Aug 022016
 

Rio_Olympics-2016-Gold-MedalCongratulations to Scott Lange for a successful panel discussion at the Marketing Executive Networking Group on marketing, media, trademarks, sponsorship, ambush marketing and branding and the Olympic Movement–particularly the upcoming Games in Rio.
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Meet the panelists

Jul 192016
 

Zika • Recession • Security • Doping Scandals • Brazilian Politics & Public Apathy

I will be on the panel of the Marketing Executives Networking Group’s panel discussion on the marketing challenges of the Rio Olympic Games

RSVP by Thursday, JULY  28, noon at http://members.mengonline.com/e/in/eid=421 
Photo I.D. required for building entry.

Many issues are plaguing the Rio Olympic Games, which commence August 5th.  The stakes are high – this is South America’s first Olympics – but problems still loom large.  Rio is even canceling school because it doesn’t have a solution for the traffic.  “No question, the country is facing the ‘perfect storm,'” noted former International Olympic Committee Marketing Director Michael Payne.  Additionally, the U.S. Olympic Committee announced updated Rule 40 guidelines limiting branding of athletes, coaches, trainers and officials to prevent over-commercialization of the Olympic Games among other goals.

What’s a marketer to do? 

MENG member and Sports Marketer, Scott Lange, will lead a lively panel discussion on the Olympic Games, covering both issues specific to Rio and perennial Olympics questions such as the value proposition of sponsorship and media coverage.  Joining him are sports marketing and media experts, Ray Katz, who worked for the NFL, other major leagues and sports agencies; former head of programming for CBS Sports Jay Rosenstein, who started his career at Time Magazine reporting Olympics cover stories; and Lisa Merriam, who worked on sponsorships at the Torino, Beijing, and London Olympic Games.  Together, they will cover topics such as

What do Olympics sponsors actually receive when they invest in the Olympic Games?

What’s the best way to maximize ROI?

What makes the Olympics so important for media, corporate sponsors, fans, athletes, and participating countries?

What happens when non-sponsors use guerilla tactics to borrow interest in the Olympics?

…and other salient topics…

Our August 1st meeting is extra special because it will be our last with our generous, long-time host, Lee Hecht Harrison.  So come join us for our final party at 230 Park Avenue.

WHEN:        Monday, August 1, 5:30 – 8:00 PM (just 4 days before the Rio Games open!)
                        Panel begins at 6:15 PM

WHERE:     Lee, Hecht, Harrison, 230 Park Avenue (Helmsley Building, between 45th and 46th Streets)

FEES:           Members & LHH    $10 until noon July 28, $20 late registration

                       Guests                       $20 until noon July 28, $30 late registration

Refreshments will be served.

RSVP by Thursday, JULY  28, noon at http://members.mengonline.com/e/in/eid=421 
Photo I.D. required for building entry.

Scott Lange 
SVP, eTeam Executive Search

Scott built his career promoting and securing marketing partnerships for large scale televised events such as the the New York Road Runners/NYC Marathon®, NYC 2012 Olympic Bid, the Ford NYC Triathlon, and the Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational.  His partners and clients have included organizations such as AT&T, Asics, audible.com, Cingular, Coca-Cola, Ford Motor, GEICO, JPMorgan Chase, Jaguar, Johnson & Johnson, Microsoft, MINI, Nike, Coca-Cola, Tommy Hilfiger, etc.  As an Adjunct Professor at NYU’s Tisch Institute for Sport Management, he taught sports marketing and corporate sponsorship for 5 years.  Scott has also been an entrepreneur: a co-founding board member of the Leverage Agency, a sports and branded entertainment marketing agency, and co-founder/President of National College Television, the first ad-supported satellite TV network for college students.

Ray Katz
Managing Partner, Source1 Sports

Ray Katz is a sports business, media, and marketing executive with over 25 years of experience, with leadership roles at the NFL, NY Knicks, and NY Rangers as well as at agencies such as Young and Rubicam, OMD, the Leverage Agency, and Source Communications.  Ray is an expert in evaluating, measurement, analytics, creating/packaging, buying and selling sports sponsorships and media.  In addition to his business career, Ray has been a distinguished professor at the Sports Business Masters level for over 20 years and currently teaches marketing, media, finance and foundations at Columbia University. He is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and earned his Masters of Business Administration in Finance and Marketing at The Wharton School of Business.

