Is It Time For The Chief Brand Integration Officer?

10 12 2009

Once upon a time, marketing was easy.  In fact, Ed or Jimmy or Bubba from sales could handle it.

You didn’t need an MBA: the booming postwar economy made even lousy strategy look like a stroke of genius.

You didn’t even have to understand advertising. You had an ad agency to handle all that Hollywood  junk.  All you had to do was make some phone calls, steer clear of company politics, and have the occasional 12-martini lunch with your pals on Mad Ave.

Fast forward to 2010, and it’s a mess. Your traditional agency still does gorgeous TV, and some of their young guns really do “get” digital. But, maybe their digital offering isn’t as good as agencies that were born digital.

So, how do you manage this?

You can do what most marketers do and work with a crazy-quilt of agencies. You’ll have a traditional agency for TV. Another that does paid search, one that does social media, one that does mobile, one that does PR, digital ad infinitum.  You’ll get best-of-breed thinking, but you’ll spend a lot of time playing coordinator and referee. Oh, and trying to coordinate all the data from these disparate efforts will be a ginormous pain in the shorts.

Or you can go with a “we-do-it-all” interactive agency. They may not be as deep in search as a pure-play search agency, or maybe they’ll be stronger in analytics than in creative.

But at least all your stuff isn’t in silos.

Except… it still is.  If you’re like most marketers, what about the impact of the other 80% or more of your spend that remains in traditional? How does all that integrate with your digital efforts?

The Integration Problem

I’ve worked in traditional, digital and now I’m on the client side. Having seen a 360 degree view of this, I’m more convinced than ever that marketers must take the lead across all these different specialties and integrate them to drive results.

It would be great if you could have your lead agency do this, but you really can’t. No matter how great an agency is, I think it’s impossible to be entirely objective.

Every agency is passionate about their specialty. If they’re not, they can’t be good at it. And as a practical matter, every agency is in business to sell more of what they do. They need to upsell as much as you do.

So the job of integration, of synergizing disparate efforts so that 1+1 adds up to 11, has to be done on the client side. Easy, right? Well… maybe not.

The Overloaded Brand Manager

The job of integration usually gets placed on the shoulders of a brand manager who is already tasked with managing far too much.  Trying to wrap your head around traditional, digital, manufacturing, innovation, social media, competitive threats, private label, and the ugliest roughest retail environment in history all at once ain’t easy.

And, marketing organizations typically lack people who have enough experience across these silos to see the opportunities that exist — and especially not those that can be created.

Is It Time For The Chief Brand Integration Officer?

Marketing organizations now need a senior manager with deep experience in both traditional and digital who is tasked with integrating them.

A strong Tradigital exec who can look at great ideas from different agencies and find the ones that work not just as one-offs, but multiply the power of the overall effort.

Today, 10 years after the dot-com bust, a small number of these people exist. They’re the oldtimers who left successful traditional advertising and marketing gigs to dive headfirst into digital.

What do you think? Does a new position like this make sense? Who ought to do this job, and why? How would this work within a traditional brand management structure?

Comments, please…





Is Social Media Too Big For Its Own Good?

18 09 2009

If you believe the buzz, social media will be huge. But is it already too big for its own good?

In marketing, you can’t be all things to all people. It makes it too hard for people to know who you are and what you stand for. Could Social Media be a victim of its own PowerPoint?

How To Learn Social Media In Just 5,000 Easy Lessons

Swhatissocialmedialideshare.com has 5,000 presentations and counting, trying to explain social media. Why?

I suspect it’s because explaining social media is like trying to nail Jell-O to the wall; it won’t stay in one place.

Is Social Media online customer service? Or a way for angry consumers to complain? Both.

Is it online PR? Or online market research and crowdsourcing for innovation? It’s these, too.

Is it a Facebook brand page? Or is it a Facebook-like community, but ONLY for one brand? Yep.

Is it a video sharing page for brand communications?  Or a viral video? Yes, it’s all those.

Or is it one of these 1500 (and counting) examples? Definitely.

