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A number of years ago, while with McCann-Erickson, I was on the new business team that pitched and won the worldwide Motorola account – at the time one of the world’s premier technology corporations. Someone smart upstairs decided it would be a good idea to put a global research project in play to tout the scale and utility of McCann’s global network. I wasn’t the developer of the research questionnaire, fielded by 10 plus offices around the globe, but the data was given to me to interpret. A tactic in search of an insight.

My insight, which we embedded into the presentation in an uneven way, was that the world was made up of 3 different segments of wireless adoption. All based on teledensity – the quantification of communications devices per person.
The creative was great, (we used a Rolling Stones song as an idea bed), there was no time left for the media portion of the presentation (common in new business at the time) and the chemistry was lovely. No one ever came out and said the segmentation insight was the deal-breaker, but all creative being equal-ish (and it never is), I’m pretty sure the Moto team from Atlanta felt a marketing depth to our pitch others lacked.

A tactic in search of an insight can work. Can be worth millions.



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Google Brand.

Ya gotta love Google.  These guys get branding.  (That’s why they use BBH for advertising, projects and counsel.) I’ve been blogging about the Google brand strategy — first articulated by Sergei Brin — for years.  Their clam is “The world’s information in one click.”  Today, even Motorola CEO Dennis Woodside (Moto is a Google subsidiary), was singing off the same hymn sheet.  Said Mr. Woodside in the NYT “Google’s mission is to organize all the world’s information and make it universally accessible.”   He continued “For Motorola, one of the things we’re trying to do is create a very high-quality mobile Internet experience over time for hundreds of millions of peoples.”  That’s a tight brand strategy. And scalable. Create a claim and productize the proof.

Granted, self-driving cars, one of Google’s pet projects, are not proof of the world’s information in one click.  But do they facilitate the claim? You can’t search while driving. Hee hee. Google has Labs (hey Ben Malbon) and dabbles in many things, so we can’t say for sure that it will make money the same way 100 years out, but for now they understand strategy, what people want, and what they are good at.

One thought though…right now Google searches for websites. That’s where searches resolve. But some of the cooler things these days shooting over the web are not websites — they are apps, messages, pics and vids. That’s something worth thinking about. Peace.  

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Google is advertising now.  On TV, in The New York Times.  Using BBH. On the Super Bowl.  Hmm….this advertising stuff must work.  Oh yeah, that’s where most of their money comes from.  Money they will soon be throwing into a dark hole known as the hardware business (Motorola purchase).  Hopefully, the hole won’t be too deep so it can learn, correct and prosper.

I often write “Campaigns come and go, a powerful brand idea is indelible,” which makes people think I don’t like campaigns. I do.  Campaigns are organizing principles.  Google, a company that has made bazillions on a search algorithm that is an organizing principle, has finally come off its slightly elevated soap box and decided to advertise.  But it’s relatively new to the practice. Luckily, it has the aforementioned ad agency BBH to guide it.

The TV is emotional and beautiful.  The print is whimsical, fun and smart.  I’m not feeling a campaign idea as yet and, frankly, that’s quite fine.  This is new territory for Google. And for BBH and its labs. There will be some reinvention going on here no doubt. And one day (before trivestiture) Google will become a top 10 advertising spender.  Zero to 60 in…  Peace!

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Research in Motion (RIM) headquartered in Ottawa, Canadia (as my son calls it), is playing catch-up. I don’t want to say it is floundering because it had good sales last quarter overseas, but if I were to ask you to close your eyes and said the word “Blackberry,” the picture that would come to mind behind those eyelids would be a black, short qwerty keyboard below a screen filled with email headers.

The Blackberry is a great device that does one thing well but it’s awful for web surfing.  Slow, slow, slower, slow. And who can read .025 size type…so you know where to zoom. The Playbook is a me-too tablet and the company just seems rudderless.  If I read articles about RIM’s business strategy that sounded focused I’d feel better, but I don’t.  Today there was an article saying the company is relying on carriers and IT depts. to keep growth alive.

I don’t want to go all RIP RIM, but there needs to be some leadership and focus on the future here. Motorola did it. HP is doing it. Nokia is juggling, cutting, partnering with Microsoft and may have a neat bottom-feeding strategy.  RIM, even with its strong user base, seems to be playing the harvest rather than the growth game. It is spending too much time looking in the rear and side view mirrors and forgetting to look beyond the dashboard.  The last 18 months have been a bitch.  The next 18 months will tell the complete story. Peace.

