john dooner

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When a latent adult working at McCann-Erickson NY, I was lieutenant in charge of all the AT&T data products. These were the data lines, the network software services and whatever other B2B things that were not particularly sexy — during a very competitive time when phone companies were spending like drunken sailors. My services eventually became the internet so I had a grand time. And managed a great team.

Anyway, I had this idea that if ever the agency president (John Dooner) was asked to go to a meeting in Bridgewater NJ on some of these non-big sexy products (sorry Bartolo) he would need a primer. So the Fact Book was born. The idea was to put all the relevant facts into a binder that could be read in 60 minutes (on the way to the client), giving the reader a foundation of knowledge, e.g., overall market universe, market share, competition, product explanations, YOY sales trends and futures. I stole the idea from Marian Harper, a McCann and IPG CEO, from back in the 60s.

At What’s The Idea?, my current business, a key deliverable is the marketing plan. The first step in its development is a document called the 24 Question. It is much like the Fact Book. Anyone, at any company, in the marketing department should know the answers to the 24 Questions. They are the financial and marketing fundamentals of business. If you don’t know the answers as a marketer, you are a danger to the company.

If you are interested in seeing these questions, email me Steve@WhatsTheIdea.com. And we’ll talk.

Peace.

PS. Go see Steve Jobs.

 

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I think it was UnderCurrent or Nobl (Bud Cadell’s new consulting effort) who came up with the notion of an operating system for a company. It may be someone else…I need to dump the brain cache. Anyway the metaphor of an operating system for a company or brand is similar to language I use in brand planning “an organizing principle.”

One of the most overused words in business and brand consulting is “culture.” Just as companies that talk the most about ROI are the one’s who don’t have it, companies that speak of culture most often don’t have it. Back in the 90s John Dooner spoke of culture at McCann-Erickson. When I finally got through the blather about “entrepreneurship,” someone finally described it to me as “Do what you want until someone says stop.” Culture needs a motivation. It needs articulation. And it needs behavioral tenets. Culture is like the mama on your shoulder who tells you how to behave and what to do at any given moment.

Brand Culture may be a good way of repackaging what I do as a brand consultant. Brand strategy at What’s The Idea? is defined as 1 idea, 3 proof planks. (I find a motivation or claim — one that customers want most and that the brand does best – and arrange that atop 3 behaviors that are business winning.) Not a particularly sexy or in-demand sale, it works.  Yet it doesn’t often get past the c-suite.  I’m thinking of packaging it as a brand culture exploratory; it may clear up the misunderstandings around the words brand and culture. Operating system ain’t bad, but it’s a little bit like organizing principle.

Stay very tuned. Peace.

 

 

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Keshin…To Go.

Eric Keshin was groomed to take over McCann-Erickson.  A rising star at the company for years, he was one of John Dooner’s chosen ones. Eric ran the AT&T Business business while in his twenties and the agency powers knew enough to step out of his way. He was a quite a force of nature.

Eric built his career being decisive — never wavering when asked a question. He loved McCann…bled “Truth Well Told” blue.  And the haters who never worked there or worked in the creative dept. and could find a way to criticize a child’s finger painting, well, they will have their say. Go ahead, snark away– but McCann rocked the ad world for a number of years and Eric Keshole (as I affectionately used to call him on the softball field) was the orchestra’s key instrument.

“He’s big, he’s blue…”

I was an account manager under Eric on AT&T and Lucent. He hired me. He fired me. Both deserved. But I left McCann a much better ad guy and marketer — one who knew how to analyze business problems, when to conduct research, how to read consumers and truly listen to the market.  I also learned how to question authority and clients. And I learned to love my brands… at McCann.

If this seems almost obituary-like, it’s not. Eric will land somewhere. Just as Jim Heekin did. And when he lands it will be with a thud. A thud of money. Eric has changed markets with his decisions. Eric is no problem solver – anyone can do that. He’s an opportunity creator. I know it killed him to leave McCann. As his power waned, so waned IPG’s stock. He’s no Frenchman and though WPP would be smart to grab him, smart money is on Miles Nadal and MDC Partners.  And the gloves will be off. Peace! Or not.

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