I am pleased to announce the second edition of my book Merriam’s Guide to Naming is now available. In the half dozen years since the first edition, I’ve led over a hundred company and product naming projects for Fortune 500 multinationals, mid-size companies and start-ups. As part of this work, I’ve helped executives wrestle with questions and deal with challenges that were not adequately covered in the first edition. And, in reviewing dozens of magazine articles I’ve written and media interviews I’ve given, I realized I had a large body of new knowledge on the subject of naming. Merriam’s Guide to Naming was quite overdue for a redo. Click here to order.
The media buying revolution continues. The American Marketing Association’s “Brilliance in Marketing” segment on Zicam’s revolutionary approach to buying television time comes at the end of the long-standing television upfront market. This 50 year old tradition has already been assaulted by the shift of ad dollars from television to digital. Now sophisticated algorithms paired with big data are allowing brands to buy television like they buy internet. The CEO of the makers of Zicam, M’Lou Walker, told me how they have changed the way they buy advertising in a recent interview in her office.
The growth of digital spending has slowed dramatically. Deadline Hollywood quotes Standard Media Index stats: “Last year’s Q4 revealed “the first glimpse of a flattening Digital market,” with year-over-year sales up 9% vs. 35% in the same period in 2015, SMI says. That continued in Q1: Digital sales improved 6% in the first three months of 2017 as opposed to 19% in the same period in 2016.”
The new technology could help shift dollars back into television. Digital’s allure is its ability to specifically target people and provide detailed metrics. As television technology develops, those benefits are increasingly available to television advertisers. With television’s proven ability to move the needle, we may soon be looking at ad rush back into television when more companies adopt Zicam’s approach.
It is my honor to judge the 2016-2017 Collegiate ECHO Challenge marketing plan competition held every year by Marketing EDGE. Marketing EDGE is a national non-profit bridging the gap between academic theory and the practical knowledge and skills required in the workplace. For 50 years, this organization has been bringing together marketing professionals, corporations, academics and students to apply classroom learning to real-world marketing challenges. Undergraduate and graduate students worldwide competed in the marketing plan competition.
Marketing Plan Competition Challenge: Collette
Students developed marketing plans for Collette, a third generation, family-owned company with offices in the United States, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom. Competing teams researched and evaluated the travel needs of consumers and their expectations for travel experiences today, and for the future. Then they developed an integrated marketing plan with a $5 million budget to entice consumers to travel with Collette. Competitors were given free rein to innovate on the product and the customer experience.
Scoring the Marketing Plan Competition Entries
As a judge, I looked at a number of different criteria across the entries. 50% of the score depends on the quality and use of market research. 50% rests the resulting marketing plan. Success criteria included:
- How thorough is the market research?
- Is the marketing strategy clear and concise?
- How effectively does the marketing campaign drive leads?
- In what ways do teams expand/evolve existing product lines and/or create something new and different?
- Do the proposed product line amendments flow from the market research?
- Is the budget realistic?
- How achievable is the projected return on investment?
- How well integrated is the media plan? Does it employ media where the targeted demographic will likely be found? Does it take into consideration the way the audience plans its travel?
Clear Winners in the Marketing Challenge
Judging will be complete in a few weeks, with the undergraduate and graduate winners announced in mid-July.
Prizes in each division:
- 1st Place Gold: Team members are eligible to split a $2,000 award.
- 2nd Place Silver: Team members are eligible to split a $1,000 award.
- 3rd Place Bronze: Team members are eligible to split a $500 award.
Teams demonstrating excellence in the following individual categories are eligible for honorable mentions:
- Market Research
- Marketing Strategy
- Media Plan
- Budgeting / ROI
- Creative Strategy
- Executive Summary
- Visual Summary
The Marketing Hall of Fame is the only award which recognizes individual marketers who have made outstanding contributions to the field of marketing. American Marketing Association New York created this award, hosts the annual induction ceremony, and manages the Marketing Hall of Fame Academy. The Academy, which draws its membership from the corporate, agency, academic and research worlds, selects honorees by democratic vote.
This year, the induction ceremony was held on May 11, 2017, at the ground breaking headquarters (the world’s most connected office) of R/GA at 450 W. 33rd Street, facing the Hudson Yards on Manhattan’s west side.
The 2017 inductees were Gary Briggs, Vice President, Chief Marketing Officer, Facebook; Jon Iwata, Senior Vice President, Marketing and Communications, IBM; Jim Stengel, President and Chief Executive Officer, the Jim Stengel Company; and Jerry Wind PhD, Lauder Professor and Professor of Marketing, The Wharton School.
