January 3, 2007

lovemarks, part deux


On the Saatchi & Saatchi Lovemarks homepage they have a little invite for readers to "Join the community". Ummmm... Community? What community? [See chart above]

Two years ago I spent a bit of time panning the whole "Lovemarks" idea [e.g. "The Lovemarks-Cluetrain Deathmatch"]. So much so that I heard well-sourced rumors that I was allegedly pissing off some very senior people within the organization etc.

Now I see Kevin Roberts, CEO of Saatchi's has come up with a sequel: "The Lovemarks Effect". Fair enough. The first book, "Lovemarks", was theory. This one, I understand, is more concerned with application.

No, I'm not going to start another anti-Lovemarks meme. Here's why:

1. Though I might have issues with Saatchi's advertising-centric execution, basically I think Kevin is right. Yes, in fact, all you need is love after all. That's pretty much what I said at Le Web 3 last month:

This market and communication transition we're going through is not about technology, and it sure as hell isn't about marketing. It's about Love. Love enabled. Love re-asserting itself in the business between people.
2. I'm not quite so "anti" advertising as I used to be. When all is said and done, advertising is just a subset of marketing. And all marketing is, is finding ways to sell stuff, better than your competition. And nothing wrong with wanting to make a living.

So I was grateful to Edelman's David Brain for pointing me to a recent video interview of Kevin Roberts, where he talks about how The Love Thing affects what he does for a living, how it affects the future of branding etc. There is food for thought there, certainly.

Note how the official Saatchi's line is now "We're an ideas company, not an advertising agency". Again, I think that is sound thinking. They've seen the writing on the wall, and they're working like hell to evolve away from the big-media-world-domination model they grew up with, and towards something more useful and meaningful. With any luck, they'll succeed, but only if they can understand "The Porous Membrane" idea, and not fall into the trap of "Bagelnomics".

As I'm fond of saying, I believe the future of advertising is internal. It's hard to get the customer to love the company, if the company doesn't love the company.

Whether big companies like Saatchi's can evolve fully into this new mindset, or whether they'll be replaced by younger, hungrier companies that understand it better, only time will tell. But the market for selling isn't going anywhere soon... and therein lies the opportunity.

[Bonus Link:] From 2 years ago. "Dinosaurspeak":

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Posted by hugh macleod at January 3, 2007 2:41 PM | TrackBack

Hi Hugh,

As a former Saatchi copywriter myself, I agree with Kevin's view that the individual must buy into a product at an emotional level if that product is to avoid commodification.

David Ogilvy made the same point 50 years ago.

However, given that few ads hit the right emotional buttons whilst remaining memorable, methinks traditional agencies will struggle to convince their clients to keep spending on expensive ad campaigns when those clients can enjoy better ROI by engaging in conversations with the people who use their products.

My hunch is that amongst traditional agency structures, PR companies will probably do best in the new world order because their business model is based on engaging in dialogue rather than merely banging people over the head with dull pieces of one-way communication.


Posted by: Tim Benjamin at January 4, 2007 11:19 AM

Good point Tim, although what I will find interesting to see is how the traditional PR agencies (sending largely outbound communication) can respond to the two-way methods that are required nowadays.

From a practical point of view, it is easy to send a journo an article for publication but how do the same agencies then handle the inbound messages?

Are they geared up both technically and personnel-wide to handle the time required to manage and monitor the web-based responses?

Posted by: Paul Fabretti at January 4, 2007 3:24 PM

As a PR (incidentally within the Publicis Groupe of which Saatchi is a part) I would have to say that the answer to Paul's point is that most PR companies are not yet geared-up to handle inbound - although the smarter ones are trying to at least get their heads around monitoring the conversation.

The big issue though is that the clients that pay them are even further away from working out how to manage "in-reach" as distinct from "out-reach".

Most - along with the media agencies they use - are locked into the mindset of seeing social media as just new niche channels to push messages down, rather than recognising that consumers will use the tools of social media to find them - and they need to prepare themselves accordingly.

My own belief is that the marketing departments of the future will have to become conversation departments - staffed by much larger teams of people than they currently employ. They will use the money they used to spend on paid-for media to fund this.

Posted by: Richard Stacy at January 4, 2007 5:24 PM