The CMOs 10 rules for agencies

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 toimages 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.’

The Future For Marketing And Agencies

Marketing as a business and cultural force has been transformed. Whether it’s PR, advertising, branding, digital, CRM and social the world of earned, DCA Hip L Reach rightpaid, shared and owned media is going to through a seismic shift that will impact the marketing:

1. New Revenue Models Generating Value.
Business models for digital content distribution are changing, with licensing and service-based delivery models replacing traditional sales-based distribution. Globalization, societal changes, explosion of platforms and channels, the end of spin and digital versus social is driving the need for change also. To optimize this need for value creation agencies need to create value and new revenue models by being promoters of change; whether TV, online or mobile.

2. Multiple Channels.
From cars to clothes digital media is exploding. Consumers consume more media, from more sources, and in a greater range of formats than we imagined — news websites, movie-streaming services, mobile apps, ebooks, live-streaming video, on-demand TV, podcasts, video-sharing services, audiobooks,  news aggregators, blogs, social networks, music subscriptions and a plethora of formats yet to be invented. This means that managing and protecting brand reputation is becoming ever more complex with the expansion in how people receive information.

3. Measurement.
With the new buyer behavior that spans consideration, evaluation, purchase, use, enjoy, recommend and either bond or go back to consideration – marketing providers need to develop its skills to a whole new level to exploit the huge shift in post-sale behavior. Therefore, encouraging customers to interact, manipulate, and engage with the product by proactively taking part in sharing the brand is the holy grail. This along with the ubiquity of smart devices and the rise of social and digital marketing makes it easier to measure.

4. Changing Structure Of In-house Departments.
Businesses are constantly growing in their sophistication and hiring in-house more talent that can engage all levels of the marketing mix. This trend will require agencies to understand the new value exchange with their client and mirror these changes. The key for agencies is understanding what clients want and the need to review new structures to engage with the client, including strategy and creativity. Ultimately being better sparing partners to CMOs who are building complex in-house teams.

5. New Revenue Streams.
What is the future of marketing and what are the business models that sustain it including social and SEO.  How do we create content that generates value/revenue without becoming a commodity amongst millions of free outlets? Can consumers be charged for the content? Which ad formats, techniques and innovations are working — and which are not? Can agencies help clients compete as content creators that generate new revenue?

These combined create new parameters surrounding the execution of marketing campaigns for the client and their agency partners. The first is the need for intelligence for both market knowledge and in the agencies team’s skills. The second variable is engagement which includes new revenue steams such as SEO. Third is how the team is structured to match the client’s needs and the fourth is better ideas and content through collaboration. Get those right and you’ll have an engaged client, a brand controlled audience and the optimization of the client’s marketing and media.

Brand Trump V. Brand Hillary

Today image is everything – from LeBron James to Apple. Image is what it takes to stand out and win. When you’re talking about someone’s image you’re talking about the brand called You: the impression in the public’s mind of Donald and Hillary’s total personality – their real and imaginary qualities including their shortcomings –because people tend not to forgive people but they forgive brands all the time. Just look at the outrageous things Trump has said.

Trump and Clinton’s brand image is the publics view of them. They’re every bit
as much a brand as Nike, Coke or Subway. Because of the Trump brand in this election it makes the case for brand image more directly than any packaged good or consumer product ever could.

Teflon Don has been a brand for years and Hillary needs to behave more like one
to conquer that ultimate question why should I care about you? She needs to communicate what makes her remarkable, measurable, distinguished with unique value? It’s a cliché: don’t sell the steak, sell the sizzle. He’s selling the sizzle, the one-liners. He doesn’t have the detail, we all know he hasn’t really communicated well anything about domestic and foreign policy. screen-shot-2016-09-18-at-9-40-38-amShe has all the detail, but lacks the sizzle.

Hillary has spent her entire life doing public service.
She’s spent her whole adult life under the microscope
and yet she continues to want to make change, to better the lives of each and every American. And yet she still comes under doubt, scrutiny and distrust. People at the RNC Convention shouting, “lock her up” was unprecedented. There is a poster going around that says, “Hillary, for Prison 2016”. Emotions run so deep and the way Trump has run his campaign
has only made those divisions deeper. Hillary doesn’t fight like that, it’s the antithesis of who she
is as a person yet her rallying cry does not resonate in the same way.

