Archivo de la categoria ‘Personal’

Big food is the new bad underdog

I was invited by Fira de Barcelona to speak at the presentation of Alimentaria 2016 to the international media. In my talk, I described the consumers and the society that the food industry will be facing in the coming years. It’s no trivial matter: Europe has the world’s most highly developed food and agriculture industry. The nine largest companies in the sector move €227 billion each year and employ 750,000 workers.

These are great times to be in the food business, as the general manager of one such company told us at Desayunos ESADE. The future will be built on three main market segments:

-          Emerging countries, which are eager to consume calorie- and protein-rich diets

-          Aging baby boomers, who are looking for healthy foods associated with major changes in the way we produce food and beverages

-          Millennials, the new commanders of food, eager to discover new things

In all three cases, however, there’s a “big chill”: the unstoppable shift to fresh and refrigerated foods. Studies by Technomics and MSI have found that 87% of adults feel that fresh foods are healthier, 80% believe they are tastier, and 78% are making a strong effort to eat more fresh versus processed foods.

Fresh products versus processed food: that’s the challenge for big food producers in marketing terms. “How can we remake ourselves?” (Smuckers CEO); “Big has become bad” (ConAgra CEO); “We understand that increasing numbers of consumers are seeking authentic, genuine food experiences, and they are sceptical of the ability of large food companies to deliver them” (Campbell Soup CEO).

The idea of “processing” – from techniques of curing and salting to the modern arsenal of preservatives — arose to make sure the food we ate didn’t make us sick. Today, society fears that processed food itself is making us unhealthy.

This is a marketing challenge – “the most dynamic, disruptive and transformational time that I’ve seen in my career”, in the words of one marketing professional. Right in front of us.


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Change thyself

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” This Leo Tolstoy quote was used in a recent McKinsey Quarterly article suggestively titled “Change leader, change thyself”.

Management scholars are forever researching companies that are changing the world or leading change towards a better world. Porter’s shared value strategies, JWT’s circular economy, Kotler’s marketing 3.0, Fordham University’s positive marketing…

On this topic, Prof. Mònica Casabayó and I have shared many experiences, cases and concerns. We have very different viewpoints, as is fitting for a plural school like ESADE. But in our research we have studied whether managers are generating change simply because they wish to change themselves. Business professionals are the same people who buy things, who have a family and a home, and who are concerned about the degeneration of our model and about unsustainability.

All this is covered in the new book Soul Marketing. We have asked various professionals who collaborate with ESADE to tell us about cases of business leaders who are changing the world by first changing themselves. They’re doing this by appealing to their stakeholders and creating value for them. Danone, Ecoembes, Roll’eat and Casa Camper are just some of the cases in which we have seen this sort of change.

Drops fill the ocean. We hope that the book presentation on 4th December, hosted by the ESADE Alumni Marketing Club, will generate minor impacts that help to bring about many individual minor changes.


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Learning marketing through service

“What a fascinating time I’ve just had in the classroom: one of the best professional, educational and personal experiences of my career.” When you hear this from a visiting executive who was formerly VP of Marketing at one of the largest FMCG multinationals in the US, you know something interesting happened in that classroom: the first session of the new Social Marketing subject of the ESADE BBA, which uses the Service Learning methodology.

ESADE has developed a programme that uses the Service Learning methodology in several BBA subjects. In case you are unfamiliar with this methodology, it can be summed up as pure experiential marketing. Service learning is a powerful educational experience where interests mesh with information, values and beliefs are formed, and action results.

The students get a lot out of this experience. Let’s summarise: they explore careers; build their resumes; gain valuable work experience; learn new skills; learn things that will benefit them for the rest of their lives; improve their self-esteem; develop a sense of personal satisfaction, initiative, independent reasoning and independent learning; enhance skills learned from experience (observing, asking questions, applying knowledge); develop social responsibility and concern for the welfare of others; as well as a list of benefits analysed in depth by Genie Black.

What’s more, we will help to increase the blood reserves at Catalonia’s blood bank, assist with the Arrels Foundation’s collection of blankets and winter trousers for the homeless, strengthen the knowledge and prospects of the DID-Áctica project for young people with minor disabilities, and participate in a bone marrow donor registration drive with the Josep Carreras Foundation.

The students will do marketing – lots of very good marketing. Although the main objective for the students is reflective observation – watching, listening, recording, discussing and elaborating on the experience – we will also achieve real marketing results. Marketing that has a direct impact on society.

The donation week will be at ESADE Sant Cugat the week of 21st November. Don’t miss out!

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Communicating to exist, or existing to communicate?

This week I will be giving a talk on marketing and communication in NGOs at the 4th Social Third-Sector Congress. I plan to begin my remarks with an insightful quote from a third-sector executive: “Our institution prefers to act before communicating.”

