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For Monday, February 26th, 2018. It's time for this week's edition of the BeanCast, a weekly discussion about the news and issues facing marketers today. I'm your host, Bob Knorpp.
Thanks for joining us. Snapchat has certainly had its ups and downs since going public, but the events surrounding the social network this past week call into question whether its leadership team is up to the challenges it faces. So tonight, we'll discuss. Also, answering who's to blame for Adland inefficiency, building a cross-cultural brand, whether voice agencies need to be a thing, plus, this week's ad fail five. That's the lineup. Let's meet tonight's panel.
Thanks for joining us for this week's BeanCast. I'm Bob Knorpp and with me on the panel for this evening, we start with innovation consultant and person with my favorite laugh in the entire world, Ms. Rose Cameron. Hi, Rose.
Hello, darling. How are you?
I'm doing fantastic. So glad to have you on the program. Now, also joining us, the founder and CEO of Innovation Consultancy Evolution, author, speaker, Mr. Joseph Jaffe. Hi, Joe.
You said innovational consultant to Rose and I was going to say, '"Hello, darling, how are you [laughter]?" That's my best version of Rose. Not as sexy as her [inaudible].
It was pretty good. It was pretty good. Now, next up, we have the senior director of content for the PGA Tour, Ms. Sloane Kelley. Hi, Sloane.
Hey, Bob. Thanks for having me.
Oh, always great to have you on the program. And finally, we're pleased to have the co-founder, lead analyst, and editor for TVREV, author, and television strategy expert, Mr. Alan Wolk. Alan, hi.
Hey. How's it going, Bob?
It's going well. Hey, we've got a lot to cover as usual. The show is just booked solid this week with lots of great topics. And first up, we've got this Snapchat situation. Snapchat had a busy week, and that's putting it extremely mildly. This was supposed to be a glorious opportunity this week for Snap to crow about success and announce that they were going to award a $637 million stock payout - that sounds excessive - to founder Evan Spiegel. Then, in one tweet, Snapchat power user Kylie Jenner takes the social network to task, mostly over the redesign and all the dissatisfaction going on among users, and Wall Street notices and the stock loses $1.3 billion in value. Yet, they continued to award the bonus anyway. So Sloane, before we even deal with whether Snapchat is making poor decisions, what are the optics of this situation, and are they managing this PR fallout well, or are they maybe need a little advice from you [laughter]?
Well, the optics certainly haven't been good. But it's also-- this is really kind of a situation that's been building for quite some time, so I think to to those in the know with Snapchat, it probably isn't a huge surprise. Probably--
Tell us a little bit--
--hasn't been super well received.
Tell us a little about this before you go into-- because I want to hear your thoughts on this. But give us a little bit of sense about what's been going on with Snapchat because not everybody is a Snapchat user as the numbers would bear out. So what is going on that made people so upset with the platform right now?
Yeah. Well, that is part of it. There has been a declining userbase with Snapchat for quite some time and certainly, Instagram is still gaining in users significantly. Instagram stories I think still has more users than all of Snapchat. So that's kind of happening in the background, but Snapchat, in particular, has gone through this redesign, which Wall Street had very high hopes for. And, of course, it's been met with some very high profile backlash from folks like Kylie, but also a lot of users out there. There's a change.org petition to try to get the original Snapchat back. And it's one of those situations where Snapchat is trying to make some decisions from a platform perspective that could potentially improve for users in the long run, but some of the longtime fans of the platform are really kind of at odds with what Snapchat is doing. And fundamentally, I think that the problem is that a lot of people want to really use Snapchat as a tool to communicate with close friends and have it be a very intimate space, but that's, of course, from a business perspective probably not the easiest thing to monetize. So there's a lot of other functionality that's being incorporated and highlighted that some of the folks are complaining about and namely those are ways to get a little more exposure to brands and some of the other newer things that Snapchat has incorporated recently. So that's kind of the hubbub about the redesign, but in Snapchat's defense, they have been responsive to the complaints and trying to kind of explain where they're coming from, which I think anyone that's ever been through a redesign of a platform or a website can certainly understand that you're never going to make everyone happy. But part of the trick, I think, is really trying to show a bit of empathy and understanding, which I think they're trying to do, but it's still a tough situation when you have kind of an uphill battle vs the likes of Facebook and Instagram.
You're so nice.
Well, tell us your thought, Alan. I mean, it's just like--
I think they are fucking up so badly.
They have this incredible opportunity. They are the only social platform that does not have this brand safety/fake news issue. All of their media partners are vetted. So they only have top level, premium news sources whether it's TV networks or digital properties. They're never going to have any kind of fake news problem. The problem that they have is that the interface was too convoluted for anyone over the age of 23 to actually figure out how to use it and so a lot of people gave up on it. Now what they might have done and to what you were saying before, people-- the teens that are on it want to use it to text with their friends. I hate using my kids and their friends as a focus group because you never-- that's not right, but when I asked them about Snapchat, discovered the main response is a blank stare. And then when I explained what it is, the main response it still a blank stare. So they've got this great-- and there are people who use it obviously, but it hasn't sort of gotten out. And rather than sort of spin it off and do something with it and make something that worked for for people 23 and over and the teens who are using it, the way Facebook did with Messenger or something else. They tried to sort of put both things in at once, and it didn't work for anybody, because the kids who are using it, as you had said, are not happy about it. A few celebrities who are using it are not happy about it. And they did nothing to tell anyone over 23, "Hey, come back, check it out again, because we've actually made this thing use friendly." All anybody hears is, Kylie Jenner sends stock prices sinking [laughter].
