An Old Speech from Berlin

Found an old speech I gave in Berlin 2007.  It was the first time I wrote out a presentation and learned it word for word, instead of preparing a set of notes and talking to them.

What is funny is how much the message is still relevant today, ten years later.

Strengthening and expanding a brand 

  • Introduction

Good morning and thank you for taking the time listen to my comments on branding for MVNO and mobile operators.  I hope you are looking forward to Day 3.

You will be happy to hear is that I had considered doing a concentrated econometric analysis of the correlation between branding and ARPU growth across 15 international markets, but decided against it.  I’m sure you have already seen quite a few powerpoint slides over the last two days – seeing as speakers average 1 slide every 10 seconds at a conference like this and you’ve probably been in 10 hours of presentation which means you have already seen some odd 3,600 powerpoint slides.  I couldn’t possibly expect you to remember mine in such a state so instead I thought instead I’d tell you a story.

This is a story about brands and branding.  It is made up of 3 simple points that are easy to remember, can be simple to implement and do increase customer loyalty.  And loyalty means retention and revenue growth.

  1. 1 – Don’t Position yourself, Take a Position – There is no right answer, there is only one wrong answer — and that is not having an answer.
  2. 2 – Act, Don’t Talk – Your brand is not what you say, it is what you do.
  3. 3 – Communicate with the team – Don’t just talk to your customers, talk to your team and unite them around what you believe in.

Take a Position – There is no right answer, it is essential to have a single answer and believe it

What is the first thing we can learn from some of the most successful brands that have been built in the last decade.  Brands like Google, Apple, Skype, Nike.  These brands aren’t built on advertising, they are built on product innovation.  Product innovation and product communication that focuses around a single very strong belief.  Even in a commodity marketplace if you take a position, people will respond.

Google, Apple, Skype, Innocent Drinks – they are all single minded about what they stand for and focused all of their activity to reinforce a single message.

Google built a search engine after there were 5 other search engines in the market.  They said we will innovate to amaze people and they have done that with search, mapping, text link advertising and email.  There mission is to organise the worlds information – but there brand is based – in my opinion – on amazing people with what you can do with networked computers.  Apple focuses on simplicity and design.  Everything they do focuses on simplifying the task and make it beautiful.

At Ogilvy we call these positions a brand’s “Big Ideal.”  Simply put you need to ask yourself a simple question and continue to return to the answer.  The question is “The world would be a better place if …”  The world would be a better place if everyone could find anything they were looking for immediately online.  Google.  The world would be a better place if everyones electronics were beautiful and worked well together.  Apple.

For Dove, we believe the world would be a better place if women didn’t have a distorted opinion of beauty.  Dove is in a competitive market with a fairly commodity product but Dove believes in real beauty and all of its products and marketing comes back to this core thought.  What’s the truth about beauty? Dove recently set out across 10 countries and interviewed 3,000 women to find out.  They learned that

only 2% of these women describe themselves as “beautiful,”

About 3/4 of them rate their beauty as “average”

Almost 1/2 of them think their weight is “too high”
When Dove took the position that women should see their real beauty, it found out a lot of woman agreed and because they believe in what Dove is doing, they buy their products.

Action – Your brand is not what you say, it is what you do.

If you believe in something, you have the taken the fist step that organises everything you do but if you really believe in something, you can’t just talk about it.  You can’t market with claims, you need to market with services.

Nike says “just do it” and in 2001 it produced NikeID – a simple product configurator – call it a sophisticated online brochure – that allowed you to build your shoe online.  They also realised they could send that request to the factory and ship it to your house.  Now their website – which is a marketing tool – allows you to get the exact shoe you need to achieve your goals.

Take a simple sponsorship – The Run London 10k Road Race.  Yes, they put their banners on the course and hand out runner hats with the famous swoosh, but they also offered an online tool that allowed runners to upload their favourite runs, share them with their friends, and track their progress in training for the event.

