Beautiful Remembrance Day ad will bring a tear to your eye


Remembrance Day is a special day in Canada, as we take a moment of silence at 11am on the 11th day of the 11th month, to commemorate the very moment that World War One ended. Before showing Bell’s new TV ad, here’s a little history about Remembrance Day in Canada:

Remembrance Day (also known as Poppy Day) is a memorial day observed in Commonwealth of Nations member states since the end of the First World War to remember the members of their armed forces who have died in the line of duty. Remembrance Day is observed on  the 11th of November to recall the end of hostilities of World War I on that date in 1918, as hostilities formally ended “at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month”.  

Every Canadian kid learns about “In Flanders Fields”, which is a war poem, written during the First World War by Canadian physician Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae (November 30, 1872 – January 28, 1918) who was a Canadian poet, physician, author, artist and soldier during World War I, and a surgeon during the Second Battle of Ypres, in Belgium. He was inspired to write “In Flanders Fields” on May 3, 1915, after presiding over the funeral of friend and fellow soldier Alexis Helmer, who died in the Second Battle of Ypres. According to legend, fellow soldiers retrieved the poem after McCrae, initially dissatisfied with his work, discarded it. “In Flanders Fields” was first published on December 8 of that year in the London-based magazine Punch. The red remembrance poppy has become a familiar emblem of Remembrance Day due to the poem In Flanders Fields.

These poppies bloomed across some of the worst battlefields of Flanders in World War I, their brilliant red colour became a symbol for the blood spilled in the war.  McCrae died of pneumonia months before the end of the war, while still working at a hospital for Canadian soldiers in Belgium.

Here is the Remembrance Day poem:



This new Bell ad tells a beautiful story from the eyes of a little girl, as she learns about Remembrance Day and does something very touching for a veteran. It’s a very Canadian storyline and I hope you can appreciate every little subtlety in this ad. There are no words and you have to pay close attention to every detail. In the ad, a little girl peers out a school bus window and sees a veteran selling poppies by the side of the road.

It prompts her to google “what is a poppy”, which starts her on the learning process about Remembrance Day. The little girl emails someone in Belgium, asking if they are near Flanders Field, a link to the poem above. Then a letter arrives, presumably from the person in Belgium. The little girl takes the letter to the veteran, giving it to him in a very touching tribute and a beautiful moment.



Bell Canada has a long history of paying tribute to our veterans. Below is an ad from the mid 90s, when we were still excited that we could call from anywhere. In the ad, a young 20-year-old visiting Dieppe phones home to Canada to talk to his grandfather, just to say “thank you”. Dieppe holds a special place for Canadians. Two years before D-Day, 6,000 Canadians tried to land on the beach at Dieppe, but less than half survived. We see many tributes to the soldiers, but this one sends a chill through me every time I watch.

Wear a poppy. Lest we forget.

The 10 reasons that Brand Managers get fired

There’s been a lot of great Assistant Brand Managers who get promoted and then are fired at the Brand Manager level. So that would beg the question: why were they mistakenly promoted? Just like in sports where they are fooled by size, we sometimes get fooled by Charisma. They seem impressive to us–whether it’s how they speak in the hallways or answer questions in a plans meeting. We think Charisma is a great starting ground for a leader, so hopefully they can learn to be analytical, strategic, creative and organized. Hopefully that Charismatic leader can get stuff done, stay on track, hand in their budgets on time, know how to turn a brand around, can write great brand plans, work with agencies and motivate the sales team etc…etc… But then we find out that they can’t do all that stuff. And after 18 months as a Brand Manager, we see they really are “just charismatic” and we remind ourselves of what we already knew: Being a Brand Manager really is hard.

Brand Managers don’t really get fired because they can’t deliver the results. That might happen at Director or VP level. But at the Brand Manager level, we’d look for other Blind Spots that might be leading to the poor results.

I don’t want to see anyone get fired, so use this list to avoid it. I’ve provided advice for each reason, hopefully helping you to discuss it pro-actively.

Top 10 Reasons why Brand Managers get fired:

  1. Struggle to Make Decisions: When these Brand Managers were ABMs they shined because they are the “super doer’s”, who can work the system, get things done on time and under budget. All the subject matter experts (forecasting, production, promotions) love them. But then get them into the Brand Manager seat and they freeze. They can do, but they can’t decide. They can easily execute someone else’s project list with flare, but they can’t come up with a project list of their own. For you to succeed, you have to work better on your decision-making process. You have to find methods for narrowing down the decisions. When you’re new to decisions, take the time to map out your thinking whether it’s pros and cons or a decision tree. It will eventually get faster for you and train your mind to make decisions.
  2. Not Analytical Enough: Those that can’t do the deep dive analytical thinking. They might have great instincts, but they only scratch the surface on the analytics, and it eventually catches them when they make a poor decision and they can’t explain why they went against the obvious data points. The real reason is they never saw those data points. When a senior leader questions you, they can usually tell if they have struggled enough with a problem to get to the rich solution or whether they just did the adequate thinking to get to an “ok” solution. Just because you are now a Brand Manager doesn’t mean you stop digging into the data. The analytical skills you learned as an ABM should be used at every level in your career right up to VP. As I moved up, I felt out of touch with the data so at every level up to VP, I used to do my own monthly share report just to ensure I was digging in and getting my hands mucky with the data. Because I had dug around in the data, I knew which of my Brand Managers had dug in as well and which Brand Managers hadn’t even read their ABM’s monthly report yet. Take the time to know the details of your business. Dig into the data and make decisions based on the depth of analysis you do. 
  3. Can’t Get Along: Conflicts, teamwork issues, communication. These Brand Managers struggle with sales colleagues or the subject matter experts (SME’s). They might be the type who speaks first, listens second. They go head-to-head to get their own way instead of looking for compromise. Yes, they might be so smart they think faster than everyone, but they forget to bring people along with their thinking. They start to leave a trail of those they burned and when the trail gets too big they get labelled as “tough to deal with”. Listen more–hear them out. The collection of SME’s will likely teach you more about marketing than your boss will. If you don’t use these people to enhance your skill, you’ll eventually crash and burn. And if they can’t work with you, they’ll also be the first to destroy your career. You aren’t the first superstar they’ve seen. And likely not the last. My recommendation to you is to remember that Leadership is not just about you being out front, but about you turning around and actually seeing people following you. In fact, it should be called “Follower-ship”.
  4. Not good with Ambiguity: Some Brand Managers opt for the safety of the easy and well-known answers. They struggle with the unknown and get scared of ambiguity. Brand Managers that become too predictable to their team create work in the market that also becomes predictable and fails to drive the brand. These Brand Managers are OK–they don’t really have a lot of wrong, but they don’t have a lot of right. You can put them on safe easy businesses, but you wouldn’t put them on the turn around or new products. Ambiguity is a type of pressure that not all of us are capable of handling easily, especially when they see Ambiguity and Time Pressure working against each other. Don’t ever settle for “ok” just because of a deadline. Always push for great. You have to learn to handle ambiguity. In fact revel in ambiguity. Have fun with it. Be Patient with Ideas. Never be afraid of an idea and never kill it quickly. As a leader, find ways to ask great questions instead of giving quick answers. Watch the signals you send that may suck the creativity energy out of your team. When you find a way to stay comfortable in the “ambiguity zone”, the ideas get better whether it’s the time pressure that forces the thinking to be simpler or whether it’s the performance pressure forces us to push for the best idea. So my recommendation to you is to just hold your breath sometimes and see if the work gets better.
  5. Too slow and stiff: The type of Brand Manager that is methodical to the extreme and they think everything through to the point of “Analysis Paralysis”.
    They never use instincts–and have the counter analytical answer to every “gut feel” solution that gets recommended. They have every reason why something won’t work but no answers for what will work. I have to admit that this type frustrates me to no end, because nothing ever gets done. They struggle to make it happen: they are indecisive, not productive, disorganized or can’t work through others. They are frustratingly slow for others to deal with. They keep missing opportunities or small milestones that causes the team to look slow and miss the deadlines. You have to start to show more flexibility in your approach. Borrow some of the thinking from dealing with ambiguity and making decisions. Realize there are options for every solution, no one perfect answer. 
  6. Bad people Manager: Most first time people managers screw up a few of their first 5 direct reports. It’s only natural. One of the biggest flaws for new Managers is to think “Hey it will take me longer to explain it to you, so why don’t I just do it myself this one time and you can do it next time”. They repeat this every month until we realized they aren’t teaching their ABM anything. And they became the Manager that none of the ABMs wanted to work for because you never learn anything. But as we keep watching great ABMs crashing and burning while under them, we start to wonder “you are really smart, but can you actually manage people?”. To be a great Brand Manager, you have to work on being a better people leader. We expect you to develop talent. Be more patient with your ABM. Become a teacher. Be more selfless in your approach to coaching. Take time to give them feedback that helps them, not feedback that helps you. If you don’t become a better people manager, you’ve just hit your peak in your career.
  7. Poor communicators, with manager, senior management or partners. They fail to adequately warn when there are potential problems. They leave their manager in the dark and the information comes their manager from someone else. They confuse partners because they don’t keep them aware of what’s going on. You have to become a better communicator. Make it a habit that as soon as you know something, your boss does as well–especially with negative news. It’s normal that we get fixated on solving the problem at hand that we forget to tell people. But that opens you up to risk–so cover your bases. 
  8. Never Follow Their Instincts: They forget that marketing also has a “Gut Feel” to it, taking all the data, making decisions and then getting to the execution and believing it by taking a risk. Too many times people fail because “they went along with it even though they didn’t like it”. You have to find ways to use your instincts. The problem is that sometimes your instincts are hidden away. You get confused, you feel the pressure to get things done and you’ve got everyone telling you to go for it. You get scared because you’re worried about your career and you want to do the ‘right thing’. But your gut is telling you it’s just not right. My rule is simple: if you don’t love the work, how do you expect the consumer to love your brand. The worst type of marketer is someone who says “I never liked the brief” or “I never liked the ad”. At every touch point, keep reaching for those instincts and bring them out on the table.
  9. Can’t Think Strategically or Write Strategically: As you move up to Brand Manager, we expect you to be able to think conceptually, strategically and in an organized fashion. We also expect that to come through in your writing–whether that’s your Annual Brand Plan, monthly share report or just an email that you send. Be organized in your thinking–map it out. I do believe that every good strategy has four key elements: 1) Focus in either target or messaging 2) an Early win where you can see results 3) a Leverage point where you can take that early win and achieve a position power for your brand and finally 4) a Gateway to something even bigger for the brand. Every six months, I would find a quiet time to answer five key questions that would help me stay aware: 1) Where are we? 2) Why are we here? 3) Where could we be? 4) How can we get there? and 5) What do we have to do to get started? In an odd way, the more planning you do, the more agile you’ll be, because you’ll know when it’s ok to “go off plan” 
  10. They Don’t Run the Brand, they Let The Brand Run Them. Some Brand Managers end up in the spin zone where they are disorganized, frantic and not in touch with their business. They miss deadlines, look out of control and things just stockpile on one another. They may take pride in how long they work or how many things they are getting done on their to-do list. But they are out of control and the business is absolutely killing them. They just don’t know it yet. My advice to you is to stay in Control so you hit the deadlines and stay on budget. Dig in and know your business so you don’t get caught off-guard. Make sure you are asking the questions and carrying forward the knowledge. Instil processes that organize and enable you and your team, so that it frees you up your time to push projects through and for doing the needed strategic thinking. Stay conceptual–avoid getting stuck in the pennies or decimals–so you can continue to drive the strategy of your brand.