But I think the other issue too, and this I think would certainly tie into Kylie's world-- I know it from more of an athlete perspective certainly within our league, but you're starting to see this trend I think happening with different kinds of brands, whether it's a more traditional brand or a persona or a celebrity. But people-- they're migrating away, not just for functionality rules or functionality and kind of the way that the platforms change, but also related back to just the lack of the ability to measure on the platform. And that's still I think kind of the elephant in the room. When you compare the way that you use Snapchat to the very highly targeted messaging and data and performance that you can get back on Instagram, Facebook, and even on Twitter, it's just really kind of tough I think sometimes to justify the resource or the time and money that you might be spending there.
Well, I mean, and this brings up a whole another part of the argument, which is that everything that they've been doing has been for the brands. But it doesn't sound like what they're doing is making the brands happy. It's not giving people like you, Sloan, enough of the tools that would make it a valuable resource, or as valuable a resource as, say, another platform, like Instagram. At the same time, they're pissing off their core users. So it just astounds me that you still manage to give out a six hundred and-- I know the press spun this as, "He made $637 million." And it's conceivable that that's how much he made. But if he drives the company into the ground, he's making zero [laughter]? Because it's just a stock option-type deal. So what it comes down to is they're making a lot of bad decisions, and yet they're still awarding this payout to their founder. Is that a smart decision? Should they have waited on it? Should they have said, "This is the wrong week to do it?" Or really, the wrong time considering all the user backlash. Or is this something, Joe, that you would say you got to do it because it's on the books and you've already made an agreement with your board that this is what's going to happen?
Well, I mean, look, obviously, the outtakes are not great. The timing is not great. But I think kind of we need to look at this fairly balances in the sense that, this whole story is not new. I mean, MySpace called. They want [laughter] their website back. I mean, it's the same thing. From AOL, MSN, and-- what was the other one? Yahoo to MySpace to now the pains that Twitter are going through to Snapchat. It's the same. With the exception of Facebook, they've all gone through the same inevitable growing pains or pains of scale, whether it's becoming a public company and then ultimately being a slave to Wall Street, a slave to shareholders, and a slave to advertising. And, I mean, they wrote a book on advertising and other short stories. It's basically just little limericks. There once was a man from Nantucket. I mean, it's [laughter]-- the future of interruptive advertising don't get me started on that. But, ultimately, the difference here, of course, is we're talking to an incredibly fickle and ad-resistant segment. Snapchat has done a phenomenal job of going very deep in a significant segment of consumers, but their ability for them to monetize that and, ultimately, to future proof them beyond that fickleness is probably why you're seeing a drop in stock price by 8%. 8% is not the end of the world. 80% is the end of the world. 8%, it may recover.
But let's be reasonable here. The stock price is not reflecting Wall Street's concern that people are maybe dissatisfied with the way they've redesigned the platform. What it comes down to is that if you've got these people leaving the platform and you've got this stock payout going to the founder, it sounds like he's trying to cash out before they make any profit on the company. It sounds like he's going to cash out while the going's good because he sees the writing on the wall that things are bad. It's speaking really badly to investors, and it's not creating trust among advertisers, and that's the big story.
Right. And that, ultimately, was a dumb decision, but it's also ultimately not one that I can't imagine he would have done that unilaterally. Or if he did do it unilaterally, surely he has counsel from Corpcom to all the various kind of PR, etc., and at some point, it's going to need to be corrected. I mean, it's just as simple as that. But, by the way, going back to designs, etc., again, it's like a broken record. I mean, the world was outraged when Pepsi changed its logo, and Starbucks changed its logo, and Facebook redesigned. And it's so boring, all these stories about petitions to change, etc., etc. I mean, we've seen it all before. The real question comes down to-- and it is the only question, which is how Snapchat will continue to monetize and future proof itself from this very, very fickle audience, and I don't know that they have the answer to that.
I would love to get Rose's opinion about how the company should proceed here because I get the impression what they're trying to do is what every social network has done prior to them during a redesign. They're trying to stay the course. They realize that users are going to be upset like everybody here on this panel said. People in this audience are going to be furious that their platform, their sacred space has changed, but, eventually, they'll get used to it, and I understand that. But it's just like-- is this different, in this case, from those previous examples, and should they be taking a different tactic?
I look at this and I think, "Wow. It's amazing when you go into moneymaking mode, how you completely forget to include your users in the discourse." And here with Snapchat saying, "I have this really unique relationship with a specific segment of people, and I know how they behave, and we can work with them on this," and then when it comes to monetizing, they turn their backs on that critical audience, or that's how the audience feels. So, on one hand, you've got Zuckerberg schlepping across United States chatting with users of Facebook, and Instagram, and YouTube, and-- not YouTube, but chatting with all of them and finding out how they use these products and how they'd like to use them better. Whether he uses it or not, people know he's out there. And here you've got Spiegel sitting there and going, "Thank you very much. I'll take the money, and, no, it's not going to change." I mean, his response to the design comments was very abrupt. And it's, "No. It's not going to change." I think he could have approached that differently. I think the company could have approached it differently with regards how they included their users in the redesign as well as their advertisers. And it seems to be this bifurcated model these days of either you keep the user happy or you keep the advertisers happy. It could be, I believe, a happy medium if people just approached it correctly and also learned to talk to their users with a wee bit of respect versus just saying, "No. We're not going to change it, and thank you very much for the $670 million gazillion that I've just taken."
Yeah. I mean, his corp coom people did kick in. Because I don't know if you all had seen, he had made a comment after the fact that he was actually glad that she didn't like the redesign because the redesign was not meant for celebrities. It was meant for actual users to talk with their friends and celebrities are not our friends [laughter]. So that was the spin that they had come up with for him,
It just gets better and better, doesn't it?
Yeah. Exactly. It was digging one's self into a hole.
