1. We’ve got 99 problems and marketing might just be one pg3
2. Simons says pg4
3. Tell me a story pg8
4. Yes I am talking to you pg11
5. TV is dead. Long live TV pg13
6. Marketing is too important to leave to marketers pg17
7. So who is this Roy guy? pg19
8. Don’t hate the playa hate the game pg20
9. My Agency brings all the brands to the yard pg21
10. Follow the leader pg25
11. How to get fired like a Rock Star pg27
12. The End pg28
13. References pg28
1. We’ve got 99 problems and marketing might just be one.
I want to make this clear that this is not a book and it’s not a tool that will make
you the Marketing Rock Star that you always wanted to be although I do tell you
how to get fired like one at the end
I have been in the marketing field for 15 years and about 2 years ago I resigned
from my corporate job to go and sail the world and have a spiritual awakening.
My first lesson to you is, always do your research and insights before you take on a
new project. Now you would expect HR to remind me that I would not have
enough money for such a trip and more importantly that the sea is infested with
great whites. So there I find myself jobless without a life changing project that will
lead to some sort of New Age ah ha moment. So I started reading, having
conversations about and immersing myself in why marketing sucked so much that
I needed to take a break from it. At the end you will see a lot of books and
articles referenced. Some of the ideas in these books and articles inspired me and
in some cases I took the liberty to expand and put my own twist to it. If there is
some ideas used and I didn’t give proper acknowledgement to the original
authors I apologize it just means I couldn’t always find the original reference.
This started out purely as a tool to frame my thoughts because I can ramble a bit
and lose my audience, even in cases where I have a monologue with myself.
Having discussed some of these thoughts with peers and friends it led to some
interesting debates about brands and the field of Marketing. If this inspires one
good conversation over a braai and some cold ones it was worth it. Tupac said
he won’t change the world but he will spark the brain that will. I say, where is Pac
when marketing needs him now more than ever?
What you won’t get is a paper that will get published in the Journal of Marketing
Theory and Practise. South African universities will not suddenly adapt their
curriculum to reflect the ground breaking yet not so ground breaking ideas in this
toilet …I mean White Paper. It is written with some dodgy grammar and I
guarantee a few spelling mistakes. I may offend or provoke but hopefully I won’t
bore. The intention is to hopefully open up a bit of dialogue on the current state
of Marketing and brand management. I endeavour to write in words that make
sense, with hopefully less jargon than the Monday compulsory management
meeting on “How’s your kids doing and the affordability of private schools” now
let’s look at the Margins and top line sales. To the Gurus and Marketing execs out
there, this paper is probably not for you. To people that just want a bit of a smile
and an honest opinion about what is going on in Marketing, take a print out to
the restroom, kick back, enjoy and remember it’s a dual purpose paper
This is my thoughts on the state of the nation and how I think we all can make
changes in our thinking to improve the Game. Somewhere along the line the gig
stopped being fun and I needed to understand why or die trying. OK so let us
forget the dying part, I just included that for dramatic effect and from time to
time I throw in a Hip Hop reference to maintain the doc’s street cred.
Please send all hate mail via the Post office for the simple reason that I am old
school and the chances of me getting it is also dramatically reduced.
So it all started when I was 2 years old………just kidding but I always wanted to
start something off by saying that………
2. Simon says!
Neuroscientists (those guys that study the brain) have proven that all decisions are
based largely on emotional factors and there are numerous studies on this.
McCombs marketing professor Raj Raghunathan and Ph.D. student Szu-Chi
Huang point to their research study that shows comparative features are
important, but mostly as justification after a buyer makes a decision based on
emotional response. What?
In one phase of their study, Raghunathan and Huang showed participants two
photos. One was a nice looking, plump chicken. The other was a chicken that
looked thin and sickly. Participants were told that the plump chicken was a
natural chicken, and the thin chicken was genetically engineered.
The researchers informed half of the participants that natural chickens were
healthy but less tasty, and genetically engineered chickens were tasty, but less
healthy. The other half were told the opposite.
So at this stage you will probably ask me why the chicken crossed the road. My
answer to you would be….wrong question.
Overwhelmingly, sets of participants expressed a preference for the nice plump
chicken, but their justifications were different. The first group claimed it was
because they valued health above taste, and the second group said it was
because taste was more important. Neither group seemed to justify their choice
based on how they felt about the chicken's looks. They felt compelled to justify
their emotional choices with non-emotional reasons, to the point that the two
groups found completely opposite ways to justify the same decision.
Ragunathan said that the researchers tested the same hypothesis using political
candidates. Participants were asked to rate the effectiveness of certain work
styles displayed by two politicians. Not surprisingly, Republicans tended to value
the work style used by the Republican politician, and Democrats valued the work
style used by the Democrat. Like the chicken example, different groups were told
opposite work styles for each candidate, but each group made their decision
based on their pre-conceived political preference, and then justified their
decision by whatever trait they had been told “their politician” used. Now what
does this tell us about our own political landscape? Unfortunately this question
goes way beyond the scope of this article
“This is called post-hoc rationalization,” said Ragunathan, “and it is found in every
aspect of our life, whenever we made decisions. We are ruled by our emotions
first, and then we build justifications for our response. You can see this happening
in hiring decisions, dating, you name it.”
“In our society it is generally not considered justifiable to make a decision purely
on an emotional response,” he said. “We want to be considered scientific and
rational, so we come up with reasons after the fact to justify our choice.
“This process seems to be happening somewhat unconsciously, people are not
really aware they're coming up with these justifications. What is even more
interesting is that people, who claim that emotions are not that important, who
consider themselves to be really rational, are actually more prone to fall into this
Ragunathan and Huang believe this is because once someone has denied the
possibility of making a decision based on emotion, there is no other option but to
come up with justifications. “You paint yourself into a corner,” he claims. “You
want to portray yourself as this rational decision maker, but in reality, you're the
one who's most likely to show post-hoc rationalization.” Boom! (I can’t use Boom
in an academic paper which really sucks.)
