Make Marketing History

The views of a marketing deviant.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Parents Know Best?

Why focus your marketing on a single brand when you can dilute it with a second? Because it will play well in the board-room where they strangely believe that customers care about brands and will be reassured by your corporate logo. Especially in a communication that emphasises a heritage from which you were absent for 181 years.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

When is authentic too authentic?

Budget supermarket chain Lidl decided to crowd-source its advertising via customer tweets.  Not a bad idea, but my photo reveals that not all people are copy editors.

Would correcting the grammar have undermined the authenticity? Does reproducing the error suggest a lack of attention to detail and reflect badly on the brand? It's a judgment call.

Lidl apparently decided it's OK to leave the comment to stand on its own merits. Or did they?

Sunday, August 31, 2014


"This sort of inefficiency didn't vanish the moment it was spotted and acted upon. It was like a broken slot machine in the casino that pays off every time. It would keep paying off until someone said something about it; but no one who played the slot machine had any interest in pointing out that it was broken."

From Michael Lewis's excellent Flash Boys, but applicable to so many areas of the marketing ecosystem.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

100 Marketing Experts Walk Into A Definition.

What do you get if you ask one hundred experts to define branding

You get talk of manipulation, myth building and ratios (whatever that means), you get ego-massaging bios that are often longer than the buzzword-laden answers and you get an overwhelming sense of despair at the state of marketing. But, there are exceptions.

James Heaton rightly says that "A brand is whatever your consumers have in their minds about you" while Lee Cockerell's "Branding is simply the reputation of a product, person or organization" and Noah Briar's  "Brand is the sum-total of interactions a person has with a company's products, people, and communications" are similarly on the money.

Interestingly, most of the respondents choose to answer a different question (how unlike marketers) and try to define the word brand rather than branding. They duck the implicit question of whether you can actively brand something in a meaningful way and Joe Rospars gets close to that when he asserts that "At worst, it's the communications equivalent of searing an ironclad message into the hide of your unwilling audience."

As I have often written here, the mark on a cow is simply possessive and skin-deep and is no reflection of its DNA. To think otherwise is delusional and, apparently, quite common.


Monday, June 30, 2014

The Myth Of Data Visualisation.

The real problem with infographics and data visualisation isn't the visualisation, it's the innumeracy of dunces and marketing folk.

Making it easier to see, doesn't mean it's any clearer. If anything, it makes it easier to deceive because we all want to believe that we understand. Even when we don't.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Tone Of What?

I'm a great admirer of the recent Lurpak advertising. Perhaps that's why I scrutinise it  more closely than the usual dross. Thus it was that I noticed a jarring mix of language in this poster.

On the one hand you have  the portentous "Venture Forth, on the other the more than mundane "Cooking Liquid".  You can debate whether either is the appropriate tone of voice with which to address the customer, but the dissonance is striking.

For me, the product name is the weak link. Redolent of brake fluid, it's functional naming taken a step too far - all the more so as it's meant to be an innovation. In light of the excellence of the other executions,  I'm probably being over-fussy, but a lot of lip-service is paid to consistency of voice and it's particularly obvious when you see it in print.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Does Marketing By Numbers Mean Reversion To The Bland?

The entertainment industry creates short-lived products that often generate intense customer passions. As such, it's a terrific source of case-studies for marketers. Forget FMCG, this is the world of VFMCG.

Unfortunately,  it intermittantly dabbles with  FMCG practices such as reducing its output to product rather than "art".  Some years ago, this took the form of hiring traditional consumer goods' marketers  who, while they added some much-needed rigour,  neither understood the market nor the output.

It's arguable that this is re-emerging in the movie business. This article from The Atlantic suggests that

Studios were better at making great movies when they were worse at figuring out what we wanted to see.

The problem, of course,  is that marketing by numbers can all too easily focus on the consistency of the product rather than the excellence of the user experience. So, while it's valid to point out that

it turns out there are a lot of people who are fine with fine
it's also clear that a lot of people are not. If they were, they'd be buying more than four tickets a year and the US box-office might not be stagnating. It's a fascinating article for anyone interested in movies, but the parallels with all industries should not be lost on any marketer/differentiator.