How To Ruin A Great (Ad) Look

"Use the Macy's accessory wall, thoughtfully."--Tim Gunn

Spoken like a true Sage, Tim Gunn instructed the designers of "Project Runway" to carefully consider the resources available to them as they embellish their creations. I believe there's a powerful marketing lesson in Tim's words. Open access to resources cannot turn into a "free for all." We must carefully edit our choices -- to ensure that the experiences we put out are truly thoughtful.

The Macy's accessory wall is a great metaphor for the vast array of potential brand touchpoints that can enhance/ complement/ accessorize an integrated marketing plan. Unfortunately, many marketers are taking a "market basket" approach: use it all! This is exacerbated by the low price of entry into emerging social media touchpoints -- it doesn't cost much to start a Twitter feed, launch a fan page, create a widget/app, etc. So why not? Let's throw it out there, embellish the plan with all the "accessories," and make a big splash!



Nothing like too much of a good thing to totally spoil a great outfit!

I can't think of a single brand that belongs "everywhere." Yet, many confuse integrated marketing with 360-degree bombardment. The discipline of "integrated channel planning" involves the "thoughtful" selection of those touchpoints that can create contextual relevance -- a brand experience that is both important and meaningful. Not all brand experiences can hold such power. And it's dangerous to assume that consumers will simply edit out those experiences that do not hold relevance. It's much like over-accessorizing a great outfit.

"I was going for a certain 'look'."

Another valuable lesson from the Macy's accessory wall: The accessories are not selected in a vacuum. Rather, they are considered for their contributions to an integrated fashion statement on the runway. The designers have to create a certain "look" that is a whole experience. And they are ultimately responsible for crafting the "look" through model selection, hair, makeup, accessories, etc. Sure, they consult with specialists/experts in the process. But one designer ultimately holds the entire vision and makes the call.

Who is the "designer" in our fragmented marketing services industry?

Marketers, too, must create a vision for the total brand experience. We desperately need a designer's sketchpad -- a/k/a an integrated marketing plan -- as our compass for the whole "look." Fragmentation by functional specialty, "hand-offs" to departments and agency specialists, and decisions made in isolation are a recipe for a disjointed "look" that marketers will send down the runway.

You think the "Project Runway" judges are brutal?

Consumers are even less forgiving! There is limited "immunity" in the real world. Consumers are less forgiving when they are bombarded with experiences and choices. There is more opportunity to "stick out like a sore thumb" and ruin the "look" than ever before. As consumers increasingly multitask and create layered, nuanced media experiences, an integrative perspective will become ever more critical.

Now more than ever, when the choices are abundant, we must carefully edit brand experiences to craft a whole look. Tim Gunn says it best: "Use the Macy's accessory wall 'thoughtfully'."

2 comments about "How To Ruin A Great (Ad) Look ".
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  1. Hart Weichselbaum from the planning practice, January 12, 2010 at 9:11 a.m.

    Judy, the metaphor works! (How refreshing.)

  2. Mickey Lonchar from Quisenberry, January 12, 2010 at 4:57 p.m.

    Thanks Judy. I loved your section about "360 degree bombardment." It's absolutely true. It puzzles me how folks in this industry continue to interpret that as being about additional intrusion, not enhanced relevance.

    http://www.quisenblog.com twitter.com/mickeylonchar

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