Thursday, November 29, 2007

Multi-Cultural Marketing II - The Thumb Tribe

Remember the other day I was saying that it's not sufficient to target cultures such as African Americans or Asians and consider the matter of multi-cultural marketing concluded? But of course it is concluded because marketers generally draw the line where media properties end, and for example, for African Americans, they end with television such as BET - the Black Entertainment Network, etc. But there are cultures, pervasive cultures within the cultures - that marketers never explore. They've never heard of them. Yet it is these cultures within the cultures that influence us all - hence we call them "Culturally Influential Consumer Groups."

The first I mentioned was "Walking Actors," the 1/2 of the US population employed by service and information based industry - hence their need for products and services that make them a better them - a huge chunk of the population that's little understood.

Now I'd like to introduce you to another "Culturally Influential 'Developmental' Consumer Group" we can recruit for use in developing new products, services, positioning strategies, media properties, content, etc.

Let's call them the 'THUMB TRIBE' referring to the masses of young people around the world that use mobile phones for texting, email, entertainment and mobile phone conversations. They've grown up in a world that is dynamically different from the one we lived in. What kind of cars do they want? And what gadgets? They don't even use computers - computers now percieved as going the way of B&W television. At what point do their childhood toys and t'ween technology devices merge? And what future outcomes do they, and marketer-manufacturers expect?

Jonesing For Insight

I got caught up in a thread the other day with an insight company (WPP Group's 'Added Value' - "with 21 locations worldwide") hired by the Ford Motor Company whose findings indicated that images of crumpled Ford F-150 pickups in ads caused consumers emotional "anxiety." NO SHIT! So do images of jerks with green teeth and Appalachian accents kicking little dogs, hillbilly's having anal sex, children being abused and corporate chefs cooking up processed concoctions sold in the shelf stable portions of grocery stores. You actually have to pay someone to know this shit?! THIS is not "INSIGHT." It is 'trivial pursuit' by an industry whose leading executives confirm that despite solid balance sheets and healthy bottom lines they don't know where their growth will come from. No wonder FORD, CHRYSLER and GM hemmorage money and squander opportunities to bolster consumer perception while the ad industry comes under such heavy fire.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Potential Client Bites Potential Agency - Again

I have a weak spot for people who run agencies like Peter Madden, who posted a request for professionalism in Advertising Age Magazine's Small Agency Diary. Yet again, here's a young agency leader, and probably brilliant, who reached for the brass ring, poured out his heart and best ideas - only to watch the client whore walk away. I hope he follows my advice. I wrote:

Don't do a damn thing until the CEO or the appointed operative shows you the money. You're far more desired, and appealing when you remain aloof - of course the bluff is that you have to be willing to loose the ranch. We solicit proposals rather than waiting for RFP's. We develop relationships with decision makers. Once a proposal is submitted, it can take months, or days, for the client to pull the trigger. Ramp up time is two weeks to develop creative, do some homework with consumers and deliver a needle mover within 8-12 weeks. We bill half our management fee plus all expenses up front before any deliverable is in sight. Have been in business since 1927 and recognized as the creator of brands such as Cold-filtered Miller Genuine Draft, Tylenol Gelcaps and more. Turn around Wheaties and increased distribution 24%. Restaged Pampers as a "developmental" product for the first time in 1982 and gained $1 billion in traction versus Kimberly-Clark for P&G - not to mention making caffeinne the best part of waking up.

Martin CalleChief Marketing OfficerCalle & Company AVENUE Blog

Multicultural Marketing - How To Beat Your Media Dependence and Sell More Product

If you're Procter & Gamble or Google and into multicultural marketing are you getting the biggest bang for the buck targeting African Americans, Hispanic, Caucasian or Asian communities as multicultural audiences? Are you really getting your point across to these macro-targets when the cultures themselves are composed of over 250 other distinct and seperate "Culturally Influential Consumer Groups." You can segment these cultures by emotional insights, demographics, ethnic diversity, social, attitudinal, psychographic profiles and online behavior via traditional and SEM media products; You can throw the latest buzz groups - Millenials, Devouts, Thrivals, Boomers, T'weens, Gen X & Yers, Early Adapters, Late Adapters, heavy users, trier/rejectors and those who 'cocoon' into the mix but unless you speak with the 250 "Culturally Influential Developmental Consumer Audiences" within, you'll never truly put your finger on the pulse of your target audience.