Today they’ve taken this idea on step further.  Nike Plus is a monitor that records how you run and stores the information on your iPod which can then be synchronised with their website.  This is a 20 Euro gadget – it started as a sales promotion with Apple – but given Nike’s obsession with helping people achieve their goals it lets you upload your numbers and your routes and your favourite tunes to a global community website.  Track your progress on individual runs.  Chart your calorie burn and compare it with other runners.

For Dove the services we’ve offered are a Self-Esteem Fund for young girls.  A global forum where people can discuss issues around beauty.  A commitment to using real women in all of its advertising – even if it takes 3 weeks to cast the perfect 50 year old for a Pro Age advertisement instead of the 3 hours with a modelling agency.

Nike and Dove understand branding and marketing today:  It isn’t about telling your customers that your product is better, it is about doing things for them and people like them that complement your product.

Communication – Speaking to your team as well as your customer

The final tip focuses on communication.  Today’s markets are complex and your organisations are run with smaller teams and everyone is incredibly busy.  I’ve made the point that unless your whole team focuses on the brand ideal, you won’t deliver for your audience.  The way this works is to take your “marketing idea” and communicate it across your internal teams from R&D to end sales.

This is a challenge – We all know we need our teams to be creative if they are going to be innovative and be relevant.  15 years ago you could simply tell the world that Gillette is “The Best a Man Can Get,” translate it into 50 languages and run your ads all with the same shot of the razor.  Not the blue one, the shiny cool silver one.  But what happens when you are asking your team to do events, you are expecting new applications on a quarterly cycle, that you need website applications – as well as tactical sales promotions to shift aging stock.  The answer is you have to give your teams more – you have to let them take the ideal and work with it.

The good news is that if you have a strong ideal and focus everyone on supporting this belief, your marketing will naturally fall in line.  The brand position isn’t just a tag line, it has to be a filter that can be used to evaluate marketing communications, website functionality, sales presentations, everything.

When Cisco says it believes it is the “Human Network” that is real amazing – not the routers and firewalls that make the IP network, it provides a single focus for its marketing organisations worldwide.  It sets a stake in the ground that focuses on the benefit – that people can collaborate, communicate and work together — not just the product features.  It forces everyone to return to a single point of reference whether they are an enterprise sales team, a direct marketer mailing small businesses or an awareness campaign for consumers that purchase through retail outlets and provides an easy way to say that work is “on brand” or “off brand.”

What is essential though is that the brand ideal is not seen as “just marketing,” it is seen as what the company believes in and everyone’s actions from product development, corporate management and local market sales promotion all rally around this one key point.


So, returning to our three key principals:

  1. Don’t Position yourself, Take a Position – There is no right answer, there is only one wrong answer — and that is not having an answer.
  2. Act, Don’t Talk – Your brand is not what you say, it is what you do.
  3. Communicate with your Team – Don’t just talk to your customers, talk to your team and unite them around what you believe in.

What does this mean for MVNOs?  It means you all need to find a brand filter that your teams can rally around and you need to raise it up so it is more then an ad campaign.  Only when you can come to a conference like this, or out on the strees with your customers, and have everyone give the same answer – that network is about phones that are fun, this network is about being a real reliable business tool, this is a network makes it easy for a parents to give a phone to their kids – then you will have real branding.  And if you deliver on your beliefs, you will have loyal customers.

On Dove, our Vice Chairman and creative director had an interesting experience.  He was in a London Taxi and mentioned that he worked in advertising and that he’d worked on the Dove campaign.  The taxi drivers reaction was “that’s those posters with the fat birds innit?  I like that, I can’t stand all of those ads with skinny bints – they’re not woman at all.”  It is pretty clear that the Dove marketers didn’t intend for their campaign to be remembers as a “Fat Birds” campaign but it does show that a big ideal can be translated into any language for any market – even East London hackney.

If you talk about something your audience believes in, they will talk about it and that is the most effective marketing of all.

Thank you.


