8 posts categorized "Marketing"


Esomar Innovate Conference, Copenhagen (2 out 2)

I write this partly as a response to the comment from Matt Hart - and I will come back to Matt's points shortly.

I did two presentations at the Esomar Innovate conference in Copenhagen - one with Evert Bos from Brainjuicer and the second with Andrew Needham of Face. I did the second presentation on behalf of Ana Medeiros,  my colleague in Unilever. Ana works closely with Andrew on the co-creation for Axe and she has done great job driving and promoting co-creation within Unilever.  Here are the 2 presentations (Andrew Needham and John Kearon have kindly agreed to publish the presentations on this blog):

Both methodologies - Brainjuicer's creative 6-ers and the approach of Face - have at their heart co-creation of new ideas/concepts with people  (so-called creative consumers) and each of them are advocating a completely different approach.

Lets try to explore some aspects of the two approaches while looking at the questions raised by Matt:

Recruiting and profiling: Brainjuicer uses the screener for "creatives", described in the presentation.  Similar screener is used in case of the Supergroups (used by Márta for the co-creation on Tic Tac).  The " Stuffed Toy Elephant question" (see slide 15 of the Brainjuicer presentation) is one the key question for recruitment of creatives for both Brainjuicer creatives and the Supergroupers.

Educating the respondents: Face has their panel of consumers (Headbox) from which they draw creative consumers.  These consumers are often young designers/students of marketing and I think that this is a great advantage, i.e. rather than being dependent (only) on a questionnaire we can hire young people who are not only creative and bright but also educated in our field. (It becomes much easier to explain to them what the brands stands for,  what are the objectives etc.)

We worked with the young creative consumers on Axe/Lynx and we had long debates about whether to use older creative consumers when co-creating ideas for more "older" brands.  My feeling is that the offline and intense co-creation sessions are more suited to younger people who already know a bit about advertsing, design and marketing. Márta and her team used this approach for the work on the site for Tic Tac  - they have recruited young guys to design a site for middle aged people.

The creative consumers recruited by Brainjuicer create ideas online and in isolation. I think that the Brainjuicer approach is most useful when one needs to generate many ideas in a short time.  The ideas from the Brainjuicer creative 6-ers will come out in rough shapes and, in most cases,  will need to be fine tuned in an offline session. The ideas for deodorants (described in the presentation for Esomar) that were generated by the creative 6-ers  became one of the key sources for the Wildfire project (which is a c0-creation process).

Incentives:  I think that we have used the right mixture of incentives for the people who work on the new Axe variant (it is described in the Face presentation). That mixture included money but was not about money only - we had to create an engaging environment for the consumers to work in,  provide a real experience of learning and doing, take them seriously and share with them the final results of the co-creation (the finished product or advertising).


Esomar Innovate Conference, Copenhagen (1 of 2)

I attended the Esomar Innovate Conference in Copenhagen  (16-18 June) but I wasn't able to see all the presentations. Here is a handful of thoughts and observations about the bits I did see:

* The giant step that market research could take to help innovation everywhere hasn't yet happened. We're still waiting for the moment when the representatives of the big research factories arrive on  stage and acknowledge that they are running on empty, that it is becoming harder for them to sell the dream of certainty even to the weakest of clients and,  that after helping to deliver mediocre products and communication and helping to kill the many dreams of enthusiastic brand managers, planners  and creatives, they are closing their factories down.

* The majority of speakers came from the UK, western Europe and the US. The majority of people in the audience came from the developing world.  Either there is nothing very innovative happening in the developing world or those of us from the developing world cannot write very good papers (the 20-page-long variety that Esomar requires for entry).  My feeling is that the problem is with the papers themselves and the dominant, Western rules of discourse.  The people who judge the papers are from the West and they will naturally prefer a style and thinking process that is close to their own style and thinking.  The problem with the Esomar papers is similar to the problems with most of research reports: they tend to get out of hand and dilute insights and issues in an avalanche of words.