Now let’s be honest: You likely won’t be fired for just one of these. You likely will see 3 or 4 of these come together and begin to showcase that you’re just not up for being a Brand Manager. But even 1 or 2 will keep you stuck at the Brand Manager level and you’ll notice your bosses are hesitant to put you on the tough assignments.

But the big question is what do you do about it. My hope is that you can use the list as a way to course correct on something you might already be doing. We each have a few of these de-railers, some that you can easily over-come but others that will take a few years to really fix. Those who seek out feedback, welcome it and act on it will be the successful ones. I hope that your company has a process of giving feedback or that you get lucky to have a manager that cares about your career and is willing to give you the tough feedback. But if not, seek it. Be honest with yourself and try to fix one of these per quarter.

I hope you can figure out the blind spots before your manager does.

To read a presentation on careers:


Articles on the Four Levels of Marketing

  • Assistant Brand Manager: It’s about doing; analyzing and sending signals you have leadership skills for the future. It’s not an easy job and only 50% get promoted to Brand Manager. To read a story on how to be successful as an ABM, click on the following hyper link: How to be a successful ABM
  • Brand Manager: It becomes about ownership and strategic thinking within your brand plan. Most Brand Managers are honestly a disaster with their first direct report, and get better around the fifth report. The good ones let the ABM do their job; the bad ones jump in too much, frustrated and impatient rather than acting as a teacher. To read about being a successful Brand Manager, read: How to be a successful Brand Manager
  • Marketing Director: It’s more about managing and leading than it does about thinking and doing. Your role is to set the standard and then hold everyone to that standard. To be great, you need to motivate the greatness from your team and let your best players to do their absolute best. Let your best people shine, grow and push you. Follow this hyper link to read more: How to be a successful Marketing Director
  • VP Marketing or CMO: It’s about leadership, vision and getting the most from people. If you are good at it, you won’t need to do any marketing, other than challenging and guiding your people to do their best work. You have to deliver the results, and very few figure out the equation that the better the people means the better the work and in the end the better the results. Invest in training as a way to motivate your team and keep them engaged. Use teaching moments to share your wisdom. Read the following article for how to be a success: How to be a Successful VP of Marketing

GR bio Jun 2016.001


P&G has become really good at Emotional Advertising

6mkd49.pngIn my generation, it was usually pretty easy to spot a P&G marketer. They are the type that has “the” answer. The “P&G way” used to be: find something (almost anything) that you’re better at than your competitor and then make the most of it, by showing a side-by-side demonstration, naming the “next leading brand” and quite possibly add some blue liquid to the TV ad.  P&G managed to exploit this execution through most of the 1970s and 1980s.  Don’t get me wrong: I’ve always respected P&G for what it is. They did a good job for decades using that same trusted formula.  They just stuck to the same formula a bit too long, and it caught up to them by the mid-to-late 1990s.


Here’s a great example of the classic 1970s P&G advertising looked like, including the famous blue liquid.


But by 2000, the P&G formula seemed worn out they suddenly appeared to hit a brick wall. Growth dried up, several key brands lost their leadership of the market to rivals, and new product launches proved disappointing or even to be downright failures. Competitor products had caught up, and in some cases surpassed them. Colgate was beating Crest, Listerine was beating Scope, Finish was beating Cascade, Dove was beating Ivory and others were catching up or passing the trusted P&G brands., the stock price fell dramatically from $120 to $85 almost over night. A consumer driven brand mainly has 3 weapons: 1) new products 2) communication and 3) go-to-market execution through retailers. P&G stepped up on innovation and even acquisition to bolster the product roster.  And they have made a dramatic change in how they communicate with their consumers,. They also found that the same Advertising formula wasn’t working anymore.

Strategically, brands really have four choices:  

  • Better
  • Different
  • Cheaper
  • Not around for very long

But in the current crowded Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) world, “Better” has become increasingly difficult. Every category is so cluttered, everyone has copied every non-patented product feature, claims are getting even harder to gain separation from competitors.  We are into the world of incremental-ization of fast acting tabs, quick dissolving strips or ultra powders.  Yawn. More and more, what is winning is different.  The brand that taught all of the CPG marketers a vital lesson is Dove, with “real beauty” demonstrating that different is a powerful way to connect.  

At the base of P&G’s communication is the strategic shift from always being “better” to now being “different”. Instead of looking at unique feature differences to build the benefits around, P&G is now looking at unique consumer insights that will help them connect with consumers. The ads have shifted from pure product demos to finding moments within the consumer’s life. Also, P&G has a new respect for the power of Advertising–even sending people to the Cannes awards.  Yes, Unilever has been doing this type of work across their brands for decades now, with the most inspiring CPG brand being the work on Dove.  


Here’s a few P&G spots that have really captured the emotional marketing.

I thought P&G did a very nice job at the 2012 Olympics, the one sponsor that seemed to jump out. “Thank You Moms” showed everything that moms did for their athletes, and just as Mom is an enabler, so is P&G to the Moms. I’m sure quite a few moms were shedding a few tears over this one.



The second P&G ad spoke to the idea that “they’ll always be kids” and it showed the athletes depicted as little children.



With Old Spice, it was a dead brand.  It was so old that P&G had liberty to completely re-invent the brand.  And this campaign just jumped off the screen a few years ago.  (it’s a bit worn out now)


To me the symbolic P&G unemotional brands that P&G has is Tide and if you watch this Ad for “stay at home dads” you would never know it’s a cold brand.

