The dominant theme of the second, conference day of the World Federation of Advertisers annual Global Marketer Week in Brussels was purpose. Purpose. The role that brands play in people's lives beyond the purely functional; the role of brands in society; their responsibility for giving something back; how brands enable positive change; what brands stand for; what their higher sense of purpose is in the world.
Time and again, different presenters showed how brands with a purpose - a raison d'être beyond pure profit and market domination - are better able to start and sustain meaningful conversations with customers, consumers and stakeholders. In each case, this isn't about corporate philanthropy of its own sake; it's about doing well by doing good, whether the purpose delivers social, environmental or economic benefits.
Kimberly Kadlec, CMO of Johnson & Johnson, set the bar high by showcasing an inspiring range of real life stories that deftly demonstrated the purpose that J&J has written into the heart of its brands' DNA, and the way that it has embraced real-life storytelling to make each individual purpose come to life. She showed how social and digital technology - exemplified in J&J's YouTube platforms and health channels - have transformed how the company reaches, builds and sustains patient communities. And she revealed how the company has evolved and rewritten the classic 4 Ps of marketing, from Product, Place, Price and Promotion, to become Purpose, Presence, Proximity and Partnership.
The theme of purpose was picked up by Manuel Patricio, CMO of AB InBev, and by Marc de Swaan Arons, Executive Chairman of Effective brands, stepping in at the last moment for Antonio Lucio, the global CMO of VISA. They both talked a lot of hard commercial sense about purpose, as did representatives of both the WFA and Edelman, reporting back on two recent studies. The WFA had polled its own membership about purpose, and was sharing findings from 149 members worldwide. And Edelman presented the findings from its most recent "good purpose" study, the fifth consecutive, annual study, which interviews 500 consumers in each of 16 markets worldwide, in both developed and developing economies.
Some highlights of these parallel studies included:
- 56% of brand custodians think that consumers are happy if brands "do well by doing good". Consumers are rather more bullish - 76% of consumers are actively looking for brands to build purpose into their core proposition.
- Consumers don't just seek brands with purpose in developed economies. In fact, consumers in emerging, particularly BRIC-MIST markets are more prepared to pay a premium for brands with a purpose. For some emerging markets, indeed, consumers are twice as likely as their peers in developed economies to reward brands for attaching themselves to and espousing a strong and relevant purpose.
- These findings reflect the results of a global study done by Ebiquity's reputation practice, Echo, and Boston-based CSR PR firm Cone Communications in 2011.
- A purpose needs to be fit for purpose, and successful purposes are generations beyond simple cause-related marketing tie-ups. Marketers are sensitive to the need for appropriateness of purpose, with 57% agreeing that not every brand can have a purpose without it feeling contrived. This is something that an overwhelming majority believe brands should strive to avoid.
- The company generally agreed to have embraced purpose-led marketing to its heart most effectively is Unilever - think Omo/Persil's Dirt Is Good and Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty. Unilever was closely followed by P&G, Coke and McDonald's.
The day was rounded out by one of the most impactful marketers of his generation - Andy Fennell, global CMO of Diageo. He talked of Diageo being in the aspiration game, whether they're selling a bottle at $5 or $150,000 (the 60 bottles of 1952 vintage Scotch blended to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee), Diageo is inviting consumers to buy a product that is more expensive than it needs to be for purely functional effects.
Fennell moved talk of purpose on to focus on "endeavour", and revealed that the company always gets its brand managers to ask and answer the killer question "Why does my brand exist?" By stripping brand purpose back to bare bones, by relentlessly focusing on the role the brand plays in the lives of its consumers, Diageo - like some of its cutting-edge peers - is helping brands to consolidate their social utility, in addition to their functional and emotional utility.
|Titbit of the day: the inimitable, irrepressible Vice Chairman of Ogilvy, Rory Sutherland, was without doubt the star turn of the conference, engaging and lifting the room of 300 senior, post-lunch marketers with a canter through behavioural economics. The classic "Plink, plink fizz" line for Alka Seltzer - suggesting that users plinked two tablets into their tumbler of water rather than the usual observed behaviour of one - saw a sustained sales uplift of 65%.|
Ebiquity is the Effectiveness Partner of the WFA and sponsored the WFA's 60th anniversary dinner on Wednesday 6 March 2013 in Brussels.
This week, the Facebook-owned photo service Instagram announced that it would be changing its EULA (End User Licence Agreement) to allow itself to sell user photos without notifying the photos' original uploaders. This comes only a month after Facebook Vice-President of Global Marketing Solutions, Carolyn Everson, said: "Eventually we'll figure out a way to monetise Instagram".