Another Day, Another Panel – ClickZ Keynote – Wednesday

As much fun as it is to talk about moving big brnad dollars to digital channels, I think the real proof is when we do it.  There has been great examples on Macy’szyrtec and J&J’s Zyrtec but we still don’t have the big digital campaign that goes into the minds of a mass audience like “Mean Joe Green”.  Or “15 minutes can save you 15%.”

YouTube creates the memes and everyone has heard of Gagnam Style but this is a cultural entertainment piece, not a brand promotion.  Many even saw the Jean-Claude Van Damme truck split but that is basically a 60 second spot.  It doesn’t use the power of the computer or the network at all aside for delivery.

So we use Fetchback to have banners chase you around the internet, but no one can come up with a brand story that takes advantage of this technology?  The prize is big.


Afternoon Keynote

Digital Innovation Insights Driving Big Brand Awareness

A rare look at how the world’s leading agencies are making digital innovation the next creative breakthroughs for the brands we all admire most.

In this session you hear from the heads of digital at the most admired and creative agencies on the planet. This bare bones frank conversation about what drove success and even more importantly, how to avoid failed thinking will not only illuminate the agency folk in the room, but will inspire all of us brand and small business marketers to think outside the box and really drive big market share gains through Digital, Social and Mobile Marketing breakthrough ideas.

  • Moderator:
    Aaron Kahlow, CEO & Founder, Online Marketing Institute
  • Panelists:
    John Baker, President, JWT
    Jordan Bitterman, Chief Strategy Officer, North America, Mindshare
    John Burke, VP, Digital Strategist, Entrée Health LLC, A company of The CDM Group
    Jon Wegman, VP Planning and Strategy, Performics

Adobe Summit: Building Brands: 150 years meeting CMOs, and not just for lunch

Just completed a panel moderating how to sell in new platforms and analytics packages to big marketing organizations.  Great session, good comments and questions from the audience.

Of course the biggest question?  When do we stop putting all of our money into traditional TV, print and outdoor.  Should have seen that one coming earlier!


JWT works with big brands and knows how to talk to CMOs. Do you want to connect your work to the brand strategy?  Want to learn how to influence business strategy?  Make sure you are heard at the top of the organization?  Our roundtable discussion brings together a few clients and a big brand advertiser from JWT, a technical platform builder from XM Asia, and a global analytics expert from Digitaria to answer a simple question:  We all want the CMO and CEO’s ear, how do we make sure we talk their language?

Specifically we’ll look at:

  • From pixels to business strategy—How a replatforming brief can drive a completely new approach to doing business.
  • Delivering the news—How to present the campaign results so all of the agencies listen.
  • Signal from noise – How the brand team talks strategy and why the CMO spends so much time listening to them.

This session is relevant to all digital marketers that want to drive strategy with the c-suite.

  • John Baker – Global Digital Strategy Team, JWT
  • Vince Lui – Regional Director, XM Consulting
  • Mia Umanos – Director of Analytics, Digitaria
  • David McBride – Sr Director Analytics, American Eagle Outfitter

Did Mobile Video Kill the TV Star? MWC 2014 Panel

Had the opportunity to speak at the Mobile Media Summit at Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona.  It was a fun panel with some good questions from the audience.  I wrote up a more glib review of it for JWT on our blog, below.

Did Mobile Video Kill the TV Star?

March 3, 2014 • by 


John Baker has worked in interactive marketing for almost 20 years. He is now the President of dotJWT, a global program dedicated to driving digital growth for companies acquired under the JWT umbrella.

Earlier this week I was asked to speak on a Mobile Media Summit panel at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

The subject was Did Mobile Video Kill the TV Star?

No question the Buggles had it right: Video Killed the Radio Star. When television emerged as the dominant broadcast medium in the 1950s,the radio guys were fighting with one arm tied behind their back.You need a hell of a voice to enrapture people when they are being seduced by super charismatic people working full screen video with bright smiles and perfectly timed hair flicks.

