Archivo de la categoria ‘Collaborations’

Cause Marketing: Love it or Hate it estimates that cause marketing has grown in the past 15 years from $700 million to $2 billion. Cause marketing is growing rapidly and for a good reason: it simply works. It is a business strategy – not just an evolution of philanthropy – that strongly influences purchasing decisions.

It works by providing a growing funding stream for NGOs, reaching $1.9 billion in funds in 2015 in North America and developing a new donor base of millennials who want to support causes through the brands they patronise.

It works, evolves and innovates, as seen in some 2015-2016 cases:

-       Toms Shoes evolved from the “one-for-one concept” to “One Day Without Shoes”: using the Instagram platform where for every photo of bare feet that was tagged they gave a new pair of shoes to a child in need.

-       Doritos with the “It Gets Better” project: For every $10 donated, donors received a bag of rainbow chips. This is a new development called causejacking: when a brand rides the wave of a cause’s popularity.

-       Partnership between Subway and Coca-Cola: For every bottle of Dasani water sold in 2,200 participating US Subways, Coca-Cola donates 30 cents. A total of $125,000 has been donated to World Vision, the NGO that is the largest non-governmental supplier of clean water around the world.

-       Nivea India’s “Mom’s Touch” partnered with Aseema Charitable Trust, an organisation dedicated to providing quality education to children from marginalised communities.

-       Budweiser’s “Give a Damn”, broadcasted during the 2016 Super Bowl. Helen Mirren addressed drunk driving in a wonderfully witty spot in which the only commercial reference was a bottle and a mention of its cold temperature.

Meanwhile, tons of difficulties have been foretold from the NGO sector. A false solidarity in which the real winner is the for-profit company. An unhealthy lifelong dependence for these campaigns. A consumer who likes to maintain this altruistic vein through consumption practices. Consumers’ scepticism towards these campaigns. And thousands of ethical and mental barriers.

Now that Marmite suffers the consequences of the Brexit, let’s benchmark their claim. Cause marketing: do you love it or hate it?


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Anthropocene is coming

“Winter is Coming” is the motto of House Stark, and a current example of metonymy: winter implies a warning, meaning we should all be in a constant mood of vigilance. Marketing uses metonymies, in that these substitute words make it possible to increase the experiential component of our communication.

The term Anthropocene was popularised by the Nobel laureate Paul Crutzen in an article entitled “Geology of mankind” in the journal Nature. The word has taken root, and even jumped to other fields such as management (see “Welcome to the Anthropocene”, The Economist, 2011). As a word, it encapsulates the idea that Holocene – the scientific term referring to the present era – is no longer an adequate description: we now live in an age in which human behaviour has modified the geology of the Earth.

Many climate scientists are reluctant to use the Anthropocene concept, offering various reasons: it has no exact meaning, its scientific validity is under scrutiny, alternative words such as Capitolecene (the geological era from capitalism) are available. But these scientists don’t see the same utility in words that we see in marketing: words are powerful, they change the way people speak and think, and they cause their recipients to reframe their perception of the world. And reframing is a key element in a changing culture. As the American cognitive linguist George Lakoff once said, reframing is social change.

Anthropocene is a word that contributes more emotional experience to our attempts to bring about a behavioural change. The model proposed by the Australian researcher Gillian King exemplifies this social marketing approach: there’s Pain Island – the place where we are now – and Pleasure Island – the wonderful place where there is no pain and all is good. And there’s also the Boat, the mechanism to get there.

Pain Island is the Anthropocene. We have created a word that conveys stories, narratives and images of climate change. And it provides a complementary view of a real alternative for the future, thereby helping people visualise the direction in which we should aim our social change.

“Winter is coming”: we need to be prepared for what’s coming. As in House Stark, it’s not pessimism; it’s pragmatism.

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Little did I know…

The end of the academic year is a good time to look back on the impact we’ve had on our students. How have they experienced the impact of marketing on society? What have they learned? Theories, paradigms,….?

But forget all that! Instead, I’d like to use the STUDENT SERIES format to see what insights the students will share and what our true impact has been. This year, I’ve been truly fascinated by the story of Carmen Friedinger: age 22, coming from the Vienna University of Economics and Business for a semester abroad at ESADE, and seeking a career in marketing. If you can’t enrol in my subject, don’t worry: here’s an exciting trailer, brought to you by another student.

