Opinions And Ramblings By Adam Kmiec On All Things

Category Archives: Campbell

Reflecting On Campbell

“To be the most digitally fit consumer packaged goods organization, in the world.” That was the lofty vision I set for The Campbell Soup Co., when I first joined. Nearly 2 years later, the organization has leaned in, for the most part, into that vision. I’m proud of where the organization sits today. The progress was dramatic and it was something you could feel. It went well beyond the surface. When leaving Campbell, I had a mix of pride, satisfaction and excitement. Being the 1st digital leader for such a historic and iconic organization was exciting. I think the organization and I were both initially unsure how this partnership would work. I was certainly unlike their normal hire. And I was skeptical how much they really wanted to change. But, 2 years later, it’s clear the partnership was mutually fruitful. I’m certainly a better, wiser digital leader today, than I was before I joined. And, it’s fair to say, the organization is in a much better position to succeed in digital, than it was before I joined. Pride I often remark to people that the work I was apart of at Campbell, was some of the best work I’ve ever been part of. There are 3 initiatives that come to mind and fill me with pride:

  1. Changing Our Digital Investment: In year 1,  digital media investment was increased by more than 40%. The headlines talked a lot about that number. It’s a big increase. It was increased even more in year 2. But, spending more, wasn’t the goal. Spending right, was. I’m proud of how those dollars were being spent. They were much more in tune with how consumers were spending their time across devices, screens, platforms, etc. The change in spend also lead to new partners and ways of thinking about the role of media. It certainly also helps that the ROI on many of the digital initiatives provided a real tangible positive return.
  2. Hack The Kitchen: This was the first major initiative that publicly demonstrated how far the org had come. From going beyond the traditional agency partners for ideas to enabling others to mashup intellectual property, Hack The Kitchen broke every traditional rule that existed, internally. The output was pretty damn good too. Sometimes initiatives are a success because of the cultural, process and mindset changes that occur. This was one of those initiatives.
  3. Launching The Consumer Learning and Interaction Center: Do you need a social media command center? I don’t know. I think launching one, just to have one, is a bad idea. But, I believe that launching one because you want to demonstrate to an organization the importance of social, real time decision making and that you can’t always do what you’ve always done, is a great idea. CLIC started out as a theoretical idea, the kind that starts on a white board and with people saying “it’ll never happen.” But, the people in that first meeting refused to let this idea die. I let others drive this initiative and I was so proud of their perseverance, drive and desire to bring upon something that would change the organization for the better.

Satisfaction In the Fall of 2013 we shared our progress with the Board of Directors and the Major Share Owners. One board member remarked that they never thought we’d get to where we were…ever, but to see it in only 2 years was nothing short of exceptional. At the end of the day, Campbell, like all public companies, answers to investors. A good board of directors, helps you deliver on shareholder return, while ensuring the company is well positioned for future long-term growth. To have the board validate our model and decisions, be impressed by the measured ROI of our digital investment and endorse our roadmap satisfied the burning question in my mind: are the choices I’m making, the right ones? Excitement My 2 years at Campbell were an amazing learning experience. As a marketer, leader, mentor, evangelist, business driver, etc., I’ve grown leaps and bounds. Building something from scratch is fun. It’s also incredibly draining. Every decision weighs on you. There’s no playbook to learn from, no original blueprint to assess and no trail to follow. The excitement that comes from blazing a path, creating a direction and building a capability is matched by the stress of wanting to be a perfectionist and do the organization, no harm. Heavy is the crown, and every day is something new. That’s where the excitement comes from! Building on that, I’m also excited about what’s next. The shelf life of a change agent is complicated. But, the ride, is exhilarating. Having helped build organizations, more than a few times, there’s 3 things I’ve definitely learned:

  1. The right talent is important, but perhaps not as important as the right cultural fit. You need a great team. Not a team of Super Stars, but a great team. When you hear stories about championship teams, you often hear about how great their chemistry was. Whether you’re building a Super Bowl team or a world class digital organization, chemistry matters. Individuals who are blessed with raw skills and technical prowess, but lack the cultural fit, aren’t worth the stress they cause.
  2. You need to know what you’ll comprise on. Some things are non-negotiable. Everything can’t be non-negotiable, but trust me, there are many times where compromise made in the sake of being a “team player”, simply sets you, your team and the organization back.
  3. Communication must be clear, simple and tailored to the communication medium. Seems like a no-brainer, but it’s amazing how complicated communication creates an inefficient organization.

