intense brightness of light.“the nights were dark, lit only by the brilliance of Aegean stars”
Exceptional talent or intelligence.“he’s played the stock market with great brilliance”
Synonyms: genius, intelligence, wisdom, sagacity, intellecttrəst/noun
Firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.“Relations have to be built on trust”
Synonyms: confidence, belief, faith, certainty, assurance, conviction, credence; reliance
“Good relationships are built on trust”
Law: Confidence placed in a person by making that person the nominal owner of property to be held or used for the benefit of one or more others.verb: believe in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of.
“I should have trusted her”
“Being less serious — and less ostentatious — is a smart move for Gillette, which turned consumers off with decades of marketing aimed at making men feel obligated to buy its razors. The category has been dominated by inadequacy marketing, with things like ‘The best a man can get,” Gillette’s tagline. The Dollar Shave Club and Harry’s come at it with something fun and innovative. The “Welcome Back” concept creates some curiosity, and that’s what it’s about. The question is: Is it too late?”
The greatest brands in the world have a palpable sense of mission about them. The United States of America gave the world a chance to be different. Its soul is radical. It’s history full on. America has always been a lightening rod, a country that goes charging into the fray as a liberator, a savior, and a protector. Does a divisive country weaken Brand USAs image abroad?
From President-elect Trump and street protests to New Balance sneakers alight and a red-hot stock market is Brand USA facing a chronic and debilitating decline as pundits suggest? Will Trump’s bold, arrogant and cocksure rise to the top job, his rhetoric, and choice of cabinet magnify the issue of our international role and standing? Will it be a leg up, a close shave or a deep cut?
Inside Brand USA there’s a dysfunctional dynamic. Today the country’s divided it lacks cohesion and confuses the world. Right now there’s no one brand that America can rally behind because there is tension between the extreme poles of right and left. The self-denigration inside America, the frustration, lack of self-worth and self-esteem is seen by the world and affects people’s perception. For many onlookers Trump supporters were about making America white again, moving away from the “United Colors of America”. An America that embraces everyone to an America that’s isolationist is a starkly different place.
A country’s wealth is not measured by what it has, but whom it helps with it. Because of this, the world admires America, but many ask what will be the basis of America’s claim to moral superiority going forward. Our greatness has not come from winning, but from leadership with common values and shared responsibilities: power is not a right it’s a responsibility. America had a clear position
in WW2, the cold war, Regan and Obama. As Tocqueville said when he traveled the country, “America is great because it is good and it is not great when it’s not good”.
A thought is as real as an IED. Might the world be concerned they’re going to see an imperial mission for America with Trump at the helm? A brand doesn’t live by itself so for Brand USA to assert that it has no interest other than self-interest is unsustainable in the modern world and our role within it. That’s the equivalent of Trump saying he has no interest other than being elected.
Through all the mud slinging, speech giving and handshakes the burning issue for Brand USA is what is America’s true motive going to be as it handles multiple, urgent and important short and long-term crises simultaneously while formulating coherent long-term strategies? For now, political hysteria reigns, befuddled, malevolent and irrational, but just as things never turn out as Presidents promise, they rarely turn out as badly as pundits warn. Keep flying high America.
What’s the Point? The overriding problem with the vast majority of M&As – even after thousands have been made – are that most M&As fail, by 50%, 65%, 73.374%…..whatever number it’s not a good batting average and it adds up to trillions of dollars in lost value. Yet the reasons for their failure are many, disastrously obvious and surprisingly easy to avoid.
The purpose of paper is to stimulate your thinking about the issues. Demonstrate how brand based transformation can drive top line growth & internal integration. Explore possibilities to ensure M&A success. Finally illustrate how the strengths of The Dean Crutchfield Company helps you achieve growth by tailoring brand-led techniques that are uniquely participant centered to guarantee results. Whether it’s a merger that requires a believable strategy that can translate across the business, or better internal understanding, encouragement, winning new mandates, ambition planning or a better communications platform, you will find our fee in your success within weeks.
Secondly, post deal communication is not handled well. This is often caused by the differences between the heady aspirations of the deal team on Friday afternoon and the fact there’s still business to be done on Monday morning.
