gareth kay

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Yahoo has once again gone public with its strategy; this time Marissa Mayer announced it at a presentation to advertising buyers in NYC.  (I once accused Yahoo of having a lazy eye and must admit my view hasn’t changed too much, but I still believe Ms. Mayer is the right person for the job.  In a previous blog post I noted she may be on to something with a the germ of a brand idea, but yesterday may have dissuaded me.)

Yahoo needs to step up its original content game. And yesterday she acknowledged “premium content” as one leg of the stool.  The other two legs being: innovation and performance. I’ve heard innovation before – What technology company doesn’t use that one? –but performance is new. But you can also drive a truck through it.  At least she didn’t hang a brand plank on advertising. Last time out she talked about mobile, but I guess that falls under innovation. 

Every house has a foundation.  Every company needs a business strategy and a brand strategy. What I’ve found out in my years as a planner and consultant is that creating the brand strategy first is the best way to build a business strategy — because it’s built on customers and endemic business value.  There I’ve said it. Come get me Harvard Business Schoolies.

Yahoo is making money. Diddling around with mobile.  Promoting Ms. Mayers in lovely ways. But it still does not have a brand strategy. Ask Gareth Kay. Search this site for all posts on Yahoo if you would like to see the history of missteps.  Yahoo is pulling its nose up (aviation metaphor)…it just needs more time and a tight brand plan. Peace.

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It’s Advertising Week In NYC and Aol has launched a campaign (Product? Movement?) it hopes will make it more relevant.  I love their idea to have an idea. 

Aol’s declaimed strategy is to become a content leader on the web. Easily said. This campaign suggests they are serious.  Loosely called ProjectDevil, it is based on an insight that one-third of the web is advertising.  And poorly curated advertising at that.   A print ad in The New York Times today shows a side-by-side comparison of an old school website and a new school website.  Old is covered in ads and links, while new is elegant, clean and surprisingly magazine like.

If you go to the ProjectDevil site, which has been nicely cobbled together and targeted to an advertising audience, you get the sense that Aol is spending money, currying favor with smart digital people (a bit of a pander) and focusing on the presentation of content.  Compared to Yahoo, its closest competitor in the “content strategy’ strategy, this is a refreshing first down.

The “one third insight’ is a strong one.  The content strategy is a strong one.  If Aol gets better content and innovates with the delivery of that content, next year at Advertising Week you’ll see a very different company. Peace.

PS.  Last year I was walking around Advertising Week talking to Yahoo people who were oblivious to the awful Ogilvy work passing them by on the sides of buses.  Within weeks the account had moved to Goody Silverstein and Gareth Kay.  Yahoo is with a good shop, but their idea is still percolating.

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Joel Ewanich landed at GM with guns blazing.  GM’s new marketing head left a similar job at Nissan without having been there long enough to find the coffee machine. And his first act at General Motors was to replace Campbell-Ewald and Publicis with Goodby Silversten and Partners as Chevrolet’s agency of record.

Many of the snarks are saying “Why not hold a review?” and “He never even met with the old agencies” but the reality is Mr. Ewanich knows Goodby from their time together on Hyundai, be wanted Goodby, and he is in a hurry.  If he wants Goodby, why pretend to put the business up for review and waste everbody’s time and money?  Whether this decision turns out to change the market share for Chevrolet is still to be played out but I’ll give Mr. Ewanich credit for strong leadership. He didn’t vacillate publically or do the politically correct thing — he made a decision and is getting to work.

Goodby is a great shop. It knows consumers.  Gareth Kay was the planning leader at Modernista when Hummer was humming.  I don’t know Mr. Ewanich from Adam and though the Hyundai advertising may not have been crazy memorable, it absolutely delivered solid marketing ideas and results.  This move makes sense to me. But as fast as it was done, it can be undone. We learned that already.  Peace!

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I came across a great 2010 predictions article this morning, though I had to find it by reading John Durham’s wall on Facebook (John is a principle of Catalyst:SF a haps dig. co.), which pointed me to a IAB SmarBriefs piece, that directed me to, of all places, Adweek. Can you say circuitous? Here’s the piece.

Anyway, it made me think about doing a couple of predictions of my own.  (RIP William Safire…I loved your yearly predictions with the multiple choice answers.)

 Here are my predicktions:

  •  The Dachis Group will be purchased by a big consulting company. Capgemini perhaps.
  • Razorfish will snap out of its post-Microsoft “Where are my stock options?” malaise and see mad growth fueled by traditional brand business.
  • Iran will continue to revolt and the Iranian gov’t will buy Twitter.
  • Pete Doherty will clean up, become a father and get hit by a bus of tourists.
  • Gareth Kay’s name will make it to Goodby’s stationery.
  • BBH will lose the Cadillac pitch because of a dream someone at GM had.
  • The economy will show signs of real life by the time the leaves pop.
  • Brand strategy will make a comeback following tactics-palooza.  
  • A teenage with a vowel in her name will emerge as the next Mark Zuckerberg.

 Peace it up!

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