Like many people, I was exposed to Simon Sinek through his TED Talk on “Start with
Why.” I also purchased his book with the same title that goes into more detail.
From time to time we get confronted with a concept that appears so simple that
it’s almost too simple. Simon may have just captured an elusive, yet simplistic truth
that so many organizations and brands brush over.
Through his golden circle theory Simon Sinek established that great and successful
brands figured out that people buy “Why” (purpose/ emotive connection) you do
what you do as oppose to “What” you do (product). Through applying this at the
core of everything they do they always lead with their authentic truth, purpose or
also called True North. Many people refer to Apple as a computer company, the
same as they do with Dell. Most people would not buy a MP3 player or a phone
from Dell yet they do from Apple. If both are perceived to be computer
companies (what they sell) why does Apple get away with selling diverse
categories that does not look like obvious adjacencies?
Sinek explains this through his Golden Circle concept that emotions are the corner
stone of purchase behaviour. People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you
Every organization knows what they do. We make pizzas. Most organizations
know exactly how they do it. We make thin base pizzas and we only use fresh
produce and we add our own wicked tomato base using a proper clay oven.
Yay! But when you ask them why they do what they do, you often get a blank
stare or someone may shout out:” We love the Dough” (There’s that hip hop
reference again.) The reality is that making money is never the purpose. Top line
sales and profit is always a result of what we do it is not the original driving force or
Why = The Purpose (What is your cause? What do you believe?)
How = The Process (Specific actions taken to realize the Why. The strategy)
What = The Result (What do you do? This is the result of why. Tangible proof in the
form of a product or service)
Apple started with their why or purpose by saying: Everything we do, we believe
in challenging the status quo. We believe in thinking differently.
How we do this is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use and
What we happen to do is make computers. But wait, we now also give you 1000
songs in your pocket and wait there’s more, look at our IPhone.
Apple entrench their purpose in everything they do and how they interact and
communicate. I am positive that they could sell fridges if they decided too and
Brand Fans will be rushing to buy it. They will then spend days explaining to you
why their water is so much colder and their meat is so much fresher and their new
purchase costs just slightly more than a Smeg fridge. Boom! Post-hoc
rationalization. (Sorry, that will be the last Boom)
Apple is telling a consistent and authentic story that means something. People
that own Mac notebooks love opening them up in public places. They like that
everyone knows and that the Apple symbol says something about them and how
they see the world.
It is important that marketers understand that people buy your brands because it
says something about them personally. A brand purchase is actually a very selfish
decision. If they buy something that fails to embody their own sense of why, those
around them can’t have a clear picture of who they are.
It all starts with the brand figuring out their authentic purpose and reason for
being. It’s always funny when brands or people ask someone how they can be
more authentic. Being authentic means you already know, duh! I sounded a bit
smug there. Apologies, I get carried away sometimes.
If you can define what that authentic truth or “Why” is and you can consistently
live and breathe that throughout your organization and communicate it through
touch points consumers that’s like minded can find you.
So in essence people do business with people that believe what they believe. You
got to love old Simon. Go get his book. Get one for your boss whiles you at it.
3. Tell me a story
I woke up one day to a speech from my dad inspired by a tirade from my Mom.
Arriving home the previous night hungry and way past dinner time, I raided the
kitchen without cleaning the dishes afterwards. After numerous rational lectures
and an ass whipping didn’t get the desired results my dad changed his strategy in
a desperate attempt to get through to me.
“Son you remember when you were young and you believed in Fairy tales” Now
please don’t judge me we were all young and dreamy once upon a time. (Not
quite a Hip Hop reference but Breezy’s got some street cred)
I briefly reflected on my failed attempts to fly by jumping off rooftops and my “I
see Unicorns” phase. “Well” he said. “You stumbled in at the early hours of the
morning, prepared a feast and left the dirty plates in the sink. The only thing I can
deduce from that is there was an expectation on your side that the Fairy
Godmother was going to waltz in at approximately 6am and do a bit of cleaning
20 years on I’ve never forgotten that lesson. I haven’t consistently cleaned up
after myself since then but somehow that is always the memory I recall when I
leave the kitchen in a mess late at night.
My dad instinctively knew that stories are a very powerful vehicle to ingrain a
message for long term recall and consideration.
As mentioned, purchase decisions are influenced by Rational and Emotional
factors. On the rational side are product and price (2 of the well documented P’s)
and emotional factors include brand experience, brand equity and
convenience. Research shows that we can only operate with one at a time.
People make their decisions emotionally then justify it with facts through a rational
This is profound because often Marketers spend all the focus on those rational
USPs in their marketing and communications but we shop brands with our hearts.
Yes the rational is a non-negotiable in product design but that is not what moves
people to buy.
In his research documented in Buy.ology, Martin Lindstrom proves that the
successful Marketing is a lot closer to science than most people ever anticipated.
There is method to the madness in our buying behaviour but that the emotive
centres of our brains is without a doubt the bus driver on our way to destination
Buyers rationalise using a part of the brain called the neo-cortex which is the seat
of language and reason. But emotion resides in our older, limbic brain. The limbic
system is the seat of emotion. The limbic brain does not use language it expresses
in feelings and drives behaviour. It has no capability to do speech and that’s why
we struggle to verbally communicate our feelings.
Ever had a hard time trying to explain to your husband why you couldn’t live
without those Jimmy Choo’s. It just felt right didn’t it? Now go explain to him why
those new golf clubs really isn’t necessary.
So where does storytelling fit into all of this? Nothing pulls at the heart strings like a
compelling story. Stories are the glue that keep facts together and makes them
sticky. So if we are able to clothe truths in an authentic, entertaining, emotive and
novel story we force people to consider us.
