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.
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.
It was just a matter of time: “With brands turning into curators of conversations about them and brand value increasingly determined by the value of aggregated content, third parties might be inspired to hijack these very brands by offering curated conversations on their behalf,” I wrote in early July.
And now Seth Godin and BzzAgent have done exactly this. The marketing guru and the marketing agency have launched a portal that aggregates conversations about brands and presents them in a unified public-facing dashboard that gives brands the chance to lead the discussion. Brands in Public translates the Get Satisfaction business model (a portal for public-facing aggregated customer support) into the broader realm of brand management. It aggregates the aggregation, if you will, and centralizes what Modernista, Skittles, and Crispin Porter Bogusky did on their own sites.
Our promised series on “Meaning-Driven Business” is taking shape. After introducing the concept of “Chief Meaning Officer” in the “Power” issue of design mind, we are going to formally launch this new forum in our upcoming special TEDGlobal issue (to be released on September 21) as well as on a special micro-site to be launched in a couple of weeks.
The conversation is continuing in other outlets, too, and some pundits want “meaning” to not only be an abstract concept, but a movement. Economist Umair Haque is one of them. His "Generation M (as in “meaning”) Manifesto" stirred some controversial reactions (just read the comments on his blog) – from unconditional endorsement to accusations of arrogance and naiveté. It is one out of many manifestos that have recently been published on the new “new economy” – this, too, is a sign of the times. Manifestos indicate an increased need for ideological alternatives – and meaning.
After participating in frog's first Digital Brand Think Tank in Munich a couple of weeks ago (a lively discussion with 20 marketing executives from Audi, BMW, Google, Continental, and other top-tier brands), I must admit that I’m a bit tired of having to evangelize (or even justify) the value of brands using social media. It is astonishing to me that companies still ask for evidence when the tweet is on the wall. The event showed that there is a new Digital Divide that cuts straight through the ranks of the marketing industry – some executives get the Social Web, some don’t. No one has figured it out yet. Most would admit that they need to catch up and keep learning.
Several blog posts this week, combined, pinpoint what are arguably the two most influential trajectories for the impact of communication technologies on business these days: from real-time web to real-time business, and from social media to social business design.
The $10 billion market for baby and young children’s furnishings (cribs, other case goods, layette, nursery decor, and the like) and accessories (car seats, strollers, baby monitors, diaper bags, etc.) is a lucrative market, and the baby stroller is one of its most competitive sectors. Hundreds of models vie for the attention of parents-to-be, and the level of detailed research, due diligence, and individual preferences may come close to the decision making process by an airline for the purchase of a Boeing 787. There are only few things – at least that’s what the industry makes you believe – that are as personal and intimately important to consumers as a baby stroller. The stroller embodies the commitment, care, and love that a couple chooses to devote to their newborn. It is the most visible representation of good parenthood. And in the US, the baby stroller market combines three quintessential American traits into a mind-boggling mix of over-commercialism: an abundance of choices, an obsession about mobility, driving, and vehicles, and a profoundly whacked out paranoia about deficient baby care. All that turns the stroller into a status symbol, especially after the chic Bugaboo arrived on the scene (thanks to Sex and the City) and became the must-have stroller for every DINK (double income-no kids), oops, with kids now – from Los Angeles to New York.
I just came back from the next09 conference in Hamburg, one of Europe's leading digital/creative/marketing forums that stands out in the conference circuit because of its unique German-international focus (bilingual program, 80% international attendees, many international speakers). This year's theme was "Share Economy," and the 1,300 attendees comprised of European VCs and angel investors, web 2.0 entrepreneurs, media, creative agencies, and execs from German corporations (from BMW to Deutsche Bank to Deutsche Telekom).