Posts Tagged 'brand story'

Meet David Rogers, Author of The Network Is Your Customer UPDATED

I am delighted to say that on APRIL 13TH!, David Rogers will be the next author in the NYAMA’s Meet The Author series.  Everyone is welcome to join us!  Since it is a breakfast series, the day will start BRITE and early, from 8 am to 9:30 am.  There will be high octane caffeinated coffee as well as breakfast.  Be sure to sign up now at

David’s new book is “The Network Is Your Customer”  You can learn more about it the easy way by watching David’s video.

A complimentary copy of the book will be given to all attendees.

The Network is Your Customer

To those who haven’t had the pleasure of meeting David at one of Columbia University’s BRITE conferences, then you are in for a treat.  I don’t know if he’s going to bring his saxophone with him.  Perhaps you can start a petition!

[Updated on 4/11 to correct the date that David is going to be at the NYAMA]

All Context Is Cultural: Part 2

The last time I was in Beijing was shortly before the summer Olympics.  When I had some free time I walked around, observing the changes that the city had undergone since my previous visits.  Towards dinner time on one of my walks,  I was feeling particularly hungry for pizza.  Being a New Yorker, pizza is comfort food.  I went into a Pizza Hut, where there was a line of people waiting to be seated.  When my turn came, I was shown to a table, handed a menu.  I observed the people around me while waiting for the food to come.  At some tables there were couples, dressed as if to impress each other on a first date.  There were families, also well-dressed.  I suddenly became self-conscious of my own appearance.  Not that I was an American but that I was very casually dressed in jeans and running shoes.

What I observed was Pizza Hut adapting to the local cultural, where going out to dinner was reserved for special occasions.

For brands to succeed across different cultures, they need to adopt and adapt.  Understanding these differences requires careful observation and non-judgmental perspective.

Disney is a great example of an American brand trying to export Americana to a different culture.  EuroDisney was the company’s first theme park outside of the U.S.A.  The cultural conflict flared up as soon as the location, in France, was announced.  In the first years of the park, again and again, Disney stubbed their toes on the local culture.   For instance, EuroDisney did not serve wine or beer at their restaurants during the first year of operations.  Alcohol was almost antithetical to the Disney brand heritage.  You could sense Disney had an almost Puritanical judgment about wine.  However, faced with poor attendance, EuroDisney adapted to the local culture in the second year.

While many of the EuroDisney executives were culturally attuned, the overall Disney organization wasn’t.  The business model was to bring the American Disneyland to Europe.  Had the organization as a whole been more attuned, they would have realized that France has nearly perfected an art form of criticizing the shallow and inauthentic Hollywood culture.  EuroDisney learned through trial and error that success meant re-interpreting the Disney brand to adapt to the local cultures.  And that meant suspending judgement about the local culture.


The BRITE-ness never ends!

Here is what Nancy Lazarus over at MediaBistro’s PRNewser wrote about Day One of the BRITE conference last week.  She was covering the 7 Digital Trends presentation by Steve Rubel of Edelman Digital:

Storytelling is evolving across media platforms: Given new technology, stories are not always told chronologically as everyone accesses different points of information. He suggested providing employees and customers with compelling stories and tailoring them to each social community.

7 Digital Trends Worth Your Attention – PRNewser


Too BRITE – or – back to the office I go!

It’s Thursday afternoon already!  How is it possible that 2 days of BRITE have come and gone?  It will take me longer to recap than it took for the whole conference to happen!

Onward Ho!

There was a completely wonderful presentation and engaging working session with Luke Williams yesterday morning.  He’s the author of DISRUPT: Think the Unthinkable to Spark Transformation in Your Business.

I cannot possibly do justice to the exercises and ideas Luke shared.  So I highly recommend checking out his website .  then buy the book.  Or download it.

But I will leave you with one quote from Luke.

Free ourselves to see things as they are.

Sounds easy but the reality is very difficult.  It is really, really hard to see things as they are.  Why did it take until Galileo to see the the earth revolves around the sun?  The same evidence was there for everyone else but nobody else could see it.  They were blinded by expectations.


Google the Follower?

One of the unexpected reversals of day one was Google.  In casual conversations I heard at least six people comment on it.

The other speakers talked about technology requiring us to rethink the basic premises of marketing.  For example, Weiden & Kennedy’s Josh Millrod and Jason Clement said, “Socializing is the complete antithesis of traditional advertising.”

Google sounded like an ad agency from 1990.  Google was talking reach, frequency, CPM.  Google was presenting linear models, the same-old Awareness – Association – Favorability – Purchase Intent.

