Posts Tagged 'narrative branding'

APPLE Loves Verse! Yes, We Will Be Your Verse!

This morning we discovered that Apple has written a love letter to us, Verse Group! And Apple put it right on the front page of the New York Times. Cheeky! Yes, a little past Valentines day but we can live with that.

NYTimes

Apple’s Love Letter To Us!

Hello Apple, we love you too. We will be your verse.

Right up front we must tell you we’ve been in a nearly 20 year open relationship with Samsung. Our history together started when we co-created their global brand strategy that lifted them to world-class status. Yes, Samsung and Verse have had our ups and down, but the ups are wonderful. Apple, you might remember seeing the Samsung Mobile PIN Shops around London during the Olympics? But to be honest with you we were disappointed to discover Samsung was also spending time with other branding companies. It’s an open relationship, not exclusive.  After all, we are the Verse of Magellan Health, Lockheed-Martin, BridentQuest Diagnostics.

What I mean is that we will be your Verse.

WhatWillYourVerseBe

Apple, we love you back. All of Verse loves you, designs with you, communicates with you,  is vastly entertained by you. But until now you have been a bit stand-offish, practically ignoring me even though we were classmates of your sister Mona in grad school at Columbia (where she shone with her exceptional talent).  Apple, in all candor sometimes you have seemed downright, well, narcissistic, yes, basking in the love of millions. That was the past. We see how you have changed, have developed the emotional security to share your love.

Now you are declaring your love for Verse to the world!

Guess who is the Apple of our eye!

Thank you Apple. Thank you for recognizing that we are your Verse!

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Is The World Ready for TRUTH in Advertising? How About Next Week? How About $5,000?

It’s January.  Time to for you to enter the Clios, the One Show and the newest advertising competition of all… The Truth in Advertising Contest!

Sure, those statues and plaques from the other award shows are fun.  The awards dinners are fun.  But do you win $5,000?  Only The Truth in Advertising Contest gives the winner $5,000.  http://truthinadvertisingcontest.tumblr.com

And remember, there’s only one place where you can find TRUTH in advertising.  And that’s in the novel by John Kenney.

You can order it today, but you’ll have to wait until next week for the Truth In Advertising.  That’s when it goes on sale.

TruthInAdvertising

Learn more at:  simonandschuster.com/truthinadvertising/

Two Good Things For You

Good Thing #1: Get Social!

Tomorrow night, Tuesday, 12/4 is the annual NYAMA holiday party.  A great way to see friends, to network.  A great way  support post-Hurricaine Sandy rebuilding of NY.

Donations collected at the party will be made to the Mayor’s Fund for the Advancement of New York.  This fund has been at the forefront in helping the people and their communities who continue to suffer from the aftermath of October’s storm.

The party is from 6 to 8 pm.  It is being hosted by JWT at 466 Lexington Avenue.  You can sign up at nyama.org or pay at the door.

Hope to see you there!

 

Good Thing #2: Get Ahead

One of the two or three absolute best Branding and Marketing conferences of the year is put on by The Conference Board on January 31st & February 1st.    Each year Lee Hornick gathers together a terrific group of corporate marketing and branding executives.  This year he has put together a terrific program.

Speakers include:

  • Brian Angiolet the VP of Marketing at Verizon Wireless
  • Lisa Fawcett, the VP of Global Marketing at Coopervision
  • Niharika Shah, VP of Marketing and Advertising Strategy at Prudential Financial
  • Michael Babikian, EVP/CMO of Transamerica Corporation

Why am I so keen on this conference?

Three reasons:

1.  I went to this conference when I was developing the Narrative Branding method.  It gave me a chance to see if this breakthrough really addressed the issues of corporate marketers and agencies.  The feedback and insights and support that I found there were invaluable to me.

2.  The NYAMA is a sponsor this year because we recognize this important forum for developing and celebrating brilliance in marketing.  Senior people from around the country will gather for two days to exchange ideas.

3. It’s at the Westin Hotel, about 30 feet from my office.  How could I not go?

I hope to see you at both of these great events!

