MCI

You are currently browsing articles tagged MCI.

The Chess Team

Back a couple of decades ago I wrote a memo to the president of FCB/Lever Katz, an ad agency in NYC, during a new business pitch for the consumer portion of the AT&T account, expected to be a $200 million dollar account.  There had been a reorganization of AT&T and the head of the business business unit was moved to oversee consumer, a promotion of sorts. He was a marketing rock star. AT&T at the time was the clear market leader in telecommunications, but MCI was a smart, pesky and growing adversary. He business unit head was MCI’s nightmare. He was also very cagey. He would invent market-changing business “plays” for his ad agency to execute as ads by MCI, and confront his product marketing team with them to keep them on their toes.

The memo I drafted while at FCB/Leber Katz, outlined this gentleman’s modus operandi, his paranoia and his gunslinger mentality.

After the new business pitch was won by FCB/Leber Katz, it was reported that all competing agencies has come up with great ideas, taglines, cinema and media plans. FCB/Leber Katz, however, won the business, it was reported, because of a spectacular piece of music scored by a creative director (eventually recorded by Whitney Huston) and a strategic group called the “Chess Team,” a planning group whose sole responsibility was to predict future MCI, Sprint and other competitors moves.

The power of the memo.

Peace.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

The hardest part of quantifying the success of brand strategy (1 claim, 3 proof planks) is the act of tying measurement of “care-abouts” and “good-ats” (the proofs upon which brand value are built) to sales. I call this pursuit: Return On Strategy (ROS).

Back in the 90s while working on AT&T Business Communications Services, fighting off MCI (a smart competitors buying share with discount prices), we knew that messaging the right combination of “competitive price” (within 10% of MCI), “network reliability” and “innovative telecom tools” (the 3 planks) would result in added business users. If market perceptions of this trifecta were offset by MCI, they started winning new account “adds.” The trick was meting out the right combination of planks with our media budget.  We were using quantitative research to gauge attitudes and tie them to actions/sales.

This is the way one does ROS.  But numbers about attitudes can lie. Nate Cohn, The New York Times version of Nate Silver, mea culpa’ed today about Donald Trump. He spent a 1,000 words explaining why the numbers lied and Trump beat the odds.

I often write about “proof” in my blog posts. And about “deeds” — the actual activities that feed the care-about and good-ats. This line of thinking and study is where I need to spend more time. As was the case in Mr. Cohn’s explanation of Mr. Trump, attitudes and numbers can mislead. So I’m off to look beyond attitudes and on to awareness of deeds tied to sales. Should be interesting.

Peace.                         

 

 

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

When I first went to work in the advertising business on the AT&T account, word was, the huge company didn’t know how to market. Prior to the breakup of the Baby Bells, AT&T was one big monopoly. You either used their service or you didn’t. Deregulation came along and competitors (MCI, Sprint) raised their heads. The initial spanking AT&T took was quite a wake-up call.

Then I moved into the healthcare industry. Word was, they didn’t know how to market either. Healthcare systems and big hospitals were physician-driven, physician run. They knew nothing about brand as a marketing principles, though they did understand the power of brand. Participating in an era when large healthcare companies began acting more like consumer packaged goods companies was exciting. And the fur flew.

One of the last bastions of poor marketing these days is the area of education. That is changing somewhat thanks to the introduction of technology products, services and devices to the class room. Education orgs. suffer from a similar fate of the healthcare industry; they tend to be run by academicians and teachers. Not a marketing hot bed for sure. Thumb through the pages of education newspapers or teaching and learning magazines and the level of creativity and salesmanship you see is juvenile. That said, education company Amplify is beginning to do some nice work. So hopefully .edu is pointing in the right direction. Oops, and there’s the Bell.

Peace.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

And shush its mass communications. At least until it knows the extent of the problems.  They can’t offer heartfelt apologies and tell us they’re working “day and night” to fix things and each day break a new recall story.  Yesterday, after weeks of apologies (months if you include the Prius floor mats) Corolla came under suspicion.

Toyota needs to go dark with its advertising and put that money into data mining, engineering analysis, added shifts and most importantly finding and identifying “proof” they’re doing something.  Proof is good. Talk is bad.  Proof might be a visual image or story consumers can relate to. Something that one consumer can tell another proving Toyota is doing something dramatic.  (Repairing “up to 50,000 cars a day” is in the neighborhood, but  no Rosie the Riveter.)

When AT&T was about to get its lunch eaten by MCI because the government legislated 800 numbers could be moved from carrier to carrier, Joe Nacchio emptied AT&T’s corporate building putting anyone in a suit or skirt on the street calling on customers. AT&T didn’t lose share.  He went all Rose the Riveter on them.

Newspaper apology notes? That’s grade school PR stuff.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,