Brand image is not marketing it’s about who you are. It’s about personality and it goes well beyond politics. Brands are about connecting with people emotionally; to get that emotional connection you need to have trust and respect. Trump has earned it from his followers. Hillary can’t seem to gain that traction. She needs to build her brand power because one of the things that attract us to brands is the power they project. Power is largely a matter of perception so what’s Hillary’s power of “influence” and her “reputational“ power? She needs to break out from being the famous person you don’t know.

The shock and awe of Trump’s statements early in his campaign justified the frothing fulmination of the media, but the initial shock and awe has dissipated and Brand Trump has proven to be a credible Presidential candidate so he’s bigger than ever
and as much as his remarks outrage, they don’t seem to faze his audience. screen-shot-2016-09-18-at-9-45-45-amscreen-shot-2016-09-18-at-9-46-20-amTrump’s like a Chrysler 300, big and powerful while Hillary is more like a Lincoln MKZ with more style and quality.

Trump can keep banging the drum and be consistent on what made his campaign successful just like an ad campaign with
a core, consistent message repeated over and over again. He’s got a rallying cry. What’s Hillary’s, what’s her stump pitch?

Hillary has a no nonsense approach and is talking about the nuts and bolts of getting America off its rear end and helping Americans live a better life, but it’s not clear. Since being ill she’s said that she has had time to reflect and now she needs to hone her campaign with more energy and act more like a challenger brand that can flank Trump head on. Her idea of moving America forward needs to be framed more than just Obama redux. We don’t want to move we want to accelerate. And yet Obama had
a stump pitch, he had a rallying cry, he had the campaign of Hope and lots of America loved it, twice.

This is a clash of the titans and one of the many challenges faced by Trump and Clinton is effectively defining their true vision and values for the public. This is not
a quick or easy process because they’re not just defined by the Commander in Chief job title nor the job description. There are four things they’ve got to measure themselves against. First, they’ve got to have strong beliefs, which they do. Second, they’ve got to be an exceptional expert in matters that are important to America and they both are. Third, they’ve got to be a visionary — a true leader and they are. Fourth, they’ve got to be obsessed with pragmatic outcomes and that’s where Hillary’s has
it in spades.

screen-shot-2016-09-18-at-10-06-23-amHillary needs to take the 15-words-or-less stump pitch challenge. Hillary is constantly comparing herself to Trump and how different they are. Rather than focus on Trump, she should be just speaking about who she is at her core and what she will do. Hillary’s brand needs to be a promise of the value we’ll receive.

Apple has responsibility to innovate

screen-shot-2016-09-09-at-9-17-04-amJoined CNBCs Power Lunch for Apple’s annual conference. I didn’t think it was that “big”. We discussed why Apple has an obligation to innovate and needs the next big thing to stay relevant. Why, because it’s Apple. That’s their brand. They have a responsibly to be that and to do that. So this raises the question is Apple still sexy, where’s the wow and is the right man at the helm? Steve Jobs was a genius who had a very strong vision while Tim Cook is an operations man and I think at the moment it’s a little unclear.” Here’s the segment:

Ikea in record 29m furniture recall in US after 3 deaths

Ikea’s very successful cabinet kills 3 kids in the US. Should Ikea recall the product just in the US or across the world? Here’s what I shared with Lindsay Whipp at the Financial Times:

Ikea has issued a recall of 29m chests of drawers in the US after three children died as a result of its furniture toppling on to them over the past two years.

The recall, which excludes 6.6m in Canada, of its Malm drawers and other designs comes amid a push by the US Consumer Protection Safety Commission to reduce the number of children being killed due to furniture and television tip-over accidents in the country, which now reaches one every two weeks.

Last year, Ikea offered free wall anchoring kits with many of its chests and dressers, after reports of two deaths. However, subsequently a 22-month-old child died in February this year after an Ikea chest fell on to him and crushed him. The chest had not been secured to the wall.

“We have no information of any tip-over incidents with a properly anchored chest of drawer,” Ikea said. “This is why we are committed to raise awareness among consumers of the tip-over risks and how to prevent them.”

Ikea added that there will be a financial impact, including the “significant investment” it is making in its campaign to educate consumers about preventing tip-overs, but not a lasting one.

The CPSC said that in addition to the deaths, there have been reports of 41 incidents of Ikea Malm chests tipping over resulting in 17 injuries, all children aged between 19 months and 10 years old. In addition, there have been reports of 41 incidents of other Ikea chests toppling over since 1989, with 19 injuries and three deaths, according to the CPSC.