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Today’s Branding Quote from Robert Frost

“Unless you are educated in metaphor, you are not safe to be let loose in the world.”  Robert Frost

A couple of days ago I was sitting in on a poetry class at the Kelly Writers House down at the University of Pennsylvania when this line from Frost popped into my mind.  Professor Al Filreis invited me to sit in on this class, the undergrad version of a course he’s teaching online to 35,000 people.

Yes, that’s right, 35,000 people are taking the same online poetry course taught by the same wonderful professor, going through close readings of modern poetry.

You could make a very compelling case that Mitt Romney lost the presidential election because of his carelessness with metaphors.  Among the memorable ones are“Binders full of women” and “47% of people…believe they are victims…” And he wasn’t helped by his spokesperson, Fehrnstrom who famously said of Romney’s ability to change positions:  “It’s almost like an Etch A Sketch. You can kind of shake it up and restart all over again.” 

So what does this have to do with marketing?  Remember a couple of years ago when Tropicana dropped it’s packaging metaphor of a straw in an orange?  The beautiful picture of OJ pouring into a glass was beautiful and vacuous.  People couldn’t find their Tropicana anymore.  In my house the comment was, “Why did you buy this instead of the regular OJ?”  It was an expensive headache for Pepsico, all because someone was not well educated in metaphor.

Almost single-handedly Al is going to educate us in metaphor for our own safety and for that of others around us.  Let’s join in to support Al and Kelly Writers House.

 

 

 

Happy Birthday 2 U-2

Not many companies have the staying power, the strong internal culture, to make it to the century mark.  Lockheed Martin is one of the few who do, who continue to be relevant to us today.  At Verse Group we are very proud to be helping Lockheed Martin tell their story of accelerating tomorrow.

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So this is also the year of big milestones for Oreos, Zurich Insurance, Citibank and Chevy.  What is most important about any branding program is making it relevant to us, the people who are going to be seeing the ads, going to the facebook pages and buying the products.  Okay, maybe we aren’t all in the market for an F-35.  But certainly Oreos!

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Oreos make their centennial relevant.

Citi and Zurich have missed the mark, they are rather more self-congratulatory than relevant.

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Cognitive Dissonance

In fact, Citibank’s advertising even features a shot of the Space Shuttle lifting off.   That really is something NASA accomplished with Lockheed Martin and a number of other vital corporations.  And you’ll see that Lockheed Martin’s centennial tells the story of our past century and how they’ve helped to accelerate the pace of innovation.  (note: updated with fixed links!)

 

 

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This has been a week of experiences for me.  “Brand Experience” is going to be the marketing buzzword of the year.  And not without reason.  So, here’s been my week:

First, I received a copy of The Apple Experience by Carmine Gallo (McGraw-Hill)

It’s a good primer into how Apple found success in retail after other computer companies had failed.   If you’re an Apple fanatic, then most of the book will be warm comfortable ground that you’ve been through before.

And if you aren’t the kind of person [or company] who obsessively benchmarks Brand Experiences, this is a great shortcut.

But Apple isn’t the only experience there is.  In many ways I find the Apple experience to be more about the sheer visual beauty of the stores, products and space.   There’s less than meets the eye, in some sense.  Try TD Bank to see just how much the actual experience overshadows the design.  Start by walking your dog into the branch and see how you are treated.  Now, go ahead to a nearby Citi location and try the same thing.

One complaint I have about Apple and Apple Stores is the feeling of being in a walled-in garden.  It is hermetic.  There is a built-in subversion, a paradox at the heart of the Apple Store.  Explicitly Apple is all about unleashing the creativity of people like you and me.  Implicitly, encoded in the heart of Apple is a “look at me, admire me, love me” sensibility, an extreme narcissism.  At it’s core Apple believes more in its own creativity than in yours or mine.

