arrow9 Comments
  1. Franklin Grippe
    Jan 28 - 2:51 am

    Marketing alone, as a school of thought, is not relevant anymore. And as much as this article tries to revitalize it my placing branding within it, branding conceptually engulfs it.

    We need a “theory of everything” or “unified theory” to emerge that effectively synthesizes all the disparate ideas that branding represents, instead of being this netherworld, that is like the 7 1/2th floor in Being John Malkovich, or Narnia or something. The place that you never see in the real world where all the disparate ideas converge and nobody believes exists.

    I think the reason why your business students dont relate to it, is because when it is done well, it is invisible. They don’t see it. Or at least they cant describe it in data points. They feel it. They experience it. You cant even test it or talk about it like you do everything else. It needs to be like a kind of voight-kampff empathy test (from bladerunner.see “do androids dream of electric sheep, philip k dick). It is a fundamentally different way of communicating. Perhaps by the shear volume of messaging. It may be neurologically more efficient for our brains to process all the info that way, and help us define ourselves in the context of the group.

    And the science we need to help define it, is more on the level of high level math or physics. Like what is going on towards an AGI. Keeping the college algebra version of marketing doesn’t do the trick because we end up with conclusions like, “the green one did better”, or “people liked the bigger logo”. Which is almost comically ridiculous. Unfortunately, that level of math/physics is probably out of reach of most people in “marketing”. (see ben goertzel, the hidden pattern).

    I think the solution to “unified theory” of branding at least begins where it started. With the thinking of the great general agencies. They have always been the best storytellers. And they have always been the best at synthesizing different schools of thought, best practices, skill sets, design thinking, etc.

    On youtube there is a great old video of steve jobs talking about the think different campaign. Search “steve jobs oldie but goodie”. It is what it is all about. Still.

  2. Chris Wren
    Jan 28 - 7:55 am

    Such insightful points yet again by Carol. Tim Williams over at Ignition suggested taking a look at “The Manifesto for Agile Software Development” (link to as a model agencies should repurpose for themselves when creating and deploying teams to solve marketing challenges. The manifesto itself is a fun read, and to imagine which principles of the agile manifesto might work in the agency biz. (link to I love “individuals and interactions over process and tools”.

  3. Franklin Grippe
    Jan 28 - 9:28 am

    “The digital revolution and the rise of web conversations will result in “the death of ‘the line’”, a white paper commissioned by the Royal Mail has claimed.

    According to the report, authored by marketing expert Martin Hayward with academic Patrick Barwise of London Business School, distinctions between above-the-line and below-the-line channels will blur until the divide becomes redundant.”

    link to

  4. Timo Platt
    Jan 28 - 11:08 am

    Nice analysis, Derrick, Brad and Carol. You’re spot on with observations of how GenY regards advertising, particularly mobile ads.

    The new mobile social media must: blend with the consumers’ real-life activities; respect their privacy; enhance shared experiences; and offer new and improved features to capitalize on existing behaviors, such as texting and IM.

    The best and most effective mobile marketing will tell a story, keep the conversations real, bring people together, create shared experiences around the brand’s story, and deliver these results.

  5. Carol Phillips
    Jan 28 - 12:13 pm

    Franklin, it’s funny you should mention the Steve Job’s vision video as I shared that with my students last week in the second session of my MBA Brand Strategy class at Notre Dame. I love how he dismisses earlier work on the ‘brand’ citing the sizable investments Apple had made with the remark – “you’d never know it”. A man ahead of his time in so many ways…but especially in marketing.

    I agree with you that the old agencies certainly knew a lot about brand building, but unfortunately, they were not able to describe what they do so that it was replicable without ‘creative geniuses’. Old school branding had a black box quality to it – like the old cartoon, “and then a miracle happens.” I have more appreciation for the efforts by Keller, Kotler, Aaker, Kapferer and others to articulate a conceptual ‘unified theory of marketing’ now that I am charged with teaching it. Marketing and branding may not be a science yet, but every discipline needs a language and models or it’s hard to have a conversation about it, research it or teach it. We may never get there, but it’s still a conversation worth having. Thanks for your comments!

    Carol Phillips

  6. Tim Redpath
    Jan 29 - 6:25 pm

    Thanks Carol,
    Very insightful.

    It’s certainly true that the new generation is treating old media with disdain and opening up new communication channels.

    I am not sure that the fundamental requirements of good marketing (understanding why people buy your product, what differentiates it, who it is targeted at, what is its price point what it competes with etc.) have changed. But the tools we have available to open up a dialogue and build a relationship with a potential client have changed dramatically. And, they’ll probably change beyond recognition in the next 20 years.

