Wednesday, July 22, 2009

"Marketing is not a cost" - John Gerzema

I follow John Gerzema's Brand Bubble so I clicked on this video posted by my friend Saurav on Facebook. Soon I found myself listening intently to John who was talking about "Avoiding the Looming Crisis in Brand Value" in this year's The Economist Marketing Forum. He cites examples of brands who have done the right thing, he warns us of the changing consumer psyche and of the changing marketing principles. He talks about "trust", "value", "values" and "durability" among other things. Yes, we gotta get down to the basics, offer warranties, cherish loyalties etc. Those I have heard before. What I hadn't was what he said at the end - "Marketing is not a cost, but a fiduciary responsibility to share holders." I second that.

During the conference, John also says that this time around more and more brands are getting innovative with their approach. For eg, McDonalds has this website called where you can send a letter to your friend and stop him/her from paying for over-priced coffee. On the other hand, Starbucks has their Gold Card Program for people who really love Starbucks. These are just one of many promotional or branding ideas, one of which I had mentioned in a previous post of mine where I had maintained that "Quality Matters". Cause' it does. McDonald's can never ever get my coffee right whereas Starbucks does it everytime! But again, that's just my opinion.

Innovation. Competition. Both spell heaven for the consumer. Also, the economic meltdown has given us a chance to look at ourselves and re-think our choices
. Our regulatory bodies have a lot to learn. So do we and the brands we promote or purchase.

John also said that "Trust in brands has declined by 50%" while according to Brand Asset Valuator (BAV), "Trust is the second-most desirable attribute for a brand, right after high quality". It is interesting to note here that "sensuous" is the least desirable attribute.

It makes sense, doesn't it? Consumers want to be able to trust their brands, they don't need them to be sexy! Marketing is definitely a fiduciary responsibility, but we have to make sure we market the right goods or services. Quality matters. As always.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Focus Group vs. Facebook

According to Nielsen NetView, users are spending more and more time on Facebook. The study suggests that the average US user spends more than 4.5 hours a month on Facebook, beating competitors like AOL, Google, Yahoo and Micrsoft hollow. This obviously explains why everything from the Lexus Convertible to a no-calorie Sweetener is nowadays advertised on the said site.

But Splenda Mist has gone one step further by doing away with focus groups altogether. Yes, the dreaded panel of freebie-lured opinionators is slowly on its way out. Because Facebook offers various advantages.

1. Basic information about the target group is already available.

2. According to Adage, "Facebook offered us the opportunity not only to advertise with a brand message and a product message but also the opportunity to solicit feedback and to have our target raise their hand and say, 'I want to sample this product,'" said Ivy Brown, group product director-Splenda. Which probably explains why Splenda gave away more than 16,000 samples in two weeks when it had hoped to distribute 10,000 samples in 12 weeks.

3. Feedback is interactive and sometimes, in real-time.

4. Reach is easily extended to the friends of the target who signs up for a sample or becomes a fan of the product. The fact that he or she has sampled or joined a fan-base immediately shows up on the news-feed of their Facebook homepage.

But what is in it for Facebook in terms of revenue? Makes sense only if it does this for lots and lots of brands. One niche player like Splenda Mist is not going to bring in the moolah.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Have Fun with a Run

Advertising Agency: 72andSunny, USA
Music Artist: Gnarls Barkley
Song: Run (I’m a Natural Disaster)

Nike, the proud owners of one of the world's most popular slogans "Just Do It" and the max-recognized logo, the famous swoosh to match it, has done it again.

At the beginning of this year, (the world's largest running club) tallied the kilometers of men and women who join an official Men vs. Women online running challenge using the Nike+ system through March 13 to April 20. The website is not new, but the challenge is. Those who think User Generated Content or UGC is a waste of time should think again. This idea was first suggested by a consumer on the Nike+ website, an interactive portal launched by Nike way back in 2006. The website allows Nike+ running shoes to transmit data wirelessly to an iPod nano, an iPod touch or Nike+ SportBand. Information on time, distance, pace and calories burned during a run is stored on You can stay motivated by setting goals, challenging others to virtual races, reach specific goals or use the tons of other features offered on the website.

As usual, Nike has partnered with Apple...nothing new about that.

But Nike has got many things right with this campaign.

1. Used integrated media. The above TV spot is just one of many promotions.

2. Made good use of humor and great music, both sure-shot winners with the target group.

3. Carried on with their co-branding efforts with a brand well-suited to their own image. Apple and Nike speak to similiar demographics.

4. Tapped on our most basic competitive spirit, I mean, what can be more fun than Men Vs. Women?

5. Given us the whole Nike experience. The gears, the tracking, the camaraderie and the sheer thrill of a sport which is the easiest and the most difficult at the same time.

Check out the video posted above and tell me if you dont feel like putting on those shoes and going for a run.