Monday, March 01, 2010

BrandWash - The Economics of the Marketing Department's Plagiarism

- The Economics of Plagiarism in Marketing

Drawing on 40 years of experience and the fact that I've created the 10 most successful new products in the consumer packaged goods industry I look back in perspective and decide to write a book called BrandWash - The Economics of Plagiarism in Marketing. Now plagiarism isn't allowed in school. They flunk you out. And a great deal of time is spent on plagiarising business plans in business ethics courses so I began wondering (and here is where I'd like your feedback) why is it so that I can't find a detergent brand that doesn't promise to do the cleaning job better and faster; why can't I find an air freshener from Glade to Fabreeze that doesn't promise to make my house smell sweet; why can't I find an orange juice brand that doesn't have that blasted straw stinking out of an orange or a hand reaching from field to grocer's shelf that doesn't promise to taste most like the orange; why does every Leo Burnett ad seem almost the same; why does every shampoo and conditioner promise women model perfect hair; what analgesic doesn't promise to relieve pain better and faster and so on and so on. You see, I've worked in all these categories, and did so successfully, because we were able to give each category's founding member a highly-differentiating, highly-consumer-desired and highly-differentiating "product based" reason for being - like Claritin's CLEAR DAY. It's kept every other rival at bay for decades and it accounts for 67% of Schering-Plough's profits. ADVERTISING & MARKETING STRATEGY FOR IDIOTS! At one time all ground roast coffee from Maxwell House to Chock Full 'O Nuts that heavenly coffee promised consumers rich taste and aroma completely missing the reason why 20% of the GRC audience (heavy users) account for 85% of category volume. It's not flavor and aroma. IT'S STIMULATION. The best part of waking up is caffiene in your cup. But we couldn't sell a drug so we had to substitute the word Folgers for caffiene and hope it would work. I guess taking a $300 million brand to $1.6 billion on 1/10th the budget of Mrs. Olsen's Mountain Grown did the trick. Differentiated the brand. So Folgers took and sustained a 37 to 14 share lead over Maxwell House overnight. And Maxwell House IS STILL talking about flavor and aroma. Come on BL! Wake up! Hello, is anybody home? No wonder 87% of 6,973 CEOs in an exclusive Boston Consulting Group poll said they were disappointed in their innovation return on investment. There is no innovation. Too much strategic plagiarism going on in just about every conceivable category by marketers who are unable to meaningfully differentiate a brand or product. And just to back that up; Al Ries, Partner of Jack Trout (remember Trout & Ries? The guys who wrote POSITIONING: THE BATTLE FOR YOUR MIND says marketers walked away from positioning their brands on product based dimensions decades ago. Not even Al Ries (father of Laura Ries if you subscribe to her blog (recommended) Ries' Pieces) thinks he can reignite the olympic positioning torch! Today's marketers don't know what they've lost, and it's gone. Grew up knowing who lived in a pineapple under the sea but couldn't say who lived at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Oh well, they got bigger fish to fry like tagging the next social media opportunity hoping if they throw enough "creative" against the glass some of it might stick. That's not creative. But it is a reason nearly 7,000 CEOs in a recent Advertising Age Poll opted in that ad agencies had become commodities. Yet CMOs continue to do today what they did yesterday so they can keep on doing it tomorrow. AND THAT'S THE ECONOMICS OF PLAGIARISM IN MARKETING. Companies like McDonald's, Procter & Gamble, Unilever and Kraft all lose more money than they make each year and companies like Coke, because they can't generate big ideas in house outsource new products to Mergers & Acquisitions who overpay for brands like Vitamin Water without a chance of ever recovering their $4+ billion investment.

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