Second, I found this on Engadget:

Samsung promised one more surprise — and what it gave us was a special retail strategy. The company will be opening Mobile Pin locations, or glass-housed pop-up stores, to help showcase its new flagship phone [Samsung Galaxy S III launched in London earlier today]

Samsung Mobile PIN exterior from Engadget

Samsung Mobile PIN interior from Engadget

 

What’s Past Is Prologue – or – Ad Copy By Shakespeare

This just in from  forbes.com as retold by Michael Margolis

Storytelling is a hot business trend for a reason. In the face of growing cynicism and distrust, stores are how people decide if they belong in your tribe…. The brand story is what allows your message to travel.

Every brand has a founding myth, an epic narrative that explains how it came to be in this world. It’s important because it explains why you do what you do. If you’re clear about the end product you’re trying to create, you can use the past to help tell the story of your future.

Does every brand really have a founding myth?  No, but they should.  It’s like a back-story for an attraction at Disney World.  You may not know it but you can certainly sense it.
As the Bard once said, “what’s past is prologue”

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!

Lost In Translation

Last night I had a dream about global branding.  It came to me, like a scene from a play or a movie.  As soon as I woke up, I wrote it down so I could remember it.  Here is what I remember:

[Scene:  Conference room of a major multinational corporation.  Five people seated around the oval table.  3 of them are from the client marketing team.  2 are from their ad agency.]

Marketer 1: “This slogan is brilliant.  I love it!  We’ll use it on all of our advertising, around the world.  It’s not the coffee that keeps you up at night, it’s the bunk.”*

Marketer 2: “Nobody in my country will understand it.  We need to translate it.  Even though our brand is global, our brand is locally relevant.  It says that in our mission statement.  So we need to speak in the local languages.”

Agency 1:  “The line will lose all meaning if we translate it.  It’s a great line, iconic.  It will make you famous.”

Agency 2:  “Look at the Apple advertising.  Nokia.  Philips.  They use English taglines everywhere.  Everyone understands English, it’s the universal language of movies, music and advertising.”

Marketer 2: “Nobody will understand it.  It will make us seem like a distant, arrogant, global corporation who is only interested in selling more, more, more.”

Marketer 1: “It loses all brilliance in translation.  Why can’t we do this in English?”

Agency 1:  “Yes, yes, that’s the only solution.”

Agency 2:  “This is a breakthrough line.  Everyone will be saying it, in every language.  It will have great word-of-mouth momentum.  We can hire models to whisper it in art galleries in all of the major cities from Madrid to Moscow.”

Marketer 2: “We have to translate it.  It is a fact.  You can disagree with the fact but that doesn’t change it.”

Agency 1: “You are killing the whole idea.  You are squeezing the creativity out of it.”

Marketer 1:  “You are both right.  The line is brilliant.  But we do need to have it in the local languages.  Why can’t we do that?”

Agency 2: “Everyone in Europe speaks English.  How about we keep it in English there but translate in China and Latin America?  That solves the problem.”

Marketer 2: “Are we translating the actual words or are we translating the meaning?”

Agency 2: “We’ll have our local offices create new lines for each country.  That way it will be completely relevant.”

Marketer 1: “So we won’t have a single global tagline?  How can we be a global brand without a global tagline?”

Marketer 3: “Okay, I know what can we do!  We’ll make it universal — we’ll use Esperanto!”

[blackout]

Context is King!

What does the color red symbolize?  In many Asian cultures it is a powerful color, very positive.  In many Western cultures it has negative connotations.

The word collaboration is positive in the US — working together.  In France it is a highly charged word, since it has shadings of collaborating in WWII.

As companies stretch to become global brands they have to wrestle with the problem of being lost in translation.  Words are not universal.  Their meaning shifts.  They cannot be nailed down to simple plain meaning.  Somewhere along the line irony begins to slip in.   In fact, the meaning of words shift in the same country over time.   They go from current to camp faster than you can say phat.

Brand Context is King!

Here’s an example:  In the 1990s Samsung had a tagline, “Simply Samsung” which consumers understood to mean the products were simplistic, basic, not very advanced.  In the 2000s Philips has a tagline, “Sense and Simplicity” which is understood to mean taking complex things and making them easy, everyday and wonderful.

* Yes, this is the slogan that won a big contest in the old movie “Christmas in July.”  Great movie that hinges on who comes up with the best slogan for a big coffee company.

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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