It was nice to see some strong branding work from McDonald's (MCD), Always (PG) and Microsoft in the Super Bowl. In the case of McDonald's and Microsoft (MSFT) my reaction was more of a "where have you been old friend," and oh "that is what you stand for."
In a world where consumers are bombarded by media, games, apps, experiences, work, family and other time demands, brand advertising is more critical than ever. It is the way we quickly understand if a brand is worthy of our time, attention and dollars.
No, you cannot substantiate it, but boy, you sure do know when a brand is lost and now found.
If you have been living under a cultural rock, here are the three commercials (the cure is a subscription to Entertainment Weekly and the Skimm).
Today, McDonald's (MCD) replaced CEO Don Thompson with incoming CEO Steve Easterbrook. McDonald's has been on a brand slide. They seemed to have gotten lost somewhere at the intersection of quality, value, menu innovation, flavor, and health.
Can McDonald's be saved? Sure. Others are prospering in fast food. Think Chipotle (CMG) for a winner in health and quality, and Wendy's (WEN) for menu innovation and taste. Plus, watch the Shake Shack (SHAK) IPO scheduled for tomorrow to see excitement in the burger business.
Then I came across this picture, and you start to think that maybe a McDonald's turnaround is possible:
An immediate prescription for success leaps off the page:
Simplify the menu to your roots, burgers
Prepare a burger that is flavorful
Use better beef (farm raised, antibiotic free)
Improve appetite appeal
Serve the food in a more contemporary way
The answer might lie in dividing the marketing program into three components that would serve as the foundation for an annual menu development and communications plan. Something like:
Better Burgers (to capitalize on the trend toward gourmet burgers and return to the foundation of the business)
McDonald's has a long road ahead starting with clean bathrooms and ending with appetizing restaurants and menu innovation. I would bet an 18 to 24-month road.
Smart Targeting: Men that have trouble getting life insurance due to some medical issue. Well defined and different from the rest of the industry. They don't promise the lowest price, just the best pricing for guys with real problems.
Great Radio: I can't wait to hear what is going on with Big Lou today. Is he now up to wife number 3?
Granted it is not for everyone, but what guy wouldn't like.... "Did you marry a trophy wife who wants a life insurance policy three times bigger than your last two mistakes? If so, we have insurance to meet all your needs. Call Big Lou to set up an appointment".
I like what is going on with CVS (now CVSHealth). They are making some smart bold marketing moves (in addition to the strategic use of big data driven coupons and promotions etc.) in a category filled with larger and smaller well run competitors such as Walgreens.
Here's my take:
Brands require some type of consumer behavior related catalyst to grow.
The bigger the trend, the more urgency is felt by a slice of the population to take some type of corrective action in order to get with the program.
The quest for better health is one of these catalysts interpreted by consumers as, I'm aging physically and I want to slow it down as best I can.
(In this case it is also the category benefit, so smart move to try and own it before someone else does.)
This sparked a wave of related trends such as wanting to know the source of our food, coconut water, watermelon water, water that is water and many others.
Seth Godin recently had a post on finding your peer group. According to Seth "it's the group of people who will push you in exchange for being pushed, who will raise the bar and tell you the truth. They are not in your business, but they're in your shoes. Finding a peer group and working with them, intentionally and on a regular schedule, might be the single biggest boost your career can experience."
Fast forward to Affiliate Summit East 2014, the sold out conference that attracted over 4,000 affiliate and performance marketers in NYC earlier this week. Think of it as a conference with 4,000 entrepreneurs, each promoting an on-line business that has similarities to your own, but that does not directly compete with what you do.
Summit had a perfect mix of large group presentations, small round-tables and networking opportunities. Even better, everyone I met was an actual practitioner instead of the usual crowd of marketers who only know how to manage other marketers who then hire people to actually implement and measure something. Spending even 5 minutes with experts like Sugar Rae on SEO, John Chow on blogging, Vinny O'hare for everything and Jeremy Palmer on Wordpress was worth the price of admission.
Affiliate Summit is also a barameter for the increasing complexity of the marketing industry. Every session demonstrated the need to be a subject matter expert in order to extract the full value out of the marketing channel. The panel on Facebook moderated by Nathan Smith from Zynali Marketing Solutions and that featured Ashley Coombe from Prosperent and Shannon Vogel from The Be Scene, drove home the point. They described the minute by minute changes going on at Facebook, with some moments of "I didn't know you could do that" discovery among the panelists themselves.
Kudos to Missy Ward and Shawn Collins for staging yet another outstanding event.
Here's a quick summary of my first hand packaged goods advertising experience wtih Facebook.
Post intersting content, try and attract organic "likes." Fail after Facebook stops sharing brand posts.