It wobbles randomly from PR to customer service, then leans diffidently toward advertising before wobbling back toward market research. The more we struggle to make social media make sense as “all of the above” the less it seems like we know what we’re talking about.

Social Media, Translated

What If Social Media Isn’t An Elephant?

I’m sure you all remember the old parable of the blind marketing MBAs and the elephant?

They thought each individual part was a separate thing and didn’t understand that it was part of a larger animal.

What if each distinct part of what we thought was an elephant turns out to make a lot more sense on its own?

Maybe it’s time to stop treating Social Media like it’s a whole different animal. Maybe we can just incorporate what we’ve learned back into the distinct and easy-to-explain disciplines of PR and market research and customer service.

If we did, we could expend a lot less energy trying to explain what Social Media is, and just get on with it.

What am I missing? What are the drawbacks to this way of seeing the elephant that I’m blind to? Can you offer a better solution?





How To Create A Facebook App That Won’t Fall On Its Face

11 08 2009

I like Ben and Jerry’s new Facebook app, a lot. It’s smart and fun.

And, it offers some good lessons about how to get a Facebook app right.

1) Don’t Think Too Much

A smart Facebook app does something different, fun and social.  But, it also has to be really easy for the user to understand and use.

Ben and Jerry’s FlipMyText app lets you create upside down messages, effortlessly.  Different, fun, social, easy.

Ben and Jerry's new app turns social media on its head

2) Be True To The Brand

The app is silly and weird for the sake of being weird. cherrygarcia

This app is pitch-perfect for a brand with a rich history of celebrating weirdness with flavors like Cherry Garcia, Imagine Whirled Peace, and Karamel Sutra.

Ben and Jerry’s has always had a distinctive voice. It’s great to see them have an app that speaks their language.

3) Promote Something Actionable

Flip My Text isn’t a Facebook app for the sake of having a Facebook app. It promotes Ben and Jerry’s Flipped Out Sundaes, which are designed to be tipped upside down before you can eat them.

Weird but true: the app is easier to use than the Sundaes.  There’s at least one website with a tutorial about how to eat one.

benjerryfbook

4) Leverage Something That Already Works

Flip My Text isn’t new. I think it was really smart for Ben and Jerry’s to find something that already works and leverage it in a new and different way. It’s a good deal for everybody, including Flip My Text.

5) Be Worth Talking About

Getting an upside-down message immediately provokes two questions:
  • How did you do that?
  • Can I do it too?

If you’re thinking about creating a Facebook app, think about taking a scoop from Ben and Jerry’s:

  1. Don’t Think Too Much
  2. Be True To The Brand
  3. Promote Something Actionable
  4. Leverage Something That Already Works
  5. Be Worth Talking About




How To Explain Digital Culture To People Who Don’t Get It

30 07 2009

The “digital divide” in corporations, and in marketing organizations, is very real.

There are a set of people who live it, and get it.

And there are a set of people who live outside it, and occasionally take a stab at trying to understand it by reading about it or attending seminars.

What they don’t get is that trying to understand digital and social media without living it is like trying to learn how to ride a bicycle by reading a book. You can’t understand it without actually doing it.

But, this hour-long video is the next best thing. If you’re working with people who aren’t living digitally, try showing them this guide to the culture.

Why do I think this “Anthropological introduction to YouTube” will help marketers?

  • It’s in a familiar, comfortable form (video);
  • It’s inspiring and non-threatening;
  • It’s not a sales piece with an agenda;
  • It’s not about advertising and marketing

It’s not about old vs. new, right vs. wrong — it’s about culture. it does a good job of explaining internet memes, viral videos, mashup and remix culture, social media, communities, “networked individualism” and more.

Best of all, it’s not about advertising and marketing, or old vs. new. It’s about culture.

I’m planning to share this with some people to see if it can help educate them. If you decide to do the same, please let me know how it works.





Colgate Wisp: CPG Viral Video Done Right

28 07 2009

Something idiotic is happening at Colgate headquarters.