Democrats favored firing Comey before they were against it. Republicans scurried to avoid taking a position. The White House was leaking in torrents. Washington insiders roiled the swamp with eddies of spin. The press hyperventilated in major scandal mode. But what did regular Americans make of it all?
Not so much, it turns out. Data from military-grade social listening algorithms and analytics show that outside the media echo chamber, the Comey story subsided quickly. Opinions were generally neutral and concluded that Comey had to go.
SC2, a company with roots in the special operations community, adapts technology developed to track enemy conversations for civilian market research purposes. Pouring over 17 million global social media sites, the technology uncovers trends in interest and sentiment. Army Colonel Robert Guidry who founded SC2 after serving as a chief technology officer and a senior strategist for Special Operations said: “SC2’s mission is to get beyond the media hype and analyze what everyday citizens are saying to each other. It’s often very different from what is being reported in the media.” And regarding the firing Comey story, indeed it is.
Reactions More Moderate than News Coverage
Conversations about firing Comey spiked the morning after the story first broke. While stories in the press were largely negative, public reaction was measured. In the first hours, conversations about Comey’s ouster were 49% neutral, 30% negative, and 21% positive. By Sunday morning, 60% of conversations expressed neutral views, with a near even split between negative and positive sentiments.
The majority of Comey-centered conversations referenced another topic, such as Clinton’s email server, Congress, and calls for an independent prosecutor. Of these combined conversations, most were about Comey and Trump, followed by Comey and Clinton. In both cases, over a third of comments were negative towards Comey, suggesting people across the political spectrum hold Comey in low regard. The Russian investigation was barely a blip.
Washingtonians Are More Critical of Trump Firing Comey
Looking at the same data by media outlet, we find expressed attitudes breaking out in surprising ways. Over half of CNN and Fox viewers voiced negative thoughts of the whole Comey situation—likely for different reasons. The Washington Post’s inside the Beltway readership voiced 70 to 80% negative views regarding firing Comey. Clearly, denizens of what Trump calls “the swamp” were not happy. For New York Times readers, the statistics flip, being far more favorable to Comey hearing the words: “You’re fired.”
News coverage continued wall-to-wall for days, reporting a scandal on par with Watergate. Yet a day after the news of firing Comey broke, public conversations about it were down by a third. By the May 14 Sunday morning talk shows, interest dropped by another third. Opinions settled in the neutral zone. And there was good news for Hillary: Interest in her email servers also evaporated.
In the End, Opinion Was: Comey Deserved It
The algorithms give researchers the ability to study specific viewpoints across a spectrum of beliefs. What is interesting about the national conversation about Comey being fired is the content of the conversations. Most agreed with Trump that Comey should be fired, with Comey’s poor handling of the Clinton email investigation cited as the most discussed reason Comey had to “face the music.” The Russia election issue appeared in a small minority of the conversations.
A screenshot of raw data shows the snippets of commentary around Comey’s firing.
Despite the media fixation on Russia, cover-ups, special prosecutors, and White House ineptitude, the American public was ready to move on. Some 70% of conversations reference firing Comey as deserved and necessary, even among people who claim that Trump was wrong in doing it. All scandal aside, Americans believe Comey had it coming.
But what a difference a week makes! With new revelations, has American interest in the scandal increased? Has American opinion shifted on Comey? Do Americans now think impeachment is warranted? Time for another look into the data.
The American Marketing Association Leadership Summit in Chicago reinforced the value of this group for anyone with a career in marketing or for anyone who works with marketers. This meeting of AMA chapter leaders from across the nation and Canada was a chance to network, exchange best practices and ideas and further develop leadership skills with top marketers across specializations and industries. Chapter President Bob Kahn and I are bringing back not only best practices, but next practices to NYC.
I am pleased to announce that the American Marketing Association New York has launched its new website, www.amanewyork.org along with a new name. The new site has been the primary focus of the Communications Committee of the Board of Directors for the last several months. As chairperson of that committee, I commend the tireless work of other board members Karen McFarlane and Bianca DiSalvo, as well as staff member Molly Purcell. It was truly a group effort.
The new mobile-friendly website and name change were born out of the American Marketing Association’s (AMA) unveiling of a new brand identity that reflects the transformation of the organization and its vision for the future.
You are invited to explore the new website, www.amanewyork.org, which showcases an improved navigation and functionality throughout and allows members to access detailed information about newer or revamped member benefits such as those listed below:
- The CMO Leadership Series is a quarterly event for senior marketing executives on how to achieve success in a rapidly changing marketplace. Attendees learn how to reach consumers using a variety of marketing strategies, while leveraging their disparate platforms and customer data.
- AMA Executive Circle is the American Marketing Association’s national network of senior marketing executives. Engage, network and share with an exclusive group of accomplished marketing professionals in a collegial atmosphere that connects top talent nationwide:
- The AMA New York Mentoring Program connects junior members with more experienced member professionals for career advice, guidance and support.