Plan a Facebook media buy only to be told by your media agency that all the precise targeting offered by Facebook is too expensive, and that you should target everyone since the "waste" is cheaper than precision.
Buy ads on Facebook to generate more likes because it feels good when the number goes up. Watch likes soar only to see content and contests fail to engage friends of friends.
Invest in technology to track it all only to see the most inane posts engage current fans. Think to yourself that you can reach more people with one airing of one well placed TV commercial with signficantly less effort while generating more impact.
Fast forward to today's New York Times which describes what happens when you work with Facebook in what they call a "publishing garage." For home gamers that's another name for a brainstorming session with agency, clients and Facebook personnel.
The client expects Facebook to provide advanced data analytics. Facebook suggests that targeting with this level of precision is too expensive, target everyone, but use ads that breakthrough, referred to as "thumbstopping" ideas. Plus use visuals. One day of brainstorming yields the "thumbstopping" visual of a grandfather pulling a quarter out of an ear. Nothing to do with fish oil, but will stop some thumbs.
They run the "grandfather" image and it gets 18,000 likes and nearly 600 comments. Other more traditional images such as "ice and snow" which speaks to the arctic root of fish oil falls flat.
- campaign runs for 8 weeks reaching 18.1 million women aged 45 and up (56% of available target audience) - ROI - 200 (campaign earned $2 for every $1 spent on media). Data was compiled by Datalogix. (not sure how they know, but assume the Datalogix black box is accurate) - The brand gained 1 point in share from all marketing efforts, yielding a 9.2 share (also did TV, sampling) - ROI better than TV (although TV was running at the same time) - TV continues to get majority of budget, but Facebook earns spot in the marketing mix for product - Facebook earns a global role in Reckitt Benckiser advertising plans - Ultimately, the MegaRed client decides to run video on Facebook
What The Study Proved:
-Facebook reaches lots of people and if you can reaach them with something that they will notice, anything, it can impact results. - Think of Facebook more like TV than a targeted medium (a conclusion that serves Facebook well since it maximizes the opportunity to draw ad dollars from the biggest pool). - Lean toward interesting emotional visuals instead of advertising that delivers on the brand promise (pains me to say this since it goes against everything I've learned in advertising). One "grandfather" ad is worth ten benefit driven ads.
What the "Rogue Marketer" Would Have Done Differently:
- The power of Facebook is the data. Reckitt Benckiser should have went with their first instinct. - Using a small sample of targeted consumers, Reckitt could have determined the actual change in buying behavior among current, marginal and consumers that buy from competitors. With this data in hand they could project the impact on the general population without paying the premiums in the long term.
I could hypothesize about why Reckitt didn't go with the "rogue marketer" approach, but that would be too cynical. Instead, I"ll just say that when selling fish oil, just know what you are getting. Also know that as far as Facebook packaged goods advertising goes, it should at minimum be considered as a way to extend the reach of the television buy using video.
A Facebook home run for packaged goods (and other) advertisers are video ads, that have something to do with the brand, that are so engaging that people take note and share.
A recent rant on Craig's list by a popular New York City restaurant illustrates the dramatic way consumer's are changing.
The story starts with a restaurant that noticed an increase in customer complaints on review sites related to slow service and long table wait times. A consulting group was called in that quickly blamed the wait and kitchen staff for slow service and inefficiency.
Luckily, the same restaurant had some video surveillance footage from July 2004. They then compared the footage to digital video taken in July 2014. The date selected for comparison had roughly the same number of customers (45) to keep comparisons simple.
Behavior of Restaurant Customers in 2004:
Customers walk in and are seated with menus. 3 request a new table.
Customers order in 8 minutes.
Appetizers are served in 6 minutes.
Waiters are attentive and professional.
Customers leave 5 minutes after receiving check.
Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Behavior of Restaurant Customers in 2014:
18 of 45 customers request new table.
Phones come out before menus are opened.
7 of 45 customers showed waiters something on phone waisting 5 minutes of waiters time (asked about WiFi service in restaurant)
Waiters visited table, but customers had not opened menu yet, busy with phones
Waiters return a second time asking for order, customers ask for more time.
Time to order: 21 minutes
Food starts to be delivered in 6 minutes, same as 2004
Customers spend 3 minutes taking pics of food
14 of 45 customers take pics of food and each other
9 of 45 customers need food reheated, since it gets cold during pic taking
Customers get busy with phones after eating
20 minutes pass before check is requested when compared to 2004
Once check is delivered it takes 15 minutes longer for them to pay and leave due to focus on phones
My family is mostly made up of people that had no choice.
For the most part they are familiar to me or at least I know who they are. Some of us share a family cell phone plan from Verizon which promises "More Everything" but in reality always costs more and doesn't deliver everything.