Five reasons David Ogilvy would like – and approve of – social media

I’m a big fan of David Ogilvy. The principles he laid down in his books and in his work are still being expressed to great effect – decades later and in more languages he might have ever imagined – by the Ogilvy network worldwide.  When Ogilvy passed away just after his 88th birthday in 1999, he would have had no idea (as the rest of us didn’t) what incredible changes were about to re-shape the marketing and advertising landscape.   Changes like website functionality and enhancements to HTML and search and later paid search and mobile.

But David was all about was the BIG IDEA.  And while all those channels would have made sense in an expanding media world, and maybe would have made great strides under his stewardship, none would likely have tickled him or inspired him more than the proliferation of social media.  Based on some of the more important principles he articulated in “Ogilvy on Advertising,” his veritable how-to for all marketing practitioners, here are five key reasons “Uncle Dave” would have been agog over social media.

  1. The ability to articulate a unified brand image: Ogilvy wrote “products, like people, have personalities…an amalgam of many things – its name, its packaging, its price, the style of its advertising, and above all, the nature of the product itself.”  The many forms of social media allow a brand to articulate that personality across the vast expanses of the online landscape, and give its stewards (brand managers, CMOs and agency contacts) the opportunity to capitalize on that privilege or to puke it away.  As Ogilvy said, “it isn’t the {product} they choose, it’s the image.”
  2. Word of mouth: David was talking about this in the early 1980’s, while the rest of the industry came around about 20 years later.  Ogilvy was fascinated by this aspect of the business and even commented on how elements of advertising, like jingles and fashion styles, were crossing over into mainstream consumption.Of course, the bedrock of social media is word of mouth.  It starts with influencing and even starting conversations about your company or your brand, and then monitoring them.  Today’s social media tools and third-party-developed platforms allow you to develop, manage and monitor your social “voice” with increasing levels of accuracy.
  3. How to become a good copywriter: In the memorial full page ad in Adweek in August 1999, a picture of David Ogilvy was accompanied with his quote:  “I’d like to be remembered as a copywriter who had some big ideas.”  He knew the business was perched on good ideas, articulated well in copy.And what is social media but a bunch of copy?  Web copy, blog posts, comments, LinkedIn profiles, FB posts and statuses…all copy.  And the mothership of copywriting?  Twitter:  just 140 characters to say it right.  Although Uncle Dave was a fan of the long-form ad, he may have enjoyed this simple but effective restriction.  My guess is he would have summed it up thus: “It’s brilliant.  It keeps the rubbish to a minimum, and makes everyone else create new destinations from the same footpath.”
  4. Analysis, especially by medium: One important aspect of the business that intrigued Ogilvy was direct response.  He called it his “first love and secret weapon.”  He loved the  connection to visible, measurable sales.  He hailed the headline as the most important element in communicating benefits.  And he wrote that relating inquiries to the medium that produced them can help you fine tune your media selection.Ogilvy, a huge fan of direct marketing metrics and a fierce proponent of research, would have been tickled silly with modern tools like Google Analytics, or BackType (an engine that allows you to search conversation topics on blogs, mashups and other social networks.) He also would have been a master of leveraging combinations – a Twitter feed on his blog; latest posts on his Facebook fan page (jeez, how many fans would he have had?) and a LinkedIn profile that pointed to his video content on YouTube and Vimeo.  All of this of course, streamed to his fans and friends via RSS and managed simply via his dashboard.
  5. The #1 Miracle of Research: Ogilvy was a staunch supporter of research, writing “advertising people who ignore research are as dangerous as generals who ignore decodes of enemy signals.”  In the book, he outlines 18 miracles of research.  This is #1:  “It can measure the reputation of your company among consumers…”How convenient that social media would allow Mr. Ogilvy to do virtually the same thing, in real time!  By monitoring conversations about the brands his agency advertises, or reading through recent entries of a help forum for a product his agency markets, or by measuring daily analytics on a website his agency built, David the Great would have had a moment-to-moment readout on how his brands were doing.  Probably while sipping a perfect gin on the veranda overlooking the garden at Touffou.Cheers, David.  How we miss you so.

Article also published by Nader Ashway as Five Reasons David Ogilvy Would Like – and Aprove of  – Social Media on Technorati.

5 Marketing Ideas for the New York Mets

New York Mets logoThis is a collaborative post with my friend and colleague Mark Kolier.  We work together and share a passion for the New York Mets.

As a season-ticket holder, you get to see all the colorful communications the Mets have to offer. In the yearly package the Mets send out, there’s a media guide, your tickets, usually some cheesy tchotchke, and a letter or two from the owners.  They usually talk about how “this is the year,” and how they’re gearing up for another great season.  But if you look at the non-verbal cues of the Mets, and dissect some of the verbal ones, they’re kind of saying “okay, we might fail again.”   This team needs marketing help.

First and foremost the product on the field has to be improved – that goes without saying.   Second, the communications agenda is sorely lacking.  From Omar Minaya’s almost-incoherent press statements to Jay Horowitz’ message gatekeeping, there’s very little to latch onto from a fan’s standpoint.  Thankfully, the Mets continue to have the best radio and television announcers in NY or anywhere else.  It may indeed be the strongest part of their brand.

