Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Global CMO Interview: Trevor Edwards, Nike

'Ideas Rule. Ideas Are in Charge'

By Jeremy Mullman

Published: June 14, 2010

CHICAGO ( -- As Nike's top marketer, Trevor Edwards, VP-global brand and category management, has helped the world's leading footwear and apparel company grow its market-share lead by becoming possibly the world's most accomplished digital marketer.

Under Mr. Edwards' watch, with a global marketing budget of $2.35 billion (which includes advertising, promotions and endorsement contracts), Nike has grown an already impressive record for innovation with new products such as the iPod-integrated Nike Plus and the online shoe-customizing NikeID. And it has set ROI-obsessed marketing industry tongues wagging as it repeatedly finds ways to create compelling content viewed online by millions without so much as a TV spot fueling it.

Nike executives say there's no formula for their hit-making, but rather, in each case, the company starts with a story to tell consumers and then decides which media or technological tools will be best suited for it.

For instance, at this summer's FIFA World Cup, which Mr. Edwards notes will be watched by half the world's population, Nike executives say they are particularly excited -- ironically, given their digital leanings -- about an epic TV spot called "Write the Future," from Wieden & Kennedy, which Mr. Edwards said was one of the best the company has ever done.

Ad Age: You have had tremendous success with big, global ideas, but we've also seen you connect with very successful local insights, such as the "Huevos" soccer campaign in Mexico. What's your strategy for finding those local insights?

Mr. Edwards: We have teams of passionate people all around the globe. And they love sports, and they love the sports they participate in. We have a process in our organization where we share ideas across the world. When we did the last World Cup, one of the things we did do was follow the rise of social networks. But we didn't think of it as social networks, we viewed it as a phenomenon of people on these social sites connecting with each other. And that started out [with local sites] in Brazil and in Korea. And we saw that and said, "Well, that's a pretty cool idea."

Ad Age: At the same time, though, so much of what you do is global, particularly a lot of the viral video stuff. And different markets have different sensibilities, so the recent Tiger Woods ad, for instance, might not be well received everywhere. How do you deal with the lack of control?

Mr. Edwards: "Control" is an impossible word. I don't think it's something we can control. What's interesting is that, as much as we've had tremendous successes with videos, we've also had quite a few things that just didn't work. You just don't hear about them, and that's part of the reality of what we do. But, yes, there are things we do that are sometimes polarizing. Yes, we knew it would be provocative. But we felt the athlete's voice had been lost in the conversation. And having him, his voice, out there was important for him, and it was for us.

Ad Age: You work with so many agencies. How do you manage a global agency roster?

Mr. Edwards: Loosely. (Laughs) Look, ideas rule. Ideas are in charge. And they come from people who work inside Nike and from people who work outside Nike. The way that we work isn't the classic "we brief you and you do this." We like to keep the process very open so the best of the ideas can come out. And if you sat in on a meeting with an AKQA team, an R/GA team, a Wieden & Kennedy team and a Nike team, you would have no idea who was whom. We see ourselves as all on the same team trying to get the best ideas for the consumer. And the work we're doing around the World Cup is representative of that.

Ad Age: You also approach ROI a lot differently than, say, Procter & Gamble or some of the big, global consumer-products companies. You're a bit more relaxed about it. Why?

Mr. Edwards: If you seek to innovate and you're constantly trying to measure the price of innovation, you are going to struggle. When you're innovating, you're often breaking new ground, so you can't measure that sense of what's yet to come. Our model focuses really on getting the best message to that consumer in the most holistic way. And, within that, we're going to take some things that we know work. And we're going to take some things that we're still trying out. But we don't sit there and try to measure all the different pieces. We try and see how the whole thing works, and what we learn from it. We really pride ourselves on innovating. Consumers expect brands to be smart and creative and fun. And if you try to measure it all the way, you might never get there.

Ad Age: What's the thing that you, as a global marketer, spend the most time worrying about?

Mr. Edwards: Making sure we're staying ahead of where we think the consumer is going. Are we making sure our teams are enabled to do creative in the best way they possibly can? At Nike, the value of what the marketing organization brings to the company is embedded in everything. We spend much of our time thinking about how the landscape is changing and how we have to change our brand in the context of that landscape.

The Global CMO Interview: Keith Weed, Unilever

'The More Global You Are, the More Digital You Become'

By Jack Neff

Published: June 14, 2010

BATAVIA, Ohio ( -- Simon Clift is a hard act to follow as Unilever's chief marketing officer. But Keith Weed, who set out to do that in April, is doing it with some added power.

Like Mr. Clift, he reports to CEO Paul Polman. But Mr. Weed's position comes with an appointment to Unilever's executive board alongside top regional and category bosses and formally expanded duties over the whole range of the company's communications and sustainability efforts.

Mr. Weed wants Unilever, second only to Procter & Gamble Co. in global ad spending and largest outside the U.S. with total spending of $7.4 billion last year, to be seen as a marketer with as much skill as clout. Being named the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival's Marketer of the Year this month helps. But to that end he also took the company's business-unit leaders on a trip to Silicon Valley in May; will look outside the company to bring in talent in such areas as mobile; and is pushing Unilever agencies to broaden their capabilities.

Ad Age: How would you characterize your global go-to-market strategy?

Mr. Weed: We have two very distinct focuses in our business. One we call brand development and the other we call brand building. Brand development is in charge of the brand positioning, the brand advertising and indeed the innovation packaging [around the world]. There are more similarities between the Axe consumer in Wisconsin, Mumbai, Rio and Shanghai than there is between the Axe consumer in Wisconsin and [his] mom, the sister and uncle. On the other side we have brand building. The brand builders are very much in a country so they are engaging with consumers and, importantly, retailers and ensuring we are very active in any local media. When both come together, that's marketing.

