Thursday, February 26, 2009

Push vs. Pull

I've heard a lot about these two words in regards to the evolution of marketing and advertising.

In an Ad Age interview with Brad Jakeman, the new marketing manager for Activision (Guitar Hero publisher), he talks about his goals for marketing:
I cam here to make our marketing at least as engaging, innovative and exciting as our games.
That sounds pretty cool when you think about it. A video game is a very interactive experience, just think if advertising was a game you could engage with? And really, he says, that's where the industry should be going:
The step before consumer action, which we all hope to get, is consumer engagement.
We are living in an age of content, and if advertisers and marketers start thinking of themselves as content producers that are tasked with engaging consumers around their brand, that is a much more enlightened view than people who think of themselves as disseminators of the information that the company wants consumers to learn about their brand.
If you're creating amazing content, consumers will find you and they will engage with you.
But then someone has to take that leap, an if we build it, will they come? sort of deal. What Jakeman is talking about is the "pull" of engaging content, content that will draw consumers toward your brand. Tools to use that would pull consumers in; if you make yourself useful, people will naturally engage with you more frequently because you provide a service they need. opposed to crappy content that you push out and impose on broad-scale media.
So, I know we all feel overwhelmed sometimes by the amount of information available - cool websites to check out, applications to download, Facebook groups to join - but the influx of content is not going to stop; it's only going to flow faster, so jump in brands! Here's to learning how to swim.

I.I. with brand management

A couple months ago, I asked a brand manager if I could take them out for coffee and talk to them about brand management; informational interviews have always been a favorite activity of mine to find out about occupations - so even though I'm employed here, I still wanted the I.I. structure.

Specific questions turned into conversation, but here were three answers that stuck out:

Q1. What is your role within the client team?
To represent the client to the agency; handle the majority of communication between the agency and client; determine the appropriate resources; handle billing and time.
Q2. How do you work differently with media, creatives, and planning?
In terms of relative power with the client - creatives, brand planning, media. There's an opportunity for each discipline to have a partnership with each other: Some of the best people in media still bring ideas to the table even though they know the client will ix nay their idea.

Working with senior planners, they're partners in strategy and coming up with marketing communications.

Working with juniors, it's about managing details and helping with the research.
Q3. What are some characteristics I should work on developing to set me up for success?
Be smart but in a humble way; use the Socratic method to lead folks

No whining - "that's not my job" doesn't fly

Be curious, always want to know more, push it further

Verbal brilliance defines a planner - the more interesting you are, the more you will be valued

Make yourself top of mind - stop by to talk to people, remind them you're here

Fight for the resources you need. If you don't have the depth of information you need to write brief, then say so!

Develop your presentation skills, have a style, seek out opportunities to speak and have an audience

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

We the people of 2050

In a little over 40 years from now, America will be a minority-majority country where non-Hispanic whites are projected to account for 47% of the population. Knowing this now, how can we prepare for the transition to more multicultural marketing? What are we doing now if we know where we need to be in 40 years? Crazy, I know.

I know Hispanic marketing is gaining a lot of traction and agencies are getting recognition for award-winning work for this consumer segment. But what about African-Americans? Shouldn't their lifestyle and culture be recognized with similarly insightful work and attention? Or even Asian-Americans? There is a lot of room to grow with multicultural marketing, interesting that Hispanics are the first ones to receive significant advertising dollars.

Although when you take into account their large families, affinity for socializing, and the fact that they actually like advertising, they're definitely appealing as a target audience. But they're so diverse!
  • 63% are from Mexico
  • 10% are from Puerto Rico
  • 4% from Cuba
  • 3% from the Dominican Republic
  • 3% from El Salvador
  • etc.
Lots of persona profiles to build. Best get to work now.

Friday, February 13, 2009

the generation to redefine what planning is

Amidst all the new ways to communicate, engage, and connect, could we say that "connections planning" is the evolution of account and/or brand planning?

When I was in Miami Ad School, Catrina McAuliffe opened our session with a class on the History of Account Planning. She talked about everyone from Stanley Pollitt (the father) to Jay Chiat (the first U.S. agency to have it). She put it all in context and then gave our generation a daunting task: you will be ones to redefine how planning works.

Ok. Look at this article from Mediaweek in mid-2008:
Communications planning is a more strategic way of determining key media choices. It's about moving away from the science of delivering messages to audiences and toward the art of understanding how consumers receive and respond to communication. The starting point is the consumer, not the media channel or discipline. When practiced at its best, communications planning not only influences where a marketer's creative will run, but also informs the creative, strategic, and activation processes as well.
Could this possibly be the next phase of planning? If we think about plannng now, we can't solely focus on the brand without taking into account all of the places it can intersect with a "target audience." Perhaps before, it was much more of a brand strategy in so much as what we had to say (the message) had to be strategic enough to resonate with an audience. Now perhaps, it's placement (an engagement) instead of the message that makes a brand most salient. We shouldn't expect brand planning to sit in its place, unchanged, when consumers and communications are changing rapidly around us; it needs to evolve to.
Determining how channels are integrated into the marketing communication effort is a core role of ________ planning.
(I added the _____) Is this media planning? Or connections planning? brand planning? account planning?

To me, we're talking about insights and connectivity - the focus of any "planner." Everyone can be insightful, but it's planning (in whatever category) that is held accountable for its representation at every touchpoint.