* Gregg Fraley was the keynote speaker and  I really enjoyed his speech  while I was watching it. I am trying to remember now what he was talking about. I recall a picture of the iPod. And a picture of Steve Jobs.  And a slide saying "Starbucks is dead".  Watching the speech was  like watching a good Hollywood movie - enjoyable but without providing a lasting experience that could really touch your life.

*The presentation of Márta Hoffman (RI, Hungary) and István Kozári (Initiative) was the highlight of the conference for me, and and not just because it was the only presentation from the developing world.



In a nutshell, Márta and István have changed the way in which Tic Tac connects with consumers online in Hungary.  In the past Tic Tac had a reasonably good but very static site. The site celebrated the brand but was not particularly useful for consumers.  Márta and her agency found gifted young people and co-created with them a concept for new online community for Tic Tac. 

The community is based on a strong insight into Hungarian society (not only) that the  research  uncovered and that lead to the "Networks of Favours" idea:


The  "Network of Favours"  is the concept for the Tic Tac community. People join the site to exchange little favours : walking a dog, watering plants, and such things. 

It ticks several boxes:

  1. It is useful to people and doesn't celebrate the glory of the brand (and being useful is a must if a brand wants to join an online conversation);
  2. The scope is  bigger and more important to people than the category and related territories e.g. "freshness", and;
  3. It is the right territory for Tic Tac.

The role of research in the development of the community was crucial: Márta and her agency found the right people to co-create with. They didn't just utilize creative consumers but included people from agencies and the client's company. They created an engaging environment for them. They facilitated,  moderated and interpreted the sessions in an informed way that was  in-line with the thinking on the brand. All of this led to the insight, ideas and real results.  And it was fast and affordable. This is what good research should do.

For everything else (technical innovations in market research) there is Google and Facebook. Ironically, it seems easier for the researchers lacking the intuition needed for doing the research job properly to displace the issue and create the need for a new, high-tech, silver bullet research methodology that will deliver pre-packaged ideas for innovations to clients' desktops.

I think that we need more case studies like the one on Tic Tac to dispel the "silver bullet" myth.

I work on Sure/Rexona and one of our key tasks at the moment is to find a way for the brand to join (get a permission to join)  the relevant conversations that are already taking place, online and off. The case that Márta and István presented was an inspiration for me, worth much more than the general discussions about innovation (with inevitable calls to actions, figures of percentages of innovations failing in the market and pictures of  iPods and Steve Jobs).

Here is the presentation that Marta has kindly shared with me:

(I have copied the photo of Márta and István from Henrik Hall's article.)


Marketing the Human Resources or Human Resourcing the Marketing?

For the past couple of months I have been looking for a job so I encountered several HR agencies and HR people in Prague. This was not the first time and I am still surprised how this works respectively does not work.

OK now my ideal take on recruiting is that a) I have / create over the time a list of clients and b) I have / create over the time a list of “workers”. I network both with a) and b) and go figure what happens... in the future a) may become b) and vice-versa. You slowly grow both group and you have a lasting quality relationships with both. That means not only good steady income, BUT also building YOUR goodwill.

Of course recruiting is one thing, but you also need a recruiter. The recruiter in my opinion needs some trades not only skills because recruiting is a craft as much as a mission (much like being a teacher). He / She should have at least an understanding of psychology, sociology and have empathy to say the least. That is more than experience or what I call a craft - craft and experience can be obtained, learned.

My close friend who is involved in recruiting as a top manager on the client side for about 8 years told me that he feels the recruiters’ qualification is that they “breath and have a pulse”. I think it might be little bit harsh, but lets say recruiting does not work very well in comparison with the ideal and / or theoretical side. The worst part is that even when the bad recruiting agencies go out of business etc. it will take a very long time to repair and recuperate the entire market and business field AND it will take enormous amounts of money dropped in brand building and goodwill building.

Now the question I ask myself: isn’t Marketing in Czech Republic and probably the entire Eastern European context in the very same situation? Isn’t marketing analogically to HR and recruiting an unprofessional field filled with unprofessional workers? Have we really moved from MARKETER = SOCIAL STATEMENT to MARKETER = JOB / MISSION?


