Posts Tagged 'BRITE'

And The Honorees Are…Comstock, Kotler & Tripodi

A big night in marketing this past Wednesday, when the 2014 Marketing Hall of Fame inducted 3 brilliant people — Beth Comstock of GE, Philip Kotler, distinguished professor at the Kellogg School of Management and Joe Tripodi of The Coca-Cola Company.


Philip Kotler, Beth Comstock and Joe Tripodi being honored at Marketing Hall of Fame

Philip Kotler, Beth Comstock and Joe Tripodi being honored at Marketing Hall of Fame

The house was sold-out, SRO. The guests were also major-league influential marketers. It was great to see a large number of younger people attending, no doubt drawn to the evening by the great talks, the wine, food, more talks, and then more wine and food. A tremendous thanks to J. Walter Thompson…oops, JWT, I mean, for hosting the event and supplying that wine & food.

Some notables spotted:

  • Bernd Schmitt of Columbia Business School and author of many books including All Business is Show Business. Columbia is our academic partner in this endeavor, so we are very pleased so many faculty were able to  join us. In fact, there were more than a few Columbia MBAs in the room.
  • David Rogers of the BRITE conference, digital guru and a co-author on several of Bernd’s books
  • Joseph Plummer, who was one of the original instigators of the very first Marketing Hall of Fame in the early 1990s
  • Alan Schulman of Sapient/NITRO
  • Shira Schatz, Director of product management and marketing at American Express
  • Claude Salzberger, president of MBLM
  • John Osborn, president of BBDO, a premier sponsor of the event
  • John Bernbach, president of Engine, who got a big shout-out from Joe Tripodi on the stage.

More name dropping, updates and photos in future posts, along with some observations about the talks given by the honorees. If you were there and want to share your impressions, please send them in!

My Future Was BRITE

It was great fun to be at Columbia’s Center for Global Brand Leadership’s BRITE Conference yesterday and today.

Professor Don Sexton and David Rogers presented some of initial findings and implications from our new CMO Study on ROI in the Era of BIG DATA.  This was a joint study of the Center for Global Brand Leadership and the NYAMA.  The very generous sponsors of the study were the Greenbook and ResearchNow.  There were many other people involved in championing the idea of this study including Edwin Roman of ESPN/NYAMA, Rick Kendall, Debra Berliner and Christine Heye of the NYAMA; Sylvia Chu, Andrew Kyrejko and Michael Dudley of Verse Group; and Matt Quint and the incomparable Bernd Schmitt of Columbia.

If I had one message to give CMOs about the study it is: “You are not alone in your struggles to stuff digital marketing into traditional processes and methods.”

And there’s a good reason.

Big Data is a Big Headache for most marketers, revealing a fundamental Big Problem: The underlying foundation of marketing is rickety, fragile.  Piling more digital innovations on top of it reveals the problems inherent in the traditional positioning model of how marketing works.  In fact, marketing management has become like an elephant riding on a bicycle.

The good news is that there are newer approaches to marketing that are built for the digital world.  Until now, many of those breakthroughs in marketing have been created internally at corporations like Coca-Cola (liquid and linked), McDonald’s (Brand Journalism), P&G and others.  The principles of their approaches are available to anyone to adopt and adapt.  Principles such narrative — e.g. seeing your brand more like a hit Broadway Musical or attraction at Disney World rather than a 2 dimensional billboard.  Principles such as using powerful metaphors, co-creating meaning with customers and, yes, engaging with them on their terms.

In the coming weeks expect to see more of the data from the study so that you can make your own judgements.  The NYAMA will be holding a seminar to share the findings in greater depth than was possible at BRITE.  Stay tuned!

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


A BRITE holdover

I am delighted to share that David Rogers, the Executive Director of the Center on Global Brand Leadership — the group who put on BRITE — will be giving a talk about his new book at the NYAMA on April 12th.

This is the first in the new Author Series that the New York American Marketing Association is presenting.  Once a month we will be hosting an author of new and important books related to marketing.  You can learn more about the series and sign up at

David Rogers's new book


Day Two at the Columbia Business School’s BRITE conference was much shorter and more interactive than day one.  The following are highlights of the day — or at least my experience of it.