I’m thankful Campbell believed in me and brought me on to be their first global digital marketing and social media leader. I have no doubt the world class team at Campbell, will build on the strong foundation we created and continue their progress toward being the most digitally fit consumer packaged good organization in the world.

Enabling Our Organization With Digital Fitness Kits

As I’ve written about before, we’re on a journey to become the most Digitally Fit Consumer Packaged Goods company, in the world. To make that happen, we need to run a virtual marathon, at a sprinter’s pace. Digital changes so quickly. One minute we’re talking about how Vine will be a breakaway success. The next minute, we’re throwing dirt on its grave, because Instagram with video is the Vine killer. It’s a breakneck pace. But, that’s why I love digital. No single day is ever the same.

I’m generally a high energy guy. Someone at the office once remarked that I always seem to have a bounce in my step. Well, today, I have some extra bounce. Digital fitness is about both a lifestyle choice and an every day commitment. Keeping up with our consumers and identifying the right trends to focus on, are critical to reaching our vision to be the most digitally fit. Today, after many months planning, we launched our Digital Fitness Accelerator Kit initiative.

Digital Fitness Logo

One of the things we’ve learned about our customers and consumers is the rapidly increasing importance of digital technology. To enable rapid understanding and adoption of some big trends, we identified a small group of people across the organization to be the first group to receive Digital Fitness Accelerator kits. I’m not gonna lie, I’m jealous; I don’t even have one yet!

The point of the kit is to provide participants with a a 90-day digital immersion across some key focus areas. After all, we need the right equipment to “train” for our digital fitness goal. In turn, we asked them for their feedback so that we could enhance the program and extend it to the broader organization.

So, what’s in the kit? It’s a collection of progressive devices, apps and information sources that allow participants to mirror the experiences many of our consumers expect today. These items are shaping the ways people connect with each other and manage their lives. Call it “fitness” or call it “knowledge” – this is the stuff we need to know to put the consumer first. To that end, each kit contained:

  • Roku – funny name, brilliant device. The Roku will help participants live like a cord-cutter, unfettered by cable TV. The traditional methods we use to connect with people are changing and Roku is an example of how.
  • The Numerati or Six Pixels of Separation – with both of these books, we’ll show how companies are integrating digital marketing, social media, personal branding and entrepreneurship to transform organizations. They also show the power of harnessing big data to make meaningful impact.
  • Recommended Apps – our head of Mobile and Emerging media courtesy of Zach Barkus, curated a list of 10 FREE apps and 10 PAID apps to download and explore. We actually provided little app cards, similar to the ones you’d find at Starbucks, that explained each app and why we included it in the list. We also added a $10 iTunes Gift Card to cover the paid apps.
  • Recommended News Sources – with all of us pressed for time and so many sources for digital news, my team created a list of trusted sources to help keep participants well-informed about the latest case studies, trends and competitive initiatives.

But, we didn’t stop there. Don’t get me wrong, that’s a heck of a kit, with just the above included. However, we went one step further. We included one more item inside that is the perfect intersection of digital and fitness. Each kit contained one of four devices that record and quantify the steps you’re taking, calories you’re burning and even the quality of your sleep. We provided either a Jawbone Up, FitBit Flex, Nike Fuel Band or Lark.

We know we’re living in a world of quantified lives. Enthusiasts of this movement use various self-tracking methods to “quantify” their approach to life and goals so they can see progress and areas where they need to focus. This might mean weight, workouts, energy management, sleep…even mood. We see quantified lives as something that’s here for the long term. The devices outlined above will help us start understanding why this trend will endure and how we can connect better with consumers.

Digital Fitness Accelerator Kit

Of all the kit components, I think I’m the most excited about the bag. Yes, I’m serious. It’s red, it’s lightweight, it has lots of pockets and it has a killer Digital Fitness logo on it. I have a feeling participants will be proud to carry their bag and show it off in meetings.

