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Thursday, December 01, 2005

Why so many copycats? Testosterone and....

Dov Gordon of The Gordon Group, a management consultancy in Israel, was surprised to learn from one of my posts that BK’s Subservient Chicken campaign hadn’t increased sales. From reading about the campaign in marketing publications, his perception was that it was hugely successful.

"When you get a chance, please tell me why you think it is that advertising and marketing people continue with these viral campaigns if sales have not gone up. What’s their rationalization?"

First I sent Dov a link to Adrants about the new Maxtor campaign, yet another Subservient Chicken copycat.

Then tried to answer his question.

1. Marketing and advertising people are getting rather desperate. Traditional advertising isn’t working so there’s a rush to create something new that will.

2. Many don’t know how – or may not want to – or aren’t responsible for – doing the heavy lifting needed to increase sales. Making less “stuff” and listening more to customers in new ways to get ideas on how to deliver more value. Developing more thoughtful insights and new ideas to help customers and create loyalty. While new roles are emerging in marketing, the silos and old rules still remain. Advertising is still very promotional and creative driven.

3. Wacky “innovative” ideas, spun right, look good on a resume Most marketers aren’t responsible for creating new customer value models, which is a real career builder. That’s usually the CEO’s domain. So they often feel stuck in the realm of tactics.

4. Now this one is likely to get me in trouble, but I have data from a study by Dr. Kevin Clancy, CEO of Copernicus to prove it. There’s a whole lot of testosterone in marketing and advertising. The boys posture, brag, taunt, copy -- and are afraid to say the emperor has no clothes. They make more decisions based on their gut than women do. They create campaigns and promote them so well that people like Dov think they were successful, when they were not.

5. And then there’s the copycat mentality….

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Anonymous Dov Gordon said...

Hi Lois,

To clarify, the real surprise for me was AdWeek’s claim that the campaign had grown chicken sales 9% a week! (I assume initially.) These campaigns go against everything that I advise my clients - but I figured, "Hey, you can't argue with success."

But your insider information that chicken sales really have NOT improved at Burger King reinforced my original view that it is a huge waste of resources and may be more damaging than helpful.

I understand the view of the CMO quoted in your November 30th post where he said he’s only interested in marketing tactics whose impact on sales can be measured. However, he, too, is missing something critical.

Strategy is NOT a well-thought-out-ingenious-plan-on-steroids as most people seem to think. (Those are the ones who talk about ‘implementing’ their strategy. You can’t ‘implement’ a strategy.) Nor is it a goal (as in those who say "Our strategy is to be the largest [whatever]...")

Few understand strategy although everyone thinks they’re a master.

STRATEGY HAPPENS ON TWO LEVELS: First the strategic level and only then up to the tactical level.

The strategic level demands that we ask two questions:

1. "Who precisely is our target market?" (You no doubt target multiple market segments, even for one product or service.)

2. For each market segment you then ask: "How do they need to perceive us in order to want to buy our product or service?"

Only after we have a DEEP understanding of the people we want to serve can we choose our tactics.

A TACTIC’S JOB IS TO CREATE THE REQIURED PERCEPTION. Note: the required perception is NOT the way YOU want to be perceived but the way THEY need to perceive you in order to want to buy. This is lost on most people.

Now we ask: "What are the best things to do to move from where we are now to a place where our target market perceives us the way THEY need to perceive us in order to want to buy our product or service?"

A PLAN is nothing but a series of tactics. ("We will have a sale and we will advertise on the radio to promote the sale." A simple two step plan.)

Next step is to STRATEGIZE your tactics so you ask: "What is the ultimate, ideal outcome of this tactic, plan or system?"

The ultimate ideal outcome is to create the perception you learned about at the strategic level. Only a plan built on this foundation deserves the moniker of “strategic plan.”

For example, if you are a lawyer meeting a potential client, that meeting is a tactic. Your goal should not be to walk out with a project but to walk out leaving the prospect thinking “I wish I had started working with this guy three years ago when I was dealing with…[whatever].” See the difference?

Most people focus on closing deals and making sales. But this is a short-sighted view that leads to erratic results.

The true strategic thinker focuses on understanding how he needs to be perceived and sets out to create that perception.

If I can lead you to perceive me as just the kind of person you want to do business with, it is only a matter of time before you buy from me.

Perception can be measured. It is done all the time. The CMO should focus on tactics that will create the RIGHT PERCEPTION. Sales will be a natural consequence.

THE BURGER KING PEOPLE give the impression of amateurs. Let's take a look at some of the comments offered in the AdWeek article.

Said Brian Gies, VP of Marketing Impact at BK: "We wanted to launch the product and make a splash with a new product introduction in an unconventional way, but at the same time, staying true to the brand promise ['Have it your way']."

Burger King has been struggling for years, right? So why are they so committed to the *brand promise* of ‘Have it your way.’ Has anyone bothered to challenge this? I wonder…

But a *brand promise* and a slogan are merely TACTICS. A tactic’s job is to create a perception.

What is the goal of a product launch – to get everyone talking about THE LAUNCH or to get everyone buying (or eating) and talking about the PRODUCT?!

I prefer the latter. Yet BK’s prime objective as demonstrated from their own comments was to get people talking about the launch.

I would advise BK to change Mr. Gies’ title to VP of PERCEPTION Impact – this might make his job clearer to him.

Here are some more fascinating quotes:

Said Andrew Keller, creative director at Burger King’s lead agency, Crispin Porter + Bogusky: “A Web campaign, with its guaranteed interactivity, unlike print or TV, was a logical place to explore the "Have it your way" strategy. Interactive media are a great place for us to be because that's really the media that most closely resembles what we're trying to offer in store."

Huh? Never in my life have I been drawn to a restaurant because of the *interactivity* offered there. I’ve gone for good food, quick food, healthy food, a place to sit and think or sit and talk, etc. But NEVER for interactivity. Have you?

Andrew, does BK need to be perceived as a company that finances some good viral ads or as a great place to go for a good quick meal? Me thinks the latter.

Only a VERY creative creative director could dream that one up.

What should they change HIS job title to?

From Keller: “"I want people going to BK, talking about BK. I got a call from a friend of my wife. She said, 'I was in Burger King and I don't know why.' That to me is an effect of advertising.”

To me an effect of advertising is “You know BK said their new chicken sandwich was very good so I went and tried it. Surprise surprise – it REALLY WAS delicious. I’ll be going there again.” In other words they go – and they even know why!

Well, there’s more to say but this has certainly grown long enough.

Dov Gordon

PS – Sorry for all the caps. I couldn’t figure out the html tags.

PPS - The AdWeek article is here: http://www.adweek.com/aw/national/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1000828049

5:54 AM  
Anonymous Chris Selland said...

This sounds a lot like what Sergio Zyman said of the famous 'Mean Joe Greene' Coca Cola ad (the one where he gives his jersey to a young boy who offers him a Coke). The ad was widely-admired and won lots of awards, but had little to no impact on revenue - matter of fact he claims it hurt sales.

He details all of this in his book 'The End of Marketing as We Know It'.

10:53 AM  

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