Archivo de la categoria ‘Public Sector’

A little bit of content

“A Little Bit of Soul” was the title of a talk I gave at RCD Espanyol when the club was looking for Asian investors, with the subtitle “Football as a Business Platform for Asian Companies”. Here’s a reflection on the sport’s marketing appeal: professional football is the world’s most popular sport. Sixty percent of fans see football as a religion, 67% have cried at a football stadium, and 78% often bring family members to matches with them. Venues such as the new RCD Espanyol Stadium, which won the Venue of the Year Award at the 2010 Stadium Business Awards, are pure emotional retail.

My conclusion was that working in professional football entails an evolution from simple sponsorship to emotional content: rituals in the stands such as Borussia Dortmund’s Südtribüne and Iceland’s ‘Viking thunderclap’ celebration at the recent Eurocup. Pure branding – seared into the skin!

But if marketing evolves from “offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large” – according to the AMA 2007 definition of marketing – today football is a marketing asset directed towards other stakeholders. If we analyse Chinese entrepreneurs’ incursions into European football, we notice the professionalisation of the process:

-          From the passion of the benevolent leader to the passion of the new megamillionaires. A lifelong football fan, President Xi Jinping hopes the sport will provide new challenges for China’s 1.4 billion citizens. Three of the country’s ten largest fortunes have already invested in football. Business, relationships and egos. Millionaires such as Jack Ma (Alibaba), Jia Yueting (LeEco) and Wang Jianlin (Wanda) have invested in shares of Atlético de Madrid and Manchester City, as well as Chinese teams such as the top club Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao.

-          Expanding the list of stakeholders: They buy the television rights agency Infront, headed by the nephew of Sepp Blatter; they buy shares in Jorge Mendes’s Gestifute, the largest football agency service; and they buy the television rights to the China Super League – a five-year contract worth $1.3 billion.

In China today, football is no longer a useless social hobby or an alternative to sponsoring. It provides dreams of world leadership, a multifaceted business, and content marketing for telling stories to attract and retain both customers and presidents of some republics.


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Messi vs. Cristiano: best poll ever

Persuasion vs. manipulation has been a hot topic in marketing for years. Persuasion is understood as a process that uses written or spoken words to change a person’s attitude or behaviour toward some event, idea, object or other person(s). Manipulation is understood as skilfully managing or influencing people, especially in an unfair manner. Between the two concepts lies a thin red line, which authors like Martin Lindstrom have used to produce bestsellers like Brandwashed: Tricks Companies Use to Manipulate Our Minds.

Our team at ESADE works with a different idea – market orientation – which involves organisations that make changes in products or services for particular purposes, both commercial and social. In essence, the idea is to serve the motto of George R.R. Martin: “When you know what a man wants you know who he is, and how to move him.” Let’s manipulate our solution to make it more attractive.

Hubbub is an organisation with no definitions or mottos: they just like good challenges. When they saw that traditional wellness programmes weren’t working, they challenged themselves to create a better solution. So they manipulated a bid to reduce litter on the streets of London: residents were encouraged to throw their cigarette butts into a special kind of bin – a fascinating and cleverly manipulated bin. Cigarette smokers outside Embankment station can use the new cigarette butt boxes to cast their vote on who they think is the world’s best football player: Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi.

This is a fun theory approach used in social marketing. More examples: the Peppermint Pointillist displays, also in central London. In this case, Hubbub had to solve a sticky issue: the average piece of chewing gum costs 3p to buy and £1.50 to remove. So a solution was
manipulated: stick your gum on a ‘x’ to reveal an image or fact.

I love these guys: manipulating objects for social good.

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Breast is best: marketing vs. marketing


“Marketing is all we see,” grumbled Keith Jarrett a few years ago in a masterly way. But marketing is also a technology employed by those who wish to achieve sales, exchanges or social goods, or all three at once, as defined by George G. Brenkert.

Breastfeeding has enjoyed all of these wishes. There’s no doubt that breast is best: breast milk is the gold standard for infant nutrition. It reduces rates of infectious diseases, sudden infant death syndrome, various chronic and non-infectious illnesses, and post-neonatal infant death. Nursing mothers also obtain considerable postpartum and long-term health benefits. American experts estimate that at least $4 billion could be saved each year in overall healthcare and indirect costs if at least 75% of mothers start breastfeeding and 50% breastfeed for at least 6 months. How could anyone beat such a great set of competitive advantages?