“I could start this blog post by pretending that it was my vast interest in the topic of social marketing that made me choose this class. But I think it will be more interesting to read the truth, so here you go: the main reason I decided to take this class was because of the great reviews some students from my home university in Vienna gave the professor, and the fact that they said how fun and easy it was to come up with a plan for collaboration between an NGO and Spanish companies. Little did I know! Truth be told – it did not actually turn out to be so easy for my group and me. Of course, the professor and the guest speakers were all very helpful and open to answering any of our questions and doubts – of which we had many! However, instead of just “finding a company to collaborate with and making a nice and easy project” we ended up spending hours and hours of discussion and careful consideration together. We found it very hard to come up with a plan for how to tell an NGO that seems so confident in its own appearance that what they need most of all is awareness of the hospital itself before they can properly promote their organisation and raise funds. We used our briefings with the guest speakers and the professor to figure out a way to let the NGO know that their image is not as great as they think it is – but without insulting them, as our goal was to win them over. BUT: instead of getting a clearer view of how to solve this problem, every one of them told us their personal opinion, which differed greatly from each other, making it harder for us to find a way to fulfil all their requirements. This point right here is what made this class a real challenge for us, and I think it is also what helped me most to improve my consulting skills, because in real life you will face similar situations. Moreover, as the class was taught in Spanish and our team was made up of students from all different universities (ESADE, Austin, Indiana, Paris and Vienna) it was very interesting to see how differently we all approached this project. Of course, the language barrier led to a couple funny moments, too. Overall, I think this class taught me a lot about how consulting projects take place in real life and how to overcome the hurdles of being in a very diverse project team.”

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Social marketing craftsmen: 2015 ESADE vintage

This year, I am once again proud to present two projects that our students are developing alongside faculty members according to the problem-based service learning methodology. Year after year, this is one of our best teaching experiences –the sort of project that, in the words of the professors, “gives meaning to our work, experience and dedication”.

-          The ACIDH group is working with an NGO focused on persons with limited intelligence (PLI) with the marketing objective of increasing their online presence.

-          The blood bank group is once again fighting to increase blood donations on our campus, in terms of both total donations and first-time donors. Great claim (“product costs nothing, but worth everything”), great video

Both projects are developed in a way that allows students to reach their own conclusions about whether marketing is a way to address social problems. And they decide what kind of impact they want to have in their professional career (to quote Seth Godin, “the impact comes from the craftsman, not the tool”).

So far, they have convinced various marketing professors to join the cause – which is easier than an ice bucket challenge.

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Bacon is the new black

The epidemiologist Kurt Straif has published his latest study for the World Health Organization (WHO): about 34,000 cancer deaths per year worldwide can be attributed to diets high in processed meat. The study includes two key takeaways for social marketing:

-         No safe level of consumption has been identified.

-         Let the public decide who to trust, the industry or the study.

The processed meat industry is a transparent player. With global revenues of about $200 billion, it generates trust: ‘cancer is a complex disease not caused by single foods’, ‘the WHO report is biased and misleading’, ‘they tortured the data to ensure a specific outcome’, and ‘that’s a small fraction of the 8.2 million deaths caused by cancer every year’ (The North American Meat Institute).

Retailers are more subtle: ‘If anything causes cancer, it’s up to people to listen to what science says and decide on their own. We aren’t going to force anybody to eat bacon (…) but I would die if I couldn’t eat bacon. It’s so delicious!” (Chris Chriswell, owner of Swine, a NYC restaurant whose motto is ‘Bacon is the new black’).

Consumers have reacted surprisingly, in a way that is incomprehensible for Straif: ‘Nutritional McCarthyism’ (quip from a paleo-diet fan); ‘this study sucks’ (in-depth analysis from a troll); ‘Meat has been determined to cause cancer in Europe… I’m glad I’m in Kansas!’ (cute tweet from another critic).

Marketing uses psychology to explain why the WHO has lost: cognitive dissonance, the mental discomfort experienced by consumers who hold two or more contradictory beliefs or are confronted by new information that sets their taste for hotdogs and sausages against an 18% increase in their probability of cancer.

And when consumers experience inconsistency, it is psychologically uncomfortable. They are motivated to reduce this dissonance and avoid information that is likely to increase it. Straif should have used a social marketing strategy: increase the value of his belief and information. Because, to quote a recent dining companion at my favourite restaurant, ‘This time, they’ve crossed the line.”

