appears to have asked that the site comply with Twitter's terms of service, and more clearly label the feed as parody. Last night the bio of @BPGlobalPR was changed to: "We are not associated with Beyond Petroleum, the company that has been destroying the Gulf of Mexico for 50 days."
Today at the World Innovation Forum, Pfizer CEO Jeff Kindler spoke openly about what it takes to be innovative, even in times of great uncertainty. Kindler believes that innovation is essential for any company's survival, and as one recent poll showed, Kindler is not alone in his thinking among CEOs.
It's a very different world today. With the Internet connecting everyone, companies are becoming more transparent whether they like it or not. An unhappy customer or a disgruntled employee can blog about a bad experience with a company, and the story can spread like wildfire. The good news is that the reverse is true as well. A great experience with a company can be read by millions of people almost instantaneously. The fundamental problem: you can't anticipate every possible touch point that could influence the perception of your brand.
Drugstore chain Walgreen Co. is ending its relationship with competitor CVS Caremark's pharmacy benefits management business because of complaints about prices and policies intended to bring customers to CVS stores. The decision does not affect current Caremark drug plans, but if Walgreens stands by its decision, it won't handle any Caremark-managed prescriptions in about three years. Walgreens said it will not participate in plans that are awarded to Caremark or contracts renewed with Caremark starting Monday.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs' unveiling Monday of the next-generation iPhone — it's thinner, has a higher-resolution display and comes with video chat — may have lacked a single "Wow!" moment. But coupled with the launch of a new operating system and mobile advertising service, the message to competitors was unambiguous: Catch us if you can.
The first decisive marketing goal of World Cup 2010 was scored nearly three years before the opening match of the soccer tournament, in which Mexico will face South Africa on Friday. It came when Nike, the American sports shoe and clothing maker, acquired Umbro, a British supplier of soccer gear that is a longtime sponsor of the English national team. The deal signaled a new determination by Nike to challenge Adidas, the German soccer apparel powerhouse, on its European home turf.
Newell Rubbermaid Senior VP-Chief Marketing Officer Ted Woehrle admits it wasn't always easy going from a world of big budgets at his alma mater, Procter & Gamble Co., to a world of smaller brands with smaller budgets at Newell Rubbermaid in 2007. Nearly three years in, Mr. Woehrle discusses how he's beaten the two-year CMO curse, how he's helped build a marketing culture at a product-focused company and why he's willing to wait for social-media programs to develop organically without big-budget pushes.
Even before you have your social media monitoring in place, any brand can benefit from working out a plan for what you will do with all this information you are going to gather. Dashboards and reports can be useful, but the ability to take actions or make decisions using this information is much more useful for any brand. What you do with your social media monitoring is as important, if not more important, than getting the monitoring in place in the first place.
But how far can this joyride go? The seeds of sometimes-fatal mistakes are sown when a company is at its peak: Expectations become unrealistic. Management loses focus. A new competitor finds a cheaper way to do what you're doing. Regulators start asking if you've grown too powerful. And all the while, you're too busy enjoying your success to recognize the dangers.
If you e-mail Apple’s CEO, there’s a chance you’ll get a personal reply from Steve Jobs himself. But what happens if you write AT&T’s CEO? One inquiring customer received a legal threat. “I want to first thank you for the feedback,” said a member of AT&T’s executive response team, in a voicemail recording posted on the recipient’s blog. “Going forward I want to warn you that if you continue sending e-mails to Randall Stephenson a cease-and-desist letter will be sent to you.”
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.
Crack open a beer this summer. Please. The $100 billion U.S. brewing industry is staggering into its crucial selling season from its weakest position in years. Sales for 11 of the biggest brands fell in the four weeks ended May 16, according to SymphonyIRI, and only four of the top 30 -- Keystone Light, Modelo Especial, Yuengling and Pabst Blue Ribbon -- posted gains. Meanwhile, despite massive measured-media support, category titans Bud Light, Coors Light and Miller Lite all declined.
PBR can trace its success directly to its failure. It started the 2000s as a has-been brand name, so pointless and uncool that it was perfectly poised to become cool when it was touched by the dark, abstract magic that drives consumer trends. No schmarty-pants marketer can take credit for architecting the Phoenix-like rise that followed; the brand was owned by a charitable trust that knows about as much about consumer tastes as you'd expect a charitable trust to know. It didn't hurt that PBR was the beer of choice for the wacky Dennis Hopper character in the movie "Blue Velvet" but the brand's revival was pretty much organic, from what I can tell.
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?
Judy Hu, GE's global director of advertising and branding, on stage at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference last week, discussed a new effort by GE to crowdsource ideas for how to "avoid the lame and embrace the awesome" in digital media. Over the next four days, GE collected 60 suggestions, ranging from ideas for ad campaigns to product concepts. The effort is the latest example of a worldwide brand testing the crowdsourcing waters. The move has put the spotlight back on the ongoing debate about the value of such efforts -- including to creators.
CheapTickets, part of Orbitz Worldwide, is announcing on Tuesday morning a user-generated content contest, asking consumers to create a 30-second commercial that shows “just how good it feels to save” by using cheaptickets.com. The judges on the panel will include the executives at CheapTickets who oversee advertising and Tim Calkins, a marketing professor at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.
Coke and Pepsi are very active in social media, and I think their hard work is helping to build up a bank of trust with their audiences. As has been widely reported, Pepsi decided not to use its Super Bowl ad budget to try to create a set of iconic commercials. Instead, it used it to launch its "Refresh Everything" campaign in which it asked its "fans" to come up with ideas to "refresh the world" in the categories of health, the planet, art and culture, food and shelter, neighborhoods, and education. Fans submit descriptions of their ideas. Pepsi screens and posts them on the website. Visitors vote on them. Then, after considering the votes, Pepsi selects which ones to fund. Grants ranging from $5,000 to $250,000, and Pepsi plans to spend a total of $15.6 million on the year-long program, which ends next January.
Prudential Financial has confirmed that it is seeking an umbrella campaign for its master brand in a creative search that's just getting started. The work up for grabs constitutes a new project-based assignment, a client representative said. Sources expect the corporate image campaign to be backed by about $50 million in major media spending. Prudential Financial offers life insurance, mutual funds, annuities and investment services, including retirement planning. The division and this particular assignment are separate from Prudential's real estate business.
British Airways cabin crew are on strike for the second of what could be a number of strikes this year. Last minute talks were taking place over the weekend until they broke up. And BA CEO, Willie Walsh, is blaming the collapse of the talks on Twitter.
Facebook's rapid response to privacy concerns may just have saved the world's fastest-growing internet brand from long-term damage. The company, which has undergone a month of withering criticism, today introduced a simplified new dashboard to control privacy settings, rolling back some of the changes made last month that confused users, concerned privacy advocates and drew the attention of Congress.
Ultimately, consumers decide what a brand means to them and how brands become a part of their lives. Elevating a brand to iconic status requires not only a great product, but the advocacy of our most loyal consumers. In addition to making the physical product available at the appropriate places, marketers must make the brand a critical part of their core fans' culture. It is important to study and to become a valuable part of that culture.