This was very much a team effort to make happen. From our IT Security team to the CIO to Sr. Level members on our brand teams; we had a lot of support to make this happen. It was Zach Barkus though that ran with the idea and brought it to life.

Building and enhancing organizations is fun and it’s rewarding. We’re betting that the Digital Fitness Accelerator Kit initiative is going to turn some heads, garner a lot of interest and rapidly bring people up to speed about the key trends we need to navigate if we’re to reach our vision and delight consumers.

Now, I just need to get my hands on my own digital fitness accelerator kit! Maybe, I’ll be in the next test group.

Friday Five

Roughly 5 years ago, I created “Friday Five”, a simple weekly email that went out to members of the organization who subscribed. Yes, people had to subscribe. I didn’t want to simply “blast” it to everyone. I wanted to people to want it; and I only wanted to send it to people who would find value in it.

Friday Five was born out of a simple problem: there’s simply too much information out there. Think about your own inbox right now. There’s email newsletters from existing vendors and agencies. Then there’s the FREE webinar invites. Let’s not forget about the invites from conference organizers, to attend and learn from experts. And then finally, you have the email chains that originated with someone in your organization reading an article about X…then wanting everyone else to be aware of the article. That’s a lot of information. A lot.

The problem with all that information is that individual pieces often contradict another piece of information. One newsletter says a Facebook ad generates $2.00 in sales, while another says it $14.00. That’s problematic when you’re trying to drive organizational change. There’s of course the other challenge…each and every vendor/agency has an agenda. That information they share is often used to push their organization’s point of view. For example, how many of you have seen an email headline saying something like “90% of the Best Performing Companies, Use Big Data.” And wait for it…that email comes from a Big Data company.

In any organization, big or small, you need to make sure the right information is reaching the right people. Friday Five was a way to make sure that happened. One of the very first things I did at Campbell was to send this email:

With so much information out there, links to click, articles to read, tweets to scan content to consume, it can get a little maddening. Every Friday, I gather up the 5 links (usually from that week) that you should spend some time reading. Feel free to unsubscribe, forward on, or request someone be added to the list.

The response was outstanding. That first Friday Five email dropped on Friday June 1, 2012…my second week at Campbell. We haven’t missed a week yet. It’s a lot of fun, to be honest. I get to play the role of master curator. Here’s an example of what I send in a Friday Five.

Obama campaign’s chief data guy gets candid about the data strategy that won the election
Great story from the guy who architected the strategy, based on data, the won the election. I love this nugget “We were heavily focused on open source, did a lot of coding ourselves, used a lot of databases, used Hadoop, R, Strata and worked with 20 different vendors,” – There is no 1 perfect source of data, but you can create a nearly perfect model by combining the right sources.

Teens aren’t abandoning “social.” They’re just using the word correctly
Much has been written of late about the decline of social media for the teenage segment. This is really a great example of poor insights being derived from great data. Take this passage describing the real reason Facebook usage for teens has declined:

“What is Facebook to most people over the age of 25? It’s a never-ending class reunion mixed with an eternal late-night dorm room gossip session mixed with a nightly check-in on what coworkers are doing after leaving the office. In other words, it’s a place where you go to keep tabs on your friends and acquaintances.

You know what kids call that? School.”

All social networks are unique. Each exists for a different purpose. We flock to them based on those unique purposes. As we think about how social integrates with our own initiatives we need to be clear on the experience we want to create and how a social network enhances that experience. If it doesn’t enhance it, we shouldn’t be using it.

Mondelez Program Creates Fast Mobile Pilots
I’m jealous of this. I admit it. The team at Modelez sees mobile as a critical part of their marketing success. To ensure they didn’t continue doubling down on the present at the expense of the future, they carved away dollars from brand budgets to fund their mobile futures initiative. A first of its kind program, Mobile Futures paired nine start-up companies with power brand teams to accelerate and scale existing mobile innovations in this first phase of the initiative. It’s smart and it’s a sign of where things are going. Speed wins.