Brand builders [create] the local buzz and the excellence in execution. The brand developers enable us to leverage our scale and innovation in R&D and brand innovation in terms of equity in advertising.

You can imagine that [this model initially created] some tensions, and of course it did. Those tensions have worked through the system, and, in fact, my appointment as executive across marketing is actually a declaration that this approach is here to stay and providing competitive advantage.

Ad Age: What's your biggest challenge?

Mr. Weed: Digitalization and globalization feed on each other. The more global you are, the more digital you become, or the more digital you are, the more global you become. [Consumers see] between 2,000 to 10,000 commercial messages a day. We're brilliant at filtering it out. My role is to break through.

Ad Age: Are you also trying to broaden the global scope of where you get talent?

Mr. Weed: We're pretty good at that already. We're an Anglo-Dutch company, and until I arrived on the executive board, there weren't any English guys. Have you seen many American companies that have no Americans?

Ad Age: Where are you finding your largest marketing opportunities globally and how are you leveraging those?

Mr. Weed: To me, opportunities imply white spaces. Wouldn't you think that after being around quite a few years that we would have launched a few of our big products everywhere? [But] we just launched Lipton in Spain and Domestos in Italy. We still have spaces even in the developed world for launching our existing range. Beyond filling in the white spaces our biggest opportunity is filling out the price segmentation.

Ad Age: What's the rationale behind your global agency partnerships and infrastructures?

Mr. Weed: Having people who infinitely understand our brands and can work with us to build assets that we can then leverage is a right way of working. There is another dynamic, and that is we want to work with the best wherever they may be. We now have a roster of digital agencies.

I would love to be able to go to Ogilvy or Lowe and have them give me all my communication needs. In fact, when, recently, one of our roster agencies lost a digital pitch and they came to me complaining, I said, "Why are you complaining? I'm mad with you. It's much harder for me to have to work with a digital agency and you. Why didn't you win the pitch?"

[Unilever agencies] are investing hugely in digital, and I'm absolutely convinced they will get there because, as I've said to all of them, we're going to fish where the fish are.

Ad Age: Should agencies feel threatened by what Unilever has done in consumer co-creation or crowdsourcing creative?

Mr. Weed: I don't think they should see it as a threat, because to me this is about engaging with people, [so] you need to be a little bit playful and give people opportunities. The only way people might get a little bit confused is we have some of our smaller brands like Peperami in the U.K. actually moved much more in this area. I always reserve the right to have pilots here and there around the world. If I'm experimenting or piloting, it doesn't necessarily mean that I am going to apply it everywhere. But it does mean that I'm going to learn, and I prefer to learn on a small brand or in a small country.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Official Sponsors Score With World Cup

Adidas, Coke, Visa, Sony and the Rest Tout the Success of Their Soccer Activation

By Rich Thomaselli

Published: July 26, 2010

NEW YORK ( -- Americans might be slow in numbers to embrace soccer, but for advertisers, the recently completed FIFA World Cup was nothing short of a golden goal.

The six official FIFA partners successfully fended off some good ambush-marketing tactics, and while most of the evidence is anecdotal in nature only 15 days after Spain's victory over Holland, there is a cautious optimism that the sponsors -- Adidas, Coca-Cola, Visa, Sony, Hyundai/Kia and Emirates Airlines -- got a big bang for their $125 million.

IT'S OFFICIAL: Visa exceeded its expectations with its first-time sponsorship of the FIFA World Cup.

Moreover, the USA's performance at the event -- winning its group to advance to the Round of 16 -- not only helped nudge the needle on soccer's popularity in the states, but has enticed even more sponsors to join America's bid to host either the 2018 or 2022 World Cup.

"I've got an interesting perspective since I was both here at home and on the ground in South Africa," said Kathy Carter, exec VP for Major League Soccer and the head of SUM, Soccer United Marketing, which helps cull multiple, soccer-central deals for advertisers. "I can tell that with rare exception, the official partners owned the World Cup. From Visa's point of sale to Adidas' presence all over, you knew who really owned the event."

Indeed, two weeks into the five-week tournament, NM Incite found that official sponsors connected better with World Cup fans than non-sponsors, registering an average 55% higher net likability than commercials from non-sponsors. The company has yet to release a post-World Cup survey.

Even better, Ms. Carter said the amount of advertising in the U.S. during ESPN's and Univision's coverage of the World Cup increased.

"This is the first time we've seen so much creative centered around the event," she said. "Frankly, I think it's a watershed moment in advertising on soccer."

Seemingly everybody scored. Most of the marketers said it was too early to glean ROI information from their investment (Adidas sold 6 million soccer jerseys during the tournament, 3 million more than during the 2006 World Cup in Germany) but they are seeing the success anecdotally.

Emmanuel Seuge, Coca-Cola's director of worldwide entertainment and marketing, told Bloomberg News that the soft-drink maker expects gains in sales and consumer perceptions based on its ad campaign and the wild success of the "Wavin' Flags" song the company commissioned for the World Cup.

Budweiser's "Bud House" digital-reality show, part of its Bud United campaign, was one of the top five branded YouTube channels during the span of the tournament from June 11 to July 11.

Visa's "Express Your True Colors" ad campaign from TBWA, as well as its ultra-successful YouTube channel from digital agency AKQA, were highly regarded. The "Go Fans" YouTube channel, in which fans could watch videos of famous soccer players make a "Goal!" call or upload their own videos, currently has 7.5 million views -- 50% more than the 5 million Visa was hoping for.

"This was our first time as worldwide sponsors and our first activation around the World Cup. To say that we're pleased would be an understatement," said Jennifer Bazante, Visa International's VP-global marketing.