Chips Ahoy!, Kraft’s top-selling chocolate chip brand, is giving its eight-year-old “Cookie Guys” campaign the heave-ho to make way for a new effort built around “joy.” The campaign, which coincides with new products and packaging, centers on the moments of exultation moms and children alike derive from eating the cookie. A spot launching this week, for instance, shows kids moving and grooving each time someone opens a package of Chips Ahoy! The spot is set to the tune of the 1979 R&B hit “Bustin’ Loose,” by Chuck Brown & the Soul Searchers. Tagline: “There’s a lotta joy in Chips Ahoy!
It’s easy to get distracted by the Shiny New Thing. It’s particularly easy to get distracted when the going gets tough on your core plan and energy starts to wane. Whether it’s a new technology, a new product, or a new customer, falling in love with the Shiny New Thing can take a team off course. It’s easy to get enthusiastic about the promise of something new than the hard slog of what you’re already doing.
What do chief executive officers really want? The answer bears important consequences for management as well as companies' customers and shareholders. The qualities that a CEO values most in the company team set a standard that affects everything from product development and sales to the long-term success of an enterprise. There is compelling new evidence that CEOs' priorities in this area are changing in important ways. According to a new survey of 1,500 chief executives conducted by IBM's Institute for Business Value, CEOs identify "creativity" as the most important leadership competency for the successful enterprise of the future.
In the massive new Barnes & Noble superstore on Manhattan's Upper East Side, generous display space is devoted to baby blankets, Art Deco flight clocks, stationery and adult games like Risk and Stratego. The eclectic merchandise, which has nothing to do with books, may be a glimpse into the future of Barnes & Noble Inc., the nation's largest book chain. Electronic books are still in their infancy, comprising an estimated 3% to 5% of the market today. But they are fast accelerating the decline of physical books, forcing retailers, publishers, authors and agents to reinvent their business models or be painfully crippled.
In a time of big promises and increasing consumer skepticism, building a strong corporate brand starts with understanding the truth about an organization.
On May 4, General Motors made the first move I have seen that gives me any hope whatsoever that the company might be heading in the right direction. It hired Joel Ewanick, former CMO of Hyundai, to oversee GM marketing as well as the marketing of all GM brands, including Chevy, Buick, Cadillac and GMC. Finally, a decision from Detroit that makes sense ... hiring a decision maker. On Mr. Ewanick's watch, the game-changing and highly successful Hyundai Assurance Plan was created and launched in just 37 days. Ewanick oversaw the launch of the Hyundai Genesis, a Korean luxury sedan that will have as much or more effect on the luxury sedan market than Lexus did 20 years ago, and he introduced the new Sonata, sales of which immediately increased 50% year on year. So what has this got to do with a column about marketing to boomers? Well, to my way of thinking, Mr. Ewanick's Hyundai advertising is the only (yes, I said only) automotive advertising in the U.S. today that truly appeals to the boomer consumer.
Tony Hsieh is the CEO of Zappos.com, Inc. During the past 10 years, the company has grown from almost no sales to more than $1 billion in annual gross merchandise sales, driven primarily by repeat customers and word of mouth. Below is an excerpt from Tony's forthcoming book that describes the beginning of Zappos.
Marketers consistently push the envelope, hoping that novel ideas will yield stellar results for their brands. Companies attempt to break through boundaries previously set by competitors or, sometimes, themselves. Risk-taking, of course, is both exciting and scary. Deciding which lines to cross is never an exact science. Every decision demands that marketers weigh risks and rewards, but ultimately, without the risks, brands never achieve the best rewards. Below are 10 brands that took risks in their marketing practices and campaigns and proudly lived to tell about them.
Though I often like to riff on smart or silly marketing decisions, I'm more interested in the business strategy behind brands. In considering Dell and Starbucks, I'd have to say that both companies are utterly and somewhat similarly lost.
There are some practical concerns in the battle between Sprint and Verizon--phone selection, for example, makes a big difference. But there are also a number of sustainability concerns to take into account, as explained in The HIP Investor, by R. Paul Herman. Sprint has received significantly more attention for its sustainability initiatives, mostly because they have been flashier. The Samsung Reclaim, for example, was Sprint's first "green" phone, featuring recycled plastic, soy-based ink in its user manual, and a box made out of recycled paper. A successor to the Reclaim, dubbed the Restore, will be released this summer. But green phones like the Reclaim and the Restore are little more than gimmicks until they become more desirable than heavy hitters like the Droid and iPhone.
The environment for marketers is changing dramatically. Marketing's leadership in driving business success has never been more in demand, and those who have demonstrably begun to expand mindsets, skills and capabilities are setting the standard. The difference this shift makes has never been more evident than during the bleakness of the lingering recession. Businesses whose marketing leaders have embraced its components may not have emerged unscathed, but they at least have found themselves entering 2010 with substantial positive momentum.
A whirlwind merger has created the "new" United Airlines, and, interestingly enough, my first reaction to the united.com homepage takeover announcing the deal was, "What happened to my brand?" See, United is the "surviving" party in the merger but many elements of Continental are being folded into United's brand. All I know so far is that the logo is now the Continental logo with the word "United" dropped in. There's also the CEO change (Continental's CEO transitioning in as the head of United over the next couple of years), but I think there are interesting brand dynamics going on here as the to-be merged airline is faced with the challenge of pleasing both of its customer constituencies
General Motors Co. wanted Joel Ewanick so badly that it twice made a run at him -- and only won out after giving in to his biggest demand: autonomy. Mr. Ewanick, a veritable rock star in the auto-marketing world, shocked the industry last week when he left Nissan -- where he was VP-marketing for just five weeks after having left Hyundai Motor America in March -- to become the new VP-U.S. marketing for GM.
Should marketing be in the driver's seat at the risk of alienating corporate communicators? Or, should corporate communicators take the lead only to risk a potential disconnection with the sales and marketing force? Personally I see these as false choices. They generate a lot of heated debate in their respective industries, but not much light. I think the better approach is to ask how these functions can best work together to add the most cumulative value to the company overall.
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.
The chief marketing officer of wines in the U.S. for the alcoholic beverage giant is too busy figuring out how to get more people to buy some of its 75 brands. It is a tough job. Americans have all but stopped buying wine that costs more than $30 a bottle. The action, what's left of it, is in the $7 to $15 range, and profits are elusive. (Dollar sales in the U.S. were off 3.3% last year on a 1.2% volume gain, says Beverage Information Group of Norwalk, Conn.)
General Motors Co. removed a recently named marketing chief Wednesday and replaced her with an executive known in the car industry for a clever campaign that helped Hyundai Motor Co. bolster its U.S. sales. The move reflects the urgency Chairman and Chief Executive Edward E. Whitacre Jr. places on winning customers and increasing sales in the critical U.S. market. Since becoming chairman last summer, Mr. Whitacre has made it no secret that he expects GM to gain share in the U.S. market, and sees raising sales as critical to its turnaround.
Sears Holdings Corp. is looking more seriously at selling its proprietary brands outside of Sears and is pouring money into beefing up its online business in an effort to become relevant to a new generation of shoppers. Sears and Kmart stores aren't going away, but they could be a hybrid of what they are today, said Edward Lampert, Sears' chairman and majority shareholder, at the company's annual meeting Tuesday.
