October 08, 2006

Chairman and CEO of Time Inc.: Ann Moore

Ann began her discussion with a commentary on the relative simplicity of media in the past. Consumers are time starved and they are demanding content on their terms – when they want it and how they want it.

For example, fashion used to be dictated by magazines and it changed every year. 97% of women today prefer their own style.

People are making fewer trips to the super market, which means that Time has fewer opportunities to sell magazines. That’s why they are sending LIFE magazine along with newspapers.

Time spent reading magazines has decreased 37 minutes in the past 3 years. Time Inc. has adapted to a much more visual format with snippets that lend themselves to quick reads.

Subscriptions to magazines is low, particularly among men. In 2006, for the first time, there was more online advertising than magazine advertising.

America’s trust of publications, corporations and government is at an all time low. Consumers are seeking loyalty and integrity in their institutions. 72% of consumers think that wrong-doing is common among American businesses. They also think that journalists are sloppier and less trustful than in past decades.

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October 07, 2006

Gary Elliott: VP of Brand Marketing for The Hewlett-Packard Company

Gary kicked off the discussion by addressing the recent issues that have been in the press. He said that it was definitely not the right thing to do and that it won’t happen again.

He outlined 3 paths of brand change:

  • Radical upheaval
  • Reinvention
  • Continuous change

The underlying platform of these three paths is that brands need to remain fresh.

What happens when a brand stops being fresh? Poor business results, consumer dissatisfaction and employee confusion.

Gary’s recipe for freshness:

  • Stay genuine - Gary showed several TV spots by Goodby, Silverstein that illustrate how HP is keeping their brand fresh in a genuine way.

  • Engage employees – HP launched a “One Voice” campaign to align its associates to a single message across all touchpoints.

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Sony Electronics' Mike Fasulo and Chris Fawcett, with McKinney's Brad Brinegar

As a person that is often chastised by his wife for watching too much TV (I know you men out there can empathize), it was a pleasure, no…a privilege to blog about Sony Electronics’ transition to flat panel TVs.

The discussion was kicked off by Mike Fasulo, CMO of Sony Electronics. Chris Fawcett from Sony and Brad Brinegar of McKinney (Sony’s agency) also joined the discussion.

Mike provided background on Sony’s historical success with engineering of Trinitron and other great products.

The challenge: Sony was late to market with LCD TVs and, as a result, had to partner with Samsung to manufacture these products. So how do you regain market leadership when you’re asking a sizable price premium to the current leader, for products you make on the same production line as one of your competitors?

Sony segmented the market and keyed in on consumers with 2 critical behaviors: those who pay high prices and are early adopters. Sony called these people Techno-socialites.

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October 06, 2006

Becky Saeger: EVP and CMO of The Charles Schwab Corporation

Becky Saeger had to reinvent the Charles Schwab brand in order to ward off an onslaught of discount shops, high end competitors and the effects of the early 2000s market downturn. Her presentation outlined how she went about re-building one of the strongest brands in America.

The brand was founded as juxtaposition to the Wall Street brokerage firm and achieved great success through the 70s, 80s and 90s. However, by the time the new millennium rolled around, the perception of the industry was tanking due to corporate scandals and there was very little innovation in the category. The consumer did not perceive any differentiation among the key brands in the space. As Schwab extended beyond its core individual investor focus and added more incremental fees and complex services, the brand suffered and this was reflected in the stock price and consumer attrition.

In July 2004, Charles Schwab came back as CEO. The two primary objectives were to refocus the business and commit themselves to their clients. They dramatically cut programs and sold companies that did not serve the core individual investor. This enabled the company to cut $375M in costs in 1 year.

With respect to Marketing, Schwab had to align their agencies and key partners around the brand, efficient execution and accountability of marketing. The marketing department had to prove to the rest of the company, via ROI measurement tools, that marketing is a place to invest vs. cut expenses.

Becky showed us dozens of ad clips among the major players and it was clear that there was no differentiation.

Research revealed that they should focus on the core of their brand vs. “chasing the next shiny object”. The founder of the company, Charles Schwab, represented several positive attributes: Trust, Approachability, etc.

So the group came up with a new campaign, “Talk to Chuck”. After 3 months in test market, they found that they were moving the needle on every key attribute. It is an emotional and empathetic platform that yields great flexibility in its application across various consumer touch points.

It led to a breakthrough broadcast advertising campaign, internal training documents that are focused on empathetic interaction with individual investors.

Brand scores and sales are up dramatically behind the new campaign. However, Becky’s team continues to research consumer insights and hone their messaging. She showed us five commercials, some of them new. Some of them were so reflective of the consumer situation that it sounded like something I would say to my wife. I bet they pulled the copy straight from consumers.

P&G's Chairman of the Board, President, and Chief Executive: AG Lafley

As a former P&Ger, it was a great pleasure to write a blog reflecting on AG Lafley’s opening address to the 2006 ANA conference. It was a brilliant tutorial on the fundamentals of marketing and how they are evolving and becoming even more relevant in today’s world.

AG began his speech with a reminder that the fundamental principles of his message from his address to the ANA in 2000 remain the same today.

  • The consumer is boss and is becoming more demanding and selective
  • Need for big ideas and great advertising
  • Push to pull marketing is accelerating
  • Key consumer questions:
    • Whom is our target?
    • What is the brand promise?
    • How do we communicate with the consumer?

Although the fundamentals have remained the same, there are several marketing elements that have evolved significantly over the past 6 years.

  • Media fragmentation
  • Technology explosion – “We only have to look in our pockets and purses to realize that”
  • Overwhelming choices for consumers
  • Consumers own brands – manufacturers need to stop thinking about brands from their own point of view

“These changes provide a great opportunity for Marketers to touch consumers’ lives at every major touch point”. AG then outlined the roles of various consumer touch points and showed some incredible examples that illustrated his points:

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