Over the last 10 years, communication has grown spectacularly in Spanish NGOs in terms of budgets, staffing and departments. This growth has been similar to that seen in the healthcare services marketing sector, described by Eric Berkowitz as “a dramatic increase in marketing budgets, reflecting an acceptance of advertising and not of marketing in the true sense… investing heavily in advertising when marketers knew virtually nothing about the target audience”.

These two very socially oriented sectors face similar difficulties and confusion when it comes to finding a place for communication and marketing. In NGOs, this confusion manifests itself in the use of communication primarily for fund-raising purposes: communication with potential donors is given higher priority than communication with the social base.

Marketing in NGOs should communicate within a reference framework like the one described by Toni Puig at ESADE: organisations that prioritise ideas over management, whose mission is to raise awareness among citizens, and which therefore see communication primarily as an uninterrupted ethical conversation about how we should live and how to achieve it. This communication should be directed at the three audiences that define an NGO: external (society at large), internal (collaborators), and intermediary (highly involved external stakeholders such as members, donors, volunteers and sympathisers). And the services simply come afterwards.

All this is perfectly synthesised in an article by José María Herranz of the Miguel de Cervantes European University (UEMC): as long as companies communicate in order to exist, NGOs should understand that they exist in order to communicate.


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Neymar means happiness

Various studies reveal that sports fans behave strangely. There is the well-known ‘March Madness’ as American university basketball hits the news. It is marked by a 50% surge in vasectomies, with men using convalescence as a lame excuse to stay ‘glued to the box’. Then there are all those tone-deaf Britons and Greeks who are spellbound by ‘the ‘talent’ singing and jigging around at Anfield Road or at the OAKA Sports Hall.

A fascinating finding is that sports fans are often much happier than lesser mortals and that match results are less important than the idle chit-chat they give rise to. This helps them share things and strike up relations that makes them psychologically healthier. As a result, they suffer fewer depressions and enjoy greater self-respect. It also makes them feel they are backed up by the rest of the tribe — something that helps them stay in good mental health.

Many kinds of fans benefit from this effect. Men overcome their inhibitions and hug and kiss one another with gay abandon — 67% of football fans have wept at least once in a football stadium. Couples find an activity they can enjoy together. Pensioners find that watching sports makes them forget their cares.

We have been asked to evaluate from our marketing expertise the signing of Neymar Jr. Evaluation on the transfer fee Return On Investment (ROI), his position as the world’s biggest marketing money-spinner and his attributes in terms of charisma, willingness and cross over appeal.

We find that Neymar Jr. also represents a social marketing policy — his signing creates happiness. Over 350 media networks turned up at the public presentation and there are now 80 million Internet pages bearing his name — he is the footballer with the greatest presence in Instagram. Neymar gives rise to millions of conversations among fans, reduces depressions and leads to new outbursts of joy. Neymar will make fans happier. Perhaps The State should pay his transfer fees as part of a Benthamite social marketing policy seeking the greatest happiness of the greatest number.

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Would you like to be described as a game-changer?

Pulling off a successful marketing campaign/project that has social impact is easier said than done. In my own work with the SCACS advertising team we’ve tried to this; aiming for excellence of the Booker T Washington type – “excellence is to do a common thing in an uncommon way.”

The kinds of campaigns that generate these sorts of remarks can, I think, be described as “excellent”:

  • “they are also providing a significant change in redefining the standards of advertising and the unrealistic ideals for the way women look”
  • “this campaign is a game-changer for advertising and more should follow in their footsteps”; “a powerful video, but it doesn’t mean is perfect”;
  • “a campaign that shows how a company chooses when and how to jump into the commercials landscape with the right marketing scheme”
  • “women have reportedly wept over this video, and who could blame them?”

Any idea which campaign I’m talking about? Did you work out who the critics are getting themselves into a lather over? Just a cream soap.

Marketing campaigns that link to societal issues can be game-changers. Check out the examples on Publizia, a fantastic blog that compiles the best advertising samples. Count how many are linked to social issues, both in societal marketing terms or as social marketing campaigns.

A nine day’s wonder?. Last check, Coke ad bringing tears to your eyes.


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Are marketers evil or craftsmen?

Teaching marketing under the learning paradigm usually brings us to the same reflection: is marketing ethical?.  We used to work with the George Brenkert phrase: marketing as a technology to be employed to achieve something that is entirely in the hands of the would-be marketer.

But recently undergraduate students posit a more specific question: is marketing inherently evil?.  Is marketing the hidden enemy (as shown in this video about how subliminal advertising tries to make you fat)? Or what about retail marketing as a developer of the Gruen Transfer as explained by Douglas Rushkoof: the moment when consumers enter a shopping mall and lose track of their original intentions, turned into a shopping drone by architecture, music, visuals and layout purposely designed to confuse and disorientate, and to cause individuals to spend more money

 Seth Gadin has his own answer to the question: Are marketers evil?. “Based on a long career in the business, I’d have to answer “some of them” (…) It’s evil to persuade kids to start smoking, to sell a patent medicine when an effective one is available. It’s beautiful to persuade people to get a polio vaccine. Just like every powerful tool, the impact comes from the craftsman, not the tool”.