As usual Twitter users were the most vocal and least appreciative with their comments.
(taken from a sample of replies to a Tweet by USA TODAY)
The word monetisation seems to be a tad overused in relation to internet stories these days but when you dissect the mechanics bringing you services such as Facebook, Twitter and Google's free tools, it becomes rather like answer to life, the universe and everything in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: we already know the answer (and it's not 42!) but we now need to know the question.
Who pays for it all?
Take Facebook as an example. To run a global site like Facebook is a huge and costly enterprise. If you were thinking of doing this yourself to the same scale, first of all you would need server farms to host the thing. One in each area you want to deliver the service to. Global company? You're going to need a few of those.
Each server farm is a huge futuristic facility with industrial cooling and millions of pounds worth of server equipment that constantly needs monitoring, repairing and replacing. To do this you can't just rely on local IT support from the yellow pages either, you are going to need a lot of very highly trained professionals, the kind that are quite rare and never come cheap.
On top of these you will need all the staff, offices and organisation that any large corporation would need as well as a development team taken from the top mathematicians and programmers the world has to offer. Again, these don't come cheap.
You begin to realise that revenue made just from advertising may not stretch far enough to cover the vast costs involved in running a service on this scale and start to understand why 'monetisation' is so important to the people tasked with making these enterprises profitable.
I know this is unlikely to garner any sympathy for a sector which has made massive profits over the last few years while everyone else has been tightening their belts, but it does raise another point: how well are these organisations handling their communications to a user base who behave at times like a herd that will only graze on the greenest grass and happily follow each other to pastures new?
Back to our example, Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook have gone to great lengths to tell the story of the boy with an idea who fought the establishment and changed the world. Something that rouses the underdog-supporting, rebellious streak that exists in all of us but demands no more allegiance than simply creating a Facebook account to feel like part of the movement.
But communications like the aforementioned overuse of the word 'monetisation' by the Vice-President of Global Marketing Solutions can pop the bubble of the story that the social media use to sell themselves, be it bringing people together, providing a creative outlet for everyone or championing freedom of speech. Badly timed communications can remind everyone they are infact another multi-billion dollar corporation.
As with all other forms of business, understanding, coordinating and evaluating communications is key to success and when your user base is willing to mass-migrate in an instant, great care must be taken to establish, understand and protect any online service's brand reputation.
Because however these services choose to raise their revenue, retaining their user base is vital to their continued success. Instagram & Facebook are savvy enough operators to realise this and so they quickly reversed their decision to change their policies and put an immediate halt to the user migration that had started. Time will tell if there is any lasting reputational damage or loss of trust.
by Tom Mattey. Twitter: @graphical_tom
Earlier this week, I attended a PR Week conference on reputation management strategy. A chance to take the temperature of client and agency thinking on measurement of corporate and brand reputation; a chance to network with peers, rivals, clients and prospects; and, a chance to reflect on best practice. And perhaps - above all - a chance to think, to reflect on the dominant themes shaping industry understanding of how best to assess the impact of earned media and stakeholder opinion.
Practitioners, both agencies and client side, are all now well aware of the ways in which social media has changed brand and reputation management for good. Brand custodians now see only partial control as the new normal, and new paradigms and orthodoxies are really starting to take shape. And while many have built and are proud to showcase new methodologies of reputation measurement, what surprised me was that so many are still making up their minds about what they should be measuring, how and why.
And that focus is the nub of continued confusion, I think. If you're focused on the outputs of comms and the impact of these outputs on reputation, you're only ever going to scratch the surface. What matter are outcomes. It's not so much what's been produced - from retweets and likes to good old-fashioned column inches - it's what those outputs have done to change attitudes, behaviours, beliefs and advocacy. And it's only by linking communications measurement to business objectives and outcomes that we can know if there was any point doing what we set out to do.
The conference got off to a blistering start, with Conrad Bird from the Prime Minister's Office giving a compelling case history of the six-department GREAT Britain campaign. Just ten months old, riding on the coattails of the Olympics and triumphant in its recent "BOND IS GREAT Britain" activation around Skyfall, the campaign has already grown UK plc by a claimed quarter of a billion pounds on a ten-country investment of just tens of millions.
We learnt lots from Sky, Shell and Arcelor Mittal. I found Arcelor Mittal's Ian Louden's definition of reputation particularly appealing: Reputation + Aspiration = Brand, where Reputation is what people remember about us based on what we've done historically, Aspiration is our future promise, and so Brand is the whole concept of who we are, of what we stand for.