Yeah. It's like, "Sweetness. Learn how to be nice to people. This is not all about you." And I think that's one of the challenges where these guys move from being a popular new shiny object to being a proper company. It's how you behave with your group of peers and with your users will define how large of a player you'll be in the long term.
But in their defense--
In their defense though, let's face facts. This is almost eerily similar to the way that Mark Zuckerberg dealt with the situation when that first big Facebook redesign happened. He was accused of many of the same things yet Facebook continues to grow because it's an important platform among certain groups in terms of their communication lifestyle. And so we've gotten used to the tool, and we've made it part of our lives. We've incorporated the changes into our lives. Won't the same thing happen to Snapchat users? Sorry, Joe. You were going to say something. Go ahead.
Well, I was going to say probably not because our parents and our grandparents are on Facebook, and they just return us blank stares when we mention Snapchat to them. I wanted to echo one thing that Rose said because I think it's such an important point which is when will these guys learn just [involve?] your users, involve your consumer, involve your ambassadors, and use them to actually communicate that endorsements that it's not even a tacit endorsement, it's an explicit endorsement saying, "We approve this redesign." But the other thing I wanted to say is Spiegel-- I think you have to understand who he is. And this is a man who-- and I don't mean to even sound negative. This is a guy who turned down Google's audacious acquisition of - what was it? - 4--
--4 billion and he turned them down. And everyone thought he was nuts. And it turned out he wasn't as nuts as maybe [laughter] we might have thought. But this is clearly a guy who is arrogant to a fault or lives in his reality distortion field and says, "I'm going to do it my way." And so far so good. And look. The reality is people like that, if you soar too high to the sun, those wings are going to melt and you're going to crash and burn. But let's see how the guy can soar before he falls.
Well, I've got one last thing I want to talk about this subject before we move on. And Sloane, I'm going to send this to you. I don't know why. It's not that you're the conspiracy theorist among us. This is entirely new [laughter]. But what are the chances that Ms. Jenner's comments were in part encouraged by the Instagram team? Because it's just like she is obviously on both platforms and more engaged on Instagram these days. What do you think? Is this a possiblity? Was this a little sabotage on the part of the Facebook group?
I mean, I find that hard to imagine. I'm generally probably not a conspiracy theorist. But I work very closely with folks at all the different platforms. And in their interactions with the athletes that I see, they're very on the up and up. So I find that hard to believe. And I think it's probably more inspired by her actual experiences and some of the challenges that probably she's around some of those things like measurement, functionality, kind of some of the core concerns that a lot of people have about Snapchat.
Right. Right. Anybody going to follow with me or everybody agree with Sloane [laughter]?
Oh, I mean, I think she's not the sharpest card in the deck in general [laughter], and I say that with peace and love. But I mean, I saw in one of the articles that right at the bottom, she came back with another tweet that said, "Still love you though Snap... my first love. Oops. Sorry about the 8% drop in your stock [laughter]." So I mean, I don't know. Maybe paying Kim Kardashian $2 million plus for a tweet is worth it if these guys are that powerful.
Well, I want to move on to the next topic. There is no doubt that there is a lot of wasted time and inefficiency in the ad business. So of course, this would be a perfect time for a little research on the subject to identify the bottlenecks. And guess what guys? Agencies believe clients are to blame. Meanwhile, brands keep cutting agency fees in response to their own estimations of where the waste is happening. Rose, look, you've been at the highest levels in the ad world. You've held some pretty high executive positions in that space. Is one party actually worse than the other, or are they equally bad and equally to blame for inefficiency? What's your take on this?
I was thinking about this a couple of days ago even before we started [inaudible] about the topics of the show. And how I was thinking of it was I was remembering, wow, most of my wasted time was due to internal strife versus external strife with the client. And so when this topic came up and I saw the research, I just kind of choked a bit [laughter] because I disagree. I think that there are issues on both sides, different drivers on the agency side, I think it's very much driven by, we have a process that's a bespoke process that differentiates our brand. And you will follow this. And you will not divert from this even though the clients want to use their own briefs and they want to use all of their own information and they really just want to use our creatives now. And so there's this divide that's happening where the agencies are like, "No, this is my differentiating process. And you've got to go through all of these different steps and involve all these different people so they all feel recognized and everybody's ego is safe and happy." And on the other side, you have the clients going, "Why is this taking so bloody long? We've handed you all the information you need to make the cake, as it were. Why aren't you getting in the kitchen?" And the challenge with that is that we're all thinking technology moves things faster. I question that in a really big way because it often creates gates that were never there before and continuations of its own existence as a result. But what I'm fascinated about is that many of these clients are like, "I've given you everything you need to create a creative product. Now, presto, do it." And to actually come up with creative ideas, truly creative ideas, you have to actually let them simmer a little bit. It's not like you can switch on the light and bingo, bango, there's the Super Bowl ad or the website. And there is a cognitive process, a familiarity, an understanding, an empathy that you have to go through to come out of it with something they haven't found [one hundred and zwanzig?] times before. So they're missing that part of the equation. And the agencies are, quite frankly, sometimes just not willing to give up their own control issues to find new ways of working. So it's on both sides, and it is dysfunctional. It's fundamentally dysfunctional, and they don't really talk about it with each other that much unless it's that big annual meeting where everybody on the global teams gets together and has their chit-chat, right? And then they have that topic for that one meeting and it's dropped.
Well, for me--
And these open, honest conversations, not so much.
For me, what it came down to is I saw this research and my first reaction was, much like you, Rose, I felt like the agencies have incredible amount of wasted time that has nothing to do with clients. But at the same time, there is a bottleneck in terms of the expectations of how fast work can get done and how responsive an agency can get that are not realistic. I mean, the expectations, over and over again, come down to I can make a decision. I can change my opinion about this at any point in the process and dance, monkey, make this happen. Which does create incredible inefficiencies in the agency world. So I'm kind of conflicted here between the two. I know that, most of the agencies I've had experience working with or around or for, you got people who really don't start their day until after noon, or 1 o'clock, and then they're working late at night because that's just the lifestyle. And it seems so incredibly inefficient to work in that way. At the same time, there's a reason it works like that. The client is not making decisions first thing in the morning. They're making them at 5:00 PM right before you're ready to go home, so.