- The AMA New York Volunteer Spotlight Program recognizes outstanding volunteers for the AMA New York on a quarterly and annual basis. One winner per quarter and one annual winner are recognized.
- The Marketing Hall of Fame® was established to celebrate brilliance in marketing across all fields and industries, recognizing individuals who are making outstanding contributions to the field and inspiring a new generation of marketers. Register for the May 11, 2017 Marketing Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony here.
NBC News interviewed me about the trolling of the Ivanka Trump brand. Seems like “fake reviews” are joining “fake news” as a thing. The consumer is savvy enough to tell the difference.
As I told NBC, the trolling of all Trump brands is likely to continue as a dissatisfied segment of the electorate works out its issues, from marching in front of the Trump buildings here on the Upper West Side of New York to writing snarky reviews on Amazon. These people in the “bucket of disaffecteds” have few other easy avenues for venting their frustrations. Trolling is an easy way to express unhappiness without effort or risk–but also without much impact.
Trolling Ivanka Trump Brand Ineffectual
The effect of Trump trolling on the brand is negligible. People who buy the Trump brand like the Trump image or the product behind it. Trolls don’t impact that. People who despise Trump will continue to shun the Trump brand. Given the massive level of Trump publicity, consumers are already predisposed to like or dislike. They aren’t going to Amazon reviews to form those opinions. Trolling isn’t going to sway a consumer one way or the other. It has zero marketing impact. Trump brand managers can ignore the phenomenon.
For other brands subject to trolling, finding out what is driving trolls and who is doing the trolling is an important first step. Responding with a calm, measured, fact-infused way puts your side of the story out there. Consumers are savvy. They can spot fake reviews as easily as they can spot fake news. Beyond making sure the consumer has access to the facts, let the trolls troll on. They are frustrated people precisely because their trolling has little impact. Don’t feed that beast.
Sports team naming is a high stakes job. Doing it right makes creates millions of dollars in brand value. Doing it wrong leads to low recognition and low fan engagement, leading to low revenue and value. Naming the NHL expansion team in Las Vegas the “Vegas Golden Knights” is a missed brand opportunity. (Read part of my interview in the Las Vegas Sun).
The “Golden Knights” name is empty of associations with hockey or Las Vegas. It conjures images of medieval Europe, not a vibrant oasis in the dessert known for fun and risk taking. A name like Baltimore’s “Ravens” is an example of naming done right. It resonates with the city’s history with Edgar Alan Poe, is absolutely unique, and engages fans. The “caw-caws” on game day are a testament to that. A strong brand name would help the team earn bigger licensing dollars and sell more fan merchandise. Golden Knights is unlikely to do either.
The value of a brand is worth protecting, which brings up the trademark issue. The Golden Knights name is best known as the name for the U.S. Army Parachute Demonstration Team–but they never trademarked it. Brand names can be shared and used by multiple companies, so Vegas Army Golden Knights now share their name with other teams–The College of St. Rose and the University of Central Florida.
- Antelopes–or indigenous name Tatokes
- Ozuye–Hopi word for warrior
- Big Horns
- Red Rocks
- Tohos–Hopi word for mountain lion/powerful hunter
When market dynamics and business strategies change, it impacts the brand. National Geographic, a brand with over one hundred years of history behind it, needed rebranding after the entity split off the non-profit Society form the for-proft National Geographic Partners a joint venture with 21st Century Fox.
Rebranding doesn’t always mean changing a name or logo, and that is the case here. The National Geographic rebranding is more about refocusing the positioning and aligning the growing number of media properties clearly under one “rallying cry.”
The iconic gold border and priceless brand name stayed. What was added was the idea of “further,” which focused the company on progress and the quest for knowledge, science, adventure and exploration across all platforms, including the flagship magazine and travel magazines, television networks, social and digital properties, kids media, live events and even consumer products.
The brand plays a role internally as well, as a strategic filter for future initiatives, as a motivator and source of price for employees, and as a tool for recruiting talent.
National Geographic’s brand now, by definition can go further–“It never ends, it knows no bounds.”
Marketing history is dotted with examples of companies who have been successful entering a “saturated market.” The secret to winning is carving out a niche. Entering a crowded and competitive market is a good strategic option. I provided the San Fernando Business Journal with insight into such a winning scenario. Existing markets have large numbers of consumers and proven demand. “Going into a well-developed market and carving out a niche in an existing market can be less risky and expensive for an entrepreneur than doing something totally new.” Selling a new angle is easier, faster and cheaper than trying to introduce a brand no one has heard of for a product no one has heard of.”