The past two months have been tumultuous for social network platform Ning. In March, longtime CEO Gina Bianchini was replaced by COO Jason Rosenthal. And less than three weeks ago, Ning’s bubble burst — the company laid off 40% of its staff and killed off its free service. Today the company, which ended its free service a few weeks ago, is rolling out the different paid models for its platform, Ning Pro, Ning Plus and Ning Mini.
Our tastes have expanded. Not just with food, but how we consume information, relationships, and experiences. Our expectations are on the rise. Social media storytelling is changing things. We demand communication that doesn’t insult our intelligence. Our instincts tell us we’re better than this. And so increasingly we opt-out, filter, and turn off the noise. We have settings for that. The message better be worthy of our attention.
Yesterday, United and Continental Airlines, the third- and fourth-largest U.S. carriers respectively, announced they would be merging, creating the first-largest carrier. While the media focuses on numbers of flights, ramifications for shareholders and what will happen to customers’ frequent flyer miles we focus our attention on what really matters: The literal merger of two infinitely different brands.
In early December, Apple acquired streaming music service Lala. Just five months later, Lala is shutting its doors. The Apple-owned service is no longer accepting new users and, according to a message on its website, come May 31 it will cease operations for existing members as well.
Sony is taking a subtle marketing approach for the launch of its WiFi-enabled portable Internet viewer, the Dash. While announcing the device's availability on Thursday, Sony downplayed marketing plans, saying the device would be highlighted on shows such as "The Dr. Oz Show" and "The Martha Stewart Show" and on CNBC programming and make appearances in music videos from Sony Music artists.
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.
"Live in the market, not in a spreadsheet" Cheryl McKinnon Noah defines three separate roles (which might be fulfilled by a single person) in the innovation process: the capitalist who provides the money; the inventor who creates the idea; and the entrepreneur who adapts the idea, brings it to market, and commercialises it. Each role is a different task, requiring different skills.
For all of the talk about the empowerment of the customer, some industries seemed to have missed this entire conversation. Frankly, airlines (and others, like banks) continue to run their business in complete defiance of anything like putting their customers first. Remember United Breaks Guitars? Today that video has 8,395,275 views. Given the complaints I'm seeing, I'm not sure that United learned anything from that experience.
Today's consumers are more diverse, more inter-connected and more demanding than ever. Their expectations are rising while their propensity to be loyal to companies is declining, so (let's face it) they are in the driver's seat. The questions for companies today are then: Are companies orchestrating where consumers go, and are they making the trip pleasant?
Invaluable as innovation may be, our relentless focus on it may be obscuring the value of its much-maligned relative, imitation. Imitation has always had a faintly disreputable ring to it — presidents do not normally give speeches extolling the virtues of the copycat. But where innovation brings new things into the world, imitation spreads them; where innovators break the old mold, imitators perfect the new one; and while innovators can win big, imitators often win bigger.
The term "business model" is often bandied about in the mainstream media as a way of capturing the essence of how a company makes money. To keep things simple for the home gamers, the media usually reduces the term "business model" to something impossibly simple - as in "advertising" or "paid subscriptions." When you talk to insiders, though, the reality is often much more complex and textured. In some cases, the way you think an industry makes money turns out to be nothing more than fiction.
What's it take to get cut-throat agency competitors to play nice? A $2 billion global budget doesn't hurt. It's at least one reason McDonald's can get its agencies to collaborate on strategy and major messaging before releasing them to develop their own spins. But McDonald's doesn't pit them against each other in winner-take-all shoot-outs; rather, it asks clients for their best work and often goes with multiple agencies contributing to the campaign, as it did with the recent "I'm Lovin' It" update. The company sees that collaboration as crucial to its advertising success.
Some small businesses start without a business plan, finding success in a breakthrough product or service early on and building upon that success organically. However, it’s inevitable that the venture will need to have a structured business plan put in place at some point if the business is expected to scale, expand and ultimately thrive. This well understood concept is the basis for what I’m informally labeling “social business planning”, yet from my experiences working across multiple organizations, the current focus remains on social media programs (the external) without putting in the appropriate social business infrastructure (the internal).
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.
Popular psychology simplifies the different functions of our brain hemispheres by using “left brain” to indicate analytical thinking and “right brain” to mean creativity and emotion. That may be a bit of an oversimplification, but it’s a useful shorthand. In The Luxury Strategy, authors J. N. Kapferer and V. Bastien emphasize the need for a management team that has both characteristics.
America has become a nation of penny pinchers. The economic meltdown was the 500-pound catalyst, but even amid signs the economy is picking up, many of us still are pinching away. It's a trend that analysts say reflects a seismic — and perhaps lasting — change in our spending habits, and retailers are responding. Our demand for deals is forcing high-end retailers such as Whole Foods and Starbucks— whose growth symbolized recent boom times — to change how they do business.
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.
When people want to transfer money safely and directly to one another in the Europe, they go through their banks. But in the United States, they're more likely to use PayPal. This is good news for eBay, which phased out a competing payment system and bought PayPal in 2002 for $1.5 billion. eBay's revenues were up 16% in the last quarter of 2009, in good measure due to PayPal, which PC Magazine reports processed $20 billion worth of transactions for 81 million customers in that quarter alone. But it's bad news for U.S. banks, which it might be argued, should have been reaping the benefits eBay is now enjoying.
AOL has unveiled Advertising.com Ad Desk, a new campaign management platform aimed at mid-size agencies and advertisers. The new Ad Desk will allow display advertisers to take a more active role in their online ad campaigns. They’ll be able to access information (such as demographics and audience size) on AOL’s various properties, and make decisions on how and when campaigns should run -- without having to go through AOL’s own sales force.
The success of Apple’s mobile devices gives the firm an opportunity to capture a goodly chunk of the emerging mobile-advertising market. Indeed, that is the reason why Apple recently acquired Quattro Wireless, a mobile advertising agency. Becoming an advertising powerhouse is certainly attractive. But Mr Jobs has far bigger fish to fry. The biggest of them all is turning Apple into the Microsoft of mobility. But first there is a little matter of locking as many software developers as possible into the Apple ecosystem. If the applications are there, so the argument goes, users will follow in droves.
Recently, there has been a lot of buzz on the Internet about two similar events. What happened was basically this; The Masters of the Universe had proclaimed their decrees like dictators and the only thing the rest of the world could do was, for a lack of a better phrase, gnash their teeth in frustration. If businesses are going to bet on creating solutions on platforms they do not own, they have to realize that this a huge business risk. When the platform owners change the rules of the game, everything pretty much goes down the drain and we will have likely no control or say over this decision.
From Bolivia comes the fascinating branding tale of Coca-Colla. That's right: it's called "Coca-Colla." It's also being called trademark infringement, and "a socialist-tinged affront to western imperialism." It's even being called, jokingly, "the real thing" owing to its use of real coca leaf. What it shouldn't be called is a threat to Coca-Cola. Paradoxically, Coca-Colla's existence only serves to strengthen the brand it imitates (and maybe mocks). Whether Coca-Cola's lawyers see the humor in the parody reamins to be seen.