Some good lessons for other brands to learn.

  • Focus on different where you can’t win on better.
  • Instead of product features, move to consumer insights
  • Story telling and Moments connect more with your consumers than claims and demos.  

You’re doing a Great job P&G connecting with consumers. Now it’s time for your competitors to catch up.  

Here’s an article that goes a little deeper on the ABC’S: How to Judge Advertising Copy: Approve the Good. Reject the Bad.

To see a training presentation on Get Better Advertising:



How to deal with the STRESS of being a Brand Leader

1602788784_1393529605When I was in University trying to figure out my career, my mom said “what about an actuary?”   What a great career:  you make a good living and you have the longest life expectancy of any career.  The life expectancy is directly related to the lack of stress.  Instead I chose Marketing, where the jobs are highly stressful.  Plain and simple.  I spent 20 years in marketing, and no matter what the level, whether as a new Assistant Brand Manager or a VP with 20 years of experience, I found it highly stressful job.  As an ABM, I felt constantly reminded that “not everyone gets promoted” so I worked my ass off just to get that Brand Manager job.  As you move up, through each promotion, that insecurity never goes away, but rather it pushes you extra hard.  At the VP level, you are still reminded that “most CMOs only last 36 months”. The stress never ends.  But I loved every day of my marketing career.   Even with the stress.

Here are the 6 degrees of stress that Brand Leaders face:

  • Ambiguity is one of the hardest pressures you will face. There really is no exact answer. As my Economics prof once said “economics proves what happens in real life can actually happen in theory as well”.  I love that answer because marketers drive those supply and demand curves. And similarly, we have to use a combination of fundamentals and instinct to make the right choices. As a leader, patience and composure help you sort through the issues. The consequences of not remaining composed are a scared team and choosing quick decisions with bad results. The consequence of stress is usually decision-making first.  So take your time, slow down your thinking, map out decision trees, use tools to help you support your instincts. And make a decision. Most marketers faced with A or B, try to find a way to choose both, but that just depletes your resources by spreading them against two options. 
  • If the Results don’t come in, it can be frustrating. The key to making sure you can hit your results is to make good projections. You should always be doing regular deep dive analysis to ensure you know what’s going on, and can summarize the key issues. When faced with struggling results, reach for your logic as you re-group. Force yourself to course correct, rather than continuing to repeat and repeat and repeat. Challenge team to “this is when we are needed as a motivation to dig deep and fix the business in front of you.  As the leader, if you can put a time frame on how long it might take to turn things around, it can help manage your teams stress and work load level.  (eg.  For the next 3 months, we’ll need all hands on deck as we turn around the extra strength business)  The focus helps cut the ambiguity
  • At various times in your career, relationships can cause you a lot of stress. Organizations have natural conflict points with conflicting priorities.  For most marketers, the sales team can be a stress point, as they try to close any short-term gaps while you try to drive longer term equity.  Be pro-active in making the first move to build a relationship. Try to figure out what motivates and what annoys the other person. Understand and reach for common ground, which most times is not that far away. Have regular touch points, to hear them out.  I used to have regular lunches with the key account sales directors, mainly to hear them out. I would get nothing during the lunch but a ton between the lunches. I only figured out this late in my career, after years of butting heads with sales at all stages of my career. The other conflict is with your ad agency.  They value pride in work more than they do results. If you can find that happy medium where they are motivated to do great work that drives your results, then you’ll have great advertising. Don’t treat them like a supplier you pay.  That won’t work.  You have to inspire, motivate and energize your agency.  Always tap into their pride.
  • Time Pressure is almost the opposite of ambiguity. Many marketers think being creative means you can have some weakness on being organized.  Not true.  You have to be organized, disciplined and work the system so it doesn’t get in your way.   Be calm, so you continue to make the right decisions. And you can actually use time to your advantage, if you can stay cool in the face of deadlines, you can use those time constraints to get everyone focused on the simple answers.  Time can focus your team, as long as you stay cool.  If you get stressed, everyone just freezes.
  • Managing your career:  The best marketers are ambitious and want to get ahead. CPG marketing is still an “up or out” mentality, which puts added pressure to keep moving up.  But your career changes at every stage of the marketing career, so there is a constant change on the pressure.  When you’re a junior marketer, it is all about doing–and making it happen through subject matter experts. Here’s where you also to manage your boss, to make sure they are aware of what you want. I recommend you think of your career as three different aspects:  skills, behaviours and experiences. And as you move up, you need to make sure you are well rounded in each of those.  Identify the gaps, and look to close those through your career choices.   
  • Your personal life:  During your career, there will be tons of things happen in your personal life that can trickle into your work life. Your personal life during your career will be full:  you could be getting married, buying a house and having kids. But you have to be able to compartmentalize and almost separate the personal from the professional life. But just like not taking your personal life to work, you can’t take your work life home.  It’s even harder today to compartmentalize with smart phones that never turn off. But, a career is a marathon, not a series of sprints. 

One thing to keep in mind is the Idiot Curve. slide123At every new job, I find it takes 3 months to get back to being just as smart as you were on the first day. The basic rule is: You get dumber before you get smarter. We’ve promoted some great ABMs and watch them struggle and wonder if we made a mistake. But the idiot curve is inevitable. It just shows up differently for each person. No matter how hard you fight it, you have to ride the curve. (But, please fight through the curve, you have to for your survival) The biggest gap is that you forget to use your instincts. You spend so much of your time trying to absorb all that is coming at you, that you reach for the basic process instead of your brains. You might be working on a project for weeks before you think to even look at the budget. You work on a promotion for Wal-Mart and then think “oh ya, I should talk to the Wal-Mart sales manager and see what he thinks”. Or you say something in a meeting you think you’re supposed to say, but it doesn’t even resemble anything that you think, feel or believe in. That’s the idiot curve. And it will last 3 months. And you’ll experience it in a new and exciting way you can’t even predict. Feel free to let me know which way so I can add it to the list. (I won’t show names)

I also found at each new level, it got lonely during the first few months.  You don’t know your new peers and it takes them a while to accept you.  Your friends, who might have been former peers treat you differently now.   

Stress will happen, but be ready for it.  The best way to deal with uncertainty is to make sure you  organized and ready to handle it.  Here are some ways to get organized and manage what is controllable:  

  • Hit the Deadlines: Don’t look out of control or sloppy. We have enough to do, that things will just stockpile on each other.
  • Know Your Business: Don’t get caught off-guard. Make sure you are asking the questions and carrying forward the knowledge.
  • Open Communication: No surprises. Keep everyone aware of what’s going on. Present upwards with an action plan of what to do with it.  
  • Listen and Decide: While it’s crucial that we seek to understand, it’s equally important that we give direction or push towards the end path.
  • We must get better: When we don’t know something, speak in an “asking way”, but when we know, speak in a “telling way”.
  • We control Our Destiny: We run the brands, they do not run us. Be slightly ahead of the game, not chasing your work to completion.
  • Regular Feedback for Growth:You should always take feedback, good or bad, as a lesson for you. Not a personal attack or setback.

It’s crucial that you learn to deal with stress you move up, because the stress increases with each level.  Being unable to handle stress will eat you alive and likely limit your career.  To me, one of the best stress relievers has been the work itself.  I pushed myself to love the work.  Being satisfied helped my stress level.  Whenever I settled for OK, it ate away at me for months, regretting I settled.  

Love what you do.  Live why you do it.  


To read more on managing your marketing carer, read the following presentation:

How to drive more Attention in your Brand Communication

Slide1I always use my instincts as my first gut reaction of the advertising.  When the agency shows me an ad, I don’t want any set up, don’t read the brief, don’t tell me “this is really funny”.  Unless we are prepared to buy a 30 second spot to explain our ad and put it right in front of our Ad, then we must watch the work as though we are the consumer.  But even after 20 years and hundreds of spots, I don’t rely on just my instincts.  I do the thinking time.  And the tool I usually turn to is the ABC’S.  I want to make sure we create an ad that attracts  Attention, it’s about the Brand, it Communicates the brand story and Sticks in the consumers mind.   