What is going on?  When all others are talking reinventing marketing, Google is talking media mix.

Here was a fabulous opportunity for Google to talk about mobile reinventing marketing.  Here was a great place for Google to discuss the industry-wide challenges of measuring the effectiveness of multi-platform marketing.  Here was a great place for Google to reinvent marketing the way it has reinvented search technology and mobile OS.

Ah, a missed opportunity for Google.

The last speaker of Day One was Carol Cone of Edelman.  She is a wonderfully passionate woman, who has a deep interest in the “power of purpose”.

She demonstrated another aspect of the changing consumer.  Over the past 5 or so years a growing number of consumers have been adding corporate reputation/good citizenship in making their brand choices.  When consumers change, attuned marketers need to change.

While the recession may have slowed this trend, it is still strong and continuing.

For those who haven’t seen Edelman’s studies on corporate citizenship and trust, I highly recommend them.  They show how the consumer has changed.


BRITE early

The day began with a series of very strong stories. I’ll hit some of the highlights. This is based on my reporter’s notes (a skill learned while working on the college newspaper), not recordings of the sessions.

The over arching theme I took away was “reinvent marketing” because technology has made it imperative and possible.

A secondary theme is the power of storytelling.  Narrative marketing is on the ascendency — although nobody used the phrase “Narrative Marketing”

Visa’s Journey

The first story was the journey that Visa took from a traditional marketing to digit, from telling to socializing. Antonio Lucio shared this journey from when he took over marketing at Visa around the time the company went public. That change in company status was the impetus for his team to

“question our marketing equation”.

First steps included bringing digital “from the margins to the core” — knocking down the silos and cul-de-sacs of marketing. He also set about educating the senior managers and executive team on how marketing needs to change. To do that, his team had to educate themselves about the changes in the marketplace.

This led to creating a completely new model of marketing for Visa: “Audience First” Marketing.

The traditional model was “yell and sell”
The new model was “an army of advocates” creating a “loyalty circle”

They mapped “the traveler journey” as a way of better understanding the realities of the customer journey. The better understanding of the customer journey “changed the way we do advertising”.

Part of that change was the radical idea that “media plan then drives creative executions” and “turning the old model on its head”. The traditional model was all about coming up with the big creative idea first and then identifying the best media vehicles to execute it.

They set 3 social principles:

  • Sharing
  • Recommendation
  • Participation.

They set up a media model that recognizes 3 forms of media:

  • Paid (TV, search)
  • Shared (Facebook)
  • Owned (Visa websites)

The “Audience First” system required a lot of internal education.  They created training modules and also brought it into key executive meetings through the strategic planning and budget process.  That was one way to guarantee the attention of the senior management.

The big challenge ahead is that a new system requires new metrics.  Currently all of the social media sites have their own metrics.  There are no industry wide accepted standards.  This is greater than a Visa issue — it is a challenge for the entire marketing community.  Lucio called for an industry-wide effort, including academia, to create metrics for a cross-platform, multi-channel world.  That is the next frontier.

Edelman’s Insights by Steve Rubel

Edelman digital next presented the top 11 trends that are reshaping marketing.  By trends they mean larger movements, it isn’t a “who’s hot/who’s not”.

In the interest of time (I’ve got some sleep needs ahead of me), I’ll hit on a few of the trends that I find immediately compelling.

#1  Attentionomics:  The old metrics of reach and frequency are empty metrics.  It is more important to measure the value of the attention.  It means thinking in visual terms since visual cues are more engaging.  It means looking at engagement that is relevant by daypart (time of day).

#4  Transmedia Storytelling:  “We love stories.  Society is driven by stories…Technology advances the techniques of storytelling.”

The challenge is that marketing no longer unfolds in a linear beginning, middle and end.”There is a narrative disconnection of time…So we need to help the consumers.”  Part of that is making is easy for employees and customers to tell and share their own stories.  Another part is the the story needs to unfold in a way that is appropriate to the platform.  What might be right for Facebook isn’t necessarily right for Twitter.

#6 The Integrated:  For too long “social media has been isolated.  You need to integrate it into holistic communications.”  Until now social media has been fragmented, not formal.  In the future it needs a central infrastructure, social media command centers to monitor, share and put information into the hands of executives across the company.

“The next brand crisis will erupt on Facebook or Twitter” (for example Kenneth Cole’s twitter about the Egyptian protests).

#7 Ubiquitous social computing:  “All devices will be social media”  Smart phones, tablets, will be the tools for creating and consuming social media, not just the PC.  Therefore Mobility needs to be built into the brand strategy.