Michael Margolis founder of Getstoried.com has this to say about brand story
1. When we name something, our relationship with it transforms.
“If a cow is given a name by her owner, she generates more milk than a cow
that’s treated as an anonymous member of the herd,” according to a research
study by Newcastle University.
Names provide us with purpose and direction, often revealing the inner purpose
(There’s that Why thing again) and destiny we are expected to fulfil. Those names
impart an energetic connection that shapes us through the stories we tell.
Brands operate in a similar way. A brand represents the complex emotional
relationship between the storyteller – the one who is sharing something about that
brand – and the audience. Put in a more traditional context, a brand represents
the emotional relationship between a consumer and a product. Your brand is
only as strong as the stories people tell about you.
2. Brands and names are psychic containers for the meaning of stuff.
Nearly anything can be branded. It’s a natural human impulse to want to put a
name to the images, energy, and patterns that are a part of a shared
experience, event, or relationship. Consider Fast Company’s 2008 article titled,
“The Brand Called Obama.” That campaign marked the first time in election
history where a president, along with all that his story encompassed, was so
clearly and powerfully branded.
Personal branding is a relatively new phenomenon, accelerated by social media
including blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Even if you would rather avoid
the personal branding movement, you may have difficulty doing so. Because
when you don’t craft and maintain your brand story, other people will do it for
you. Can you afford to outsource your storytelling?
Building successful relationships for your brand or your business comes down to
the stories you tell as well as the stories other people tell about you.
3. Every storyteller has a brand and every brand has a story.
A storyteller can’t be separated from his or her story. If you google yourself, you’ll
see that you already have a brand, whether or not you’ve had a hand in
creating it. (Really? Googling yourself now? You’re so vain you probably think this
article is about you……..So what if it’s a Carly Simon reference). The real question
to ask yourself is “What value does my brand have?” Or, what stories are people
telling about me? People remember stories more than they remember names.
Take a careful look at the stories you see being told about you online. Do they
reflect the story you wanted or expected to be told?
4. We all need something to believe in.
What do you stand for? What do you fight for? Your brand story needs to define
how it sees the world. Seth Godin, reminds us, “Great stories agree with our
worldview. The best stories don’t teach people anything new. Instead, the best
stories agree with what the audience already believes and make them feel smart
and secure when reminded how right they were in the first place.”
You want your story to become their story. As your audience sees their own
values, hopes, and dreams in the story you create, they will deepen their
emotional connection to your brand. Brand Fans baby! (Can I get a Boom?
5. Brand stories shape culture.
How do you hope to change and improve people’s lives? Consider how iPods
have transformed our music listening habits. Think about how Ubuntu and other
open-source communities are shifting the way we interact with technology. Just
as we are hard-wired for storytelling, we are hard-wired for brands.
“Move your listeners hearts and their feet and wallet will follow” Peter Guber
author of Tell to Win
Don’t let this be your story…………………………………
4. Yes I am talking to you.
Marketers have found that the demographic profile of a target market, while
helpful, is limiting. The demographic describes a target market in terms of its
socioeconomic characteristics. It sheds little light into how the target market
behaves, how it thinks, its interests, its passions, its lifestyle and its values. Marketers
sometimes call these behavioural characteristics the internal reality, which
describes the target market in terms of its psychographic profile.
But how do we get to the masses because that’s where we make the real money.
True, but it also costs a lot of bribes to sway that folk. Short lived promotions can
get you those spikes. It’s a bit like having a lot of one night stands. How do we get
to a loving long term relationship with your customer? Here’s a clue, slutty brand
behaviour is not the answer.
A lot of single guys can attest that a girl may go out with you for an after work
cocktail but that doesn’t make her your girlfriend. Cause Frank will come next
week and take her to Beluga and buy her sushi and drive her around Camps Bay
in his M3 and she won’t respond to your whatsapp messages and that expensive
dating agency that was supposed to understand what women wants
suggests………….Sorry I digress. F#*ing Frank, if only I had his budget.
Let me introduce you to my little friend, something called the Diffusion of
The Law Of Diffusion of Innovation, introduced by Everett M. Rogers, explains how
innovations spread through society that can be broken up into 5 segments.
1. Innovators (2.5%) – This group pursue new products or ideas aggressively
and have a very high need for novelty and being first. They are a small
percentage and they challenge the rest of us to see the world a little
2. Early Adopters (13.5%) – This group appreciates and recognize the value
brought on by new ideas and technologies and are willing to suffer an
inconvenience and pay more for products that feels right. They trust their
gut. Early adopters are also willing to spread ideas and really drive word of
3. Early Majority (34%) – This group is more practically minded with a slight
level of comfort for new ideas and technologies. However, they will not try
a new product until the Joneses get it.
4. Late Majority (34%) – This group is also practically minded. Practical factors
matter more and will not try something until someone else has tried it first.
5. Laggards (16%) – This group usually only accepts new technologies or
ideas because they have no other options. These are the people who are
using touch-phones because rotary phones are no longer available. If it is
not broken why should we fix it?
But, you may say, I sell mass market products so I need to get to the good stuff
fast. Have you ever tried to skip from first base straight to 3rd base? It almost never
ends well for you. By the way we are using a baseball analogy here
Mistake #1: Marketing to innovators
You would think this would be a smart move, right? Innovators are risk takers, they
dive right in, and they probably will pay a bit extra. These are all great things, but
unfortunately, innovators are also selfish! They want exclusivity. They will likely keep
the new thing to themselves. (I really hate when that happens). Market to them
and you will probably gain a sale, but the word will not spread very far.
Mistake #2: Marketing to the laggards
The world is full of laggards and people that just won’t move until they want to or
are forced to. Don’t waste your time on them. They are probably not going to buy
your product until they ready or dead. (I’m betting on dead). Often times,
wonderful inventions and technologies pass them by because they write it off as
a trend or fad. But even after trends become social norms they often still don’t
Mistake #3: Marketing to majority
This is a risk-averse group for the simple reason that they don’t like feeling stupid.