  • Attention:  You have to get noticed in a crowded world of advertising.  Consumers see 6000 ads per day, and will likely only engage in a few.  If your brand doesn’t draw attention naturally, then you’ll have to force it into the limelight.
  • Branding:  Ads that tell the story of the relationship between the consumer and the brand will link best.  Even more powerful are ads that are from the consumers view of the brand.  It’s not how much branding there is, but how close the brand fits to the climax of the ad.
  • Communication:  Tapping into the truths of the consumer and the brand, helps you to tell the brand’s life story. Keep your story easy to understand. Communication is not just about what you say, but how you say it—because that says just as much.
  • Stickiness:  Sticky ads help to build a consistent brand/consumer experience over time.   In the end, brands are really about “consistency” of the promise you want to own.  Brands have exist in the minds of the consumer. 
How to Drive more Attention

Buying media and putting something on air does not attract attention for your ad.  All those testing or tracking results start with Attention for a reason, your Brand Link scores are a ratio of those that the ad captured.  Driving more branding of a poorly engaging ad doesn’t really do much.  

You have to EARN the consumers’ attention.  Most of the media options still, are passive mediums where the consumer is more engaged in the content, and the advertising needs to be interruptive.  No consumer has ever said “what are you doing tonight Bill?”.   “Well Bob, I’m going home, grab a bite to eat and watch some TV ads”.  The best way to grab Attention is to take a risk and do something not done before. Here are the best ways to attract attention.

  1. Be Incongruent:  This is a great technique to get noticed is by being a bit off kilter or different from what they are watching.  A lot of brand leaders are afraid of this, because they feel it exposes them.  Avoid being like “wallpaper”   If you want a high score on “made the brand seem different”, it starts with acting different.   
  2. Resonate:  Connect with the consumer in the true way that they see themselves or their truth about how they interact with the brand.
  3. Entertain them:  Strike the consumers emotional cord, by making them laugh, make them cry, or make them tingle.  From the consumers view—they interact with media to be entertained—so entertain them.
  4. The Evolution of the Art of Being Different:  As much as Movies,  TV music continues to evolve, so do ads. As much as your art has to express your strategy, it needs to reflect the trends of society to capture their attention.  Albino fruit flies mate at twice the rate of normal fruit flies.  Be an albino fruit fly!!!
  5. Location Based:  Be where Your consumers are open and willing to listen.  The Media choice really does impact attention.  Make sure your creative makes the most of that media choice.  
  6. Be Part of the Content:  As much as consumers are engaged in the content, not the advertising, then having your brand front and center and part of the story can be a great vehicle for driving attention. Watching a movie and seeing them using a Mac makes the product seem cool, or driving a red Mini Cooper in the Italian Job made me want that car.  Or creating content on line that engages like Toyota’s Swagger Wagon or the brilliant BMW Films site from 10 years ago.   
  7. Be Sharable:  We are seeing so many amazing story-telling ads getting passed around on social media vehicles.  Most are designed for that very reason, many of them 2-3 minutes in length.  These long videos are great for engaging the consumer emotionally.  

This Dodge Ram “Farmer” ad is a great use of being incongruent.  This extremely quiet spot, was aired during the Super Bowl, when all the other ads are loud, slapstick style ads.  The use of photography only, the great voice of Paul Harvey with “so god made a Farmer” gives you shivers.  



Budweiser’s Wazzup ad was so different that it jumped off the TV screen.  The language was authentic, connecting with how guys tend to talk to each other, when no one else is around. 



Lynx ads are so entertaining they become content you want to watch.  This spot from the mid 90s with Jennifer Anniston is hilarious.  




Toyota’s Swagger Wagon videos have been shared by millions, highly entertaining but extremely insight driven of how former “cool people” turn into parents and their motivations change.  



To this day, there has still never been an on-line idea as powerful as BMW Films for creating on-line content.  What BMW did was give famous directors $1 Million each to make short “films” that make the BMW car the center point of the spots.   These are highly engaging, shareable videos.  These were 10 years ago now, and I keep hoping someone beats these one day.   Here’s Guy Ritchie’s version, with his good friend Clive Owen and wife Madonna.  




You have to earn their Attention, before telling them the rest of your story.  


Here’s an article that goes a little deeper on the ABC’S:  How to Judge Advertising Copy: Approve the Good. Reject the Bad.


To see a training presentation on Get Better Advertising: 


If you are in the mood to see stories on great advertising, here’s a few other stories:




Do you want to be an amazing Brand Leader?  We can help you.  

Read more on how to utilize our Brand Leadership Learning Center where you will receive training in all aspects of marketing whether that’s strategic thinking, brand plans, creative briefs, brand positioning, analytical skills or how to judge advertising.  We can customize a program that is right for you or your team.  We can work in person, over the phone or through Skype.  Ask us how we can help you. 

At Beloved Brands, we love to see Brand Leaders reach their full potential.  Here are the most popular article “How to” articles.  We can offer specific training programs dedicated to each topic.  Click on any of these most read articles:


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What’s your view on Tiger Woods as a brand? #1 in golf, #1 in endorsements (again)

As they are about to tee off at this year’s US Open, the question remains simply:  Will Tiger Win?   Even if you hate Tiger, you’re probably asking that.  Tiger has had 4 years of no majors.  He’s been a complete collapse in front of our eyes.  He’s been a complete idiot, his wife left him, sponsors fired him.  And yet, now he’s back to #1 in golf and incredibly back to #1 in endorsements.  He’s certainly not as popular as he was before the incident, at least among the masses.  But while there are less Tiger Fans, the depth of love the fans that remain is even more intense.   And for any brand, you’d rather be loved by a few than tolerated by everyone.  

From 1997, Tiger Woods was the media darling.  What a great story.  
  • His dad was a green beret and taught Tiger all the discipline of the green berets, which Tiger then transferred into the world of golf.  
  • The video clips of him as a 3-year-old hitting the driver on the Mike Douglas show.  Cute kid, who knew he’d one day wind up being TIGER WOODS.
  • He was a 3-time US Amateur Champion, a teenager, wearing shorts, skinny, hitting it longer than anyone else.  
  • Run-away winner of the Masters at 21-years old.  With that win, golf got younger, cooler and more urban.  
  • Tiger signed with Nike of all companies.  A cool new line of clothing, cool golf balls and  amazing TV ads.  
  • Every time Tiger was playing in a golf tournament, the TV ratings went through the roof.  tiger-woods-excitementWhat you may not realize is the TV network will show every shot that Tiger takes–and likely even cutaway to him arriving and hitting on the range about 3-4 times.  
  • He was the #1 golfer, indisputably the best ever.  Other superstars (Ernie, Phil, David, Sergio) were intimidated and would collapse in fear.  By 33, Tiger had 14 Majors, and destined to easily destroy Jack’s record of 18.  
  • He had an impeccably clean image.  He was completely wholesome all-american.  He was married to a Swedish Model who was a nanny, he had two darling kids.  He was nearly flawless.   Yes, he was intense on the golf course, but all was forgiven.  

This was a bit like Jack Kennedy, where the writers had suspicions, yet no one knew.  

The Comeback Story

America loves a comeback story.  Tiger’s Comeback wasn’t exactly smooth.  Following his indiscretions that led to the divorce and the sex addiction clinic, Tiger would get far worse before he’d get better.  On the course, he was a disaster, duck-hooking, missing short putts, missing cuts and collapsing when he looked like he might win.  Off the course, Tiger was a first class JERK.  He was rude to fans and reporters.  Temper tantrums.   He fired his long time Caddy.   He fired his swing coach.  The wholesome Tiger, who was the face of golf, was now the rude Tiger.  tiger2

Tiger was a lousy golfer in 2010 and was just OK in 2011.  He kept changing his swing.  Even the naked eye could see what was wrong with it.  At times, it looked like Tiger was done.  Late 30s now, might never catch Jack and looking like he was struggling.  By 2012, there were signs of Tiger was returning to form.  He won a few tournaments, was in contention in the majors. And by 2013, Tiger is back to being Tiger.  He’s won more than anyone this year, looks back to his dominant self.   Yet he still hasn’t won a major.  

Do you think Tiger will win 5 more majors and beat Jack?  Time is ticking.  

And as of 2013, Forbes has just announced that Tiger is now the #1 on Forbes’ annual ranking of the world’s highest-paid athletes.  Forbes estimates that Woods pulled in $78.1 million over the last year from prize money, endorsements, appearance fees and golf course design work.   After the incidents of 2009, he lost five sponsors, $50 million in annual income, his place atop the world golf rankings and his marriage.  His resurgence on the links boosted his prize money over the last 12 months to $13.1 million, double his total from the prior year.  His endorsements include EA sports, Nike, Rolex, Upper Deck, TLC Eye Centers, NetJets, Japan’s Kowa and sports nutrition firm Fuse Science.

Nike was heavily criticized this spring for an ad they took out:  


What’s the Brand Lesson Here?