But mobile video? With its smaller screen and distracted audience? Can mobile video take down the Kardashians, Jeremy Clarkson and Yang Mi?

 – See more at:

Social Media Week – dmcny Strategy Session

Thanks to Sarah Ezrin at Cheetah Mail for the invite to be on a panel for Direct Marketing Club of NY during Social Media Week on February 8 at Pace University.

We’ll have 50 minutes in a panel to talk War Stories.  Looking forward to it.

Street Smart Social: War Stories from Clients and Agencies − Major brands across verticals are using social to create and power a wide range of consumer relationships. Learn how these marketing leaders are delivering and measuring bottom line impact— and where they see the channel taking their businesses in the future. Panel Discussion: Steve Goldner, Director of Social Media, HFMUS; John Baker, President Client Services, J.W.T; Moderated by Frank Radice, Social Guru, Definition 6

Marketing Code: Why Agencies Need to Learn Software Development

Marketing Code: Why Agencies Need to Learn Software Development

The world’s fixation with technology isn’t new.

CES is has grown so big people need Segways to get to their keynotes, Intel has posted the highest revenue in it’s 42 year history and according to Gartner worldwide IT spending will be $2.5 trillion in 2011.  This is a number which is more than 3 times worldwide advertising spending.

What is new is that after years of curiously watching their IT colleagues wrestle with ERP supply chain systems, marketers are being dragged in.

Amends on a set of rich media ads aren’t covered in e-mail, they are managed through an extranet bug tracker.  The campaign planning to redesign a brand site starts with a workshop to agree use cases.  Under half way into a six-month project to launch a set of in-store displays we learn a three day delay on approving the concept will shift the launch date three days.

This is the world of systems integration and you only need to consider a few of the activities that make up marketing today to see why we marketers really need to learn software development.

Online Advertising

We know online spend has increased past 10% of worldwide media spend.  For some of our clients it is 80%.  We also know churning out thousands of basic animated gif banners doesn’t have the impact we need so we start looking to increase relevance by using dynamic banners.

Computers can manage thousands of message combinations and present them based on all kinds of attributes -– if you program them.  When you decide it would be useful to target them based on the recent purchase data in your transaction system?  You have a software project.

As Eric Wheeler, former head of OgilvyInteractive in North America and current CEO of 33 Across says, “Agencies need teams that are rooted in technology, data and have a ruthless commitment to increasing return for their clients.  This requires great campaigns and custom tools to manage them.”

Brand Sites

We all know that when our customers have a question they go online.   Apple has taught us that design and functionality are crucial to building market share and advocacy.   The basic brochureware sites originally launched ten years ago didn’t require much application development, but they also didn’t really engage people.

A product selector like Ford’s car configurator can allow customers to spend more then 20 minutes studying your product, and quickly becomes the most important touchpoint in the purchase process.

At times brands let sales teams create their brochures — and it shows.  Would you let your network support engineer have a try?

If we want to manage these projects, we need to bring technologists into our teams.  We need to understand how great applications are built, how to manage development pipelines based on analytics and perhaps most importantly how systems integrators avoid the software runaways that can cripple a business.

Downloadable Apps

There have been 10 billion applications downloaded from the Apple App Store.  Among them are over 6 million downloads of the Zippo Lighter simulator, 4 million of Kraft iFood and 3 million of the Audi A4 Drivers Challenge.  All of these applications are driven by marketing objectives.

While the App Store has been a clear success, it is limited to Apple iOS platform.   The marketers behind them now need to decide if their apps are going to be ported to Android, Blackberry, Symbian and Palm, while considering what their next release is and how to manage branching their code base.

Given the popularity downloadable apps, it isn’t surprising the business model has been replicated.  At the end of 2010 Samsung reported it’s TV App Store has had over 2 million apps downloaded to its smart TVs.  The Verizon Fios Widget Bazaar launched in July 2009 and Sony has Bravia applications for both its TVs and Blu-ray players.