For example, every one of the target audiences above is composed in part of "Walking Actors" - men and women who because of their occupation or lifestyle have to come in contact with an above average number of people everyday. For this reason they are more concerned with the cars they drive and the statements that they make; the clothes they wear and how they feel other people subsequently perceive them - confidence - is it internal or external; the foods and beverages they consume and how consumption affects their performance each day. With over half the people employed today working in service and information driven industries, over half of us all are to some extent a walking actor whether we admit it or not. That's the culture you target to hit the multicultural marketing genie on the head.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


I read with disbelief questions swirling amongst C-level execs and trade magazines such as Advertising Age asking if the CMO or marketing department should be held responsible for company performance. DOH! Are we now trying to dumb down marketing and advertising even more - lowering the bar to the point that no one has to accept responsibility for one's actions?

I believe that the life expectancy of today's CMO is less than 24 months because they've lost the art of finding product-based strategic solutions in favor of implementing a new media SEM, social or behavioral targeting fix. So here's the test. I don't want to know what the answer is, or what you think the answer is: I want to know how you'd go about finding an answer to the following problem.

YOU WAKE UP TODAY AS THE CMO OF KOHLER and/or PROCTER & GAMBLE'S CHARMIN BRAND. You find that due to exhausted water supplies, American's can no longer use toilet bowls and tanks in their homes. This is not a temporary conservation condition. It is now permanent. To keep your company afloat (Kohler) and your brand alive (Charmin) what steps would you take to learn what to offer consumers as alternatives in personal hygiene? Remember, they use their left hands in certain parts of Asia and Mrs. Bidet has already been introduced. Neither are suitable solutions so licensing is out.

What steps would you take, what processes would you employ to learn what consumers want before they are able to articulate the need?

Monday, November 26, 2007

WPP Shop Tries to Rewrite Research

So this image caused viewer anxiety. You had to do research to figure out crumpled cars bother people? If you're a parent I bet you don't like movies or shows depicting abused or hurt children either. That's what's wrong with research. It only reconfirms the things you already know! Rather than evaluate what consumers think about a brand, the WPP Group company's new market-research tool, Emotional Brand Connection (Kantar Group's Added Value unit) looks at how consumers think the brand will make them feel.

First problem with this approach: "when you ask consumers questions you do not get the voice of the consumer, you get the voice of the inquirer through the question being asked - a form of bias that will lead you astray."

Next, if you don't stimulate consumer minds to think beyond the realm of their current existance they will only reconfirm what you, and they, already know, which will leave your startegy and execution a day late and pound short.

Where was I with my Ford SUV? Where was I with my Ford Taurus? My Expedition? The answer to both is "with my family" "on the way to grandma's house" "over the rivers and through the woods" to the mall or to the grocery store we go. Does it really matter?

The picture's the same - and insight this is... not. It's like showing people pictures of bankers in flannel shirts and blue jeans versus starched white shirts and suits. Obviously the suits work at Wells Fargo while the flannel shirts work for Seattle's Washington Mutual. ConAgra's Swift-Eckrich smoked sausages had the same perception problems versus the flannel shod farmers at Kahn's/Hillshire Farm.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Farewell Mr. Whipple

Dick Wilson, THE character actor who turned "Please don't squeeze the Charmin" into a national catchphrase as exasperated shopkeeper Mr. Whipple in the TV commercial campaign that ran for more than two decades, has died. He was 91.