Ms. Bazante said Visa decided to enter the World Cup fray after 20 successful years as a global Olympics partner. "The World Cup sponsorship was part and parcel of our overall global strategy," Ms. Bazante said. "They really have a lot of synergy. The World Cup is slightly different, though. There's a very strong fan base for the Olympics in North America. For the World Cup, it's strong in other parts of the world."

That leads to the inevitable question of whether soccer can fly in the U.S. From a fan's perspective, "the beautiful game" is nonetheless hard to compete with the meat-and-potatoes football, baseball, basketball and hockey mentality, but the signs are there. Organizers of the July 28 friendly match between Mexico's Club America and England's Manchester City at the Georgia Dome had to turn away sponsors after all the marketing slots were filled.

And, Ms. Carter said, there will likely be an announcement in the coming weeks from companies taking corporate sponsorships with the USA Bid Committee working on securing either the 2018 or 2022 World Cup.

A big help would be if Landon Donovan, the breakout star of the U.S. team who scored the unforgettable goal against Algeria that put the team into the next round, remains in the country to play in the MLS with the L.A. Galaxy.

Bob Dorfman, partner in the San Francisco firm Baker Street Advertising, said Mr. Donovan needs to stay top of mind since there are four years between World Cups, but that he is best served by being cast as a role player in endorsements.

"Whether he can carry a whole campaign on his own is questionable," Mr. Dorfman said. "I see him working best in a supporting role, maybe alongside Peyton Manning for Sony, with Jared for Subway, or maybe teaming with fellow players like Clint Dempsey, Tim Howard, Mia Hamm and Brandi Chastain for foot-related products like Tinactin or Dr. Scholl's."

Small Agency of the Year, Campaign of the Year: Definition 6's 'Happiness Machine'

Tasked With Challenge of Creating Viral Video for Coke, Shop Delivers and -- Surprise! -- Everybody's Happy

By Ann-christine Diaz

Published: July 26, 2010

NEW YORK ( -- In 2006, Coca-Cola entered a creative renaissance with the launch of its "Coke Side of Life" campaign, returning the brand to its feel-good roots, but with a fresh, modern spin.

One of the effort's marquee spots was the whimsical "Happiness Factory" commercial. Created out of Wieden & Kennedy and directed by Psyop, it depicted the whimsical world of animated Coke "factory" workers inside a vending machine, dispensing the magic formula to customers who dropped a coin into its slot. While the spot was a standout example of big traditional production, this year Coke teamed with Atlanta-headquartered Definition 6 on an unconventional, real-world approach to extending the happiness mantra further -- and into another dispenser of surprises, "Happiness Machine," Ad Age's Small Agency Campaign of the Year.

 Part of Coke's "Open Happiness" push launched in 2009, the campaign captured consumers' attention on site -- and online -- with a simple but remarkable real-world stunt. Armed with a budget of only $60,000, Definition 6 gutted a run-of-the mill dispenser on the campus of St. John's University in Queens, New York, and literally stuffed it with surprises. Co-eds who inserted a dollar into the slot scored not the expected 16-ounce bottle, but everything from 2-liter jugs to pizzas, flowers and 12-foot heroes.

Genuine glee was apparent in the students' reactions -- captured on video and then seeded for free on YouTube, Facebook and other sites. The film went on to generate 500,000 views the first week of its release and, to date, views have surpassed 2 million. The campaign was so popular the agency later re-created the film for broadcast and aired it during this year's season finale of "American Idol."

How they did it
The brief the agency received from Coke was to create something that had viral traction. However, "there are no guarantees regarding anything going viral," said Definition 6 Executive Creative Director John Harne. "Viral implies you are in a popularity contest; viewers must choose to see the video. This is unlike what most agencies create spots for. You cannot buy airtime based upon ratings. Instead, the best you can do is to seed the videos. We had a good strategy for that and were successful. And let's not forget luck. We informed the client there are no guarantees and we consider timing and luck part of our success."

But there are some points you can be mindful of. "You have got to be really original, entertain and be relevant to the audience you seek," said Mr. Harne. "The broader the audience, the tougher that is. Creating a viral video of a sick skateboard trick is far easier than creating something that has broader appeal."

Yet mass appeal "Happiness Machine" did have -- what's broader than something Coke deems worthy of a spot on "Idol"?

One of the things that makes the film so infectious is the authenticity of the participants' shrieks and giggles in the web film. That's hard to achieve when something is staged -- and, in this case, if the stunt itself carries on for more than a blink. (The shoot took place over two days.) "Inevitably, people got wise to the experiment," explained D6 creative director and director Paul Iannacchino. "Even so, there were always newcomers due to the heavy foot traffic, and we rarely repeated gags. So there was always something new and different to entice the crowd. Escalation was always a part of our plan on the ground and within the finished narrative."

This campaign, and other efforts that earn, not buy their way into consumers' radars, serve as a wake-up call for big marketers who continue to focus their media strategies and dollars on big budget traditional efforts. Also, like some of the other celebrated efforts of the year (Nike Chalkbot, Volkswagen Fun Theory), "Happiness Machine" brings the tangible, real-world experience back into an increasingly online world -- and earns that much more respect for it. "I don't think tomorrow's consumers will share a commercial, but give them an engaging piece of content (branded or not) that they identify with, that makes an emotional connection and resonates amongst the group you hope to reach, and the sky's the limit," said Mr. Harne.


Perhaps no bit of brand creativity captured the zeitgeist of a wicked 2009 better than Expense-a-Steak.

New York agency Walrus created the web and mobile app for client Fourth Wall Restaurants and its midtown eatery Maloney & Porcelli. The high-end restaurant is located in the heart of what is now essentially the financial district, serving the workforce of companies that became famous for all the wrong reasons in 2009 -- Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, AIG, and their brethren.

