'Dead' is dead

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Marketing is more alive and vibrant perhaps than ever before. The interaction between companies and consumers is more multifaceted and complex. The velocity of business and need for agility is unprecedented. These things have changed radically and will continue to do so.

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'Dead' is dead

  1. 1. By Tom Stein, President & Chief Creative Officer, Stein + Partners Brand ActivationDead Is DeadSome of you will (fondly) recall the classic "Monty Python and The Holy Grail." At one point inthis very funny flick, the black plague was running full-throttle in England. In a particularly woebegotten village, a toothless Dark Age undertaker wheeled his barrow around crying, "Bring outyer dead!" Village residents happily offloaded their recently departed. As awful as this maysound, it is truly funny in the hands of John Cleese and company. Especially when one of the"dead" being heaped on top of the cart turns out to be not-quite-dead, plaintively stating, "I’m notdead!"What brought this scene vividly to mind was the recent, bold proclamation by Kevin Roberts,CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide, that "Marketing is dead!"Addressing an audience of senior business leaders in London, Roberts stated that not only ismarketing dead, but strategy is dead, the big idea is dead, and management is dead.“Bring out yer dead,” indeed!Interestingly, a year or so ago, my friend Rick Segal, one of the top execs at gyro, traveled toBerlin “to declare the death of the category of marketing communications to which I hadtheretofore (sic) dedicated my entire professional life.” Rick’s declaration: “B2B is dead.”Yikes! Marketing is dead. B2B is dead. Big ideas are dead. Strategy is dead. Management isdead. The black plague seemingly has struck again.But honestly now, all these things are not dead. Leaders at companies and agencies certainlyneed to think more provocatively and creatively. In the volatile, uncertain, ambiguous, andcomplex world Roberts speaks of, we clearly need to move with greater speed and velocity. 1
  2. 2. But by using bold words to seek boldfaced headlines, Segal and Roberts both swing and missbadly. In fact, they make important concepts sound trivial and silly—not unlike Monty Python.So I will state explicitly and positively unprovocatively that marketing is not dead. B2Bis not dead. Big ideas are not dead. Strategy is not dead. And management is not dead.There, I feel better now.No disrespect to my peers, but having just been retained by a Chief Marketing Officer at a majorglobal B2B brand that has a strong management team, and that is looking for strategic thinkingand big ideas from its agency partner, I herewith proclaim…trumpets, please…"DEAD IS DEAD.”To wit, marketing is more alive and vibrant perhaps than ever before. The interaction betweencompanies and consumers is more multifaceted and complex. The velocity of business and needfor agility is unprecedented. These things have changed radically and will continue to do so.All of which serves nicely to underscore the point and purpose of this Brand Activator blog.What all of this radical change has in common is that it is driving the need for brands tobe activated. (Here’s a link to an earlier post on the subject.) Brands need deeper, better, andmore continuous customer insights. They need to project relevance, topicality, and energy. Theyneed to start and participate in important conversations. They need to actually have a purpose,project it without cynicism—and believe in it, too.CEOs and CMOs that don’t get this may in fact not be long for this world. But as for marketing,B2B, big ideas, and strategy, Python nailed it cold:“We’re not dead.”Read more: http://www.cmo.com/branding-communications/dead-dead#ixzz1wqE50A8N 2

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