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…

Private-Label Pirates And Digital Defenses

12 08 2008

In days of yore, marketers built brands and retailers built shelves.

It was good business. Everybody prospered.

Then, without so much as a raising of the skull and crossbones, private label brands appeared on the horizon to steal market share.

Private label could offer customers cheaper prices, and no wonder. There was no need to invest in building the category.No need to spend a nickel on marketing, which is typically one of the three top expenses on a CPG company’s income statement.

All they had to do was sail in and take their share of the business.

Ol’ Roy, Wal-Mart’s store brand of dog food, bit Purina where it hurts and became the top-selling brand of dog food in the United States.

Recently, Unilever sold its All, Snuggle, Wisk, Surf and Sunlight brands to global private equity firm Vestar Capital Partners for $1.08 billion in cash. Why? They were so squeezed between market leader P&G and private label that they felt they couldn’t compete — even though their laundry care unit resulted in $1 billion in turnover for the company last year.

And Brandweek reports Unilever is not alone:

“ConAgra (… is) selling its Pemmican beef jerky brand to Brazil-based Marfrig Group (…) Kraft (…) relieved itself of lackluster-performing Post cereal line (…) The bigger companies are now looking to shed any brand that isn’t the leader in their category. No. 1: thumbs up. No. 2: ditch,” said Chris Bragas, CEO of Eastwest Marketing Group, New York, which specializes in strategic planning, advertising and partnership marketing.”

And now Ad Age reports that private-label is taking the next step and breaking down the walls between retailers. Safeway is taking its organic house brand, O Organics, and better-for-you brand, Eating Right, into competitive grocery-chains nationwide this fall.

This leaves CPG marketers with two choices. Cry in our rum. Or find ways to fight back.

How To Fight Back Against Private Label

Innovation, Innovation, Innovation. One way to beat the pirates: build faster brands.

According to Advertising Age, product categories in more than 20 countries show a private-label market that is 56% higher where there is low innovation activity compared with categories with many new products

Where are you supposed to find all these new ideas? Go online. Listen to blogs. Build a strong online loyalty program. Create digital panels and get engaged with your consumers.

Yes, the pirates can do these same things. Our job as protectors of our brands is to do it better, faster and smarter. It’s do-or-die.

Go Crazy. And Go More Digital. Let’s face it. There’s no rational reason to buy a name-brand product if the cheaper store-brand product is just as good.

If you can’t be better (for legal or cost-of-goods reasons), forget rational. Go crazy, and go digital.

According to Brandweek, P&G has been able to maintain the upper edge over competitors like Unilever while fighting off private label by continuously seeking innovation in product launches. Earlier this month, for example, P&G announced it was introducing a line of laundry and fabric softeners, called Tide and Downy Total Care, made from beauty care products.

Why not go a step further? P&G can create online fashion and beauty shows to support the launch, enlist celebrities to pitch, and build social communities around these ideas.

Shake things up.

Be More Facebook and Less Faceless. Private-label brands count on brands being boring, rational and predictable. They count on our brands being managed by bankers and not entrepreneurs.

Maybe what you need are a few more loose cannons rolling around on your decks. Challenge your agencies to think crazier. Ask social networks and online ad networks what they could do if there were no rules.

The commanders of the private-label ships are the same execs who used to manage your brands. They know your playbook as well as you do. Burn it, and keep them off guard.

Get Closer To Your Customers. Private-label brands know people like saving money. But since they’re not investing, they can’t learn the kinds of things that you can learn. What are the emotional reasons people need a pasta sauce, or a frozen dinner, or a haircolor?

What do your customers want to do? Who do they want to be? What do they dream? Can you offer them branded online tools that make their lives more interesting, more fun, less dull?

Leave the Parrots to the Pirates. The world doesn’t need more “me-too” products. By the time you copy a successful innovation, the pirates will be there too.

How else can CPG brands do battle against private-label, and win? What do you think?

Change Is Hard

6 08 2008

Change is hard. Change is also time-consuming: right now I’m buried in meetings and focus groups and creative projects for everyplace from Mexico to Thailand and beyond. But, enough excuses. Here is a collection of interesting links until I can find time to be interesting again.