He was also one of the last great pitchmen to get it right - reinforcing the message that Charmin was "soft" a product feature with multiple benefits that later took the category's back burner as consumers looked beyont cost-of-entry softness to hygiene in their sanitary products. Similarly, disposable diapers moved from keeping babies drier to enabling the Pampers brand to expand the franchise by first focusing on a newborn and infant's 'development' into toddlerhood with Pampers Phases Developmental Diapers created by Calle & Company in 1982.

For me, as an advertiser, the sadness in Mr. Whipple's passage is that we have gone from pitchmen with a product-based punchline drilling a product, brand or category's features home - to adpeople raised on television and internet (viral) entertainment who now strive to create ads that do little more than that - and ignoring a product's reason for being as a persuader.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Eric J. Henderson, Director-Account Management, Common Ground Marketing

If as many people reached out as does CommonGround's Account Director Eric Henderson, the human experience would be a much nicer trip. He sent me a letter dated 7 November, 2007.

"Mr. Calle: I just wanted to thank you for your commenting on our post in the [Ad Age Magazine] Small Agency Diary, "Don't Let ROI Mean Removal of Innovation." We write what we believe first. Secondly, we do hope to start real discussions and appreciate what we learn when certain people contribute. Your comment got us to talking/thinking. Much peace, Eric J. Henderson"

I think I'd work for Eric either for free or for food. Thank you Eric. That was nice and heartfelt. APPRECIATED. - Martin

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Gary Bembridge of Unleashed on Marketing Blog

I have a new friend in the UK - Gary Bembridge who writes Unleashed on Marketing Blog. With 25 years CPG experience Gary writes with wisdom. Go visit!

Winning the New-Products Game

Know What Kills an Innovation Ahead of Time and Dodge Failures

It's been a long time coming but finally someone else has finally figured out the new products game. What's even better, he uses examples and brands that hired me to get them over the humps mentioned - so I know he's got it right. Cal Hodock is managing partner of Hodock Group, a product-marketing agency, and professor of marketing at Berkeley College and adjunct professor of advertising at New York University. But like a lot of academicians, he can describe the problem. Does he have a process delivering reproducable results a company can use? And what is it? I am reprinting his article from Ad Age here, because I don't want to lose it.

New products are a high-risk game; failures widely outnumber successes. Of course, failure can be a rich instructional tool, provided that we learn from our mistakes. American business, however, continues to make the same mistakes over and over as it brings new products to market. Ninety percent of new products in America fail.

Out this month: Calvin Hodock's 'Why Smart Companies Do Dumb Things' (Prometheus Books)

Each year, an estimated $20 billion to $30 billion is lost on failed food products alone. Look no further than would-be breakfast beverage Gatorade A.M., launched earlier this year. If Pepsi opened up the filing cabinets of history, it would have seen that it had already tried and failed with Pepsi A.M. in the late 1980s. Coffee is our morning drink, reinforced by Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, McDonald's and the corner diner. This is a culture war neither brand could win. Those who forget their history are condemned to repeat their mistakes. The eight basic mistakes listed here are real. Our rules for CMOs, meanwhile, are varied. Some are easy to implement. Others are tougher. As the old Iowa farmer said, "Talk is cheap, but it takes money to buy whiskey." Innovation is the engine of growth. The engine needs a tuneup.