The brand guru Seth Godin started off the morning with the keynote address.  He was wonderfully entertaining, a terrific presenter.  At one point he showed a “typical Seth Godin chart made up of no data at all.”

For 25 or 30 minutes he stood in front of the auditorium shouting to us that the world will no longer tolerate advertisers who stand in front of their audience shouting to the people in the last row.  I’m sure he appreciates the irony of the situation. 

So when I returned to my office I picked up Godin’s book.  It’s not very heavy.  Immediately I turned to the back cover and the name Mark Rovner caught my eye.  I know a Mark Rovner who lives in the DC area and works with many non-profits.  Could this be the same Mark Rovner?  I quickly read the book (not difficult, it’s 151 small pages, including acknowledgements, which comes out to a little more than 13 cents a page if you paid full retail) and found the comments about Mark on page 114.  You can learn more about Mark and his organization, Seachange.

Back to Godin’s presentation.  His thesis is that people inherently form themselves into “tribes.”  Tribes are essentially affiliations, sometimes weak and sometimes strong, that have been made easier to form and grow because of the internet and other new technology. Tribes are fundamentally different from segmentation because tribes are self-selecting whereas segments are defined by the marketer based on the marketer’s criteria and not your own.  Which is a rather distressing thought for everyone who follows the traditional marketing strategies of segmentation.

His quotable comment of the day:  “People love lies.  People love stories.”

Following that the audience split up into 4 different groups to hear or participate in 4 different topics.  I went to hear several more presentations, these by Ross Buchanan of Molson, Alyson Meranze of American Express, Freddy Mini of Netvibes and Professor Eli Noam.  Professor Don Sexton was the moderator.  

Alyson Meranze spoke of the “co-creation of value with partners” as their way of going beyond shooting tv and print ads.  Co-creating value means developing a deeper, mutually beneficial partnership with people such as Diane Von Furstenberg.  She then gave an example of how that turned into blogs, a sponsorship of Project Runway on Bravo which DVF was judging and finally DVF creating a line of clothes that is only available to card members.

Ross Buchanan was candid about the way in which Molson “never really listened to our consumers.  We did surveys every so often but not really listen.”  That was behind the initiative he has led to provide a platform where Molson drinkers could engage with each other as well as the brands.  

He also raised the issue that was plaguing many companies — who owns the social networking initiatives?  PR?  Brand?  Marketing?  In Molson’s case they created a cross-functional team to run the initiatives.

Both Amex and Molson talked about their shift in media spending away from traditional media and into new media.  Molson gave a rough breakdown of 85% traditional and 15% new media today with the % of new media going even higher in the future, particularly with budgets shrinking.   Amex declined to provide any breakdown of the spending split between traditional and new media.  

The quote of the session goes to a saying from Amex that Alyson shared with us: “When you are through changing you are through.”

The last session I attended was led by Bernd Schmitt.  He made the point that advertising in the past was about functions, features and benefits.  “It was what we all learned for a long, long time.”  Now advertising is more emotional, lifestyle, non-comparative.  In an experiential economy the advertising is:

Sense, Feel, Think, Act and Relate.  

Relate is the phenomena of the conference, the crowdsourcing or mash-ups or Tribes or community (insert your favorite word here).  The area that has been least touched on is Sense because much of the internet is still text based.  For instance, I am typing this and you are reading it instead of watching me on video.

This last session was also much more collaborative.  We broke into groups of two or three to discuss the topics and share the ideas around the room.  For a conference about crowdsourcing, this was the first usage we had of it in two days.

Although not formal presentations, the breaks and lunch were enjoyable opportunities to share stories with so many new people and reconnect with some familiar faces.  

Here is my highly unscientific analysis of the words of the week:

Brands, Longtail, Facebook, Hulu, Engaging, Kindle, Experience, Community, twitter, Crowdsourcing, Monetization, Google, Tribes, Platform, Content, iPhone, Tribes, Linked In, Social Media/Social Networking


The first day of the BRITE conference up at Columbia University was a series of 25 minute presentations on 4 groups of themes.  The speakers were from a wide range of companies, large and small, including: SAP, Linked In, Clickable, Wired, Boxee, Bravo, Edelman and Citibank.

Some ideas that were raised at the conference that I found to be notable:

First of all, not once during the day did anyone use the phrase “brand positioning.”  That was refreshing.

