Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Today's Great Quote

See what happens when you jump to conclusions?
"People will jump to conclusions faster than they will jump to the facts."

Friday, October 19, 2007

Knowledge Takes 25 Years To Reach Procter & Gamble CMO Jim Stengel's Brain

For P&G, Success Lies in More Than Merely a Drier Diaper

Procter & Gamble Global Marketing Officer Jim Stengel talked about consumers, creativity and CMO tenure in an interview in a recent Strategy & Business Reader from Booz Allen Hamilton titled "CMO Thought Leaders: The Rise of the Strategic Marketer." You can access more of his thoughts here ... But here's what I have to say ...

Well Jim, Thanks for hitting the nail on the head...again. Back in 1980 - 1982 Calle & Company was proud to be the very first new product and product positioning company to let Pampers and Procter & Gamble know that disposable diapers didn't just stand for dryness. By pioneering and repositioning Pampers as "Pampers Phases Developmental Diapers" in the very early 1980's we introduced size five to hour glass shaped disposables and convinced moms that being a toddler was just another "phase" in the "development" of a newborn or infant. And that was just the beginning of extending the brand's equity, arresting over $1 billion in toddler migration to Kimberly-Clark Pull-Ups that year. What we found curious was that by the end of the 80's P&G had dumped the initiative, or sent it into hibernation, until recently, apparently rediscovered again.

Home Depot CMO Roger Adams Must Find New Crib

Leaves Retailer After a Year at Top Marketing Post

But the real issue is whether the brand became a brand in demand or a brand in decline during his tenure. The experience of less than one lifetime again claims the life of another CMO. He implemented "emotion" as the change agent?! He focused on "the consumer"?! So did Saturn, and the division, thanks to Hal Riney's shot from the hip has yet to run in the black for General Motors. When will these guys turn to outside help so that they no longer need suffer through learning everything for the first time? Why must one look back and say, "if I only knew then what I know now." Note to CMOs: Turn to Calle & Company for all of your future consumer intelligence.

Miller Bitch Slaps Anheuser-Busch

Brewer's First Ads From Bartle Bogle Take Shots at Bud Light

(More at But the ads remain by products of straight forward problem solving. Guaranteed to entertain but not move the sales needle.

Note to Miller's CEO Tom Long - Dear Tom, Rather than aim between A-B's eyes with brawn, why not beat them with brain and differentiation?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Toyota Recalls 2008 Scions

By making the Scion more of what it is, it ended up being less than what it was. What was once a product on which buyers could paint their personality, the 2008 Scion has become a canvass on which product designers painted their own. Once asked why he employed 47 executives on one client's account, Rosser Reeves replied that it was to stop the client's people from changing things.

The War on Advertising, Continued

The problem with advertising today is that it has fallen to the level of those who watch it, which is why they click through it.

MillerCoors Promises to Underwhelm; Maintain Status Quo

Another linear thinking, straight-forward problem-solving solution ... proving once again that what companies used to do with positioning brain, they now do with business brawn. However, what good is the brawn after the merger if the brain hasn't changed? So what's the point. It's a stretch.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The War on Advertising

Let us not forget that sales, advertising and generating awareness and recognition do not go hand in hand. And, what marketers once accomplished with brain, they now accomplish with brawn. Consumers surf ads because most are either too contrived, or too obvious. A juvenile focus on product features and benefits serve best to keep those earning their first career's worth of experience from making mistakes that will cost bosses their jobs. It also retards the true creativity that makes the whole of a brand greater than the sum of its parts. For example, Chunky Soup wasn't a stew, it was a soup you ate with a fork - thus building an equity Campbell's could manage through the years.

