Tag Archives: Branding

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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Social Media: Where Does It Belong?

As part of a continuing series for the ACA – Association of Canadian Advertisers, the following post offers an ‘enterprise view’ of how to organize for social media. For the most part, advertisers are keely aware that any customer-facing activity does not fall exclusively within the domain of a singular function, department or business discipline. Indeed, the cross-enterprise approach is often the only way to provide a consistent delivery of customer value and in turn get feedback on performance.  This also avoids one of the most dangerous of obstacles that inhibits business  transformation…

To read on, please go to:

http://www.acaweb.ca/en/social-media-where-does-it-belong/

En Francais:

http://www.acaweb.ca/fr/qui-controle-les-medias-sociaux/

– Ted Morris

Ahead of the Curve Behind the 8-Ball

It wasn’t long ago that the clamoring for CEO’s to get with the latest program by using Twitter and various social media platforms, reached a feverish pitch.  As usual, those forever looking for shreds of evidence that ‘social media’ pays out a clear cut ROI, would trot out lists of companies (and their CEO’s) who ‘got it’. Funny thing was, most of those lists, and many related cased studies were  mainly of obscure companies in the early stages of growth. Naturally, a 500% growth rate as a result of using Twitter, was impressive though less so when the base number for that growth rate was near zero, the kind of stats that investment fund advisors like to use when people have little appetite for buying stocks following a market meltdown. 

There have been case studies, some from reputable technology analysts, touting remarkable cost savings. Beyond the headline, the data showed a savings of $4M over 3 years for a certain USD$100B technology provider using social media as a collaboration tool.  In the end, this seemed a bit on the light side. No pun intended here but greater savings might have been had by turning the office lights off when people left for the day.

There has also been a lull in those declaring their location. Shout outs for Foursquare and various locational platforms seem rather muted of late. The initial interest seemed to be focused around luring people into retail premises by pushing discounted offers out to the latte-rati, more recently up-sized to the Starbucks version of 7-Eleven’s Big Gulp. Adoption hasn’t been that broad and one wonders if location-based applications are still looking for a real business problem to solve.

Lastly, not to make too fine a point, recent press by ‘those in the social know’ are now suggesting that too many offers, tweets, friending by brands for the sake of friending and a general overloading of Facebook fan pages by some brands, has started to turn some people off. Mashable had some recent thoughts on this issue of why people are unfollowing certain brands. I also expressed in a post from last year, building on a thought piece by the Economist, that there is so much data out there, one wonders what is to be done with it all – and that was when YouTube, Facebook and the like where just getting ramped up with the posting of video and photos. Clearly, when a brand fails to deliver on the promise, even CEO tweets can’t come to the rescue, GAP logo changes notwithstanding. Again, ask yourself, are we solving a business problem or just creating stuff to do because we’re not sure exactly what to do?

If you’re indeed feeling both ahead of the curve implementing certain technologies and behind the eight ball in terms of getting measureable business results, consider this: any organization that undertakes a transformation, in this case toward the Social Enterprise, cannot achieve success by leading with technology. This is what happened to early adopters of CRM in the last decade. Success can in fact be achieved, notably for companies that are truly customer-centric (culture/process/technology) who understanstand those things that deliver value to the customer relative to competition re. the “Outside-In” approach. IBM, Ford, McDonald’s, P&G are a few companies who do this consistently and have the financial results as proof.

This is not news, in fact, it’s an old principle advocated by Peter Drucker some 50 years ago. While it’s tempting to drink the latest elixir of technology, it pays to stick to managerial fundamentals, much like accountants use GAAP methods to keep track of every dollar earned.

– Ted Morris, 4ScreensMedia

The Social Maze

Where are all my customers?

 The funny thing about all the endless advocacy of social media is that nothing has really changed in the business of matching consumers with brands. Oh sure, now that consumers ‘control the brand’, companies are at the mercy of infantile twittering tantrums such  as when consumers don’t get their way (especially on an airline) hoping to unleash a social firestorm primarily with the hope of getting noticed for a nanosecond or two. (The same folks likely get back on the same airline, content to collect their frequent flyer points.) 

One would think, with all those folks splaying their private lives out in public via the likes of YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and Foursquare – lest we forget this thing called a phonebook or the science of geodemographics and credit card purchase data – that people would be easy to find. In fact, with all of the yottabytes of data out there about consumers, it should, in the year 2010, be a matter of running an algorithm or two to find customers, understand preferences and match any product or offer with any consumer 24/7 in any country with high Internet penetration.  It would be the end to the need to advertise using traditional channels.

Funny indeed. The search and storage/processing technology required to make the social web possible has, as the main output, data. Whether you call it media or content it’s still really just more data taking up space on some distant server farm deep in the Mariana Trench. As such, are we all the wiser? Not really. With free cloud apps having a shelf life not much longer that the vegetables in your local supermarket, many are wary of the risks of implementing something that will be obsolete by the time it gets traction in the marketplace. With the yet to be proven value of social media monitoring and analytics, it’s not as if the world has abandoned representative random sampling or in-market product trials.  

Do companies really have the strategies, skill sets or business processes to effectively leverage the social web? With only $2 billion slated for social media spending in the USA this year, I doubt it. Yet, evangelists are forever hopeful, as that is their stock in trade. Like Charles Revson, founder of Revlon once said, “In the factory we make cosmetics; in the store we sell hope.”  

On the other hand, Charles Revson didn’t have social networks at his disposal but his customers had no trouble finding the Revlon counter.  

– Ted Morris, 4ScreensMedia

Beyond Brand: The Kawartha Dairy Company

The Kawartha Dairy Company, since 1937.

Yes, this is about ice cream. My favourites are strawberry, chocolate, butter pecan and french vanilla.  Here is French Vanilla: 

FRENCH VANILLA: ALL NATURAL. No artificial flavours or colours. Pure bourbon vanilla and eggs give that bold flavours and a sprinkling of vanilla seeds.

Kawartha Dairy has a website, several storefront locations and is distributed throughout Ontario, Canada and notably Metropolitan Toronto. The “Kawarthas” as they are known by, are located northwest of Toronto by about 100 miles. It is cottage country, rural. Lots of forests and lakes. It is also the home of Kawartha Dairy. Every time I eat Kawartha Dairy ice cream it reminds me of the years we spent at the cottage – family, friends, puppies, children. Ice cream that has always been a part of our lives.

No Facebook, no Twitter, no mobile apps, no need to check-in at their stores on FourSquare. All you really need is a scoop, a bowl, some wild blueberries maybe or fresh strawberries or perhaps even some Canadian maple (light amber #1)  syrup as occasional toppings.

Kawartha Dairy. The tastiest ice cream. Beyond a brand.

– Ted Morris, 4ScreensCRM

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

Meet @Spam – Social Media Persona

This is @spam. Lots of followers, a ‘personal branding’ advocate and someone who is famous, at least, by some measure. You know, the type that likes to dispense advice, get your attention and loves to tell you about themselves in the most menial of ways.

Unlike the commercial “When E.F. Hutton speaks, people listen”…this is where is all ends, perhaps.

@spam. All about the ‘me’ in social media.

– Ted Morris, 4ScreensCRM