17 (mostly failed) Brand Tweets From The Oscars
As we move to an age of what some are calling “real time marketing” we need to consider how to make our marketing more meaningful. This past Super Bowl was a tipping point for brands who might have been on the fence about social media marketing. Efforts by Audi, Oreo and Walgreens highlighted how providing quick and contextual marketing during an event can breakthrough. This post by Jay Baer does a great job of highlighting how easy it is to do bad marketing in social and how hard it is to do great marketing. As I turn the lens inward, we’ve definitely stepped up our game following the Super Bowl. For example, this effort by Campbell Kitchen during the Grammy’s sticks out as exceptional: http://bit.ly/WfVMp5 There’s still work to be done. The key for making a lot of this work is being honest about the social currency your brand has. Not all brands have a natural social currency that leads to a natural intersection of pop culture (eg The Oscars) and marketing. Additionally, I can’t stress enough the importance of planning. “Real Time Marketing” or whatever we need to call it, isn’t just about events, it’s about being in the moments and moments happen every day.

Nike takes social media in-house
Not unlike digital in the early 2000s, as organizations make social a key part of their organizations, they are changing their resourcing models for social media. Nike is the most recent organization to make the full transition of bringing social media in-house. The trend was started by Ford, roughly 5 years ago and has continued with companies like Burberry, Pepsi and Audi follow suit. I think this quote in a DigiDay article really nails the situation: “I am thinking social media strategy, planning and insights will all move in-house for this reason. Agencies will be relied on for creative executions and helping brands stay ahead in the space. What I am hearing from our agencies is that they are thankful for our digital talent, because it becomes easier for them to sell their ideas to us.” As Denise often mentions, we need to get closer to our consumer and really understand them. Our decision to bring social media in-house 3 months ago is enabling that to happen. So I guess you could say, it looks like Nike is taking innovation cues from Campbell Soup 🙂

That’s a typical Friday Five. Just five quick reads covering everything from macro trends (big data) to organizational models (staffing social in-house) to competitive tracking (everything Bonin does). Perhaps my favorite aspect of Friday Five is that it grants me the ability to eliminate hyperbole (aka giant headlines) and infuse pragmatism (aka reality). For example, people often talk about how amazing Oreo’s tweet during the Super Bowl was. I think it was pretty amazing too. But, not because of the creative. It was amazing to me because of how fine tuned they needed to be organizationally/internally to make it happen.

The headlines and emails from our partners would have you believe that the future of marketing was going to be glib tweets. The industry also touted the “virality” of the tweet. We did some real digging to understand the impact. We worked with some of our great partners in social analytics. The reality was, nearly 90% of all the viral coverage and sharing was from people in the marketing/advertising/social industry. That was a critical find. It allowed us to be more pragmatic about what we needed to do moving forward, instead of simply chasing the next big shiny thing. Being able to share that POV made future meetings more productive, because we could frame the conversation with real insights, not opinions.

I would encourage you all to find your own version of Friday Five. Don’t let the outside world steer your organization. You need to take ownership and lead the organization.

The Digital Fitness Journey – 1 Year Later

A year ago today, I joined the Campbell Soup Co. Wow, that went fast. Yesterday, the company released its 3rd quarter earning’s information. Look at the growth in the last year. Up $14+. That’s a product of the clear strategic focus the organization has and the exceptional talent delivering against that focus, every single day.

Frankly, I’m just lucky and often humbled to be a small part of it.

Campbell Soup Co. Stock Performance

When I was interviewing for the role I remember thinking, this company is going someplace…fast. You could feel it in the building. You heard it in the voices of the leadership. You read it in the headlines. Campbell was on a mission to be a meaningful part of the lives of today’s consumers and the next generation of consumers. The stock performance over the last year is just 1 validation of what my gut was saying a year ago.

Simply put, there was no way I was going to pass up on being part of the team looking to drive the change needed to reach our potential.

What I try to do every single day is live up to what we said in the press release, announcing my joining:

Our opportunity to engage consumers in new and innovative ways is limitless. I’m eager to work with the team and to leverage my experience to help grow the business and make Campbell one of the most digitally fit organizations in the world.

I feel good about where we’re at as the the first year closes.

We’ve upped our spend in digital. We also upped our expectations. You can’t have one, without the other.

We put together a world class team, spanning mobile, shopper marketing, social, insights and more.

We picked up the pace. I often say, speed wins, and we’re living up to that mantra.