If you can't beat 'em, join 'em seems to be the thinking behind an experiment by family-style restaurant Bob Evans Farms. The "home of home-style" is expanding into take-home goods on a retail basis in a new test (dubbed "Taste of the Farm") at its Westerville, Ohio location. The Bob Evans empire, which began life as a single truck stop diner in Columbus, Ohio, now boasts hundreds of restaurants and a spin-off chain, called Mimi's Cafe. The Evans brand promotes country living and farm fresh eating across the heartland of America.
Will Volvo's recent takeover by Geely (Mandarin for lucky) prove to be lucky for both companies? The Hangzhou-based company paid Ford $1.8 billion ($1.6 billion for a 100% equity stake and $200 million for a credit note), and raised $900 million to keep Volvo running, which took the total tab to $2.7 million. To finance this deal, Geely secured $2.1 billion of loans from Bank of China, China Construction Bank, Export-Import Bank of China, Geely Automobile Holdings (the group's listed arm), and the government of Gothenburg, where Volvo is headquartered. In return, Geely has promised to return Volvo, which made a $934 million loss last year, to profits in two years' time. Is that possible?
There was a time when media companies--and by that I mean magazine and newspaper publishers--employed entire "reader services" departments for each publication. There, dedicated operators would answer readers’ questions via a 1-800 number about products seen in the magazine. Just as advertisements today would never forgo mentioning their Web site addresses, years ago advertisers would always identify their 1-800 numbers in campaigns. How else could consumers get in touch or know who to ask? Now there are electronic robots scrolling Twitter and other social networking sites searching for brand mentions and customer concerns. Once a brand mention is found, a dedicated team of community managers is instantaneously alerted and go to work answering consumer questions or rewarding consumers for positive brand references via Twitter, e-mail, Facebook or other forms of social media. The distance between the seller and the buyer today is short.
Here we continue the post on why I think Nespresso is the best brand in the world.
I usually try to keep my critiques to categories I’ve worked in, primarily because I think it’s irresponsible for me to comment on what works and what doesn’t when I have little basis for my assessment other than being a consumer. So I initially demurred when some folks have asked for my POV on AT&T’s new campaign, Rethink Possible. But then I started wondering whether my expertise in other categories might actually shed some light on the issue — that’s when I realized that there are some instructive parallels between AT&T and fast food chains. And while AT&T has adopted some of what drives fast feeders’ success, there are a couple of important lessons it might want to learn.
Joel Ewanick became VP marketing, Nissan Division, on March 22. Literally. Ewanick, who replaces Christian Meunier (tapped as president, Nissan Brazil) went right to work, attending agency strategy sessions and dealer meetings. The former VP marketing at Hyundai Motor American since early 2007 now orchestrates the whole marching band, from marketing communications to incentives to pricing and product management.
The pressure is on Gatorade to perform this year, following a tough 2009 that had analysts, beverage industry watchers and the ad industry believing the granddaddy of sports drinks had lost its mojo. The turnaround hinges on a new campaign, an overhauled product lineup including before and after workout drinks, and a broadened definition of sports to include things such as surfing and acrobatics to lift Gatorade, which saw a 15.5% decline in volume last year.
Today’s FT has an article about the inability of today’s older marketers to ‘get’ the use of social media. The outgoing marketing chief of Unilever has warned of a “lost generation” of brand managers who do not understand the web and social networks. In his final interview before retiring, Simon Clift said he believed public relations agencies were best placed to profit from the rise of Facebook and Twitter, as traditional advertising agencies struggle to adapt to the digital world.
Things seem a bit adrift at AOL, and the Bebo news makes it seem all that much more... well, drifty. AOL bought the site just two years ago for $850 million, which is nothing to scoff at. CEO Tim Armstrong, who has been on the job since last April, pledged support for Bebo during his first 100 days media tour last June (Obama envy, anyone?). "I think the Bebo team in general could benefit from being in an environment where they can purely focus on Bebo and growing Bebo," he said then. "We're trying to give them kind of a corral where they can live and grow and really act like a start-up without being constrained to the larger strategy the company has."
Nokia retains a massive share of the global mobile phone market, but cracks are beginning to appear in its once-impenetrable leadership. In particular, the electronics brand is struggling to defend its lead in smartphones - the fastest-growing and most profitable part of the mobile phone business.
Last fall, Mercedes-Benz ran a competition among business schools like Harvard, New York University, Wharton and Kellogg, in cooperation with NYU, to find out what the next critical market for the brand actually thinks of the brand.
The next generation of Ford's Sync technology will turn its cars into rolling, talking, socially networked, cloud-connected supermachines. Introducing America's most surprising consumer-electronics company.
David Jason's voice wafts into British living rooms as images of everyday life fill the screen. 'Some things in life just have to be,' he intones. It's not meant to be prize-winning creative work. It's the latest part of Heinz's increasingly successful strategy to fight private labels. The food giant offers a playbook on how to survive and prosper in an age of own-label brands.
Zinio's CMO Jeanniey Mullen on the benefits of catering to Steve Jobs' audience.
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's one of those iconic brands that defined the American sandwich. Wonder Bread, created in 1925, was America's first sliced white bread, packaged in plastic adorned with red, yellow, and blue balloons to appeal to kids. But almost a century later, Wonder Bread, still on grocery shelves, is fighting to stay relevant. Today, the healthy qualities of wheat and whole grain have overshadowed white bread, often perceived as a processed product of little nutritional value.
China's Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co. agreed to buy Volvo cars from Ford Motor Co. on Sunday for $1.8 billion, a landmark agreement designed to vault the Chinese company onto the global automotive stage. The Volvo deal—which comes after China surpassed the U.S. last year as the biggest auto market—puts a Chinese company for the first time in charge of a major global car brand.
In another sign that the TV industry is looking beyond traditional age and sex ratings to buy and sell TV time, MTV Networks has signed with TRA, which offers a research service that links TV ratings to product purchase behavior. The agreement covers TRA data for all MTVN channels such as MTV, Comedy Central, VH1, TV Land, Spike and Nickelodeon. TRA launched its hybrid ratings service in 2007. Its second-by-second estimates are based on data from 1.5 million set-top-box households and product purchase data from 54 million households participating in shopper loyalty programs to create a single source panel of 370,000 households.
Executives at Allstate, known, after their famous slogan, as “the ‘good hands’ people,” are looking for a few good advertising ideas — and are making that clear in attention-getting fashion. Three top managers of the Allstate Corporation came to New York from the company’s Northbrook, Ill., headquarters to make a presentation to senior sales executives from dozens of major media companies. They were joined by a surprise guest: Dennis Haysbert, the actor and Allstate spokesman. The message, delivered by the Allstate leaders on Wednesday under the title “The New State of Allstate,” was this: Help us advertise more effectively by developing, for all types of media, better ways to tell consumers that Allstate sells protection, not just insurance.
Better to seek forgiveness than to ask permission. That's been the rallying cry of organizational intrapreneurs and innovators even before In Search of Excellence was a gleam in Peters and Waterman's McKinseyan eyes. Because innovation is often messy, unplanned, and serendipitous, companies should be careful about how much order, discipline, and oversight to impose on individuals who bring urgency and initiative. The paradigmatic story is of Hewlett-Packard's Chuck House, who persisted in prototyping extra large screen computer monitors despite being directly told by company co-founder and CEO David Packard to knock it off. Needless to say, the product became an important success. House was forgiven — and has co-authored what is arguably the best book about HP.
