Monday, August 28, 2017

The Experience of an Emotional Ignition Point (EIP)

When I saw it and experienced it, I literally stopped doing what I was doing. 

I stood still afterwards and looked out the window and simply said, "Wow!"  

EXPERIENCE is a brand that does not fit neat and tidy in a standard business vocabulary. 

As is said on the website… “we are not a conventional marketing research firm nor ad agency.” No, we are not.   And a conventional marketing research firm nor ad agency was behind what I just saw.  

Hooray for those of us that elect to march to a different beat.

In a moment, you will get a chance to click and experience what I did when I saw it.

There are many… millions and zillions of things that brands are doing that I have to ponder just how leadership can resort to the fly-by-night strategies they elect to take… and canned and trade-acceptable brand experiences they create and execute.

There are teams of people who I present to and speak to that I am sure think that I am a nut case by what I say, showcase, communicate and recommend.

Last post I spoke about a Hurricane.  This past weekend Hurricane Harvey hit the Texas coast.  Too bad it did not hit Wall Street or Madison Avenue or Lake Shore Drive or Peachtree Street!

The past couple of weeks EXPERIENCE has been dedicated to new business development. 

Part of the purpose is the generate new project assignments.  Part of it fits more in line with our “on-the-street” consumer encounter interviews.

All said, I am glad that we dedicate time to new business development.  Its a learning experience each and every time.

Just as it is our mission to “rattle the cage,” our cage needs to be rattled too!

My overall take-away from the process and exploratory confirmed what’s been discussed over the years in this blog-louge… very few firms want to face reality, and instead, seek out reinforcement of what they have long been doing.

Hey… I am all for a brand team that is dedicated to stewardship of its brand experience!

To be honest, leadership teams that combine stewardship with proactive sustainability craft brands that are the long-term winners.

There are some things that EXPERIENCE does with a rich resource of market and consumer data that is very mechanical.  The reports can be viewed in some ways as truly information reports.

Data tables.  Maps.  Charts.

When information is not further molded and modeled and used as a springboard of application ideas as well as dimensional definers of constraint, what we produce is safe for many of the mass implementation teams.

And safe for the set of CEOs who shun the thoughts of change and challenge.

Numbers are numbers... data is data... and there are a lot of folks who declare that they are database engineers of database mining. 

When I read this morning’s WSJ front page article that the BIG corporate ad agency groups are facing even harsher budget cuts and more clients are leaving, I was not surprised. 

However, as I read the article, my mindset shifted quickly to what I saw on the television screen the other night.

I see ad after ad after ad after ad… and website after website after website after website… that highlights this and that and this and that about the physical, award-winning, top performing mechanics of product and service.

When I read that Chrysler might be about to unload Jeep to the Chinese, I was not surprised.  

I see a lot of the stupid ads that Chrysler is doing with “real people” and the “independent” focus group facilitator and I am sure the Chinese will come up with something more creative even if they elect to steal it from Nissan, Toyota, BMW or Mercedes. 

Trust me… the line that “shit sells” is a lie and Chrysler is a great example!

That said, the brand behind what I saw on television that left me speechless is a brand that I had an opportunity to work with a bit in its past. 

Hope Schultz, who is in many ways my partner in crime, managed the brand’s account for a large ad agency on Madison Avenue.

I had an opportunity to meet the client numerous times. It’s a brand whose CMO totally 110% understood the validity of crafting a brand’s EIP or Emotional Ignition Point.

That EIP is what drives its new television spot. 

The firm who produced the ad was McGarryBowen, a group that was formed in 2002 by John McGarry, the former president of Y&R and Gordon Bowen, the man who crafted the American Express EIP, “Membership Has Its Privileges.”

Here is how the copy in the spot reads…

“It would be great if human beings were great at being human
And if all of mankind were made up of kind women and kind men.
It would be wonderful if common knowledge was commonly known
And if the light from being enlightened into every heart was shown.
It would be glorious if neighbors were neighborly and indifference was a forgotten word.
It would be awesome if we shared everything and being greedy was absurd.
It would be spectacular if the golden rule was golden to every common man
And good things that we ever did was everything that we can.”

And here it is.

The brand EIP speaks for itself. This is why I do what I do with EXPERIENCE.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Time For The Hurricane Season To Begin!

I woke up this morning to a news story that the 2017 hurricane season is now in full gear!

Hurricane Franklin is positioned right over Mexico and heading west toward the Baja Strip. 

The reporters went on to say that there has been a light level of hurricane’s in the last several years and that this year might post a record number… particularly on the east coast of the U.S.

If it had not been so early in the morning, I would have broken out my Jack Daniel’s and raised a glass in a toast!

It’s time way over due for the hurricanes to clean house where business has gotten itself locked into over the course of the last half-dozen years.

Here’s a set of observations from my perspective…

A big story that hit this week is about Google and one of their senior leaders who sent out a letter of perspective relevant to Google’s new “diversity” employment program. 

The person writing the letter expressed a viewpoint that questioned whether “diversity” employment programs actually, in the end, generate the best team skill sets and whether individuals with better skills might get removed from consideration because they do not meet hiring quotas. 

Google hit the news wires not because the senior leader expressed this perspective, but rather because he was fired for expressing it.

Diversity of perspective is actually what fuels innovation and creativity within organizations. 

