Make Marketing History

The views of a marketing deviant.

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

What Do Marketers Learn?

Monday, March 05, 2018

Crisis Marketing Isn't Crisis Management.


Everybody (well everybody in the marketing world) got very excited by KFC's apology for running out of chicken at 900 of their stores last month.

Even Mark Ritson wrote about "KFC marketers turning a chicken crisis into a brand triumph". Whatever that is.

I disagree. The one thing that made it stand out was that it employed KFC's brand tone rather than the bland tone legalese that these things usually employ. Though there is quite a lot of that in there if you bother to read it and I bet FCK has been sitting in someone's drawer for as long as French Connection's FCUK had been winning awards.

The real issue is how did it make their customers feel? Has it mended their view of KFC's distribution incompetence? Is sorry enough? Shouldn't they have offered some sort of coupon compensation to disappointed customers?

 My immediate reaction was that they better be absolutely sure they had got to the bottom of their problems before they did this. And what has now happened - well this month they've apparently run out of gravy. Are they going to run another ad to apologise for that?

When Tylenol were hit by extortionists claiming to have poisoned some of their products in 1982, they didn't offer apologies, they acted decisively and removed every one of their products from the shelves of every store in the United States.

That's how you offer customer reassurance. By deeds not words. Because if your product fails, you have a product problem not an advertising one.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?



It happens repeatedly. Twitter competitons and naming polls are hijacked, appeals to praise a brand yield the opposite result and city bike schemes suffer theft and vandalism.

And it's all all totally predictable.

This is not with the benefit of hindsight. This happens simply because marketers and executives rarely ask the obvious question. What could possibly go wrong? No doubt because it's seen as providing problems not solutions or some similarly glib inanity.

But it's not negative thinking, It's damage limitation. There's no cost in terms of product dilution and there's everything to gain in avoiding bad publicity that is genuinely bad.

In other realms, this is caused stress-testing.  So don't ask how fabulous potential customers are going to find your latest initiative. Ask what could possibly go wrong. Because the last thing you need is more stress.


Monday, October 30, 2017

Make Marketing Legible.


Iceland have a claim worth promoting.

Although perceived as a low-end purveyor of frozen goods, they apparently produce the best mince pies in the mass market. So I have no problem with the claim, but in the West we read from left to right and horizontally. Not vertically.

What you see first is a list of their competittors. No comparison, just their names.  I take Selfridges away from this ad as much as I do Iceland.

If you look longer you might eventually discern the Iceland name, but why make it so difficult? They spent a lot of time coming up with the word puzzle, but didn't think to flip the diagram. That would leave the competitors' names written vertically and Iceland highlighted as a horizontal name.

It would be easier to read and you'd have Iceland riding high at the top of the image. Why didn't anyone pick this up? What goes on in creative sign-offs? Given the recent Dove debacles, it's increasingly hard to comprehend.

Monday, September 04, 2017

Infinite Marketing.



You can picture the scene. The creatives have been briefed to promote unlimited streaming but think that unlimited has been over used. So they opt for infinite. Because that's unlimited right?

Putting aside the mathematical issue of whether doing something infinitely has any meaning, it will be interesting to see if any customer complains that this promise should mean that they only ever have to pay for one month of data. Because it can't be used up and there's no ass-covering asterisk.

Jargon is bad enough, but if you're going to use regular words, you really should understand what they mean and what they convey. And the rule of the game is under-promise and over-deliver - not the other way round.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Make Economics Marketable.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Differentiation Is Different From Difference.

Back in 1967, Fab and Zoom were popular ice lollies. Bizarrely, Fab was originlly aimed at girls and Zoom at boys, but both were marketed in conjunction with popular TV show Thunderbirds to exploit the products' shapes and to exude the idea of play.

Fifty years on, a big push has been made to celebrate the anniversary and below you can see one of the outdoor ads that has been created. They're different. I saw one creative director tweet that they were the best outdoor ads he'd seen in years.

To which I'd respond with some pithy questioning of the state of outdoor advertising creativity.


No doubt there will be effectiveness papers claiming these did something for Fab - but that will have to be discounted by consideration of the heatwave and the fact that this was a huge increase in marketing expenditure.

Russell Davies has often written about winning the Honda business by pointing out that every car ad looked the same and being different was the way to create clear blue water between Honda and the rest. But this wasn't difference for the sake of it - it was difference that drew attention to a real differentiation.

You have to conclude that "Where There's Fab, There's Fun" doesn't really challenge Honda's "Isn't It Good When Something Just Works?" and fun certainly isn't illustrated in the ad.  It's an ad which is designed to appeal to a sense of irony rather than a sense of play. An ad that the industry might like, but that customers will ignore.