With the economy in ruins, and Big Finance standing there holding a bag full of your bailout dollars, even those who could still afford lavish lunches were balking at the idea of submitting lavish receipts to accounts payable. Maloney & Porcelli, like many restaurants, was suffering.

Enter Walrus with an ingenious bit of brand utility. With the Expense-a-Steak expense-report generator, restaurant patrons could continue to gorge on pricey protein and pour brown liquor over themselves in an unapologetic orgy of consumption and then, when it came time to submit the evidence, they could hit Expense-a-Steak Headquarters, input the total damage, click "Expense It" and get a PDF full of convincing-looking fake receipts -- from more democratic sorts of institutions like the Office Supply Hut and The Panini Experience.

Walrus also reinterpreted the restaurant's takeout bags, so patrons could look as if they'd been to Sbarro, Olive Garden or Chipotle (the latter two didn't take kindly to the free exposure and issued ceases and desists).

"We did a ton of interviews ... and the one big 'a-ha' moment that came out of it came from a restaurant analyst who said, 'Right now, nobody has the guts to turn in an expense report with a receipt from Maloney & Porcelli on it,'" said Walrus Chief Creative Officer and founder Deacon Webster. "That quote became the catalyst for the brief."

The Fourth Wall team "laughed out loud immediately and knew our core clientele at Maloney & Porcelli would understand the tongue-in-cheek humor," said Fourth Wall Marketing Director Allison Good. "Expense-a-Steak was a great idea at the right moment."

To help seed the app, Walrus enlisted PR/communications shop KCSA. "We weren't looking at your usual foodie outlets like New York magazine or the dining section of the Times; we wanted financial pubs." They got them, and more; the site earned coverage in just about every financial, advertising, food and consumer facing outlet.

According to Walrus, the project earned nearly 39 million media impressions, and 150,000 sets of receipts were downloaded in the first two weeks of the PR-only campaign. Most important, M&P reservations were up 15% in the wake of its launch.

"The app was even featured in Roll Call, which only goes to people on Capitol Hill," said Mr. Webster. "This had us freaking out for a few days because we had around 50 hits on the site from the Department of Justice and the House of Representatives."

Right. The fraud part. Mr. Webster said, to his knowledge, no one has actually tried to submit an Expense-a-Steak receipt. "We had our lawyers look into it, and they basically came back with something along the lines of: 'From a practical perspective, no business would ever sue you for this because if they actually paid someone's bills based on these receipts, that would force them to acknowledge that they have the most negligent auditing procedure known to mankind.'"

-- Teressa Iezzi

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Coke, P&G Find Consistency Wins Out for Global Sports Platforms

These Mega-Marketers Connected Every Facet of Their Sponsorship Activation to One Big Idea

By Jeremy Mullman

Published: July 26, 2010

NEW YORK ( -- Pricey sports sponsorships are often described as a casualty of the digital revolution. Why write a nine-figure check to be an official partner of the FIFA World Cup or the Olympics when a well-executed web video such as Nike's "Write the Future" can score 20 million online views or associate a non-sponsor more strongly with an event than the companies that paid for the affiliation?

Increasingly, mega-marketers are finding that the best way to make such sponsorships worth their considerable cost -- and fend off well-executed ambush attempts -- is to connect every activity related to the sponsorship to one big idea.

P&G shined at the Winter Olympics by aligning its ad message around one big idea -- mom -- to get its message across.

That approach paid off handsomely for global marketers such as Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola and Visa. Executives say that for brands such as these, tightly aligning all their activation for a sponsorship under a theme that reinforces their brand message pays significant dividends for them and limits opportunities for competitors.

"It is not important, it is critical," said Antonio Lucio, chief marketing officer at Visa, which saw dramatically improved returns on sponsorship investment after shifting all of its global activities under the "Go" platform, which emphasizes the access Visa provides during the 2010 Vancouver Olympics (and, subsequently, the 2010 World Cup). "At the end of the day, a sponsorship is nothing more than an amplification of the brand message, and it doesn't work if that message isn't ... consistent," he said.

There is, in some way, a back-to-the-future quality to this trend. Part of the reason heavily themed sponsorship efforts went out of style was that work built for one event is often difficult to repurpose for another. An ad built for a soccer tournament doesn't fit in during a basketball broadcast, and it's hard to justify the expense of creating reams of creative with such a short shelf-life.

But the soaring costs of sponsorships, combined with an increasingly fragmented media that both dilutes muddled messages and also provides countless outlets -- and ammunition -- for would-be ambushers has forced major-event sponsors to reconsider.

One mega-marketer that clearly came to the same conclusion was P&G, which reportedly spent $15 million to become an official sponsor of the U.S. Olympic Team and utilized the platform solely to court moms. The "Proud Sponsor of Moms" program at the Winter Olympics incorporated advertising and promotion for 18 brands, including endorsement deals with 16 U.S. athletes and the company's first corporate-branding effort on TV, marshaled by Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore. The company also set up a house in the Olympic Village in Vancouver for families of U.S. athletes and paid travel costs for moms of athletes who couldn't otherwise afford to come to the games. Besides some well-received ads produced in advance of the games, P&G also got NBC to provide footage of moms celebrating the victories of their children to show in a commercial that aired during the closing ceremonies.

The effort paid off in spades. P&G's favorability rating jumped 10 points over the course of the marketing program, said Global Brand-Building Officer Marc Pritchard, and sales and share of the participating brands grew ahead of projections. In all, he said the program generated 6 billion impressions, 3 billion of them from PR with 2 billion from TV and 1 billion online. Months later, he said, P&G is still getting letters from moms thanking the company for the work.