From 1997 to 2009, Tiger was popular among the masses.  When he was on TV, non-golf fans would grab a beer and watch.  He was liked by nearly everyone.  After 2009, he was an embarrassment and sponsors ran.  No one seemed to like him.  Those that loved Tiger loved him quietly, and were frustrated by his poor on course performance.  

I’m not in the Tiger club.  But i can feel those around me that are.  I can hear and feel the intensity.  And the intensity of those hoping he loses is fading.  

As we’re now in 2013, Tiger is back.  While not everyone likes him now, we can certainly see he has a core base of fans who LOVE him.  Tiger’s brand promise has been simplified to winning golf.  He’s not trying to be a great guy.  He’s trying to be an OK guy.  But the fans of Tiger just want to see him win.  They know he’s personally flawed and they really don’t care.  They are inspired to see the best golfer of all time.  It is always far better as a brand to be loved by a few than liked by everyone.  That love becomes a source of connection with core fans and a source of power for the Tiger brand.   With brand power, Tiger has been able to drive added revenue for himself off the course.  More shirts, more video games and more watches.  If Tiger wins a major and continues to be “an OK guy”, I suspect we’ll see a few main stream endorsement deals for Tiger.  

Tiger 2.0 is Loved by a few not liked by everyone.  

To read more about how the love for a brand creates more power and profits:

Other Stories You Might Like
  1. How to Write a Creative Brief.  The creative brief really comes out of two sources, the brand positioning statement and the advertising strategy that should come from the brand plan.  To read how to write a Creative Brief, click on this hyperlink:  How to Write a Creative Brief
  2. How to Write a Brand Plan:  The positioning statement helps frame what the brand is all about.  However, the brand plan starts to make choices on how you’re going to make the most of that promise.  Follow this hyperlink to read more on writing a Brand Plan:  How to Write a Brand Plan
  3. Consumer Insights:  To get richer depth on the consumer, read the following story by clicking on the hyper link:  Everything Starts and Ends with the Consumer in Mind

I run the Brand Leader Learning Center,  with programs on a variety of topics that are all designed to make better Brand Leaders.  To read more on how the Learning Center can help you as a Brand Leader click here:   Brand Leadership Learning Center

To reach out directly, email me at

About Graham Robertson: The reason why I started Beloved Brands Inc. is to help brands realize their full potential value by generating more love for the brand.   I only do two things:  1) Make Brands Better or 2) Make Brand Leaders Better.  I have a reputation as someone who can find growth where others can’t, whether that’s on a turnaround, re-positioning, new launch or a sustaining high growth.  And I love to make Brand Leaders better by sharing my knowledge.  Im a marketer at heart, who loves everything about brands.  My background includes 20 years of CPG marketing at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke.  My promise to you is that I will get your brand and your team in a better position for future growth. Add me on LinkedIn at so we can stay connected.

Is Social Media is the new “Invisible Hand”?

Well, today is a picture perfect weather day.  Sunny, which is rare, no humidity even rarer this spring, and likely 80 degrees.  It’s a sunday, a lazy one after a few tough weeks of work.  I feel like it’s a rejuvenation day. where we can shut down our brain.  That’s why I’ve picked the geekiest of topics to write about comparing an 18th century economist in Adam Smith with the modern-day world of Social Media.

The Original “Invisible Hand”

The concept of Adam’s Smith’s “Invisible Hand”  can be summarized to say that the individuals’ efforts to maximize their own gains in a free market benefits society, even if the ambitious have no benevolent intentions.  In economics, the “invisible hand” of the market is the term economists use to describe the self-regulating nature of the marketplace. This is a metaphor first coined by the economist Adam Smith. 529423_272713376142007_1735862437_nThe exact phrase is used just three times in his writings, but has come to capture his important claim that by trying to maximize their own gains in a free market, individual ambition benefits society, even if the ambitious have no benevolent intentions. My economics professor once said “economics is the practice of proving what happens in real life can also happen in theory”.  I love that line.  So how we as marketers spin the invisible hand is that we have to know that consumers are greedy, and if we satisfy that greed better than others, our brand will be more powerful and more profitable.

Consumers have the right to be greedy because they have money and options for how to spend that money.  Like Gordon Ghekko said “GREED IS GOOD”.  It’s this greed and the ability of some brands to satisfy that greed better than other brands which separates “likeable” brands from “beloved” brands.  As a marketer, I think greed helps you understand the needs of the customer, it forces you to rise and meet their expectations and it pushes you to beat your competitor for that almighty dollar the consumer could use on either you or them.  Fight for it.

Is Social Media the new “Invisible Hand”?

Over the last 5-10 years, Social Media has been the obvious marketing phenomena.  But do we fully understand it yet?  For most Brand Leaders, it still seems hit and miss.  I mean some of the leading cooler brands like Coke, Nike, Starbucks and Whole Foods are doing an amazing job.  But we see others not doing so well.  Arguably if Facebook hasn’t even figured out how to fully monetize itself, then how would Brand Leaders be able to figure it out.

The “invisible hand” of social media is actually hard to explain.  Just like it took Adam Smith 20= years of research, it might be the same for social media.  By no means am I a social media expert guru.  I’m as confused as the rest.  But what I do preach is the more love you can generate for your brand, the more power you can command and then you can turn that power in profit.Slide1

So my new message to every brand leader, if you want to be loved, you need to engage.  You need to be telling your story, your purpose, your passion and do so in a way that the consumer know you are genuine.  if you have no voice then you give control of you brand to the consumer.  We have seen so many bad cases like Motrin or Kitchen Aid to see what happens when a brand loses control.

Take someone like Whole Foods who has an amazing brand.  They use Twitter to perfection, offering constant recipes and engaging with their most loyal of consumers.  They don’t have any real off-line advertising.  All the energy is generated through on-line word of mouth.   Starbucks, a brand built on word of mouth seemed confused by social media a few years ago has now picked up tremendous steam the last year to where they are also a huge success story. And Apple does such an amazing job they get 2.5 billion of free media a year.

Brand Leaders View of Social Media

A few thoughts from one brand leader to another. Forget all the social media experts just for one minute.  We can approach them once we figure things out.  So here goes:

  1. Your media choice has to be influenced by your brand strategy.  This was true in 1920 when we only had print and signs.   It’s still true now that we have 3,000 media options.  You don’t just randomly select activities.  What other part of your life do you do that?   So then why would you do it in marketing.  Let the tactics match up to the strategy, not just do a bunch of random activities and then try to write a strategy to it.Slide1
  2. Media Plans should also map out the life of your consumer and the media choices be driven by where the consumer is, not where the media is.  A great day in the life analysis has always helped find where to interrupt your consumer with your message.   If you knew that the consumer was awake for 16 hours a day and sees 6,000 messages each day, that means we see a new message every 10 seconds.  Which 10 seconds do you think would be the best of the day for you?Slide1
  3. Don’t put out crap.  Please don’t. Please hire a professional to help you.  It seems people are in more of a rush than ever to put stuff out.  But sometimes when you go too fast, it takes longer.   Please do a strategic creative brief.  Give the creative people enough time to do great work.  If you are going to get into story telling, you should have a purpose driven strategy at the anchor.  You should really know why you come to work every day and once you do, bring that purpose into all your stories you tell.  The “why” is such a powerful message.
  4. Be Interesting, but equally you should be interested.  If you’re going to engage with consumers, don’t just talk about yourself.  Ask them questions that get them talking about themselves.   Instead of serving up what you do constantly, speak in the voice of the consumer and tell them what they get.   No one cares what you do until you care about what they get.
  5. You need to focus.  A brands resources are confined by money, time and people. That’s still true.  Social Media IS NOT free.  Because it takes time and it takes people resources to do it right.   You don’t have to be on Facebook because your nephew thinks you’re a loser.  You should be on it because it’s where your consumer is likely to be motivated the most to engage with your consumer.  Focus on those social media options that most make sense for your brand. 

Now, and only now should you go approach a social media “expert” who will help you figure out how to translate your brand strategy at the social media area, who will map out where your consumer is so you know where/when and how to interact with them.  Make sure you put out quality still.   Crap is always crap.  If you’re going to tell stories and engage, then make sure it’s from the heart.  Honestly means knowing your real purpose of why you chose this business and the struggles you went through.  And finally, I want you to focus.  I know I sound like a broken record.  But if you focus on every other part of your life, then why when it comes to marketing do you all of a sudden thing “it’s ok to cover everything”.   When the discipline of marketing is all about focus.

