24 May 2010

Get A Mac, 2006-2009

Many of you knew that Apple decided, perhaps last year, to conclude the "Get A Mac" campaign, in which actors Justin Long (the Mac) and John Hodgman (the PC) carried on a three-year, 40-commercial compare-and-contrast between the two operating systems.

This week Apple confirmed that they're ending the campaign; MacRumors pointed out last week that they even took down all the commercials from their website. It's all sad because this was a campaign of great strategy and great execution.

Two great things about "Get A Mac"

There were at least two other great things about this campaign.
  1. They proved demos need not be boring. One of the least imaginative feats of advertising is to insert a side-by-side product demo emphasizing the advertised product's advantage. It's much more effective -- and entertaining -- when the demo and the story are one and the same.

  2. They proved operating systems can be an advertised product. Most of the campaign emphasized Apple's user-friendly operating system instead of its user-friendly hardware. An operating system really can't have a product shot, which makes this campaign such brilliant storytelling.
A walk down memory lane

Here is a 3' 45" tribute video of great moments from the campaign: click here.

AdFreak has the complete campaign all on one web page: click here.

21 May 2010

Super Delicious Ingredient Force

One of the conundrums of our business is whether advertising influences the culture, or the other way around.

It's both. We need to be really careful what we do, particularly when it comes to diversity, because it sets an example.

Some colleagues just launched a new program for Taco Bell that features a very, uh, diverse cast of characters, and it shows what happens when the culture influences advertising.

I'm talking about the Super Delicious Ingredient Force, which borrows heavily from the Filmation cartoons of the 1970s (see examples here and here).

Watch it yourself and enjoy.

19 May 2010

Design, empathy and understanding

NEW YORK -- Last night we had dinner with Bob Greenberg, founder of R/GA, Sam Farber, founder of OXO, and Patrick Whitney, dean of IIT's Institute of Design. All three men are successful because they take time to understand their consumers.

Sam Farber's story is worth telling because it's a great example of human empathy. In retirement he saw his wife struggle with utensils that could handle cooking but were themselves hard to handle if you suffered from arthritis. From this experience he came out of retirement and founded OXO, a line of easier-to-use kitchenware.

Whether you're designing a product or marketing one, it is absolutely critical to have empathy toward and understanding of the people to who you're selling. I've posted before on consumer understanding and some of the ways we can all gain it through our own daily initiatives.

Ethnography, the study of human society, is much more of an applied science in marketing today. Many clients and agencies recognize the value of ethnographic research and there are firms and consultants capable of helping them. These endeavors require significant time, money and patience -- but the payoff can be huge.

Whether you commit to ethnographic research or simply find your own ways to connect with consumers, empathy is critical. The most inspired designs and ads all started with a simple act of listening and understanding.

18 May 2010

More from the Draftfcb global meeting

MIAMI -- Our global managers' meeting continued today with presentations by the agency's leadership.

Here were some of the thoughts they expressed, with my own perspectives on them.

Ideas. Before Draftfcb and before FCB there was Lord & Thomas and one of that agency's pillars was Albert Lasker (1880-1952). In remarks today, Howard Draft pointed out that Lasker was a man who understood ideas. Lasker suggested advertising orange juice so Sunkist Growers could sell more oranges, naming rights on a baseball stadium so William Wrigley could promote chewing gum, and radio program sponsorship -- he invented the soap opera.

These are Ideas. In our industry we often confuse Ideas with Creative. All creative comes from an idea but Ideas should be bigger than the creative they inspire.

Touchpoints. Jonathan Harries has told me many times "there are many touchpoints but only certain points of persuasion." In other words we gain nothing by promulgating our messages in as many channels as possible. We must choose only the relevant ones.

Most of you know that IMC moved past spider charts (the more legs the better) and matching luggage (everything must look exactly alike) a long time ago.

Celebrate. You may not have noticed but Draftfcb is doing well right now. Laurence Boschetto encouraged us to stop and take a moment -- 3 years, 11 months and 18 days into the Draftfcb merger -- and celebrate what we've accomplished. We got into advertising because it's supposed to be fun.

Oddly, this morning while Laurence was talking, I got an e-mail from the guy who first hired me at Leo Burnett some years ago. It was a short, personal, encouraging note, completely out of the blue, that ended with this exhortation: "Have fun!"