We took calibrated risks that reflect courage and it lead to groundbreaking partnerships with Twitter, Catalina and the developer community.

We connected our consumers with our customers and did so in a meaningful way.

We formed a fantastic working relationship with our legal team; we even have a few of them on twitter, Vine and Instagram! I’m serious.

We pushed our partners to push us and it’s yielding great results.

We’ve also benefited mightily from serious cross-organizational support. I often remark, I’ve never been part of an organization that believes in the value of digital, as much as Campbell. I say it, because it’s true. It’s a luxury. Not every organization has it.

It’s that support, combined with a very clear direction, strategy and philosophy that’s enabled us to get so far, so fast. I marvel everyday at our progress.

To be fair, we don’t have it all solved. Often we find ourselves in very unchartered waters, not just for us, but for the category. When that happens, I’m appreciative of the trust the teams have in one another and the resolve we have to make our good, better and our better, best.

The future looks bright. We have the right leadership, organizational support and team to continue driving us toward being the most digitally fit CPG in the world.

As we look toward year 2, there’s 4 key things I’m asking of myself and our team:

  1. Keep improving the quality of our digital marketing: Our experiences must be meaningful and full of purpose. We’re going to deliver on the seemingly impossible ask of moving quickly and delivering high quality experiences. I think we deliver great experiences today. But, to be a leader, each and every touch point must be flawless.
  2. Put more wood, behind less arrows: We learned a lot in year 1. We’re going to apply those learnings to make sure we invest against the right ideas, platforms, concepts and formats to deliver scale and impact.
  3. Broaden efforts in mobility: We don’t believe the battle ground, long term, is the cell phone or tablet. It’s all screens…all the time. Mobile is confined to a screen or a device. Mobility focuses on access. It’s about making sure you can get the content you want, when you want, independent of the device. We’re already seeing the benefits of this approach with our participation in Target’s new Cartwheel platform. Mobility connects us with our consumers and our customers. That’s the right space to focus on.
  4. Make measurement more meaningful: As an industry we’re data rich and insight poor. It’s easy to say “big data” is the future. It’s harder to make big data work hard for an organization. We’re going to change that.

I can’t wait to see what year 2 brings. It’s going to be tough to top year 1, but that’s part of the fun. The bar keeps getting higher, as do the expectations. Looking very forward to the next 365 days.

Are You Thinking About Mobility? You Should be.

What is mobile?

When we think about mobile we think about someone that’s on the go consuming content on their iPhone. But, so much of what we do with our smartphones takes place on the couch, in bed and at the office, when we’re not out and about. When we talk about the mobile marketing landscape, it’s almost 100% focused on the ad offerings presented on a 4.5″ diagonal screen. Gosh, that seems limiting.

There’s simply too much fixation on 1 screen on 1 type of device. This isn’t about about screens or screen sizes. The real opportunity, the real upside will come from not think about the idea of mobility, not mobile. What makes our smartphones such valued devices is that it’s keeps us connected to all the things that interest us. It’s the portability of information and content that makes our phones powerful; not the other way around. Think about something as basic as the music you enjoy. It’s the ability of platforms like Spotify and Pandora to let us listen to our playlists on our desktops, iPads, Smartphones, game systems, TVs and more that enthralls us. It’s the service, not the device, regardless of how “magical” those devices are.

As I wrote in 2011:

Your car will be able to sync with platforms like Groupon Now, fourSquare and Google Offers. When you pull into a Best Buy, Starbucks or McDonald’s the car will automatically check you in, publish your check-in to your networks and serve you up an offer if one exists. Additionally, you’ll be able to use your GPS to find local and real-time offers.

We’re seeing this get closer and closer to reality with cars becoming wirelessly connected, app powered, personalized “devices. I think Ford is really on to something with their AppLink program. It’s where the future is headed.

If you’re planning mobile by screen, you’re missing the big picture…yes, even those of you who own a Phablet.

When we evolve from “mobile,” a screen, to a mindset of mobility, we’ll see the full potential of this space. Efforts like Google Glass, Pebble and Nike+ are giving us glimpses of what’s possible. But, we’re just scratching the surface. Content, be it recipes, your playlist, the photos from that great BBQ or dinner reservations, wants to be liquid and free flowing. It wants to be where you need it to be. And, isn’t that what you want too?