They’re approving videos for YouTube that are every bit as moronic and weird as “Keyboard Cat“, yet do a brilliant job of highlighting the features of their new product, Colgate Wisp. This is the best viral video I’ve seen since the Verizon Viral Video.

THIS is how to do viral. It sells hard because it’s not needy.  Colgate is not begging you to love the Wisp. They’re not promising the sun, the moon and the stars. They’re not pretending to be high technology or rocket science. Colgate isn’t even pretending to do serious advertising.

They’re just saying “here it is, and here’s what it does” in an idiotic way. Which happens to be very, very smart.





Seeing The Forrester For The Trees

21 07 2009

I’ve been working in digital since the earliest days, and I am a true believer.

Cut me and I bleed bytes.

But, still… are we not seeing the Forrester for the trees?

How does Forrester’s projection that in 5 years digital will account for 20% of the total advertising spend count as a massive change in advertising?

The curve is sexy. Noteworthy. But… it’s still only 20%.

In fact, a reasonable interpretation of the below chart is:

“despite all the hype, what this chart really says is that 80% of the ad spend in 2014 will be in the traditional media that we have been far too quick to declare dead”.

.
072009-Bernoff

But obviously, things are not 80% the same as ever. Not by a long shot. So what’s happening here?

I don’t buy the argument that TV is dead, or that nothing at all is changing. What both arguments miss is a broader perspective. When I step back from the question of digital vs. analog and old vs. new, I see two tremendous shifts.

The first is an explosion of content and a fragmentation of audiences that has blown a massive hole in the business models of all content businesses. This makes it tougher to reach a mass audience.

The second is a shift from long-term brand-building activities to short-term direct marketing activities.

The Two Biggest Changes And Challenges In Advertising?

Digital is a major part of what is driving the changes in advertising, but it remains only a part. In my opinion, there are two major changes and challenges that marketers must grapple with. They are:

  1. Re-aggregating fragmented audiences into a meaningful size; and
  2. Re-learning how to build brands for the long-term

Advertising IS changing forever.

But when we focus too tightly on digital vs. analog share of ad spend, I believe we are missing the big picture.





The Real Time, Mashed-Up Future Of TV?

26 06 2009

What do you do with a medium that’s fragmentized and atomized, whose antique analog economics have been flung out the window into a digital hurricane, and is rapidly becoming a great big mess?

If you ask Shelly Palmer, the answer is to stop fighting fragmentation and start harnessing it.

I love this idea. How much more fun would TV be — even old shows we’ve seen a million times — if all the production elements were given to the world to mashup in real time?

honeymashup

Radical Common Sense

This might sound insane at first.  But the more you think about it, the more it sounds like radical common sense. Pay close attention to what Shelly Palmer is saying:

“We have entered the super-digital age and now all television is digital. So why are we still broadcasting combined, fully finished, masters in real time? We don’t have to. It would be much, much better to (…) break the data down to its component parts and broadcast them separately. So, text, graphics, music, script, metadata, voice-over, picture elements would all be packaged as individual data streams and made available in real time.”

Wow. As I’ve written before, everything is an ingredient. This takes things to an entirely new level. And it works whether your passion is to produce content, or sell it.

As a creative person, I’m excited by Shelly’s idea because it opens possibilities.  I believe all creative thinking is basically mashing up existing ideas in a way that reveals something previously unseen.  To borrow a line from U2′s song “The Fly”, “Every artist is a cannibal, every poet is a thief.”  Mashups just make that process explicit, and part of the fun is spotting the purloined bits. (If you have no idea what I’m talking about, go download the Kleptones “Night At The Hip-Hopera”.  It explains everything.)

As a businessman, I’m intrigued because it means you can do insane experiments with re-thinking TV without having to kill it in the process.  Old and new can co-exist, until new finds the place where it stops seeming crazy and starts making money.

Is It Time To Stop Fighting The Future?

Digital makes mashing things up easy — in fact everything in this blog post is mashed up from somewhere else, from the Honeymooners pictures and script, to the quote from Shelly Palmer.

What great things can happen if we stop trying to fight the future and  just let digital do what digital wants to do?  Who knows where it can lead us?