EIGHT RECURRING ERRORS IN NEW-PRODUCT FAILURES1. Marketing misjudgementProcter & Gamble stumbled going up the Citrus Hill in 1983. Smart marketing managers mistakenly thought they had identified a key dynamic: Citrus Hill was a better-tasting orange juice. Taste buds didn't count. They got beaten on the battlefield of trade promotions. Two cartons for $5 was what orange-juice lovers really wanted. P&G pulled the plug on Citrus Hill in 1992. 2. Positioning poisonThis can be defined as much ado about nothing with insignificant product positioning -- think dry beer from Anheuser-Busch or Bayer Women's, a combination aspirin and calcium tablet. Both are solutions to problems America does not have. This also can be positioning that confuses the consumer, or when the positioning benefit and the product are not in sync. 3. Dead-on-arrival productThink of the Pontiac Aztek, possibly the ugliest car ever; Vioxx, a pain reliever with the potential to cause heart attacks and strokes; blue and chocolate french fries, introduced by the Oreida unit of Heinz; and the X-Type, a cheap Jaguar that looks like a Taurus. Enough said. 4. Competitive delusionBe careful not to underestimate the competitive response. Beware of testosterone brands that are cash cows or sentimental businesses. Quaker Oats, for example, annihilated upstart Total Instant Oatmeal. It was a predictable response from a company that is oatmeal personified and an authentic brand icon in American culture. General Mills blithely ignored that. 5. Defective marketing researchMost failures are heavily researched, but the marketplace votes thumbs down. Much of the activity is justification research. Innovation teams go to research departments and say, "We need to do such and such research to reinforce what we are doing." The researchers morph into obedient wimps. 6. Fatality in frugalityThis is when new products must be marketed with play-and-pay budgets. The cheapskate strategy does not work. Two common examples: skipping research steps to economize and introducing a product with an anemic media budget. 7. Calendar innovationIn the rush to be first, companies can misjudge the market. That's how Motorola blew $6 billion on the failed Iridium phone. There were problems with the product, service and support, but the launch date was sacrosanct. It never sold more than 10% of what it needed to break even. 8. Marketing dishonestyPontiac Aztek research was heavily edited and modified to please General Motors management. The bad taste of Crystal Pepsi was ignored. Two forecasts for Campbell's Souper Combo surfaced -- one predicted failure, and the marketing department disregarded it. Nobody told Apple's CEO that the Newton had more than 1,000 documented bugs at its launch.

EIGHT GUIDELINES TO HELP CMOS IMPROVE THEIR INNOVATION BATTING AVERAGES1. Stamp out marketing amnesiaEstablish a knowledge base of past innovation on a category basis, including both successes and failures. The data and information should be developed and updated by outside sources with no ax to grind. 2. Leverage value-added marketingHire a research director who knows how to develop and steward a value-added research department that has management's respect. Such a person will not be easy to find. In marketing research's embryonic days, pioneers such as Alfred Polite and Ernest Ditcher presented their research findings to boards of directors. Today's market research is often never seen by the board. 3. Challenge assumptionsEvery new-product failure had a rosy sales forecast. Marketing people can, and do, either consciously or unconsciously cook the books with deceptive numbers to make bad new products look good. CMOs must focus on the assumptions behind the numbers and challenge them. Nothing should be taken at face value. Form an alliance with the chief financial officer in this effort. 4. Reinforce the unvarnished truthBefore a CMO reviews a new-product plan, key players -- manufacturing, marketing, finance and marketing research -- must review the plan and verify that the assumptions are correct, balanced and not distorted. Differences must be resolved before the plan moves forward. This mitigates the "creative number crunching" that comes with optimistic assumptions. 5. Press the kill buttonFrederick the Great said, "The mark of a great general is to know when to retreat and how." CMOs must have the courage to kill carefully nourished new products when evidence warrants it. Innovation teams may try to beat the system, because their love is blind. But should we move forward with America's next great new product, Kool-Aid pickles? 6. Assign accountabilityRobert Lutz, GM's styling and design czar, observed that the company had trouble figuring out who was responsible for the ugly Aztek. Accountability is elusive in the innovation game because marketing people are moved around the chessboard too frequently. The new product's champion should follow it out the door at launch, assuming ongoing responsibility for a specified period. 7. Realize that one size does not fit allCorporations assume that any M.B.A. from a top-tier school qualifies for a brief tenure in new products. Nothing could be further from the truth. In the rotation process, too many square-peg brand managers are forced into round holes. CMOs should put only their most creative people in complex new-product positions. 8. Attend ethics boot campThe innovation team should attend ethics boot camp early in the development process. This should include everybody, even the ad agencies. Manipulating the forecast for a new product is unethical. It cheats the shareholders even more than it cheats the public.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Cuervo Launches Black