As Millennials become more involved in business leadership, their Helicopter parenting of peace, love and harmony has resulted in corporate cultures that advocate total buy-in to be a member. 

If any perspectives are voiced or issues arise that might upset the corporate culture, the person expressing it is no longer employed and included in the group.

I remember as a kid how the Avon ladies were crafted all around a common look, perspective, conversation style and sales pitch.  On August 3rd a headline story in the Wall Street Journal read… “Avon CEO to Depart Amid Mounting Losses.”

Folks think that Google is a creative haven… I hate to be the naysayer, but creativity and innovation fails to function when diversity of perspectives and ideas are forced to meet corporate guidelines or you get fired.

Entrepreneurship seldom honors a set of defined parameters and conventions.

Another story this past week that showcases the beginning of the hurricane season was Disney finally saying “no!” to Netflix and electing to create its own custom channel routes of access.

I remember one of the first business trips of my career when in 1982, Beatrice Foods asked the ad agency where I worked to fly me down to a meeting with a guy in Atlanta that had started up a broadcast network.

That network was not ABC, CBS nor NBC.

The guy was Ted Turner and his “network” was WTBS. 

There’s a good share of content in the EXPERIENCE blog posts about Turner and Time-Warner and my history of eventually working for Ted. 

What Ted did back 35 years ago is not unlike what Disney is doing today. 

Heck, Netflix and Facebook and Google… it’s just not P.C. to say “no,” but maybe it’s time to rattle the cages of the online Mecca-dom and challenge the now very staid model. 

Today’s Wall Street ran a front-page story about how Facebook has put together a team just to track down competitive social media startups from challenging Facebook’s social supremacy. 

The story highlights a new social startup called Houseparty. 

Facebook, in turn, has launched a sub brand to compete against Houseparty called Bonfire.

Facebook has also worked with Alphabet, Inc., Apple and Amazon is creating barriers to Houseparty securing feeder links. 

Wow… look at what the politically correct of the San Francisco Bay area have morphed into… wow… that Millennial management might want to contact their history professors to tell them a bit about what happened to a corporate giant that once wore the initials A-T-T. 

If one thinks what Disney is doing is a fluke, tell Alexa to shift your television over to TBS and check out the new original programming that is being added to the fall schedule.

I personally might not agree with each show’s viewpoint and perspective, but by damn, I will march down Wall Street and Madison Avenue in defense of the network’s right to be whoever they want to be… and cultivate its own culture of viewer loyalty.

Speaking of Madison Avenue… there’s another story that hit the media today that many of the large ad agencies might be in big trouble because they are padding the budgets and not really securing open bids for productions costs.

No surprise to me. 

I have no problem working with ad agencies.  As my psychiatrist friend told me, if the world were all sane, he would be unemployed. 

It’s not my corporate mission to make the ad agencies sane.

As hurricane season begins, watch how un-P.C. “digital ad agencies” will soon become.

I know, I know… “digital ad agencies” right now is where all the accounts are headed if they have not hired one yet as their agency-of-record.

The digital agencies deliver the “dashboards” of results. 

No longer do clients have to do those ridiculous pre-post campaign surveys and tracking studies even matter.

The digital agencies provide real time dashboards that present real time tables, graphs and charts. 

For entertainment, check out this website…

And please forgive the address length, it’s not my doing. 

One of my past clients that will go nameless shifted over a lot of the marketing budget to a digital shop based in Chicago.  That shop delivers daily interactive dashboard reports. 

The client’s CMO and marketing leadership rattle on and on and on about the increases in site visitation hits and time spent online and return visits and click-thru-pathways.  

Unfortunately, sales are not tracked on the dashboard. 

Unfortunately, the sales declines corporate-wide continue. 

There was an article in a recent issue of Wired Magazine about how wonderful Bed, Bath & Beyond was netting more online visitation and social media mentions. 
Today’s Wall Street Journal also reported that Bed, Bath & Beyond just announced more than 1,000 corporate layoffs and more store closures.

Wonder if they will name one of the hurricanes Digitas.  Its gender neutral and that’s very P.C.

This hurricane season, it’s not just the marketing and ad agencies that need disruption, but so do the corporate HR teams.

A good friend of mine was let go from an ad agency about five months ago.  When I see her, I always find myself humming Dr. King’s song, “free at last, free at last.”

I had lunch with her this past week.  She told me about how unresponsive she is finding the job posting websites. 

She went on to tell me how screening interviews are now all taking place online in which questions are posted by management teams and candidates have to respond with text replies.

(I am not making this up.)

My bet is that the H.R. teams have been taken over by the Millennials. 

My bet is that the H.R. teams stay very busy with a lot of jobs that net limited stay employees.

My bet is that the firms doing the hiring are facing some challenges right now.

Ever hear of the 7% rule? 

55% of communication is expressed in body language, 38% in the tone of voice and 7% in the actual words spoken … or in 2017 terms, text-sent.

When I work with top management in re-engineering and re-fueling their brands, they are often surprised when I shift the conversations over to H.R. 

But then I quickly ask them how can the brand becomes more emotionally engaging with a team that has been modeled by computer word screening. 

Come along with me and let’s welcome in the hurricanes this year.  Corporate America from Wall Street to Madison Avenue to the Silicon Valley to even Peachtree Street in the ATL need major cleaning out.

It’s time for the hurricane season to begin!