Forget About Brand Control, Strive For Clarity

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

Clay Shirky Says Forget About Brand Control, Strive For Clarity

I agree.  Nothing more to say.

Goals and Objectives Before The Strategy - What Are Holt Renfrew’s Goals?

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

The most important thing we stress to our clients is to clearly articulate goals and objectives before developing a strategic or tactical plan.  Without understanding ‘Why’ you are doing something, it doesn’t matter ‘How Well’ you do something.

After reading about Holt Renfrew’s latest campaign, I have to wonder what their goals and objectives are:

Looking to extend its brand into the “world of social media,” Canadian clothing retailer Holt Renfrew is searching for trend-savvy ambassadors through its online Contemporary Correspondent Search.

The winners will report on fashion events in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal for five months.

“Our Contemporary Correspondent Search will generate peer-to-peer dialogue and actively engage our fan base on Facebook,” said Tracy Fellows, vice-president, marketing for Holt Renfrew, in a release. “This is a fantastic opportunity for us to extend the Holt Renfrew brand into the world of social media and connect with our audiences in unexpected ways.”

The entries will be narrowed down to six finalists (two from each market), by a panel of Holt judges. The finalists will then compete in a series of fashion-inspired challenges, while Facebook fans determine a winner from each city. As of press time, the fan site had just over 2,700 members.

Some of the key questions they should answer are:

  • What behaviour are we trying to stimulate?
    • Website visits?
    • Store visits?
    • Transactions?
  • Are the people they are attracting with the prizes the right people to be correspondents?  Are they credible enough for die-hard fashionistas to listen to?
    • The winning correspondents will photograph and blog about regional fashion events for five months, and will also receive a $1,000 Holt Renfrew wardrobe and a Sony VAIO notebook PC.

  • Who are the people interacting on the Facebook fan page? 
    • Are they customers?  If so, are they loyal?
    • Or are they just fans who only aspire to one day shop there?

EA Sports Keeps Its Promise

Friday, April 24th, 2009

Previously I blogged about how EA Sports found an innovative way to connect the brand with the tribe.  Essentially, if you submitted your name Brad Nessler would record your name.  That way if you created a player with your last name you will hear it in the game.  According to people working on NCAA Football 10, about 3,000 names were recorded.

Asked how many were submitted, Adam Thompson one of the game developers interacting with the community said:

Not sure, but at the cutoff point it was around 6000. From there I filtered out all the names we already have (like I got 30 people submitting “Smith”), and then filtered out anyone under 18 based on the birthday set for their EA Sports World account (the legal deparment made me do this). The rest of the ones that didn’t get out were the joke submissions, people entering their first name, or people with weird last names that didn’t give phonetic spellings. And no, phonetic spelling doesn’t mean your phone number (yes, 5 people left their phone number in that box).

Understand The Impact of Tribal Marketing - The Need for Tribal Strategy

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

One of the things I discuss with clients is that the process of leveraging consumer tribes is often driven by marketing, but will require you to understand the impact within the entire organization.  Hence, we use the term Tribal Strategy to define our work - of which Tribal Marketing is a part.

Here are some areas of the organization that we consider, capture and revise in the Tribal Strategy plan:

  • Operations:
    • Product design and development
    • Production methods and materials (i.e. going green)
    • Guidelines and processes for using Web 2.0 tools
  • Finance/Budgeting
    • Ensuring the outputs of the Tribal Strategy Measurement Plan will be compatible with ongoing budgeting requirements
  • Human Resources
    • Update/review job descriptions to include new required activities (i.e. events, online interaction, etc)
    • Do you require additional staff with relevant capabilities?

In addition, here are some other functions that may be impacted:

  • Management Information Systems (MIS):
    • What data do we need to collect?  What are we missing? How do you translate it into the current reporting format?
  • Planning: 
    • Ensure that senior management include Tribal Strategy in their quarterly/annual planning process
  • Technologies:
    • What technology do we need to add to execute?  Should we bring technology in-house or should we outsource it?

Please keep in mind this is just a short example.  The actual areas of impact and key points to consider will vary depending on the organization and the situation.

Colloquy’s Research Comes To The Wrong Recommendation

Friday, April 17th, 2009

Colloquy released its findings on a study looking at Motivations of Canadian Brand-Specific Social Networking.