Key to making the program work, Mr. Pritchard said, was a strong unifying idea. "We had 18 different brands that sponsored 16 different athletes. Each of [the brands] had their own idea. That was good. But we didn't think it was enough. So then we put that to our creatives. The brief was what idea would link these 18 brands, 16 athletes and P&G. And at first it wasn't clear what that would be. [Wieden] arrived at the idea that behind every athlete was a mom, and moms are there to sacrifice every step of the way, and P&G is there every step of the way in appreciating them."

The 160-country, $600 million campaign Coca-Cola launched for this year's FIFA World Cup had a broader target in mind than P&G's Olympics push, but executives there insisted on a similarly singular message for the largest campaign in the history of the world's most famous brand.

Coke executives said they realized early on that, given how cluttered the media landscape is, they'd need a clear and simple message to break through. So in 2008 they took 13 different agencies to South Africa, took in a local soccer game and quickly decided that all of the company's activation around its massive FIFA sponsorship would focus on soccer celebrations as the expression of Coke's "Open Happiness" tagline.

That started with creative focused on the "History of Celebration," from Argentina-based agency Santo, which assembled highlights of some of the most memorable on-field rejoicing in the sport's history. The celebration theme was continued through Coke's sponsorship of the World Cup trophy's 126-city, 84-country tour, which drew 862,000 consumers, many of whom recorded their own celebrations that were uploaded to the campaign's hub on YouTube as part of a 120-country deal with the web-video colossus. As of June 25, the YouTube page and associated widgets had garnered 25 million visits.

The effort had a soundtrack, too: Somali-born artist K'Naan re-recorded a celebratory anthem with Coke-inspired lyrics, and the song hit No. 1 on iTunes in 15 countries. Coke also deployed the theme on packaging, producing more than 1 billion special-edition packages with the celebration theme.

And, in addition to all those Coke-branded billboards surrounding the pitch, the marketer also got FIFA to agree to present a trophy to the player whom fans selected as having had the best goal celebration at the end of the tournament -- via internet voting, of course.

While consistency is always a virtue in marketing, it's also a money-saver for global marketers such as Coke that need to operate in dozens of countries at once because they can deploy many of the same materials and programs with only minor tweaks.

~ ~ ~

Contributing: Jack Neff

Want to Score in Sports? Create a Connection

CAA Sports' Michael Levine on the Impact of Social Media, Scandals and NBA Free Agency

By Jeremy Mullman

Published: July 26, 2010
 CHICAGO ( -- Between the sponsor nightmares created by Tiger Woods' philandering, the National Basketball Association's recent free-agent frenzy and the unprecedented global sponsor activation surrounding the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the business of sports has perhaps never been in the headlines so frequently.

And few people are more qualified to make sense of this turbulent and fascinating year than Michael Levine, co-head of CAA Sports since 2007. Mr. Levine leads a unit that not only represents more than 500 of the world's most famous athletes, but is also active in the areas of corporate marketing, broadcast rights and sports-property sponsorship sales. Ad Age recently caught up with Mr. Levine for a wide-ranging conversation about the state of the sports world.

Ad Age: We're just starting to see brands take advantage of the social-media presences of players. Wilson just broke a campaign starring Roger Federer on his Facebook page, and you guys work with Cristiano Ronaldo, maybe the most social-media savvy athlete in the world with 6 million Facebook fans and his own YouTube channel. But I'm struck by how rare it is for brands to take advantage of opt-in audiences of millions like the ones Federer and Ronaldo can deliver. Are these online presences coming up more in your negotiations? How do you value them?

Mr. Levine: Yes, we are seeing more of it. ... I think we're at such an early stage here in the growth of social media, and as time goes on we're going to see it be a more and more important element within the marketing mix for brands. ... We think our properties and athletes who have passionate fan bases have more and more opportunities to connect with them these days, more than they've ever had. We see tremendous value in the power of social media for our clients.

Ad Age: In terms of athletes, who do you think is doing it the best in terms of how they work with brands right now, in social media and otherwise?

Mr. Levine: Wow, that's a tough question. ... I really just love the way Derek Jeter's career has evolved, and his relationships with brands over that entire career has had such a similar and artistic growth. It's been natural, it's been authentic and it's been relevant.

Ad Age: And he's a client, right?

Mr. Levine: Yes, he's a client, and I'm a Yankees fan, so it's doubly biased. But if you take a look at some of the specifics of his career, he's evolved gradually with his partners and had only long-term partners. He was the first baseball athlete to join Michael Jordan's Brand Jordan [a Nike subsidiary], and has continued to lead their charge in baseball. He's had a longstanding and highly visible relationship with Gatorade, which again is another authentic connection between the athlete and the brand. And then in the last 24 months he's established an important relationship that we're proud of with Gillette as part of their Champions program and, within 12 months of that relationship beginning, he becomes the Yankees all-time hits leader and leads the Yankees to their 27th world championship. So he clearly epitomized what a champion was before and continues to, and that's how it should work. Authenticity and relevance are two words we're always seeking in these types of partnerships.

Ad Age: Is there an example of a brand working in sports that you think is really doing it the right way?

Mr. Levine: It's tough to choose one. One that has really impressed us is Delta. They're in the midst of a very competitive landscape with three major New York airports. They've made a strong commitment to sports and entertainment through partnerships with the Mets, Yankees and most recently with Madison Square Garden. ... They've created this Delta Sky Lounge at both Citi Field and Yankee Stadium, and they'll have one at the new Madison Square Garden as well, and that's a place where their guests and the fans can enjoy their team in an environment that is familiar to them, like they have at JFK and LaGuardia. And the work they've done with David Wright and Derek Jeter and their foundations has been spot on from a cause-marketing standpoint. They hosted a really well-attended viewing party during the subway series [between the Mets and Yankees] this past month in Madison Square Park. All of these different things make people feel like there's a strong connection between that airline and New York. And that's what their goals were, and their execution is meeting those goals.