Philosophy of "Narrow and Deep"

Recently I watched an interview on CNBC Asia Market with Jeremy Moon, founder and CEO of Icebreaker. Yes the same Icebreaker I mentioned in my last entry. Apart from the interview being absolutely fantastic and interesting it had a link to the entry "Ethics in Marketing".

One of the things that were most interesting was Jeremy Moon mentioning strategy of "Narrow and Deep". I don't know if it's an Icebreaker thing or not, but that's besides the point. This philosophy means establishing relationships that are very close, family like and long lasting. As Jeremy said "... this way it makes no sense for them to screw us and for us to screw them...". This philosophy in terms of relationship penetrates basically to all partnerships Icebreaker establishes.

But it's not just person-to-person philosophy and it's not one-dimensional. This approach is towards suppliers, retailers, third party partners, employees. It's also a philosophy penetrating the very subject of business in trying to focus and in fact focusing not only on one thing, but on one niche thing and I would maybe go even further in saying supra-niche field.

The most fascinating thing I see on this philosophy is that "Narrow and Deep" in the Icebreaker understanding is actually a tool aiding to fill up the cup of ethics in business and marketing. I guess this would be best described by another of Jeremy's quote:

Q: Are you thinking about listing the company?
A: No, I'm not doing it for the market, I have an obligation to fill towards the growers, retailers, employees... I love my job.


Global vs. local - at Millward Brown


I was at Millward Brown a few weeks ago, participating at a discussion moderated by Andy Truslove, who asked us (Richard Swaab from AMV, James Eadie from Coke, Dr. Val Curtis from London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and me), "whether international advertising works most effectively with one central global campaign or whether advertising should be targeted towards particular regions or cultures".

I thought that we had a really good debate, without really answering the question. Here are my random notes:

*When we talk about global brands, we are talking about  Western brands (born in the US, UK, France, Germany that are exploiting the opportunities in the East (= Asia and CEE) and South (LATAM).

*The first wave of expansion of global brands that culminated in the 1970's  and 1980's,  consisted of American brands such as Levi’s or Coke, that is, brands based on the mythology and image of America and tied up with America's pop culture.

*Since the Berlin Wall came down, the world has become one world (in theory) and key Western manufacturers started to develop global brands, exploiting opportunities in the East. (Even conservative manufacturers such as Wrigley or Masterfoods were suddenly looking at global needstate and at the way how to make their brands work across markets).

* The new generation of global, Western brands (late 90's until now) was built on broader positioning (against the earlier, more narrow, functional "American" positioning). These brands have been built on "pieces of human truth" and  higher order human needs. Their territories are bigger and rewarding and they (in most cases) work across borders, e.g. Dove's "Real beauty," Coke's "Optimism and connectivity," Omo's "Dirt is good", Apple"s "helping everybody to express their creativity".

*The broad brand territories are rewarding but they entail the danger of "virtual consumption", i.e.  the "human truths" resonate with people, people are being entertained BUT without giving the brand an emotional ownership of the "truth" or an insight...

*The feverish effort to generate new "consumer insights"  doesn't help - we often grow insights away from brands by being focused on consumer needs only and forgetting about the needs of brands.

*Brands cannot pick and choose which piece of human truth to own. To develop an ownable territory takes effort, time and consistency. Coke owns the territory of " optimism and connectivity" successfully, because they have been dominant and consistent in this territory for a long time (going back at least to the post-WWII optimism in the US and Europe, to which Coke was attached).

*If a brand truly owns a broad territory, it can then move beyond executional uniformity. Every piece of communication will be recognized as belonging to the heart of the brand (without the need for uniformity or excessive use of literal brand cues).

* These broad brand territories often challenge existing stereotypes. We talked about the difficulties in communicating the counter-cultural messages to people in developing markets who haven’t had the time and resources to experience the stereotypes that we are trying to challenge (i.e. the "beauty" stereotypes that Dove is challenging). In this case, executions need to be adjusted in order to remain aspirational.

