Tag Archives: brand

Has Coke and its ad-agency just wasted $4m on a spot nobody got?

Coke’s latest SuperBowl commercial has gone terribly wrong.

It has sparked some outrage amongst US residents and even made it into the media as in a very controversial way. Some news hosts claim US residents to be sparking a wave of racism with their pro US or US centric comments.

Without getting into culture or national interests, the question at stake however is, if the Coca Cola company has just wasted $4m in a spot that their target audience clearly did not appreciate. Whilst above’s news host does not seem to waste a second about why organisations place advertising but blames the audience for not being educated enough to understand the brilliance in messaging, it is fair to wonder, if an ad has failed when creating negative brand value.

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The value of internal communications to tighten the identity – image gap

I have recently given a seminar  about the basics of communication to an IT department of a large multinational organisation. Like many internal service providers, they were struggling to be accepted by the organisation as a value providing business partner. This manifested itself in late project inclusions from the business side, political in-fights, a misunderstanding of the value of IT to the business and worst of all, a continuously decreasing self perception of IT staff.

Within the first day of the seminar, it became clear, that the gap of self to outside perception was much attributed to the department’s missing strategic alignment. Whilst a change in the departments top management has already brought some noticeable and positive change, the overall direction (vision & strategy) of the department was however largely unknown to workshop participants. With that, any outside reflection, argument or negative notion would hit IT staff unprepared and in negative spiral of ever decreasing self perception. On the other hand, IT staff knew, that some of the things they were working on was on the cutting edge of IT operations.

They were thus faced with a classical problem many organisation and many departments face. To align their departmental identity with the their perceived image within the organisation.

It did not take long for everybody to understand, that a creating a logo and or a claim for IT to pimp up their internal marketing would not be the sole solution to their problem. Whilst creating a logo and a claim is fun, creative and much more fun than anything analytical to most people, it would completely neglect the foundation of a solid brand architecture. Instead of running a pure image campaign, much work had to be attributed to internal alignment within the department to assure both managers and staff understood the department’s strategy and were readily trained to take this new message out to the organisation. A myriad of examples from their daily work helped to clarify why a pure image campaign wouldn’t cut it.

Overall, this was a very fun project which continues to be interesting throughout the current and impending implementation phase.


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Are campaigns dead?

Jeffrey Jones, Target CMO made a blunt but thought provoking statement, recently published in a brandchannel article, by addressing the shift from campaigns to mobile, content and thus in my eyes customer centric marketing.

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“In the past, marketers would make campaigns, they would put them in the world, and they would wait to see what happened,” Jones said in a video released on the brand’s A Bullseye View website and YouTube channel. “In today’s world, it happens hourly. It happens daily. And this is a brand that has such enriched deep content that our guests want to hear from us on. So if we can create content and share content and allow our guests to speak on our behalf, that’s really beneficial for them to deepen their engagement and it helps us amplify our message as well.”

The importance about this statement in my eyes is not the shift from campaigns to customer centricity in advertising but brands and marketing managers starting (could we say forced to by mobile technology and social media) to diss-intermediate in the message to consumer chain. Building up competencies, knowledge and experience in-house is a very important step to owning content and thus gaining control over customer’s brand experience.

The 60′s to the 90′s were the glory days of advertising agencies, slogans got created behind cigarette filled walls in men dominated meeting rooms. The customer was in most cases the least of everybody’s concern – data discrepancy just being one of the reasons.

Will we see more marketers taking on responsibility, diss-intermediating to getting closer to their customers but outsource operational tasks to third parties? Let’s hope so in 2013, I for my part, am in!

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Your celebrity partner is not the only brand ambassador to worry about!

The press and theory:

According to an article by the AdvertisingAge, Beyonce Knoles has just signed a $ 50 Million brand ambassador deal with Pepsi. Whilst brand ambassadorships are meant to catapult the brand’s reach based on a more credible partnership than just celebrity endorsements, the question of authenticity to consumer remains. Naming will.I.am director of creative innovation at Intel or Lady Gaga creative director of Polaroid is hardly credible to the educated consumer.


The other angle:

Johan Jervoe, VP of creative services at Intel, argues for the celebrity expertise infusion into an organization based on the cultural and process impact these celebrity partnerships may result in. Whilst Intel cannot specify any ROI to backup this claim, it remains questionable how much real operational impact a celebrity can have based on a career in live entertainment or acting. Some consumers surly fall for the Lady Gaga designed printer without questioning Lady Gaga’s stake in the design process besides lending her name to the product and appearing at tradeshows, others surely question the authenticity of these endorsements which widens the brand to consume gap.