One Undeniably Adorable Singer On The Subject of Change

Let’s start with Zooey Deschanel singing “Change Is Hard”.

Five Undeniably Useful Change Links

A Whole Bunch of Change Jokes

I made the first one up myself and stole the rest (many of which have a philosophy bent) from here.

How many Social Media Consultants does it take to change a light bulb?

You don’t get to decide if the light bulb needs to be changed. Your CUSTOMERS decide.
You’re welcome. And oh yeah, here’s my invoice for a million dollars.

The remainder of these were found at Bill Adams’ website:

How many Evolutionists does it take to change a lightbulb?

Well actually, we won’t even try to change the bulb. We will simply stop using the room that has the burned out bulb, and start using only rooms with functioning bulbs. That way, over time, ….

How many Analytic Philosophers does it take to change a light bulb?

None. It’s a pseudo-problem. Light bulbs give off light (hence the name).

You’re still thinking in terms of incremental change–we don’t need a bulb with more attributes. We need paradigm shift to ubiquitous luminescence.

How many solipsists does it take to change a light bulb?

Don’t be silly, there is only one solipsist.

How many deconstructionists does it take to change a light bulb?

On the contrary, the Nile is the longest river in Africa.

How many Kantians does it take to change a light bulb?

Two: One to change the phenomenal bulb; and one to explain that we might not be changing the bulb-in-itself.

How many speech act theorists does it take to change a light bulb?

Do you really want to know or are you asking me to change it?

How many phenomenologists does it take to change a light bulb?

Only one, but by the time she gets through with it, a 100-watt bulb is reduced to a night light.

How many skeptics does it take to change a light bulb?

Actually, they won’t do it–they they aren’t sure they’re really in the dark.

How many modal logicians does it take to change a light bulb?

In which world?

How many fatalists does it take to change a light bulb?

None, why fight it?

How many Hegelians does it take to change a light bulb?

None. The bulb is just at one dialectical pole between ‘bright’ and ‘dark’–it will eventually glow again.

How many decision theorists does it take to change a light bulb?

Probably two.

How many constructivists does it take to change a light bulb?

Your question just perpetuates the myth of objectivity.

How many union of electrical workers members does it take to change a light bulb?

Twelve. You got a problem with that?

How many existentialists does it take to change a light bulb?

Two–one to bemoan the darkness until the other defines something else as light.

How many Creationists does it take to change a light bulb?

Two: one to change it, and one to point out that no transitional forms occurred.

How many Kuhnian philosophers of science does it take to change a light bulb?

You’re still thinking in terms of incremental change–we don’t need a bulb with more attributes. We need a paradigm shift to ubiquitous luminescence.

How Strong Is Your “Change Muscle”?

25 06 2008

Fostering change at a successful company is hard work. You’re fighting history, which usually looks far rosier in retrospect than it ever did at the time. And, you’re selling a vision of the future that you can’t guarantee.

Why are some of us better at change than others? Ariane de Bonvoisin, founder and CEO of The First Thirty Days, Inc. believes there are 9 principles that make people good at change:

  1. They have a positive belief about change — they are “change optimists.”
  2. They believe in the change guarantee: something good always comes from change.
  3. They know they have a “change muscle”–that they are strong, capable, powerful, and intuitive enough to handle any change that comes into their lives or that they want to initiate.
  4. They refuse to become paralyzed by “change demons”–negative emotions that arise during change.
  5. They don’t resist change–choosing instead to accept the reality of their situation.
  6. They understand that their thoughts, the words they say and the feelings they allow themselves to experience during change have a direct affect on how easily they move through the transition.
  7. They believe that life has a deeper meaning than what can easily be seen or felt, that something greater is at play, and that no change is arbitrary.
  8. They surround themselves with a support team to help them move through change.
  9. They refuse to get stuck during change. They keep moving and take care of themselves mentally, physically, and emotionally.

If you’re having a hard time inspiring change, how many of these principles are you applying? How many of these are your company having a tough time with? There’s more to learn here. It’s from Guy Kawasaki, who always, always has useful stuff here.