Opinions And Ramblings By Adam Kmiec On All Things

Tag Archives: Crispin

How To Protect An Idea

When I was working at ConAgra Foods, one of the agencies we partnered with was Crispin Porter + Bogusky.  They were maddening to work with.  They never delivered what they promised or delivered it when they promised it.  Their communication was the worst I’d ever seen.  Frankly, I’m not sure how they lasted as long as they did.  We eventually parted ways with them after the Orville Deadenbacher fiasco.  We should have parted ways earlier.

As difficult as it was working with CP+B, I did learn something very important from their team.

To keep an idea from dying, you have to protect it.  So what Crispin would often do to protect an idea is keep the idea big.  What does that mean?  It means you only share the idea…in total…when it’s finally too big to kill.  In the case of Orville, this meant never showing a rough cut of any kind till just before the ad was slated to run. The media had been bought. The sponsorship was locked up.  I was not in the rough cut meeting, but I can’t imagine our leadership looked at it fondly.  But, at that point, what were you going to do?  Not run the ad?  Eat the TV spend? Blow the sponsorship?  Nope, the idea had gotten so big, you couldn’t kill it.

Granted, that’s an example of how this approach, protects a big idea…that’s just plain bad.  But, the concept isn’t lost. In complex organizations with multiple stakeholders we often feel a need to share ideas early, so that people can “weigh in” and egos aren’t bruised.  But, every meeting to share your idea is an opportunity to water down the idea, till eventually…it’s dead.

This fear of seeing an idea die because you shared it too early is happens all to easily, especially if you’ve seen it happen before.  The sting, sticks with you.  It gnaws at you.

So, if we want to protect ideas and we want to be collaborative, what do we do?

Convert Your Harshest Critics

I loathe to praise work done by the juvenile delinquents at Crispin Porter And Bogusky, but I think they’re really on to something with this new campaign for Dominos.  The new campaign includes spots featuring Dominos chefs going door to door to face their harshest critics.

The campaign is pure brilliance and even got me to order up some Dominos.  The new pizza is definitely head and shoulders above the flavorless cardboard they previously passed off as pizza.

Why is this brilliant?  Why do I like this campaign?  Because, Dominos is doing what every company should be doing…converting their harshest critics into hardcore fans.  Think about it.  In today’s crazy interactive age, tools and platforms give everyone a voice.  Unfortunately, that voice often seems to be used for either harsh complaining or amazing praise.  There’s rarely a middle ground.  Think I’m off my rocker.  Go to twitter and search “Delta.”

Are you back?  Good.  Are your eyes bleeding?  There’s a lot of disgruntled people.  And, you can’t make everyone happy.  But, what if you could pick the loudest, meanest, most dissatisfied customers and turn them into raging advocates?  They’re obviously already passionate.  They generally have a following…an angry mob of some sort that they’re leading.  Some have even already created a mini-groundswell (think Motrin Moms).

Let’s be honest, hardcore dissenters often outshout even the most ardent supporters of a brand or company.  It’s to a company’s advantage to flip these people into fans.  But, most companies simply ignore these folks.  I’ve been as big a complainer about Delta as anyone…well maybe not anyone…

But, rather than Delta trying to convert people like Tara and me, they’re puttin their head into the sand.  How does this make any sense?  It doesn’t.  This is like knowing you have rust on a car frame, but just ignoring it.  It doesn’t make the rust go away.  In fact, ignoring it helps ensure the rust spreads and eventually rots out your car…or perhaps in this case, your brand.

If you’re a company looking to find success in today’s ever changing and real time environment give some thought to investing in converting your harshest critics.  You just might find that small investment has a big ROI.

After publishing this, my good friend Michael Leis (a really freaking smart guy) sent me his interpretation of this idea from 2009. Like I said, he’s smart. Give it a read.

Why The Agency Of The Future Looks Like My Fantasy Baseball Team

You know what I love about fantasy sports? I get to play the role of general manager and customize a team to my liking. I’m an Atlanta Braves baseball fan. And as much as I love my Braves, the reality is at the beginning of the year, I’m stuck with the team they’ve put together. But, when I’m playing fantasy baseball I get to choose the combination of players I want…the ones I think are best for my team philosophy…the ones who will help me be a champion at the end of the season.

Essentially, what I get to do is create a custom team. Custom is a beautiful thing. It’s the kind of thing that people are willing to pay more for. Whether it’s clothes, cars, jewelry, kitchens, houses, shoes, etc.; people pay more for custom.

But, think about the traditional client-agency model. It’s not custom at all. Client X choose agency Y. Agency Y now puts together a “custom” team to work on that client’s business. There’s only one problem. This custom team is being put together from a small pool of talent. It’s a small pool of talent because a good portion of the agency’s talent is already assigned to other clients. Most of the A level talent is stretched too thin or pre-allocated to a specific existing client. So when the agency wins a new piece of business they ultimately combine internal talent (limited pool) with external new talent (also a limited pool) to create a “custom” team.