The savage independence of Stephen Jolly, Director of External Affairs and Communications from Cambridge University, was a blast of fresh air after lunch. In the same session, we also learnt that Mumsnet now makes as much as 25% of its revenue from insight alone, conducted directly with among its membership.
The day was rounded out by two barnstorming performances. First up was Alex Pearmain, the head of social media at O2 with whom I shared a platform earlier this year to launch the #smcustomer research we at Echo had conducted with Fishburn Hedges. Alex's storytelling about the dynamics and lessons learned from adopting a tongue-in-cheek yet respectful tone of voice during O2's mass outage last year are getting richer and more rounded. Alex will be missed when he moves on from O2 in the near future, but O2's loss is very definitely Brands2Life - and its clients' - gain.
The keynote to close the day came from PwC's Head of Reputation and Policy, Richard Sexton. He skilfully pulled together a number of key strands about earning and maintaining trust. He boiled it down to having more authentic conversations with the people and stakeholders who matter.
Delivering on your promises.
Doing the right thing.
In the age of social media more than ever, you can't demand to be trusted. You have to earn it.
Another year, another iPhone. Apple continued its now expected design life cycle with the recent release of the iPhone 5. I very much doubt that the launch of a new iPhone is met with any great enthusiasm amongst Apple's biggest rivals such as Samsung and Sony as it creates such a media furore that very
little else gets any coverage during that time. During last month's iPhone 5 launch, Apple enjoyed 63%* of online news coverage in the UK with their largest rival, Samsung holding 31%*, less than half. Of course this is during a week of an Apple product launch, so 31% is really quite promising for Samsung. But I'll come back to this.
Apple's ability to generate coverage (read: 'Free Advertising') in both traditional and social media is industry-leading. With a development cycle you could set a watch to, everyone knows when the next version of an Apple product is due to come out. The clever part is that this process generates its own publicity and coverage - publicity about the publicity phenomenon, coverage about coverage.
Back during the Olympics, the iPhone 5 rumour mill had already kicked into action. Samsung was investing heavily in top level Olympic advertising starring David Beckham. Meanwhile, Apple was sitting back, putting its feet on the table, knowing that by following the tried and tested technique of keeping its new products 'top secret' until launch date that a frenzied media, fan community and general public would hype itself with speculation to such an extent that everyone would be talking about the next iPhone eliminating the need for Apple to advertise its new release.
In the months building up to the iPhone 5 launch, large websites ranging from the tech specialists such as EnGadget and Gizmodo through to broader appeal sites such as the BBC & MSN, all ran stories containing no more than speculation on what new features the new iPhone would introduce.
This, I believe, is a legacy of the true genius of Steve Jobs. And I'm not denying that his Hindu/Zen inspired designs changed the face of consumer electronics or that his fearsome reputation for never compromising on his vision drove Apple mercilessly from near oblivion back to the very top of the industry. Indeed, Apple is now the single largest company in the world. But I believe his real skill laid in marketing. Long time Apple employee Daniel Kottke once said "Between Woz [Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple] and Jobs, Woz was the innovator, the inventor. Steve Jobs was the marketing person."
However this year I believe these rivals should view the release of this latest offering from Apple as an opportunity to claw back some of the lost reputational ground and indeed Samsung have come out of the blocks fast with its latest viral advert.
This strategy is clever because it plays to Apple's detractors while attempting to pull the rug out from under the die-hard Apple fans, painting them as the crowd following consumer drones that they originally embraced Apple so fervently to get away from. While this is tongue-in-cheek, it does represent a growing lever to shift Apple's reputation which its competitors would be wise to exploit.
Apple's modern incarnation is built around it being the 'underdog', a rebellious upstart promoting an open source philosophy (Linux based OS) and class leading design to challenge Microsoft. Microsoft was originally cast as the lumbering, profit orientated goliath, stifling individuality and employing questionable business practices in a relentless quest for market dominance. This was once famously summed up by Jobs in Rolling Stone magazine: "Unfortunately, people are not rebelling against Microsoft. They don't know any better." Witness the famous Ridley Scott directed '1984' advert. That's fine when you're a challenger brand, but perhaps not such a tenable position when you're the world's number one company by market capitalisation.
But a lot of industry analysts are now saying that Apple is starting to fall foul of the same trappings that they accused Microsoft and other companies of, when the company was less successful commercially.