Saw this seasonal ad [good time to launch spirits] for super premium Cuervo Black on TV. But why must we have yet another beer, wine, ale or otherwise spirits brand launch with the same uninspiring "bar call" strategy attempting to widget their way into consumer habits and practices? This from a category's "undisputed" leader!? I like rum and coke, not cuervo and coke you copy cat dim wits. Go stake out your own turf. And by the way, what research study showed that rum and coke drinkers have a propensity for tequila? Probably none. So I beg to ask, "are you trying to start new consumer behavior (since you probably won't be stealing to many of rum and coke's customers ). If so, you'll need a much more persuasive campaign than this.

No wonder revenues in the industry are flat and executives continue to wonder where new growth will come from. As Casey Stengel said, "Is this as good as it gets? Or is this all you got?"

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Wild Bunch + Company

Singapore's Wild Bunch & Company is the Starbucks of organic juices. Watch out Jamba Juice! I'm looking into a franchise.

MotoLights by Jake Dyson

I wanted these lights in my office, then thought, "Wait! They'd make great flashlights!" Absolutely incredible if you're into "neat junk."

If Only Buick Could Make A Face Like This

The dust has settled on the Tokyo Motor Show, traditionally the outlet for the industry’s most avant-garde predictions.

2007’s debuts didn’t disappoint, although the host country’s penchant for bizarre city cars is starting to look rather less eccentric as public perception shifts in their favour.

Friday, November 09, 2007

AGENCIES: Are You Filling Prescriptions or Curing What Ails?

I like Mark Brownstein's question at Advertising Age Magazine's Small Agency Diary. Though many left comments as to the importance of diagnosing client problems and responding with appropriate strategies and ideas, no one said anything about how to do it. Try this!

Calle & Company's ASSAYS® are innovative consumer-creation learning circles not based on asking questions. ASSAYS provide your consumer groups with 10,000 incredibly comprehensive, highly creative, and consumer-appealing product-based thought-leadership selling solutions instead. Taking yourself and the yoke of your company's belief systems out of the loop - clean sheets of paper are the order of the day here. You become the blank slate on which consumers create, invent and indelibly etch their new impressions and perceptions - massive foresight enables you to articulate what consumers really want before normal humans, a focus group moderator, or anyone else can articulate the need.

Why do we NOT base "KNOWLEDGE CREATION" for greater strategies and ideas on questions?

1) Question-based marketing knowledge is full of pitfalls and poor traditions.

2) As Atticus Finch says in To Kill A Mockingbird, "You can't ask a question you don't already know the answer to" which is why research so often only confirms what we already know.

3) When you ask consumers questions, you don't get the "voice of the consumer," you get the "voice of the inquirer" through the question being asked - a form of bias that will lead you astray.
4) When asking questions you get answers about things that have already happened. By default, your strategy and execution will be a day late and a pound short. You will be caught reacting, not proacting.
5) When asking questions ask, "Where did the consumers you are talking to come from?" In focus groups, the majority of respondents are "database" consumers - paid professionals who, though screened, supplement their income with market research. If you are gathering any/all other data from consumers remember that without additional provided mental stimuli, they are unable to respond beyond the scope of their personal experience. This results in the saying, "The problem with advertising today is that advertising has fallen to the level of the people who watch it, which is why we click or surf through it."

6) All other "ideation" processes are offshoots of large quantitative research companies such as AcuPoll or BASES. Hiring them is like hiring the fox to watch the chicken coup. But, the interesting fact is, that in spite of all the business they get in the consumer packaged goods industry - the largest consumer of this sort of thing - client's revenues remain flat, with executives wondering where their growth will come from. So I guess we still have not found the consumer-source for bigger, better ideas.