Ad Age: You guys handle sales for some of sports' greatest blue-chip properties, including the Yankees and Madison Square Garden. So many brands want to be associated with those types of properties, and we've sometimes seen these things get sliced up pretty thin. How do you find the right balance so that you get maximum value for the property without watering down the value of the association?

Mr. Levine: We've had the good fortune of working with the Yankees as they were entering the new stadium, and Madison Square Garden as we head into its transformation over the next three years. And in each case we spend a lot of time trying to create the optimal formula that'll work for both the team and its partners. Each circumstance is different, but I feel like the Yankee partners and the newest signature partners at Madison Square Garden -- Coca-Cola and Delta -- are thrilled with the way these have been set up.

Ad Age: I don't think we can talk about the business of sports today without getting into all these NBA free agents. This has really become a phenomenon, and the athletes -- particularly LeBron James -- seem to have milked the publicity from it pretty well. Do you think the way this has played out has been good for brand LeBron or brand Dwayne Wade?

Mr. Levine: This is such a unique moment in the NBA's history, and, from our perspective, we think it's a great opportunity for our clients to be front and center for unique and special career moments. To be front and center night after night, week after week, whether it's during competition or during the off-season, we think is a good thing. ... I think that even casual sports fans have had a hard time not recognizing that this year's free agency in the NBA was unique and special. And when sports [events] cross over from avid to casual fans, that's only good for everyone who's a stakeholder in sports.

Ad Age: The other big sports stories of the year are all about Tiger Woods and Ben Roethlisberger and the like. Do you see any changes in how brands are approaching athletes in the wake of these stories?

Mr. Levine: We're not seeing any significant change. When you look back at marketer decision-making, there's always a risk-reward calculation brands have to make. And that's true whether you're talking about a TV show, branded web content, an athlete or a property. You're seeing scrutiny from the brand side to see whether the ROI and the risk-reward ratio can stack up, but I don't think it's changed drastically in recent years.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

How Much Old Spice Body Wash Has the Old Spice Guy Sold?

The Answer Just Might Surprise You

By Jack Neff

Published: July 26, 2010

NEW YORK ( -- Isaiah Mustafa, aka "The Man Your Man Could Smell Like," has clearly broken through all previous viral-video records and achieved pop-icon status. The question is: How much Old Spice body wash has he sold? And the answer is a bit of a mystery.

Isaiah Mustafa, aka 'The Man Your Man Could Smell Like.'

Since Mr. Mustafa lent his sotto voce humor to the production wizardry of the Wieden & Kennedy ad in February, the Procter & Gamble Co. brand has been consistently gaining market share, even though that's only been enough to erase a deficit for the brand built up earlier. In the 52 weeks ended June 13, it had a roughly flat share in a category that grew a robust 8.6%, according to data from SymphonyIRI.

Then again, some other men's brands also have been making substantial share gains of late, including P&G sibling Gillette and Beierdorf's Nivea. And the thing Old Spice, Gillette and Nivea have in common isn't Mr. Mustafa, but rather multiple national drops of high-value coupons. They included buy-one, get-one-free offers from both P&G brands and up to $4 off a single bottle of Nivea Men from Beiersdorf, reflecting unprecedented levels of promotional intensity in the category.

Source: SymphonyIRI Dove Men+Care launched in February, so has no year-ago comparison.

Meanwhile, Unilever's Dove Men & Care has also picked up some share, albeit with lower-value coupons and higher price points.

The bottom line: Mr. Mustafa and Wieden & Kennedy are clearly selling some body wash, but they may not be responsible for the bulk of Old Spice's sales gain this year.

Consider the four weeks ended June 13, possibly the best month ever for P&G body wash. Old Spice's sales were up 106% from the prior-year period, jumping 4.8 share points in a category that grew 17.7%. But sales of Gillette body wash, also backed by buy-one-get-one-free coupons and by TV ads (but not Mr. Mustafa), were up a lot more, 277% and 3.9 share points, though it's by far a smaller brand in the category.

Nivea men's body wash, backed by little other media support but $4 coupons, saw its sales rise a mere 63% and its share go up 0.5 points.

And Dove Men & Care, the newest brand in the segment and against which all three were defending vigorously, dropped no coupons and was outside the main promotional burst of its February launch, but still held on to 2.4 share points for the four weeks ended June 13, down a bit from the 2.7 points for the 12-week period.

How much of Old Spice's recent gains -- of that 106% bump measured by Symphony IRI in June, for example -- come from Mr. Mustafa's ads and how much from the coupons? "It's impossible to know," said P&G spokesman Mike Norton.

Nor is it clear how much Old Spice's 106% gain will disappear from P&G's top line when coupon redemptions, which don't figure into scanner data but do come off the company's top line when financial results are reported next month, figure in.

But it seems clear the ad, which won the Film Grand Prix at the International Advertising Festival at Cannes in June, has had some positive impact. Old Spice began to reverse share losses as soon as it began in February.

Mr. Mustafa, a former NFL wide receiver who essentially switched to playing defense for Old Spice against the Dove launch, is now clearly back on offense. None of the data (including that for the four weeks ended July 11 that showed continued gains for P&G in body wash), yet reflects the sales impact of Mr. Mustafa's 186 highly publicized personalized response videos earlier this month, which generated more than 34 million aggregate views and a billion PR impression in a week, according to P&G. In a single week, views of the personalized ads surpassed the nearly 29 million viral video views of Mr. Mustafa's four TV ads since February.

As of July 18, Old Spice, with 94 million views, had become the No. 1 all-time most-viewed sponsored channel on YouTube, Mr. Norton said. Old Spice had eight of the top 11 most-popular videos on YouTube on July 16. In the six days following the start of Mr. Mustafa's personalized videos, he reached more than 100 million followers.

