Monday, February 15, 2016

Tearing Down The Walls And Digging Out Of The Minutia

This year is off and running… fast.  And for that, I am grateful.

Companies, politicians, brand leaders, ad agencies… my iPhone has been buzzing.

And if the Super Bowl ads were a sign of where marketing and advertising is at… my bet is that there will be more folks calling needing help.

Isn’t there a saying that flows something like… “What stupid sees, stupid does.”

If you have been following this blog over the years, I have posted a long stream of observations of how GenXers and Boomers – the older relics of brand management – are inwardly clustering in their self-woven cocoons. 

Many ad agencies and creative shops have turned inward too.

The past couple of weeks, I have worked with two firms struggling to unify their online strategies with their brand marketing strategies.

I had the chance to review four written proposals put together by the “digital agencies.” 

What struck me with all four was that there was no mention of just whom the programs were designed to reach, engage and interact.

No mention of their demographics.  No mention of the psyches.  No mention of their online behaviors.  No mention of how they interact with the product category. 


I remember in my early days in the business asking an outdoor billboard firm how a person could strategically use billboards to reach defined target groups.

The reply… “you don’t have to worry about targeting, everyone drives by the billboard in their daily travels.”

Believe it or not, that's not too different from a digital techie saying… “who cares about who it is that hits your website, we engineer it around their online behaviors to net the most engaged.”


In this weekend’s Wall Street Journal is a news story with the headline, “Kohl’s Eliminates Three Senior Roles.”

First sentence in the article goes on to say, “the department store chain is battling sluggish sales and a depressed share price.”

So the company and brand are in deep doodoo

Who are the three executives that Kohl’s eliminated?

The Chief Digital Officer. The VP of Store Environment.  The Senior VP of Communications and Public Relations.

Not sure about blog readers, but I gave up on going to Kohl’s about five years ago.  Personally, I could not really figure out just what made Kohl’s a differentiated brand other than their claims of discount pricing.

Shoot, if I shop where price is critical, I will journey over to Target and feel hip or Wal-Mart and feel patriotic.

By the way, a lot of corporate leadership should hang at Target and Wal-Mart at least once a week.

I spent a lot of time on the phone with a client yesterday afternoon attempting to elevate the discussion to the higher level of just what in the heck is the brand experience that drives sales revenue.

I could not get the client’s perspective raised beyond the mechanics of the website.

As I said right up front, I am grateful that many teams are calling right now.

Many are desperately in need of help. 

Many have got specialized specialists added to their team. 

Many have built up walls to shelter the specialized specialists as they look downward into the minutia of their specialized specialties.

Many give reinforcement for creative for the sake of original creative.

I remember a cartoon I saw one of that feature a set of Gen X parents debating the details of just how they were going to stage-set-up their child’s birthday among friends and relatives while the child was sitting on the sidelines staring at a wall.

Substitute the consumer for the child.

As I enter 2016 with the phone ringing, I have to keep in mind the mission of why EXPERIENCE exists… put the consumer in the center seat and look at the brand on the consumer’s experiential perspective with the goal to emotionally connect beyond rational thought and competitive options.

My advice is to corporate leadership is to tear down the walls of the corporate cocoons and go dwell with real people in their environments.

The Wall Street Journal article about Kohl’s goes on to say that Kohl’s board of directors is seriously considering selling the chain off to a private-equity firm.

We shall see if Kohl’s is sold to individuals with a passion to deliver a brand experience or individuals who acquire very screwed up corporations and milk the assets for what worth might remain.