Interesting? More interesting still is that most agencies do no homework at all and just shoot from the hip and their own personal experience - just like consumers described above. So who named you KNOWLEDGE ALMIGHTY? I learned long ago not to inject any of myself into a client's strategy or process. I let consumers shoulder the whole load and more results ended up in Annual Reports and Cannes reels be the client Gold Bond Powder or Procter & Gamble.
Do some homework! For more information about ASSAYS contact Calle & Company at

Volkswagen and Volvo Play Musical Execs

Volkswagen Taps Volvo's Ellis as VP-Marketing

At what point does one stop and realize that these people and the experience they bring are as interchangably commoditized as the brands on which they work? This was a question posed to me by the head of HR at one of the world's premier sports, performance and style companies following his return from a major HR conference on the same topic. Didn't Pepsi just replace Dawn Hudson here too? She's another ad exec slotted for marketing by a manufacturer who wanted to make ads on the cheap who ended up with domestic sales down 7%. Just like ConAgra reairing ancient Wesson and Orville ads to save a production buck. They don't care about their ads. If they did, they'd care about their brands. Instead, they're just pretend branders. Same things gonna happen here for sure.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Forget Focus Groups. B-52 of Qualitative Industry Set For Retirement

Introducing Calle & Company's ASSAYS® - the Consumer Packaged Goods Industry's Premier Consumer Learning Experience.

As the consumer products industry decommissions its fleet of focus group facilities you will have to find an alternative source for quick, more creative and accurate consumer learning. Why is the focus group being decommissioned by the likes of Procter & Gamble? Because you can't get tomorrow's business results with yesterday's business practices. Success in today's innovation driven CMO thought leadership environment requires something far different and more agile.

After forty years of focus group immersion, business management experts couldn't agree more acknowledging focus groups are headed for the business boneyard. Because of their presence in leading consumer packaged goods companies, McKinsey, Bain, Boston Consulting, Booz Allen and Calle Company make a well-positioned assessment reporting that despite solid balance sheets and healthy profit margins in the US $2 trillion consumer packaged goods industry (the focus group's principal consumer) revenues are flat (a trend lasting decades) and executives are wondering where new growth will come from. So focus groups are no longer the consumer learning experience once revered during their 1970's heyday - but hey, that's when focus groups were new and marketers didn't know things.

What's wrong with focus groups? Plenty.

Focus Groups are based on yesterday's "question-based marketing" data acquisition and measurement approach - methodologies fraught with pitfalls and poor traditions. For starters,

1)To steal a line from attorney Atticus Finch in To Kill A Mockingbird, "You can't ask a question you don't already know the answer to" which is why so much research only reconfirms the things that you already know (boring and not creative) - resulting in your reinvention of other people's light bulbs and wheels.

2)Next, by default, whenever you ask a question, the answer comes AFTER something else has already happened. By default you will be a day late and a pound short - caught reacting to something that's already been done rather than being proactive and innovative.

3)You can't ask the right question. Because whenever you ask a question you don't get "the voice of the consumer" you get the voice of the inquirer through the question being asked, a form of bias that has always led marketers astray - pontificating to themselves, about themselves and wondering why their positioning, marketing, advertising or new product isn't more effective.

Calle & Company's ASSAYS® are innovative consumer learning circles not based on asking questions. ASSAYS provide your consumer groups with 10,000 incredibly comprehensive, highly creative, and consumer-appealing product-based thought-leadership selling solutions instead. Taking yourself and the yoke of your company's belief systems out of the loop - clean sheets of paper are the order of the day here. You become the blank slate on which consumers create, invent and indelibly etch their new impressions and perceptions - massive foresight enabling you to articulate what consumers really want before normal humans, a focus group moderator, or anyone else can articulate the need.

To learn more about ASSAYS ® Consumer-Creative ® Invention Circles contact Calle & Company at, or dial 714 244 9511.

