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Beyond Marketing Moon-Shots


There are some good ideas in the world of brands, innovation and marketing. Then there are the few best. From Super Bowl to Olympic megaevents, from capitalists to non-profits, here are a few that have made 2014 worth for learning marketers
TSI | Issue Dated: March 2, 2014, New Delhi
Tags : Coca Cola | Chrysler | Crash the Super Bowl Contest | Consumer Electronics Show | ChefJet |

100 million viewers across the globe sat down to watch this year’s Super Bowl. With marketer’s eyes focused on the $4 million 30 second ad slots, you could be forgiven for not realising that the Seattle Seahawks won. This year’s most recalled ads, by Chrysler and Coca Cola looked back and forwards. Whilst the Detroit car maker got Americans nostalgic with the help of Bob Dylan, Coke celebrated today’s multi-ethnic nation, where beauty lies in its diversity. It was a telling moment, when Madison Avenue convention was outgunned by crowd-sourced Atlanta vision.

But the real winners thought differently. Marketing is much than advertising, and marketers have realised they can make budgets go further, and engage people more deeply. Online competitions, over many months, created the real buzz. Dorito’s “Crash the Super Bowl Contest” challenged snack-loving fans to create their own ads, with a $1 million prize. In business, software brand Intuit offered their spot to others.

Liquid and Linked
Content marketing is where many brands are now focusing their imaginations. Beyond the superficial images and slogans of campaign-based advertising, today’s best content is authentic, relevant, topical, collaborative and evolving. Last year Oreo demonstrated the power of real-time marketing, tweeting “You can still dunk in the dark” moments after an unplanned power shortage. That takes empowered and agile marketing. The majority of creative ideas don’t come from ad agencies but from consumers. Back at Coke, Jonathan Mildenhall and his team, have sparked a revolution with “liquid and linked” content, which works across audiences and platforms, fuelled by stories & topicality, personal & evolving.

Immersive and Instant
The Consumer Electronics Show is the moment tech-companies showcase their latest innovations. This year’s event in Las Vegas was dominated by wearable tech and 3D printing. Oculus Rift, the virtual reality headset, has been a long time coming, but is set to redefine possibilities of immersive gaming, and many other sectors too. In healthcare, for example, Intuitive Surgical has transformed the ability of doctors to perform automated heart surgery, faster, cheaper and more precise.

Personal healthcare is likely to transform our lives. From Jawbone to Nike+ we can already track our fitness, but Scanadu, with a clip-on monitor the size of a small coin, will soon allow us to check our blood pressure, and much more, as often as we check our mobile phones. Small and connected “Internet of things” technologies will change everything. Geak is an intelligent ring, slots on your finger and controls your mobile phone through movement. Every marketer knows the power of “time and place” today. When consumers take 2.6 seconds to choose a brand, every influence, and every second, can matter.

ChefJet stood amidst the innovations in 3D printing for its ability to print your favourite food on demand. Time to buy your own 3D printer? Not quite. Far better to visit your local branch of 3DHubs, the Dutch company is launching “maker spaces” in every big city.

Chinese and Creative
From Alibaba to ZaoZao, China is where our future is rapidly being shaped. Jack Ma’s e-commerce platform already connects most of the world’s businesses, making size and distance irrelevant. Vicky Wu’s pre-sumer fashion site allows huge numbers of “new middle” consumers to choose from a huge selection of designs before they are made, giving many new designers their chance to shine. Xiaomi, the Andriod-based smartphone brand, led by rockstar CEO Lei Jen, sold out the first batch of 100,000 MiPhones (not iPhones) in 83 seconds last October. In his first year of business he sold 7.2 million devices, and Xiaomi is already regarded as a $10 billion company. China’s real skill is in creating new business models for new markets. Once the Chinese learn to build emotional brands, Apple and Google, even Coke, should be worried.

Fast Company’s “Most Innovative Companies 2014” rankings are inspiring as always. Google leads the way, largely thanks to the moonshot-thinking round the corner from the Googleplex. Nest was snapped up to shape the intelligent home, Google Glass launches soon, whilst driverless cars and intelligent cancer therapies will follow. Back in China, Tencent is rising fast. Its QQ social network will soon replace the diminishing Facebook, in a way that brings search, networking, retailing and banking together. WeChat, its fast-growing instant messaging brand. If you’re looking for new markets, the combination of Alibaba and Tencent could be transformational in how you make, engage & sell.

Hot, Cool and Yours!
Sochi’s Winter Olympics took place under warm blue skies, and cost more than any other sporting event. Maybe it’s a foretaste of what’s to come, like in Qatar. The tagline just seemed to capture the over-hyped excess. Not surprisingly, bank and vodka brands lead the way in Russia. At a time when football clubs are the playthings of billionaires, and iconic events are the vanity projects of oil-rich nations, sports should remember that they are built on the passions and goodwill of everyday fans. Many of the long-term Olympic and World Cup sponsors are questioning the value of their investments. Just like the unrealistic extravagance of the $4m 30 second slot, marketers are realising that they can engage people more deeply through more creative and effective experiences.

Most interesting on Fast Company’s list was the non-profit organisation which took second place. Bloomberg Philanthropies is making a bigger difference to the world than even Bloomberg, through a new business model for charities that engages companies in solving big problems. Big brands are realising that a purpose beyond profit, about how they can make life better, really does drive new thinking. Also in the top 10 innovators is Airbnb, the start-up rent-your-room website that has recognised that facilitating the connections between people is far more powerful than with the business itself.

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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017