"If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less"

Posted by Tom Troja on October 16th, 2012 at 9:41 am

The quote above is from the new ANA chairman, Stephen Quinn, EVP Marketing at Wal-Mart. He put his finger on the fact that something big is happening… the power people wield with their devices and the social networks that link them have changed how we market. It is not that doing good is the new black, but according to brand after brand, doing good as a long-term business strategy is the only way to insure positive growth.

At last week’s ANA Masters of Marketing in front of a packed house, companies like McDonalds, MasterCard, Proctor & Gamble and Johnson & Johnson outlined how they are committing to align their vision, mission, products and services with the good of humanity, focusing their marketing energy and dollars on making positive contributions to their customers and the world.

They assured us that this is not a campaign but a permanent course they are committed to, which all will benefit from.  They reiterated what we all know: people have the control to influence millions positively and negatively about brands. Brands have responded by evolving their strategy to align what they do to have a positive impact on people and their environments.  The brands are sharing their altruistic endeavors, giving folks the opportunity to see more of the “good” about the brand.

They do this out of necessity. According to Marc Pritchard, Global Marketing & Brand Building Officer Procter & Gamble: “We realize that we are not in control, people are. We want to engage in two-way conversations and are trying to do that across all brands”. He talked about their purpose driven marketing guiding all P&G brands tied into social to reach to create deeper connections with people. “It is more effective and it is a lot more fun for everyone. Insight combined with creativity is what it is all about. Find ways to connect creatively then you will win.”

According to Kimberly Kadlec, Worldwide VP of Global Marketing Johnson & Johnson: “We are responsible to be connecting with people in ways that are instructive and not disruptive and much more conversational. The disruption is over.”  J&J’s bigger mission is to strive every day to touch people and encourage happier, healthier lives, communicating what is important to them. “We will now be listening with bigger ears and experiment everyday to connect with people in relevant and conversational ways, moving the guardrails of what we can and will do.”

Neil Golden, SVP & CMO, and McDonald’s: “We have to make sure we have standards – that we know what we stand for. We have to assess if we are fulfilling those standards and if not, take steps to fill those gaps.” Their tag line spells out the promise and the challenge, “I’m loving it.” People’s perception is what they are trying to change every day, closing the gap between what they stand for and past perceptions to be aligned with high quality food standards people now want.

They are starting at the source, the grower, and the rancher, creating supplier stories.  They talk about where the food comes from, that what they grow is what they eat, and making emotional connections based on the truth of their world.  McDonald’s is energizing their supply chain across the globe, putting them on notice that quality is job one and letting them know the light of the camera might shine on them.

Alfredo Gangotena, CMO, MasterCard Worldwide: “Make the world a better place. Work as hard as you can on your brands and communication to focus on what is positive.” He talked about how with MasterCard’s “priceless” concept, they purposefully point out that experiences matter more than things, that what you take with you to heaven is not what you own but what you have done. It works because it speaks to what really matters to people in their daily lives; family, friends, culture, music, arts and giving back, showing the humanity of what the brand is about.

This is a wonderful turn of events for most all involved. People are being treated with respect, not as just some audience a brand rents once in awhile to have the latest campaign pushed at them. Brands have an opportunity to create meaningful connections and build long-term relationships with people based on making their world a better place while the cynics and cheaters become irrelevant in the public mind. The power people have to influence events now, literally with that gadget in their hand and the social platforms connecting us, are changing everything.

2 Responses to “"If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less"”

  1. I love the message the Mr. Quinn is conveying, but the quote belongs to retired General Eric Shinseki, former Chief of Staff, United States Army, who first made the remark a decade ago.

    • TOM TROJA says:

      Thanks Paul... in the din of the conference I don't recall if Mr. Quinn relayed that... but it sure is a great quote that relates to the impact of social on brands. What was the general refering to?

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