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From peer-to-peer to client-to-client

From peer-to-peer to client-to-client

Rachel Botsman (co-author of What’s Mine is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption) predicted the development of a new economic model based on peer-to-peer sharing: “It involves the re-emergence of community. […] This works because people can trust each other.” From here on, all the debates revolve around the ideology, the values, and the social-change aims of the companies, managers, developers and entrepreneurs involved in this shared economy. Four years ago, Time identified collaborative consumption as one of the 10 ideas that will change the world.

Let’s hear from the experts – those as committed as the pigs in the fable “The Chicken and the Pig”. A few days ago, Jeroen Merchiers, a fascinating executive committed to Airbnb, participated in an intimate roundtable discussion at ESADE. Jeroen fielded numerous questions regarding the fascinating value of collaborative consumption: consumption and ownership reduction, sharing instead of buying, the millennial generation’s pursuit of experiences rather than properties, a sustainable model, and so on.

But Jeroen underscored two main issues, the key factors for success in this new economic model:

  • Social media play a key role in decision-making.
  • The supplier-client relationship is evolving and disappearing. The model being developed takes the market orientation to an extreme: all parties are clients, guests and visitors. Jeroen’s company manages relationships between external parties, all of whom are clients. It’s therefore important to create value for everyone involved. The clients who pay are clients. The guests who offer me rooms are clients. With this absolute application of the win-win-win concept, the principle of “winner takes all” is fulfilled for everyone involved.

So we’ve moved from “peer-to-peer” to “everybody is a client”, or, as Kotler said ten years ago, from transactional to collaborative marketing.


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Pope Francis, branding, perception, marketing,…

Global leaders (Obama, the Dalai Lama, Bill Gates) are global brands: they are people who have managed to project themselves and their qualities into the global arena and who want the perception they have generated there to be assimilated by their organizations.

The election of Pope Francis has been viewed as a result of marketing (with the usual confusion regarding the meaning of that term): the incremental sale of souvenirs to Argentine tourists as opposed to the tight-fisted Germans and their postcards (merchandising); television reports bearing titles such as “Marketing or Revolution”, as if the two were mutually incompatible; the identification of the pope as a marketing type who, faced with a failing product, merely changes the message rather than touching the product itself (as an engineer would do). As can be seen, marketing has generally been approached as synonymous with the sale of products, as if the concept of social marketing did not exist.

Any church has the option of taking the market-oriented approach known as social marketing (“If we can endow a detergent with value, why not a brotherhood?”), of fulfilling its mission by generating value for its stakeholders. If a church values the ebb in the ranks of its faithful, and the undesirable perception this generates, marketing is an excellent alternative.

Was the election of Francis the result of a marketing process? Let’s review some of the results:

-       Election of a leader globally identified from day one with the attributes desired by the Catholic Church: honour, integrity, austerity. Marketing does not mean manipulating the audience, but rather manipulating the product itself, to make it more highly valued.

-       A different kind of leader (non-European, a Jesuit) with a simple, memorable message who is globally respected for his personal integrity and who focuses his message on the faithful, whom he also recognizes (pray for me).

-       A global leader within a year (Time magazine’s ‘Person of the Year’, mentioned by Obama) who is viewed as simply fulfilling his mission (Matthew 28:19: ‘Therefore go and make disciples…’).

Today the pope is a benchmark brand: a person whom we know what to expect from, including complete consistency between the man and his message. Now we need to wait and see how he will impact the corporate brand, whether as a manager he will manage to convey his own attributes, the consistency between what is said and what is done, to the perception of the Catholic Church.

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Freedom from social guilt through indulgences

Guilt has always been used as an emotional driver in marketing. Guilt motivates action in so many different spheres:  consumption habits, personal and health-related routines, and even the decision to take out an insurance policy to protect one’s family. In the short term, it works… until you start reflecting on it some time later.

Now that Europe appears to be emerging from a new tunnel into economic confidence, we’re faced with a ‘new normal’ situation. Consumers have already decided, as a matter of mental hygiene, to change their consumption habits. Companies, meanwhile, are starting to use new marketing approaches. And many companies are focusing on frugal indulgence: spending less while still relieving stress through consumption. It’s a mutation of L’Oréal’s “Because I’m Worth It” campaign.

In previous recessions, indulgences were characterised by various differential attributes: they focused on basic needs, overt snob appeal or high intrinsic quality. In 2013, however, European consumers seem to need social-esteem-building indulgences that free them from their feelings of social guilt.