If you want your brand to be loved, then you have to be engaged in Social Media.  If you are not involved in the conversation about your brand, you’re giving up control to the pack.  And who knows what they’ll say.  

Social Media is more likely the “Invisible Voice” we can’t always hear, but we better start realizing it is there and engaging our own voice.

Here’s a presentation that can help Brand Leaders to get better Media Plans.  

Other Stories You Might Like
  1. How to Write a Creative Brief.  The creative brief really comes out of two sources, the brand positioning statement and the advertising strategy that should come from the brand plan.  To read how to write a Creative Brief, click on this hyperlink:  How to Write a Creative Brief
  2. How to Write a Brand Plan:  The positioning statement helps frame what the brand is all about.  However, the brand plan starts to make choices on how you’re going to make the most of that promise.  Follow this hyperlink to read more on writing a Brand Plan:  How to Write a Brand Plan
  3. Turning Brand Love into Power and Profits:  The positioning statement sets up the promise that kick starts the connection between the brand and consumer.  There are four other factors that connect:  brand strategy, communication, innovation and experience.   The connectivity is a source of power that can be leveraged into deeper profitability.  To read more click on the hyper link:  Love = Power = Profits

I run the Brand Leader Learning Center,  with programs on a variety of topics that are all designed to make better Brand Leaders.  To read more on how the Learning Center can help you as a Brand Leader click here:   Brand Leadership Learning Center

To reach out directly, email me at

About Graham Robertson: The reason why I started Beloved Brands Inc. is to help brands realize their full potential value by generating more love for the brand.   I only do two things:  1) Make Brands Better or 2) Make Brand Leaders Better.  I have a reputation as someone who can find growth where others can’t, whether that’s on a turnaround, re-positioning, new launch or a sustaining high growth.  And I love to make Brand Leaders better by sharing my knowledge.  Im a marketer at heart, who loves everything about brands.  My background includes 20 years of CPG marketing at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke.  My promise to you is that I will get your brand and your team in a better position for future growth. Add me on LinkedIn at so we can stay connected.

If you approve a 6 out of 10, then maybe you are the one to blame.

I remember when one of my brand managers came into see me to try to get my approval on a small tactical print ad. I didn’t know much about the ad, because it was a small ad, on a small budget. But here I was, ready to approve. I looked down and saw something so boring. It was likely on strategy, but it would never capture anyone’s attention, it would never drive anyone’s desire, and most importantly no one would love the brand. It was just awful. But I’ve always prided myself at being a believer in the bottom up approach to management. I couldn’t crap all over it. So we both sat in silence as I stared down at the ad in front of me. I didn’t know what to say, I wasn’t sure I could really even give feedback on how to making it better.  So I asked one of the best questions I’ve ever asked in my life.

I said “do you love it?”

The brand manager shrugged his shoulder said “no, not really. It’s ok”

And that was one of the worst answers I had ever heard.

I slid it back across the table and said “bring me back something you love”.

If you don’t love the work you do, how do you expect the consumer to love your brand?

If you don’t love it, you won’t fight for its life.  Having executed many great marketing programs over the years, I can safely say I can remember the fight like it was yesterday. Somewhere along the way, there would be a fight.  That might be with your boss, your boss’ boss all the way up through the organization.  It might be with the agency, whether it’s the creative director of VP of Accounts.  Or it could be with director on set.

Will you work hard enough to make it perfect? Greatness takes passion, precision and dedication.  While most of my marketing life was 8-6 pm, I knew that about 10 times a year I’d work till 1am. But I went to bed proud. If you don’t love it will make sure everything is just perfect.

Approving OK is the slippery slope to OK.  You start to think “good enough”, you start to lose pride, Yes, there always constraints:  deadlines, budgets alignment. But if there becomes a culture where OK is accepted than that becomes the goal. I talked to one potential client who was #5 in the category. They were buying into everything I was saying. Looked like i would be helping them out. Then they phoned and said “we know we are #5, but we’ve decided #5 is good enough, because even we improve our brand we’ll just be a stronger #5”   Wow.  

Explaining what a Marketer does to non-Marketers is odd because we don’t really do anything.  We don’t make the product, we don’t make the ads or public relations and we don’t even sell it. Yet the Brand Leader is held responsible for sales, share and profits. And they should be. While we don’t do anything, we do have a say in everything that goes on about the brand and we sit in the seat that can inspire everyone around you, or it can be the one that inhibits creativity and suck the life out of everyone around you.  As you sit in the Brand Leader role, the worst thing you can ever do is say “Yes” to OK ideas.

If you’ve ever said “Yes” to an OK idea, you know that you lost a bit of who you wanted to be.  And you know the work can only get worse.

Execution is half the battle and OK is the enemy

As a Brand Consultant, I can tell you that strategy is only half the battle. Execution is the other half.  That execution could show up in print ad like above, or even a new product, or a waiter serving table 16. Never settle for OK. 

Rejecting OK work is not easy, especially if you have a reputation for playing it safe and approving OK.   It is always tempting to look at all the work that’s been presented to you and figure out which one is the best.  So you pick the 6 out of 10, and make some recommendations that might it up to a 6.5.

Because you don’t really do any of the work, not only do you need to REJECT OK, but you have to inspire the greatness to come from others.

Execution does matter. While we want great execution against great strategy, I’d say that great execution against an OK strategy is better off than OK execution against a great strategy.  In today’s crowded marketing world, where consumers see 6,000 ads a day, standing out is more important than it ever has been.

If you are up for the change, you should start at the beginning of the process. Sit with your lead account person and lay out your deepest thoughts on how you want your passion for the work to come shining through.  Find the language that translates your passion accurately at the outset and then be consistent to that passion throughout. Here’s what I have said in the past: “I know we need an Ad that delivers the strategy, sells more product and drives share. But I also need an Ad that I love, that I’m proud of and something I can hold up and say I DID THIS”. I always felt “I have to love it” is the highest bar you can set.  It also gives you the out by saying “I just don’t love it”.  Tell your account person, you are building in extra time in the process just so we can see if we can really push to get to great.

But saying is one thing, doing is another. Be consistent at every stage because people follow how you say it as much as what you say. Write an inspiring brief that is open on creativity, and isn’t filled with support points or mandatory requirements. Ask to meet the creative people before the first creative meeting so you can talk about your expectations that you want to create work we all love. At the creative meeting, you need to stay open, positive and push for different because that is usually where greatness lays.  Follow your instincts first. Absorb the work in the same way your consumer might. Reach for words that describe your instincts and how you feel about the work. Stay open and inspiring. Do not get into all the details or the changes you want–save those for a post meeting email. Talk only about the work you love–don’t even talk about the ones you don’t like. You want your positive energy to come through.

It’s one thing to inspire but it’s another thing to actually go for it.    I find it strange that Brand Leaders always push for a strategic point of difference no matter how small–but when it comes to execution many of us fear sticking our neck out and looking different.  When it comes down to making the choice, you need to show everyone how serious you are by taking a chance on greatness and not just picking the safe options.  You have to be wiling to fight for it, because you can imagine that there will be push back.  This is your opportunity to shine, your opportunity to inspire everyone on your team and your opportunity to push for true greatness for your brand.   And you’ll bring back those feelings of excitement that you had the day you decided to get into marketing.

You can only Reject OK, if you are willing to inspire greatness.


To read more about Beloved Brands and how to turn love into more power and profits:


Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, we promise that we will make your brand stronger and your brand leaders smarter. We can help you come up with your brand’s Brand Positioning, Big Idea and Brand Concept. We also can help create Brand Plans that everyone in your organization can follow and helps to focus your Marketing Execution. We provide a new way to look at Brand Management, that uses a provocative approach to align your brand to the sound fundamentals of brand management. 

We will make your team of Brand Leaders smarter so they can produce exceptional work that drives stronger brand results. We offer brand training on every subject in marketing, related to strategic thinking, analytics, brand planning, positioning, creative briefs, customer marketing and marketing execution. 

To contact us, email us at or call us at 416-885-3911. You can also find us on Twitter @belovedbrands

Positioning 2016.112

What will happen when Teenagers leave Facebook?

tumblr_lgfj0tfVVo1qdetk0o1_400I have two teenagers at home, so I can safely call myself the world’s foremost EXPERT ON TEENAGERS!!!   Actually, as a parent of teenagers, I have absolutely no clue what’s going on.  But that’s a whole different blog.  What I have noticed in 2013 is that my two teenagers aren’t using Facebook at all.  A sample of two:  my 16-year-old has only 5 posts this year and my 15-year-old has 7 posts. I know 40 year-olds that have that many posts in a day, posting anything from photos of cute cats rolling on the grass to a hilarious video of an old lady dancing to 28 photos of their 3-year-old at the zoo pointing to a Lion or commenting on “what’s a color without the letter E in it”.  