Jay Rosenstein
VP, Headline Media Management

Jay Rosenstein is Vice President, Programming for Headline Media Management, responsible for developing and representing sports and entertainment properties as a seasoned television negotiator. He has had more than 35 years of sports television, marketing and public relations experience, serving 15 years in executive positions at CBS, including seven as VP in charge of programming at CBS Sports. At CBS, Jay was responsible for acquisition, scheduling and administration of all network sports properties including the 1992, 1994 and 1998 Olympic Winter Games. Following CBS, Jay served as SVP, Director of Sports & Events at Cohn & Wolfe, with clients such as Eli Lilly, Xerox, BMW, Guinness and the NHL.  Jay later ran programming for WeMedia Sports, which produced TV and online coverage of the 2000 Sydney Paralympic Games. He is currently an adjunct professor at NYU’s Tisch Institute for Sport Management, Media and Business.

Lisa Merriam
President, Merriam Associates

Lisa Merriam led the branding initiative for Johnson & Johnson’s sponsorship of the 2006 Torino and 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and helped develop their sponsorship brand story.  On the tactical side, she worked with a BMW dealer group to leverage BMW’s performance story at the London 2012 Games.  Currently a brand consultant, Lisa’s background includes agency experience at McCann-Erickson, Ogilvy & Mather, FCB, Mother, Brandworx, Verse Group, and others.  Her volunteer initiatives include the Navy SEAL Museum, Naval Special Warfare Historical Foundation, Moms Who Kick Martial Arts Women Fighting Cancer, and the New York American Marketing Association.

 

Jul 112016
 

Rio olympics sports sponsorship roiOn the eve of the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games, sports sponsorship for brands is drawing greater interest. Will pollution, crime, political bungling and Zika impact ROI? Probably not. Getting the highest ROI for event sponsorship depends “activation”most of all—and that extends far beyond the event itself.

If all you are getting for your sports sponsorship is your logo pasted on a few communications, you are missing an opportunity and surely are not getting your money’s worth.

Event sponsorship should generate returns in the areas of:

  • Increased exposure
  • Enhanced reputation
  • Conversions—selling product

To win across all three areas, you must “activate” with a solid strategy and tactical follow-through.

Establish Sports Sponsorship Brand Strategy

Your sponsorship strategy begins with the “why.” You must have a compelling story of why your brand connects to the event. I helped develop Johnson & Johnson’s sponsorship strategy for its first-ever  Olympic Partners Program worldwide sponsorship of the Beijing Olympic Games. For many sponsors, their Olympic sponsorship story is obvious. Nike is about athletic achievement. Coca-Cola is about enjoying the events. For Johnson & Johnson, maker of diverse products from baby shampoo to replacement hips, the story wasn’t immediately obvious. After considerable research among all stakeholders, the company adopted the story En Ai Er Shung—“Because we care.” Caring for people became the powerful unifying narrative relevant to every brand from Tylenol to DePuy to Splenda. Getting the “why” of the sponsorship right is what enhances your reputation and what underpins all tactical execution.

Spread the Story

Once you know your why, you must get the word out. Obviously put the logo everywhere. Wherever you can expand the story with at least a tagline, do it. Then go beyond the logo and tagline, to long form narratives, imagery, graphics and more. Think about everywhere your company touches audiences, internally and externally. Include the story on signage, marketing materials, vehicles, uniforms, email signatures, even invoices. The more you tout the sponsorship, the bigger your exposure benefit. The old novelist’s saw of “don’t just tell it, show it,” has relevance here. Create stories that dramatize the why of the sponsorship. Johnson & Johnson brought the caring message to life through dozens of initiatives, such as the Sight for Kids Program that provides vision screening, education and care to the children of migrant workers in rural China. Make the “why” more than a tagline—turn it into real life actions told through every possible sort of media.

Promote the Sports Sponsorship

Doing good is rewarding, but companies need to realize business goals as well. Developing customer-facing promotions and activities is the key to driving sales and profits. I had the opportunity to work with a BMW dealer group during the run up to the London 2012 Games. The BMW Olympic sponsorship strategy focused on a story that linked advanced technology to performance. They created the “Drive for Team USA” program that offered a special  performance test drive experience, a $1,000 new vehicle purchase allowance, and a $10donation to Team USA for every test drive taken. I cannot reveal the specific dealer group results, however, the program nationally led to 26,535 test drives, 25% of which converted into new vehicle sales, for a return of some $150 million. Turn the purpose of your sponsorship into a practical program to stimulate sampling, demonstrations, education programs and other lead and sales generating programs.

Involve Your People

Your best sponsorship ambassadors are your employees.  Make sure they understand the “why” of the sponsorship and the goals you hope to achieve. Spark their creativity by sharing best practices by other sponsors. Then ask them to help. Employees are a great source of ideas, big and small. Ideas can be as specific as ways a particular person or department can contribute, to as large as national programs. Educated, motivated and engaged employees are what can truly turbo-charge your sponsorship.

