David droga

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To date, branding has been about setting consumer expectation. We use ads and customer experiences to create an expectation of what will happen when we use a product. With L’Oreal, our hair color is movie star beautiful. Purchasing Apple products makes us tech-forward. Insurance from Geico saves us 15%.

I call this approach benefit pounding. We recite and repeat the benefit and hope it sticks. It’s an age old branding trick that serves up an idea ad nauseam, hoping for a resonance. Benefit pounding for many brands has become context. I watched a Google insights (little i) YouTube video with David Droga yesterday and he smartly talked about context. He suggested we get to know the context consumers are bringing to their consumption of our marketing messages, before we start building. It’s good tradecraft. Context 101 dictates that marketers and branders deal with benefit pounding…and use it to their advantage. Sure we can hide our “pound” in a story, but consumers are conditioned for see through it. Obvert it, invert it. It’s good theater.

Proper brand design sets the benefit topography. It frees smart creative people to deliver benefits in more unexpected, context-breaking ways.

Peace.

 

 

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Who is the Mark Zuckerberg of retail?  Who is the David Droga of retail? (You never heard Mr. Droga ask the question “How big can we get before we suck?)  Is it Jeff Bezos? Where is the vision in retail?  Who is going to makeover Sears as the first national Spanish language seller of goods and services?

Radio Shack lost $120M last quarter. Sears, J.C. Penny, Best Buy are hemorrhaging or are under pressure. Penny’s brought in a visionary retail guy — from Apple. Off the shelf vision?  Didn’t work.  

All those marketing folk with their PowerPoints talking about “disruption” and “market discontinuities” aren’t making any money by changing retail, they are getting honorariums and speaking in front of pop-up tables topped with water cruets and note pads. The seminar circuit.

Where’s the vision?

Some kid is going to have an epiphany while in a college books store and it is going to lead to real idea.  That kid just might have the huevos to turn things upside down.  Perhaps a free retail channel powered by advertising. Or the opposite — a high cost, high touch, high value, all-in subscription approach.

This is one ripe category. And there are a few dollars at stake.

Peace.

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Omnicom and Publicis agreed over the weekend to merge.  Como se unexpected? The story even made front page of The New York Times. The spin was all about big data. More people, more devices, more messages. And the best way to reach all these things is through smart use of earned, owned and rented data.

Data companies are finding new and exciting ways to track people. And it’s only just beginning. Home thermostat apps can indicate when a person is at home, road side cameras can log when a license place passes a dinner, voice activation apps can capture when a body needs a sushi fix.

When I pitch Twitch Point Planning to marketers and their agents I explain the offer in three words: understand, map and manipulate.  Big data feeds the understand and map components. Capture and organize data.  But as David Droga rightly says in the article on the merger (last para.), someone has to do something smart with the data. (When everyone has the understand and map tools, data will just become a commodity.) And that’s the subtext not covered in the Times article. Ad agencies are best at creating the manipulative message. Not bad manipulation, but good. Important. Heartfelt and personal. Dare I say poetic.

I agree that marketers will do understand and map in-house. But the manipulation part, they can’t do well. For this, even for a one-on-one mobile phone ad, they need professionals. If you want to follow the money, this merger is about good old fashion creative, not chunking data. It bodes well for agencies of all size and stripe. Peace! 

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Where’s the thought leadership in digital publishing? 

Magazines on iPads and other to be developed mobile devices are a nascent commercial endeavor.  At no time before have we had an opportunity to thread together storytelling with text, pictures, video, authorship and curation as have today.  If you think ad agencies haven’t figured out the silo-ization of marketing commerce, what about magazines and newspapers?

Once magazines were glossy and delivered weekly or monthly.  Newspapers were matted on inexpensive newsprint and more likely a daily, immediate vehicle. Today, digitally, they’re the same animal. And they publish and update with a simple click.   

When it comes to the information architecture, screen layout, art direction, usability, bounce-ability, brutally honest copy editing and the integration of advertising, who is leading the way?  To whom do we turn as we try to systematize the new digital publishing business?  Mssrs. McGraw and Hill?  Mr. Sulzburger? Ms. Huffington? Mr. Zuckerberg? Ms. Bartz? Mr. Droga? Mr. Arrington?

When hiring, one of my favorite interview questions is “Who are your heroes?” Well, it will be very interesting to watch the heroes emerge in digital publishing as we move toward a multidimensional platform.  Do you have any nominees? Peace.

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