They need peers endorsement or social proof. They will play it safe and unless you
spend huge amounts of money to drive awareness as well as promotional and
price campaigns it is almost futile to convince them to purchase. They will love
you at mothers-day and other promotional periods but go back to their slutty
Brand behaviour when you return to your inevitable every day pricing strategy.
SKANK! What this target market and especially the early majority respond to is
word of mouth from people they trust and who they see as opinion leaders.
We should be targeting the Early Adopters.
Due to the size (only 13.5%) of this segment it is more affordable to converse with
them. Size doesn’t always matter but influence does and these guys have bucket
loads of this.
1. When early adopters vet our product or service, they create a situation
where the early and late majority are comfortable buying from us. If the
early adopters have tried it, liked it, and approved it, then the majority is
more likely to jump on board.
2. Early adopters give our product or service the social credibility we need to
convince the majority that our product works. We can tell our targets how
great the product or service is until we are blue in the face, but coming
from our mouths it doesn’t mean much. Early adopters give you the social
proof that you need to build trust.
3. The majority of our audience will ignore advertisers, but will listen to the
early adopters. By interrupting our target audience repeatedly with
commercials and advertisements, we have trained them to ignore us. But
when early adopters talk, the early & late majority are listening and taking
notes. Once the early adopters embrace what we are selling, they will sell
it to the majority…not us.
Early adopters may fit a range of stereotypes, but a study by Forrester Research
that marries their “techno-graphic” profiles with psychological theories found that
three key drivers compel early adopters:
A desire for novelty that exceeds caution and reflects a “universal openness to
new experiences, including new products.... They are willing to take a chance on
a product with little to no market history. There is also a desire to be first.
“There is an informational burden that needs to be overcome for new products,
and early adopters are more likely to seek out the information needed to inform
their adoption decisions.” But they also “seek to mitigate risk through information.”
Early adopters take pride in showing off their purchases.
Early adopters choose products that represent them to the world—their
preferences as well as their social status.” It’s the old Thorstein Veblen’s
“conspicuous consumption” discovery, dating back to 1899, that explains that
people accumulate “stuff” as way to convey status.
It is expensive to talk to everyone and the reality is most of them do not want to
hear from you. So stop phoning me on my cell phone offering me a fabulous deal
for two new phones and free weekend minutes, argh. I miss rotary landline
5. TV is dead. Long live TV.
It is interesting how people fight to convince one another that This medium is
better than That one. Dude I’m telling you, digital is the way. Come on now Bro,
no one has ever been fired for suggesting a TV ad. Playa please! It’s all about
I think we be missing the plot. How we consume media, information etc. is just the
tool to reach a particular audience. It is an enabler. Some mediums are more
appropriate given how, where and when people interact with messages. What
no one is answering is why the consumer should care.
Content management is a buzzword that’s been on a lot of peoples tongues for
quite a while and it’s a broad topic that needs its own paper. The crux for me is
not the vehicle we use but what is the story or narrative we are projecting on
these mediums (see Tell me a story)
I believe there is still a place for traditional mediums and that a good Brand story
can live everywhere. Our concern is to ensure that we tell that authentic,
engaging, emotive and entertaining story in a commercially viable way using
vehicles that is convenient for our target audience.
People often ask me if a medium like TV is still relevant and effective. My answer
is……Do you have a good story? And by the way who said you can’t utilize
traditional media to set up a platform and then take the conversation into a
digital space. Because surprise, surprise you can have the best of both worlds.
An example that I often bring up and show to people is the Chrysler 200 ad that
flighted on TV only once during halftime at the 2011 Super Bowl. When I first saw it I
was like wow, this ad really kicked me in the crop. (Who talks like this?) I don’t
think the car is a particularly good looking vehicle but I suddenly saw Chrysler in a
completely new light. I was obsessed to know more about this ad and whether it
brought any success for Chrysler.
Here are the cold hard facts:
It only flighted on TV once. Elicited a powerful emotional response while
tempting viewers to go online to learn more about the featured product
14m youtube hits in 2011
5 awards at Cannes Festival of creativity
won the 2011 Emmy Award for best commercial
But sometimes marketers get off track chasing social media metrics, but that
can’t be the goal. The goal is always to sell the product. (and don’t forget earning
Drove growth in shopping consideration by 1619% on the Chrysler 200
Consideration for the Chrysler 300 virtually doubled in the week after the
Super Bowl even though that vehicle was not mentioned in the Super Bowl
Created a halo effect with total Chrysler consideration up 267%
Chrysler sales rose by 26%
Market share grew 1.3 percentage points, best of all automakers.
Below is two links. One is to the actual ad and I want you to watch it and just feel
it for a bit. Don’t analyse it. Don’t rationalize it just go with the emotions and let it
simmer for a few seconds.
The next link is of Joe Staples who is one of the creative heads that worked on this
campaign. In this clip Joe eloquently explains Why they created the ad. This is
Storytelling at its best.
Chrysler Born of Fire
Now watch it again.
I told you to watch these videos and because after about 10+ pages you may
feel like you know me and we building a bit of a trust relationship. Because we
are good mates now, you felt compelled to waste your expensive data on
checking out these clips. This is the power of word of mouth and viral. Word of
mouth will always be more potent in spreading the gospel.
So I tried to decode why we feel compelled to spread some ideas and not others.
Is there a science to it and can we build some magical ingredients into our work
to at least have some confidence that people will spread it. To design something
to go Viral is a lot harder than suggested. Most communication that does never
had the guarantee of spreading when it was conceived. But like any success
story there must be certain rules that will assist you in constructing a message with
the highest propensity to spread.
There are a few books written on this topic but the 3 that I can recommend that
assist in understanding elements that can make an idea sticky are the following
1. Chasing the Monster idea – Stefan Mumaw
2. Contagious – Jonah Berger
3. The viral video manifesto – Stephen Voltz & Fritz Grobe
All 3 books have got a different slant but at the core it looks at what makes ideas
sticky and lends itself to people sharing.
