Innovation. Ideas. Insight.

Posts Tagged ‘branding’

DINU: John McEnroe

In DINU on August 25, 2008 at 11:32 am
Mac on the mic - photo Justin Stephens (NY Times Magazine)

Mac on the mic - photo Justin Stephens (NY Times Magazine)

John McEnroe is a unique American sports icon. Brash and opinionated he was liked and disliked in equal measure during his career. But those rough edges have been his greatest asset over the years. He’s learned to laugh at himself and has developed other interests, from art and music to remaining a fixture in the media, both tennis and non-tennis related.

McEnroe has developed a terrific Deeply Immersive Narrative Universe (DINU) that makes him as relevant today as he wast 30 years ago as he rose to stardom on the court. Players such as Sampras and Borg may have been technically better players, but they did not (or chose not) to develop their brands in a way that engaged the consumer. Not only were they arguably better, but they also had fewer negatives. I don’t think you’d ever hear someone say something bad about Pete Sampras.

But the most compelling stories have tension and contradiction and moral grey areas. That’s what McEnroe has given us for 30 years. Sometimes trying to please everyone isn’t the best answer. Being authentic, even if that means alienating some consumers, is the key to being relevant over the long haul. Catch up with Johnnie Mac in Sunday’s NY Times Magazine.

Eyecube Interview: Rob Walker, author of Buying In

In Ideas, Innovation, Insight on May 20, 2008 at 9:48 pm

I’m sure many of you are familiar with Rob Walker. He’s written for Slate; has his own blog, Murketing, which is a daily must read; writes a weekly column called Consumed for the New York Times Magazine; and his new book, Buying In, will be available June 3. Sure, Rob is ubiquitous, but that’s not why I read him. I read him because he’s crazy with the smarts, has his finger on the pulse of what people are buying and why, and presents his ideas in a clever, original way. I was fortunate enough to grab an advance copy of Buying In and devoured it over the weekend. Rob was kind enough to take time out from his busy schedule to answer a couple of questions. Hopefully this will give you an idea of the sorts of things Rob covers:

Rick Liebling: I love your term, ‘murketing.’ I think there is an equally murky side-effect of this sort of practice though – the inability to measure the success of the tactics. I’d argue Red Bull’s unique can had as much to do with its success as a kiteboard or other extreme sport stunt. How do these brands measure what’s working?

Rob Walker: I guess this gets at the eternal question of whether marketing is an art or a science. As you know, I’m not in the business, and so kind of ambivalent about that debate, but my outsider’s view is as follows:

In the book I talk about the difference between rational thinking, and rationale thinking. The latter refers, basically, to decisions made for some borderline instinctual reason, and sort of rationalized, non-consciously, with a reason that sounds more rational. A lot of “metrics” that I read about in the trade press, for any medium, strike me as closer to rationales than anything else. One of the reasons I have a hard time following the debate is that any given marketer always seems to be able to come up with some kind of number that demonstrates how what he or she is proposing “works.”

And since I take the position that non-conscious factors guide an awful lot more of our buying decisions than most of us care to admit, it has to follow that such things are very difficult to track and measure.

Finally, I take the influence of culture seriously, and since culture is always changing, that makes it very hard to do what marketers want to do, which is look at how Brand X succeeded because of a certain campaign, and simply recreate that campaign for Brand Y. Meanwhile, the brands are culturally different, and culture has changed in the interim, and so on.

But the upshot is that marketers, in my view, are going to continue to find rationales for more and more aggressive forms of what I’m calling murketing. They’re not going to do it on the basis of empirical evidence that would convince a third party observer. They’re going to do it because everybody else is doing it, and they’re scared of missing out or they want to show that they “get it” or whatever.

RL: You site many academic/scientific studies that detail the hows and whys of consumer behaviour. I’m equally fascinated by instances when a product suddenly drops off the radar. An example is The Club car theft deterrent device. It seemed every car had them in the early-90s. Now, I can’t remember seeing one in the last 10 years. The product isn’t any less effective, so how does something like that happen?

RW: For years I’ve wanted to write a story about something like this, but the truth is I’ve never found the right convergence of a good case study, and someone willing to publish the story.

I don’t know anything about the Club in particular, so I can’t say much about what happened there. I actually use a Club, which I bought probably 15 years ago (and kept even during an eight-year stretch when I didn’t own a car, because I correctly guessed I might have one again some day), at which point I stopped thinking about the auto theft device market.

Read the rest of this entry »