If you haven't seen it by now, the Nestle brand* has run into a bit of a brand crisis on Facebook thanks to a combination of a coordinated attack from Greenpeace and missteps from the brand in communicating with consumers through the social media environment. The negativity is piling on at the moment and the brand is likely getting advice from many different places about what to do next and how to react. Along with this, their following on Facebook is exploding and is now close to 100,000 fans. In my mind, this is another great example of the type of crisis that we have seen in many companies that ultimately helps to awaken their entire teams to the power of social media and how it may require a different type of thinking.
Do you have friends or colleagues who prefer dealing with people rather than machines? My wife is like that. When she needs to know her bank balance or just get some cash, she will go out of her way to talk to a bank teller rather than fumble with an ATM; and she'll always push the button for a "live operator" on an automated telephone service menu. This doesn't mean that my wife is averse to technology — she uses email, iPods, cell phones, and the usual array of 21st century devices. But at the same time she is drawn to personal, human customer service and wants it to be part of her life.
I traveled extensively a couple weeks ago and suffered the usual indignities and disappointments of uneven customer service. You know the drill so I won't bore you with details, except one: After a pleasant, issue-free stay at a hoity-toity London hotel, the guy behind the front desk wouldn't extend my checkout time by an hour. He shrugged apologetically. I will never stay there again.
Design, or design thinking, is becoming increasingly popular among management practitioners and scholars. Leading popular magazines like BusinessWeek and Fast Company regularly feature design as an important topic. Many leading business schools around the world incorporate some elements of design as a part of their curriculum. At the same time, leading design schools around world are challenging business schools by providing plausible alternatives to students and recruiters alike.
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.
Indeed, the results of our 2009 Leading Global Brands study, which includes responses from 20,000-plus global marketers who work on over 200-plus brands across all industries, employed by companies like Unilever, Diageo, and GlaxoSmithKline, indicate that getting the proper local vs. global balance is a top challenge. Almost 65% of respondents confirm that global brands have become more important over the last five years. But only 15% fully agree that their global brands are effectively leveraging their scale. Even fewer believe that their organizations excel at quickly rolling out successful global brand initiatives.
If your marketing department has invested in any technology since the early 1960s, chances are you probably have something called a "dashboard" running on a PC near you, maybe even on yours. The idea is that your various technology systems -- tracking things like digital ad performance, conversational media results, and online sales -- can feed into a spot wherefrom you can "drive" your marketing. No you can't.
Perhaps the most difficult aspects of Social Media to embrace are the changes in our behavior and overall philosophy it necessitates in order to earn relevance and ultimately prominence in consumer hearts, minds, and markets. Simply put, Social Media makes us vulnerable and officially ends an era of perceived control threaded by the illusion of invincibility. Everything we thought we knew and valued is now in dire need of reassessment. We are entering into a time when we are affected by voiced sentiment in the public spotlight and backchannels of the social Web. What we hear, see and observe can and should touch us.
The budding, 3D light-emitting diode (LED) TV category is about to get a blast of advertising from Samsung. The leading TV maker this week unveiled its largest marketing campaign for the launch of new 3D LED television sets. (Rival Panasonic rolls out a similar product this week.) Samsung's ads, by CHI & Partners, London, will run globally. They show a street team installing TVs in unexpected public places, and consumers, as a result, cherishing the depictions of real life as they're captured on the screens. The U.S. version of the campaign, via Leo Burnett, kicked off with a spot called “Wonder,” during Sunday’s Academy Awards. It shows a family bringing home the “wonder” of 3D entertainment. Brandweek chatted with Samsung CMO Sue Shim, who explained why a downturn is actually a good time to launch pricey, but innovative products. (Samsung's 3D LED TVs start at $1,700.) Excerpts from that conversation are below.
I'm going to go out on a limb and propose that product crises aren't communications crises. Suggesting otherwise is like giving the play-by-play announcer credit for a sports score, or holding a translator responsible for presenting an untenable negotiating position. Our selective vision makes us focus on how issues are communicated at risk of losing sight of the business reality it narrates. Bad news doesn't influence or have an impact on brands as much as reveal them for what they are. CMOs need to see someone else's misfortune as the opportunity to review and perhaps change how you see your function before the inevitable spotlight finds you.
General Motors recently announced that it is killing off the Hummer brand, after a sale to China’s Sichuan Tengzhong company fell through. The company did manage to find a buyer for Saab. This is part of bigger move by GM to drastically focus its brand portfolio, after having gone bust last year and been rescued by the US government. Why did the Hummer brand die, but Saab survived?
When it comes to social marketing many brands are doing themselves a disservice by simply creating a social profile or tweeting deal ads to followers. Sure, this gives the consumer a reason to visit a website, but for a truly integrated social campaign marketers need to take their social profile to the next level. That includes building a community the consumer will return to time and again, and that means more than deal tweeting.
Starbucks Corp. and some other chain stores in the U.S. are finding themselves caught in the middle of a firearms debate, as gun-control advocates go up against a burgeoning campaign by gun owners to carry holstered pistols in public places. The "open carry" movement, in which gun owners carry unconcealed handguns as they go about their everyday business, is loosely organized around the country but has been gaining traction in recent months. Gun-control advocates have been pushing to quash the movement, including by petitioning the Starbucks coffee chain to ban guns on its premises.
Most everyone in Silicon Valley and on Wall Street agrees: The eventual IPO of social-networking site Facebook could make its founder the world's richest twenty-something. Yet Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg, now 25, seems intent on deferring that multibillion dollar payday.
Ford Motor Co. surpassed General Motors Co. in sales last month for the first time in at least 50 years, presenting a new headache for the government-owned car maker as it struggles to return to profitability. Hours after the sales results were disclosed Tuesday, GM announced an overhaul of its top managers—the second executive shuffle in three months. The news underscored the impatience of GM Chief Executive Edward E. Whitacre Jr. and the heat the company is feeling from a resurgent Ford.
A handy piece of carpentry (and life) advice passed to me by my grandfather – Joseph Williams. This, along with – “Plan for the worst, hope for the best” – have come in handy when building marketing programs. In my experience, most mistakes and problems with marketing programs aren’t made by “poor execution” but rather by poor planning. It is easy to blame front-line employees, or the sales team for “not doing it right.” However, if we do our jobs properly, we greatly eliminate the chance of someone “not doing it right.”
With Blockbuster's deft PR manipulation of the Wall Street Journal to write about its "remake" on the same morning it announced the continued collapse of its business yesterday, I also feel compelled to write about the company. This will be the last time I do so. In the spirit of full disclosure, I joined Blockbuster's senior leadership team in the late 1990s soon after Viacom acquired it; I was fired three years later in one of those bloodless corporate coups when a new CEO brought his own team along. Blockbuster took excruciatingly good care of me, however, and my experiences there had been very positive, so I've always been an alum who hoped the company would succeed.
The Quiznos sandwich chain, known for its hot-from-the-oven creations, is making a big push to offer convenience-store patrons an alternative to the usual microwaved fare. As consumers have gotten busier and thriftier amid the recession, they have been increasing their visits to convenience stores while reducing their visits to restaurants. Restaurant visits began slowing in 2007 and then fell 3% last year while trips to convenience stores to buy food have been increasing at a year-over-year rate of 1% since 2007, according to the NPD Group.