And we can’t figure out for the life of me why teenagers would want to leave this cool and fun party?  Actually, the answer is pretty easy: “YOU GUYS ARE SUCH LOSERS”. I hear that one every day. Keep in mind, we drop them off where we can’t be seen. This is the same thing that goes for social media. Don’t embarrass me!

Facebook was originally developed by College Students for College students and then quickly followed by High School students.  It became the place to be around 2007. Then 20 somethings got on, then Moms then snuck on in 2010 and now….Grandmas are on there. The biggest growing demographic is 55+. And they are commenting on photos. OMG!!!  WTF!!!  IKR!!!  GTFO!!! We had to tell my mom not to comment on my daughter’s Facebook page anymore for fear she would be unfriended and blocked. We are already blocked so we know what that feels like.   It stings.

This is pure comedy, an example of the horror teens are facing. It’s a mother trying to defend her son, on his girlfriend’s Facebook page.  My guess is they are no longer dating. 


Are we starting to get a picture of why the teens are leaving Facebook?  Just keep repeating this and it will help you understand teens: “YOU GUYS ARE SUCH LOSERS”. And then maybe go slam your door.  

Let’s look at the Facts

  • The active number of Facebook users in the US is down 7.4% in 2013.  The average age continues to climb every year, with 65% of Facebook users are now over 35 years old. The biggest complaint people have is that it’s boring. As my friend says “how come people will watch videos of cats falling off a sidewalk on-line, but if we said that’s a TV show, no one would watch it”. The answer is likely novelty.  
  • Moms have gone on Facebook in droves:  72% of Moms are now on Facebook. Half of them said they are really just going on to keep tabs on their kids. And 74% of Moms say they check their kids Facebook several times a week.  Slide1
  • On the flip side, one in three teens are embarrassed by their parents’ Facebook comments. The problem is that your teenagers know you’re spying. And they don’t appreciate it. Over 30% of teens say they have unfriended their parents. Teens complain they don’t get enough privacy on Facebook.  
  • Teens continue to turn to smartphones as their primary source and as a result prefer App based programs such as SnapChat, Twitter, KIK Messenger, Ask FM and Instagram. Adults can’t even find these and when they do, they can’t even work them. And when you figure it out, teens will just move on to something else.
  • Recent study found 33% of teens called Facebook the most important social network, closely followed by Twitter with 30%.  Twitter is significantly gaining.  Just 6 months ago, the scores were 42% to 27%.  

So now what happens? 

A few things come to mind.  

  • Kids want something that is uniquely their own.  It reminds me of what happened to the Gap Clothing store.  Back in the 1990s, it was the cool brand for teenagers.  Then Baby Gap and Maternity Gap meant teens would now be wearing the same clothes as their cute little nephew or their hugely pregnant Aunt.  Total Horror.  So the teens stopped going and then the pregnant aunt didn’t want to dress like someone uncool. So sales tumbled. This could be a metaphor for Facebook. Once you are everything to everyone, you end up nothing and to no one.   
  • One less chance for Control Freak Moms:  If a lot of moms are on Facebook only to spy on their kids, maybe they’ll now move on and stop using Facebook so much. How many pictures of Cats can we really “Like” while waiting for your little precious to post something you can tell her is totally inappropriate?   And other moms are likely only on Facebook because it’s the cool thing that teens do.  Once they find out it’s no longer cool, we could have our new version of the tipping point that Gap went through.
  • Advertisers are confused by Social Media yet again. Just as they were finally able to start putting numbers to social media, the whole world has changed yet again. Advertisers want to know reliable sources for where to invest their advertising dollars. They need payback and if the audience keeps moving, then it’s hard for them to have a steady reliable place to invest in.

The same problem continues:  How do we monetize Social Media platforms?

Most social media platforms follow the same pattern. They launch with a unique way of communicating that is a dramatic improvement over prior methods. There is minimal advertising because they are focused more on gaining a large following that might take a year or two. Plus, they are so unproven, making it very hard to get advertisers to buy into it. They end up with a large audience but no proven method of making money from that large audience. And then they take it public with a promise that “we’ll now use advertising to our huge audience to drive future revenues”. teens-on-cell-phonesThe claim is that the value of Social Media platforms should not be based on current revenue streams but on future revenue sources.  They say “trust us, this will be huge”.  Right?  You’ve heard this story before.  But as they said in Jerry McGuire:  “Show me the money!!!”  

We have to be able to see how a social media platform can make money. With some of these sites, I’m not seeing it yet.  But now, as Facebook is still trying to figure out how to monetize their huge user base, that user base is starting to leave. Down 7.4% is pretty significant for something that is free. The new mediums they are leaving for look like a total fad. How do these new vehicles make money?  There are no ads on Instagram or Snap Chat. Yes, Facebook now owns Instagram for a tidy $1 Billion.  But how do you now make money on it? By the time they figure out how to monetize, the teenagers are likely already moving on to what’s next. And the cycle continues.

Facebook had quickly become the wonder-drug of Social Media, the one powerhouse that everyone was engaged in and Advertisers were starting to understand. Will there be a new version of the mega social media platform or will the future just be fragmented into unique platforms for unique groups?  Does that make it harder or easier on Advertisers?  Yes, there will be better segmentation but confusion over how to go about reaching.  Too many executional options for too many media choices.  

Is Facebook at a tipping point? Will they just become the social media site for the over 30?

What’s your next move Facebook?

Here’s a presentation that can help Brand Leaders to get better Media Plans.  

 Positioning 2016.112

What to do when your Brand is stuck at “Like It”?

Don’t feel bad. Most brands are at the Like It stage

You have been able to carve out a niche and be a chosen brand against a proliferation of brands in the category. And you have good shares, moderate profits and most brand indicators are reasonably healthy.  It’s just that no one loves you. There’s nothing wrong with being a Liked brand. All the power to you. But just know that you might be leaving good money on the table.  

Beloved = Power = Growth = Profit

The Brand Love Curve

In the consumer’s mind, brands sit on a Brand Love Curve, with brands going from Indifferent to Like It to Love It and finally becoming a Beloved Brand for Life. At the Beloved stage, demand becomes desire, needs become cravings, thinking is replaced with feelings. Consumers become outspoken fans. It’s this connection that helps drive power for your brand: power versus competitors, versus customers, versus suppliers and even versus the same consumers you’re connected with.  The farther along the curve, the more power for the brand. It’s important that you understand where your brand sits on the Love Curve and begin figuring out how to move it along towards becoming a Beloved Brand.

With each stage of the Brand Love Curve, the consumer will see your brand differently. The worst case is when consumers have “no opinion” of your brand. They just don’t care. It’s like those restaurants you stop at in the middle of no-where that are called “restaurant”. In those cases, there is no other choice so you may as well just name it restaurant. But in highly competitive markets, you survive by being liked, but you thrive by being loved. Be honest with yourself as to what stage you are at, and try to figure out how to be more loved, with a vision of getting to the Beloved Brand stage. 

The Like It Stage

At the Like It stage, the funnel is fairly strong at the top but quickly narrows at purchase and has a very weak bottom part of the brand funnel. As people see your brand as a good rational choice, they might consider it and use it, but it lacks separation from the other brands and it’s missing that emotional connection. Brands stuck here usually focus on what they do (features) and not what the consumer wants (benefits)  In the funnel, you’ll see pretty strong awareness and consideration but you’ll lose out at the purchase stage and have no real repeat or loyalty at all.  You’ll notice fairly high trade spend just so you can keep your share going–and you use price as a weapon to close the deal. The best strategy here is to begin to Separate Your Brand from the clutter of the market, by establishing a brand promise based on benefits–rational and emotional. A brand like Dove was at the Like It stage back in the 1990s. Only when they could shift from talking about themselves to talking about the consumers would they be able to establish more love for their brand.  

Consumers see your brand as a functional and rational choice they make. They tried it and it makes sense so they buy it, use it and they do enjoy it. It meets a basic need they have. They likely prefer it versus another brand, but they think it is better, cheaper or easier to use. Or your mom told you to use it.  But, consumers don’t have much of an emotional connection or feeling about the brand. Where Indifferent is really bad, you’re ordinary, which is just a little bit better. Overall, consumers see you brand in the “it will do” space.