Keys Sports Sponsorship ROI

Winning at sports sponsorship takes many of the same qualities athletes need to win in sports themselves:

  • A compelling motivation
  • Ubiquitous and consistent effort
  • Sustained from start to finish line (and beyond!)
Jul 062016
 

frisbee-brand-nameThe American Marketing Association has a great blog entry on brand names that became more than household words; they practically entered the dictionary.

In my naming consulting practice, I am constantly advising clients to stay away from descriptive names. Such names can never really be owned as brands. The classic example is Amazon’s once mighty competitor Books-a-Million. Would ebay have done as well if it went to market as online-auctions.com?

Descriptive names are not memorable and tend to be very limiting. The better approach is to consider brand names that have the potential to become iconic. Choose something unusual in which you can build meaning over time.

The “Genericide” of Brand Names

Yet in success, comes the danger of an iconic brand becoming so synonymous with a product that it becomes the generic. Frisbee spends millions protecting its name as a brand. The Dempster Brothers’ branded their wheeled trash haulers a portmanteau of “dump” with “Dempster.” Having lost control of the brand, today “dumpster” is a generic word. Aspirin, Zipper, Yo-Yo, Thermos, Vaseline and even Heroin are other examples of brands that suffered “genericide” through trademark erosion.

More naming resources for choosing a brand name:

Naming How-To:

Naming Mistakes
Six Factors for a Memorable and Motivating Name
History of Best Known Brands
Styles and Types of Brands
Choosing a Name
Try a Recycled Name
Web 2.0 Naming Considerations
What is Brand Architecture
Approaches to Brand Architecture
Brand Architecture and Business Strategy

Companies and Products:

MSNBC vs. msnbc.com and The Bigger Naming Problem
Macy’s Blunder with Marshall Field’s Name Change
Banks and the Name Game from Bank Marketing Magazine
AIG Name Change to AIU
Breaking Up the Motorola Brand
Google’s Speedbook Disaster
Renaming a Small Business
Proxios CEO Talks About Renaming Process
Naming a Green Sportswear Company
Unintentionally Funny Names-BARF
Unintentionally Funny Names-Putzmeister
Unintentionally Funny Names-Bimbo
Renaming a $2 Billion IPG Agency
Renaming Iraqi Freedom
Selected Naming Portfolio

 

Apr 142016
 

AMA-Web-Content-Marketing-SEO-ExpertiseCopy writers MUST be search-algorithm savvy for effective content marketing. It is no long enough to be a gifted writer; you must know how Google and other search engines evaluate and serve up your copy to potential readers. If your material is not seen, no matter how good it is, it is worthless. True SEO expertise is a career in itself, but you don’t need to be a search engine optimization genius to do a good enough job with content marketing. You do need to know some of the basics.

Content Marketing Basics

The American Marketing Association has published a helpful post that explains the basics in: Web Content Checklist: 21 Ways to Publish Better Content. Author Andy Crestodina this list of easy must-dos that will generate more page views and more engagement with just a little extra knowledge and just a little extra effort.

Mar 222016
 

Macy’s department stores has announced  store closings across the country. Are department stories still relevant? How could Macy’s change the equation? The New York American Marketing Association talked with Brian Dyches, an expert in retail design and customer experience, about the challenges Macy’s faces.

Mar 122016
 

eric-easter-urban-news-serviceCongratulations to my client Urban News Service on their historical achievement: In less than six months, they have become one of the largest distributors of news content to African-American owned newspapers in the country. Here is the the interview with one of three founding principals (the others being Andre Johnson and Joe Ruffin). Eric Easter emphasizes the importance of seasoned journalists  telling black stories in print and embedding reporters in our  communities for the long haul. Hear the Eric Easter interview on AM 900 WURD.

It is such an honor (and seriously fun) working with this team to tell their story: The concept was to supply world-class content to African-American publishers. These publishers had plenty of opinion, but original reporting and hard news was hard to come by. Urban News Service provides stories that reflect the actual African-American experience, not the crime, drugs, sex that dominate in major media. The team was able to accomplish its goals in an astonishingly short period of time. Starting from zero in April, 2015, Urban News Service were serving more than 205 black-owned newspapers with a combined circulation of 5.5 million by September—more than Ebony, Essence or Black Enterprise. It wasn’t easy. Publishers that fought the establishment for 100+ years and came through the black power movement of the 1970s had a deep distrust of anything new. Earning their trust required creating a superlative product and the hiring of hired well-known, award-winning reporters from major media with a sharp eye for stories. In January, Urban News Service inked a deal with the NNPA Black Press of America to provide content on their wire service.

Feb 082016
 

Chipotle-brand-recover-integrityCan the Chipotle brand recover with recent company marketing moves? Chipotle Mexican Grill’s sinking sales and falling share prices follow a bacterial outbreak that sickened customers in at least 11 states.

