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April 17, 2006

Process Makes Perfect: A is for Apple, B is for Beatles, M is for Marriott

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For those of us around long enough to remember that music was played on vinyl records, the apple logo was pretty famous. It is not the same apple logo that is associated with iTunes, but rather the apple logo that represents George, John, Paul and Ringo who you might remember as having the band called the Beatles.

Apple Corps is the company that was formed by the Beatles members and its main division, Apple Records, served as their record label. Apple Corps also included several other divisions in its portfolio including Apple Electronics, Apple Films, Apple Publishing and Apple Retail. The Apple Corps logo was based on the well known painting by Rene Magritte whose painting Paul McCartney acquired.

In 1981, Apple Corp sued Apple Computers and the latter agreed to restrict its use of the name to computer products. In 1991, Apple Corp sued again as the computer company started branding music synthesis products. As a result Apple Computers paid $38 million for the settlement.

If you seek out Apple iTunes on the web you will find it on the Apples Computer website. This website is undoubtedly branded with the Apple brand. So, it looks like even after two law suits about the trademark the management that launched iTunes overlooked the legal implications of launching the offer which directly overlapped with Apple Corps core business (pun intended). The case was recently tried in London and judge has not yet declared the ruling. If the judge rules against Apple Computers for the third time it could be a costly oversight for company as it quite possibly could have to pay a royalty on all future music sales on iTunes.

In the Hotel industry beds are front and center in the brand offer. That is why Marriott spent a year designing and testing its new luxurious bed which features “Down Surround” pillows, a down comforter with duvet cover, and a lightweight down blanket on a plush pillowtop. This was a mammoth undertaking involving 628,000 beds at over 2,400 hotels. The hotel touts the project as using 30 million meters of fabric, enough to stretch 75% around the world.

This all appears quite wonderful for the weary traveler, but it seems like Marriott overlooked the operational impact of the program on the housekeepers at the hotels. Housekeepers must change 16 rooms a day (containing 26 beds), and now with all the extra pillows and duvet covers they have less time to do each task. In a UCSF study researchers found 62 percent of housekeepers has seen a doctor for pain and 84 percent were taking medicine for pain they incurred at work. And these housekeepers are voicing their discontent with the program. When employees are unhappy, it’s bound to rub-off on the customers whether consciously or subconsciously. And that negativity will offset positive gains in the brand experience. Marketing actions impact business operations and it’s the entire process that needs consideration when developing new brand value.

In the development of brand value the new programs launched often have wide ranging implications and yet too often we see companies launching programs without thinking through the legal, operational or other consequences.

For quite some time the world of product development has focused on process management. That is because the engineers in product management understand that working with established procedures in new product development helps by reducing the chance of malpractice. Even commercial airline pilots who all are highly skilled professionals that fly commercial aircraft every working day use preflight checklists before takeoff. The pilots do not simply check the gas gauge and decide to make a go of it. There is something to be learned here. The brand experience is delivered cross-functionally and understanding the entire process of brand delivery is the perspective brand managers need to adopt. This is a call for action for brand managers to document, process map, and double check the flight plan before taking the controls.

Related Links:
- Apple Corps
- Apple Computer

Sources:
- After a Year Designing and Testing, Marriott Introduces New Bed, Featuring a Seven-inch Jamison Mattress, Hotels-Online.com, Accessed April 17, 2006

- 628,000 Marriott beds to get luxury makeover by the end of the year, CNBC, Accessed April 17, 2006

- Battle of the beds, SFGate.com, Accessed April 17, 2006

- A Couple of Apples Square Off, Wired.com, Accessed April 17, 2006

The Apple Corps logo is protected by copyright and/or trademark. It is believed that the use of low-resolution images of logos to illustrate the corporation, sports team, or organization in question qualifies as fair use under United States copyright law.

April 06, 2006

Assessing the Best in Viral Marketing

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Marketing Sherpa has recently awarded the top 12 viral marketing campaigns. I applaud them for awarding campaigns where performance metrics are a key factor.

Per my paper published in the Journal of Consumer Behavior’s titled “Buzz Marketing: Building the Buzz in the Hive Mind” I take issue with the term viral marketing. The much preferred and more accurate term is “buzz marketing.”

To better understand the machinations behind the campaigns I have assessed these buzz marketing campaigns and categorized them into various buckets based on promotion vehicle and market served (B2B or B2C). Of the various campaigns categories the type utilized the most frequently was a tie between “games” and “entertainment”. These methods were only applied to consumer markets.

Information of a “how to” nature was used in the B2B markets whereas, semi-exclusive information was offered in B2C markets in the form of new-to-the-world music and unreleased films.

Advocacy marketing, which is marketing for a social cause, was used in a campaign that crossed both B2C and B2B markets. And unique offer value, in the form of a belt buckle knife, was also promoted to both markets.

The campaign that impressed me as the most innovative and humorous is the Monk-e-email, a campaign from Careerbuilder. This campaign makes novel use of customized audio (text-to-speech, phone recorded, or computer mic recorded) to send messages. It caused quite a stir amongst the friends I directed it towards. It is definitely buzz worthy.

Below is a table that shows the campaign classifications.


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The Buzz Campaign List
1. Peerflix Paparazzi
2. Beer.com's Virtual Bartender
3. New Rules of PR (PDF)
4. Wadsworth Atheneum - Surrealist Exhibit
5. The Quantum IT Challenge
6. MakeMyTrip Viral Series (India)
7. Blog in Space
8. Kreedo Brand Democracy
9. Monk-e-Mail
10. mySBC eBill Service: Trees in the Forest of Change
11. Belt Buckle Knife
12. The ERP of This Century

Related links
- MarketingSherpa's Viral Marketing Hall of Fame 2006: Top 12 Campaigns You Should Swipe Ideas From

- Monk-E-mail