The effort sent Old Spice to more than 80,000 Twitter followers (finally ahead of Mr. Mustafa's own follower base of 30,000) and its Facebook fan base to 630,000. Facebook fan interaction jumped 800% since the launch of the personalized videos.

The effort also bumped traffic to to 300%, inspired a fan to create a website ( where people can download voicemail messages that sound like Mr. Mustafa, and inspired a marriage proposal from another fan, which was accepted.

In perhaps another boon for P&G, Mr. Mustafa has also inspired a counter-video from a man claiming to be a fan of Dove Men & Care, and who may be to some women a cautionary tale of the man their man could look like:

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Reckitt Adds Corporate Tags to TV Ads, but With a Twist

Effort Behind 'Brand RB' Targets Potential Employees, Not Consumers

By Jack Neff

Published: July 23, 2010

BATAVIA, Ohio ( -- Reckitt Benckiser is adding a corporate tag to all its brand TV ads starting July 26, but with a twist: The effort doesn't aim at consumers despite being attached to consumer media advertising.

Instead, the target is students the company is looking to recruit into its marketing and management ranks.

The "Discover RB" tags at the end of ads from Havas' Euro RSCG, New York, direct people to the corporate corporate site, built primarily to educate undergraduate and M.B.A. students about the company through features that include a recently launched Facebook trivia game about the company.

The tags also support the effort to transition people from calling the company Reckitt Benckiser, often colloquially shortened to Reckitt, to the new acronym RB.

While competitors such as Procter & Gamble, Unilever and SCJohnson have made similar efforts to draw their brands together under a corporate umbrella on TV and elsewhere in recent years, those efforts are usually directed primarily at consumers.

But RB is instead targeting students largely because some of its bigger competitors are already better known by them, and because the company increasingly wants new hires out of school rather than the more-experienced managers from other package-goods players it had tended to hire in the past, said Rob de Groot, exec VP-North America and Australia/New Zealand.

"When I joined this company 21 years ago, we were mainly hiring proven professionals," Mr. de Groot said, "We were failing to get the right mix into the organization. A couple of years back we changed that. ... We're now competing with other companies for [students] and we want to stress our unique culture."

Caroline Hey, RB communications manager, said RB found it hard to re-train people brought up in another culture, so the company has shifted to "getting folks early and invested in the culture right from the beginning."

The unique aspects of the culture, Mr. de Groot said, include rapid assignment changes and promotions and a preference for international transfers. As an example of that, he said, seven of the top nine U.S. managers are, like himself, from outside the company, while an American heads the German business.

"We think we have more opportunities for employees than other companies," he said. "We move them faster. We move them in here and once they can swim in the first pool we take them out and put them in the next pool."

He added: "I think we're also proud enough of our advertising now to put Reckitt Benckiser on there."

RB recently agreed to purchase SSL, maker of Durex condoms and Dr. Scholl's orthotic inserts in a deal awaiting regulatory and shareholder approval. That presents a couple more opportunities for corporate branding.

Mr. de Groot said he can't comment on whether Durex will get the corporate tag in ads until after the deal closes.

"SSL is much smaller in the U.S. than in Europe and developing countries," he said. "But obviously that gives us a nice opportunity to get much more critical mass, and I think Durex is a beautiful brand with a lot of potential."

Monday, July 26, 2010

Goodbye 'Reckitt Benckiser,' Hello 'RB'

Package-Goods Company Unveils Global Rebranding Effort

By Jack Neff

Published: July 14, 2009

BATAVIA, Ohio ( -- Reckitt Benckiser, the Anglo-Dutch company whose market performance for years has bested bigger and better-known peers, is launching a global digital campaign Thursday to address its brand-awareness deficit and start the shift to a simpler "RB" logo.

A digital campaign from Havas' Euro RSCG and Omnicom Group's OMD, both in London, breaks Thursday. The campaign focuses heavily on social media such as Facebook and LinkedIn, as well as global ad networks. Reckitt didn't disclose spending but hopes to reach 70% to 85% of its target of professionals ages 22 to 32 around the world.

The effort, which focuses on the U.S., U.K., Brazil, India, Russia and Germany, dovetails with the company's launch of a new corporate brand: RB. The letters will replace use of the full Reckitt Benckiser name rapidly, similar to the pace of conversions of such U.S. brands as Wizard and Electrasol to global equivalents Airwick and Finish, respectively, in recent years.

"We've really led our peer group the past five years on top and bottom-line growth and yet really nobody knows us at all," said Andraea Dawson-Shepherd, global corporate affairs director, who's spearheading the effort. "That means if you're looking for potential partners and certainly the up and rising talent, we're a 'who are they?' type of company."

A global survey of the company's name recognition last year was humbling, she said, putting it at a mid-teens percentage, even in the U.K., its home country. The company is best known in India, where it's made more effort at corporate branding.

The new RB handle also aims to get the company past a name that's difficult for people to spell and say in much of the world, and from a tendency even among people who know it to refer to it as Reckitt. The company was formed from the late 1990s merger of Britain's Reckitt & Colman and the Dutch Benckiser, with the corporate culture today deriving largely from the Dutch side, executives said.

The Facebook campaign is a contest with a $5,000 prize asking people to upload videos describing a product they want to market and recounting why they made the decisions they did. Ads to run on global ad networks aim to be interactive, too, setting out a problem with a series of solutions from which to choose, which shows the value the company places on quick decision-making, Ms. Dawson-Shepherd said.

