Top 6 marketing articles from the last two weeks (3/7-3/21)

March 22, 2010

It has been a little while since I compiled my list of marketing articles and posts that I have found to be particularly insightful. Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve read several articles that I really enjoyed, and I thought I would highlight these, just in case you might have missed them (after all, a lot of people are on spring break these days).  I hope you find a few of these useful or interesting.  Enjoy!

CMOs, Go Beyond a PR Plan to Prepare for an Inevitable Product Crisis (Ad Age).  There have obviously been quite a few branding crises these days — between spokespeople losing their respect and credibility to massive product failures and recalls.  This article provides a great reminder of the plan that every brand leader should have in place before a crisis strikes.  The plan should not just have a well-planned PR component, but it must consider and address every touch point that the brand has with its target customers.  The article raises quite a few issues that might not be top of mind in the heat of the moment, but that are absolutely critical to the crisis management process.

Real-Time Brand Management:  Lessons from Virgin America’s Hellish Flight (Harvard Business Review). Continuing from the theme of the first article, this blog post presents a good miniature case study of how Virgin America quickly managed a perception crisis last week.  While this article does not necessarily highlight the plan that Virgin America had in place to mitigate the crisis, it does illustrate some additional things that brands can do routinely before a crisis occurs so that when it does, the brand can be managed in “real time”.

Wal*Mart, Target, Best Buy Named Most Valuable (Retail) Brands (Brandweek).  While the list of the most valuable retail brands is fairly interesting in itself, this article provides some good commentary regarding the strategies that helped brands grow and the strategies that undermined the value of brands.  One unsuccessful strategy mentioned is the “flight to price” strategy.  The analysis of the strategies is applicable to all types of consumer brands — not just retail brands.

Opinion:  Customer Service is Key Strategy (Brandweek).  Joseph Jaffe, the author of this editorial, writes, “During increasingly confusing, cluttered and complex times, what is it that really separates — or differentiates — one company, product, service or brand from another?”  He answers his own question that customer service or “servicing the customer” is the key differentiator for brands and should be the focal point for the marketing department.

How to Write a Mission Statement that Doesn’t Suck (Fast Company).  The author Dan Heath provides an entertaining yet very accurate assessment of how the mission statement development process can fail.  For anyone who has ever participated in developing a mission statement, this article is worth reading just for its humor and insight, if nothing else.  If you are currently developing or revamping your mission statement, this article provides great inspiration for what you should focus on, and what you should avoid.

Shopping Aisles at Cutting Edge of Consumer Research and Tech (Ad Age).  This article provides some interesting examples of what consumer packaged goods companies are doing to study their consumers during the act of shopping for products (from making the shopping list at home to purchasing in the store).  The emphasis on and investment in shopper marketing in the last few years has grown substantially among CPGs and retailers, and it is fascinating to understand some of the insights that have been uncovered.  If you are in the process of considering investing in or building a shopper marketing research program, this article worth reviewing.


How to evaluate the Super Bowl ads

February 8, 2010

Every year, during the day after the Super Bowl, there is a lot of chatter about the best and worst ads that debuted during the big game.  If you haven’t had a chance to catch up on the conversation, or if you somehow missed the game Sunday night, AdAge has all of the spots available for your viewing pleasure.  For me, I personally walked away from the TV with the overwhelming sense of having seen two types of dramatic executions over and over again:  violence and men in their underwear.

Despite these two themes, I did have a few favorite ads, however I won’t go so far to say what ads were ‘good’ or ‘bad’ in terms of their overall effectiveness.  I don’t really see how I could, given that I am not the target customer for every brand or product that advertised during the Super Bowl.  This is why I find the evaluation of the ads that takes place each year to be a little misleading.  Critics comment on and judge the ads based on what they found to be humorous, moving, or interesting.  However, since the ads are ultimately about persuading a target customer to buy or bond with a brand, isn’t it really only the target customer audience that can accurately evaluate the strength of any given ad?

With all of that said, for those of you who are still hungry to understand which ads were ‘good’ and which were ‘bad’ from this year’s Super Bowl, I present you with a few questions that you can use to help you decide for yourself.   Note as a support to my earlier point:  several of the key questions assume an understanding of and identification with the target customer.  Without this perspective and understanding, an evaluation just isn’t complete.

Questions for evaluating advertising:

  1. Is the story of the ad unique or different?
  2. Does the ad capture and keep the target customer’s attention?
  3. Does the story of the ad focus on the brand’s benefit?
  4. Is the ad meaningful to the target customer?
  5. Is the ad in line with the brand’s character?

So go ahead and think about the ads that you saw, for which you are a target customer.  Which ones were the best?