In the last few years we've heard reports about working conditions at partner manufacturer Foxconn, accusations of patent infringements, European court inquiries into customers' statutory consumer rights, misrepresenting timing sequences and 4G capabilities in advertising.
All of these stories have been gratefully received and recounted by Apple's detractors but this negative publicity is usually outweighed by the positive publicity around amazing tech innovations and designs.
The reason I think the launch of the iPhone 5 should be viewed by competitors as a turning point, is that it has simply not garnered the same amazement, so there isn't the positive coverage to counterbalance the negative. Now people are starting to notice the principles Apple has forgotten to get to the top, such as dropping its open source roots in favour of locked systems like iTunes and the Appstore. Even straightforward operating system updates are now packaged and sold as 'new' operating systems and there are questions over the pricing model for the iPhone centred around memory capacity, with memory being by far the cheapest component.
It would be trite of me to predict the doom of Apple based on one underwhelming product launch, far from it. It is now one of the most powerful companies on the planet. But to me at least it is starting to seem that John Emerich Edward was right about absolute power in Apple's case.
*Data sourced by Echo Sonar social media and online news platform. Total articles: 3,946
I attended an interesting speaker lunch this week and one of the key takeaways for me was the speaker's opinion that the board of a company cannot be expected to control the operations of an organisation; they can only set the tone and create a culture where people 'do the right thing'.
This led me to think about the recently announced appointment of Antony Jenkins at Barclays, a man who has spent the past three years running Barclays' much less flashy retail banking division, in sharp contrast to the cut and thrust of Bob Diamond's BarCap origins.
As a lightning rod for criticism in an industry under fire, Barclays needed to move quickly to start rebuilding trust in their organisation. By repositioning themselves as a more consumer focused firm and moving away from the perception of a banking group led by investment bankers into the muddy waters of Libor and other such scandals, they are signalling a return to more traditional banking values.
|© Echo Research Ltd 2012
(click to enlarge)
Jenkins' appointment is interesting from a reputation management perspective, particularly when seen in the context of Barclays' new chairman, Sir David Walker. The combination of Jenkins, who has been in charge of the somewhat calmer waters of retail banking, together with Walker, who under a previous remit was charged with cleaning up the finance industry as well as creating the seminal report on transparency in the private equity industry, marks a visible shift in Barclays' corporate and reputational positioning.
It remains to be seen if Antony Jenkins and his board can change the culture at Barclays, but there is no doubt that as a figurehead, Jenkins is a valuable commodity. In data gathered by the Echo Sonar online media monitoring and analysis tool around the time of the half year financial results reporting at the end of July, CEOs featured in 29% of all financial results coverage seen globally, with Bob Diamond accounting for 48% of all CEO mentions in this coverage. There's no doubt that if Jenkins can leverage this high profile, he will be in a strong position to restore good will, trust and the expectations of public and shareholders alike.
Brands are promises. To be strong, those promises have to be lived and authentic.
And brands are judged by the company they keep - think Disney (& Coca Cola & HP), think McDonalds (& Dreamworks), think WWF (& BSkyB), think the 2012 Olympics (& Visa), even think Accenture & Tiger Woods. These associations can be powerful metaphors until there is a disconnect with your target audience's values. And that's what's happened here.
Part of News of the World's brand promise has been as the people's champion - the nation's newspaper fighting 'little people's' battles against the large, rich and powerful. Now they've turned against the ordinary people - soldiers' widows, parents of murdered children - and look more like the cynical corrupt elite they claim they target. Their brand promise is broken. If but on that basis, News of the World has become 'damaged goods' and would struggle
to survive this.
Legal issues and ethics aside, which the full and proper investigation should confirm or otherwise, the sense of betrayal that such a significant and trusted 'people's newspaper' would encourage, allow or turn a blind eye to abusing the vulnerable is staggering. People will remember that - those in Liverpool are still boycotting The Sun after its Hillsborough coverage.
For major advertisers, to do nothing, in terms of changing allegiances or stopping the association, indicates tacit approval and acceptance - and potentially tarnishing their own reputation as uncaring and socially irresponsible.
That is why the likes of Sainsbury's, NPower, Boots, O2 and even the Royal British Legion would not wish to be connected with the distaste that the hacking scandal has provoked among the general public, many of whom swell News of the World's significant readership. Keeping their own reputation intact by being true to their and their customers' core values matters more to them than the effectiveness of advertising through what was once the largest circulation newspaper in the country.
This is a legal matter, but it's also emotional, commercial and political. More has yet to come out and other media titles won't let this die.
Such as today's Economist piece on 'Streets of Shame':