Oh, yeah. 4 o'clock. 4 o'clock is the death hour. I always think of 4 o'clock as the death hour because that's when the phone call comes in, right, with the request that so and so senior executive is going to go into a meeting at 7:30 AM and could they please have the following deep and meaningful insights? And so you are living through the evening to fulfill upon that, and that, I can't even number the amount of times that that's happened to me. But I think very often what it may come down to in the past was the marketing person may be the last person that they went to to ask these requests. "Okay, I got my ops guy, I've got my numbers from my ops guy, I've got the sales, I've got this, that, or the other. What am I missing? Oh, shoot. I forgot to phone the marketing guy. Okay. Phone him last minute. Boom," and the next thing you know-- and because marketing doesn't necessarily have some of those real-time data aspects to it or work in the same way as operations and sales, what do you mean you guys don't have your number or you don't have the concept? Well, it works a little bit differently. We're not saying it's utterly magical but it's a different working of the cognitive process and it's not an equation. It's not one plus one equals two.
Sloane, I want your thoughts on this because you've also been in the agency first and, in fact, I think all four of us-- all five of us here have exposure to the agency world and know what it's like to be in these situations. I mean, what do brands need to do to manage-- I'm sorry, what do agencies need to do to better manage their responsiveness? And what does the client need to do in terms of managing the expectations that they have for their agency partners?
Yeah. I mean, this was an interesting one having been on both sides. I think it really comes down to what Rose was just saying a moment ago, that it's about that open communication and it really has to kind of start from day one from the most basic things about expectations, briefs, deliverables, everything very clear and well-managed throughout the process, and that's both sides that really need to kind of keep up on that. And I've certainly been in situations on the agency side where I can see some of that inefficiency, and some of that's internal, some of that was probably based on external things that were placed just kind of depending on the brand. And I think these days, too, you get into a lot of situations where, as an agency, you're working with a number of other agencies. You might not be running the show and you've got to really kind of have that collaborative spirit and that sense of really wanting to communicate and brainstorm together and work through problems, and that doesn't always happen. The nature I think of agency life is sometimes to be a bit more competitive, and that I think goes against what a lot of brands are looking for, and that can create a lot of that inefficiency, too.
Joe, it's been a long time since you were in an "agency" so what's your take on this? Are the problems getting better? Are you seeing the agency partners that you work with doing a better job of managing the resources, managing the scopes of the work, and managing their clients? Or are they still just really bad at negotiating an up-front contract and with some solid expectations of what we need in order to get the job done in an efficient manner?
Well, look, first of all, I have to tell you that I think you said the phrase, [downs?] monkey. I think that's the greatest name for an agency ever [laughter] [inaudible] agency [inaudible] sorry, [downs?] monkey. That's the greatest name ever. What was your question again? No. So so I remember when I wrote Life After the 30-Second Spot, I said, "Who's to blame for the mess?" And this mess has been going on, certainly longer than whatever it was, 14 years ago, but for me it comes down to one word, and that word is compensation. And if you follow the money and if you actually rethink the whole monetary aspect to these relationships, the solution lies in figuring out a way to get beyond the fee-based, or any of these antiquated compensation schemes, and embrace a whole littany or portfolio of options from deliverable-based to performance-based to royalty-based to equity-based, or even just tiered in a sense. I mean I've heard of models as well of just basically saying, "We will cover your cost of goods, or cost of doing business, plus overhead, or whatever that margin is. You literally will come out Even-Stevens, and then all of your compensation will be purely based on performance with goals, and tiered goals, and stretch goals, etc." And I even think that there is a less dramatic way to do it, which is if you do have assistance or people in the mail room do it-- we've all done those. Those damn 4:00 or 5:00 PM, or 6:00 PM requests where shipping the beta to the client who absolutely has to have it at 8:00 AM the next morning, and then you call them at 4:00 in the afternoon and they go, "Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. I'll get to it later [laughter]." Etc. I mean those menial tasks absolutely should be charged and as if you were operating, pushing up widgets on a conveyor belt in a factory. But when you talk about strategic, and creative, and disruptive leadership, that whole compensation has to change, and until it does, we're going to be having these same old, same old debates until the cows come home.
Maybe. See I haven't worked-- this is interesting for me to hear because I haven't worked in the agency world in about 10 years. So I see it very much as an outsider. Now I was having dinner with a friend, who I used to work with in the agency world, not that long ago, and we were talking about how interesting it was that when we started in the early '90s, creative [lists?] would have ran the agencies. It was the [hot?] department to be in and everybody wanted-- it's who drove the ship, and now that's completely shifted, and everything revolves around media. That's all people really care about is the media placement, and measurement, and all that, and all these sort of cool [dramatic?], and addressable, and this, and that, and somehow creative just doesn't matter to a lot of people anymore, because we've sort of come up with these media plans that really don't care what the creative is. Especially on platforms like mobile, where it's just sort of paint it blue, send it through. [AB?] testing, if this one doesn't work, do the other one. We've got Google Ad. Google Ad [inaudible] are more effective than ads, and it's just a matter of sticking it in. There's no art involved anymore. Now I think that's wrong and I think it'll change at some point, but right now, that's where we're at. So that's why the clients are giving so much shit agencies, because they don't really value what the agencies do anymore. It's just show us the cool media plan. Show us how you're going to optimize this content that you're creating for us. But it doesn't really matter what it says or what it looks like anymore. It's just stuff that you make for us, and I think that's hurt a lot of brands, and I think it's really hurt the agency business tremendously.