A WOM Champion is a customer who is “actively recommending” a brand, in a conversation with a relative, in an email to friends, in a Twitter posting or a Facebook wall message. “The personal nature of the communication by a WOM Champion adds credibility,” says COLLOQUY Partner Kelly Hlavinka. “And a Champion’s endorsement is highly valued by marketers because it cannot be bought; it must be earned.”

When COLLOQUY asked more than 3,500 Canadians why they engage in WOM activity regarding their preferred products, services and brands to people within their networks, the top five motivations of WOM Champions were as follows:

  • To be the first to discover new items: 71 percent
  • To get free product samples: 66 percent
  • To get smart about products/services: 66 percent
  • To tell manufacturers what I think: 63 percent
  • To share my opinion with others: 58 percent

The COLLOQUY research also revealed significant evidence of a direct correlation between reward program activity and consumers’ positive WOM endorsement activity. Here are some of the key findings:

  • Loyalty program members are 127 percent more likely to be WOM Champions than the general population
  • 31 percent of loyalty program members are self-described WOM Champions
  • Only 15 percent of non-loyalty program members are self-described WOM Champions
  • 68 percent of WOM Champions in loyalty programs intend recommend a program sponsor’s brand within a year
  • Actively participating loyalty program members are over 3 times more likely than non-active members, and over 7 times more likely than non-members, to be WOM Champions

The research is certainly interesting and gives a good sense as to what motivates people to engage in WOM activities.  Also, I like the possibility of using a loyalty database to identify potential tribe leaders.  However, I don’t necessarily agree with the main conclusion:

“This research shows that a company’s loyalty marketing database is an under-utilized social network that marketers would do well to exploit in the pursuit of positive, profitable WOM activity,” says COLLOQUY Editorial Director Rick Ferguson. “Marketers should locate the Champions buried within their program memberships, find ways to encourage WOM activity and reward Champions for positive WOM behavior.”

Here are my 2 points of difference:

  1. The database itself may not be the social network - in other words the members of the database may not necessarily be a network but rather a group of individuals with similar purchase behaviours
  2. Activating the tribe is a bit more complex then just ‘locating the champions and incentivize them to display WOM behaviour’. 
    • The real question you must ask is “Why haven’t my ‘best customers’ started to engage in WOM activities already?”  There could be some fundamental issues from a marketing, product design/experience, customer service, etc that needs addressing first.

NFL Director of Fandemonium- A Good Way To Engage Fans

Thursday, April 16th, 2009

NFL and have partnered up to bring the NFL Director of Fandemonium contest.

The 32 finalists (one fan from each team) will go through a series of events including trivia and on field skills.

The winner will be the Director of Fandemonium and will:

  • Get to announce a pick at the 2009 Draft
  • Join the coin toss ceremony in Super Bowl XLIV
  • Select a play during the 2009 Pro Bowl
  • Get 2 tickets to your home team’s games for the season
  • And best of all…get a $100,000 ’signing bonus’ (this would be the only monetary compensation, as this is just a prize promotion and not an actual job offer)

I think this is a creative way to keep fans engaged with the teams and the league.  Also, this type of contest may be a good way for smaller leagues to engage both sponsorship partners as well as fans.

A&W Uses Social Media - But Their Strategy Is Not Tribal

Monday, April 13th, 2009

A&W launched its recent promotion by heavily relying on social media.

The restaurant chain’s “ultimate uncle contest” invited customers to tell A&W why they have the best uncle at At launch the site included a limited number of coupons for a free Uncle Burgers and visitors can still send an electronic “Uncle’s Day” greeting card and print a coupon for a Uncle Burger deal.

Tom Shepansky, a partner at Rethink, which created the promotion, said the idea was to get people talking about the Uncle Burger, drive people to the website and generate some excitement for the product.

Soon after launch, A&W employees and consumers were talking about the free burger offer on Twitter, Facebook and other message boards and blogs.

Shepansky said 10,000 visitors went to the site in the first 48 hours and all 2,000 free burgers were claimed within the first four hours. Half of all visitors also opted to receive future news updates from A&W.

Although this campaign uses social media, it is important to note that this is not what I would consider Tribal.  The key to remember is to find out who your tribe(s) are and then develop strategies that support the tribe(s).

In fairness, it seems as if A&W was using this as a trial to see how older people interact with social media sites.