Max Kalehoff of Clickable observed that in the current economic crisis, “Brands are more important than ever before.”  He went on to discuss the conundrum of how companies are now cutting back on their spending behind branding.   He also brought forth a fact I had not know before, which is that search accounts for about 1/2 of online advertising.  And the % is rising. 

Kalehoff also made a point of saying that companies are moving away from “brand advertising” and towards “goal-based advertising.”  After listening to his clarification during the Q&A session, I came to the conclusion that he raises a false dichotomy.  The best advertising is both “brand” and “goal-based” at the same time.  It is not a trade-off.  Perhaps he was simply making the observation that some advertisers — or agencies — are making a distinction between one and the other instead of doing both together.

Professor Sanjay Sood of UCLA made the very cogent observation that there are many pieces of branding tools such as Brand Mantra, Brand DNA, Brand Soul and so forth that just don’t all fit together.  

He was looking at branding from the movie business perspective — how do the studios build excitement and interest in the movies in the time leading up to the release date.  It was a perspective on branding that I had not heard before.  And the examples that he provided are a refreshing break from the usual Google, Apple, Nike case studies that we have all heard so often and seen used to support many, many different viewpoints.  He said that “the Power of Storytelling” is the one think that companies can own and manage.  From his own research this is particularly important for word of mouth.

He also discussed the importance of crafting the brand mythology, the creation story or backstory of the brand.  It doesn’t have to be found in the product itself but can be found online or in some portions of the communications.  

Lisa Hsia of Bravo spent a lot of time discussing the struggles that “old” media companies are having integrating with new media.  She provided some examples of how Bravo is doing this successfully where viewers are both online and watching a program at the same time, then continuing their discussion about the show and characters later.  

Jeff Howe of Wired gave his presentation on Crowdsourcing, a term which he coined for an article in Wired and which is now a new book.  He began his talk with a brief and very entertaining video that you can see by clicking on the link or going to YouTube.  

Mark Yolton of SAP began his presentation by discussing the ways SAP has begun to provide ways for their community of users to connect with the people inside of the company.  It was forcing a cultural change within SAP, according to Yolton.  In a follow-up conversation I had with him, he discussed some of the challenges internally of such an opening up of the company to the outside community.  Traditionally marketing and sales were the main points of contact with customers.  Now many parts of the organization have direct connections to customers, requiring a whole new set of internal behaviors and coordination.  It raised a number of questions such as who “owns” the brand in such a world?  And how do companies overcome the organizational silos?

Umair Haque gave a presentation which, frankly, I could not comprehend.  He was talking about something called “thin value” and “fat value.”  In my own semi-informed opinion — as someone who spent years studying economics — Haque’s economic understanding of the current world crisis was a bit shaky.  He calls it the “great compression.”  Clever term but not particularly illuminating. 

But he did have a very cool presentation tool that you can get from  I warn you, it is not for those of us who suffer from motion sickness!

For someone who posits himself as driving radical innovation, and critiquing 20th Century capitalism, he has a peculiar gap  the core ideas of that biggest radical of all, Karl Marx.  When asked by a member of the audience how his ideas are different from “dialectical materialism” Haque confessed to being unfamiliar with the phrase or ideas behind it.  You can judge for yourself if Haque is brilliant or simply bullshit by going to his blog. Perhaps he is both simultaneously?

These were my highlights of Day One, along with meeting some very wonderful people attending the conference and seeing some old acquaintances. Tomorrow I’ll debrief on Day Two.  

For those of you who want to attend next year but are on a budget, a friend gave me the tip that volunteering for a couple of hours at the conference will get you free admission.


Every year there is a conference on global branding at Columbia University’s B-school, led by the endlessly energetic and enjoyable Bernd Schmitt.  The conference was given the name BRITE which stands for Branding, Innovation, Technology.  This year’s conference begins on Wednesday, 3/4.  The posts for the next couple of days will be related to the conference.

Last year Professor Schmitt made the emphatic point that technology innovations have made brand positioning obsolete.  It was a non-controversial idea to the audience.  Many had come to that conclusion on their own.  

Hanging over the conference was the unspoken reality that none of the presenters had discussed what goes into a breakthrough methodology to replace brand positioning.

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