The baby formula industry did, through marketing. The first baby formula television commercial aired in 1989, targeting consumers directly. Brands give hospitals free or discounted products and encourage health workers to recommend their products. Product innovations include anti-gas bottles and nipples of every shape and size – some even with tattoos of Mickey Mouse. Supermarkets use data-mining techniques to send motherhood-related marketing materials to teenagers before their parents even know they are pregnant. Samples, coupons and membership in discount formula clubs are offered to the expectant mother as soon as she walks into a maternity store. The final effect of all this in Spain: 76% of new mothers are breastfeeding when they leave the hospital, but only 44% continue to do so after three months (compared with 90% and 63% in Austria). In marketing terms, that’s a great result. So let’s come back to marketing.

What does the social marketing process look like? Government supports research focused on the health benefits of breastfeeding. An official “baby-friendly” brand is developed to signal that a hospital supports breastfeeding through real policies: babies can remain in the room with their mothers, skin-to-skin contact between newborns and mothers is encouraged, etc. Aggressive advocacy positioning is toned down to avoid turning off some mothers. Claims of “you must and you will” are avoided; instead, mothers are supported with the message of “do as much as you can”. Campaigns target all kinds of stakeholders: family, friends, healthcare providers, etc. Breastfeeding is positioned as being better for all involved, less expensive, but requiring tons of stamina, time and indefatigable conviction.

“Marketing is all we see” – no doubt!

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Updating Obama’s Political Marketing

Elections to the European Parliament were held in Spain this week, and one “true winner” has emerged: Podemos. The mass media scorn this party, calling it by the most pejorative of names: a marketing operation, a media soufflé. The party’s leader, Pablo Iglesias, has predicted that Podemos “will be studied in university-level political science courses”. Allow me to weigh in on the social marketing angle.

Let us summarise the marketing-textbook reasons for the success of Podemos.

-          It has a successful specialisation strategy. Its segmentation is based on a concentrated strategy: young, educated “digital natives” who despise the right and are disillusioned with traditional political parties. It has positioned itself in terms of difference (it’s just four months old!) by dramatising in the media its antagonism towards Rubalcaba, Intereconomía and the right.

-          It has a coherent action portfolio. Its “sloganish” name is a nod to Obama. Its communication is focused on social media. It is an innovator in ambush marketing: it attacks right-wing television channels until they bite and invite them on the air, first to ridicule them and only later to offer a rebuttal. Its world-weary leader, a professor of political science, has been operating an online television channel for three years. His simple, emotional discourse steers clear of intellectualism and avoids alienating the mainstream culture. All this is mixed with simple messages: I won’t travel in business class; while on the campaign trail, I will eat for less than €10/day thanks to a crowdfunding campaign.

Podemos has been especially successful among young and middle-aged people. The mainstream parties dream of courting these segments, but they don’t even know how to get their attention. Pablo Iglesias has managed to do just this: he combines Gramsci’s concept of cultural hegemony with the emotion of the “homeland” concept, deployed judiciously; he accepts television as the medium and manages to get free, debate-heavy access, plus subsequent views on YouTube; he defines his leadership as a political communication device and plasters his face all over the party’s ballots.

In the five days since the elections, the other parties have been frantically throwing together talking points about Pablo Iglesias: he’s a marketing operation, he’s a populist disaster, he’s a freak. As our invited lecturer Toni Puig (who you really ought to hear speak) once said: the best marketing defines its strategy on the basis of strong values. Any values.

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Bananas speak louder than words

A round of applause for Alves and Neymar’s #WeAreAllMonkeys! This excellent social marketing campaign has achieved incredible quantitative results, as well as criticism from the usual anti-marketing quarters. Let’s take a closer look, now that the criticism has started to drown out the praise.

Barça football player Dani Alves has continually been the target of racist insults, monkey noises from the stands, and bananas launched onto the field during breaks in play. Throughout his 11 years playing in Spain, Alves has been calling for greater awareness and measures against racism.

Actions speak louder than words: During a match on 27th April, Alves picked up a banana that had fallen at his feet and took a bite. His friend and teammate Neymar subsequently launched the hashtag #WeAreAllMonkeys. The quantitative results on the Internet speak for themselves. Let us add our qualitative analysis:

-       Criticism: It’s not original – Pa Dembo Touray ate a banana during a match 10 years ago. Solidarity is not the same as fixing the problem, and awareness is not enough. (These critiques are heard in the non-profit and public sectors, which firmly believe that marketing is negative and trust only their brainy public policies.) The hashtag is wrong – it should say #weareallhumans. And the worst: It’s not spontaneous; there’s an advertising agency behind this; it’s a professional job.

