Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Marketing Alone, a Brand it Cannot Change

If you fill a marketing slot on the client side or you work on the agency side of the business, you are welcome to read this blog entry… but it’s not been written for you.

Most of the EXPERIENCE client relationships are built with CEOs.

Marketing people think that they are brand engineers, but in reality they are not.

If you are moved to get out a poster board and magic marker and jot this down… do it.

Marketing alone a brand it cannot change.

Two nights ago I saw a new Burger King television commercial. It was for a new BBQ sandwich.

It was airing on TruTV.

I doubt seriously that the new investment group that now owns Burger King often gets out in the field and tours Burger King restaurants.

Oh I am sure that they have been to a couple of their prototypes, but likely not the ones out there serving the masses.

The media person who placed the spot probably was hired away from Crispin’s media team when the account left the agency.

Placing the Burger King spot on TruTV was right smack on target with the limited television viewership of the bulk of the Burger King customer base.

The spot however, was a trip through the world of fantasyland… and that was not the intended genre of the film crew.

Crispin and the Burger King CEO at the time got it right.

Burger King restaurants are dated. The food is glutton tummy fillers. Single, working class, 24/7 guys are the mainstay of their customer base.

The new investment group owning Burger King believe that new commercials combined with some new food offerings can replace “Joe the paid-by-the-hour convenience store worker” with the “charming, white freckled-face family from the green-space, suburban home.”

I don’t think so.

My bet is that soon…

(a) The current agency gets fired and blamed for the falling sales

(b) Burger King goes back up on the selling block

© The freckled-faced kids aren’t back on the film set doing any follow-up spots

A few Sundays ago, I purchased the Atlanta Journal-Constitution to read while sipping a Starbucks light roast.

I had a “Tall” Starbucks light roast (that’s a small size) and I knew that the AJC would be quick read since there is truly limited text worth reading.

After 10 minutes, the coffee was gone and I had gotten through the news, but then tripped across an ad insert that caught my attention.

It was the Father’s Day ad insert for JCP… or as we have known it over the years, JC Penney.

I knew that JC Penney had hired Michael Francis as their brand-change agent. Michael Francis is the brand changer that propelled the Target brand to become a retail icon.

Michael had given JC Penney a fresh new brand look including a much cleaner, more 2012 brand name and logo. He also moved JCP from an endless stream of discounts to an everyday low price model.

Michael Francis had served as President of JCP for six months.

In this morning’s Wall Street Journal, there is an article titled, “Penney President Out in Shake-Up.”

JCP… that is probably returning soon back to being JC Penney… fired Michael Francis over sputtering sales.

I think that Michael should pick up the phone and call Alex Bogusky and go have a drink.

The WSJ goes on to report about how customers were just too much wedded to streams of discounts and could not handle marketing efforts that didn’t showcase price, price, price.

I would suggest that JC Penney step back and go tour its stores, review its product mix, look at its staff and the customer exchange.

Take along with them that newspaper insert that ran a few weeks ago and hold it up in the middle of the store.

My bet is that there is a large discrepancy between what brand experience is currently being delivered in-store and what that insert conveys.

The power leadership at both JC Penney and Burger King are accountants.

On the last page of the EXPERIENCE website, I post a simple set of key principles that we ask our partners to embrace.

I encourage CEOs to further ensure that their board, corporate leadership, operational, human resources and financial team members also embrace those core principles.

The last principle reads, “Make a financial commitment to embark on the journey.”

Financial commitments are important.

A commitment to embark on the journey and realize just who your brand is and what it can and cannot be is perhaps even more important.

My message to CEOs in this blog is very simple…

Marketing alone a brand it cannot change.

(oh and p.s. accountants are not brand change agents!)



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Mark Kooyman

Mark Kooyman


CEO & Discovery Chief at EXPERIENCE Insight Group, Inc. In the business to discover and craft brand experiences that humans seek out and engage in.