Archive for March, 2012

Friday March 23rd 2012 : The end of segmentation targeting?

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

The Thinkbox conference last week was a riot of sacred cow shooting.

Professor Byron Sharp from the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute of South Australia took aim at segmentation noting that for big brands it is not only unnecessary but potentially harmful.  He called talking to loyalists “marketing in retreat” and as Maisie McCabe explains here views Facebook as irrelevant for reach.

The professor was followed on stage by Martin Weigal Head of Planning at W+K Amsterdam who gave us his frank and unfavourable views on “engagement planning”.  I happen to agree that emphasising engagement tends to mean shifting away from selling products.  Weigal said that when it comes to outcomes “Deeper does not equal better” citing Heath’s work on low involvement processing.   Weigal went on to say that the vague use of “engagement” is simply “metaphor run amok”.

The panel that followed saw speaker after speaker grind the art of segmentation into the dust.

Let’s hope that the time saved on running irrelevant correspondence analyses can be better spent in our core (collective) task of growing the sales of brands.

All the best strap lines contain truth telling

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

Not me claiming this but Rory Sutherland who was speaking at the Economist Summit in early March (The Big Rethink), after Jonathan Salem Baskin and I presented on our new book Tell the Truth ( Sutherland explained that we discount extravagant claims for good evolutionary reasons.  We like trade-offs, they make sense to us.  We’re more likely to believe the upside of something if we understand the downside.

Chip and Dan Heath describe two basic models of decision making – the consequences model or the identity model.

In advertising terms the identity model is an often used one.  It trades off the identity we think we might assume if we acquired the product advertised and explains the success of celebrity advertising.

In the consequences model we weigh up the costs and benefits of the options and make the choice that maximises satisfaction.  In this sense the strap line that presents both upside and downside in a snapshot is a great selling tool.

Sutherland cited three examples off the cuff of this kind of truth telling contained in a slogan.  Stella Artois’s “Reassuringly expensive”, Cream Cakes’ “Naughty but nice” and “No-one likes us we don’t care” from Millwall FC.

Off the top of my head I can come up with a couple more “We try harder”, “You don’t have to be Jewish to love Levy’s” and “Maybe she’s born with it, maybe its Maybelline”.

Great slogans are rare, but they tend to stick with us.  Maybe they are just great writing, maybe because they contain a truth that can’t be denied.

Constantly changing to stay the same

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

I love Converse.  Back in the 90s I worked on the account and got to know a great deal about its authentic roots. 

The company was founded in the early years of the 20th century making winterised rubber shoes originally and then athletic shoes.  In 1921 the basketball player Chuck Taylor joined the organisation to endorse and sell the product.  He literally lived out of his car touring the country selling the Chuck Taylor All Star shoe.

The company has undergone much evolution since then, and is now owned by Nike.  Distribution is great, teenagers are still wearing them, as are all cool adults.

When I worked on the account they employed a whole set of trend spotters led by the fabulous Jane Rinzler Buckingham (still spotting trends at @Jane_Buckingham), and author of The Modern Girls Guide to Sticky Situations (available here

Of course as a fashion brand Converse had to keep updating to stay relevant.

Apparently so too must funeral directors. 

The excellent book “Londoners” by Craig Taylor (–As-Those/dp/0062005855/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1331034375&sr=1-1) contains an interview with John Harris, a funeral director in Canning Town.  Harris talks about how the family business has evolved since his great-grandfather started it and how it’s a quantum leap from when he started personally in the business 37 years ago.  They now cater for many different ethnic communities and their individual religious customs.  He has evolved the business to be flexible for the Chinese, Filipino, Ghanaian and Eastern European customers that come through his doors.  Pragmatically he says “We put a different god up on the wall for whoever’s coming”.

From funerals to hi-tops you must constantly change to stay the same. 

As Steve Gladdis remarked to me the other day – “ Its Trigger’s broom “.  Trigger from Only Fools and Horses has had the same broom for 20 years.  He’s looked after it.  And although it has had 17 new heads and 14 new handles it’s the same authentic broom. 

Plus ça change….