I created something that I call The Sticky Ven diagram using this literature (I know
terrible name, but maybe it will become sticky ) to vet ideas and measure if they
have a higher propensity to spread or create talk-ability. I hope it’s a tool that
can assist you in creating more compelling ideas.
At the core you will see is emotion which is such an eye opener because a lot of
communication is so focussed on the rational at the expense of that human
connection. As mentioned in the “Tell me a Story” segment, purchase decisions
are driven by Rational and Emotional factors. People make their decisions
emotionally then justify it with facts through a rational process.
Even though Telling Stories only overlaps in Monster idea and Contagious the
reality is that it is so closely related to emotion that you could actually combine
the two factors. People post rationalise their buying behaviour using a part of the
brain called the neo cortex which is the seat of language and reason. But
emotion resides in our older, limbic brain. The limbic system is the seat of emotion.
The limbic brain does not use language it expresses in feelings and drives
behaviour. It has no capability to do speech and that’s why we struggle to
verbally communicate our feelings.
That’s why we sometimes say, it just felt right when the neo cortex is having a slow
day and we just can’t find justification for buying those Jimmy Choo’s and your
husband now wants a divorce.
Let’s tell more emotive stories. I love humour like the next guy but there are more
emotions in the human spectrum. If you think of that funny washing powder ad,
no I mean that funny insurance ad, wait a minute I’m actually referring to that
funny fast food ad……..Never mind you know which one I’m talking about.
Than authenticity and being novel is also key. Great brands know their truth and
they have the ability to maintain that truth throughout the various touch points
they create. We call this the brands True north. It boils back to why we do what
we do. It is the purpose of the brand. If the brand is about entertaining than it
consistently needs to entertain.
As Simon says: people buy “Why” you do what you do as oppose to “What” you
do. Through applying this at the core of everything they do they always lead with
their authentic truth.
How does Chrysler story stack up against the criteria mentioned above?
A few of the other areas that need explaining are using money shots. This is key in
a viral space which makes viral so different to a 30sec ad and why we often click
through on those TV ads that load before we get to that Youtube video we
wanted to see. On the web people don’t have a sec to waste so if you don’t
grab their attention from get go they will dismiss you. If the footage is not vital in
moving the story forward or to contextualize it’s not needed.
Triggers are about relating something back to your brand eg. the reason Bar One
is the first chocolate we think of when we hear the word coffee. Music is brilliant
at creating a trigger. Iconic music used in ads often reminds us of the brand. If
you can engineer a song that will become a potential hit and use it in your
communication it can become a powerful soundtrack and Trigger.
Social currency is our need to share ideas, stories etc. with people. People prefer
sharing things that make them seem entertaining rather than boring, clever rather
than stupid and hip rather than dull. When we hit that share or like button on
Facebook it says a lot about our taste and how cool we are. Just like we use
money to buy products we use social currency to achieve desired positive
impressions amongst our families, friends and colleagues.
Public is about visibility of our products in public spaces and how that self-
promotion assists the brands popularity. Think white earphones when the apple
launched the iPod. We look to other people to provide social proof that it’s ok to
be part of that clan. That’s how the Early and late Majority know when it’s OK to
buy new stuff.
Lastly, people like to pass on practical value. Useful things are important as it
strengthens social bonds. If I send a new Asian food recipe to a friend that loves
cooking I am providing real value.
So the more elements you can build into your communication or campaign the
larger the potential to create stickiness and fertile ground for people to share that
message. We all know that word of mouth marketing is still the strongest because
we value the opinion and advice of people we trust.
People do business with people that believe what they believe.
6. Marketing is too important to leave to Marketers.
A good friend who happens to be an accountant said this to me. Because unlike
most other business specialists, Marketers are always mocked about the value
they actually add. I’ve come to appreciate this statement because I do think the
responsibility of promoting brands should run across all departments and
principles of the organization.
I always thought that you get people that think in words and numbers and then
you get those that think in pictures and in stories. So even though I had loads of
fun in art class, it ended abruptly as part of the curriculum in primary school. A few
years later I started getting decent grades in Accountancy and Math and I was
destined to become a serious businessman.
On paper this sounded logical and meant to be, but my attention span was
always marginal at best and I had a low boredom threshold. Combine this with a
few missed classes and an obsession to become the best card player campus
had ever seen my first year ended in tears. These were the days before online
poker became a viable career choice. In my second year I discovered that not
all business graduates need to become an accountant and that Business
Management and Marketing were real world career paths.
I never lost my flirtation with numbers but Marketing rekindled the artist in me and
my love for a good story. I always thought the combination of commercial
acumen and the artistry of telling a compelling story goes hand in hand in
creating great Marketing.
Conversations with my marketing colleagues made me realize that generally they
view management accountants as evil money hoggers that are there to make
them fail in their noble pursuit of Brand excellence. The accountants in return
thought of marketers as wannabe artists with a God complex that was not good
enough to make it at art school and treat budgets as a blank cheques to the
detriment of every employee’s bonus at year end.
I found this role play very fascinating because I knew that with better alignment
and some mutual respect for each other’s expertise the opportunities for real
Brand magic was immense. I see myself as a Marketer but I have the utmost
respect for the importance of commercialization throughout the lifecycle of
Often there is a chasm between brand strategy and the commercial optimization
of said strategy. Commercialization is a service often neglected and can derail
sound brand strategy. Even a great idea/story that is not efficiently executed will
fall short of stringent commercial objectives.
Commercialization should ensure that the bulk of the money spent in the
execution phase will maximize return on investment and also address that said
spend is targeted in the correct areas.
Because FD’s are returning to seats of power and driving business decisions you
got to check your inner artist at the door. I know I promised very little Jargon at
the beginning of this paper but if you want a seat at the new board table and be
taken seriously you got to speak the Finance lingo.