-       My professional recognition. These two professional football players are not just mindless poster boys. They decided to act when no one else would. (Two years ago, the Spanish football federation chief declared that “racism does not exist in Spain”.) Theirs is a simple campaign that has been professionalised (by Loducca Publicidade) to ensure excellence: the simple gesture of eating a banana is the essence of a global viral phenomenon. And what’s more, it works.

Studies show that young people see racism as a stigma on a par with suicide or drugs. They conclude that no adult is willing to intervene. And they dream of global multimedia campaigns in the popular media featuring the testimony of bystanders. We happily overlook the Samsung product placement in selfies posted by celebrities, but if Neymar hires an advertising agency, it strikes us as pre-planned. Neymar and Alves are bystanders who knew how to kick-start a social media campaign.

Have you done anything this big or this useful?

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Everything in the world is about sex (except sex)

Applying marketing to social issues always raises eyebrows and gets people talking – yet another advantage of striking chords that are still capable of surprising the customer/citizen. Here are two examples that recently made headlines in Europe:

-       The Danish travel agency Spies is selling city holidays with a campaign called “Do it for Denmark”. Market research has shown that Denmark’s birthrate is very low and falling, and that Danes have 46% more sex while on holiday. The resulting advertising campaign appeals to patriotism by encouraging Danes to take a libido-boosting getaway. The special offer: Couples who can prove that they conceived during the trip receive a three-year supply of baby essentials. The result: “Do it for Denmark” now has more than a million Google hits and the campaign’s YouTube video has been viewed more than 7 million times. Likes and dislikes: Some blogs are sensibly debating why the Danish protagonist of the video is not wearing a wedding ring.

-       Six recent political science graduates from Pompeu Fabra University have created a website called Sexy Europe that aims to “get new generations interested in Europe’s promising political future”. The founders believe that information about Europe is lacking in the media. They went to fill this gap specific values tailored to young people: a particular communication code, an “EU for Dummies” section, and opinion pieces.

How should we measure the success of these marketing campaigns? Pregnancies? Votes? YouTube views? The percentage of Danes conceived abroad already stands at 10%, and early forecasts indicate that only 28% of young Spaniards will vote in the upcoming European election. Perhaps we shouldn’t call this social marketing, but rather private companies capturing attention, awareness and differentiation using social values.


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Invisible maladies: disease, illness and sickness

“Society pays a lot of attention to neurodegenerative disorders, cancer, and other diseases that can easily capture an audience’s interest. Other devastating diseases are victims of invisibility, like tuberculosis, the Cinderella of marketing,” wrote Imma Monsó in La Vanguardia. Or as the great Keith Jarrett once said, “Everything is marketing.”

The stakeholders surrounding a particular disease need to understand that diseases must be marketed in order to secure resources, to get patients to follow treatment, and to raise awareness about prevention.

We recently conducted a study to find out which diseases spark the greatest interest among Spaniards: in first place was cancer, followed by AIDS, leprosy, Alzheimer’s disease and anorexia. Let’s compare these results with the list of the most common diseases: in first place, obesity, followed by anorexia, cancer, asthma and AIDS. The public’s level of scientific literacy is low, but we must remember that understanding follows motivation. Only when people believe they can get something out of knowledge will they make an effort to acquire it.

Gaining knowledge about health essentially depends on the media – that “old goat”, in Norman Mailer’s metaphor, that eats tidbits, gristle and garbage cans but eventually expels stories that seduce readers. The media know how to emphasise the patient’s human side, and in so doing they achieve an applied understanding of the difference between disease (that which doctors detect and treat), illness (the subjective experience of health changes and their consequences), and sickness (the “sick role” played by the afflicted individual).

People’s beliefs are the main factors that determine their health-related behaviour. Healthcare and social-marketing professionals should therefore aim to bring invisible diseases out of the shadows – even if it means mounting endless telethons.


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Crown marketing: corporate branding or proselytism?

On unveiling its new marketing project, the Spanish Royal Household took pains to stress that it was, in fact, marketing, and not proselytism. What’s the difference?

Balmer has conducted studies on the monarchies of Great Britain and Sweden, focusing on the concept of ‘corporate brand’. He concludes that the ‘royal branding mix’ involves building a corporate brand identity around five attributes: royal, regal, relevant, responsive and respected.

However, the Spanish monarchy is a unique case that has nothing to do with Balmer’s results. The Spanish Royal Household recently presented a new three-year marketing plan oriented towards children. Here are the main steps they have taken:

-          Market research prompted them to adopt a segmentation strategy focused on children between the ages of 9 and 12 who are unfamiliar with the Royal Household. They avoided the segment with the most negative vision of the monarchy (ages 18 to 22), and E.Life specific studies revealing the public’s feelings about the Royal Household (negative in 58% of cases).