The Gateway Recession: What’s Next?

25 06 2009

Essential reading from The Counterintuitive CEO Blog, whether you’re a CEO or not.  Thanks to my friend Mike Troiano of Crimson Hexagon for pointing this one out.

Here’s the deal. We’re at a portal between eras: what was, and what will be. We’re not talking about change.  We’re talking about CHANGE. There’s a difference.

portal

Key takeaways from the article:

1) Digital will be mandatory, not a choice. But you already knew this, or you wouldn’t be reading my blog.

2) Brand loyalty will be limited. The news from the recent CMO study already wasn’t good news. Can we afford for it to get worse? I don’t think so.

3) Customers will look very unfamiliar, as shown in the Forrester report, The State Of Consumers And Technology: Benchmark 2008.  You may not like it, and you may not understand it, but your customer is being changed by technology — and your customer will change your company.

4) The war for people will be intense. Now’s a smart time to hunker down and develop skills that will be worth fighting for.  Which side of the portal are you on: the past, or the future?

5) You will sell differently. Many traditional channels won’t survive in the new era — because the new consumer won’t pick them up or tune them in. You will have to reach customers in new ways — blogs, Facebook, Google, Twitter, and whatever supersedes them.

6) The way you innovated is dead. This is actually good news: the old way hadn’t worked anyway for a long time. Isn’t it a relief to know it’s not your fault?  :-)

Click here to read.





Alice.com: CPG E-Commerce Revolution?

25 06 2009

UPDATED NEW LINKS August 31, 2009

The mesmerizing promise of milk, Mallomars and maple syrup via modem is as old as the Internet itself.

alice_logoIt’s powerful, exciting stuff:  When I was a partner in the digital agency I founded, Brandscape,  we worked for a really smart Boston-based company called ShopLink.

It felt like we had a shot at changing the world. Or at least the pantry. (Hey, you gotta start somewhere).

But, ShopLink hit the same wall that most of the others hit: doing this right turns out to be a very expensive proposition.

Alice.com is different in a lot of ways. Specifically:

  1. It offers big-box (read “Wal-Mart”) prices and free shipping.
  2. It has a different business model than traditional e-tail. They take no markup. Instead, Alice.com collects a fee from CPG manufacturers for shipping products out, and passes customer data back to the manufacturer.
  3. Manufacturers set their own prices.
  4. They have signed on 5 of the top 10 CPG companies.

A Weiden + Kennedy blogger makes an interesting and smart point here about how “alice.com uses coupons to create value and urgency using three variables — number of personal uses each coupon afforded, the offer expiration data, and the remaining number of available uses for the offer”.

The iCPG Unofficial Alice.com Link Round-Up

Here’s a link round-up and some screen shots, for when your Boss strolls into your office and says “you’re totally on top of this Alice.com thing, right?”

Alice.Com Screen Shots

alice-shop

alice-add_610x484





Inattentional Blindness, aka “I Know Why The Banner Alien Dances”

22 06 2009

A brief history of advertising.

Stage I: “The Boredom Is Killing Me. I’ll Look At Anything.” It’s the early 20th century. Newspapers are a critical defense against the ennui of living in our one-horse towns. We’ll give our attention to anything.  Even if it’s just a baldness-fighting Hygienic Vacuum Cap.

baldness

Stage II: “I’m Beat. I Can’t Wait To Relax With Some TV.” It’s the midpoint of the 20th century. We’ve suffered two world wars and a Great Depression.  We’re sick of death, of dancing_cigarettescrisis, of worry. We don’t want the media to stimulate us anymore.

What do we want?

Escapism, entertainment, fantasy. Part of that is looking at ads for the good life, now that it’s here.

Hey look, there’s Milton Berle in a dress!  There’s a dancing Old Gold cigarette pack!

We’re not as eager to give away our attention, but advertisers can still grab us if they dance well.

Stage III: “Don’t Bug Me, I’m Doing Something.” It’s the early part of the 21st century. Unlike past media, the Internet is not just a “view” medium. It’s a “do” medium.