I'd agree with that, and I think that there's a much smaller percentage of work now, if you look at overall volume, where it's kind of the big idea work. It's the tertiary stuff, it's the heavy lifting, it's the content pricing. It's creating all of those data marts and feeding them and having them feed the right media. And your point is absolutely spot on I think. But a lot of the agencies are still working to the old model. They haven't necessarily spun an alternative, more agile group that it's like, "Okay, guys. You're going to do this 80% of the work and this is how we're going to go about doing it." And it's a completely different system. And so that's where the client goes, "What do you mean it's $20,000 to do a price change on the data marts [laughter]?" And it's a valid point.
Right? I mean, think of it guys. Amazon is $1-billion advertising business. And most people don't realize that ads on Amazon are ads. It's got a little thing in the corner that says, sponsored post or something like that or sponsored placement. But it looks you're searching for vacuum cleaners and so a Dyson vacuum cleaner shows up on that page and you think, "Oh. Nice Mr. Bezos showing me this Dyson vacuum cleaner with all the other ones." You don't even realize you're seeing an ad.
And that's because of the intention that you have when you're on the site. I mean, when you're in Google, you're searching for information. When you're in Amazon, you're searching to buy something. So the presence of ad is far less intrusive on Amazon than it is on Google. So it's just by the nature of that site that they get away with it. But yeah. It's an interesting point and well taken. But we've got to move on to the next topic. The US is notoriously bad at cross-cultural branding. We know how to do targeted efforts to reach certain cultural groups. But when it comes to identifying some kind of unifying idea that appeals meaningfully to all audiences, we more often end up with vanilla ideas, or worse, a white Eurocentric viewpoint. So Alan, is the situation showing any signs of improving? Are we getting better at cross-cultural marketing, or are we still heavily anemic and need to do better at trying to create or craft a brand that speaks across cultures?
I think we still have a lot-- I think we're getting better but I think there's still a lot of work to be done. I think, not everybody, of course, but a lot of brands have sort of taken that first STEP of going, "Okay. This is a problem, and we need to do this." And now, they've got to solve it. I mean, look at Netflix as sort of the easy example. They're launching in, I think, every country except for North Korea, China, and Iraq literally [laughter]. And they've had some stumbles where they haven't taken local broadcasters into account or local tastes. But they're also learning. They kind of very quickly said, "Okay. Yeah. This is a problem. We should've paid more attention to who's in the market, to what the local tastes are, and start making programs or start programming stuff that's going to meet the tastes of local markets. And maybe it's not what North Americans want to see but hey, you're in this part of the world. This is what people like seeing and we have to adapt for that." The same thing with brands. I mean, every so often you get a brand whose identity is it's Americanness, right? So maybe Jeep, Wrangler, or Levi's can be American because that's the core of it. But that's, what, 5% of brands. And everybody else needs to sort of figure out, "Okay. What do people in Thailand want to hear that's different than people in Colombia that's obviously different than people in Columbus, Ohio." And I think it's still hard for people to get over their internal cultural prejudices and to make something like marketing work on a worldwide business. That's--
Is that part of the--
That's a tough--
Is that the core of the problem. The fact that the United States is just, at its heart, too jingoistic and in terms of its ability to understand that there are many cultures living within our country. And to have a truly multicultural approach to your brand is just something that will tick off 90% of your customers, so you just don't do it. Is that the ugly truth about multicultural and cross-cultural marketing is just that is causes too much-- too many problems with core audience?
I think it's expensive. I mean, I think-- right? That's its biggest problem is that if--
Is it really expensive? I mean, it's--
You need to create different ads for different-- you need to create ads for different groups constantly. And you're finding that you're not really losing a whole lot of money. I think you're not losing a whole lot of money because your stuff is still selling really well despite your [inaudible] to this kind of stuff.
But is that even--
At a certain point, that's going to change.
Is that even cross-cultural marketing though? That's just ethnic group targeting where you have to create a whole bunch of ads for different markets. But to create one unifying brand that speaks and serves the audience across the board, it's a difficult task that I don't think that a lot of US marketers take a lot of care in doing. And I think that's the core of this. I mean, that article that I passed around, it was kind of self-serving because it was from, obviously, somebody in the cross-cultural marketing space, so they're really trying to toot their own horn. But they make a lot of good points about the way we approach marketing. I think most people do think of it in terms of when we're doing some kind of cross-cultural marketing, we'll just say, "Well, we'll make an ad for our Korean audience. And we'll make a different ad for our African American audience." And to find that sweet spot that shows people of different cultures doing different things in the mass market and showing how it affects everybody in a unifying way is just something brands are just now starting to embrace. Up until now, that's been something that you just don't do. I mean, look just a couple years ago, the Cheerio ad caught so many problems for some groups just because it had a black man married to a white woman in the ad. And it's just like I think this is at the heart, the core of the problem where we're marketing what is essentially still a largely racist country. Am I wrong about that, Joe? Any thoughts?
Let me just cut in before-- 50 years ago though, Bob, Coke was teaching the world to sing, right?
In perfect harmony. So--
And Coke has done an excellent job through the years of being a cross-cultural marketer. I mean, they've done an excellent job across the board, but they're not well represented otherwise. I mean, other brands aren't represented very favorably in that view. So, Joe, any thoughts? Wait, Rose keeps jumping in, so let's give Rose a chance for once.
You go, Rose.
Are you sure, Joe? Yeah, I would say American marketing-- I would say American media is very ham-handed when it comes to cross-cultural because they don't truly understand or take the time to understand how those common aspects of the brand are experienced differently in different cultures. And I'll give you an example. So this is an homage to Oprah Winfrey. If we look at two major media shows right now that are, quite frankly, extremely popular, but also multicultural, one would be the Story of Us.