Our team at ESADE has developed a different answer; one which we have learnt from Professor April Atwood (Albers School of Business & Economics at Seattle University).  We’ve decided to allow students to reach their own conclusion through an experiential learning process.  We will use the model of Problem Based Service Learning, working with an agency and social cause, to allow them to decide for themselves whether marketing is a cause or contributor to social problems, or a way to address them.

They will analyze how marketing influences teenagers to drink tons of fizzy drinks or to smoke at school.  They will also look at howsocial marketing gives value to the opposite point of view.  And with any luck, they will decide what kind of craftsmen they want to be.


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NGO&Corporations: Let’s Talk Collabo-ration!

This week  we are hosting a fascinating academic session as part of our Leadership and Social Innovation in the NGOs Programme. A key area of focus is collaboration with corporations – critical at a time when public sector funding represents up to 80% of NGO income in Spain; and nearly 30% of the NGO have floundered in the last few years.

So let’s look for the Big Fish to paraphrase Bono (U2) who founded the Red Project. As he eloquently put it: “Let’s surf on the back of the wake of these companies. And, I tell you, it won’t be long before our surfboard is moving at its own speed, on its own wave.” Later on, let’s give them a kick in the ass.

Collaboration is a complex matter. Academic research has coined concepts such as “new logic of management emerging” (Crozier, 1997), and spawned talk of “broadening the business model concept to incorporate cross-sector collaborations (….) which can be mutually reinforcing” (Dahan et al, 2010).

But the market orientation concept helps us with a new framework: collaboration means being willing to modify my goals in order to achieve my mission. Collaboration is an area  between Me and You, where we can talk about Us. And collaboration leads us to coopetition – a  neologism that splices competitive cooperation – and collabo-ration – to stress the rationality of the process.

Can you think of an example of collaboration in this sphere? Mine would be the collaboration between Coca Cola and Cruz Roja, both finding the way to talk about us. A rare and precious marketing jewel.

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Art’s sake or Business sake?

Los principios de la creación del valor del marketing son aplicados en algunos campos de actividad no solo con reticencias sino generando amplios debates: por ejemplo en las artes, donde los conceptos de arts management, arts marketing e incluso arts administrator son referentes de su peculiaridad. Estamos realizando un período de investigación en Northeastern University por invitación de Anthony De Ritis, un profesor, investigador, compositor y manager apasionante; con el objetivo de reflexionar e iniciar una investigación sobre si el arte debería cumplir “Art for Art’s Sake or Art for Business Sake”.

Algunos referentes apasionantes en este campo son por ejemplo el trabajo del profesor Ian Fillis; o analizado desde el lado opuesto, la aportación del arte y el diseño al management con conceptos como el design thinking y la d-school generados desde Stanford University, Rotman School of Management o el propio ESADE con el Art Center College of Design.

Un referente actual de esta reflexión o debate es la gestión de London 2012, cuyo logo olímpico ha sido por primera vez aceptado que sea utilizado en diferentes versiones, que además se adaptan extraordinariamente a los colores corporativos de algunos sponsors. Arte por el placer del arte o para crear valor desde el marketing? 

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Erradicating poverty through benefits: BoP

Si tienen oportunidad, asistan a alguna presentación de proyectos de Bottom of the Pyramid: para alguien de marketing, confieso que las percibo como reflexiones realmente emotivas. Tuvimos la enorme fortuna de disponer de C.K. Prahalad en Creafutur ESADE hace unos años explicando con ilusión desbordante su visión sobre sostenibilidad, innovación, Bottom of the Pyramid y marketing. Tenemos la suerte de contar en nuestro equipo con Jordi Vives quien realizando su doctorado en Saint Gallen sigue colaborando con una sesión estupenda sobre los pros y cons del BoP. Por todo ello hará un par de años recomendábamos la obra de Prahalad como lectura de verano en un artículo en Cinco Días; recuerden, el verano llega nuevamente.

A finales del 2011 Danone lanzaba la marca Fundooz, postres lácteos a 0,10$, dentro de su división BoP en la India. Un lanzamiento fundamentado en la filosofía de su tumblr Down to Earth. Su claim, “Creating economic value by creating social value”. Algo distinto, algo más cercano, algo más europeo que el subtítulo de la obra de Prahalad “Erradicate poverty through benefits”. Pero igualmente un reto para el marketing y su impacto en la sociedad.

Por supuesto que hay mucho claim, y muchos argumentos disuasorios como el de Karnani en “The Mirage of Marketing to the Bottom of the Pyramid”. Pero les cuento una anécdota personal: cuando iniciamos esta área en ESADE, una de las alumnas más brillantes tenía encima de la mesa ofertas de P&G, L’Oreal,… todo; cuando Marta me comenta que finalmente se va a Nueva York al proyecto de BoP de Danone, uno siente como que algo estamos haciendo un poquito mejor, de un cierto orgullo de mejorar con el marketing la sociedad.

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