Thursday, September 29, 2011

Brand Über Alles*

Integrated marketing? Says who?

The history of marketing is the history of silos. What do I mean by that? Every marketing segment has its own silo within the corporate structure of many of the largest companies. Don't discuss a direct marketing problem with  public relations, because they live in two different worlds... even though we may be addressing the same product campaign!

I've noticed lately that, in some companies, social media has been separated from public relations (aren't we all in the same conversation?) and advertising is certainly separate. To me, this is craziness, in light of the internet bringing everything together. Currently, the chief marketing officer in some is a unifying solution, but the position is not universal.

The unity issue was summed up in a session sarcastically titled: "Who Invited Marketing to the Communications Party?" Presented earlier this month at a meeting of the Arthur W. Page Society (a professional association for senior public relations and corporate communications executives), it undesrscored the importance of all marketing elements working together.

On the panel was Shelly Lazarus, the legendary Chairman of Ogilvy, who said "It's all about the brand - everything you do is about enhancing the brand or diminishing it. It is about integration. The CEO owns the brand, which is then implemented by thousands of people around the world. Let's eliminate the silos!"

Following the talk, I spoke with Ms. Lazarus about how to move corporate thinking away from silos to set up well integrated departments. She responded, "If there is a CEO with even limited marketing experience, I have often been able to advise him or her of the wisdom of unifying the marketing elements under one umbrella, consistent with the 'one brand' philosophy. And several have done it. So if you want this to happen, seek out the CEO." 

To get there, she advised, old prejudices have to be dropped. People have to be educated. We need to change such adages as - advertising doesn't understand publicity - and vice versa. Or investor relations and government affairs are outliers, so they shouldn't be part of it. "We are all in it for the benefit of the brand. We need to understand each other." 

The internet has brought integration. Recognize it. Those who don't will most likely not survive.

*Brand above everything else.

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