Thank you, Hank! I will.

17 May 2010

Draftfcb's global managers' meeting

MIAMI – Draftfcb’s top executives from around the world are gathered here for a global managers’ meeting. The event began with an informal dinner tonight and continues with presentations and meetings tomorrow.

Given my work with global accounts, these are great-to-see-you-again, how’s-business-in-your-country, abrazos fuertes kind of affairs. It’s a blessing to have friends from many countries and the chance to catch up with them.

At the same time, there are new relationships and new business topics. This evening I got acquainted with some newer leaders from around the network. There was also the opportunity to connect two people who can now collaborate across agency subsidiaries.

“Ideas” will be a consistent theme over the next few days. Reading the ad industry blogosphere, you can see a lot about how “Ideas” are a common language across disciplines, as in: “A good idea transcends a TV storyboard and should work in other channels as well.”

True enough. Increasingly, though, we’ll also see “Ideas” as a common language across borders, as in: “A good idea transcends language and should work in many countries as well.” The close working relationships among my global colleagues makes this possible.

12 May 2010

Focus Group Bingo

Recently we held some focus groups with the aware/non-triers of a consumer product.

I love focus groups because you can listen to consumers talk about your product, your category, or your ads.

I hate focus groups for the same reason. Some people listen to consumers and quickly draw a pre-conceived conclusion.

Listen up

This hazard makes listening all the more important. You spend thousands of dollars renting a facility, hiring a moderator, writing the questionnaire, recruiting the consumers, preparing the stimulus. You want to get the most out of the investment. Knowing what people say is critical. So turn off the distractions and pay attention.

Focus Group Bingo

A fun way to stay engaged is play focus group bingo. Before you get to the facility, make a grid like the one pictured above and populate it with terms you might expect consumers to say. These could include a product benefit or feature, a brand name, a competitor, and ad, or an annoying, oft-repeated phrase (like "that’s how we roll").

When a consumer utters one of the phrases, place an M&M candy on that square. Most focus group facilities have a good supply of M&Ms.

Not exactly a new idea….

Apparently there’s a company that actually offers a focus group bingo board. See it here. Their idea is based on the obligatory getting-to-know-you chit-chat that starts almost every focus group.

What’s on your Focus Group Bingo board?

Please suggest your favorite terms for focus group bingo in the comments section below.

10 May 2010

Why Global Brands matter

When we think of global category leaders, Coca-Cola and McDonald's are top-of-mind examples. Even if they aren't #1 in every country, they're big globally.

Some big global brands, however, are a combination of different brands in different countries. If you travel abroad you may notice that Pledge in other countries is Pronto, Pliz or Blem.

Reckitt Benckiser, a large CPG company, recently rebranded some products so they could market the same product under a common, global brand. U.S. readers may have noticed recently that Electrosol dishwasher detergent is changing to Finish - as it is known in the rest of the world. Reckitt also rebranded many household insecticides under Mortein. It was noted this week that Starbucks' Via brand instant coffee is going global as well.

Why have a global brand?

Why should a brand be global? Most of the reasons cited in company propaganda tout the cost efficiencies of having the same product, package, and promotion around the world. To be sure, this benefit would extend to reducing staff in local subsidiaries who were responsible for commercializing products locally.

There is another opportunity to consider: Social media. A recent post by venture capitalist Fred Wilson points out that most visitors to major online resources are from outside the United States: 72% of visitors on Twitter, 78% on Facebook, and 84% on Google. None of these numbers are very surprising.

Fred’s point was that these companies need to pay as much attention to monetizing their usage around the world as they do in the United States. He wisely pointed out that this will happen faster for some countries than for others.

Global brands permit global conversation

If you have ever tracked your brand on any social media, you know that people are discussing it, and in some cases spelling it differently or slightly misstating the brand or product name. Imagine trying to track this conversation if your brand name is different from country to country.

Years ago this didn’t matter, not only because consumers didn’t regularly communicate with others abroad, but because marketing was so different from country to country. Today you are likely to have the same product marketed under the same name, if not globally, then in every country within the Euro Zone, NAFTA, ASEAN or other international trading areas.

Prediction about Global Brands

Social media is likely to speed the homogenization of disparate brands sold by global marketers.

08 May 2010

An aspiring viral video with a guide for aspiring viral video makers

Recently we posted about the formula Great Creative + Lotsa Luck = Viral Success. We stand by it but were reminded this week that "great creative" has different rules if you aspire to go viral.

