Social Symphony


Gunther Koo - Thursday, April 26, 2012

At the recent ANA Masters of Marketing sessions in NYC, big brands like Coca Cola, Unilever and Anheuser Busch outlined how much things are changing. They described their new course based on today’s reality of people with a loud voice and showed they are far along in execution to harness this power of the people.

They made clear that they have made a dramatic turn and are midway on their new course… pointing at building direct relationships with people.  Each of these global brand leaders shared how they are embracing people as partners in their global growth and how social has become a key component of their success. These gentleman had more to say than can appear here, this is what stuck in my ear.

Joe Tripodi CMO The Coca-Cola Company spoke about getting comfortable, losing control, and  building a path to help Coke loyalists become advocates. Stating that advocacy for your brand is the highest level of marketing, he declared that people are becoming a brands strongest allies and an extension of their sales force.

Joe spoke about Coke implementing an enterprise-wide social strategy, stating that “we have no choice, it is what people want.”  He spoke of how Coke is engaging the market through positive communications with “Coke Happiness” offering a brand promise of fun, freedom and refreshment that resonates the world over. 

To do this Coke is becoming an agent of positive change in the world and leading a cultural dialogue between people helping people share a Coke and activating Coke employees worldwide, to come together and embrace change in a new way.  Joe finished with an App that let you buy a Coke for random people all over the world showing smiling strangers connecting around their Cokes and Coke machines.

Chris Burggraeve CMO Anheuser-Busch InBev spoke about how beer is the world's original social network, helping real people to connect in real life for thousands of years, turning complete strangers into best friends forever. AB is using all social network, making them meaningful and creating a direct-to-people channel, filled with content that is relevant to them.

AB builds the line, “Grab some Buds’” into everything they do and links it back to social media thereby pulling people in to build relationships.  They have changed their thinking from seeing a person as a target, to a mindset in which true consumer empathy -understanding how people see themselves, their hopes, emotions, fears and aligning with them to be a positive force in their lives.

Now the focus is on “Fans First,” 30 million fans and growing. Fans are people who have elected to enter into one-on-one dialogue and AB is building a social beer eco system always focused on Fans First to drive positive brand health into the future. 

Marc Mathieu SVP  Marketing Unilever – Spoke of a fundamental shift to purpose driven marketing that is changing the corporate culture at Unilever. “We are embracing the vision and reality of a sustainable culture so we can have a world of abundant resources where 9 ½ billion people live sustainably. This is about promoting a world of optimism. “Marc is calling for a “’Reinvention of Marketing’ by putting people at center as human beings not targets.”

He spoke of marketing and the TV show Mad Men’s tag line… “Where the truth lies.” That he understood the word play and asked, do we really want to keep lying? He challenged all to think through what will work in a social world where people see through lies easily. “Social gives no choice… adopt or die”.

Marc noted that digital opens the door to everyone to be a marketer and they are moving fast to build their advocate base on three pillars: putting people first, creating brands with purpose, and rebalancing the logic and magic of marketing. Unilever will promote the idea of pure water, of sustainable food, of good health and democratize the idea that all people should have access to these.


These brands are on the right path. They are helping people talk about themselves in relation to the brand. They are making deeper, more meaningful connections around what is important to people. They are understanding what is missing in people and helping them find what is truly meaningful to them related to the brand. That is how you build relationships and create passionate brand advocates.

The words Happiness, Purpose, Empathy are exciting to hear from the folks with the budgets who will determine the direction of marketing. They are putting into practice what we have been saying for years, that “your brand is no longer what you say it is, it is what people say it is.”

When people have your megaphone, when 85% of all video’s on YouTube about Coke were not created by Coke… you have to figure out a way to get comfortable not being in control. The way is to create and make available a Conversational Identity™, a deeper, more meaningful and fully formed social personality that will help people relate and share a positive message about your brand.

How you think about marketing matters, how you think about people matters, your vocabulary matters. Talking about targets, campaigns, conquest, consumers… all send messages to your team and partners that nothing has really changed and we can all wink and nod our way through this… that TV will bail brands out in the end. Those days have ended. The new day is truly based on power to the people, orchestrated around a recognition of our basic humanity and its pretty awesome.