    I work in a slightly different space, mostly, B to B, and change is slower there. If you are selling technology in to a bank, marketing gets you in the door and keeps you there. But it can be a long sales cycle after that as Sales work through their programs to convert prospects in to leads in to sales.

    Just a thought.
    Tim Redpath

  7. RM Pitts
    Feb 02 - 5:00 pm

    At a digital marketing conference, a smart person said, “In the future, the brands with the best stories will win”.
    SO HOW IS THIS NEW….it’s always been that way….great conference speaker he probably also said “They have few favorite brands (really based on what research), and little brand loyalty(again based on what research), they see very little television advertising(Isn’t tv dead?), and they view most commercial messages with cynicism, something to be avoided. (what commercials or cynicism?)

    Even blogs and podcasts have barely penetrated their consciousness(could that be because of beer and weed and sex…gawd college was grand.

    We are entering a ‘post-mass media’ marketing world.(This has been flung around for at least 20 years…I tried to find out when that phrase first appeared and have it back to 1986)

    Proof is everywhere, from declining audiences across most media (except TV)

  8. Chris Boak
    Feb 03 - 3:13 pm

    Interesting I’ll bet you don’t post this as disagreement with any of the social media/world has changed gasbags don’t want to hear this.

    1. At a digital marketing conference, a smart person said, “In the future, the brands with the best stories will win”. Brand building is at heart about building superior brand experiences — or ‘stories’.

    Comment: Nothing has changed. The best stories (A truth well-told) have always won. Nothing new here.

    2.Marketing is still about identifying needs so that people line up to buy.
    The whole world was not beating down the door for the ipad, or the ipod for that matter. Apple built a product that people didn’t need, but they had to have. Big distinction.

    3.Brand communications’ is displacing advertising and promotion.

    They are one and the same. And the death of promotion,like the death of TV is simply untrue. Look at Groupon, Village Vines, etc.

    4.Although they are thought to be the most marketed-to generation ever (and perhaps because of this), most business students don’t easily relate to marketing. They have few favorite brands, and little brand loyalty, they see very little television advertising, and they view most commercial messages with cynicism, something to be avoided. Even blogs and podcasts have barely penetrated their consciousness. (Which makes me wonder who is actually using these media other than those who write about them?)

    Meanwhile who controls the spending, who has the wealth in the country. Not college students. So let’s create a marketing program, for every product, for every brand based on the potential of a group that has no money. And please don’t mention the lifetime value equation or some such rot…..student have always been difficult to target and always will be, especially when those creating the marketing are 20 years removed and are writing blogs about it.

    As far as the unified theory letter….please buying a product is based on emotion as much as anything else. And emotion is subjective, shifting and inherently that which makes us human….it is therefore outside the realm of science.

    A brand is a truth Brands that get this win.Those that don’t, don’t.

    As Einstein said Not everything that can be counted, counts. And not everything that counts, can be counted.

  9. Franklin Grippe
    Feb 05 - 11:28 pm


    Thank you, for writing the article in the first place! And thank you for responding to my comments. This is definitely a discussion worth having.

    When I talked about ad agencies and branding, i stated that the discussion should START there. I was not trying to suggest we return to someplace.

    Just wanted to make that clear.

    However, I also believe the best examples of branding and branded activities, still, reside within the context of the “ad agency”, because after all, they do everything, not just ads. And there model, people, practices, whatever you want to call it….seem to work as a whole, more than most, in my opinion. They are the best examples of business/branded thinking from management consulting to creative direction, and everything in between. This is also where I think the future of branded thinking also resides.

    I think its about non-linear, design thinking. Being able to squint and see everything, without over-focusing on a specific thing.

    Unfortunately, it seems that business school not only does not teach that, it encourages linear thinking.

    And frankly, the kind of replicable thinking this represents, will be the first to be turned into an algorithm. Along with the CEO. “Isn’t there an app for that”?

    And understanding why and how to visualize something in an other than predictable way? Emotionally. In terms of “the experience”. That is a whole other discussion.

    I don’t think that the kind of thinking that great branded thought and visual execution represent, reside in some “black box” either, but to linear thinking styles, it surely must.

    I suspect, however, that you DO get it. And hopefully you will be one of the thought leaders that figures out how to elevate your field/school of thought, perhaps into a great new form. A result of boundaryless synthesis, non-linear, and design thinking.

    Go Irish!

    BTW, check out these guys. One of my favorites and a great example of people who “get it”:

    link to

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