The soft side is the most neglected as it’s ignorantly believed by so many not to be that vital in the deal making process and consequentally management find out to much to their chagrin that culture, problems of retaining key personnel and cross state M&As clashes as a result of pay conditions, pensions, become rife.
Remember – there are no mergers of equals. The obvious truth is that management’s in a hurry to grow and complete integration is necessary to typically:
- Cut costs
- Combine back office systems
- Release synergies
- Merge sales forces
- Blend product lines, etc.
In these scenarios the enterprise that has the strongest culture & practice will dominate! It’s as simple as that and obvious examples like Coca-Cola, GE, IBM, Google reign supreme.
There are two determinates of value creation. The first is how tight the ship is run and typically the successful ‘acquirer’ are those with a history of cost control and productivity. In this scenario the ‘acquirers’ culture will be the more successful in directing and getting the most out of the deal. The second is the closeness of relationships inside and outside the business. In M&A, soft is hard and the closeness of relationships with employees, customers, suppliers, partners is crucial. The business that has the deepest rules wins and the challenge is to embed the benefits of their
knowledge/approach. Brand architecture plays a huge role here: is it to be logos, labels, layers and lawyers or worlds shared by employees and customers?
1. Tough keeping business performing when everyone’s attention and concerns are projected on outcomes and the potential fall out at a personal and professional level whilst managing the acquisition.
2. Not addressing victor & vanquished attitudes. It’s surprising to learn that most companies end up spenting most of their energy on the vanquished. A natural reaction given the anguish that the process causes on scared employees.
3. Loss of momentum caused by the attention on the M&A and the fiefdoms mindful to button down the hatches
4. Leadership struggles (diverting/devisive). From the tea lady up, who is going to be the boss? These traumatic struggles are not just happening in unknown corporations. They have been made famous in major corporations like Gary Wendt and his abrupt departure from GE.
5. Inability of managers to lead the people through the transition. To be a leader you need to know how to follow, but if the guardrails aren’t there, you find your self staggering in the wrong direction. An email ain’t going to cut it. How can you leverage and orchestrate knowledge inside and across the business?
6. Do as I say, not as I do is a key part of the aforementioned. A lack of role models leads to confusion, distraction and poor performance and a lot of resumes spinning around!
7. Internal opposition to new ways of working is an obvious hurdle and there is no magic wand. That said, the more inclusive the communications can be on what’s the strategy and how it’s going to unveil itself over the coming weeks/months is critical. At these early stages it is recommended to create an interim brand for the integration that can act as a rallying cry.
8. Resistance to the new structure. Small company or large, any M&A activity attracts resistance from both outside and inside the company. New structure often means big changes at the senior management level.
9. Not engaging the workforce, fear of job losses. This is when the need to have senior contact program running across the enterprise is called for; identifying people in the merged busineses that need to share information in the hope you can build some bridges and discover new opportunities for the merged entity.
10. Not addressing conflict and culture issues. This is about separating appetites from the real requirements of what needs to be done and being clear in your communications how you expect the company to behave. That’s just the internal needs.
1. Market share does not grow.
2. Confused brand identity. Working with GE’s Masterbrand architecture we found over 11000names, brands, products, services and entities that encompassed it’s 12 divisions with a brand architecture that was up to 25 layers deep in some of its businesses – some you didn’t know were GE! That’s a lot of money being spent maintaining things that shouldn’t be. Time for open heart surgery and there will be a scar.
3. Publicized promise is difficult to match on the inside. At the turn of the century Coca-Cola realized it was speaking with two mouths. One to its analysts about the huge 20% savings it was looking to make in operational efficiency and staff reduction whilst simultaneously, HR was communicating to staff how important they were.
4. Regulators (can) both hinder and help process. Do we want two banks, two airlines, etc? No, so regulation is good. Then there’s the other side where regulation is an imbroglio.
5. Existing customers/suppliers no longer remain loyal. Druckers ‘Force 5’ explains this conundrum as rivalry dominates conversations, the power of customers in the category, suppliers, new entrants
6. Shareholders doubt acquisition strategy: shareholder return is an action not a strategy.
7. How do you manage the absorption of the acquired brand(s) with its own values – operationally and culturally into one ‘family’?….or not? And if so, how should you manage it?