Companies are already generating solutions that maximise the ‘social-guilt-free’ attribute. Kellogg’s makes cereals from rice grown by farmers in the region; Carrefour sells vegetables grown locally by a farmer identified by first and last name… By buying these products, I am supporting my local community and reducing my environmental footprint. I don’t need products that are perfect in terms of sustainability or social responsibility; I just want something that immediately reduces my feelings of guilt.

Trendwatching dedicated its latest trend briefing to guilt-free consumption, but let’s expand this notion to include social aspects. This is a great opportunity for the NGO: I’m sensitive, my prayers that things not get any worse have worked, and now I want to indulge in things that instantly assuage my feelings of guilt. How about a donation that can turn a homeless person’s life around? It takes just three minutes. Now I feel better.


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Are you ready to start caring about sharing?

The Social Network has evolved into the Services Network – this was the revolutionary idea, based on the concept of collaborative consumption, presented by Lauren Anderson at ESADE this week.

What is collaborative consumption? All kind of  economic arrangements in which participants share access to products or services, rather than having individual ownership. Think about sharing, swapping or selling second-hand goods, and that often is enabled by technology and peer communities.

Elsewhere it’s described as a paradigm shift (a term used by ESADE); a time to start caring about sharing, according to the Economist; one of the 10 Ideas that Will Change the World, for Time; or in the words of Rachel Bostman, the currency of the new economy.    

At the Observatorio Consumo we spend our time analyzing insights we get from Spanish consumers. And we are seeing two groups of consumers. Firstly a niche  with an advocacy attitude, they even prefer talking about peers, rather than consumers. People disposed to buy to change the world, with a buycott attitude (proactive purchasing decisions to buy products linked to specific values) that research shows never last.

The big segment are those non-activist consumers, looking for convenience, excited by becoming co-creator  of services, and attracted by the concept of a sharing lifestyle. For a start, there’s Generation Y – a generation disenchanted with status conferred by ownership and purchasing power, who simply want access to and the use of products.

So who’s who in the collaborative consumption panorama?

At our event we met some local startups with interesting ideas. There is Social Eaters who are bringing strangers together over a meal – users meet online and eat offline, sharing costs in the process. Another is Trip4real which gives peers the unique chance to share a Barça match with a real supporter, full service, beers and flags included. My personal favourite was Bla Bla Car – a great idea that makes hitch-hiking look Stone Age, and uses pure emotional branding through the main benefit offered by sharing your car.

And then Lauren Anderson brought out the big guns with the idea of Services Network. And talked about TaskRabbit, a company based on the principle that you can outsource your daily chores to your neighbours, who bid for the job against its difficulty, time commitment, effort and distance. May be Lauren is right. We are beginning to see social networks evolve into service networks and the path is there for a real paradigm shift.

How about you? Are you ready to start caring about sharing?

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Nation Branding: Problem or Solution?

Simon Anholt coined the term “nation branding” in 1996. Since then, he has also persistently warned of the dangerous myth surrounding this concept. A nation can’t be managed as a product, Countries are so complex, rich and diverse, that any would- be manager would  suffer an absolute lack of control. Brand managers are better off limiting themselves to helping the world to understand the real, complex, rich, diverse nature of their people and landscapes.

Spain dreams of strengthening its brand.  A stronger brand will help the economy and reduce unemployment – so the thinking goes. And so we see the retailers telling us “we only sell made in Spain products”, hoping that patriotic consumers will put their money where their mouth is.  Multinational mass market companies pronouncing that Hero jams, Renault cars or Balay appliances are made in Spain (a message that only ever gets broadcast locally). And then there are the “me too “companies attacking leaders like Zara or Mango for eschewing  the Made in Spain line.

Anholt warns of an absolute lack of control that Brand managers have over countries, as well as a lack of common goals. And in a nutshell, this is the problem we have in Spain. The Spanish government has named a High Commissioner – the Alto Comisionado – to manage the brand Spain. It’s an impressive-sounding title. However behind it there is the usual cronyism – a reward for faithful party service. The post itself is a part time position with no retribution, and the challenge of dealing with a brand where no less than four ministries and 20 institutions are competent. The latest decision from this brand manager has been to criticize autonomous regions such as Catalunya for developing their own brands, describing these efforts as squandering resources.

Nation branding, as outlined by Anholt, should follow Socrates’ advice “the way to achieve a better reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear.” How a country is perceived depends on too many uncontrollable factors for it to be meangingfully managed. 

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