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Slide 4 in Mary Meekers’s Morgan Stanley presentation entitled “Internet Trends 2010” shows the pace of mobile internet adoption.  It compares iPhone/iTouch to that of  AOL’s desktop, Netscape desktop and NTT docomo iMode; laying out growth by users, by quarter from launch.

iPhone’s Internet access tipped 86 million users in its 11th quarter – less than 3 years.  Let’s just say the others never came close to coming close. (Check out the chart on slide 4.) Smartphone growth is hockey sticking. Motorola is starting to get it. HP bought Palm and should buy some corporate share.  Blackberry is too big and too rich to fail, even though they’re getting a little paunchy around the middle. And we haven’t even started to talk about the software guys Google (after its trivestiture), Microsoft (drawing a blank) and carrier switch provider Alcatel-Lucent.

Ladies and germs, smartphones are the future of computing, commerce and community. They will dock next to monitors and keyboards, but they are the device.  Think about the iPhone4’s new videoconference app. Wait for fingerprint apps, and galvanic skin response apps, sobriety apps….   Cool times, these.  Marketers, put on your thinking apps (I mean caps), innovation awaits! Peace!

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Worldwide Pricing.

Last week I posted about a concept called worldwide inventory which suggested, king of search, Google will catalog, index and make searchable most things for sale.  When people or companies have things for sale and other people or companies are shopping for those things only time and distance keep them apart.  If Google removes these obstacles search takes on a new dimension – a breakthrough business dimension.  The technology hiccup lies in the inability of inventory data to be captured, a problem I suggested might be solved by barcodes.  Is this a business opportunity for Motorola (Symbol Technologies) or PayPal?

Taking a closer look at worldwide inventory one realizes that worldwide pricing is the real key. As mentioned last week, an US$11,000 hip replacement in Mexico city (including airfare) for someone without insurance is compelling because of the price – so, this next generation of commercial search needs a database component that allows search by price.  Once the world’s products are inventoried and priced, the web will find serious monetization.   And, oh, there will be an app for that. Peace!

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Love is not a branding idea. Sorry Blackberry. You may be on to something with the notion that “like is mediocre” or “like is watered down love” as a campaign idea, but you’re never going to build up the brand tying it to the word love. So be smart(phone) and shut it down; get out while you can. Beatles song or not.

The strongest brand in the world today, Coke, would never have made it this far had Wieden and Kennedy been at the helm early on making ads about “happiness.”  Coke is a mature brand with some unique issues, I understand, and people know it Is a cola and Does refresh (Is-Does), yet as nice as the “happiness” ads are, and they’re good ad-craft, happiness is a second generation benefit. As is “love” for Blackberry. Fah, fah, fah fail.

The smart phone category is getting to be a real mess. Though I applaud Blackberry for its attempt at brand discipline and some good may, indeed, come of it — love ain’t it.

The Motorola “Cliq” has an idea. Or, it is the MotoBlur? Either way their idea is tied to the Does benefit of being “social.” The phone was built to social network (verb). The campaign line “smart gets social” works. If the Moto Cliq can continue to open a gap between itself and competitors in offering the ability to integrate all social networking apps with grace and ease, it will win some serious share. It will have an idea I can love.

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Buying a cell phone is not easy.  It used to was (sic.) Not long ago they all pretty much did the same thing. You put one in your hand and liked the heft, the form, the look. There were Ericssons, Nokias and Motos. But now there are at least 10 hardware providers to choose from and so many models, shapes, sizes and features it makes your head spin. Even the kids can’t agree. They all have different phones. Where’s the Marlboro? The PBR? The Ed Hardy of phones?

And talk about feature creep? I can see taking pictures. That’s important, so long as you can zoom, which is a feature I can never seem to find. Change the resolution and the whiteness I can do, zoom I can’t.  Little videos are cool but I’m not likely to use them. I just want to upload my Reverend Al ringtone (from his 2004 convention speech,) text and be able to hear in a full duplex mode (still not available.)

Since no brand or manufacturer has really risen to the top and since no one model has captured the imagination of the public, the feature creep will continue, phones will get more expensive and the only winner will be Geico, who will be smart enough to come up with a consumer-friendly, cost-effective insurance plan for all the “losers.” I lost one to the washing machine recently. Peace!

PS. I’m buying the LG Chocolate 3 tonight.

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Motorola has always been a perplexing brand. Like Lucent and AT&T before it, Motorola has operated for decades in the telecommunications hardware business. Makers of big network phone switches, tiny alphanumeric pagers and cell phones, Moto became most famous for its “gotta have” Razr phone. 


Moto with frequent highs and lows in all of its hardware businesses has for some reason not been able to consistently fire on all cylinders. Just when they’ve had a strong run, they go soft. And the Street blames management. Carl Icahn has an answer, and it’s a good one. Split off the mobile devices company (read cell phones) and create two separate businesses.   


Though Nokia and Apple will be strong competitors of the handset business, and I’m sure there’s a Chinese company on the horizon, Moto has the people, pride and market power to go back on top. With renewed focus and leadership we may all be speaking into Moto phones in a year or two. (And please don’t listen to any branding companies and change the name of the business. Fight the urge.)  


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