8. What is the best transition strategy and how are both brand’s affinity and performance being calculated, e.g., how do you absorb the acquired business/brand into your house style? And if so, how should you manage it? Do you permit the business to keep its name under a new holding company ‘group’ concept?
9. Do you manage the M&A as a transitional process, with an initial focus on product marketing and brand rationalization?
10. Do you communicate other dimensions to the added value of the deal beyond simply increasing size, scope and resources?
A Profitable Capital Management Program: Internal
1. Do not over reassure internal audiences by saying there will not be significant changes
2. Ensure regular and frequent communication using both face to face methods (for effectiveness) and digital methods (for timeliness)
3. Focus on survivors not on leavers
4. Do not pretend it is business as usual
5. Explain the business rational for the transaction (and repeat)
6. Do not approach integration as a phase, but as an on-going process
7. Be clear about the future and create a sense of direction (and brand it)
8. Do not be afraid to state that you do not have all the answers
9. Manage external and internal communications together
10. Have a communication (and integration) plan in place before signing the deal, which includes:
- Audiences (including unions and work councils)
- Key messages
- Activities and materials
- Approvals process
However, Transformation does not occur simply through somebody in a suit standing up announcing it. There must be a vision. Moreover, it has to amount to more than a few well chosen words. Here’s a check list that will assure you a more effective program:
- Contact program between management
- Key messages – internal and external
- External consultants – who, why and what
- Interim communication branding
- Integration tools
- Integration of communication terms
- Identify new vision, mission and culture
- Plan identity and communication strategy
- Reporting news – internally and externally
- Communication needs for transformation
- Process for feedback
In summary, energy and focus should be placed in 5 key areas:
- Announcements and pre completion
- Early post completion
Answering “why should I care?” for the CMO immediately changes the strategy of the approach and the interaction with them. CMOs are drowning in a myriad of media channels from direct to social, with platitudes of business models, ecommerce processes and a quarter to deliver – along with a connected public that can slam out opinions about their brand at any time. The CMOs charge is to build revenue and relevance, but this new normal in marketing brings with it distracting challenges:
- The explosion of touch points is resulting in a lack of control
- Standing out is harder as consumers take more charge and push back
- New, rapid global competition
- Grappling with social media globally with localized interaction
- Clarity on roles and responsibilities with the internal focus on business issues
- Demonstrating the value of procurement, brands and current marketing
CMOs buy ideas to make a gain or avoid a loss. To stand out a business needs to deliver its best case and the winning face that will solve a huge problem for the CMO by answering, “Why should I care?” The key is to make the CMO relevant by piloting the proposed solution with their funded initiatives and demonstrably reveal more value to their business faster. By connecting the CMO to revenue, convincingly showing her what problem you solve and how the investment will move the needle north, an invitation to answer their tough questions will be forthcoming:
- How will you help me demonstrate a strong ROI on integrated marketing?
- Does our ‘story’ and content strategy enhance the customer experience?
- When can we better optimize the purchase pathway and our customer data?
- Where can we get the biggest bang with our social and earned media?
- Are you able to help me balance creative with analytics?
- Can I trust you with my business and marketing strategies?
The old ‘sales funnel’ model where we (consumers) hold a large number of brand options and narrow our choices to an eventual decision aided by advertising has been deracinated. Repetition of old marketing strategies has caused the ouster of many a CMO as has throwing up new brand campaigns bereft of any notion of what the empirical measurement is for effective.
Therefore, what makes the offer different that can deliver ROI? CMOs admire it when there is adherence to their current strategy and how the proposition moves it forward. Ideas might be the currency of marketing, but to spray them without tying them to organizational goals will lose the CMO no matter if its technology or marketing. Pitching tons of ideas that are disconnected to their strategy is akin to saying one has no ideas at all: strategy is more about what you’re not going to do and how that connects to the business goals of their organization.