The crux of the deal:

On a more subtle base, consumer’s might be drawn in by Lady Gaga, will.I.am and co, yet their brand experience will be defined at every brand touch-point, with an ever increasing likelihood that aspirational celebrity endorsed placements differ from the consumer’s real life product experience.


The harsh reality (a real life story):

As it happens, I am up and jet-lagged after an enduring US – EU trip which made me yet again aware of the difference between story telling and fulfilling the brand’s promise. The most outstanding brand experiences of my recent trip were with airline ground personnel as well as various rental car representatives. Both organizations have worked with celebrities to point a flashy & glossy picture of their service offering. The big difference however was that in both cases, company own and company branded but external staff missed the brand’s value proposition in every aspect, had obviously no pride in working for their respective brand nor cared in any way about the consumer brand interaction, particularly their influence in the game.


The return loop:

No matter if a new mobile operating system inclusive of new hardware gets mass marketed by various celebrities but newly opened flagship employees fall short of being able to sell the product to the consumer and highlight the negatives compared to their big fruity competitor or if airline ground staff does not care about check-in policies, rental car employees disrespect customers and forgoe their own rental policies, these are the touch-points that truly matter, the touch-points defining first hand customer brand interaction, the touch-points that have a driven influence on repurchase / revisit behavior but worst, the touch-points that will lead to negative brand buzz.


Old marketing tantras become the new philosophies, yet again!:

> Stick to the basics! Don’t overpromise but underdeliver. No matter how much marketing budget gets attributed to hiring the next big star for a product world tour, an outstandingly cool tv commercial or “product development” don’t forget to monitor where the action happens: at customer – brand touchpoints

> Don’t forget sales! A great social media campaign, to give the celebrity a break, that falls short of in-store product placements in important retail channels, doesn’t hold up to the promise (e.g. see my Kodak vs. Apple post). The same holds true for a big marketing stunt to promote said new mobile OS but employees lack sales savvy to close the deal with in-store customers.

> Don’t forget the customer! No matter how popular the celebrity, how great your competitor’s campaign based on celebrity affiliation: what your customers thinks, feels and encounters is what matters!

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5 core rules for consumer engaging conversational marketing

To be a truly conversational brand, content creation alone does not do the trick. Some brands or companies try to engage with heavily with followers and stimulate user generated content (just google GE and ugc), whilst others create internal content strategies or just let the faith do its thing.

From my experience gathered and discussions with other Marketing VPs, I have distilled the following 5 rules to create conversational marketing for brands.

The 5 core rules for consumer engaging conversational marketing:

1) Be authentic: define the core of your brand and stick to it. You don’t do much good by creating content which is far off your brand’s core values and or in misalignment with your brand’s voice. If you are a bunch of bike lovers creating your own custom bikes, communicate like a bunch a bike lovers to the most likely other bunch of bike lovers following you. Don’t try to emulate some corporate slang or a fastfood restaurant’s voice because you thought it was good, interesting or successful. Your followers or customers are interested in you and your product for a reason!

2) Be consistent: consistency and authenticity are closely related. To create conversational marketing, you need to have a communication strategy in place and stick to it. Don’t overkill it in month one, two and three and let your efforts fade during the reminder of the year. Followers, consumers and potential consumers value consistency not only in messaging but also in timing. Also, be consistent in your content’s message – find a voice and stick to it.

3) Be an expert: consumers are likely to engage with your brand for an expert opinion. Why is it that your brand is the leading brand, aspirational brand or upcoming brand for some product? Transpire this message in your brand’s voice to consumers. However, make sure you not only talk the talk but also walk the walk. Nothing hurts a brand more than the good old over-promise and under-deliver.

4) Be environmentally aligned: look at what GE is doing right now. User generated content can be a great means to hit the mark for followers and customers. However, be aware, don’t expect your followers to write what’s in your communicational plan. Be open to their voice and most importantly engage in a conversation. Airline facebook pages do usually serve as a great negative example, potential customers ask questions about flights or policies but often only to find that no airline representative answers them. If you engage in certain channels, think about the consequence, your branding strategy and fully commit to this channel.

5) Be a platform experience creator: think beyond one platform, think broadly and engage consumers in the chosen media with your content strategy. Create a brand footprint in the platform by capitalising your brand’s voice in each channel. Your website is likely to have

Video Update:

In the clip below, Deanna Brown talks with Brian Solis about brand publishing, social media teams running accounts and creating content. Whilst content creation as such does not seem to be the main issue however strategic alignment with company objectives and its environment. I recommend watching the clip, it takes about 18 minutes and is worth as some food for thought!

Deanna Brown: Why Brands Are Becoming Publishers

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