Oh, This Is Us. This Is Us.
This Is Us. This Is Us. Sorry. And the other would be Queen Sugar.
Now if you look at those two-- I mean, he just won the award. This Is Us, the African American actor there just won the big award for his performance. Amazing guy, beautiful discovery, and exploration into what it means to be African American, what it is to lose your identity and reclaim your identity. And they can do it in that context safely because he's adopted. That's the whole gig there. Whereas, Queen Sugar, you are right in the middle of African American culture, life, sound, everything. And as an Anglo, I will honestly come out and say sometimes I feel like I'm a voyeur watching Queen Sugar in a way that I'm not with This Is Us. And that balance is so delicate and in America, I would argue it's so volatile, especially right now, that I can imagine people looking at that and going, "I don't want to go there. I don't want to take that risk with my brand. If I'm going to do something that directly connects with a specific cultural audience, I'm going to do something very bespoke with this African American agency over here and I know I'll be covered. But I don't want to be called out as the brand who has the one Asian, one African American, one Anglo, and one handicapped, special needs person in the ad." Right?
You mean like this new NBC show? Like that new NBC show Rise, which I call Glee on NBC?
Exactly. Where everybody's trying to be so terribly PC. We're going to have another example I know tonight in this conversation where you're going to be dealing with Scottish advertising and how we really don't give a flyer about being PC. And people very often take that as more authentic than these other elements. So just something for us to consider is how much do you want to make that connection and how much do you want to open yourself to risk that you may not do it correctly? And I think that's the fear.
You asked me a question that was quite loaded in terms of if this reflective of a racist society. And I think what I would say--
Oh, I didn't consider that because that's something that you would have dealt with, wasn't it?
Well, I mean, I'll tell you. It's funny. When I worked on IBM diversity at Ogilvie, that's exactly how we approached it. There were seven constituencies. There was woman, African-American, Asian-American-- let's see if I can remember it. Hispanic-American, Native-American, handicapped, mature, and I think there would have been gay and lesbian, although I'm not sure how you would have reflected that in a photo, etc. But literally, there was a quota and look, I wouldn't criticize or point a finger at IBM for trying to be inclusive then. I think where we are today is-- and then also at the time, when we'd do a photo shoot, we'd make sure that clearly we weren't putting-- in the Nordic countries, you'd have a small business person using IBM's PC server or AS/400 and they'd clearly have blond hair and blue eyes, and when you went into South America, not so much. But I think now, when we look at anything that is reflective of our society, anything that is forced just doesn't come across as authentic. And I would say, without pointing fingers again, I think you've just got to look at the leadership in the companies, whether it's the board of a Fortune 500 company or even at a holding company or agency level. It's still for the most part run by a very specific constituency, and there is, I think, a case to be able to say, "When it comes to items of multicultural, maybe we need to call in some experts who are not necessarily all white males [laughter] for the most part."
And it does speak to-- I know we're getting to the next topic, a topic about AORs, so that's all I'll say on the subject.
Yeah, we do need to move on to the next topic because we're running out of time. Finally, finally, voice agencies of record of the latest trend. Like digital and social agencies before it, voice is a hot specialty that is trying to own its own niche. But Joe, does the experience of specialty agencies that have come before give you any concern? I mean, again and again, we saw all these specialty digital agencies and social agencies pop up, and now they're all trying to morph into agencies of record because everybody realized that this specialty, this discipline, needs to be rolled up into the entire marketing communication. It's not just something that can exist outside the scope of the work. So what's your thoughts on voice agencies, given that perspective?
I mean, clearly I'm going to do a complete backtrack on what I just said. You don't need a multicultural AOR. You do need a voice AOR.
It's so obvious. I mean, I'm joking, of course. [laughter] Totally joking. So it's interesting because the article that you sent around talks about a press release of JPMorgan Chase announcing that VaynerMedia is their voice AOR, and some executive who's commented in the article refers to it as, "Ridiculous bullshit." [laughter] And that it's just a PR play from Chase to look progressive, and I think they have a point in a sense. I mean, when you look at the whole agency landscape, or at least the way the clients look, there's either the one throat to choke, right-- everybody wants, and certainly the holding company will sell you on, it's all inside. Everything you need is inside versus what's called the peacock approach. But I mean, to have an AOR for voice and an AOR for VR and an AOR for IOT and an AOR for AI, it is clearly the untenable to be able to proceed down that path. But what I will say is-- I mean, there are two comments I would add. One is, certainly, if your digital agency or whomever your agency is truly understands voice, and has not just a subject matter expert, aka a house of cards, but really capability, and competency, and best practices. And if they do, then that's exactly who you should use. And if they don't, it's going to be important enough to be able to work with someone whether it's a consultant, or freelancer, or a boutique, or ultimately, an agency. Just don't call them an AOR. But at the same time, I think it's also important to recognize when we think about how important it is for Tide to be at the top of the Alexa voice search results-- really? Is it really that important? Is it really so important, because so many people are going to Alexa asking Alexa, "Hey. I've got a stain, and I wonder who should I reach out to help my white's whiter and brights brighter?" I mean, it's kind of a ridiculous. It's nothing more than a gimmick at this point to actually say, "If we don't own the number one result for detergents or cleaning agents, we've basically lost the plot." It's much more important to be able to be-- to have an intelligent, educated, strategic point of view about voice and where it's going. And then, figure out how you want to ultimately build a business around that. So those who can do, and those who can't PR in this case.