Why "BRANDING" Goes In One Ear and Out The Other

John Jantsch posted his "Definition of Branding" on Duct Tape Marketing today - which always gets my blood boiling. No, not that John wrote something, but because today's branding practitioners have so fouled up the art. Here's my take.

In an age where consumer packaged goods have become commodities, top executives wonder where their growth will come from and short-lived CMOs spend more time chasing consumer ears and eyeballs deep into new media forests, I had a President at Procter & Gamble tell me that he thought branding was something you did when you didn't have anything important to say about your product. In my book, a "brand" is just something that someone started that caught on. Then "marketers" contribute to its obesity and kill it. And I have foundthis to be more true than false across the industry over the last 45 years when you consider companies such as Blue Cross and Blue Shield "brand" themselves with slogans such as "Discover The Power of Blue." Gee. I thought that was IBM. How is that "likable, knowable and trustable?" Simple? Yes? Easy to remember? Yes? Unquestionable? Debatable. But the problem with branding today, like advertising, is that it has fallen to the level of the people it targets, which is why it transmits right through us - in one ear and out the other.
So what should you do? Indelibly etch your impression on your consumer with a highly-differentiating and consumer-desired product-based selling dimension. I provide consumers over 10,000 comprehensive datapoints (product dimensions, product potentials, USPs or whatever you want to call them) in homework projects that frequently define breakthrough Special User Effects (tm).

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

How Marketing and Advertising Screws The Pooch

We like to think that everyday marketing and advertising gets better and better. As marketers, we accumulate more knowledge and experience. We get a promotion. We hire and manage direct reports. More people give us more things to do. We become busy - and full of ourselves, right?

But marketing and advertising, since the inception of television, the first mass advertising medium hasn't gotten better. It's gotten worse, a lot worse. And here's why and how. Have you ever played the game where you whispered something in some one's ear, and then they whisper it into the ear of the next person, and they to the next and the next and so on, until the last person says the secret he or she just heard? The fun part is that the end result never matches the original phrase. And down the years, that's what's happened to marketing and advertising. Consider this. The original instincts of the first televised mass marketers were typically correct. They were exceptionally good at finding highly differentiating product-based selling solutions - what Rosser Reeves called USP's - or what I call Special User Effects. But over the years, the whispered message changed, softened, became impotent. Sales intent fell victim to the antagonists of awareness, recognition and buzz as if sales and the later three were synonymous until categories ultimately became commodities and business schools churned out future CMOs and CEOs believing that markets were becoming increasingly complex and segmented and that their salvation would lay in chasing the new media's consumer ears and eyeballs. Hey guys you got it all wrong. You have to remember that making you believe that all of these different consumer segments exist is so that their purveyors can make their next car payment. You have to chase consumer ears and eyeballs, not because "that's marketing and advertising," but because that's the way media, strategy, research, trend and innovation guys all make their mortgage payments. They make it all up in their heads sitting in closets on Friday afternoons. Think I'm full of shit? Well remember, my family invented the game founding the first TV station CBS in NYC. Before it was "a network" it was just a low power one city "experiment" and we made all of this stuff up to make people believe in the need to use the new mass media. Billions were to be made and we had to "convince" people like print mad man David Ogilvy to "try" the new mass media for the very first time. He preferred print.

But my bottom line here is that you should go with your instincts - first instincts. Not those of today, but the instincts of those who started the industry. Their first impressions of how to reach people was and remains correct but unpracticed today as the whisper got fainter and fainter and increasingly distorted. Marketers have not made marketing and advertising better. They have watered it down, like a muscle, it has gotten weaker because we don't use it. It takes thought we don't have time for today - which is why I say marketers today try to do with [new media and technology] brawn what we used to do with brain and finesse. Miller strikes Anheuser-Busch feigning a new beer war, Crispin Porter + Bogusky looses ConAgra but shoots from the hip and gives us Orville Dedenbacher. The evidence is all around us - which is why so much more advertising is forgotten than remembered.
No matter where you are in your management and marketing career remember. Your grandfather had a farm. Your dad had a garden. And you got a can opener. You are practicing marketing and management with can opener practices past along from the last can opener's owner. And this is why we have a problem with advertising today. It's fallen to the level of the people who watch it, which is why we click through it.