To get inside the CMO’s head, think like an investor and investors have one thing on their minds: ROI. For CMOs, their investment is the time, energy and resources they place in the hands of their ‘partner’ firms and their ideas. To win over the CMO, the idea needs to generate and show a return, provide data and enable you to ask how you can help them? Rarely are CMOs actually offered! How can the solution make the CMO’s life easier? Demonstrate it contributes to her inventory of alternatives and already her job has been made easier.
Anecdotal success measurement, however, can quickly turn off a CMO – marketing is not all about telling a great story – it’s about
telling a story that moves the needle: if you don’t know how to measure it quantifiably, resist the temptation. CMOs pilot new ideas constantly, but they need a valid and relevant way to measure the success of those ideas. CMOs generally do not desire to replicate the competition they demand you to know their customer. It’s easy searching what other people are up to, but the secret sauce is knowing the right questions, the ones that lead to unearthing the pain points and needs of their organization and customers, and then tailoring targeted solutions.
More than ever CMOs are vested in making the quarter and are primarily interested in the business outcomes of using services. Consequently sales discussions must focus on business drivers. For example, a true innovation needs a business model – preferably one that’s able to link to their business model i.e., know how they make their money! Products, services, and solutions must be linked to business benefits using the metrics the CMO cares about: footfall, ARPU, retention, online conversion, customer acquisition cost, lead generation efficiency, etc. To accomplish “Why should I care?” it’s critical to connect the offer directly to revenue and specifically show the CMO how the product will further aid her to prove marketing’s value – demonstrably and empirically – to the CEO.
The consumer is King and consumption defines individual behavior which America takes to be almost wholly personal, completely outside the purview of policy and social concern. But what type of consumption is it and how much influence should each type of consumption wield on marketing and brand building?
There are definitions all over the place talking up conspicuous consumption, “the spending of money on and the acquiring of luxury goods and services to publicly display economic power—either the buyer’s income or the buyer’s accumulated wealth.”
Then there’s “competitive consumption.” Not so much has been written on this type of consumption: the idea that spending is in large part driven by a comparative or competitive process in which individuals try to keep up with their peers raises questions about what is the appropriate marketing strategy? Does the type of consumption depend on the country and what stage it is at with its development? For instance competitive consumption is prevalent in China, but not so much in the West where it’s more conspicuous consumption?
For many large brands item number two or three listed on the company’s Capex sheet says ‘Media’. Therefore, CMOs are constantly battling an imbroglio to demonstrably prove that marketing is an investment not a cost. Given the CMO’s charge is to build revenue and relevance, added value must be demonstrated beyond ROI and for this new normal in marketing there are new rules of engagement:
1. Answer the CMOs silent question, ‘Can I trust you with my business and marketing strategies?’ because succeeding target is not the only goal and pre determined goals undermine future success. However, that said, more than ever CMOs are vested in making the quarter and are primarily interested in the business outcomes of using services. Integrated marketing brings with it distracting challenges and by connecting the CMO to revenue, convincingly showing how the investment will move the needle north, an invitation to sit at the table will be forthcoming. Consequently sales discussions must focus on business drivers and strategy cannot be made from a sound bite nor can a single strategy work across the diversity of the business; simple solutions to complex problems are often simple, straightforward and wrong.
2. Follow the rules of engagement. How well you play in the sandbox might be a cliché question, but it’s often said that as a client needs more integrated marketing from its agencies, each agency’s competency grows, but their passion recedes. CMOs know they can create different vantage points for their business and achieve amazing results by approaching big marketing challenges as a collection of agencies who possess a willingness to participate and check ‘not invented here’ egos at the door. In the relentless pursuit of growth the simplest answer is to act by partnering with other agencies, client departments and taking a seat at the table, able to inform the CMO about their brand’s future.
3. Do not assume the brand idea is the agency’s, undertake half-baked efforts or simply not care enough about the bigger picture and all involved is a recipe for disaster. CMOs are determined, to the point, efficient, precise, careful, reserved and logical and need to be convinced because they’re highly suspicious of generalities – even the noblest of ideas sometimes do less for them than a siesta or an Advil. Therefore, in the world of creating and sustaining stories, clarity and a shift in thinking that recognizes the difference between truth and fiction is that the fiction has to make sense.