Well, I want to get Sloan's thoughts on this before we wrap up here, because I agree with Joe's basic concept. But there's something that he said that really does resonate with me is that when you have a new technology, you need a kind of a specialty shop around to kind of take you by the hand and get you going on it. It may not be an AOR of sorts, but it's kind of like some kind of specialty boutique that can help bridge that gap from, "We don't know what we're doing," into, "Okay. We've got this, and you can go away now." So is that a valuable role that these supposed voice AORs are going to play, and is it important for shepherding the innovation forward?
Yeah. I wouldn't say that it's an AOR, per se, but you are going to need someone that has that actual sort of specialty in some of these more innovative spaces, because you've got to learn from them and figure out kind of the right fit for your brand. It has to tie-in to a bigger strategy, of course, but to call an agency like that AOR, it actually seems sort of to be the opposite of innovation. If you're getting involved with Amazon Echo, or VR, or AR, or any of the newer platforms, you're there because you want to try out new things. You want to reach, maybe, a different set of your audience. You want to be very innovative, but if you're locking yourself into an AOR relationship, you're kind of, I think, handcuffing yourself a bit, because you don't have the freedom to work with different partners, which are always popping up. These platforms are evolving and changing every day. And you need to make sure that you have the freedom to work with different vendors if and when the time comes.
Well, with that, it's time for the [Ad Fail Five?]. But before we get to that segment of the show, I do want to take this quick opportunity to thank my guests again and allow them to each do a shameless plug. Starting with Rose Cameron, who still doesn't have a website, but you can find her on LinkedIn. She's an amazing consultant. You'd definitely want her speaking at your next event. Anything else that you want to tell people about yourself or anything you want to promote?
Well, yeah. I've been slumming with Martin Lindstrom around the world for the past eight months. So if anyone's interested in working with me, check out what Martin Lindstrom is doing, martinlindstrom.com we've been doing a lot of very top secret branch transformation and cultural transformation that actually is so-- Bob, it's so fulfilling I cannot even begin. I'm having a great time, my brain is being tickled, and I get to eat all over the world. Who could have more in their lives?
Hire me [laughter]. Next up--
I love you. You know that.
I know that. I know that. Now, next up, Joseph Jaffe. You can find him at startupsforbrands.com. That's the home of Evol8tion, his innovation consultancy that is connecting brands to start-ups for mutual benefit. Tell us what's going on in your world, Joe. What would you like to promote?
I'm wondering if I should make a plug for our voice AOR services [laughter]. We didn't have them before but we do now. No. What I will plug is that I was introduced, same person, Sarah Fay, who-- if you know Sarah Fay is you would love her as much as I do. Same person who referred me to my cofounder six years ago introduced me to a wonderful woman by the name of Annette Tonti who's the former founder of Bluestreak. There's another blast from the past. And Annette has a company called The Innovation Scout, and they basically are doing from a tech standpoint what Evol8tion was doing from more of a manual curated standpoint. But specifically, using machine learning, and big data, and actually some kind of automated AI approach to help connect big brands with not just start-ups but tech vendors, even inventors, university IP. And so I've teamed up with her and I've partnered her, become a-- I think my title is Super Advisor. And I'm kind of hoping to figure out the SaaS automated approach to kind of what Evol8tion has been doing for the last six years. So having a good time doing that. It's very, very new and recent. I just announced it on LinkedIn. I was actually quite surprised to see how many people kind of came out the woodwork to acknowledge the move. So watch the space. I think good things are going to percolate.
That sounds fantastic. Definitely. I'll check out. And now, next up, we have Sloane Kelley. You can find her at pgatour.com. That's the home of - guess what? - the PGA TOUR where she's [laughter] a senior director of content there. Tell us what's going on, Sloane. What would you like to promote?
Well, I think I have to build off of the voice conversation and plug our Amazon app. You can get PGA TOUR scores and all kinds of goodies on your Echo. But probably more importantly, we have launched an innovation program at the tour. And if you'd like to follow along with some of the things that we're experimenting with, be it on the Echo or many other platforms, you can check it out at labs.pgatour.com.
That sounds awesome. Yeah. Definitely check that out because if you like golf, that's the place to get the information. And finally, Alan Wolk. You can find him at tvrev.com. Tell us what's going on with you, Alan. What would you like to promote? Because you've got a book too.
Yes. Yes. So many things. Well, first of all, start with the book since you mentioned that. It's called Over the Top: How the Internet Is (Slowly but Surely) Changing the Television Industry. It was reviewed at a cover story in The New York Review of Books, funnily enough, where it was compared to a book by a man named Michael Wolff who recently wrote a book about our president. And the reviewer liked my book better [laughter]. So ha ha ha. But no. It was sort of funny to me Wolff is sort of a character but it was sort of funny to see him crop up again in that context. But that book is available on Amazon, and it's about all the changes that are happening in the TV industry. It's sort of a primer too. It helps explain how the industry works, who pays who, how all the different parties, and then looks at some of the changes that are happening along with some predictions. And that's Over The Top at Amazon. The other thing is TV[R]EV which has been a website for the last three years where we, myself and bunch of other people, sort of write about all the changes that are going on. Well, now, we're actually turning that into a business. So Jason Damata from Fabric Media, so a branding firm out in Los Angeles. And he's been working with me on TV[R]EV and writing it. We and a bunch of other people are turning this into a consulting business now. We got some clients lined up already. And basically, we're advising TV networks, cable companies, MVPDs, any of the start-ups in the spaces, measurement companies, ad agencies, and brands, helping them figure out all of the changes that are going on in media right now, how to prepare themselves, how to sell advertising in the new media arrangements, how to measure it better, how to sort of figure all this out on their sales staffs, on their executives, figure out changes, how to staff themselves. So pretty much a pretty full range which you can learn all about at tvrev.com. There are posts there explaining what we do, and you can also-- one last plug. We just did a two-part report on ACR measurement or automated content recognition from smart TVs which is really revolutionizing how television programming and advertising is being measured. And there's a two-part report there that explains everything from how it works, to who's doing it, to how you can take advantage of it, that you can now download it for free at tvrev.com.