Back in the day, advertising sold stuff. Today, advertising is created to generate awareness and recognition - representing a different goal than "selling." There is nothing wrong with generating awareness and recognition via advertising as long as you realize it sets the bar lower than if the goal was to sell stuff. You must also realize that generating awareness and recognition is agency-speak for, "if you throw enough stuff against the glass some of it might stick." Does this distress some of you to hear this? Do you want to disagree? It should and you will. Remember, I was there at the dividing line. I can pinpoint the date time and location where and when new agency pitches stopped using the word "sales," replacing that word with the lesser goal of just generating "awareness" and "recognition." I had been in over 600 new business pitches prior to that date, and over 900 since - that's over 1500 new business pitches - and the real number is probably higher. Generating awareness and recognition is a far easier target to hit full of lesser promise that gives an agency and client now uncertain of the target to do and say whatever they wish. So in the end advertising chronicals such as Ad Age, AdWeek, BrandWeek and all the rest wonder why consumer packaged goods have become commodities, why retailers (think about that term re TAILERS) now wag the (manufacturer) dog, why agencies are paid less, why agency compensation declines, why agencies must merge to keep their heads above water.... The only cure is to put the promise of sell back into the strategy. To stop trying to be all things to all people and just be who you are. Ask yourself, "what is your product's reason-for-being?" Is your answer the same as everyone elses? Ask yourself, "why is your product focusing on features and benefits, the lowest cost-of-entry common denominators in any category - rather than a higher and more compelling Special User Effect whose whole is greater than the sum of its parts? That is what advertising used to do.

Monday, October 08, 2007

The War on Marketing Strategy

I have never seen Al Ries hand out bad advice until now. He says focus on your category first and your brand second in his Advertising Age Magazine installment. (You Can't Survive If Your Entire Environment Disappears - his words) But - Companies don't often have the muscle, the push or the pull to move a category, so what's Al's agenda? Weaken brands to the point that they must beg for his consulting help? At procter and Gamble we always shot down advertising agency strategies that had a "category" sell because they were too generic and not brand specific enough. (That's always the best, but also the most difficult strategy/answer to find in today's worlds of commodity products - where private labels (ie: Kirkland for example) are just as good as branded items.

Here are a few of my other comments in Ad Age:


I disagree completely. Kodak did a great job selling film pre-digital - when film was relevant. Then digital came along and they did no homework to determine how film might remain relevant in a digital environment. They just followed the digitals and it's tough to lead when you are part of the herd. That was Kodak's mistake. They didn't make a stand. And they may not have ended up like Custer.

At the critical time and unable to find the correct selling/perception/motivation solutions, key Kodak execs like marketing head Andrew Salzman jumped ship for Compaq, and faded from sight - as did the Kodak "memories" equity. They are as easily captured digitally, BUT I think film has not gone the way of the Betamax, I think there is a place for film and creativity just as strong as Apple's found vs. PCs. They just need to do the homework to determine how to say it. (And that's not by staffing with Apple employees) What is their reason-for-being? What Special User Effect (tm) can they transfer to customers who might try film again. There are many trier/rejectors, light and medium users - and I am still one. Those would be great positioning projects. Focus on your brand and the category will take care of itself. Ben Franklin said take care of the minutes and the hours will mind themselves. I believe that should be Kodak's tact. Jibe ho!

Friday, October 05, 2007

The War on Market Research

Qualitative research results indicate the cat is sleeping. Qualitative research results indicate that this is not a cat. It is a chair. Whose perception is correct?

Let's not forget that market research is not a substitute for business creativity. No matter how sophisticated the process, the intent of all "research" is to enable people who don't know something to find out things other people currently do. This gathering and measuring of data is not a substitute for business creativity. You can not "measure" your way to success. It's simply easier to measure what is rather than create or measure what isn't.

Death of an Ad Man

Ken Wheaton in Ad Age (AdAges) asks interesting questions. Why the ad man is a dead species. My take.

The ad man is a dying breed because what companies once did with their brains they now do with brawn. Take an article out of this week's Advertising Age Magazine for example.
Procter & Gamble wants to sue Kimberly-Clark over its ads that show bricks in purported Pampers. Why is Procter & Gamble "Thick as a brick?"

The marketers and management no longer know how to turn lemons into lemonade. Or to poke fun at themselves and have a good time. In essence, they've become the creative morlocks (the race of sub-humanoid creatures that moved underground in that H.G. Wells classic The Time Machine).

Why not just run with the joke started by Kimberly-Clark? Produce a rebuttal ad that replaces the brick with a baby. In the background you hear New York City construction sounds...maybe a few of those famous cat calls too. Then the voice over cuts in on a close up of the baby and says something seemingly apologetic like "Pardon our appearance while under construction." "Pampers." Cute. Cut.