4. Much a do about nothing: the difference between expecting and inspecting lies in the execution. Therefore, avoid ocean boiling and conjuring up strategies out of sound bites; agencies need to create, fashion, execute or construct according to a plan that reflects the CMOs needs, e.g., shareholder value is a result not a strategy.
5. Failure to edit work. The CMO is vested in making the quarter so there’s constrained bandwidth for actionable insights that can move the needle north. The success of contrarian marketing strategies might require CMOs to table prevailing marketing theories and embrace experimentation, but it’s about short-term performance for the client not long form presentations by the agency. IQ is one thing – emotional conviction that comes from experience is another far more powerful and rapid component. To be erudite it’s best agencies apply Rudyard Kipling’s five honest men: who, what, why, where, when and then show the CMO ‘how’ it can be done.
6. Presenting other people’s work. An idea is as real as a bullet and great artists are famous for stealing ideas and extracting something unique – adaptive strategies are what’s called for, but making assumptions about a specific program’s success and the agency’s ‘role’ in its accomplishment is a mistake that can get a firm shot down.
7. Lack of follow up and a slow response like some species of corporate bureaucrat causes a morass. The more an agency wants to achieve the more it achieves. Agencies can find win-win solutions – but a majority of the time, they’re just arranging the budget, time, people levers around to accomplish strategic objectives. Therefore, viability and accountability are critical and prospective proposal writing by the agency is more an attitude than a skill. One consulting firm reported increasing their fee business with P&G by 50% solely by listening
to clients and proactively making suggestions.
8. Attacking a competitor. Agencies must avoid vituperative attacks on a competitor; it’s unoriginal and a somewhat sleazy course of conduct. For a CMO and his team it can feel like shoveling up road kill and leaves a bad taste. Agencies would do themselves a favor if they heeded, Machiavelli, the rapacious Fourteenth Century prince’s advice to deliver good news oneself and bad news through others.
9. Taking advantage of the CMO. Whether it’s bulldozing the CMO to make decisions in the agencies favor through to agency partners ganging up to twist the arm of an approach, many CMOs feel they’re paying too much. Therefore, once vaunted high switch out costs are no longer an agency advantage holding onto the client, as clients now view that as an opportunity to streamline efficiencies. Ultimately CMOs buy ideas to make a gain or avoid a loss so ‘Why should I care?’ is the client’s (real) question that agencies should be asking themselves before the big reveal.
10. Team Chemistry. For the elegant exchange of value in the client relationship fielding the right team is critical. CMOs sit through countless meetings with (supposedly) ‘the smartest team’ in the room, so the best approach for the agency is to work for applause with the team that’s going to do the work. The CMO needs to know there’s good chemistry as they have to spend much of their time with their agency partners – developing roadmaps, writing requirements and business plans, supporting sales and marketing, interacting with partner agencies – all depends on good chemistry. The better the agency is at knowing and communicating what needs to be done and why, the more they will add value and excel in front of the CMO.
At the end of the day, CMOs want actionable advice on growing their business that secures their role. Across the brandscape, CMOs are focused on generating organic growth and achieving innovation. These two are the key drivers for business growth going forward in 2013. Therefore, belief, optimism, courage and preparation might rule the day, but in this new normal in marketing, when it comes to building revenue and relevance agencies should remember what they say in the military, ‘amateurs focus on strategy while professionals focus on logistics.’
‘Time spent with the brand’ will be advertising’s most sought after metric entering 2020 as the current concept of brand value, traditional marketing and retail outlets will have further eroded. With the convergence of TV, computers and the Internet, new century advertising’s bright lights and trumpets will unleash their sophistry in 2020 on the US Presidential election, Europe’s UEFA Cup Final and the Olympic Games. All massive media events enjoyed by billions around the world that will be empowered by the new normal in smarter advertising.
By 2020 we no longer subscribe to the old ‘sales funnel’ approach where consumers hold a large number of brand options and narrow their choices to an eventual decision aided by advertising. Consumers already limit their brand options at the first consideration stage, seeking out input from peers, reviewers, vendors and competitors. Increasingly consumers are delaying purchase decisions until they’re actually in-store or about to hit purchase – that opens up when and what touch points consumers are most open to influence and how to create positive consumer experiences at those points. Ever more powerful will be point of purchase and Near Field Communications (NFC) offers radical potential to push tailored content and brand offers to a customer’s specific location or share social coupons with their friends.