David Waterfall, A&W’s Vancouver-based director of marketing, said using Facebook, Twitter and other sites was largely an experiment to see if A&W’s primary target of baby boomers are online enough to make social media an ongoing part of its marketing mix.

“We were looking at a lot of research saying an increasing numbers of baby boomers are involved in the social media sphere,” he said. “It’s not just 16-year-olds texting and using Twitter. And the results have been really pleasing for us, and it reinforced that it was something worth trying.”

However, I do think there is an opportunity to build a Tribal Strategy around the brand.

Tribal Strategy Goes Beyond Consumer Marketing

Thursday, April 9th, 2009

Most of our discussions with people revolve around using Tribal Strategy in the realm of Tribal Marketing.  However, it is important to know that a Tribal Strategy can go beyond marketing. 

Over the past few months I have gone into meetings with the intention to solely discuss our Corporate Development services and just happen to mention our Tribal Strategy practice area.  The people I met with immediately were interested in learning more on how tribes can impact their business:

  • One person was a CEO of a mid-sized biotech company and believed that private investors and VCs often behave like tribes
  • The other was an Executive Director of an industry organization looking at how researchers, scientists and buyers of intellectual property interact as tribes

By developing a tribal strategy both of the above organizations can leverage new ways to pitch to investors or connect people with various but complimentary backgrounds for the greater good.

Highlights of The 2009 Sponsorship Marketing Council of Canada Conference & Awards

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009


I went to the SMCC Conference yesterday and I thought most of the segments were well presented. 

The key conference takeaways were summarized well by Alan Middleton’s 3C’s.  Alan is the Executive Director at Schulich Executive Education Centre and was the MC for most of the day.

The 3C’s plus my takeaways:

  • Community
    • Almost all the speakers highlighted the need to work with and do work for the community
    • This fits well with the Tribal Approach whereby you look at supporting the tribe rather than marketing to it
  • Commitment
    • In order for a sponsorship partnership to be successful, there needs to be commitment from both senior management and employees
    • Most of the initiatives discussed during the day included a strong commitment from employees to deliver their results (best example was how Scotiabank was able to get their employees on board for numerous events that they sponsor)
  • Continuity
    • This goes for any successful campaign but especially sponsorship
    • If you don’t tell people you are sponsoring something, you won’t get the recognition you are looking for and deserve
    • Also, make sure you have an integrated plan especially if you are sponsoring a one-time or infrequent event

Sponsorship can be a part of a complete Tribal Strategy.  The key thing is to make sure you know how it all fits together and how it impacts your entire organization.


Friday, April 3rd, 2009

 Gatorade launched its G campaign across the US and now into Canada. 

Gatorade Canada has drafted Canadian athletes for its national “G” campaign in support of the sports drink’s new brand identity.

The PepsiCo Canada brand identified athletes and moments in sports that represent what it means to be “G” in a Gatorade context—golden, gutsy and glorious—said Dale Hooper, vice-president of marketing for Gatorade in Canada.

“For us, G represents the heart, hustle and soul of athleticism and we want this to become a badge of pride for any Canadian who sweats, no matter where they’re active,” he said.

The Canadian athletes appearing in the campaign include: UFC fighter Georges St-Pierre, hockey legend Gordie Howe, women’s hockey player Cassie Campbell, wheelchair racer Chantal Petitclerc, ultra marathon runner Ray Zahab, and high school basketball player Bradd Arseneau—survivor of the January 2008 bus crash that killed seven teammates in Bathurst, N.B.

When I first saw the US ads back last fall, I didn’t know who or what G was.  All I saw were a bunch of atheletes with a voice over.  See for yourself below:

What is strange for the Canadian version is that the letter G is not really synonymous with Gatorade.  Furthermore, with the exception of Gordie Howe and perhaps George St-Pierre, no athlete is recognizable. 

As soon as I read this article, I thought of Martin Crane’s quote from the show Frasier, when both Frasier and Niles wanted to buy over a restaurant.

Frasier and Niles wanted the name to be inviting and welcoming but be difficult to pronounce, have no sign on the outside or any advertising and an unlisted phone number.

Martin wittingly replied “Well don’t stop there.  Post some guards on the roof who can shoot people as they try to get in.”

This type of campaign would be suited in getting the attention of consumers to a new or unknown brand - not a market leader.