Since communications with Met fans and marketing of Met products in general are incredibly lacking, Mark and I collaborated on 5 key ideas that we would implement if we were charged with marketing the New York Mets.

1) Be honest and more transparent with your fans. Stop the double talk and try plain language.  Beltran’s knee treatment fiasco was mishandled, only to be outdone by Reyes’ thyroid condition.  Did anyone hear about K-Rod’s pinkeye?  Exactly.  The Mets surely have good doctors but somehow have turned the term ‘Mets medical staff’ into an oxymoron.

2)     Reward your loyal fans. If people are going to shell out $ 7,000 – $ 15,000 for 81 games per seat at CitiField, they should offer more than ‘access’ to clubs on different levels where you have to pay for everything anyway.   How about free parking once in a while?   Or a hot dog and soda?   It would not kill concession revenue and would create an even closer bond between fans and the team – which has not made the playoffs since 2006 in case management has forgotten.  [Oh they did “allow” us to purchase tickets first for the first game at CitiField– an exhibition game vs. the Red Sox in 2009.   It snowed and rained.  What value.]

3) Listen & Engage. The best marketers listen to their customers, and develop products and programs to serve them.  In some categories, the consumer feedback can be instrumental in product development.  The Mets could use a series of focus groups with fans to understand their frustrations, their hopes, their desires.  Not only would it help make the team better from the inside out, it would likely put more asses in the seats – you’d go if you were invested on that level.

4) Learn from past mistakes. If you were a product manufacturer, and your 2009 product wasn’t working so well, and your customers were grumbling and revenues weren’t promising you’d probably FIX the product, and FAST.  (Um, Toyota?) Although 2009 was a strange injury-plagued year, the Mets did only a cursory once-over in improving their product by adding Jason Bay to the roster.  If the Mets could learn from history, they would know that pitching is the key to winning – and right now, they haven’t done anything to shore up the starting rotation for 2010.

5) Give us a message to hold on to. We know it’s marketing fluff, but the fans want it anyway.  Remember “ya gotta believe” from the late great Tug McGraw?  It was (and still is) a rallying cry for a generation who actually believed we could win.  How about “The Magic is Back?” (Thanks to Jerry Della Femina.)  This year, the internal message the team is receiving is “Prevention & Recovery.”  I’m not kidding – look it up.  Seriously, these guys need a more spirited rallying cry than “don’t get hurt.”  These guys need a marketing company!

Oh and Let’s go Mets!

Your policies. Your brand. Are they in sync?

Last month, I planned on attending a business conference in New York City.  It was a breakfast meeting, held at the Union League Club on Park Avenue.  The conference was presented by BMA of New York City, an association whose membership is comprised of advertising agency professionals, media professionals and corporate marketers.

I come from the advertising agency side of the business, so I was dressed in the standard agency creative uniform:  blazer, collared shirt, jeans.  However, when I arrived at the door I was told that there was a strict policy at this club:  NO JEANS.  Despite being a prominent member of the board of directors, [and the immediate past president of the association,] there was simply no talking to the leadership of the club.  This is their policy.  No compromise. No exceptions.

My chief complaint with maintaining a policy like this is simple:  if you want rules, that’s perfectly fine.  But then don’t invite – and profit from – groups who may not adhere to the same structures (like dress code, for instance.) Would you open your venue to a gathering of Tibetan monks and then say their robes and native garb are not “appropriate?”  Not likely.

To be clear, this is not a let-me-use-my-blog-to-slam-the-club post.  Instead, it shines a light on an important aspect of marketing that should be examined by marketers of any size.  Is standing on ceremony getting in the way of making real connections with consumers?   Or does it help forge deeper ones?

I find this a most interesting question, especially since so much of the marketing landscape is dominated by discussion of social media and their applications.  It’s incredible to think that just two years ago, there would NEVER have been a forum for the average consumer to speak DIRECTLY to senior executives at a company like IBM, for example.  Today, that policy is shattered and splintered into multiple conversation streams and feeds, and being monitored very closely by those very executives as a barometer of the brand’s every ebb and flow.

That’s just one specific example based on the proliferation of a few important platforms, like Twitter and Facebook.  But if we dive deeper into business operations, it leads to further (and equally important) questions.  Questions like:  what are your current engagement policies?  When was the last time you evaluated those policies?  And most importantly, are those policies reflective of the ethos of your brand?

After reflecting on these questions, two important things have occurred.  First, I have unearthed several policies that are in effect at my own agency that simply have not been evaluated in many years.  I am now addressing them – solely as a reflection of our brand values.  Secondly, I have come to a deeper understanding of the “snub at the club.”  As much as I stomped and stormed and insisted on gaining entrance, they WERE acting in accordance with the values of their brand and honoring the spirit of the membership.  And for that, I not only applaud them, I hold it up as a simple example of a policy-as-brand-identifier model for any marketer.