Experts were divided about whether the recall — the biggest furniture recall in the US — could prove damaging to Ikea in North America, an important market for the company. The Swedish group has 3.8 per cent of the furniture retailing market, trailing Bed, Bath and Beyond, in an extremely fragmented market, according to Euromonitor data.

Neil Saunders, a retail analyst at Conlumino, said he did not expect long-term reputational damage as the issue had been going on for some time. He said that while the products could be made safer the company had indicated it had been trying to solve the problem and had not been negligent.

But Dean Crutchfield, an independent branding expert, said that while the deaths occurred in North America, the company should also recall the chests elsewhere in the world. He added that it was not enough that the manual in the UK, for example, advised customers to secure the chest against a wall.

“[What has happened is] an utter outrage for a brand that is about inclusion, warmth and is so widely recognised,” Mr Crutchfield said. “It can destroy a reputation. It says something about the management of Ikea that reflects on its brand.”

Elliot Kaye, chairman of the CPSC, said that Ikea had co-operated with the organisation and pledged to sell only dressers that comply with the most recent performance standards. He warned that other retailers should take heed.

“[Any company] failing to do so should pay close attention to the details of this recall, as they should expect to be hearing from us,” he said. “CPSC will seek recalls of other brands that pose an unreasonable tip-over risk to innocent children.”

Ikea had repeated a safety warning earlier this year about the accidents involving its Malm chests.

PepsiCo Weighs Another Fix to Diet Pepsi

Diet Pepsi’s declining sales outpace other diet sodas despite move to different sweetener. What do you do when you’ve upset your core customer? Here’s what I shared with Mike Esterl at The Wall Street Journal.Screen Shot 2016-06-08 at 8.26.13 PM

PepsiCo Inc. may be on the verge of another big move to bail out Diet Pepsi.

Last August, the snack and soft drink giant introduced aspartame-free Diet Pepsi, removing one artificial sweetener and substituting another, sucralose, in an attempt to stanch sliding sales.

PepsiCo could announce more changes as early as this week. Executives notified some bottlers in recent days that they plan to discuss with them on Thursday an action plan to stabilize diet cola, according to a person familiar with the matter.

PepsiCo didn’t immediately comment Wednesday.

Since PepsiCo tried to fix the brand last August, Diet Pepsi’s plight has gotten worse. U.S. sales fell 12% in the 12 weeks ended May 21, compared with 6.7% for all diet sodas, according to estimates by Wells Fargo Securities, based on Nielsen store-scanner data.

In the year before the debut of aspartame-free Diet Pepsi, sales had fallen 8.5%, according to the estimates. In the past 52 weeks, they’ve fallen 9.3%.

Diet soda sales industrywide declined a more modest 5.4% in the most recent 52-week period, as rival Coca-Cola Co. and Dr Pepper Snapple Group Inc. brands won market share. Diet Pepsi is still the No. 2-selling diet soda after Diet Coke.

At the time, PepsiCo said it changed Diet Pepsi’s recipe because consumer surveys showed aspartame—long the soda industry’s primary zero-calorie sweetener—was the No. 1 reason Americans were dropping diet cola. Although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration vouches for aspartame’s safety, some studies have flagged health concerns and internet reports tie the controversial sweetener to everything from cancer to autism.

But many Diet Pepsi loyalists don’t like how the new, sucralose-sweetened version tastes. And new Diet Pepsi drinkers haven’t materialized because Americans increasingly are rejecting all artificial sweeteners, not just aspartame, over health concerns.

PepsiCo defended its new recipe for Diet Pepsi, which also includes another zero-calorie sweetener, acesulfame potassium, commonly known as Ace K.

“Diet cola consumers in the U.S. asked for a great-tasting cola without aspartame, and we delivered,” the company told The Wall Street Journal in a written statement last week, responding to a request for comment.

At the same time, the company reiterated last week that it was exploring ways to make the aspartame version available to consumers. Chief Executive Indra Nooyi suggested last year that the old version would be sold online.

Dean Crutchfield, an independent brand consultant, said PepsiCo should make a mea culpa and bring back the old Diet Pepsi—much like Coke did in 1985 when it rolled out New Coke but quickly reversed itself after longtime fans rebelled.

“The last thing you want to do is alienate your existing customers because they’re your ambassadors,” said Mr. Crutchfield, who has advised PepsiCo and Coke in the past.

Chase Thomas, a 42-year-old nurse practitioner, used to treat himself to a Diet Pepsi every afternoon but stopped because the new version tastes “awful” and “flat.” He also doesn’t like Diet Coke or Coca-Cola Zero, instead keeping an unopened bottle of aspartame-sweetened Diet Pepsi in his fridge as a keepsake.

