A lot has been written lately about the changing profile of the CMO, a role which faces an increasingly complex set of stakeholders and expectations (“10 Great Expectations: What CEOs Want From Their CMOs”) as it is engulfed by empowered consumers, big data, digital media pervasion, and accelerated technology innovation cycles. While CMO tenures have slightly increased to an average of less than four years, the role remains a hot seat. Technology savvy, analytics prowess, and strict ROI measurement are almost unanimously heralded as the key attributes of a successful marketing leader. The CMO is expected to be a business strategist, innovator, and change agent, while at the same time also acting as the brand evangelist, inspirational communicator-in-chief, and cross-functional collaborator. Tough one. How can today’s CMO succeed in times of hyper-connectivity when long-held beliefs are shattered, audiences are transient, and “software is eating the world” (Marc Andreessen)?
I had the great pleasure of speaking at The Great Indian B2B Marketing Summit in Bangalore yesterday, organized by Jessie Paul, the former CMO of Indian outsourcing juggernaut Wipro, author of the book “No Money Marketing,” and founder of Paul Writer, a marketing consultancy cum hub that runs an influential online CMO Roundtable and other formidable programs to facilitate the exchange amongst the Indian marketing community. The program was quite an eclectic mix of topics, ranging from social media and digital marketing trends, to market development, to marketing leadership, to personal branding.
Silver Fish Hand Catch! As the social web’s echo chamber is gushing about Wieden+Kennedy (W+K)’s masterful Old Spice campaign (actor and former football star Isaiah Mustafa wowing viewers with his smooth-talking delivery in video replies to hundreds of online queries or comments tweeted to him by web users), first spoofs are manifesting its pop-cultural credentials, and the meta-story is increasingly becoming the story ("how did they do it?"), both practical and philosophical questions arise. The jury is still out on the campaign’s commercial impact (various news sites and blogs are reporting that sales have fallen by 7%, which various other news sites and blogs dispute). I’m more interested in the campaign as a cultural phenomenon and its lasting implications: Is it a one-off nifty idea or are we witnessing the emergence of something bigger than that, a whole new paradigm for marketers and content producers, as Mashable claims?
As we’re inundated with hero shots of the iPad every day, on every billboard and the back of every magazine cover, it appears to be a good time to rethink the relationship between advertising and product, between marketing and innovation. It’s not that Apple doesn’t spend any money on advertising – no, it was pouring a whopping $500 million into its launch campaign for the iPad. But what is different is that Apple’s marketing doesn’t have to be clever or utterly creative. In fact, it is stunningly not so. No major social media campaign needed to be sparked, no user-generated content contest needed to be held. And while the ongoing tongue-in-cheek anti-Microsoft ads are undeniably cute, they are not really an advertising revelation. Gone are the days of the bold “1984” campaigns. Today, Apple has earned enough attention to forgo any ostentatious marketing, in fact, so much that a cleverly orchestrated campaign would distract from the brand rather than boosting it. The company simply displays its products – that’s all it takes. Apple’s products are viral without any viral marketing.
Over the course of the past twelve months, I wrote several blog posts and articles about the Chief Meaning Officer, a role which I envision as an innovative leader who employs the new social power of marketing – provisioned by Social as a governing principle of all business interactions – to transform his/her organization (Charlene Li also elaborates on this theme in her new book Open Leadership). I presented this concept at some conferences including next in Hamburg, mostly to fellow marketers or representatives from digital agencies, and you can also hear me riff on it in this podcast produced by Dutch brand agency Energize. I received a ton of feedback: encouragement, endorsements, and consent, but also skepticism suggesting that this model might just be another marketing fad. Invited by BIDC, the Beijing Industrial Design Center, I was extremely grateful to have the opportunity to introduce the idea to a group of Chinese designers at a workshop in Beijing a few weeks ago. It was the first time I shared the Chief Meaning Officer framework in a different cultural and professional context, and it was a welcome reality check.
First of all, I had the pleasure to speak at re:publica in Berlin, perhaps the most political of all web conferences. The gathering, now in its 5th year, has evolved from a forum on digital governance to a somewhat unique and truly German hybrid of deep philosophical discourse (about the role of the individual in the digital space) and hands-on advice for practitioners. It felt a little bit like going back to college while working in a start-up. Intellectualism with street cred.
A list of visionaries, sense makers, disruptors, game changers and contrarians.
As the world slowly emerges from the economic gloom, and the “hyper-social real-time web” requires new organizational designs, it’s clear that business as usual will not be so usual anymore. Yet fundamental concerns remain, both for business leaders, who face the challenge of innovating in a hyper-transparent and always-on environment, and for consumers, who are increasingly searching for non-economic values amidst the shattered trust in business and the information overload. Smart companies recognize the historic opportunity to transform the way they do business and provide customers with more value-rich, sustainable, and meaningful products, services, and business models. From “un-entitlement” to “disruptive realism” to “for-profit activism” – here are some of the new paradigms that shape meaning-driven brands.
For the first time in 23 years, Pepsi Co. has decided to not run any advertisements during the Super Bowl in 2010. Instead, the nation’s second-biggest soft drink maker is plowing marketing dollars into its "Pepsi Refresh Project," an online community that allows Pepsi fans to list their public service projects, which could range from helping to feed people to teaching children to read. Visitors to the site can vote to determine which projects receive money. The program will pay at least $20 million for projects people create to "refresh" communities. Last year, Pepsi Co. spent $33 million advertising products such as Pepsi, Gatorade, and Cheetos during the Super Bowl, according to TNS Media Intelligence, $15 million of it on Pepsi alone. Ad time last year for the NFL championship game cost about $3 million for 30 seconds, on average. Pepsi Co. spokeswoman Nicole Bradley said Super Bowl ads don’t work with the company's goals next year: "In 2010, each of our beverage brands has a strategy and marketing platform that will be less about a singular event and more about a movement." Pepsi's remarkable decision epitomizes the new paradigms of marketing: Online instead of TV; many-too-many instead of one-too-many; engagement instead of advertising; sharing instead of broadcasting; movements instead of events; communities instead of campaigns.
Here's how you do product demos right: Advertising firm BBH has produced a series of videos for the Google Chrome browser, and you have to give them credit for creating such intuitive, almost naive metaphors for a very unemotional 'technocratic' brand. Since Peter Greenaway no one has married math and artistic expression more convincingly. It's truly "A New Way to See the Internet."
A full-page ad in USA Today on Friday and in the New York Times today marks the next chapter of the never-ending “the conversation is your brand” saga. Trident, the chewing gum maker, bought the placements, and instead of using them to promote its latest product (Trident Layers) with the usual mix of emotionally resonant narrative, sharp copy, and persuasive imagery, it chose to feature select tweets about the product under the tagline “The people have Tweeted."