The mobile way isn’t going to take place on your smart phone; it’s just one battleground. Granted, it’s an important battleground, there are many more battles to be fought.

You don’t need a mobile strategy. You need a mobility strategy.

when you elevate the conversation to mobility, things become more complex. You need to think, not just about the devices, but also the content that flow to them. But, perhaps more importantly, you’ll need to consider the mindset of your consumer. That’s the most interesting aspect of all of this…what’s old is new again. It’s not about screens, technology or services. It’s about how they deliver the right experience at the right time to the right consumer. The “Bored In Line” moments are different than the “just woke up and I’m reading my emails in bed” moments. Both of them are different than the “I just got engaged” moment.

Content, not “content marketing” is going to be ever more important as we think about mobility. Great content fills in the gaps of time, but leaves you wanting to pick up the experience at another moment in time. That’s what makes platforms like Facebook and Spotify so interesting. I can start the experience with one mindset on one device at 6:30 AM when my alarm goes off and I’m still in bed…then complete the experience at 7:00 PM when I’m in the gym. That’s mobility. That’s the present. That’s the future. That’s what I’m focused on.

You Have An Obligation Not To Be A Dream Smasher

At SXSW there was no shortage of great panels, keynotes, content, insights and sound bites to consumer. With over 1,000 sessions, there was something for everyone. Of all the sessions I attended, the one that still sticks with me was Lawyered: Lessons from Foursquare, Meetup & Etsy. With the General Counsels from fourSquare, Etsy and Meetup, you knew the content was going to be great. They definitely delivered.

Brian Chase, the General Counsel of fourSquare shared a story about his transformation from “dream smasher” to sought out partner. It stuck with me. Days later, I’m still thinking about it. In any organization, there are no shortage of “dream smashers” who are on a mission to marginalize your ideas in the name of some greater good. That greater good is communicated in phrases like: risk management, strategic direction and many others. Regardless of what you call it, these dream smashers exist to slow you down. This would be fine, if their intentions were truly about the greater good. However, it’s clear from talking to many of my peers and reading outstanding articles like this one from Harvard Business Review, that most dream smashers, are more interested in owning the “Decision” and are fearful of the accountability that comes with risk.

The Crazy Ones

I like accountability. Always have. Noting we do is without risk. There’s always the chance you’ll be wrong, even when the insights are right. It happens. I believe my responsibility is to push an organization faster, harder and further than it ever imagined was possible. It’s part of the work ethic that comes with driving change. Driving that change means railing against the dream smashers. It means supporting dreams. It means giving dreams a chance to become real. It’s not easy. I’ve yet to meet anyone who thinks it is. It means, as said on the panel, “as a lawyer you’re better off never saying no. Say yes…if.” This isn’t specific to lawyers. Franky, I think they often get a bad rap. I’ve worked with some fantastic ones, over the years. It’s broader than lawyers. There are dream smashers everywhere.

Unfortunately, it’s easier to be a dream smasher than it is to be a dream driver. It takes more energy to drive a dream than it does to be a dream smasher. That’s unfortunate. It’s also why so many change agents burn out so quickly and leave an organization. As Seth Godin once wrote me:

“often, tribe leaders leave because they won’t sacrifice the tribe to please management

cost of changing the world…”

When you head into the office today, ask yourself, “am I dream smasher?” If you are, you might want to reassess your choice. It’s the quickest way to being cut out of the loop and being seen as the “enemy.” Even when you win, you lose. Crush enough dreams and the dreamers leave. When the dreamers leave, what are you left with, but eventually your own demise. Apple saw it up close and personal when they ousted Jobs…only to turn to him as their savior. If history has taught us anything it’s that dreamers advance this world. Christopher Columbus, Henry Ford, John F. Kennedy, Branch Rickey and so on. You don’t have to be a dreamer, but that doesn’t mean you need to be a dream smasher either. Dream big…or…go home. Simple as that.

Storming SXSW

It’s been nearly a decade since I’ve attended SXSW. Not because I wasn’t interested. I was. But, the time investment was always something challenging. Being away from the family for the weekend and out of the office for 2-3 days isn’t easy. