What is this brilliant marketing thing?
Marketing is about the art of seduction. The art of making
someone do something they didn’t think they wanted to do, but
found that in fact they did, once you’d persuaded them to try it,
and now they want to do it again and again. Seduction is about
making people want you, and so is marketing.
You can’t seduce someone if they don’t know you exist; if you
don’t engage with them and if they don’t appreciate that you
might have something going for you. So there’s real technical
stuff you have to get right. You don’t just rush up to people as
Graham Norton might, squealing ‘Hallo, it’s me!!’
Marketing is also fun. It’s fun because when it really works you
really know it – sales go up, share goes up, research tells you that
it’s working, you get write-ups in marketing magazines and
there’s a buzz about. But it’s also fun because it’s all about what
makes people tick and human beings are the most fun that you
get in life, so studying them as a profession is extremely pleasing.
The function of marketing has recently, again, been put squarely
at the centre of the commercial stage as everyone has realised
that the chase for sales, growth or, perhaps more realistically,
survival is something brilliant marketers who really understand
their trade customers and their end consumers can achieve but
few others can.
I believe that you have to be brilliant at this stuff to make a real
difference. Anything less than A* is a fail.
Let’s assume you may already know a little about marketing or
at any rate have a strong sense you’d like to do it. Although let’s
be a bit more ambitious than merely wanting to ‘do it’.
So welcome to the strong, strong alcohol of brilliant-
marketing: the fuel that really transforms things. And let’s start
by looking at some great stories to get ourselves excited about
just how enthralling marketing has been for others and could be
Marketing stories – gather round
Nike. Just do it. Like FCO did it.
Virtually everything that Nike does has the mark of brilliance. When Nike
was being launched in the UK in the 1980s, two posters stood out. One
was the Wimbledon tennis shoes worn by McEnroe. Young John was at his
‘man-you-cannot-be-serious’ worst during Wimbledon, and the poster simply
had a picture of the shoe and the line ‘McEnroe swears by them.’ The other
was a running shoe used by marathon runners around the time of the
London Marathon, when Ken Livingstone was trying to make his mark as
the Mayor of London the first time round. His fame had also been
enhanced by a brilliant pro-Ken poster campaign by Boase Massimi Pollitt.
This was again a picture of the shoe, just that, no embellishments, and the
line ‘Dear Ken, here’s the way to run London.’
How do you do brilliant things like this? You think about what the brand
stands for and what the product does and then you tell it like it is.
xiv brilliant marketing
I love logos that make me smile
There are two great logos that make me feel funny every time I
see them. Apple, a six-coloured, striped apple with a computer-
generated bite out of it (twentieth and twenty-first-century
Garden of Eden), it looks so perfect and such fun. And there’s
Google, again colourful but also three-dimensional, and through
Dennis Hwang’s Google Doodles it is contemporary too. The
‘doodles’ are the inventive way he plays with the logo on special
anniversaries so you have the sense that the brand is constantly
being refreshed. Both logos are meant for brilliantly self-confi-
dent, alive brands – no dead hand of corporate bureaucracy
Happy cows. Great ice cream.
The launch of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream (now owned by Walls, a division of
Unilever). It had great PR – we all knew that it was owned, and that the
various tastes were created, by the eponymous couple of rebels with long
beards, both with hippy attitudes and both lovers of organic food. The
product design was fun and exciting and not corporate in feel. The
philosophy was encapsulated by an advertisement on the London
Underground which proclaimed ‘Mission statement: To make nice ice
cream.’ What more can you say? How great to ridicule ‘mission statements’.
And they are still having fun with the brand, declaring on their web site
their adherence to ‘peace, love and ice cream’ and in their crusade to
create a ‘caring dairy, milking happy cows not the planet’. Rock on!