Encouraging customers to interact, manipulate, and engage with the product by proactively taking part in sharing the brand is the Holy Grail for advertising today: Bain & Co. found that the most recommended company in any given category grows 2.5x the category average. To ensure time spent with the brand, advertising needs to develop its social skills to a whole new level to exploit the huge shift in post-sale behavior. Boomers will be center stage for advertisers in Western countries, a hugely powerful consumer segment that has migrated online and adopted technology with alacrity. New mass audiences have also formed, including one billion young digitized middle-class, ‘Gen C’: connected, community-oriented and content-centric consumers for whom digital is second nature and by 2020 they make up 40% of the world’s population.
Consumption patterns will be tied to the exponential increase in social networking threaded throughout our day, mostly using mobile devices. Six billion “Broadcast Braggarts” will be sharing their lifestream offering hyper personalized information from friends, online status, location, preferred communication, hobbies and shopping habits. This will transform social media advertising opportunities with how we work and how we consume. ABI Research estimate over 136 billion apps will be downloaded worldwide by 2017, much of which is currently unverified. This represents a huge opportunity for advertising to enable content creation by inviting ideas from consumers via co-creation, collaboration and crowdsourcing as viral marketing and peer reviews amongst consumers will be essential to entice ‘shareability’.
The real battle for consumers’ time spent with the brand will rage in the home. By 2020 consumers will enjoy over $1.5 trillion of global entertainment using superfast technology with wireless devices the dominant tool for business, entrepreneurship, and Internet access for billions of consumers. Technology will be intimately woven into our lifestream and with prices for ‘handheld’ smartphone technologies dramatically lower, mobile strategies in advertising will optimize the prevalent fast speeds, NFC, QR cards and RFID technologies across a growing multitude of digital interfaces and physical touch points, all seamlessly connected in the cloud.
Global media spend will be more than $1.6 trillion and endless varieties of curated advertising strategies would have evolved with the industry more intertwined. To fund budgets many big brands are piling down Madison Avenue looking for efficiencies they can add to their marketing budgets. Coke plans to strip out $550M of costs to fund future marketing and other major advertisers are following suit. To match the demand for fresh ideas, agency holding companies will devise new structures with their specialist businesses bundled under their main agencies with clients more involved and agencies forced to adopt pay-for-performance models that our archaic system of agencies employing a few creative teams to drum up category busting ideas simply won’t cut.
By harnessing communities across multiple platforms, advertising can create new value pools by placing consumers at the center of the brand experience: 1 in 3 people come to a brand through a personal recommendation. Advertising needs to create demand by being harbingers of change; whether online, mobile or televised, the experiences we have with advertising need to undergo big changes and we have the mind-set, skills and next-generation media to engage (4Screen) consumers who have more power than ever. Take 3D, it will be super efficient, enhancing the immediacy of the pictures and offering controls that allow the viewer to change their viewpoint or zoom in and out – watching from home will offer an experience never thought possible. And we’ve hardly seen the potential of technology to customize outdoor advertising and sponsors’ localized messages aimed at different segments and market sectors simultaneously.
Four consumer trends will have direct impact: ‘Nomad,’ the mobility of people to move to different places creating multiple opportunities for localized brand engagement. ‘Downsizing,’ the growing trend for calorific control and quantity, such as dosing, has diverse implications for interconnected advertising. ‘Back to the Farm’ speaks for our enchantment with all things green and will force big brands to open deeper two-way conversations with consumers as witnessed with Nestle and it’s poorly handled Palm Water debacle. Finally, ‘Bring it Home’ will have major implications for consumers’ time spent with the brand as a direct result of the ‘debtcade’ having forced billions of people back to their homes for entertainment and food – battle for the lounge.
In the battle for the lounge, advertising is facing the challenge of change by the click and becoming more interconnected. New century advertising must not try and compete as technology companies, or as social networks, or as mobile providers. Advertisers must compete as content creators with an understanding of how to deliver valuable content to the right audience at the right time, in the right place by deploying social media and mobile technologies. What does advertising need to do now for this future: be useful, enable sharing, be entertaining, provide knowledge, enable connections, enhance the experience, encourage community building and ultimately solve how to entice consumers to pay for their social media!