Commercial efficiency is about
1. Understanding quantitative data around sales and marketing expenses and
how to best align it. (What? You expect me to understand real numbers)
2 Ensure commercial category knowledge is adhered too in the construct of
3. Ensure that marketing spend aligns with brand strategy.
4. Highlight opportunities to increase ROI in the implementation of brand
Commercialization can only happen if we ask the right questions?
1. When is the right time to introduce the product? What is the state of
economy/category. How confident are we that we will not cannibalize on our
other product sales and if so can we quantify.
2. Where is the right market to launch the product? It can be in a single location
or several regions. We often have this obsession with a mass market launch where
we could learn so much from a regional test market and then scale the insights to
build a more efficient national approach. Resources in the form of capital,
Operational capabilities, confidence etc. will all play a role.
3. Who will we primarily target? These primary consumer groups should consist of
early adopters and opinion leaders. (see yes I’m talking to you)
There is a saying that goes: “Don’t let the Facts get in the way of a good story.”
This may be great if you are a novelist or a Hollywood script writer but its shitty
advice when those Facts are financial indicators and you are trying to tell a
7. So who is this Roy guy?
Return on investment. ROI is hardly ever heard and mostly what the FD need from
you. (Screw Hip Hop this is serious stuff and we bringing in some Billy Joel) You
would think there is an agreement on what we are measuring here. Can I tell you
how much it would cost to generate R1m in sales? I’m sure I can. Can I tell you
how we improve the efficiencies on a cost vs sales ratio? Yep. Reduce investment
in R&D, cut overheads, tweak quality yadda yadda. I love numbers there is an art
to them even though arty purists would disagree. A lot of very boring people have
given numbers a very bad name. As mentioned above ROI plays a major role in
the commercialization process.
But what about Social media? Can you get me more likes on Facebook?
Some girl liked a picture of me on Facebook. I inboxed her and ask if she loves me
and if we can be exclusive. Never heard from her again and for some strange
reason when I do a friend search her name does not appear.
How do we measure love? Should we introduce a new metric called ROL?
(Return on Love) People always talk about brands with a loyal following as a love
mark. Does love really not cost a thing as Jenny from the Block once proclaimed?
(Hip Hop is back baby)
Because there is such a strong emotive driving force behind our brand decisions
the purist or the rational arguments around ROI will always be muddy at best.
Most marketers have a very one night stand, promotional campaign approach to
strategy. Let’s do this promotion get some instant gratification and applaud as
our market share spike to a 4 week high. Let’s drive sales in April and lets hit
November hard again. You know what; if you are going to treat your customers
as a one night stand they will do the same to you.
Relationships are built on trust and trust is built over time. Are you building brands
or adding notches to the bedpost. Let’s not be shy to ask the hard questions. Is
your brand prone to slutty behaviour?
We need to start measuring longer term yields based on sound strategy over
periods ranging from 12 to 18months.
8. Don’t hate the playa, hate the Game.
Bigger brands will always have more money than you and they will always win
over more people because the world is unfair and it sucks. But is that really what is
going on here or are we missing a trick.
I was convinced that Frank was out spending me to get Rebecca’s attention. I
wasn’t taking it lying down and even had a focus group with Rebecca’s friends
and peers to establish why she wasn’t digging my swag. I still didn’t get an
adequate answer. It ranged from more dinners (promotions) to “be funnier” to
“just be yourself” At that stage being myself was a very fluid concept because I
would be any “me” Rebecca would want me to be. And that’s when the
schizophrenia set it. Even friends that knew me for years were like bro you’ve
changed, not sure we wanna hang with you anymore. Rebecca would still go out
with me occasionally but I always felt I had to top the previous time. I knew I was
in trouble when on my last date I used my rent money to get us golden circle
tickets to see Josh Groban. I didn’t feel lifted up and I was clearly not standing on
mountains. I don’t even like Josh Groban.
I knew I hit rock bottom when I saw Rebecca and Frank a week later at a dodgy
bar during happy hour nursing their “buy one get one free” drinks looking more in
love than Brad and Angie before they adopted their 24 children. It seems I got
Frank all wrong. There was something more going on other than his bigger
budget. Maybe Rebecca wasn’t the gold digger I made her out to be. (Can I get
a witness Kanye) Maybe……..and it hurts me too admit it…….maybe she was just
not that into me.
Just for clarity sake this is an analogy and Rebecca is taking the place of a
consumer with Frank and I being the competitor brands. Any hint of realism is
purely coincidental and the author would like to distance himself from any
suggestion that this scenario is anything but fictional.
Now that we got that disclaimer out of the way…….
I needed to educate myself and I knew I had to start watching what successful
brands like Frank did to trigger this affection and loyalty. I hate to admit this but I
started stalking Frank.
I realised that I was creating rational reasons for Rebecca choosing “old Frankie
with the receding hair” over me. Frank stopped dating Rebecca but he always
had a bevy of beauties around him and he caught me staring one day, walked
over to me and introduced himself. I said hi, held out my hand but my inner
dialogue went something like……..You are short and you have even less hair up
close and I know you spike girls drinks, I hope you get hit by a bus.
Frankie befriended me, completely surprised me with his consistent authenticity,
his humour, his disarming honesty, his great stories that had the whole bar
engaged and just being a transparently good guy.
I’m embarrassed to say a few weeks ago I got into a fight. Some guy was talking
smack about my mate Frank. When another friend confronted me I post
rationalized. Dude, you don’t fight WTF. I was like….. I wasn’t defending anyone
but the Oke stepped on my Stan Smiths and no one f*#s with my Adidas.
9. My Agency brings all the brands to the Yard.
So, the account executive said, just for clarity sake, you want me to think “outside
the box” and come up with a brand solution while spending R2m on a Media
campaign on a national channel that will reach women 18 -25, LSM 8 -10. Oh and
to make sure we focus on the functional benefits of our new cleaning product
that works just as well as the category leader but will be 20% less at launch.
