Category Archives: Owned Platforms

The Digital & Social Era: Unlocking Brand Value in a Nanosecond

 

Monopoly, Scrabble, Mr. Potato Head, G.I. Joe, Nerf, Little Pony, Transformers.  These are only a few of the brands we are all growing old with, and are also seeing our children grow up with. They are all household names that have an extensive legacy and franchise around the world. They’re all Hasbro brands.

While many brand managers often think of extending a brand in terms of new product in the physical sense, the digital and social era offers the opportunity to transform brands into new media properties in ways that unlock the brand’s legacy. The age of new media offers up the chance to pull brands literally “out of the vault” and make them fresh again by relaunching them in an entirely new format.

Hasbro is a company that not only manufactures and distributes toys and games; it is an entertainment company that now competes with the likes of Disney. For example, one of the largest and most successful movie franchises is Transformers. Introduced in the mid-1980s, Transformers was a toy line that featured parts that can be shifted to change from a vehicle into a robot action figure and back again. A number of spin-offs followed, including an animated television series.

In 2007, a live-action movie, under sponsorship of Steven Spielberg, was released, with the latest installment to be released this summer. Around the brand is a vast array of media, including video games, a website, online games, TV commercials, a Facebook community, books, gear and all sorts of toys. Yes, there are apps for iPhone – in 3D no less – that include puzzles.

Not only has Hasbro become a force in the movie industry, it also is a direct investor in television having recently launched The Hub channel in the U.S. in partnership with Discovery Channel whereby the Discovery Kids platform was renamed The Hub. In Canada, Corus Entertainment and Hasbro Studios have come together to distribute Hasbro brands across the various Corus kids television platforms, such as Treehouse, the TV home of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (with HD episodes available on iTunes).

What makes the discussion even more compelling is how Hasbro has been able to artfully blend instinct with formal management process. I say this because the toy business, like fashion, has for many years been built on having a nose for what’s hot and what’s not. In the age of digital, so much is in the moment that risk and reward take on much shorter cycles, thereby requiring a balance between management discipline and entrepreneurial behaviour. As Michael Hogg, President of Hasbro Canada, says: “The toy business is like packaged goods with your hair on fire,” in that much of the action is in the moment, about today. This makes me think of the phrase Carpe Diem – on steroids.

Underlying this “360 degree” approach to defining the media mix is the foundational belief that there is also a value chain with regard to the media platforms. In Hasbro’s case, TV is the anchor to build brand awareness in key segments, whereby other media take on a supporting promotional role to augment consumer engagement.

In the days of traditional media, there was much talk about unlocking ‘incremental brand value’ by building out line extensions and adding ancillary products. In the era of digital and social media, brand value can be unlocked in an exponential way by developing the optimal media mix and devising the right formats for each brand.

It also means sticking to the fundamental questions: what are the demographics, who are the buyers, what are the right media choices and how do we build the trust factor into everything we do? The latter is most important especially when engaging audiences of ‘mommy bloggers’ who have valuable opinions about product safety, play value and ideas for innovation.

It also requires a change in mindset since metrics are not always conveniently at hand. In fact, it may be advantageous by allowing managers to take risk by investing in more trials, seeing what works through iteration and then building metrics that support additional investments for a calculated payoff.

For Hasbro, one formula that continues to prove itself in effect leads the consumer through the channels. Television is the anchor for certain target segments for brand building; websites are ideal for promotional activity and driving consumers to the retail store.

So let me end with a few more Hasbro brands that you may well recognize: Twister, Battleship, Yahtzee, Risk, Tinker Toy, Play-Doh, Sorry! and Easy Bake. And yes, there are and will be more apps.

– Ted Morris, 4ScreensMedia

 

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Hasbro: From Manufacturing to Media Powerhouse

Hasbro is no longer just about Mr. Potato Head. It is a company that has been able to unlock many brands from the vault. These brands have now become instrumental in transforming Hasbro into a media powerhouse – think Transformers, G.I. Joe and Star Wars. Movies. Very successful movies. Think Monopoly going mobile.

Hasbro will soon be launching hub, “a new TV channel for kids and families”. Here’s the point: in the past 5 years, Hasbro has delivered consistent growth in revenues, profit and stock growth. The proof is in the return on investment – just check Hasbro’s investor relations page: www.hasbro.com/corporate

Stay tuned.

– Ted Morris, 4ScreensMedia

Marketing Technology: Mobile People & Portable Brands

The idea of mobile communications is not something new, it’s just that things have progressed immensely since the days prior to the Internet and PDA devices.

What lies ahead is a huge opportunity for brands to get closer to their customers daily lives by  becoming integral to their cutomers’ processes. For me, the idea orignated when I was at IBM where self-serve technologies, such as the ATM and airline check-in kiosk were beginning to take hold. One of my colleagues quipped “Yes, it’s really about the customer saying to the brand ‘come into my process’ but I will remain in control of the transaction”.

This was compelling as it freed the customer not only from delays (lineups at the airport) but it suggested that the customer could transact when and where they pleased – on their own terms.

With mobile devices – PDA’s if you will, customer (and brands) can enjoy more freedom than ever before. No longer encumbered by a fixed location to transact, bank customers can now do their banking from wherever and whenever they choose. The same goes for those who travel by air, say, using Air Canada or Virgin Airways.

Mobile applications can and are being developed for many brand categories. Pharmaceutical apps can help patients with prescription continuance and information on disease states; automotive dealerships send service alerts so that maintenance schedules are adhered to; transit systems can notify passengers when the next bus is about to arrive at a stop.