And if you believe our TVs will become “smart tv” by taking a browser-centric model?  Firefox’s Add-Ons library has over 2 billion downloads and Google has launched the Chrome Web Store.

Product Differentiation

With so many people using laptops, smartphones, tablets and interactive kiosks daily, it isn’t a surprise product teams are looking to use technology for product differentiation.

Nike ID was a product configurator that added fulfillment more then ten years ago.  The Domino’s Pizza Tracker is a customer service tool that drove a brand campaign.

As marketers we can cede this software development to the technical teams and sit back until called in to communicate the product launch, but that is also ceding our control of the brand.

Companies like Hewlett-Packard have a reputation for being driven by their engineering teams, but today more and more companies are being defined by their software over all else.  As Stefan Pepe, General Manager at Gilt Group and former Director at Amazon said, “the retail part of my job is a far second to getting functionality that really works for our customers live on our websites.”

The reality is this is only a short list of how technology and software development are encroaching on the traditional marketing function.   We all need to understand our computers as well as we understand our customers because to put it most simply, they aren’t putting microchips in less places and microchips run on code.

Technorati Tags: , ,

A Quick Review of Doritos iD3 Campaign

There is always a little trepidation when you are asked to review a piece of work — if the work is horrendous like a lot of it is, then you have to figure out how to tear it to shreds without completely pissing off an entire team, agency and client.

Doing a review of the Doritos iD3 campaign was easy — it is great work.  We all know how hard iit is to get really good interesting projects live and complex ones with a lot of moving parts deserve double credit.

I’m sure that on this one AMV BBDO did a little, Initials did a bunch and are getting the credit, and Rehab Studios have probably killed themselves.   In fact I would guess there is a team inside Rehab that have worked every week-end for 3 months and loved every minute of it.  I have the idea because we did the same for SE Bond and that is what it takes, regardless of budget.

Here are some more links about the campaign:
Rehab Studio’s Blog Post
Inside Facebook Comment
Digital Arts Article

My Review on Brand Republic

Promo Review – Doritos iD3 promotion

LONDON – “An amazing piece of work” is the view of joint managing director of iris Digital John Baker as he tests out Doritos’ ‘iD3’ campaign.

Promo Review - Doritos iD3 promotion

Every brand manager knows that media has fragmented, consumers are in control and that big headlines like “Try our new flavour! It is new and improved and extra spicy fresh!” get about as much attention as a double glazing salesman in the tropics.  The challenge is what to do.

Doritos new iD3 campaign is a great example of the Brand as Entertainer strategy.

It is an amazing piece of work and really goes well beyond the multi-level online game.  It has a promotion to drive uptake, a brand teaser campaign to build expectation, on pack code integration to drive trial, sophisticated integration of Facebook Connect to make registration easy and extend communication in social networks, a call out to bloggers that talk up the campaign, integration of retail and prize partners to help cover costs – and that is just looking at the surface!

Clearly the game is central to this promotion and it is clear that Doritos have put some real effort into it.  It uses branched video and 3D rendered game levels to keep people interested.  The puzzles are complex enough that it isn’t just a “skills-based question” promotion requirement, but a real effort to challenge the audience which assuming it is younger and familiar with gaming should work incredibly well.  For people that use Facebook Connect, personal content is brought into the game to make it more relevant, and achieve the techie cool factor.

What remains to be seen is if the campaign is central to the brand advertising that is always the heartland of FMCG launches.  Will the advertising drive people to the game?  Will the winners feature in the advertising? Will mass media be used to offer clues that are critical to success?  This is incredibly hard to achieve but if it happens it would put this campaign in the leagues of RBK’s Whodonit and Microsoft’s Vanishing Point. These campaigns were also fully integrated using DM packs for engaged participants and events to generate even more buzz.

The only challenge for the campaign — which probably has the brand planners hopping in circles — is the connection between the idea of “identity theft” that drives the game and a new lime and curry flavoured crisp which is the product.  The crisps do feature in the movies and the game but it is hard to demonstrate food product features and benefits in games.