You have to love this kind of brief because after fitting all the mandatory
requirements in the box there really is no other space available other than outside
the box. Unless management provides you with a bigger box, then you can put
Jack in there and pleasantly surprise everyone at the pitch.
What is fascinating is this idea that everyone is looking for the next big idea but
only if is very similar to the last big idea or the one big idea that has worked for our
main competitor. Because we all are looking for certainty and find ways to
mitigate risk and still lay claim to the next big thing.
It is like wanting the thrill and bragging rights of a bungee jump without
experiencing the scary bits. Consider this quote from Howard Aiken, a former IBM
engineer: "Don't worry about other people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are
any good, you'll have to ram them down people's throats." Why is it so difficult to
convince people of the merits of a fresh approach?
Could it be that brand problems became so complex that there is just no clear
solution in sight? A wicked problem is defined as a problem that is so complex
that there is no definitive statement to it; in fact, there is a broad disagreement of
what the problem is. There may be no agreement on the problem, its nature, its
goals, and its consequences among its multiple stakeholders. Obviously, without
a definitive statement of the problem there is no definitive solution either.
Wicked problems force us to work “outside the box.” We do not really “solve”
wicked problems; rather we “design” more or less effective solutions based on
how we define the problem.
Increasingly, today’s CEOs, Strategists and Marketers face wicked problems for
which they are ill equipped.
In a survey sponsored by Neutron and Stanford University, 1,500 top executives
were asked to identify the wickedest problems plaguing their companies.
1. Balancing long-term goals with short-term demands.
2. Predicting the returns on innovative concepts
3. Innovating at the increasing speed of change – organizational agility
4. Winning the war by world-class talent
5. Combining profitability with social responsibility
6. Protecting margins in a commoditizing industry
7. Multiplying success by collaborating across silos
8. Finding unclaimed yet profitable market space
9. Addressing the challenge of eco-sustainability
10. Aligning strategy with customer experience
These are wicked problems and some of them were not on a radar 10 years ago
so the chances of solving them through experience and everyday business
resources alone has got limited chance of success.
This looks like pretty dreary territory for brands to be in and how do you even
begin to address this?
The best way is to collaborate with objective opinion based parties that will bring
the following characteristics to the party.
1. Independent and objective no allegiance to any specific service provider
2. Cross functional (because marketing is too important to leave to marketers)
3. Brave. Because if it doesn’t scare you, it will not change the game.
4. Collaboration. Are you willing to park that ego at the door?
5. Willing to lead with why you exist as oppose to what you do.
But I’m sure my agency will be able to handle this because bigger is always
Service providers like advertising agencies and marketing consultancies will have
to take heed of the ever chancing complex Brand environments we navigate.
The focus need to shift towards solving business and Brand challenges through
intelligent and purposeful design through collaboration beyond traditional means.
Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs
in the square holes... the ones who see things differently ... Steve Jobs
Steve understood that design can create solutions. He knew how to address
wicked problems. He was brave and brave people and brave Brands leave
1. Who is solving your brand/business problems?
People need to ask if advertising can solve all their brand problems. If not what
do agencies offer beyond ads whether that is conventional ads or in a digital
space. If my brand has adequate awareness levels how do I improve market
share and the answer is not necessarily an on pack promotion or a price off. In
the end the solution to a brand problem could be anything from a product,
design, a process, education, packaging, new services, advertising, digital tools,
events and or social media activities. The new agency model would define itself
as problem solvers. Most agencies do but the proof is in their structure as well as
the capabilities of their service offering.
2. Who’s telling your story
Storytellers are key. Writers would always be an essential part of the team. Not
necessarily copywriters. You need people who truly could write and tell stories.
Hell maybe you need people that write screenplays, work in theatre and other
things that touches your heart.
3. Design should be at the core
Consumers expect nothing but excellence and that is possible through design.
The focus need to shift towards solving business and Brand challenges through
intelligent and purposeful design through collaboration beyond traditional means.
Design goes beyond hours on a Mac and creative direction. Business today face
problems that is quite complex. Who is designing your solutions and are they well
equipped to do so?
4. Charge for ideas not production
What? Yes I said it. When you run an agency that solves problems and tell brand
stories the revenue model of old makes no sense. Agencies that are built around
making money through production, eventually leads to ideas that are made to
make money for the agency not the client. Production will become a
commodity, great ideas never will. Smart Brand owners understand this.
5. Collaborate with engineers, architects and industrial designers. (a Rocket
scientist if need be)
The big problems in the future will not be how to advertise but how to enhance
the brand offering using product and service innovation. Future branding will be
all about solving complex (wicked) problems for clients by whatever means it
10. Follow the leader
I sat in an innovation workshop a few years ago amongst mid and top
management and we were discussing ways to innovate and take the company
to the next level. While there were a lot of discussions focussed around products
and strategy it bugged me that nobody was talking talent. I couldn’t understand
why none of the junior brand teams were included when there was a lot of
discussion around bringing in fresh faces to drive new approaches and innovative
ideas. I never got an adequate answer but today I realised that leadership has a
lot more to do with your actions than what is said.
“Companies that are made up of clusters of leaders will actually accelerate their
growth by speeding up their rate of innovation as their competition pulls back,
build better teams by investing in people while their rivals shrink training budgets,
and pick up top talent as their industry peers lay people off. And so fast
companies understand that unsettling times are actually gifts for them and these
periods should be used to get so far ahead of the competition that they can
never catch up.”
― Robin S. Sharma, The Leader Who Had No Title
People often confuse management with leadership. Managers control and
motivate, Leaders enable and inspire.
