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No publicity, mind

1 Dec

It started here as another exercise in word of mouth on behalf of a South African winemaker. Now it’s gathering major news headlines and is threatening to become a ‘brilliant-marketing-but-bad-for-business’ case study. Let’s hope for Thresher’s sake it’s not Hoover all over again.

One phrase equity

4 Sep

More praise for Tesco. CorpComms magazine reports on the retailer’s community relations initiatives, and Naresh Ramchandani in Media Guardian explores the meaning (free registration) of the firm’s slogan ‘Every little helps’ (‘perhaps the most ingeniously modest slogan ever written’).

…and the rise of ‘one word equity’

22 Jun

The decline in traditional TV advertising is not in dispute. Maurice Saatchi acknowledges it in this interview for BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme and outlines a new model for marketing.

If you’re over 25 you’re a ‘digital immigrant’. If you’re a ‘digital native’ you’ve learnt the digital language; the brain of the digital native is different. It’s literally been reworked. It’s faster. It sifts more; it recalls less… A new model is required for marketing. What I’m describing is a new business model, one in which companies compete to establish one word equity. That is they aim to define in one word the particular characteristic that they most want instantly associated with their brand around the world. I would say this is the most priceless corporate asset of the digital age.

An example: Google ‘which has global ownership of the one word search.’

UPDATE: Maurice Saatchi’s written an article on this topic for the Financial Times.

Testing the thesis

22 Mar

The central thesis of The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR is simply stated by the authors. ‘You can’t build a new brand with advertising because advertising has no credibility… You can launch new brands only with publicity or public relations (PR)’.

It seems to me (though not to all) that it’s a surprisingly robust thesis. But I’d add two qualifications. It works best if the brand is a new technology product or service that, by definition, adds something new (think of Microsoft and Google). It also works well where the brand has a strong narrative (think Body Shop and its ethical campaigns).

But does it work for me-too products in mature industries? Probably not. Today, the first new national daily newspaper in twenty years appears in Britain. A narrative capable of strong PR support, you would think. There has indeed been some press coverage, but The Sportsman has been launched on the back of TV advertising and sponsorship (I noticed a Sportsman logo on Sky’s cricket coverage from India this morning).

This pattern repeats itself in another mature industry. Most cars need massive promotional budgets while the Toyota Prius thrives on ‘free publicity’ thanks to its novelty and strong environmental narrative.

Vorsprung durch advertising

30 Oct

First, the advertisers gave us their messages during ‘commercial breaks’. Then, as we started to ignore them, they began to sponsor the programmes on TV. Now, in a European first, Audi has begun its own sponsored channel. This is a welcome move.

For one thing, it’s transparently honest. You know where The Audi Channel is coming from. Second, it recognises the failure of the hard sell and the need for softer brand communications (public relations fits in here). Third, it’s free (unlike those supermarket magazines that attempt something similar in print format). Ironically, it will also remain almost advertising-free because this niche channel is unlikely to appeal to many other commercial interests. Fourth, it promises to fill some gaps in the broadcasting schedule. (Polo isn’t everyone’s favourite sport – but it must be of interest to some and the BBC isn’t going to cover it.)

Of course, a broadcast medium lacks interactivity and so doesn’t meet the challenge of establishing a conversation between an organisation and its publics. But – dare I say it here – broadcast technology is still years ahead of the internet in terms of quality, usability and reliability. Above all, the trend I noticed in the US two decades ago is now firmly established in Europe. Broadcasting it overtaking publishing. Watch this space (Channel 259 on Sky Digital).

It’s that time of year again…

22 Jul

Time for the BusinessWeek/Interbrand survey of the top 100 global brands. The news release acknowledges the challenge facing marketers:

These days, ad zapping consumers with TiVo, satellite radio, and pop-up ad blockers pose an enormous challenge to marketers trying to build new brands and nurture old ones.

Reported by the BBC and many other media sources.


5 Feb

A visit to Wolfsburg, the factory town that is the global headquarters of Volkswagen, confirmed how right Wally Olins is. In his 1993 book on branding a chapter is titled ‘How VW, the ultimate craft-based company, fell in love with brands.’

Yesterday, my tour of the vast production line was full of descriptions of tonnes of steel and the weight of the metal presses. Meanwhile, people in product communications were discussing lifestyle issues and how to appeal to buyers in elusive market segments.

Chavs and chav nots

5 Feb

Everything I’ve seen recently about British fashion house Burberry has ridiculed or criticised it for going downmarket. Here‘s one example. The counterblast comes from a ‘business of fashion’ magazine (not online) in yesterday’s Financial Times.

When Rose Marie Bravo took over at Burberry in 1997 nobody gave her a prayer. Here was a woman from the Bronx … who said she was going to turn around a fine old British institution which for as long as anyone could remember had been selling tweedy suits to the mothers of middle England and trench coats to Japanese tourists. She had no chance.

Since her arrival the company’s valuation has increased from £200m to £2bn. Some turnaround. Could the mockery of Burberry come from old-fashioned British snobbishness?

Brand ahoy!

14 Jan

I was quickly put right when I once expressed bewilderment about the discrepancy between the (many) column inches devoted to Apple and the company’s (small) market share. But Apple’s a brand, I was reminded.

This has been a good week for Apple, a brand and an innovator (read The Economist for a good perspective on the news).

The same publication has also noticed that Korea’s Samsung has become a consumer electronics brand.

Brand on the run

26 Nov

Big marketing’s under fire (for being irritating, ineffective and expensive). Yet the industry appears to have an aggressive champion in the form of a new professor of marketing at Oxford University. According to Media Guardian, he has hit back at the attacks on traditional brand-building marketing by saying:

The idea that advertising is dead – that’s all pretty much crap.

Great use of language from the L’Oreal chair of marketing.