-          They had a former Disney animator create a specific website for children as an addition to the Royal Household’s main website. Spanish teachers will be encouraged to use the site to correct the educational deficiencies that have led to the present situation. The site offers as value creation for the stakeholder teachers photos and videos of the royal family, as well as printable drawings and cut-outs.

-          The Royal Household spokesman reiterated that the project is not proselytism or an attempt to sway public opinion. It is a belief shared by companies in many sectors: if we educate and inform – if we simply show reality – then we’ve already created enough value to dodge the competition (republicans, anarchists and the disillusioned). It’s the same logic that the King of Spain used after his African hunting trip was brought to light: “I’m sorry, I made a mistake, and it won’t happen again.”

Marketing knows how to listen, how to identify motivations and barriers, and how to modify its solutions in order to create more value for users. A principle neglected when the spokesman mentioned a reply given by one boy when asked what the king and queen do: “They don’t do anything, because they’re the king and queen.”


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Marketing Catalonia calling

Since 1952, when Wiebe first asked whether we could sell brotherhood like we sell soap, the application of social marketing has grown to infinity and beyond. But the marketing process requires that we modify certain attributes of our cause to make it more valuable to stakeholders.

Using the strongest social movement in Europe at the moment (with 30,000 volunteers and 150,000 likes on Facebook) and public demonstrations as a best practice, let’s innovate to create value in the international media: let’s market Catalan pride.

In this marketing effort, our cause is up against fierce competition – they harp on the concept of the “silent majority”; they insinuate a “shock-and-awe” ideological terror campaign about the effects of independence, while standing behind a leader who only mentions “openness to dialogue”; a member of the Spanish Constitutional Court declares that “any political event in Catalonia involves acts of onanism”; and the CNI  – the Spanish spy agency – have a plan to be ready when the shit hits the fan.

The Catalan Way is a best practice in social marketing. Let’s use the Baltic Way project as a benchmark: a physical human chain spanning Catalonia. Let’s add extra value by drawing on a historical concept like ancient Rome’s Via Augusta – the road to follow. Let’s use visible, easily identifiable colours and combine them with surprisingly integrated Sikh and Samoan citizens. Let’s adopt the principle, espoused by the Catalan National Assembly, that “whoever comes will be counted as an independence supporter; if you don’t want to be counted, stay at home” – a classic nugget of public demonstration management. And let’s embellish it with modern tools – we’ll measure it using digital traces such as Twitter to obtain an innovative digital effect of the 400,000 people it took to span 400 kilometres. And we’ll track references to Spanish prisoners in the New York Times to give meaning to the human chain – the latest and most dramatic expression ever seen of a powerful social movement marketing itself to international stakeholders.

Any recommendations for the next public demonstration in 2014?


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Universities lost in marketing

Are you embarrassed about using marketing to achieve your objectives? We see this embarrassment in many students in our Executive Education programmes for the non-profit, healthcare and professional-services sectors. They know marketing is useful but prefer not to be seen doing it. The same thing happens with university education: do we have students, participants, users, consumers or clients?

I want to share three examples that illustrate this anxiety: 1) One business school bragged in its advertisements that it had “participants”, not students. 2) After the University of Málaga, a public school, explored a private sponsorship agreement to cover the needs of students with limited resources, it was accused of considering an outrageous, Francoist proposition. 3) The director of a leading university who urged his organisation to adopt a stronger market orientation was described as pushing “aggressive sales”. All three examples reflect the debate over how marketing should be applied to university education: value, stakeholders, market or sales orientation.

Researchers (Redding, Zell)have analysed the key parameters: Who is the decision-maker in the education process (public sector, parents, companies, users or faculty members)? What is the role of students in the service, in the evaluation process and in satisfaction surveys? How are educational and, later, career goals achieved?

We want to shed some light on this debate by making a couple of points. Students are clients (individuals for whom professional services are rendered), not customers (a clearly distinct concept). Furthermore, university education is a service with a high degree of professionalism, a strict code of ethics and self-regulation, wherein the rights and obligations of both parties are clearly established in a relationship based on trust, interdependence, active client participation and a high degree of mutual respect. The only valid alternative to this view is that university education is a product or a cash cow.

Shapiro memorably defined the complexity of marketing thusly: “What the hell is market-oriented?” Now we know that this process is poorly understood not just by society, but also by some of the business schools that teach it.

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