Counting value vs Creating value You’re probably counting value, not adding it, if
you’re managing people. Only managers count value; some even reduce value
by disabling those who add value. If a diamond cutter is asked to report every 15
minutes how many stones he has cut, by distracting him, his boss is subtracting
By contrast, leaders focus on creating value, saying: “I’d like you to handle A
while I deal with B.” He or she generates value over and above that which the
team creates, and is as much a value-creator as his or her followers are. Leading
by example and leading by enabling people are the hallmarks of action-based
Circles of influence vs Circles of power Just as managers have subordinates and
leaders have followers, managers create circles of power while leaders create
circles of influence.
The quickest way to figure out which of the two you’re doing is to count the
number of people outside your reporting hierarchy who come to you for advice.
The more it happens the more likely it is that you are perceived to be a leader.
Leading people vs Managing work. Management consists of controlling a group
or a set of entities to accomplish a goal. Management at its core is about
balancing time, quality and money. Based on the business objective it may slant
towards one corner of this triangle to the detriment of the other factors.
Leadership refers to an individual’s ability to influence and enable others to
contribute toward organizational success. Influence and inspiration separate
leaders from managers, not power and control.
Simon Sinek says in his new book called” Leaders eat Last” I know of no case
study in history that describes an organization that has been managed out of a
crisis. Every single one of them was led.
Marine leaders are expected to eat last because the true price of leadership is
the willingness to place the needs of others above your own. Great leaders truly
care about those they are privileged to lead and understand that the true cost of
the leadership privilege comes at the expense of self-interest.
Are we building organizations that will create the next generation of great
marketers or are we micro managing every move because really…….what do
these kids know?
The Litmus test could be to watch management at the next conference and see
if table nr 1 gets served first. Maybe it is oversimplifying the issue but it’s still a fun
11. How to get fired like a Rock Star
**Please read disclaimer at the end
There is something that’s been bugging me for a long time about brand
communication. Why do we use the same tools and the same story lines to
communicate diverse products and services? As mentioned earlier there is a
place and time for most mediums and I am a sucker for storytelling, but here is the
thing……….don’t bore us.
Homework: Watch 10 ads tonight and before the big, brand reveal at the end
see if you can guess which brand it is and see if you can differentiate between
the financial service ad and the washing powder one.
I think if brand custodians start seeing themselves as consumers first and how they
like to be communicated too they will stop listening to the “advertising experts”
Industry gurus still insist that demographic segmentation is the be all and end all of
targeting consumers, that big media is a non-negotiable to increase brand
awareness, and that humour (or an attempt at it) will make all brands thrive.
We call this the safe option because there is a saying that goes “No Marketer has
ever been fired for suggesting a TV ad”
The big Multi nationals have deep pockets and Big media is not going away
anytime soon. These channels are not always the most efficient for every brand
and the Connection economy is going to insist that more Brave marketers
question the wisdom of throwing a few mil at a particular medium and hope it
resonate with their target.
There will come a time in the near future when you start to lose market share and
you will brief your agency to address this. They may come back with a storyboard
of the quirky husband that throws a tantrum in the supermarket because his wife
does not want to buy his favourite baked beans and then start to dance for no
At this exact juncture, look at your boss and say: ‘If we produce this ad I am
burning this Bitch down” Walk to your desk and collect the pre-packed box with
your personal belongings and get the hell out of there. Do not pass Start, do not
collect the R200 and don’t wait for the “We are letting you go due to
subordination or your bad attitude” speech.
**Disclaimer: Please think about your options prior to pulling this stunt. The title is
not ‘How to get fired like a Rock Star and proceed to land a six figure job at
Google” The author will not take responsibility for your actions and will not provide
financial assistance while you search for new employment.
12. The End
There are some really great minds out there that has really inspired me to question
some of the thinking prevalent in Marketing today. Guys like Seth Godin, Stanley
Hainsworth, Simon Sinek, Tom Fishburne, Michael Margolis and the list goes on.
There are some South African Marketing Rock Stars in the making. My request to
the Marketing gatekeepers out there is give these kids a platform to play their
Berger, Jonah (2013). Contagious. Great Britain Simon & Schuster UK Ltd
Godin, Seth (2012). The Icarus Deception USA Portfolio/Penguin
Guber, Peter (2011). Tell to Win USA Crown Business
Middleton, Simon (2012). Brand new You UK Hay House
Millman, Debbie (2011). Brand new You USA Allworth Press
Mumaw, Stefan (2011). Chasing the Monster Idea USA Wiley
Lindstrom, Martin (2008). Buy.ology USA Doubleday
Lois, George (2012). Damn Good Advice (for people with talent) USA Phaidon
Sharma, Robin (2011). The Secret Letters of the Monk who sold his Ferrari Canada
Signorelli, Jim (2012). StoryBranding USA Greenleaf Book Group Press
Sinek, Simon (2003). Start with Why. USA Portfolio Penguin
Smith, Paul (2012). Lead with a story. USA AMACOM
Voltz, Stephen & Grobe, Fritz (2013). The Viral Video Manifesto. USA McGraw-Hill
Online Articles / Websites
A Tale of Two Chickens (2010)
Forget about the masses, Target the influencers.
Brand Storytelling 101 (2012)
How Chrysler Drove Real Sales, Not Just Social Media Buzz (2012)
Tom Fishburne blog (2014)
Three Differences Between Managers and Leaders (2013)
Chrysler Eminem Super Bowl Commercial - Imported From Detroit (2013)
Joe Staples on Chrysler's "Born of Fire" (2013)
Fernanda Romano on Dulux's "Let's Color Project" (2011)
Peter Guber and Tony Robbins: The Stories We Tell (2013)
Simon Sinek, An Experiment in Humanity (2011)
TEDxMaastricht - Simon Sinek - "First why and then trust" (2011)
Creating a loved brand by telling a story: Tether (2010)
Winning the Story Wars: Jonah Sachs at TEDxRainier (2013)
Awe!thenticity: Mark Ecko at TEDxMidwest (2012)