Keep them simple

Giovanni+Draftfcb in Rio de Janeiro produced a couple of simple, smart videos and posted them recently on YouTube.

The first video shows an "Ant protest" or Passeata de formigas. Common, real-life ants crawl about, carrying placards in Portuguese, Spanish and English, protesting Baygon, a household insecticide well-known outside North America.

The second video shows you how the first one was made. Just how did they get real ants to carry those signs? This video tells you how, and it's a good lesson in viral video making in general. Keep them simple.

You can see the first one here and the second one here.

Keep the budgets low

When it comes to viral, million-dollar production values are unnecessary and perhaps wrong. The budget for one TV commercial can supply a dozen or more attempts at viral. The more shots on goal you take, the better your luck at actually "going viral".

Parabens to my colleagues in Brasil who worked on this project. They always do excellent work.

05 May 2010

Media is the sexy part

NEW YORK -- Today we had the pleasure of meeting with our IPG partner Richard Beaven, who has done amazing things as head of Initiative the past three years. We work with Initiative in service of several shared clients.

Media is sexy

It was a stimulating conversation because, as I've told many colleagues, "Media is the sexy part of what we do today." To be truly media-neutral one must consider an incredible array of choices to engage consumers. We all know that.

Shake those paradigms!

The more interesting part of our meeting today was having my paradigms challenged. Richard brought some perspectives from the front lines of media strategy that made me stop and think. Here were three of them.

Content, not "Creative". Content is a media-neutral term describing messages about brands and products. Content includes not only creative, but user-generated content, crowdsourcing and content developed by the media companies with which we collaborate.

Collaboration is survival. The incredible array of choices to engage consumers changes all the time, which means that nobody has all the answers. We depend on a rich culture of specialists who help us maximize the opportunity in each channel.

Control is dead. This is true not only in the sense that we can't control what messages consumers will accept. As well, no one discipline can control everything. "Control should be taken out of the dictionary," Richard maintained, "because it doesn't exist in our business anymore."

Lots to think about on my way back to Chicago. Please add your thoughts below.

Wow! Now THAT was fast!

Headline, 28 April 2010: "Study: Marketing Departments To Reorganize."

Headline, 5 May 2010: "Mixed-Up Marketers: Execs Struggle With New Roles."

OK, ha ha. These two headlines are coincidental to one another, but both are really signs of the times. All of us struggle with continual changes in the media landscape (including retail), changes in our business models, and changes in how consumers choose to engage with our brands and products.

Here are the most interesting points from the two articles cited above.
  • Three-quarters of global marketing leaders expect to reorganize their departments by the end of 2011, according to a new Forrester study.
  • Why? The rise of digital and social media, plus "maladaptive" org charts that are slow to react to consumer needs, among other factors.
  • Marketers share only half their data with Sales, and assume that Sales shares only half their data with Marketing.
  • Among 500 marketers surveyed by Genius.com, 50% don't blog, 49% don't tweet, 25% don't use LinkedIn.
I wonder where they will be after the re-org? Readers?

03 May 2010

"The changing media landscape" ... of Retail

The other day at an offsite conference center, my client was running two big meetings, one focused on Marketing and the other on Sales. (Marketing and Sales are really the same thing, but exist as separate departments in most companies.)

I was in the Marketing meeting where we strategized about how to invest next year’s budget. There are a lot of options in mass media, retail, digital, et cetera. Every year the options multiply.

During a break I ran into a client who was attending the Sales meeting. How’s the discussion? “Great,” he told me. “It’s just that the retail landscape is changing so fast. Keeping up takes real effort.”

What’s he keeping up with? The largest mass retailer is rethinking its store layout and the number of brands it carries. The next-largest mass retailer is riding out recessionary price pressures. One of the big players in the Food class of trade is struggling. Shopper marketing as a discipline grows more sophisticated. Customer loyalty database analytics are being leveraged more strategically. The Dollar stores are evolving. Last but not least, online retailing continues to grow.

Clicks-and-mortar gets a lot of buzz, but bricks-and-mortar retail is no less of a changing landscape. The options are multiplying – and so are the opportunities. Keeping up takes real effort.

(Please use the comments section to suggest your most reliable online resources for news and analysis about retail.)