*The structures of the different companies that market global brands are similar: there are global centres that generate strategy and global campaigns and the local markets that generate cash. The relationship between the centre and the local markets is often difficult but could work well if the locals stop endlessly challenging (global strategy, campaigns...) and start concentrating their effort on activating in stores, and if the global centres listen to the local markets and recognize great local ideas with the potential to travel (and that requires humility)

*For instance, the 2006 World Cup advertisement for Coke was developed in Argentina, recognized as outstanding by the centre and then run in all countries.  Here is a Chinese version of it:

* Market research plays an important (and often problematic) role in the global vs. local (and regional) split. It is being used as weapon by both side to promote arguments and counter-arguments. Often, what seems to be more important than the research findings (which are often relative and open to interpretation) is the physical getting together and the bonding (local, regional, global) over the findings.

*We touched on the "global sources" of creativity (in advertising). There are many places with great talent but the two key global centers when it comes to creativity seem to be London and Buenos Aires, i.e. the British use of humour (Richard said that humour is the closest the British can get to any real emotion) and the visual and poetic Argentinian style:

So, one global campaign or a few ads targeted to key markets? It depends.
What does it depend on? The region (Is it the Czech Republic we are talking about or China?), the budget, the category, the brand and on the task...


Ethics in marketing?

Couple of weeks ago I've met in person with Jaroslav and among other topics I've mentioned that I am rounding up an article on ethics for bodzlomu.cz From there we just briefly fired few thoughts on ethics in marketing.

Is there morale and/or ethics in marketing? Can there be? The answer is short NO and NO.

After a quirky path I got to a simple reasoning.

1. Money oriented economy needs SALES and BUYS = needs marketers.

2. Marketers look for ways to sell as much as possible of un-needed stuff.
2a. that causes: more unnecessary production
2b. that causes: more unnecessary waste
2c. that causes: more unnecessary ... whatever ...

Let's face it - we marketers aren't an ethical bunch. We don't sell dreams as some say, because dreams are to be dreamt not to be bought.

Those are simply the facts that we have to face - like it or not. I think it would be alibistic and a terrible lie to try to convince ourselves that things are different with marketing. On the other hand if we know this we can use more humane-friendly approaches. Let's say:

a. use eco-friendly packaging
b. in the marketing process making someone's life better (giving task A to company B instead of company A)
c. not cheating on the consumers (we offer this and this - in font size 1 it says: but only if you do this and this -> that's cheating)
d. don't abuse consumers by commercials
etc. etc. etc.

When we do this we have to watch out to stay on the path because:
Let's say your company decides to do eco-friendly packaging and part of it will be using soy-ink. Let's say your company produces gazillion whatevers packed in boxes that have soy-ink printing on them.

If you double you're production to two gazillions than you'll use up twice as much soy-ink. And if your Latin American producer of soy-ink will have to double production they'll need to have room to grow the soy - so maybe they just take down some more of Amazonian jungle. So where is the eco-friendly, humane approach?

Do you know what I mean?


Lego and rules of cocreation

This video is a couple of years old but I think that the "do's and donts'" of cocreation are still spot on:

  • Understand what is consumers' perception of value
  • Interact frequently; be open and honest
  • Sound like yourself and admit mistakes
  • Encourage conversations amongst consumers
  • Find your advocates and invite them inside
  • Formalize what can be formalized
  • Participate: you get what you give
  • Inspire, don't manage your community
  • Don't sell; show your passion and share passion
  • It is ok to say "I don't know"


Warm Vodka and Sweaty Women

Esomar held a conference on Consumer Insight in Milan last week. Greg Rowland and I have presented a paper called "Warm Vodka and Sweaty Women". The paper describes development of new communication strategy for Rexona in Russia.

We have picked up a nomination for award from Esomar (Esomar Award Nominations), which is great.  I think and hope that we got the nomination because of our focus on the end product - the communication itself. Consumer insight seems meaningless on its own, it is just a mean to an end -the end being new products and communication. I thought that too much time at the conference was given to discussion as to what consumer insight is and what it isn't...But that is the way of market research conferences, I guess.

It was good to see some old friends and colleagues and meet new and interesting people such as Virginia Valentine and Malcolm Evans who run the workshop on semiotics in Milan.   

Here is the presentation:

Download esomar_presentation_30_4_07_jc_gr_pdffin.pdf