#8  Location, location, Facebook.  What happens in Vegas stays…on facebook.  The principles of this trend are a) local b) social c) photo/video d) mobile

Interestingly he ended by stating that traditional TV advertising is still incredibly important.  It sets a foundation that the digital elements and social media can build upon.

Ogilvy’s Big IdeaLs by Tim Maleeny

All of the changes in the world mean that agencies need to change they way they hire, behave and “change the model of brands”  Culture and context are more important than ever before.  The work on Dove was one factor that actually opened a door of insight at Ogilvy and “really crystalized our thinking”.

The old model was:  Ideas = Share of Mind

The new model is:  IdeaLs = Share of Culture

When you find the overlap between “A brand’s best self” and “cultural tension” there is the opportunity for the big IdeaL Ogilvy labels this “the brand platform”

“Brand positioning is fine for a campaign but it creates disposable advertising.”

The Big ideaL is for creating a long term brand platform

The new approach is as focused on the internal audience of employees as the external customers.  Tim gave the example of IBM, where the “the #1 influence on the perception of IBM is the IBM employee”.

Most revealing of the changing models is that Ogilvy has dropped the 360 degree approach.

“360 degrees is a myth.  You cannot be everywhere.  And only 10% to 20% of it really works.

That’s a big about-face for Ogilvy.  It is a powerful statement for the ways companies recognize the need to reinvent marketing.

At the same time, Maleeny did recognize that change is anything but easy.  While everyone sees the need, most companies are “scared” and in denial.  Others marketrs are seeing the changes as inevitable and seizing them as opportunities to move ahead.  As an outside agency, Ogilvy can educate and share the new Brand IdeaL models but they cannot dictate them to clients.

Okay, enough for now.  More BRITE to come in future entries.



Branding by the Numbers

I find great inspiration in the work of two artists, Komar and Melamid.  They have much to teach us in the branding world, about the ways we can use market research to better understand what consumers want and how to transform that into compelling brands.

Komar and Melamid led the way in the art world.

In the mid-1990s they conducted cutting edge quantitative market research to understand what Americans consider the ideal painting.  A quantitative study of 1001 Americans was fielded by Martilla and Kiley.  It was funded by The Nation magazine’s Institute.

Their market research, including qualitative research, along with the resulting artwork were printed by Farrar Straus & Giroux at “Painting By Numbers” in 1997.  You can also visit the images of The People’s Choice here.

Guided by the research results, Komar and Melamid created the ideal painting for Americans.  For instance, 44% of respondents said that blue is their favorite color.  Therefore 44% of the canvas is blue.  And no great American painting is complete without George Washington, trees, and some deer.

They titled it, “America’s Most Wanted Painting”

America's Most Wanted Painting by Komar and Melamid

It seems to me that we should be developing a proposal for Komar and Melamid  to create America’s Most Desired Brand, as well as The World’s Most Desired Brand.   Stay tuned!

GAP Analysis Part 2 – or – The Little Square That Didn’t

This post contains documentary evidence of the Gap logo recall.

Exhibit #1:  Ad Age blames the whole thing on…me!  Wow, I was surprised!  But there it was, as you can see below.  Of course I had nothing to do with it at all.  Some people have pointed out that perhaps they meant something else by “the ringer”.

The scrapping of the design — which re-created the retailer’s name in a bold Helvetica font with a blue gradiated box perched atop the P — comes after Gap was put through the ringer last week for its new look. [Emphasis added]

Ad Age article on Gap Logo Recall

Exhibit #2:  The fake Twitter account capitulates, with a final shot at “crowd sourcing”

“…it’s ok, as i am just the GapLogo.  I’ll change to whatever corporate wants me to. Begrudgingly”

GapLogo fake Twitter account

Exhibit #3:  The real Gap Facebook posting.  Back to Square One:  Wedged between two denim posts is the acknowledgement that the old Gap is back.

Highlighting the influence of the designer community, Gap explicitly acknowledges the crowd sourcing issue:

So instead of crowd sourcing, we’re bringing back the Blue Box tonight.

Another important point to note — contrary to what AdAge reported, Gap did not blame “the ringer” for any of this mess.

Gap Logo Recall Announced on Facebook

Exhibit #4:  Marka Hansen, Gap’s president, posts on the Huffington Post her announcement of the Logo Recall.  This is the second time she’s addressed the issue through the Huffington Post.  Interesting to note that the Huffington Post is dated 7:35 pm — a full 7 minutes the before Facebook posting.

My hypothesis is that because Huffington Post is widely followed by journalists, it is a more effective communications platform to influence the media itself than traditional press releases or through Twitter or FaceBook.   It is a good example of how smart marketers can use the media to deliver their message directly instead of through the intermediary of a reporter or blogger.