When news of widespread food poisoning at the “food with integrity” restaurants first broke, the internet filled with rumors of a chain-wide shutdown. Those rumors become true February 8, as Chipotle closes for a national food safety meeting for all staff, prior to what company calls its “biggest marketing effort ever.”

Chipotle isn’t the first restaurant chain to grapple with food poisoning, but the others don’t tout local sourcing and sophisticated software to track ingredients from farm to table. That tracking software didn’t work so well. It was months before the company could pinpoint what ingredient was responsible for making people sick. That beef from Australia—so much for the local sourcing claim—was the culprit, is a further blow to the brand’s integrity claim.

Will Chipotle’s biggest marketing effort ever work to help the Chipotle brand recover?

What do customers think? We hit the streets to find out.

Dec 082015
 

Chipotle-brand-failure-backfireThe Chipotle brand failure brand gives new meaning to a brand backfire with 30 more people reported sick in Boston today. It turns out, the “food with integrity” branding idea looks better in the advertising than it does in reality.

“Aspirational branding” is a ticking time bomb

Building a brand about what you want to be rather than what you opens the door to catastrophic brand failure. Dressing a brand in pretty design and heart-lifting words is easy. Operational realities can often make it impossible to deliver on the aspirational promise. (see BP’s “Beyond Petroleum” claim)

Restaurants battle e. coli all the time and are a leading source of food-borne illnesses (some restaurant food poisoning stats for you). Wendy’s, McDonald’s, Subway* and others have survived outbreaks, yet Chipotle’s brand is taking a serious dive.

Chipotle  brand failure: Not delivering on integrity promise

The problem is Chipotle has built is brand on “food with integrity,” and now it can’t deliver. Sales are falling for the first time in company history and share prices are sinking fast. Here is a short list of “food with integrity” Chipotle brand failure examples:

  • Traceable Ingredients: Chipotle says it can trace every ingredient from farm to table in real time with software from FoodLogiQ. How can that claim be true, when a month and a half into the Chipotle e. coli outbreak, they still haven’t discovered the contamination source and customers are still getting sick?
  • Local Sourcing: This brand “stretch” that has proven to be a stretcher. Chipotle says: “The less distance food has to travel the better,” yet many of its ingredients are sent through centralized facilities in Chicago run by companies such as OSI or Miniat before shipping to restaurants. Chipotle’s “grass-fed beef” comes from Australia. That puts a lot of miles on your burrito bowl! The company recently removed the claim, “We serve more local produce than any restaurant company in the US” from its Web site.
  • PR Spin: Chipotle spokesman Chris Arnold announced: “There are no confirmed cases of E. coli connected to Chipotle in Massachusetts.”  Yet it temporarily closed it’s the Boston restaurant where some thirty people fell ill this weekend. It closed 43 stores in nine other states, but in Boston, there were no confirmed cases of e. coli?
  • No GMO Food: Chipotle ballyhooed is ban on genetically modified ingredients in a move some called bold and others saw as a cynical appeal to customer fear. Either way, with  nearly 70 ingredients in a single burrito, eliminating GMO foods is nearly impossible. Chipotle’s meat comes from animals that eat genetically modified food and such ingredients “lurk in baking powder, cornstarch, and a variety of ingredients used as preservatives, coloring agents, and added vitamins, as well as in commodities like canola and soy oils, corn meal, and sugar,” according to the New York Times. Chipotle takes an anti-GMO stance in the name of health while lading out 1,600 calories of salt-laden food per meal.

When a brand makes integrity a central promise, it better be absolutely certain to delivery. If not, it can very dramatically backfire–like the Chipotle brand failure.
* I have done branding work with Subway in the past.

Sep 302015
 

Ralph-Lauren-BrandRalph Lauren, the last of the “big three” American sportswear designers, is stepping down. First Calvin Klein sold his company in 2002. Then Donna Karan stepped down from designing duties earlier this year. Now Ralph Lauren is turning the reigns to “fast fashion” executive Stefan Larsson. What will happen to the Ralph Lauren brand?

Mr. Larsson made his name turning around Gap’s bargain Old Navy brand and turning H&M into a budget brand phenomenon. What impact will this new leadership mindset have on the Ralph Lauren brand? Will the Ralph Lauren brand take a step down when Mr. Larsson steps up?

The Ralph Lauren brand, as we have noted in the past,  does an amazing job maintaining a luxury image selling $3000 dresses as it moves $10 socks at TJMaxx. The brand portfolio contains a mix of price points from the high end “Purple Label” to those socks in cellophane.

Before announcing his departure, Mr. Lauren had separated out its luxury business under the leadership of Valerie Hermann.

It will be interesting to see where the Ralph Lauren brand evolves next. Under two different executives, will the brand still be able to balance mass retail with luxury or will one side win?

© 2014 Lisa Merriam