All that said, there will be a lot of gamers out there fully entertained and talking up Doritos.  And assuming the crisps taste great, we can be sure they’ll tell their friends and the whole lot of them will all buy lots of Doritos.

Promo score:  8 out 10

Agency: Initials

Chaos 1.0

This is a piece I wrote for the IAB Engage Conference Handbook:

The Future of Marketing?

End is Near

“The advertising industry is passing through one of the most disorienting periods in its history … More people are rejecting traditional sales messages, presenting the ad industry with big challenges. ”
Economist, June 2004

“To find something comparable, you have to go back 500 years to the printing press, the birth of mass media …”
Rupert Murdoch, quoted in Wired, July 2006

It is an interesting time in the marketing industry.

Advertising agency executives, faced with the fast adoption of personal video recorders and shift of magazine content online, are convinced the business will cease to exist in as soon as five years. Or five minutes if you listen to Bob Garfield.

Direct Marketing agency executives are watching B2B communications shift aggressively to email and are questioning whether the traditional direct mail piece will be a relevant tool for generating leads or even delivering offers before too long.

PR agencies see that the tradition that all corporate communications is channelled through the corporate communications department to specific high circulation publishers is loosing relevance. Internal experts are expected to publish directly and the required response time for crisis management is minutes not days.

Finally, Media agencies are being presented viable online auction systems from SpotRunner, eBay and Google that could make the “buying clout” argument irrelevant. What’s more, they know the traditional media plan could quickly disappear as more channels are served and managed like search media.

In the face of all of this, amazingly the Digital Agencies also feel their business is under threat. As all briefs become “interactive briefs,” they are being stretched to compete with all agencies from all disciplines. They of all people recognise digital marketing encompasses a broad tool set and can be part of every campaign. As traditional agencies push for interactive work, they are looking to offer a broader solution including advertising or DM.

The piece that is critical is of course our clients. Marketing departments have their own pressures as product development, supply chains, communications and sales are impacted by technology. The last thing they need is their agencies bickering with each other over who does what, why and how.

As we go through this period of transformation, clients need to know they have a partner that can bring the people with the right skills to the table and know that there is clear programme management of their 360 campaigns. They need to know the core of their business will be delivered safely, but also know that their partner is willing to be adventurous. They know they need to be innovative, but briefing multiple agencies and managing the integration of the resulting work is more then a small challenge.

At OgilvyInteractive, our teams sit and work with each of the discipline organisation to be able to bring digital expertise together with the years of experience in advertising, direct marketing, healthcare marketing, sales activation or PR. As a community of digital professionals, we work with our colleagues in bespoke teams to meet our clients’ needs and work together to stay on top of the industry that is in constant change.

It may be a confusing time to be in marketing, but it is also a great time because the disciplines that were in silos in the past are now working together and clients are willing to test and measure new ideas. The big digital toolbox is being used to amplify great work across the disciplines which should be the result when you are doing real integrated 360 degree campaigns.

Article – Microsite Mania


Published: August 06, 2007

Microsite Mania – Stop the Madness!

More by this Author
Contact Author


It is official, all agencies are now digital agencies and brands are under siege… John Baker, Managing Partner at OgilvyOne, speaks out.

Advertising agencies are building brand experiences, sales promotions houses do games to drive in-store trial, PR agencies are building blogger outreach toolkits and DM agencies launch campaign microsites driving name acquisition and conversion to sales. The message has been heard — everyone realises digital marketing is important and everyone is proposing a microsite as part of their work.

The problem is that websites are persistent.

After the campaign has grown old and both the clients and the agencies moved on, the microsite remains. The flash animations play even if the promotion has long ago closed. The copy is served up even if the headline has nothing to do with the current campaign running. The webservers don’t know the online advertising impressions were all used up months ago and people aren’t clicking through as part of a “consistent campaign experience.” Someone asks them to display their message and they do.