“It’s my Holy Grail,” said Mr. Thomas, who lives in Anniston, Ala.

Veteran beverage-industry consultant Tom Pirko said PepsiCo would have to take more dramatic steps, including possibly changing the brand name, to reverse plunging sales as consumers also are turning their backs on all carbonated beverages labeled “diet.”

Diet Pepsi’s “now aspartame free” label hasn’t attracted enough new drinkers. While 42% of Americans avoided aspartame in a March survey by the International Food Information Council Foundation, 35% avoided sucralose, up from 25% last year. Those who avoided Ace K jumped to 28% from 13%.

Not helping matters, the consumer group Center for Science in the Public Interest cut its sucralose rating to “avoid” from “caution” in February after an Italian study linked the additive to leukemia in mice. That followed a 2014 study by different researchers suggesting the zero-calorie sweeteners saccharin, sucralose and aspartame raised blood glucose levels, a risk factor for diabetes.

Coke is far more exposed to soda than PepsiCo, which derives more of its sales from noncarbonated drinks and snacks. Still, Diet Coke’s U.S. sales fell just 4.7% in the 52 weeks ended May 21, half as much as Diet Pepsi, according to Wells Fargo.

Negative tweets about Diet Pepsi outnumbered positive ones by a two-to-one ratio between October and May, according to social media tracker Sysomos. Tweets mentioning Diet Coke were slightly positive over the same period.

Former Subway Pitchman Jared Fogle to Plead Guilty in Child-Sex Case

Screen Shot 2015-07-09 at 8.41.18 AMWhat should Subway do to mitigate the circumstances? Does it wait or react. Here’s my POV with Julie Jargon the WSJ:

Lawyers representing Mr. Fogle said he had accepted responsibility for his actions. “Jared also understands that he requires significant psychiatric medical treatment and counseling,” they said in an emailed statement. Mr. Fogle has begun that process, they added, by being examined by an expert in sexual conditions and it is his “intent and goal to become healthy again.”

A lawyer for Mr. Fogle’s wife, Katie Fogle, said his client was shocked by the charges and is seeking a divorce.

Subway last month suspended ties with Mr. Fogle after a raid by federal authorities of his home in Zionsville, Ind., an affluent suburb of Indianapolis. A spokeswoman for the company, owned by Doctor’s Associates Inc., said it had no further comment on Wednesday and had “already ended our relationship with Jared.”

The situation is widely expected to cause Subway to shift its marketing practices by relying less on any single spokesman, a step other companies are likely to follow, according to marketing consultants.

“I think this event will create a great deal of soul-searching among other advertisers that use spokespeople,” said Steve Rivkin, founder of marketing consultancy Rivkin & Associates LLC. “The morals clause in these agreements likely will have stronger language going forward to provide for a quick separation in the event of trouble.”

The Subway spokeswoman declined to comment on the company’s marketing strategy.

Law enforcement officials raided the home of Subway restaurant spokesman Jared Fogle July 7 without providing any information about the reason for the raid. Subway later announced that it had suspended its relationship with Mr. Fogle. Photo: AP

Prosecutors said Mr. Fogle received child pornography from Russell Taylor, executive director of Mr. Fogle’s nonprofit Jared Foundation. Mr. Taylor was arrested earlier this year and charged with multiple counts of production of child pornography. A lawyer representing Mr. Taylor declined to comment.

Court documents detailed how Mr. Fogle’s alleged crimes extended well beyond his relationship with Mr. Taylor. Prosecutors said Mr. Fogle solicited underage girls for sexual acts, including meetings at the Plaza and Ritz-Carlton hotels in New York City. Mr. Fogle at times scheduled work travel around meetings for sexual encounters and sent text messages to escorts to help him arrange meetings with girls as young as 14 years old, according to federal authorities.

Though many marketers have suffered embarrassment when their famous spokespeople have run into trouble, few companies’ brands are so closely intertwined with one person as Subway’s has been with Mr. Fogle.

The chain of more than 27,000 U.S. sandwich shops began featuring Mr. Fogle in commercials in 2000 after the then-college student claimed he had lost weight by exercising and adopting a diet of Subway sandwiches. Mr. Fogle became known as “the Subway guy” and appeared in more than 300 commercials for the brand.

His weight-loss story helped fuel the company’s sales for years and contributed to its image as a healthy, convenient place to eat.