Gap Logo Recall Announcement on HuffPo

Exhibit #5:  The traditional media is slow.  It is not until the next day that the New York Times posts the announcement of the Gap Logo Recall.  Even so, it is hard to shake the impression that this is the first time that most readers of the NYT are hearing that the Gap had even changed their logo in the first place.

Stuart Elliott weighs in on The Gap Recall

Exhibit #6: Instant Experts:  below is a chart from  research done for AdAge by Ipsos that raises questions about the market research methodology rather than shedding light on the Logo Recall issues at hand.  Ad Age commissioned Ipsos to do an overnight study among consumers on the matter.

There are unstated assumptions in the survey questions which need to be examined.  For instance, in the first reported questions the language is ambiguous to the point of pointless.  It assumes that the company and the product are under the same name and logo.  If P&G changed their logo, do you think it would effect the purchase of Tide?

The second item is vague — what is meant by “public input”?  Does that mean showing it to the whole world?  Or does it mean conducting some type of customer research?  There is also the assumption that Gap did not conduct any market research of their own.

The third item is revealing — 17% of people were aware that “the Gap Store” changed it’s logo.  It was a trick question, of course, since the logo was not changed on the store signage or advertising, only on the website.

Fourth, was the logo shown in context?  People see logos on products, on storefronts, on tv ads.  Rarely do they just see a logo sitting on a piece of paper or a computer screen with nothing else around it.  Our own experience as well as plenty of academic studies show that context is king.  Research on the logo alone, without context, is a poor predictor of actual in-market results.

Therefore, if the AdAge/Ipsos study showed the logo in context, then we can have greater confidence in their findings. If, as seems likely, they only showed the logos alone, then the findings are open to question.

Ad Age Study on Logo Recalls

Exhibit #7: The circle is completed as Armin at Brand New presents another Gap logo, this one for Gap Body Fit, along with their design critique.  Indeed it seems that there is a lot more to the whole Gap narrative than simply the Gap Logo Recall episode.

Just when you thought you had heard the last of Gap, we bring you… more Gap!

This time we get to see the new system, with products and labels and other applications.  And it opens up questions about the larger narrative of Gap.  How will it all play together?  How does the post-recall Gap logo fit with the new lines, the new products, the new strategy?  If presented in context with Gap Body Fit, the recalled Gap logo probably would have a completely different reception.

Gap Body Fit Logo

GapBodyFit Online

Cupron Helps Chilean Miners

We are very proud of our client Cupron who is one of the firms that donated supplies to help protect and improve the health of the Chilean miners while they were trapped underground for 69 days.  They are in good company with Oakley, Samsung and Apple, among others, who contributed to the heroic efforts.

You can learn more about this amazing story from this TV news report.

CBS 6 Story on Cupron


And you can read about it at the Wall Street Journal. The plain truth is that Cupron’s copper fiber socks are an innovation that improved the lives of the miners.

Innovations Improve Life for Trapped Miners –



Coca-Cola and BMW on reinventing marketing

Yesterday’s panel moderated by Stuart Elliott was particularly good.

If there is one thing to take away from that panel, if there is one priceless thing, it is the need for Client to take control of their branding and for them to orchestrate of all the agencies themselves.  That means the client needs to have an internal structure and resources.  They need to reinvent marketing.  They need to develop models of marketing unlike anything that ever existed before.

And it means that each agency must play well with the others.  They must collaborate and cooperate and be transparent.

As the communications landscape becomes more complex and new technologies mix up the world faster than anyone can strategically comprehend. No single agency can possibly serve the needs of an advertiser. They rely on 5,6 or 7 different agencies, buying a la carte. The CMO needs to know many disciplines since they now have to integrate the various silos.

Pio Schunkur, SVP of Integrated Marketing at Coca-Cola, made the following observations.  These are almost all direct quotes:

“Marketing today is non-linear.  How do we really begin to understand that and to structure around it?”  Clients have to knit it together themselves.

“No one agency can do it all for us.  So we have to create an infrastructure in-house, a center of expertise in-house to create and manage the expression of our brand.  We are not replacing agencies… We use agencies a la carte”

“The structure of the marketing group impacts the strategy.”

In response to a question from Stuart Elliott about how Coca-Cola deals with so many different processes from so many different agencies, Pio responded, “The agencies need to be controlled from our side.”

“Every good brand is about story telling.  The difference is that we are now telling the story in different places.”

The group responsible for began several years ago and one of their major challenges was to push the agencies to collaborate.

