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J&J VP At OMMA: Brands Must Still Think Like People

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The media business may be becoming more and more automated, with algorithms determining everything from media mix to creative, but Kim Kadlec, speaking at the OMMA Global conference on Tuesday morning, said that ultimately, some very human factors determine how successful a brand is or isn't -- even in digital realms. And a lot of that has to do with the lost art of decorum.

The worldwide VP of marketing at Johnson & Johnson -- who is responsible for agency management, marketing communications, and media planning -- said "the art of courtship" has been sacrificed to the speed of communications. "It's overwhelming, but as marketers we have to shift from reach and frequency to reach and relationships if we want to engage consumers. Marketers and agencies need to connect in different ways. It's about bringing back 'pitching the woo.' We have to add charm."

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To that end, Kadlec articulated eight traditional rules that are also -- or maybe especially -- pertinent to social media:

1. Show up. "You have to have something to say, you have to be interesting, and charming. It's not enough to just paste together a Web page and hide behind it," said Kadlec. "You can't be a wallflower." To make her point, she asked the audience who they thought the top three Facebook brands were. Nobody guessed Facebook itself, YouTube and Coca-Cola. YouTube "shows up" by having someone "feeding it all the time: clips from movies, user-generated content. Home Depot, she said, is also strong and maintains a presence by making sales associates web-savvy curators. The company has some 6,000 posts and thousands of video clips from 30 countries.

2. Be a creature like no other. "You have to differentiate yourself, and it's not easy," said Kadlec. "You have to combine heart and creativity." Her example is Zipcar, which has an online community of "Zipsters" who share "random acts of Zipster kindness." Another is BMW's Alter/Egos short film series profiling celebrities and the passions with which they are not usually associated.

3. Be generous. "Generosity is more and more important." The Japanese retailer Uni Qlo, which is opening a store in New York, offers deals based on the volume of tweets.

4. Be a good listener. The example here is Virgin America, which gets 300 to 500 in-flight tweets from customers daily, "And they respond to them immediately," noted Kadlec, offering a case in which a passenger tweeted a complaint about a meal. "It was replaced in minutes."

5. Choose your words carefully. Think of new ways to target consumers based on terms, such as what Converse does with its "Domaination" program tied to the Scripps spelling bee. The company created its own digital spelling bee that circled back to Google and linked advertising to correctly spelled words.

6. Celebrate special moments. "In marketing, even the smallest celebration of a milestone can go a long way," said Kadlec, noting that Nike Plus allows runners to track their mileage accomplishments, share them on Facebook, and use virtual trainers. When you register on Subway's consumer page, you get a free meal on your birthday.

7. Be the first to apologize. Kadlec contrasted Netflix's poorly received apology for a service change from its CEO with a video apology on YouTube from Domino's Pizza's CEO after two employees from a North Carolina store posted a video in which they defiled the company's food, which got a million hits before it was taken down.

8. Don't worry if they like you, but make sure they love you. "Moving from like to love is a tough order, but it's possible," said Kadlec, finally using her own company to supply an example: Listerine's efforts in Brazil that involved a cause-marketing program around helping unemployed Brazilian youth get their resumes together and get work.

"It comes down to old-fashioned rules of etiquette as we shift from reach and frequency to reach and relationship. As Mark Twain said, 'Etiquette requires us to appreciate the human race.'"

2 comments about "J&J VP At OMMA: Brands Must Still Think Like People ".
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  1. Steve Schildwachter from BrightStar Care, September 28, 2011 at 9:37 a.m.

    Great list -- and it sounds very much like rules for marketers in 1911 just as well as 2011. These are soild principles regardless of how far technology has advanced. http://twitter.com/SteveS1

  2. Promoaid Llc from PromoAid, September 29, 2011 at 9:12 a.m.

    Great approach to social media marketing! The overall goal is to establish a direct, 2-way line of communication with users, listen to their expectations, and change your strategy/product accordingly. This is often nuance-y, for lack of a better word, and requires specialization in this area of expertise. One way to combat this, and ensure your social media presence is done in the right way, is to hire a social media agency on board as a partner. Any brand can maintain an online presence, but it's about getting in front of the right eyes and maintaining a connection.

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