With its traditional video-rental business under assault, Blockbuster Inc. has brought in restructuring advisers, looking to buy yet more time to remake itself in the face of new rivals and technologies. In recent days, Blockbuster tapped law firm Weil, Gotshal & Manges and investment bank Rothschild Inc. to look at ways to reduce its roughly $1 billion debt load and explore other strategies, such as acquisitions or partnerships, said people familiar with the matter.
Sears Holding Corp. has undertaken a huge task: To completely revamp and relaunch approximately 450 Kenmore appliance models. The move is part of a larger effort for the home appliance brand, which is sold exclusively at Sears. Right now, the changes are rolling out on washing machines, and soon, on refrigerator units. Kitchen appliances will follow later this year. The goal is to contemporize Kenmore, an 83-year-old, iconic American brand, said Betsy Owens, Kenmore vp and general manager. Female consumers, primarily, saw Kenmore as a brand that their grandmothers and mothers bought, but that didn’t necessarily speak to them, Owens said. So to update the brand and its image, a new television, in-store and social media campaign was launched.
Home Depot Inc. swung to a better-than-expected profit in the fiscal fourth quarter on smaller charges and its first increase in same-store sales in nearly four years, as consumers—especially those abroad—warmed up to renovation spending. Carried by the momentum, the world's top home-improvement retailer also gave a cheery outlook for this year and boosted its quarterly dividend.
On some level, the very idea of a McDonald's chef sounds preposterous. Burgers, fries, the McRib — is this really the work of a chef? The food at McDonald's tastes partly of nostalgia and partly of marketing; the rest is surely salt.
One corporate drama playing out in the news is the fate of Saab — a now-orphan division of General Motors that appears will narrowly escape extinction by last-minute buyer Spyker. For owners, employees, dealers, and suppliers of Saab, the potential death of such an iconic brand was probably hard to fathom. After all, the Swedish version of Saab, with its roots in the aircraft industry, existed for more than 50 years before becoming part of General Motors for another 10. Its products have always had a reputation for quality and safety, along with a somewhat quirky design. So how could a company with this kind of heritage almost go out of business?
The Kaiser Foundation recently released a study documenting the astounding fact that 8-18 year olds in the United States have increased their media use from 8hrs 33 mins per day in 2004 to 10hrs 45 mins in 2009, which means that except for when they sleeping or in school they are almost always consuming media. I call them the 10:45 generation. Regardless of whether you think this is bad news signaling the demise of our children, or good news expecting our progeny are on the way to be becoming more literate in rich media world, as a business leaders we all must face this new reality. In particular, this short post will deal with the issue of managing your brand for the 10:45 generation.
After months of public acrimony, Burger King appears to be letting franchisees have it their way. The chain will raise the price of its $1 double cheeseburger, and is working to resolve pending litigation related to a proposed advertising increase. Burger King has been embroiled in two lawsuits with franchisees, one relating to whether the company can set prices -- stemming from the cheeseburger promotion -- and another pertaining to the chain's right to divert rebates from soft-drink companies to boost advertising spending.
Last night I was watching the Winter Olympics coverage and was reminded of the brilliant job Red Bull does in building its brand in a modern way across many different communities. To promote the Men’s half pipe competition which airs tonight (7:30pm CT,) NBC showed a segment on Shaun White and his “secret” halfpipe. For those of you who haven’t heard of this, Red Bull custom built a half pipe for White at a secret location in the middle of nowhere. They fly him out to the location via helicopter whenever he wants to practice. This allows him to invent new tricks away from the prying eyes of the press and his competitors. Both the pristine condition of the halfpipe and its secret location have allowed White to pioneer new tricks that he will debut tonight for the first time in Olympic competition.
Hasbro CMO John Frascotti discusses managing 1500 brands.
Toyota Motor Corp. President Akio Toyoda vowed Wednesday to tighten quality control management by personally leading a new global quality-control task force. But he said he doesn't plan to visit the U.S. to appear at congressional hearings scheduled for Feb. 24 in Washington on the company's safety record. In his third news conference in less than two weeks, Mr. Toyoda emphasized the progress made in fixing the braking systems of hybrid cars that have been recalled in Japan.
The Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) has become one of the more commonly talked about corporate designations in recent years. Given the tremendous marketing potential offered by the new media and proliferation of distribution channels, companies have begun to realize the huge potential of marketing in guiding corporate level strategies and substantially contributing to the financial bottom line. In spite of such an understanding, it is startling to note that the average tenure of a CMO is merely 23 months compared to a CFO that typical lasts 4-5 years on average. Further, not many companies have a senior marketing representative in their C-suite. This begs the question – do companies need a CMO or is the role of a CMO a mere hype? This article probes this question and offers companies some guide posts for better strategic directions.
Toyota's latest crisis illustrates a problem that will continue to plague multinational businesses: what does "the brand" stand for when there's seeming limitless breadth, depth, and variability to corporate activity? In other words, crises haunt big companies like ghosts, and I'm surprised that there hasn't been more demand that we turn on the lights and look at what these machines and their brands really mean.
Advertising agency of the future sounds a bit like horse drawn carriage of the future. I’m not saying for certain that there won’t be agencies in the future, only that the future doesn’t necessarily need agencies. Just like the future doesn’t need printed news but it needs journalism; the future needs commercial communications, but who creates them, the agency or the brand or someone else, is unwritten. And though the future of the agency is unwritten, I have real doubts that agencies will survive or should survive.
Have you noticed how much content drives conversation in Social Media today? Take a quick scan of your Twitter stream or Facebook wall and you'll likely notice that the vast majority of tweets and post contain a link to content -- be that video, photo or even written (in the form of an article or post).
On Jan. 19, in a closed-door meeting in Washington, D.C., two top executives from Toyota Motor Corp. gave American regulators surprising news. Evidence had been mounting for years that Toyota cars could speed up suddenly, a factor suspected in crashes causing more than a dozen deaths. Toyota had blamed the problem on floor mats pinning the gas pedal. Now, the two Toyota men revealed they knew of a problem in its gas pedals.
Toyota said Tuesday that it would recall 437,000 of its 2010 Priuses and other hybrid models worldwide because of a glitch in the braking system, as the Japanese automaker moves to contain a crisis over problems with a range of its products. About 223,000 of the cars recalled are in Japan. Some 155,000 are in the United States and another 53,000 in Europe.
Remember the Great Sling Spat? A year ago, Sling Media, a subsidiary of EchoStar, introduced a nifty application for the Apple iPhone that allowed users with a Slingbox at home to watch and control their home television signal from their handsets. The only problem: AT&T said that such a bandwidth-intensive video service would overwhelm its network, so it limited the application to work only over an iPhone’s Wi-Fi connection. TV lovers and techies worldwide cried out in anguish.
Your mom's probably rented a DVD from Redbox—those hulking vending machines lurking outside of grocery stories, lending out DVDs for a buck a day. Walmart's not thrilled with them, and now blocking new release purchases in bulk.