For those people who have been in planning for 10, 20, 30 years, can you see its evolution? Or should I bite the bullet and concede to the discipline being fragmented into tiny counterparts that have to do with different spheres of experience?

Or rather is connections planning the new media planning? And how do you brand planners feel about its responsibilities solely lying within another department?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

"25 things"

I got tagged the other day for the cyclical "25 things" meme, and you know what? It made me happy. It made me feel included. The rules were you had to get tagged to do it. You weren't supposed to just download the app and post it to your profile but rather wait until you were tagged; then pay it forward. So Mark Lewis paid it forward to me. I thought it was so cool! I felt like I was in; finally!

I had read other people's comments on the exercise. I think one person had written that it was hard to come up with 25 things to describe themselves...I thought I was in for a challenge, but really, 25 things isn't hard. Just sit in one place and look at all the stuff you have around you, each object is a story, each thought a potential one. You can do it. :)

I decided to write a post about this because my friend Paul twittered about "25 things," saying it was the first sign of Facebook's demise, down the path of Myspace, which he thinks is littered with these sorts of quizzes/postings/etc. I would agree that Myspace is a bit more adolescent, but come on, "25 things" has a viral quality about it. I wanted to be a part of it.

Maybe I'm just gullible (which is entirely possible) but I think we'll see more things like this; hopefully not as extensive; but more "viral" social networking fads. Or maybe I'm clueless and they've been happening before my active Twittering or Facebooking lately. If so, disregard this post.

Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

in today's "knowledge economy"

For a new breed of professional, life is a blend of work and leisure where you're never in the right place. Always on the go, we feel like we are in the right place at the right time only when in transit, moving from point A to B. Constant motion is a balm to an anxious culture where we are haunted by the feeling that we are frauds, expendable in the workplace because so much of our service work is intangible.
Otherwise known as the "Elsewhere Class," never have so many professionals worked in such abstract industries.

I would place account planning/brand strategy in this new breed, and there have been many blog posts by green and mature planners alike that say something like "I need to think for hours and then come back with a fresh mind to tackle a problem." This thinking time is definitely not the same "labor" as being able to quantify the bottles of beer, milk, or juice you filled and packaged, and are now ready to ship by the crate (which you can also count). We can't look at our thinking time and assess its worth.
The ubiquity of information in today's "knowledge economy" makes each occupation's claim to unique expertise flimsier and flimsier.
Trend-watching services have dubbed this on-all-the-time trend with many names, but not until I read this article did I feel validated in my professional struggle to prove my value. As a Millennial in a workplace with Gen X, Boomers, and Matures; and as a planner, a fairly new discipline unto itself; I'm working constantly to bring to life the abstract. As an active member with many social media, I like to think that the tangible part to evaluate is a conversation, but I know people would disagree with me. What can I take away from a conversation? What value is a conversation? I've been asked this before and my answer is often actionable ideas. But is this good enough?

Time and social media will tell.

For more, read the article "Welcome to Elsewhere" in Newsweek

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Newsweek and a Saturday afternoon

Just read Newsweek from January 26, 2009 and learned a lot of really applicable information for clients, trends, etc.

The first feature length article that caught my attention was "Who we are now." I was shocked to learn that Bronx county in NYC is the most diverse in America.
If you choose any two residents at random, there's an 89.7% chance that they'll be of different races or ethnicities.
This is called heterogeneity. We the People of 2009 are not the We the People of 1959, etc....

The article concludes with facts about Millennials - the more assimilated we are, the fact that we're more female, more secular, less socially conservative and more willing to describe ourselves as liberals....

And we're 75 million strong. Watch out world. :)

Sunday, February 1, 2009

SuperBowl favs

The ones that got my attention:
Doritos' "Power of the crunch" - love this. I think Pepsi-Co Corporate has got itself a good agency: Pepsi's ready to take on Coca-Cola and Doritos succeeds well with branding.
Bridgestone's "Moonmen"
Careerbuilder's "Punching a Koala" > not the actual spot title
Hulu "Taking over the world"
GE's spots
Heineken with John Turturro
Pepsi's "Refresh Anthem"

Runner-ups: > I have an image in my head of a guy drinking a glass of cold, thought it was from this spot but my colleague recalls it in the Careerbuilder spot. Interesting confusion.

Sobe's "Lizard Lake" > everyone at our party said this was nothing out of the ordinary, but I liked it, thought it was hilarious; except for the lizard face morph at the end. again, wtf?

Pepsi's "Pepsuber" > pretty hilarious

Teleflora's "Talking Flowers"

Conan's Bud-light "Glam" spot

For a full list of official winners & losers check out the article at Ad Age, and I'm sure there are various others around the web.

Happy Monday.

stay forever young

I really like Pepsi's "every generation" spot that played during the SuperBowl. I think it puts them in the same playing field that Coke has dominated for so long but has lost...I'm sorry but their spots did nothing for me. CGI does not = ROI in branding.

For those who missed it, here's just one of Pepsi's smart moves:

I forecast that Pepsi gains big ground in the soft-drink category in 2009. I can't remember the last time that we actually believed there was better advertising then Coco-Cola. Because just like Pepsi says, "every generation refreshes the world."

I think Pepsi's refreshing the category. Go branding.