Mr. Fogle’s role was unusual because most brands use people who already are celebrities to pitch their products, while Mr. Fogle’s celebrity was created by Subway.

Wendy Patrick, a business-ethics lecturer at San Diego State University, said Mr. Fogle also was unusual in that he was held up as a role model for others seeking healthier lifestyles. “Role models are held to a higher standard than typical celebrity spokesmen. That’s really what distinguishes Jared from other people,” she said.

Some branding experts said Subway likely will shift the focus of future marketing messages to its food.

“I would be surprised if they went with another spokesperson or ‘spokes animal’ or anything like that because of the inevitable strong comparison that would be made to Jared,” Mr. Rivkin said. “Since they stood for so long for fresh and healthy food, I think they’ll return to that in their advertising.”

Other experts said they believed Subway should quickly introduce a new face as a spokesman for the brand to help consumers forget about its association with Mr. Fogle. “The last thing they should do is remain quiet…[Mr. Fogle] needs to be replaced with someone new,” said marketing consultant Dean Crutchfield.

There are signs that Subway is tweaking its approach to advertising. The company’s longtime marketing chief, Tony Pace, stepped down late last month, although he said his departure had nothing to do with Mr. Fogle’s problems. The day after Mr. Pace’s announcement, Subway said it was conducting a review of its creative advertising, according to Advertising Age.

The episode involving Mr. Fogle comes as Subway is trying to rebound from one of its biggest slumps. Years of rapid restaurant growth, increased competition from upstart sandwich shops and recent concerns about the quality of Subway’s food have crimped sales at the 50-year-old company. Revenue at its U.S. restaurants fell 3.3% to $11.9 billion last year, the first decline in more than a decade.

Still, Subway’s swift action to suspend ties with Mr. Fogle may have spared the company from lasting damage from the scandal, according to marketing experts.

YouGov BrandIndex, a research service that interviews 4,500 people from a representative U.S. population sample each weekday, said consumer perception of Subway dipped a little bit after news broke of the raid of Mr. Fogle’s home, but remains high.

In early July, 47% of adults who were polled said they would consider buying their next fast-food meal at Subway. Over the next 30 days, that figure dropped to 44%. It is now back up to 45%, still higher than most other fast-food chains, including McDonald’s Corp. Subway is a client of YouGov BrandIndex.

Written by Julie Jargon at and Mark Peters at

Lies, Damn Lies and Morality: Brands Have Some Work to

shellReputation is trust and the sound of distant drums is challenging how big brands play their role in the world raising fundamental questions about the morality of the offering (McDonald’s), the ingredients (Coca-Cola), the business model (Nestle’s palm oil) and product safety (Toyota).

In many cases the reason for the looming challenge is obvious when you contemplate tobacco, but many other brands spanning auto, financial services, oil, mining, gas, CPG, tech and telecom are being challenged by an ever growing number of pundits, thought-leaders, politicians and consumers: are you morally correct?

The typical response from most leading brands and marketing practitioners is to strenuously deny the complaint with corporate statements about their integrity, honesty, responsibility and ethical business practices. Claims and counter claims, evidence and counter evidence run riot and with the dexterity of gook brands claim it’s unfair criticism countering that there’s enough legislation in place and contend that they have a key role helping the environment, growing the economy and generating jobs.

Knowing and doing are totally different and many of these leading brands have a dysfunctional dynamic when it comes to transparency and camouflage the smell of their inauthenticity. Many brands claiming their societal role have woken
up on 3rd base thinking they hit a triple. To shatter the complacency it requires a concert of action to counter the public’s growing concern and cold contempt for many big brands: if you don’t like change you’ll enjoy irrelevance even less.

Brand is not about power it’s about responsibility. To orchestrate, motivate and facilitate a change in perception requires big brands to demonstrate not assert their morality claims. Brand leaders must ensure that strong rhetoric is not left to stand on its own, without a strategy to translate words into action because morality is something you do not wait for.


Sponsors step up pressure on Fifa over corruption probe

MoneyHow will big brand sponsors react in face of the FIFA scandal? Is this something that will be forgotten, especially now that individual identities have been revealed. Does this rescind the focus of blame on FIFA and save its credibility? Here’s what I shared with Ben McLannahan of the Financial Times:

Starbucks CEO clarifies racial dialogue initiative

Okay, time to wake up. What does Schultz need to do to keep the initiative alive. Here’s my perspective with CCTV Anchor Michelle Makori on March 25th, 2015.

%d bloggers like this: