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.

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