Miller Brewing Limps Into Battle - Beer Wars Off To An Impotent Start With A Desperate Stretch

Give me a break. Miller using Dalamtions (a spoof on A-B Super Bowl ads? Don't they know more advertising is forgotten than remembered) to "nip at Bud Lite's heels." The first shot in a new beer war should have been some real trash talk like, "Yo momma's breaths so bad her man Bud got wizer and split."

Here's the 411. This is about the most useless ad worth watching that was ever created. How many of us ever actually saw our girlfriends get into another boy's car. The angst between beer, love and girl is such a disconnected thread that only a beer marketer could conceive it in his or her wildest dream. AND IT'S A MALE DOG, SO NOW WE'RE TALKING GAY! Miller and agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty blow chunks every way imaginable here.
This battle has no intensity. Everything about the effort says executives at Miller and Bud (hey, maybe they should start a sports restaurant called "Miller and Bud's" - let's be friends not enemy's since we're all sold at the same places anyway - you heard it hear first - "that's strategy") met on the golf course and decided to start a little contrived (remember what I say, the problem with most ads today is that they are either too obvious or too contrived) conflageration to help some advertising and media buddies in need make their next car payments.
These are the kinds of things you do when you're Miller and don't have something important to say about your product. They need a more highly consumer-desired and differentiating reason-for-being. Trading shots across the bow to generate buzz is about the same as Crispin Porter + Bogusky shooting from the hip with Orville Dedenbacher. What a useless way to waste money. How many people is Miller helping to make car payments with this campaign in relation to incremental beer sales. These guys aren't even good trash talkers. "Keep up the bad work!?"

Give me a break. That copy is not even worth the back page of USA Today's sports section.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Pepsi-Cola Chief Dawn Hudson Exits Following Reorg

Food-and-Beverage Giant Dissatisfied as North America Weakens

And it's about time. Dawn Hudson and Indra Nooyi knew long ago, exactly at the time I created the concept of Baked Lays Potato Chips (sold $310 million in first ten months domestically) that in the US people want a combination of high health and high pleasure in foods, positioning and communications messaging. What's healthier than fried chips? Baked Chips. Which chips are most fun? Lays. So there it is. Baked Lays. I did the same combination creating Healthy Choice in the early eighties for ConAgra when I learned this adroit truth for the first time - supplying the agency creatives with the ammunition they needed to launch a multi-billion dollar brand. But Dawn's major US initiative was "health and wellness" headed up by VP fiend Patty Wolff. So given that they already had the answer, how'd they miss the boat? Blame it on Indra Nooyi. At the time I launched Baked Lays, Indra insisted people just wanted lower calories and less fat. So she launched Wow! Chips with olestra (a P&G supplier idea) that couldn't even fill the pipeline with $29 million worth of product. And in beverages, they just keep slipping below the zero calorie line. Can you have a beverage that provides negative calories? That's part of identifying future consumption drivers in soft drinks.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

2007 Halloween Pranks

Halloween was great. I scared the bejeezus out of my eleven year old son and his two best friends by jumping out from behind two trash cans as they went door to door trick or treating. My son can't wait to get even. He's good at it. The sheriff cruised by so we stopped to talk. I told him my son and his two friends were trick or treating on the next street in our gated community. I asked if he'd mind driving over, stopping the boys and asking if they'd seen an older gentleman in a white shirt and khaki pants? There are reports he'd been scaring kids in the neighborhood. Later, as I collected my kids in the car, all three came running to my driver's window in disbelief! Wide-eyed and excited as all get out they told me I was wanted by the sheriff! My wife, our son's friends moms and my daughters laughed our asses off for about twenty minutes. What a great Halloween!