Recent research has shown that British (and American) children are getting fatter, suggested there is a link between childhood obesity and a slew of adult ailments, and revealed that 95% of food ads aimed at children promote brands that contain unhealthy levels of fat, salt and sugar.
October 30th, 2008
By Mark Ritson
I love Italians because they have better words than us. Not just better-sounding words, but just generally better words. Let me give you an example. The Italian word for positioning statement is posizionamento. How much cooler is that?
Here is another example. My favourite word is sprezzatura. It means making difficult things look easy. It's an awesome word that does not even have an English equivalent. But if it did, it would be a word commonly associated with iTunes. In April 2003, Apple launched its incredibly successful music-download site and made it all look so easy. So much so, that a host of idiotic competitors have gone charging after it ever since, only to fall flat on their red faces.
For four entertaining years, a cavalcade of big brands has been blowing millions creating 'rivals to iTunes', launched with all the sound and fury 'big marketing' can muster, but fizzling and dying a few embarrassing months later with a three-line press release.
Barely six months after iTunes came Dell. The computer brand produced a very uninspiring music-player and partnered with Musicmatch for two years before an almost total lack of customers persuaded it to get out of the MP3 player business before it had ever really got into it.
Next came Coca-Cola's mycokemusic. In the UK, the Coke site actually preceded iTunes and offered British punters 250,000 songs with individual tracks costing from 80p. By 2006, Coke realised that if you can't beat them, join them. It closed the site and started to partner with iTunes.
I recently met up with an old friend, Simon, a sales director. We had dinner near my flat and then I walked him to the nearest tube station, London Bridge.
Literally next door to the station is The London Dungeon. The Dungeon is remarkable not because of its assortment of grotesque waxworks in various states of dismemberment, but because of the queue that often stretches up the road from the entrance for more than 100 metres.
When Simon caught sight of this long line of customers he became excited.
So much so that as we were saying our farewells, he gestured to it and said: "That, my friend, is great marketing. You should write one of your blogs about the London Dungeon." His comment really hit home, because for the past two years I have continually encountered that queue and thought one thing: that Dungeon really needs someone to sort that out; it's got a problem with its marketing.
As a salesperson, Simon thinks marketing is all about a long line of customers waiting to pay and a turnstile continually turning: ker-ching, ker-ching, ker-ching.
As a marketer, I see that same long line of people, but my eye wanders to the people at the back of the line. I notice that some of these customers, faced with a wait of an hour or more, decide not to bother and walk away.
With less than 7 critical days before the November 4th U.S. Presidential Election, we turn to some of the world’s savviest marketers – our readership, to help secure a better understanding of each candidate’s brand.
October 27th, 2008
By Mark Ritson
One would expect that an annual marketing budget of more than a billion dollars would buy you a very well-positioned corporate brand. But that has not been the case for Pfizer.
This decade, the world's biggest pharmaceutical corporation launched some very successful drugs, including Lipitor and Viagra. But when it comes to its own corporate brand Pfizer is, like many multinationals, a mess of generic and insipid brand values.
All the usual suspects are there: integrity, innovation, customer focus, respect for people, community, teamwork, performance, leadership and, of course, quality. It is a roll-call of the generic from a corporation that sees branding as a superficial patina and not the fundamental core of its business.
Does it matter? With profits on average in the billions does it even need brand values at the core of its business?
We might get a different perspective from the people of Kano in Nigeria.
In the mid-nineties, with a meningitis epidemic raging in the region, a team of Pfizer researchers travelled to the city in what the company claims was a philanthropic mission. The team arrived with large quantities of Trovan, an experimental and, at that time unapproved, drug.