October 08, 2006

Fran Kelly, Arnold Worldwide, and Ken Romanzi of Ocean Spray

The author of The Breakaway Brand Fran Kelly and the COO of OceanSpray Ken Romanzi joined forces to share the case study of their brand transformation.

Fran starts out by reminding us that the CMO only gets about 18 months to prove their worth before they are out. This is why he wrote the book. It’s key to get your brand from good to great. He asked how many people in the room actually feel like they’ve been able to bring a brand to great. Only a few raised hands – yep, Becky Saeger, CMO for Charles Schwab among them. (Full disclosure- Becky is my boss.)

Fran says that breakaway branding can be done. The problem is that there are 10 things you have to get right not just one.Here are a few nuggets, the rest you’ll read about in the book:

  • You have to be committed from the very beginning. Easier said than done. By definition you have to do things that have never been done before. People will not applaud you along the way since it’s new. That takes courage.

  • Then you have to start with a good idea. Duh. But he emphasizes the importance of letting bad ideas go. Once you have the right idea you have to keep building on it and improving it.

  • Finally you have to make sure that the products that come along reinforce the brand. He thinks JetBlue is a great example of courageous brand building in a tough market.

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October 07, 2006

Lawrence Flanagan, EVP and CMO of Worldwide Marketing and Communications, Mastercard Worldwide

He starts with a quick summary of company stats:

NYSE traded with a market cap of 9.4 billion

Their model is business to business

$2.9B in revenue in 05

Market opportunity is now in cash and check displacement not so much their traditional credit card business. Lots of jargon here – I think he mean that consumers are using a card as a substitute for cash so that the payment category is what’s new and growing.

Now to the story…

In 96, their org was siloed, unaligned strategies, competition was ahead and bad ads coming out of the marketing department (gasp!). Your typical “we’re up a creek” type scenario.

They set a new course.

Started with new leadership – hired a new CEO, focused on the brand and rebuilt the sales organization.

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October 06, 2006

James McDowell, Managing Director, MINI USA, BMW of North America

James L. McDowell told us the story of the MINI – one of the most important products for BMW. He starts out by asking how many in the audience have a friend with a MINI, where about 1/3 of the crowd raises their hands. He tells us that the MINI has actually been around since the 50’s – starting with the Austin 850. It didn’t do well in the US since it was half the size of an American car, so the MINI is the story of a reinvention.

First, they needed to establish a new customer base and energize the brand. The MINI stats today: owners are mostly male, but some are females. Only 32 people work for the company, but they sell 40,000 cars per year. What’s unique is that MINI has a truly emotional bond with people. That’s special in the marketplace and what helps make it so different in their minds.

60% of purchasers customize their car waiting up to 6 months for it to be built- with everything including color, and the dashboard experience being personalized. They can track where it is in production and how far along the supply chain it’s moved. People want to make their MINI theirs from day one. The MINI is more like a first home – more than just a house. MINI drivers feel like this is exactly what they need, and all they need. As a benefit they get a thrilling driving experience while not consuming much gas. It’s for people that are open in more ways than one. That seems to be the theme of his talk and what they’ve learned about their customers- who are those looking for adventure and different paths in life; clearly the cars are not for everyone but for some, they are the perfect choice.

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Linda Kaplan Thaler: CEO and CCO of The Kaplan Thaler Group

Linda Kaplan Thaler, CEO of the Linda Kaplan Thaler Group and author of the current bestseller, The Power of Nice.

Her remarks begin with the claim that the 30 second commercial is dead or on its last breath. A familiar concept but one worth review with the conference theme of Reinvention. Actually she admits right away that she’s given this speech many times over the past 5 years and her message is the same. Well, if no new insights for the group, let’s hope it’s at least entertaining. Whew! It is a romp of quips and video clips.

The first video explores what life might look like in 2016 after consumers tire of all other media like the internet and wireless. In this imaginary universe, the 30 second spot makes a comeback a la Izod and checkered Vans. The paradigm shifts back to “You’ll take what we give you and you’ll like it!” where consumers tire of telling companies what they want and getting it. Instead they want to go back to being passive cows. Next thing we know the video tells us the 30 second spot wins a lifetime achievement award and an even more ridiculous assertion…George Bush wins his second Nobel prize for his achievements in astrophysics – Ha! That one sent the crowd roaring for a full belly laugh. Lots of marketers flew in from the blue states I guess.

The next bit is "Miss 'I don’t know how to view a roughcut' Lady" – Thaler says that when her career working on commercials is over, she is really going to miss the young inexperienced clients that she’s worked with over the years – especially those with a penchant for stating the obvious – ouch.

Dogvertising (hey, that looks like my bulldog Utta up there!), tummy-itizing, ads over urinals – all new forms of reaching consumers. She thinks the “babyberry” is next on the horizon with children scheduling their own playdates.

Her agency does lots of pharma ads. And according to Thaler, morale has skyrocketed since they won Zoloft :) The jokes just keep coming and she has the audience right where she wants them.

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