Here’s what I shared with Sapna Maheshwari at The New York Times:
MetLife is firing Snoopy.
The “Peanuts” character, one of the most recognizable figures in American pop culture, is being retired after more than 30 years of appearing in print ads, TV commercials, marketing materials and on the sides of MetLife’s blimps at sports events.
No more big-nosed beagle in the flight cap and goggles chasing the Red Baron on Metlife’s airship. No more television commercials featuring a smiling Snoopy navigating life’s treacherous waters to sell insurance. Cuddly Snoopy hitting a home run? Out.
MetLife, one of the largest insurance companies with 100 million customers worldwide, said the move is part of an effort to update its corporate emblem for international competition.
The global chief marketing officer for MetLife, Esther Lee, announced the change on Thursday, saying that Snoopy was adopted as a symbol in 1985 to make the company seem “more friendly and approachable during a time when insurance companies were seen as cold and distant.”
“We have great respect for these iconic characters,” Ms. Lee said in the announcement. “However, as we focus on our future, it’s important that we associate our brand directly with the work we do and the partnership we have with our customers.”
The company said it wanted a “clean, modern” design that included the colors blue and green to “represent life, renewal and energy.” They form what it has called “the partnership M.” The broader MetLife palette was expanded to include a range of vibrant secondary colors, reflecting “the diverse lives of its customers,” a company statement said.
There is also a new tagline, “MetLife: Navigating life together,” replacing the old “Get Met. It Pays.”
Dean Crutchfield, an independent brand consultant in New York, said that Snoopy was relevant at the time that it was introduced, but that the change was a smart move that recognized the company’s changing business. “Snoopy was brought in to connect emotionally with consumers,” he said, but was no longer helping as a brand. “It is no longer relevant to its target audience.”
Already, the company’s website shows no sign of the floppy-eared dog whose adventurous daydreams won the hearts of multiple generations of Americans, in the Charles M. Schulz comic strip and its spinoffs.
In the comics, on TV and movies, a hit pop song and even the stage, Snoopy was the loyal pup who loved his “round-headed” human, Charlie Brown, but could never remember the boy’s name. His rich fantasy life included characters like “Joe Cool,” a hipster in dark sunglasses, and the World War I flying ace whose doghouse was transformed into a British biplane.
But now Snoopy and his Sopwith Camel are grounded, at least when it comes to selling life insurance.
The company called the decision the “most significant change” to the brand in decades. Ms. Lee, who joined MetLife last year, conducted research among more than 55,000 customers worldwide and found them “overwhelmed” by the pace of global change. MetLife had to evolve, Ms. Lee said.
“What we did want to figure out, as we started to become this more purpose-built, modern company, is do those characters go beyond being friendly and approachable?” she said.
The answer turned out to be no, MetLife discovered in its research.
Consumers thought the “Peanuts” characters were friendly and approachable, Ms. Lee said, but did not associate them with traits like leadership and responsibility. Nor did the characters affect interest in buying insurance.
The research also asked customers point blank if they would mind if MetLife stopped using Snoopy and the gang. “People are indifferent from us moving away from the characters,” Ms. Lee said, adding that more than 1,000 other brands around the world use Peanuts characters in their marketing. “They basically don’t care.”
The life insurance giant has over the years tried to find a way to make its business, overshadowed by the terms “death benefits” and “beneficiaries,” more approachable, and for years Snoopy and other Peanuts characters provided the warm and fuzzy.
There had already been changes afoot at MetLife in the era of social media. In 2014, the company introduced an online campaign to change perceptions of the life insurance industry, encouraging customers to share the ways they live for their loved ones by using #WhoILiveFor. The campaign’s centerpiece featured a collection of video clips not of the Peanuts characters, but of real people with diverse races, partnerships and backgrounds.
Corporations are viewed as more approachable these days, Ms. Lee said, and consumers are no longer intimidated by them, she added. “So many companies are actually reaching them one-on-one, tweeting back and forth with them.”