Thinking further, the decline in business creativity also coincides with A.G. Lafley's tenure as Procture & Gamble's Chairman. On his watch retailers (the tail) wagged the dog for the first time in history. Costco so much as told P&G that unless P&G made a special formula Tide for exclusive Costco distribution Costco would not sell P&G detergents in their stores.
An that's the consequence of not being able to create highly differentiated products and product positioning strategies. And there's nothing the linear-thinking, straight-forward problem-solving quant-jocks can do about it until one of them morlocks decides to poke his or her head back into the creative sunlight founded by the earliest "qualitative pioneers". Do a Google search on that term!

There is something else that gets in the way of today's companies use of creativity in business. It's called "Search Satisfaction." People in companies, such as Procter & Gamble's legal/brand marketing brick layers stop looking for better answers once they've found a solution they like. (Hey, let's sue them!) So they don't look any further. Search Satisfaction also afflicts doctors who stop looking for a diagnosis once they've found an answer that fits the symptoms patients present. What's wrong with that? Well....doctors misdiagnose their patients a much higher percentage of the time than anyone wants to admit.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

CMO Strategy: The Death of Differentiation

Want New Products That Get Noticed? Change the Process - by Barry Curewitz

Note to Barry Curewitz: It's easier to measure what is rather than create or measure what isn't. Companies can't "measure success into existance. That's why quant-jocks rule companies and creativity withers on the vine. The rise of qualitative creativity occured over the last 40 years. It's demise came around 1992. Since then it's been the dark ages for business creativity in CPG companies. Try calling 10 up and asking the receptionist to let you speak with, "the leader in charge of innovation driving the growth of the company." You will find that no one knows who that is.

Sitting on the outside looking in, articles such as this by Barry Curewitz of Whole Brain Brand Expansion, (follow link) repeat history. Knowing I personally participated in the development of more than 30 triple-digit topline growth new product and new category initiatives for companies such as Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, Coca-Cola, Frito-Lay and more during the 70s, 80s and 90s frustrates me greatly.

Witnessing the rise of the quant-jocks, linear thinkers and straight-forward problem solvers put the axe to creativity in business during the 90s and first half of this decade. Now even McKinsey admits that despite solid balance sheets, CPG revenues are flat and executives wonder where the growth will come from. So why execute a new study to reconfirm what we already know! There's knowone in the CMO suite that remembers or knows the thrill of insight that comes with the discoveries that escape straight-forward problem-solving.

Calle & Company grew by selling organic topline fuel to companies such as P&G, Coca-Cola and others for years. Even Doug Hall, of Eureka Ranch and American Inventor fame was our client for a number of years at P&G. But creativity died. Even Doug Hall has had to focus on the little fish. Big Companies don't want it. And why? Forget all the research. Old executives don't want new executives displacing them with better ideas.

As reported in this issue of Advertising Age P&G would rather sue KC over diaper ads rather than use the opportunity to turn lemons into lemonade. Companies that used to use brains now only use brawn. Why not flip the brick diaper ads? P&G should produce new ads, replacing the brick with a baby. Put construction sounds in the back ground and have a voice over say for Pampers, "Pardon our appearance. We're under construction." Come on guys. This stuff just isn't that hard.

There is an art to Dimensionalizing products and brands - to differentiate them with "product-based" selling solutions. And I wish to God someone in packaged goods would sit up and take notice.

Diaper Wars 2007

P&G Tosses Its Own 'Brick' at Rival K-C

Charges of False Advertising Leveled at Huggies Brand in Latest Diaper Wars

What these two do with brawn today, they used to do with brain. Faced with toddler migration to KC’s Pull Up diaper pants, we repositioned Pampers as Pampers Phases Developmental Diapers; introducing size 5 to hour glass shaped disposables, we arrested nearly $1 billion in toddler migration to KC that year with a strategy that convinced mom’s being a toddler was just another “phase” in the development of their newborn and infant. And look at our hands, no calluses – but getting brick layer’s hands might help some of P&G’s skin care lines.

But don't throw the baby out with the bath water. Maybe P&G should just run with this, show rebuttal ads with babies in the brick's place on a nice green park lawn. In the background of Central Park you hear the construction sounds of New York City. The voice over cuts in speaking for the diapering parent saying, "Pardon us. We're under construction." This kind of problem was also the impetus for us working with P&G to come up with the best part of waking up for Folgers. The strategy in part deflected career-making lawyers eyeing caffeine as the next nicotine. Come on guys, stop using lawyers and learn how to turn lemons into lemonade!
Don't let the linear-thinker, straight-forward problem solvers lay another brick and win!