The Kaiser Foundation recently released a study documenting the astounding fact that 8-18 year olds in the United States have increased their media use from 8 hours and 33 minutes' worth of usage per day in 2004 to 10 hours and 45 minutes' worth in 2009. Regardless of whether you think this is bad news signaling the demise of our society, or good news intimating that our progeny are on their way to becoming more literate in a media-rich world, as business leaders we must all accept the new reality and understand what it means for managing our brands.
There’s been a fair amount of coverage recently about the ins and outs, good and evil, usefulness and rudeness of customer rating and reviews sites. No matter how you feel about these social recommendation sites, if you own a small business of any kind, it’s time to get serious about figuring out and playing the game.
I was struck by a recent Joel Spolsky column in Inc. magazine on dysfunctional communication in growing companies. “What used to work with three people in a garage all talking to one another about everything just doesn’t work when your head count reaches 10 or 20 people. Everybody who doesn’t need to be in that meeting is killing productivity.” Joel goes further by describing Brook’s Law: “Adding people to a late project tends to make it run later still.” This counter-intuitive observation highlights a serious business problem: well-intended over-communication. Each additional person needed to keep in the loop exponentially slows down progress.
Call it the stop heard ‘round the world. The Detroit News is reporting that federal regulators were pushing Toyota to take more decisive actions to deal with the affected vehicles. The venerable brand's subsequent decision to suspend sales of several recalled models until it figures out its accelerator-pedal problem -- including its best-selling Camry and Corolla sedans – sends a shocking signal about just how serious the situation is and how badly the company’s top management has bungled it.
Like Lee Iacocca at Chrysler, Edward E. Whitacre Jr. thinks the best way to lure consumers back to a bailed-out automaker is to pay back the loans from American taxpayers. In his first comments as the permanent chief executive of General Motors — after deciding to drop his interim status — Mr. Whitacre said Monday that G.M. will retire its remaining $5.7 billion in debt to the federal government by June.
"Eighty percent of companies believe they deliver a superior customer experience, but only 8 percent of their customers agree." [Bain & Company, Harvard Management Update] I'm not telling you anything you don't already know, of course. However, there might be a few areas of improvement that have not have crossed your mind yet. First off, let's define what we mean by "customer experience". From Wikipedia: Customer experience is the sum of all experiences a customer has with a supplier of goods or services, over the duration of their relationship with that supplier.
NBC has mopped up its late-night mess. The network now faces a more challenging task: rebuilding its evening hours after years of cost cuts and creative missteps. NBC executives are saying they plan to spend at least 30% more than last year to develop TV series for the fall, and 20% more to market the shows, although they didn't attach a dollar figure to the estimate. The General Electric Co. network, which has seen its ratings and profit slide since 2005, is working on 18 to 20 pilot episodes for new shows, up from 11 last spring.
YouTube is on a roll. Last night, the world’s largest video site rolled out HTML5 support, its first video rentals, and even a nifty music feature called Disco. Today, it’s making an even bigger change: the site is launching a new ‘Watch’ page, stripping it down to its most key elements and ensuring that nothing is drawing your attention away from the video on the screen. To most people, this Watch page is really the heart of the YouTube experience — it’s where you view clips and browse for the next thing you want to watch, so any significant changes are a big deal. The new streamlined page is opt-in for now, and you can activate it here.
Audi hopes luxury car buyers will tune in to Super Bowl XLIV. The $2.8 million price tag for a 30-second commercial is high, but the ability to reach 95 million people in one day is important to Audi. It's a shot at distinguishing the company from big competitors, at a time when car marketers--particularly the luxury players--are reeling. Audi's U.S sales slid 5.7% to 82,716 cars sold in 2009, compared to the year before, according to Autodata.
After an interview, it's surprising that only about 60% of candidates send a thank-you note (an even smaller percentage sends them after visiting with a recruiter). Aside from being an expression of good manners, a short note expressing interest can go a long way toward promoting a person's candidacy. Of course, much has been written about thank-you notes in terms of job seekers. But I wanted to tackle something that, to my knowledge, has not been suggested before: Interviewers should send them to candidates, as well.
The irony of the report that The New York Times is going to start metering readers and charging those who come back more often is this: They would would end up charging — and, they should fear, sending away — the readers who are worth the most while serving free those who are worth least.
This interview with Tony Hsieh, the chief executive of Zappos.com, was conducted and condensed by Adam Bryant. Q. What are some of the most important leadership lessons you’ve learned? A. After college, a roommate and I started a company called LinkExchange in 1996, and it grew to about 100 or so people, and then we ended up selling the company to Microsoft in 1998. From the outside, it looked like it was a great acquisition, $265 million, but most people don’t know the real reason why we ended up selling the company.
A decade ago, America Online merged with Time Warner in a deal valued at a stunning $350 billion. It was then, and is now, the largest merger in American business history. The Internet, it was believed, was soon to vaporize mainstream media business models on the spot. America Online’s frothy stock price made it worth twice as much as Time Warner’s with less than half the cash flow.
Board members at Cadbury PLC, resisting a hostile takeover bid by Kraft Foods Inc., have held talks with directors at Hershey Co. to encourage a rival offer, several people familiar with the matter said. The Cadbury board members have told the Hershey directors that they would support a bid by the Pennsylvania company, and they have provided some guidance on the kind of price that would draw board support, these people said. In these talks, Hershey has sought direction from Cadbury and disclosed financial terms and the structure of a possible offer. Hershey has also inquired whether Cadbury would be open to selling certain assets, these people said. In response, Cadbury has provided "reasonable guidance without specifics," said one of the people.
General Motors Co. will make money in 2010, its chairman said Wednesday, a bold and surprising forecast for a business that exited bankruptcy proceedings just last summer and hasn't turned an annual profit since 2004. "My prediction is we will be" profitable in 2010, Edward E. Whitacre Jr. told reporters at GM's Detroit headquarters, a sign of rising confidence that also sets a tough benchmark for the still-struggling car maker's employees. "Do we have obstacles in the way? Yes. But we have a good management team and a good plan in place."
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.
Investor Warren Buffett waded into the rancorous battle for Cadbury PLC, issuing a rebuke of Kraft Foods Inc.'s just-sweetened, nearly $17 billion takeover offer for the British confectionary company. As Kraft's largest shareholder—with a 9.4% stake—Mr. Buffett's holding company, Berkshire Hathaway Inc., said it wouldn't support the issuance of new shares to pay for a Cadbury deal.
Kraft Foods Inc. sweetened its hostile takeover offer for Cadbury PLC on Tuesday, offering to tweak the cash-and-share mix of its $16 billion bid, but Cadbury and some of its investors quickly dismissed the new bid as still too low. The new offer follows an agreement Kraft reached to sell its U.S. and Canadian frozen pizza business to Nestlé SA, the Swiss consumer giant, for $3.7 billion. Kraft said it would use net proceeds from the deal, which it estimates at 60 pence (97 U.S. cents) per Cadbury share, to give Cadbury shareholders a "partial cash alternative" to its existing offer, which had been made up of 60% Kraft stock and 40% cash.
Think back, way back, to the last time you were in a 7-Eleven. Recall the smell, the light, the products on the shelf, the linoleum under foot, the clerk behind the counter. It’s as if everything that is bad and wrong in the ordinary world has assembled in a kind of jamboree of awfulness. When I used to frequent one in downtown Boston, I would shuffle around endlessly looking for something to eat. And I came to the conclusion that with the exception of a token apple or two, only artificial food is allowed in this place. If you ate here exclusively for a month (instead of at McDonald’s), there is no chance you would complete the assignment.