Hmm…that doesn’t seem very custom does it? Enfatico, was an attempt to create a custom agency offering to support one client: Dell. It was created at the request of Dell, not at the request of WPP leadership. It failed. It failed miserably. It didn’t fail because of lack of effort. No, it failed because Martin Sorrell “drafted” the wrong people to put on his team. It failed because Enfatico, was owned by WPP and therefore had to leverage the WPP network for talent, operations, logistics, etc. Essentially, they shrunk the draft pool and after shrinking the draft pool they drafted horribly.

Despite Enfatico’s failure, I think they were on to something. I think they were on to what the future of agencies will look like. Dell was bold in asking for a custom agency to support their business. They saw that the traditional agency model was not going to drive them to success. But, they made a mistake in using an agency holding company as the general manager/contractor.

You’d think with Enfatico’s rapid demise, I’d be supporting the status quo. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. See, I think clients are going to learn from the mistakes Enfatico made, but leverage the strengths of the concept. Let me break it down:

  1. You’re a client. You want the best of the best working on your business. You’ve finally realized that the old way of shopping for an agency just isn’t working.
  2. You also realize that it’s time to stop nickel and dime-ing your agency partners…and if you’re willing to pay more than you have in the past, you also want something better than what you’ve gotten in the past.
  3. That means, you’re ready to pay for custom. So instead of hiring a consultant to lead an agency review, you hire a consultant that acts more like a general manager/contractor. Their role is to assemble the best collection of talent against a defined set of roles. In short, they are responsible for recommending the draft choices. Ultimately, the client gets the final say on who gets “drafted.”
  4. Now, because you’re willing to pay for top talent, the entire market is open. The draft pool is equal to the size of those people in the industry or simply interested. Everyone, is an option.
  5. So, you might score person X from Ogilvy to be your lead account person, person Y from Edelman to head up PR, people form W+K, Crispin, BBH, etc. for your creative team, and the list goes on and on. Literally, imagine a situation where you the entire universe is your talent pool, you can draft a team of high quality talent, sign them to contracts (ensures continuity), and then let them run wild on your business.

That’s the future of the client-agency relationship folks. There’s no doubt about it. Of course, future, is a loose term. It might not happen in 2010 or 2011, but make no mistake, it’s coming. Agencies that start snatching up talent, regardless of existing need, will be the ones who make it. Look how smart Edelman was to lure David Armano away from Dachis and then pair him with Steve Rubel. You could literally argue that Edelman has positioned itself as the de facto leader in interactive strategy, social business and consumer insights.

This isn’t a crazy concept.  For years this is how broadcast production has been done.  Agencies came up with the idea and then worked with the best producer, director, editing house, etc. to come up with the best execution.  In the last few years we’ve seen the same thing happen with interactive/digital production.  Perhaps my favorite example of this was when BBDO rode Big Spaceship to a Cannes Lion…and then of course didn’t credit them for any of the work.

If there’s one thing that’s always on every agency’s business plan every year, it’s the need to improve the talent. Unfortunately, not many agencies are willing to commit the time and dollars to do it…and to be honest, why should they, when clients historically have refused to pay more for that added talent.

I’ve got a feeling that’s all going to change. CMOs, VPs of Marketing, agency executives, and the like; stop reading AdAge and stop doing the same thing over and over, but expecting different results.  Instead, start learning how to play fantasy baseball and pick up a copy of Moneyball. The future of your business just might depend on it.

The Devil Is In The Details – How Whopper Virgins Missed

Many of you, no doubt, are familiar with the Whopper Virgins work by CP+B for Burger King.  Even I openly admit to liking the concept, the ads, and the site.  The campaign relies on TV awareness to drive people to a web site.  Simple enough.  But, there are two giant flaws in the campaign and AdAge covers it really well here.

Flaw #1: The didn’t invest in any paid search engine marketing.
Flaw #2: They didn’t optimize the site to index against Whopper Virgins AND Whopper Virgin (sans S)

So why are these flaws?

Because nearly 50% of the searches are for Whopper Virigin (no S).  And when you type that into Google (because no one really types in the URL) you don’t see any paid search ads driving you to the right site nor do you see Whoppervirgins.com appear on the first page.

Paid search should be part of EVERY TV driven campaign.  It has to be.  People may not remember the URL, the brand, or the product, but they generally remember the story.  My favorite example of this was how GM outsmarted Ford during the 2006 Super Bowl.  You can read the full story here.  The short version is the following:

  • Ford paid a boat load of money to run a Super Bowl spot touting their Ford Escape hybrid
  • In the spot they had Kermit The Frog sing, “It’s Not Easy Being Green”
  • GM didn’t run an ad, but they did buy a lot of paid search around the concept of the Ford ads; keep in mind they can’t legally buy “Ford” or any other branded/trademarked name
  • Ford didn’t buy any paid search
  • So when people were looking for that ad that featured Kermit, guess who came up in the results? GM, not Ford.

Again, purchasing is such a basic and simple part of a campaign.  Next time we think about vanity URLs, like WhopperVirgins.com we should always try to get the misspelled versions, invest in some paid search, and optimize the site to cover a wide range of terms.