We can find anything, whether it’s how to install a floating modular water-resistant polyethylene subfloor system or the video of Auto-Tune the News where they sing about lettuce regulation.

dancing_alienI Know Why The Banner Alien Dances

This is why I find the dancing banner alien such a poignant figure. He’s the digital descendent of the dancing cigarette pack, begging for our attention.

But he has a sad, existential  fate.  The people he’s dancing for aren’t ignoring him. They literally can’t see him.

They have Inattentional Blindness.

Isn’t This Just A New Term For The Same Old Stuff?

Nope. This isn’t about advertising clutter (which apparently dates back to 1759)  or Steve Rubel’s Attention Crash.

Inattentional Blindness is a very real phenomenon discovered by psychologists Arien Mack, PhD, of the New School for Social Research, and the late Irvin Rock, PhD, of the University of California, Berkeley.  Mack and Rock’s experiments proved that people whose attention was focused on one thing often failed to notice an unexpected object, even when it appeared in the center of their field of vision.

“I came away from our studies convinced that there is no conscious perception without attention,” Mack says.

I believe Inattentional Blindness is a major factor in why ad clickthrough rates have plummeted near zero.  When we’re focused on finding something specific, we’re blind to everything else. And it doesn’t help that we all know exactly where the useless stuff (aka “banner ads”) lies on the page. The ads are – in every sense – peripheral to the task the user is trying to accomplish.

In that case you can forget “engagement” as a metric, kids. You can’t measure something that doesn’t exist.

Three Prescriptions To Fight Inattentional Blindness.

If Inattentional Blindness is indeed the problem, then IAB CEO Randall Rothenberg’s call for an Interactive Creative Revolution can get us only part of the way to where we need to be.  We’ll be doing far superior dances for an audience that remains stone blind.

Here are my three prescriptions:

1) Get In The Attentional Pathway In The Right Way: Quit Dancing And Help Somebody. If someone is focused on getting the latest sports score and you’re trying to advertise to him, dancing to get his attention won’t work. He’s blind, remember?

Instead, find ways to help him do what he’s trying to do. A simple logo next to the score he’s focused on is better than a complicated ad he’s blind to. Or sponsor enhanced stats. Get creative about how to help.

2) Advertise Where There’s FAB.  Marketing is choking on a glut of acronyms. But I can’t resist the urge to invent one more: FAB.

It stands for “Farting-Around Behavior”, and it’s a silly name for an important concept. Namely, it’s much easier to attract someone’s attention when they’re not doing anything important.

This, by the way, may explain why TV refuses to stay buried no matter how many headstones we put up, or books we write.  Maybe the reason TV isn’t dead is that it’s a nearly 100% FAB medium.

While there’s lots of highly-directed behavior online (see Google’s market cap if you doubt this), there’s also a ton of Farting Around Behavior. This is more politely known by its old name: web surfing: clicking around looking around for fun.

One of the most brilliant ideas for attracting FAB is my friend Jaffer Ali’s company, VidSense.  He offers an irresistable tray of possible video snacks to web surfers, and when they click they get the free snack plus an ad. When VidSense users click, they’re volunteering their attention. That’s unbelievably rare today, and worth checking out.

3) Remember That People Are Rarely Blind To Their Friends.  There’s a real role for Social Media in marketing. But, it’s part of the opportunity, not the whole thing. If a Social Media “expert” tells you TV is dead and Social Media is your only hope, put your hand on your wallet and back slowly away. You’re talking to someone who has Inattentional Blindness about how marketing really works.

Three Things To Think About

  1. A whole lot of the people you’re trying to attract online are suffering from Inattentional Blindness. They can’t see you, no matter how frantically you dance.
  2. To succeed, you’ve got to help them do what they’re doing, or find them when they’re not doing anything.
  3. If you can find them when they’re not anything, great.  But to Randall Rothenberg’s point, you’d better dance a whole lot better than you do today.

What do you think of my Inattentional Blindness theory? Does it hold water? Or, is there something obvious that I’m being blind to?

As always, I welcome your comments.








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