Archive for May, 2011

The Rumors Are True – or – Vote Early And Vote Often!

It is my great good fortune to announce that the New York American Marketing Association (henceforth known as NYAMA) has invited me to be president of the chapter.  I am very honored to be on the board and now to be taking on this new role.

I’m actually taking it on a year earlier than planned.  The wonderful Rachel Dennis was slated to be the president for 2011-2012.  Instead she’ll be moving to the UK in a new role for her current company, Getty Images.  She and Rick Kendall have been guiding and leading the NYAMA for the past year as the organization transitioned away from the focus on running the Effies.

Fortunately I’m not alone in all of this!  Doing a good job as the president of the NYAMA or any organization, requires a commitment of time and sustained attention.  It also takes having a great team of people at the NYAMA, the volunteers, the committee members and the other board members — Edwin Roman, Katie Bartasevich, Sarah Linden, Debra Berliner, Don Sexton and of course Rick Kendall, the outgoing president.   They are all very smart, skilled and really care about making positive contributions to our marketing community.  They will make my job easy.

I’m also going to rely on readers of this blog to help out.  Join in.  Get involved.  Or just go ahead and send along your thoughts and ideas of how we can do stuff better.  I really appreciate it!

 

Tomorrow morning meeting Jack Trout for breakfast

The next author in the NYAMA breakfast series is Jack Trout, author most recently of “Re-Positioning”

It all starts at 8 am at the offices of the NYAMA on East 27th Street, 6th floor.  Sign-up now at nyama.org

You’ll get a free copy of Jack Trout’s newest book and the opportunity to ask him all of the hard challenging questions you have about Re-positioning, positioning, de-positioning and anything else!

Sign up for the NYAMA with Jack Trout

Improving Marketing Through Improv

I just got home about an hour ago from a very exhilarating evening with the improv group Chicago City Limits and the NYAMA.  We had a very special workshop on creativity in marketing.

For me, personally, it was one of the most enjoyable events I’ve been to this year.   I must confess my strong bias.  I’m a person who has always found improv classes to be the most enjoyable theater experiences.  They are easily as enriching and mind stretching as anything I did at Columbia’s School of the Arts.

If you work in marketing or any creative field, you owe it to yourself to study improv.  Agency side, client side, consulting, academics — we can all benefit from this as long as we keep an open mind and open attitude.

Chicago City Limits is NYC’s longest running improv theater.  It was transplanted here about 20 years ago when Paul Zuckerman, the creative director, moved to the city.  And by great good chance, Paul is also a member of the NYAMA.

Next up:  Monday is a networking event at the NYAMA.  And next Wednesday, May 25th, is breakfast with Jack Trout as part of the NYAMA’s “Meet The Author” series.

Who is Jack Trout and what’s he done for marketing lately?

Jack Trout has written a new book, that’s what he’s done!  Come and meet Jack in person and find out more next Wednesday, May 25th at the NYAMA’s “Meet The Author” breakfast series.

It starts at the ungodly hour of 8 am with a jolt of caffeine followed by a conversation with Jack Trout.  It will be held at the New York American Marketing Association offices on 116 East 27th Street, 6th floor, 1-212-687-3280.  You can sign up at nyama.org

Jack Trout is the co-author of Positioning.  And of Re-positioning.  And of many other well-know books on marketing.  If you’ve never heard him speaking about branding, you really should come.

So here’s one of my favorite Jack Trout stories.

In 2004 the CMO of McDonald’s, Larry Light, revealed the new branding strategy behind McDonald’s incredible turn-around story.  How incredible was the turn-around?  In less than a year his approach lifted the company to higher sales, revenues, margins and growth of a brand that many people had written off as just for young families.

Here’s Larry Light in a NYC speech to the heads of ad agencies and clients:

Beware of the so-called “positionistas.” They say that a brand can only stand for one thing in the mind of the market. This may make some sense for small brands. But for big bands – like McDonald’s – it’s nonsense.

Identifying one brand position, communicating it in a repetitive manner is old-fashioned, out-of-date, out-of-touch brand communication. Simplifying a brand to a single position is not simplification, it is simplistic. Simplistic marketing is marketing suicide.

Then Light introduced an entirely new approach to marketing, to advertising, to branding.  It is an approach to marketing with narrative and storytelling at the heart of it.  Here’s how Larry described it:

A brand is a multi-dimensional, multi-faceted, complex message, not a single-dimensional, single-positioned, simplistic message. Customers will not accept monotonous, repetition of the same simplistic message. They want a dynamic, creative chronicle.

And, big brands like McDonald’s are not uni-dimensional. We are a multi-dimensional, multi-faceted, multi-segmented, many-sided brand.  So, we changed from mass marketing a single message to multifaceted, multi-segmented, many-sided marketing.

We think of our new marketing approach as “Brand Journalism.”