The Five Sources of Brand Love

Under the Brand Idea are 5 sources of connectivity that help connect the brand with consumers and drive Brand Love, including the brand promise, the strategic choices you make, the brand’s ability to tell their story, the freshness of the product or service and the overall experience and impressions it leaves with you. Everyone wants to debate what makes a great brand–whether it’s the product, the advertising, the experience or through consumers. It is not just one or the other–it’s the collective connection of all these things that make a brand beloved.

Why is your Brand stuck at the Like It Stage:

If your brand is stuck at Like It, look to the five sources of love to see if you have a weakness.  

  1. Protective Brand Leaders means Caution: While many of these brands at the Like It are very successful brands, they get stuck because of overly conservative and fearful Brand Managers, who pick middle of the road strategies and execute “ok” ideas. They do a bad job at either telling the story or launching new products. On top of this, Brand Managers who convince themselves that “we stay conservative because it’s a low-interest category” should be removed. Low interest category means you need even more to captivate the consumer.
  2. We are rational thinking Marketers: Those marketers that believe they are strictly rational are inhibiting their brands. The brand managers get all jazzed on claims, comparatives, product demonstration and doctor recommended that they forget about the emotional side of the purchase decision. Claims need to be twisted into benefits—both rational and emotional benefits. Consumers don’t care about what you do until you care about what they need. Great marketers find that balance of the science and art of the brand. Ordinary marketers get stuck with the rational only. The promise stays very rational, and the execution of the brand story becomes rather bland.  
  3. New Brand with Momentum: As a new brand, you might not have found a way to use a unique brand promise to separate yourself from other competitors. Stage 2 of a new brand innovation is ready to expand from the early adopters to the masses. The new brand begins to differentiate itself in a logical way to separate themselves from the proliferation of copycat competitors. Consumers start to go separate ways as well. Retailers might even back one brand over another. Throughout the battle, the brand carves out a base of consumers.
  4. There’s a Major Leak:  If you look at the brand buying system, you’ll start to see a major leak at some point where you keep losing customers. Most brands have some natural flaw—whether it’s the concept, the product, taste profile ease of use or customer service. Without analyzing and addressing the leak, the brand gets stuck. People like it, but refuse to love it. That leak could be in the freshness or experience stage.  
  5. Brand changes their Mind every year: Brands really exist because of the consistency of the promise. When the promise and the delivery of the promise changes every year it’s hard to really connect with what the brand is all about. A brand like Wendy’s has changed their advertising message every year over the past 10 years. The only consumers remaining are those who like their burgers, not the brand. The story never gets told in a consistent manner that delivers the brand promise. It fails to catch on, so instead of just fixing the communication the brand also changes the brand promise.  
  6. Positional Power–who needs Love: there are brands that have captured a strong positional power, whether it`s a unique technology or distribution channel or even value pricing advantage.  Brands like Microsoft or Wal-Mart or even many of the pharmaceuticals products don`t see value in the idea of being loved. The problem is when you lose the positional power, you lose your customer base completely. The brand with just positional power becomes complacent and lazy–with a culture that does not create a brand experience that surpasses the promise. 
  7. Brands who capture Love, but no Life Ritual: There are brands that quickly capture the imagination but somehow fail to capture a routine embedded in the consumers’ life, usually due to some flaw. Whether it’s Krispy Kreme, Pringles or even Cold Stone, there’s something inherent in the brand’s format or weakness that holds it back and it stays stuck at Loved but just not often enough.  So, you forget you love them. The strategy of linking the brand’s promise to the other connection points of the brand.  

Indicators that you’re at the Like It Stage

  • Low Conversion to Sales. While the brand looks healthy in terms of awareness and equity scores, the brand is successful in becoming part of the consumer’s consideration set, but it keeps losing out to the competition as the consumer goes to the purchase stage. It usually requires a higher trade spend to close that sale which cuts price and margins.
  • Brand Doesn’t Feel Different: A great advertising tracking score to watch is “made the brand seem different” which helps to separate itself from the pack, many times speaking to the emotional part of the messaging.
  • Stagnant Shares: Your brand team is happy when they hold onto their share, content to grow with the category.
  • High Private Label Sales: If you only focus on the ingredients and the rational features of the product, the consumer will start to figure out they get the same thing with the private label and the share starts to creep up to 20% and higher.

Why would you want to get to the Love It Stage

As you become more loved, you can use that love consumers have for your brand to drive more power for your brand.  That power may be against retailers, other competitors, suppliers, media and key influencers.   As well as a power over the very consumers that love your brand.  With more power, a more loved Brand has 8 ways it can add profit. 


In terms of pricing, you can charge premiums and any change in pricing is relatively more Inelastic.  Loyal consumers, weakened channels pay premiums, and trading up where offered.  More engaged employees deliver better experience—even more premiums. This gives your brand an opportunity to drive higher margins.

With costs, a more loved brand becomes more Efficient and Powerful. You’ll be able to achieve Economies of scale. Suppliers cut costs due to volume & wanting brand in portfolio. Efficient media spend, free media through search, earned and social. Gov’t willingly subsidize. Partners give favorable terms.  This gives your brand lower costs–both in terms of product costs and marketing costs.  

A more loved brand can drive market share by pushing the Momentum and finding that Tipping Point. Crowds draw crowds. Power of media (search + social + earned) keeps brand in the conversation with heavy influence. Competitors can’t respond to the momentum. You can steal share from weakened competitors who have no love, or get current users to use even more.  

A more loved brand can enter new markets. Loyalists Will Follow Wherever: Loyal users will follow where brand goes, and doors will open to new ventures. The idea of brand no longer tied to product, but to how brand makes you feel. 

As the brand is more loved, the P&L statement looks a lot stronger–higher markets, lower costs, higher share and new market entries all add up to much higher profitability.  It’s worth finding that love.  

How to get to past the Like It stage

  • Focus on action and drive Consideration and Purchase: stake out certain spaces in the market creating a brand story that separates your brand from the clutter. Begin to sell the solution, not just the product. Build a Bigger Following:  Invest in building a brand story that helps to drive for increased popularity and get new consumers to use the brand.
  • Begin to Leverage those that already Love:  Focus on the most loyal consumers and drive a deeper connection by driving the routine which should increase usage frequency. On top of that, begin cross selling to capture a broader type of usage.
  • Love the Work: It is time to dial-up the passion that goes into the marketing execution. Beloved Brands have a certain magic to them. But “Like It’ brands tend to settle for ok, rather than push for great. With better work, you’ll be able to better captivate and delight the consumers. If you don’t love the work, how do you expect the consumer to love your brand.
  • Fix the Leak: Brands that are stuck have something embedded in the brand or the experience that is holding back the brand. It frustrates consumers and restricts them from fully committing to making the brand a favorite. Be proactive and get the company focused on fixing this leak.
  • Build a Big Idea: Consumers want consistency from the brand—constant changes to the advertising, packaging or delivery can be frustrating. Leverage a Brand Story and a Big Idea that balances rational and emotional benefits helps to establish a consistency for the brand and help build a much tighter relationship.

So be content with being Liked.  But just realize that you’re leaving profits behind for someone else to capture.  

If you are stuck at Like It, then you are leaving money on the table


To read more about how the love for a brand creates more power and profits:

Other Stories You Might Like

  1. How to Write a Creative Brief. The creative brief really comes out of two sources, the brand positioning statement and the advertising strategy that should come from the brand plan.  To read how to write a Creative Brief, click on this hyperlink:  How to Write a Creative Brief
  2. How to Write a Brand Plan: The positioning statement helps frame what the brand is all about.  However, the brand plan starts to make choices on how you’re going to make the most of that promise.  Follow this hyperlink to read more on writing a Brand Plan:  How to Write a Brand Plan
  3. Consumer Insights: To get richer depth on the consumer, read the following story by clicking on the hyper link:  Everything Starts and Ends with the Consumer in Mind


Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, we promise that we will make your brand stronger and your brand leaders smarter. We can help you come up with your brand’s Brand Positioning, Big Idea and Brand Concept. We also can help create Brand Plans that everyone in your organization can follow and helps to focus your Marketing Execution. We provide a new way to look at Brand Management, that uses a provocative approach to align your brand to the sound fundamentals of brand management. 

We will make your team of Brand Leaders smarter so they can produce exceptional work that drives stronger brand results. We offer brand training on every subject in marketing, related to strategic thinking, analytics, brand planning, positioning, creative briefs, customer marketing and marketing execution. 

To contact us, email us at or call us at 416-885-3911. You can also find us on Twitter @belovedbrands

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