As the holiday shopping season heads into its final week, many marketers are beginning to think long and hard about their discount strategies. Consumers have become accustomed to steep discounts -- expecting 40%, 50%, or even 60% off before they will make a purchase. But many brands are starting to wonder: how low can we go? The steep discount is taking a toll on bottom-line profits and cheapening some brand images. Brands need a better way to drive sales than the deep discount. One new concept in retail marketing is the personalized digital coupon. These highly targeted "personal incentive dollars" are loaded by brand marketers instantaneously onto selected consumer payments cards as consumers swipe them through regular debit/credit card readers, or use them to make purchases online.
In an effort to turn around Blockbuster Inc., Chief Executive Jim Keyes is trying to get customers to think of the struggling video-rental chain as more than just a pit stop for DVDs. By offering a broad array of entertainment options and ways to get them, Mr. Keyes hopes to beat back competition from companies that provide movies via mailed rentals, kiosks and deeply discounted sales. But even with a detailed plan, Mr. Keyes faces a tough slog. He has already closed unprofitable stores and slashed inventory, and the chain is still struggling to turn a profit. In three of the last four quarters, Blockbuster posted losses, and it got a going-concern warning from its auditors in April.
How Ashton Kutcher is pioneering a new kind of media business, bridging Hollywood, technology, and Madison Avenue. Really.
International Business Machines and a handful of other major marketers, including casino operator Harrah's Entertainment and software giant Microsoft, are experimenting with developing ad campaigns based in part on what consumers are chatting about on the Web. For decades, advertisers have relied heavily on sometimes-dated consumer surveys and focus groups to provide grist for their ads. Now, some are using new technologies to scan the Web for key words to find out what consumers are—and aren't—saying about their brands.
You've probably heard by now that "your brand is no longer yours." The assertion's based on simple math. In the era of blogs, discussion boards, Facebook, Twitter, and other Web 2.0 tools, virtually everyone can get online and talk about your company and its offerings. As a result, the amount of information your marketing and PR departments can generate is only a small percentage of the total volume of content on the Internet about your firm. What's more, if some of the external voices become as popular, or perish the thought, more popular than your official voice, then they're going to show up high in organic (as opposed to paid) search results.
Hundreds of Holiday Inns may soon have to change their names. InterContinental Hotels Group PLC is ready to strip the brand next year from as many as 300 of the 2,700 Holiday Inn hotels owned by franchisees in North America if those properties don't undertake the brand's $1 billion overhaul by Feb. 1. IHG, based in the U.K., started its overhaul of Holiday Inn two years ago in a bid to "contemporize" the 57-year-old brand and weed out older, poorly performing hotels.
With Black Friday approaching, there isn't a CMO around who isn't wondering if consumers are going to be in the mood to spend over the holidays. With a sluggish year almost behind us, many are interested in what will make women--who buy 85% of what is sold in the U.S.--open their wallets.
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.
Senior marketers, ask yourselves: Is marketing's inability to get the type of traction it seeks within your organization real or self-imposed? In other words, do you actually have control over the perception, power, influence and abilities that marketing can truly bring to the table? A recent study by Prophet and the Association of National Advertisers revealed several alarming findings that point to the need for marketers to start taking back control of the dialogue, and their destiny, within their own organizations. Some of the more startling findings: While almost 70% of those surveyed view themselves as visionary marketers or leaders, the vast majority of them state that the way they actually spend their time is heavily focused on tactical behaviors, such as working the budget, operating month-to-month and being guided by a short-term marcomm plan.
If monitoring conversations and knowing what you're listening for is the first ingredient in good online best practices, knowing when and how to respond is much more than good etiquette. It's become an integral aspect of brand management and can mean the difference between a flop - or worse, a crisis - and a deposit in your company's reputation bank. It's easy to dismiss Twitter's usefulness as a tool. That is until you figure out that on Twitter you can find mentions of your brand and you can actually connect with customers directly and provide a first line of response. Chances are, that in 140 characters, you won't be able to do much more. But don't underestimate the importance of that public gesture.
Facebook fan pages are the future for three reasons: They're free, easy to create and build a nearly instantaneous pathway to evangelists, prospects or the curious. When fans interact with a fan page on Facebook, that interaction is sent through the fan's news feed, which goes to all their friends, practically daring a chunk of them to see what the page is about. Compared to Twitter, Facebook fan pages rule. You're not limited by Twitter's 140-character posts, plus it's far easier for fan page members to preview a photo, video or weblink than what Twitter offers. What more could a brand manager want?
This might be the most subtle yet important shift that marketers face as they deal with the reality of new media. Marketers aren't renters, now they own.
When NBC producers of The Jay Leno Show put Kanye West on the guest list for opening night, they had no idea what a serendipitous decision this would turn out to be. Those waiting to see what the rapper would say after his audacious behavior toward award winner Taylor Swift at the MTV Video Music Awards ceremony gave a sweet boost to the show's initial ratings. But the producers knew exactly what they were doing when they decided to shift Leno's show from its 11 p.m. time slot to 10 p.m. They were making a smart marketing move, one that is an interesting case study in brand management.
FMCG brands are often some of the most innovative in their use of digital and social media but this great presentation from Helge Tennø shows the importance of staying ahead of the market. And of continuing to innovate what you are doing, to avoid becoming what he calls a Big Lazy Brand. His presentation outlines five ways to market FMCG brands in social media.
This could be a make-or-break summer for Six Flags. And in the current economic environment, families will likely sacrifice thrill-ride screams for savings. So why, in the face of such serious challenges, would Six Flags respond by rolling out an ad campaign featuring a widely mocked character that the company's own chairman once said is "misguided" and "weakens the brand"?
I've thought a lot about "thinking global, acting local" since I moved to the UK to help launch an American brand two years ago. It's a constant tug-o-war between global consistency and local adaptation. Recently, I had coffee with Patrick Cairns, CEO of Plum Baby, who spent a lot of time in global roles with Unilever. He described the standard dichotomy as being either "mindlessly global" or "hopelessly local".
Ford chief executive Alan Mulally is famous for one of the first decisions he made after joining the automotive company in 2006. Barely three months into his tenure, Mulally borrowed big, using his company as collateral. At the time, the decision raised eyebrows, but it is now widely regarded as a masterstroke. The $26bn he raised, when financing was still cheap and available, has enabled Ford to avoid bankruptcy or the need to seek government handouts. It has also led to a growing recognition that, compared with ailing rivals Chrysler and General Motors, Ford is in much better financial shape for the long haul.
The Damned United, a film charting the tumultuous 44-day reign of Brian Clough at Leeds United FC, opened recently. UK Marketers under the age of 30 will probably remember him as a rather melancholy old man, but the young Clough was a wonder to behold. Imagine a manager today leading a club toiling at the bottom of the Championship to win not only the Premier-ship but two back-to-back Champions League finals as well. That was, in essence, the equivalent of Clough's astonishing achievement as manager of Nottingham Forest in 1979 and 1980.