In Ad Age Jack Trout responded.  Go back to the August 2004 and you’ll see the headline reads:

McD’s abandoning of positioning is “Lunacy”

Perhaps it was lunacy but it set the company on a path that has put it into the stratosphere.  McDonald’s was 1 of 2 DJIA companies in 2008 to end the year with their stock price higher!  Gold Effies in the US.  Global Gold Effie.  Record breaking sales.  That’s the kind of lunacy that I like!

Agree or disagree with Jack Trout….the point is you need to pay attention to him.  It is absolutely, entirely and certainly worth going and seeing him first hand next Wednesday, May 25, at the NYAMA.  nyama.org

If All Business Is Show Business, Then You Should Come To NYAMA’s Evening With Improv Group Chicago City Limits (in New York, of course)

The improv pros at Chicago City Limits (here in NYC) are collaborating with the New York American Marketing Association (NYAMA) to give a special workshop on Creativity in Marketing on May 19th!

Sign up, bring a friend, and learn how to unlock your creative side.  Take center stage!  Grab the spotlight!  After all, the best ideas in marketing are not limited to the creative directors on the agency side.

New York's own Chicago City Limits!

Join in.  Be one of the 40 marketers giving their creativity a workout on Thursday, May 19th, at Chicago City Limits’ theater, 318 West 53rd Street in New York City.  6 pm to 8 pm.  Sign up at nyama.org

[Chicago City Limits in New York City?  I know, I know, they moved to New York about 20 years ago…]

One last secret I’ll let you in on — these workshops are exhilarating!

And yes, this event is limited to 40 people only, so that everyone gets the opportunity for hands-on experience with the CCL team.  So sign up now!

Marketing The Musical – or – Opening Night for People In The Picture

The time: 6:30 pm, April 28, 2011

The place: Studio 54

The event: Opening night of “The People In The Picture”

Donna Murphy is spectacular.  It is as if the whole musical were written just for her, for her talents, for her singing, for her timing.  You really must see her to understand how wonderful she is.  The marketing of the show plays to her star power.

Marquee

On Friday morning the reviews are in and so are the Drama Desk Award Nominations.  “The People In The Picture” picks up 3 of the nominations.  Tony nominations are tomorrow, May 3rd.  It is widely expected that Donna Murphy will be nominated for a Tony.

These will all be helpful in marketing of the show.  It seems that awards, particularly the Tony, are playing a larger role in the success of a show than in the past.  They give permission for people to go ahead and buy a ticket for a new and unknown show.

That is the biggest challenge for an original musical, based on an original story.  A fan base needs to be created.

In the past it was the newspaper reviews that mattered.  Not that they don’t today — but they don’t matter the way they did.  With the rise of social media, the influence is shifting away from critics and to the personal opinions of friends and family who saw the show and posted about it on Facebook.  Who are you going to believe more some guy from the New York Times who panned “Wicked” (which you loved!) or your sister whose post on Facebook says she loved this show, it made her cry and thinks everyone in the family must see it?

Now, on to the reviews.  Or rather, to the review that matters most to those to whom reviews matter — Ben Brantley in the New York Times.  Brantley’s review is full of raves for Donna Murphy.  From the opening of his review to the final lines, he sings her praises because “it does make you marvel anew at her protean gifts.”  However, he is decidedly divided and ambivalent about the show overall.

And that brings us to the story behind the story in the Times!

The book and lyrics of “The People In The Picture” were written by the enormously talented Iris Rainer Dart.  Iris Dart started out as a trail-blazing top-notch female writer of tv comedy shows back in the 1970s — Tina Fey before there even was an SNL.   Most people will know Iris Dart more for her bestselling novel and the smash movie, “Beaches.”

This is the salient fact when deciphering Ben Brantley’s review in The New York Times.   Brantley has a long history of expressing his personal dislike for the movie Beaches.   One has to question the editorial judgement of the New York Times for sending Brantley to review “The People In the Picture.”

About “People in the Picture” Brantley writes:

Such eventful, tear-stained, multigenerational plots are less common to musicals than they are to fat novels displayed in airport bookstores as temptations to women with purses full of Kleenex and long flights ahead. And it is no coincidence that Ms. Dart is best known for just such a novel, “Beaches,” which became a four-hankie hen flick starring  Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey. 

In his review of “Wicked” on October 31, 2003, Brantley writes:

That’s one side, anyway, of the lopsided equation that is ”Wicked.” The other side involves the ambivalent, ever-shifting relationship between Elphaba and Glinda, in which the adversarial women learn from each other and which recalls sobfests about female friendships like the movie ”Beaches.” (You keep expecting Glinda to start singing, ”Did you ever know you were my hero, Elphaba?”)

His final judgement of Wicked?  “‘Wicked” does not, alas, speak hopefully for the future of the Broadway musical.”  From a commercial perspective, time has proven Ben Brantley’s judgement to be wrong on that one.

More about the marketing of the musical in future posts.



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