At the end of the day, its about people who are mobile, devices that enable ‘anywhere computing’ and brands that are portable – the ultimate engagement & collaboration.

– Ted Morris, 4ScreensCRM

Marketing Research Mindset: Stop Debating ‘Social’

Yes, look here for answers

Is it research or something else? Social media, Business Intelligence, Customer Relationship Management, Online Communities and Marketing Research (MR) – all are ways to listen and understand customers.

My guess is that MR is filled with the most angst amidst some sort of identity crisis in relation to social media.  Witness this recent piece in Research Magazine:

The survey of marketers, conducted for the IAB by research agency Opinion Matters, found that the most common use of social media was to drive awareness and consideration of a brand, as well as engagement and advocacy. 60% of the firms surveyed said they were using social media for research purposes, but when asked where social media fits in their organisation (selecting all answers that applied from a total of six), only 12% chose research, compared to 73% who chose marketing, 33% who chose PR/communications and 20% who chose ‘other’.

No wonder there is angst. MR isn’t really seen as delivering value when in comes to social media. If you get a migrane just thinking about social media, consider the following possible remedies:

1. Social Media won’t go away but respondents have: While people are giving up land lines and don’t like getting unsolicited mail, they’re opting to express opinion on the Internet in a pure, organic way. Partner with an online monitoring firm and create a new social science.

2. Stop hiring more MR professionals: Instead, hire people who understand the digital space. Marketing Technologists speak to ways in which applications enable the marketing process and the customer experience. Innovate.

3. Clients are buying-in to marketing research online (MROCs) and owned media platforms: In order to deliver incremental perceived value – business insights or new ideas – you must play in the right sandbox when it comes to customer listening.

4. Stop acting like an accounting function : It’s the job of the MR professional to guide the CMO and others, in a brand or customer management role, to see the way forward. Focus on what’s in the cloud and drive the next big idea. Act in real-time.

5. If you try to prove ROI you will die: Ask yourself, how many things does an enterprise do without having to justify with ROI? Do marketing, strategy, HR and finance have to deliver ROI to justify their existence? MR needs to focus on business benefits as the way of knitting together social media across the enterprise. Be the Voice of the Customer.

Leadership is the best way to overcome angst and clears the way for taking ownership. No one will fault you for that.

– Ted Morris, 4ScreensCRM

Marketing Research is Fun!

The Media Prism: Earned, Paid and Owned

In a recent post by Brian Solis, “Why Brands are Becoming Media“, there was reference to a grid developed by Forrester that attempts to define a new way to segment media channels or ‘customer touchpoints’:

The above is a fine represention as it brings a high level order to this complex new media mix. As a CRM and Marketing Technology professional I believe in being focused on business process with a  view to implementation. Here is my ‘managerial’ grid:

Clearly the media landscape is changing continuously and many more iterations will develop as we move along the maturity curve. At this point, it’s not so much a matter of what is right or wrong, rather, what works best for each of us as we look through the multi-faceted media prism.

– Ted Morris, 4ScreensCRM

Owned Platforms: Up-cycling sponsored media in the digital world

[Author’s note: This post originally appeared in Communispace’s Verbatim]

The idea of “Owned Platforms,” otherwise known as private label media captivates me. Procter & Gamble recently announced that The Guiding Light, its oldest sponsored TV soap opera was finally going off air after 72 years on radio, then television. The company then announced that it was launching its own private digital media platform. Initially, Pampers will be sponsoring a series of webisodes called A parent is born about young couples expecting a child. Other projects include digital casting for a variety of product categories in partnership with the likes of NBC Digital Networks.

On October 7th, Procter & Gamble with the aid of its Canadian ‘mommy blogger’ community, launched  Rouge Magazine a new magazine and online edition, into the US. It’s targeted to 11M households and “beauty-involved females.” The underlying objective is to build a massive database using the information of those that will be engaging with the brand across multiple owned media platforms. Rouge is beyond freemium…it’s chock-a-block with coupons for P&G beauty products.

One of the reasons owned platforms caught my attention was that it reminded me of traditional sponsored advertising—coming back full circle to digital media but delivered directly by the brand rather than a TV network. Conceptually, the first example that came to mind was when television programming was ‘brought to you’ by a ‘proud sponsor’ like Kraft, Molson, or General Motors. Fast forward…sponsored advertising of old has come full circle into digital.

Ford, out of the automotive industry, is also going deep.  The Financial Times has suggested that ‘aggressive’ sub-branding, by companies like Ford, are creating owned platforms and individualizing online sites. For example, Facebook is being used effectively for the Fusion and Fiesta brand hubs where loyalists and potential customers participate in the online community.

The redesigned Fiesta specifically, the worldwide launch of  www.fiestamovement.com, makes use of trust agents on-the-ground and online across various digital media to build a high degree of awareness and brand building. It’s getting business results too: over 50,000 inquiries for the Fiesta have been generated in advance of the US market launch.

It’s remarkable how the process of branded product advertising is coming around to look like the early days of television—only the media mix is broader and is being up-cycled. Companies with owned platforms are delivering their brand’s message and driving consumer engagement from any of all of the three screens—sponsored television, Internet, and mobile.

So here is the question: Are companies emerging as ‘social OEMs’ who, through the deployment of owned platforms, are bringing back control of their brands to create equilibrium of push and pull marketing? If so, the science will be in bringing all of the right media and branding elements together; the art will be in reaching brand communities tailor-made for these emerging owned platforms.