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Friday, December 01, 2006

Shelly Lazarus on the Future of Advertising & Marketing

Photo: Sebastian Mlynarski
In a previous post, Upcoming NYC Event - 11/3/06, I highlighted Columbia Business School's 2nd Annual Marketing Conference. Titled "From Tuning In to Plugging In: The Future of Integrated Marketing", it offered many thought-provoking perspectives on the change afoot in marketing. I will share those here and in separate posts.

Shelly Lazarus, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, has been in the news lately. Most recently, Advertising Age interviewed her in the 11/20/06 issue in an article titled " Lazarus wants media back at the table" by Matthew Creamer. The article discusses the need to redefine advertising, and bring together ALL of the creative disciplines [interactive, traditional advertising and public relations] at the ONSET of any project to start the thought process jointly.

At Columbia, Lazarus spoke about the future of advertising and marketing given the rise of digital technology including blogs, social networks, youtube.com, etc... Consumer-driven [or generated] media such as these create buzz around content which can drive viewership or awareness in a far more powerful manner that traditional advertising and marketing. It needs to be included in the communications mix.

The rapid pace of change has created confusion. Nevertheless, it is the new reality for advertising and marketing. Consumers are now in control and they choose whether to avoid mass market messages or not. If a brand engages them, then consumers will interact with it. The result is that commercial communications can be both more relevant and measurable.

We are in an exploding multi-media world far different from traditional advertising approaches! Just look at the breadth and scope of what has been created [note: examples are Ogilvy & Mather creations]: AMEX has created webisodes with Jerry Seinfeld as Superman, Cisco readily offers training webinars; IBM has developed a virtual space where one can walk up for information; DHL has a video game approach for shipping schedules; and Dove had set the stage for a real beauty referendum via the Campaign for Real Beauty. This is powerful!

These are brands built through a wide range of influences that include mass, but not limited to mass market advertising. All of the different forms have been woven together to amplify and strengthen the message. Most critical is identifying 'moments of truth' to focus all creative efforts on [to develop buzz and word-0f- mouth that connect]. We are evolving toward 360 degree brand stewardship.

Print is down. Newspaper readership has decreased 3% over last 6 months. People, though, are still accessing information. So, how are they doing that? Through different digitally based means. Essentially, it is the distribution of the content that has changed and content providers need to adapt. This indicates a need to shift spending to the internet and to opportunities [e.g., event sponsorship] that TOUCH customers. [If you'd like to read about someone who has come up with an extremely creative and successful way to marry print and digital content, consider this article Hyper-Local Hero by Chuck Salter. It's fascinating!]

Brand impressions built on a cultural connection are extremely powerful. For example, Motorola China rather than advertise in newspapers or on TV relied on 2 popular lip-synching college students. The result: 60 million downloads of the video and phones sales up 250%. This Business Week Online 5/15/06 article titled China's Online Ad Boom by Dexter Roberts provides more information on the campaign and another perspective of the shift from print to digital:

"When Motorola Inc. (MOT ) launched a new line of youth-oriented mobile phones in China last year, it didn't bother advertising on TV or in newspapers and magazines. Instead, it hired a pair of college students from the southern city of Guangzhou who had become an Internet sensation with their homemade videos of themselves lip-synching Western pop songs. Dubbing the duo the "Back Dorm Boyz," the phonemaker built an online marketing campaign in which the two lip-synched "As Long as You Love Me" by the Backstreet Boys."

Think of how we as consumers use the internet to search. Think about how American Idol has become interactive TV by encouraging viewers to use IM. Think of the new ways in which advertisers reach audiences [e.g., a New Yorker issue with only Target ads]. Think how many digital tools exist empowering consumers to be self-guided in their approach to consumerism and to vocally express delight OR dismay.

New technology has created a consumer paradigm shift from 2 perspectives: utility and entertainment are converging [think cell phones/PDAs/ cameras/MP3 players, etc.] and the consumer controls the technology, providing him/her with a multitude of alternatives at his/her convenience. It is no longer possible to command and control the consumer.

Digital technology has democratized creativity. We can all be creative, be seen, express our opinions, share perspectives/videos/images/etc... That means a lots of stuff, noise, and competition for attention. So, how does one market in such a cluttered world? Through creative expression and if it connects, it will so entice and seduce the consumer that s/he can't say no, becoming engaged of his/her own free will.

The two following successful examples have been so effective that consumers have chosen to re-experience the messages over and over again. They are asking how to view them and experience them! This is successful advertising and marketing.

Ellen DeGeneres for AmEx. My life: work with animals.

The second example, Kodak/Gallery I wasn't able to find a link to. However, I did find this blog posting from Duncan's TV Adland titled Kodak Gallery Tour Back On. It gives you a taste....

An excellent example that goes beyond a cultural connection, rather tapping into a cultural nerve is the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty which developed out of a profound global insight. Women around the world were asked "do you think you're beautiful?" and only 2% said yes. Dove decided to start a debate on the subject via billboards, asking questions. Consumers were encouraged to go to the website to respond and talk about real beauty. In addition to engaging consumers in a dialog via the website, Dove has benefitted from massive [i.e., 2.3 million downloads in 10 days] attention from a youtube.com video [evolution] and created a conversation more about beauty than soap, and culture rather than consumerism. Dove is making a difference. [Note: I will cover Dove in more detail in a separate post.] Per the Ad Age article above, so much of the Dove success "has been driven by the public relations piece. That kind of thinking needs to be present at the start when you're thinking about communications for a brand."

Our challenge as marketers, then, is to think more broadly and deeply to build a meaningful exchange, and a great brand experience for and with the consumer. Brand building is broader than advertising. Everything about the brand has to be consistent and integrated to deliver an exceptional consumer experience.

From a flooring retail perspective, be sure to constantly audit every point of contact with your consumers. View your world from your consumers' perspective. Ask them how they feel about you, your store, your experience. Listen carefully, probe, watch and respond accordingly. Think about how to involve your consumers in developing your brand and reputation. Never has there been a time where so much is possible given passion, vision and a deep desire to be relevant to the consumer.

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