Gunther Koo - Friday, October 28, 2011

Last week’s ANA Master of Marketing was an interesting gathering in Phoenix of many of the world’s top brands and marketing minds. We heard from marketing leaders at AT&T, IBM, Kimberly Clark, Kraft, Weight Watchers, EA, Visa, facebook and others about how they are looking beyond today and getting people involved with purpose, truth, authenticity and fun. Most all of these brands displayed a sense of optimism, a structure for growing relationships with people and a strong growth story driven by smart marketing. IBM talked of character as their north star; Weight Watchers centered on Customer Truth; Kraft about taking big leaps based on great ideas, and Kimberly Clark on finding authenticity with people. WHY DIDN’T I THINK OF THAT This was all good but what got attention, what might provide a platform for innovative thinking around this truth, authenticity and character was the story of carrots and garbage. Two companies had the room buzzing. Light bulbs seemed to go on around the room. It was the light of …“why didn’t I think of that?” In a three-day conference like this, there is a great deal of time spent in lunches, cocktails, dinner and more cocktails. This is where you hear the smack downs and shout outs. From what I saw and heard, the favorites were Bolthouse Farms “Baby Carrots, Eat ‘Em Like Junk Food” and Terracycle’s “Turning Garbage into Gold.” Both of these addressed huge problems; garbage and obesity, that our marketing has been complicit in creating. Burying us in our own garbage and becoming so fat our health as a society is at risk, makes most other problems pale in comparison. Seeing the numbers for obesity in the US, state-by-state, year-by-year, in heat maps … someone saw a business opportunity. PICKING A FIGHT WITH JUNK FOOD Bryan Reese, CMO of Bolthouse Farms and his team first had to back out of their mindset of carrot producers as their competitors. They realized obesity was the problem and junk food was their real competition. and created a plan to change the habits of youth junk food consumption, where obesity typically begins. He had the house rocking with clever creative based on ”Baby Carrots, Eat ‘Em Like Junk Food.” They picked a fight with junk food and drove double digit growth They used creative marketing to convince teenagers carrots are cool. Funny TV spots of carrot guns, vegetable drawers of death social games, carrot sex spoofs and much more get attention of youth. They also replace vending machines in schools with baby carrots coolly wrapped to look like junk food. “We use the vending machine to communicate funny, instead of how about we eat baby carrots?” CHANGING THE DEBATE ON BRAND RESPONSIBILITY Which brings us to garbage. Albe Zakes – VP at Terracycle, told us how they have grown from a 2-man dorm room operation to a global phenomenon that collects and repurposes waste in 15 countries on 4 continents. Repurposing brand waste has become the real focus... repurpose and reuse being the key words. TerraCycle has changed the debate on brand responsibility. They realized every brand has a waste issue, most all their packaging is non recyclable and brands are not stepping up to deal with it. They pitched brands that spend millions on this packaging and branding to reuse their brand packaging and avoid the pollution of landfills and incineration. It is catching on. Kraft Foods, Frito-Lay, Mars, Kimberly-Clark, L’Oreal Coca Cola and others have signed up and created partnerships. The brands allow TerraCycle to repurpose their used packaging… their garbage… into useful, sustainable products. Capri Sun juice packs are repurposed, sewn on to products like purses backpacks and lunch boxes and sold next to Capri Sun juice packs in Wal-Mart. People see and hear this story and feel these brands are responsible, are now a part of the solution and share that with their friends. SPREADING FAST ACROSS FOUR CONTINENTS TerraCycle partners with schools to set up search brigades for collection of chip bags, juice packs and 50 other reusable garbage items which TerraCycle pays the school for, making it a win-win for the brands, the people, the stores and Teracycle. This approach is spreading fast across 4 continents as it makes sense for all parties. In terms of garbage, making money on it and turning it into new branded products for the original brand, this is brilliant. Not only do they shame the brand into being responsible for the waste product of their production, they get them to co host the reuse of that product, find a new market for them and earn money and good will. These two companies have addressed man’s most basic questions which we have ignored for years; what am I going to eat and what do I do with my garbage? Instead of a food which is bad for society and ultimately bad for marketers, they prove we can provide good food and do smart things with our waste. SOCIAL MEANS GET THE SUPPORT OF THE PEOPLE NOW Our ever-growing social world where people have the power to turn the spotlight means that brands are under a microscope of responsibility. Today’s “Occupy Wall Street “might become tomorrows “Occupy Your Brand”. All these brands recognized the changes that social media have brought to their world and are looking for ways to evolve in ways that will get people to support them. IBM’s “Character”, Weight Watchers “Customer Truth”; Kraft’s “Great Ideas”, and Kimberly Clark “Authenticity" could all end up there. Let us hope this is our future and that marketing rises to make this a better place where we all win. Kudos to the ANA for a hosting a wide-ranging discussion and cheers for carrots and garbage.