For now, the campaign and logo won't be highlighted in ads or on packaging, she said, "but you never say never." RB chose digital for the effort, she said, because so many more of its young target get their news that way rather than in print.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Unilever's Lux Grows Sales in Asia and Latin America

A Q&A With JWT's Sam Williams About Selling Beauty Bar in More Prosperous, Competitive Emerging Markets

By Normandy Madden

Published: July 22, 2010

SINGAPORE ( -- Lux, one of Unilever's billion-dollar global beauty brands, has evolved from a bar soap once marketed in the U.S. using glamorous Hollywood stars into a leading mass-market brand in emerging markets. Sam Williams is in charge of Lux's growth as Asian and Latin American women become more affluent consumers and rival local brands get better at marketing. Ms. Williams moved to Singapore in April as global business director for JWT's Lux business, overseeing marketing for one of Unilever's biggest brands. Previously, she was the London-based director of JWT's Kellogg's business.

Ad Age: How big a brand is Lux for Unilever?

Ms. Williams: Lux is sold all over the world and sales are over 1 billion euros ($1.3 billion) globally per year. It's one of Unilever's top three beauty brands, along with Pond's and Dove. Lux isn't sold in the U.S. anymore; the brand is marketed under the Caress name there.

Ad Age: Why is the global role based in Singapore?

Ms. Williams: The decision was made by Unilever, but it's essential from an agency perspective anyway since the global VP for the Lux brand, Tian-Poh Sze, is currently based in Singapore. The job has previously been based in Sao Paulo and Bangkok but it's been in Singapore for about two-and-a-half years.

Ad Age: Where is Lux sold?

Ms. Williams: Lux is in 50 or 60 markets globally, but the top 10 account for most of the business is India, Brazil, U.S. [as Caress], China, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Thailand, South Africa and Pakistan. Those are the main markets for skin cleansing. If you include hair-care products, we would also include Japan. Lux hair-care products are only sold in Japan and China. Unilever has other hair care brands like Sunsilk and Hazeline in major markets, but they have not decided to introduce Lux hair care anywhere else at this point. Lux is also big in South Africa. We are exploring the rest of the African continent but that's more about sales potential than current sales.

Ad Age: What is the strategy behind Lux's marketing?

Ms. Williams: The last big relaunch was in early 2008, with a campaign called "Diva," which had [English actress] Rachel Weisz as the global talent. We also featured [Bollywood actress] Priyanka [Chopra] in India. The campaign ran in 50-plus countries and was all about soft skin and increasing your desirability. The campaign was very sensuous, kind of a mix between food and beauty, with edible-looking soft-type imagery. The strategy was about helping women stand out from the crowd; that's what our consumer is looking for.

Bollywood actress Priyanka Chopra was featured in Lux's 'Diva' campaign in India.

Ad Age: What's the current global tagline?

Ms. Williams: Unilever is a very innovation-led company so changes to the brand depend on what news is coming through. There's no tagline currently. That's one of my challenges, bringing some distinctiveness and coherence to the work. Campaigns can be local or multi-country, depending on the learnings, but that goes with the category. Women's interpretation of beauty can be very different around the world.

Ad Age: Has the global recession hurt Lux sales?

Ms. Williams: No, Lux is very mass-market, and most consumers are in developing and emerging markets. Even in the U.S. [Caress] is more of a Hispanic brand. Sales have grown every year for the past five years and Lux has strong brand equity and a strong presence in consumers' hearts.

Ad Age: Who is Lux's biggest competition?

Ms. Williams: It varies by market. Olay is a huge brand in China, but it's more premium. There are some strong local brands like Goodrich in India, Liushen in China and Parrot in Thailand and local value brands are a big point of competition, because they are becoming more sophisticated in their marketing. It's a big challenge for us, capturing women as they're trading up from soap bars and making sure they choose Lux rather than a local brand.

Other categories can even be a threat. In markets like South Africa, for example, a naturals range from Dettol was just launched and the packaging and in-store materials have more beauty cues than just germ-killing soap, so now there's competition coming from that category as well.

Ad Age: Is Unilever focusing more on digital marketing?

Ms. Williams: We've done some work in this area already, like the Catherine Zeta-Jones film last year in North Asia. It's definitely an area we're looking closely at -- mobile, internet, and digital platforms. Lux is a mass brand and TV is still important.

Ad Age: What motivates consumers in emerging markets?

Ms. Williams: There is a global identity for Lux packaging that gets localized in a pre-agreed framework, and TV ads are shot featuring local stars. What unites [consumers] is [their] modest background. As women become more sophisticated in their beauty regime, that's where other products start to come in.

In some emerging markets, women are still using beauty bars. As they become more affluent, especially in places like India and China with their emerging middle class, they start to bring in other products like shampoo, conditioner, lipstick, and then move into face moisturizers, fragrances, whitening and skin tone products ... the products become more specialized.

Lux is one of their first beauty products with accessible aspirations and that gets portrayed through the Lux woman in ads and how we portray her consistently. We talk about her being a woman who writes her own story. That's what unites consumers with the brand.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

31 Days of the Dragon

Agency: Ivy Worldwide
Client: Hewlett-Packard 

The HDX “Dragon” laptop had been on the market for nine months and sales were slowing down. Prior to another product launch, HP wanted to entrench  itself better in the blogosphere and other new media that influencers live in to reinvigorate buzz and sales around the laptop, while at the same time increasing the company’s awareness prior to a new product launch. 

HP gave 31 influencers each a Dragon laptop to give away to their readers. Each blogger created a contest tailored to their specific audience. They engaged them in discussions about HP and the Dragon and publicized third-party endorsements of the product and the company. 

Bloggers joined forces to build contest site and promoted the giveaway with active links to all the other sites involved in the program. They also created and shared other marketing materials, including graphics, logos, videos and RSS feeds. Reviews and readership benchmarks were shared and cross-promoted among the blogger community.

The campaign succeeded. As a result of more than 50 million media impressions, which reached 123 countries and were translated into 40 languages, sales  for the Dragon increased by 84%.