Patrick McKenna of BMW had many similar observations.

[Between CRM, PR, advertising, mobile] we have to work with 5 to 6 different agencies.  We want the agencies to work together and to integrate.  All parties need to work together.”

“Each car launch is a cross-collaborative process.  The agency partners put the ideas together.”  The agencies are expected to work together to develop and vet ideas before presenting to BMW.

“Sometimes the role of the client is to be the referee.  Clients have to referee between two agencies to make sure that a great idea lives on.”  So there are times when BMW has to force the issue but that is not often.”

From the media side, we heard Greg Coleman of The Huffington Post observe the way agencies are blurring their roles and trying to stay in the game. “We are seeing PR agencies getting into the branding area.  We need clients to be the referee.”

Of course Elliott’s sense of humor and skepticism is never far below the surface.  When McKenna said that advertising is storytelling, Stuart Elliott responded, “Fairy tales.”

The curious case of H-P: what they taught us in English class but never in B-School

Stop the Press!  Theodore Dreiser novel makes headlines in 2010!

That’s what went through my mind as I heard and read about the tragic story of Mark Hurd, now former CEO of H-P.

Okay, so here we have the story of an aspiring actress who is attracted to the fame and wealth of a powerful corporate executive.  She accompanies him to social events, dinner, theater.  The executive, who is married and has children, becomes careless in his matters dealing with the actress.  Soon their relationship is revealed, along with certain financial improprieties of the executive.  In the next act the executive falls from grace, resigning his position and facing estrangement from his family.  The actress is catapulted into the spotlight and fame.

Mark Hurd and Jodie Fisher?  No, Sister Carrie.  The novel written over 100 years ago by Dreiser.    It’s a wonderful, torrid, steamy, censored affair (the original version was not published until the 1990s).  You can download it from Project Gutenberg or just read the summary in Wikipedia.

Jodie Fisher

Jodie Fisher

The more I read about Jodie Fisher, more striking become the parallels between her and the narrative arc of Sister Carrie.  It’s updated, with a Hollywood twist instead of Broadway.  The movie credits of Ms. Fisher  (Sheer Passion, Body of Influence 2) probably  contributed greatly to the troubles that Mr. Hurd faced from the HP board of directors.  We can also vividly imagine what he must have faced going home and telling his wife about the situation.

Her star is rising.  Up 6% on IMDb’s STARmeter

And the total irony of the situation is that this is HP, the same company that was investigating and wiretapping its own board members a few years ago.  In the first day of trading since the news came out, the company’s valuation dropped $9 billion.  Yes, that’s right, $9 BILLION in value.

In the investigation done by the board, they found no evidence of the sexual harassment accusations.  They did uncover a reported $20,000 in wrong expense reports to pay for dinners with Ms. Fisher.  Hurd has been a solid performer for HP, stabilizing the company after the disruptions earlier in the decade.  He’s led the company to record revenues and earnings.  He’s moved in all the right directions.

So did HP do the right thing by asking Hurd to resign?

Some people say no, that Hurd was cleared of the accusations and his leadership is invaluable to the company at this time.

From my perspective, the simple answer is yes.  And the more complex answer is still yes.  There are several compelling reasons that weigh heavily in favor of the resignation.

The first and foremost is that the behavior of a CEO should follow the same standards as any employee.  (In one very remarkable company I know, there isn’t even a reserved parking lot for the CEO).  If I were found with $20,000 in wrong expense reports, you can be pretty darn certain that I’d be out on the street.

The second is that the board needs to be transparent.  The moment this became public, it was easy to predict how distracting it would be to the performance of HP and the company’s reputation.  And you can be certain that in today’s world a secret like this wouldn’t stay a secret very long.  Not with movies like “Sheer Passion” lurking in the background.

This was reported to be the advice of their PR firm, APCO.  It sounds like excellent advice.  Imagine for a moment that you are on the HP board, know this explosive secret and exercise stock options before it is revealed.  That would put you in a pretty tight spot, too.  From the moment they heard about it, they must have been under great pressure.

So my strategic solutions to prevent this problem from arising again in 21st Century corporations:

1.  Have all MBAs take at least one course in literature.  Fiction is the stuff of life.

2. Give a copy of Sister Carrie to all board members of public corporations.

3. Give all executives a copy of The Jungle by Upton Sinclair.  We can all learn a little from his famous observation on business: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his job depends on not understanding it.”

4. Hire lots of people with Master of Fine Arts degrees to stimulate the corporate imagination.   In the interests of transparency and full disclosure — I have my MFA degree in creative writing.

Anything I left off the list?

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