Well, definitely check that out because Alan is definitely one of the biggest experts in the industry on the television space and what's going with their technology. Definitely want to read his stuff. As for me, for more information about me or the show, visit the thebeancast.com. There you can find the complete show archive, you can find out how to consult with me, and you can even find out how to advertise in the program. And speaking of sponsors, we finally have transcription service. Yes, in the next couple weeks, this episode will be transcribed and available on the website. And our official transcription partner is transcribeme.com. transcribeme.com is offering a special to BeanCast listeners. Bean20 at check out and you're going to receive 20% off your standard or verbatim order. So it's an amazing service. I've really been happy with their accuracy and what they're doing so can't wait to start putting that up. So check them out transcribeme.com. And now, it's time for the ad fell five, a rundown of the lowest moments in advertising, marketing, and public relations from the last week. And first up, Maybelline tweeted their own dissatisfaction about Snapchat this past week claiming sinking results. Then, they ran a poll about whether they should stay on the platform. But Sloane, after thousands of votes, they take the tweet down and eventually issue a statement claiming the views of the employee who posted the tweet do not reflect the views of the company [laughter] and did a lot of backtracking. This one just was kind of funny but it took-- it really hit Snapchat even harder on a bad week when they were already down, didn't it?
Yes [laughter]. Absolutely. The rogue tweet is never a good thing and I can just imagine this going down at Maybelline offices and people getting upset but certainly on the Snapchat side as well. Not another thing that they needed this week and by the way, both this example and the Kylie Jenner one, they're using Twitter to talk about Snapchat which tells you a lot, doesn't it [laughter]?
Yeah. Yes, it does. Now another exec is out for inappropriate behavior. Oh, not another one Rose. Not another one. This is going to be endless, isn't it? Ford's North American President Raj Nair is the latest to be forced into resigning. Not sure what more I can say about this. He had inappropriate behavior. He's fired now.
Yeah, this is kind of-- it's going to be cleaning out the stable for a while, so watch the space.
Yeah, definitely. Now, next up, as if the ad business doesn't suck enough, P & G announced another $400 million in agency and production cuts. Allen, sitting there and just going to ask agencies to pay them for the chance to work on their brands, I mean, I can see the writing on the wall here. It's eventually going to be, "You pay us to work on this right now."
Well, I mean, it goes to what I had said before that when you're in a world where things like retargeting and search are the main ways you're spending your money, why are you paying creative agencies, who, as Rose was saying, you haven't sort of rejiggered their business models to account for that. So not sure I can really blame them.
I can see a cross-promotion with Tide and Alexa results [laughter] [crosstalk].
Now, another brand that had a tough week, Kentucky Fried Chicken in the UK, after changing to a new logistics company ended up with inadequate chicken supplies and was forced to temporarily close most of their restaurants, but the real trouble came when they started a chicken crossing the road communication effort that put consumers face-to-face with the idea, Joe, that the company was somehow on the lookout to kill chickens. But at least they ended tastefully with an ad that simply apologized by reordering the KFC logo letters to F-C-K. Some of this was pretty clever if a little bit tasteless, but it just seems like they didn't handle this situation well from beginning to end.
Well, I mean I love the self-deprecating end to it, but, I mean, I have to defend them because as many of you know, I started my career working for a chicken company called Nando's Chicken Land, and one day our agency brought us a poster for an in-store poster, and it said unlucky fried kitten [laughter]. So [crosstalk] so I have to defend them because they weren't looking to kill chickens. Clearly, they were looking to kill kittens, but [laughter].
And last but not least, Scottish soda company, Irn-Bru. Did I even get that right? Irn-Bru--
No. No. Totally failed [laughter].
Oh, how does it go? Tell me. Tell me how it goes. How does it go?
It's Irn-Bru. Irn-Bru.
Irn-Bru. Well, we'll give that to--
Yeah, made from girders [laughter]. That's the line. Irn-Bru made from girders. It's totally a working class brand. It's fabulous.
Well, they ran a couple television spots that accused the woman in them of being can'ts, which as Rose will confirm sounds an awful lot like a certain c-word in that particular accent.
I'm sorry, what?
The brand has since apologized but not really. What's your take on this one?
I was so chuffed. I was so chuffed when you put this up, and I thought, "Okay. We're going to check this out, and I'm going to be horribly affronted." I was not. I howled with laughter, and I think a lot of it had to do with the casting of the woman because all of the women are pretty much [parafigures?], and the looks that they hit these men with are just fabulous. The men are not strong in this in any way, shape, or form. They're actually weaklings, and the woman are the ones who like, "What? What did you say? [inaudible]." And this is typically Scots. This is typical in your face, straight up rude shows that I love you. So I'm loving it. Go for the Irn-Bru. Respect.
I have to admit I saw this ad and just howled with laughter. It's really really funny to see them doing this [laughter]. But anyway, have something to add to this list or just want to discuss it, comment online, use the hashtag ad fail five, that's pound ad fail and the number five. Well, that does it for this week's show. If you'd like to subscribe to our podcast, visit our website at thebeancast.com and click on the subscribe link. If you're an iTunes listener, we've also provided a direct link to the iTunes music store, or just search for The BeanCast in the podcast directory of iTunes. And whichever podcast directory you use, when you subscribe, please leave us a review. Got a comment, have a question, we'd love to hear from you. Just send your emails to firstname.lastname@example.org. Opening theme was performed by Joe Sibal, closing theme by CJACKS. Thanks for listening. I'm Bob Knorpp. We'll be back again next week. Hope you'll join us then. [music]