Do The Sexiest Brands Have To Pay For "It"?

The “it” of course is media. 

If you are a great brand today, you get a lot of "free” earned media and a lot of activity on your owned media assets as well. For the most powerful brands, the OE can even be substantially more than the P.  

That's not because great brands invest more in social media.  On the contrary, I've seen less resonant brands pouring money into sophisticated social media infrastructure in order to grab some of the magic. But all this effort has mixed results because the middle-of-the-roads lack the one quality that creates “free” media--passion.

In contrast, great brands appear effortless, because the consumers are doing all of the work. Great brands today focus on doing things and making products that are worth talking about, not trumping up a bunch of hype about nothing. They focus on actions not words, on being it versus saying it. They actually do things that are worth talking about and so people talk.

Nike, Apple, Mini and Audi manufacture products, but also news. Google glasses had more "influence" than anything else Google did last month (Appinions Research), and who's even seen an ad for them?  

The really great thing about all of this "free" media is that it's also more effective than paid, because it often carries the credibility of objective third party opinion. The best things in life (and marketing) truly are free. 

Most of the great new brands that have emerged in the past decade have done so with minimal paid advertising support: Zappos, Facebook, Red Bull. Even a significant auto brand (Mini) was launched without TV at all, a rarity indeed. 

With all the talk about big data, and all of the metrics available to measure every aspect of a brand, the most simple and powerful measure of a brand's strength today might be the P/OE ratio. Less P and more OE = brand strength. People want to talk about great brands because they do great things. So maybe we should start putting the marketing money into things like the expensive (and difficult to make) Gorilla glass that Steve Jobs famously used for the iPhone.

But wait, is that marketing? The answer is yes! Marketing is anything that creates customers. Anything that communicates. This is a lot broader view of marketing than is customary. In fact, only a CEO could have approved Gorilla glass. Any CMO would have been fired for delaying a product launch and jacking up the budget last minute just to put in better quality glass.

Wait a second. Let’s look at that list of great brands again. Phil Knight, Tony Hsieh appears that a great many of them are run by CEO's with a very strong consumer-centric point of view. You don't see a lot of financially engineered PE-owned companies in this mix. So, maybe to get more OE, you need to have the power to make bold decisions, the kind that eludes today's oppressed CMOs.

Without a voice in how all aspects of the brand are seen by consumers, the CMO is left with simply “messaging,” which isn't deep enough to create passion, which drives buzz. So, those CMOs inevitably have to spend their way to visibility, and attempt vainly to amplify their paid media with something to generate some OE, but it’s a slog. 

Now I'm sure the media folks will say that we need P, O, and E, and must find the proper mix of all three to optimize results. But that's the tail wagging the dog. If you focus on doing something great that will elicit passion from your audience, you are sure to need a lot less paid media to achieve your objectives. So the issue is really about how to spend a dollar in paid to drive many dollars in owned/earned media. It’s the ratio that's key. Great brands get a lot more owned/earned media than mediocre brands. 

I guess the future of advertising is like sex; only the losers will have to pay for it.

Next story loading loading..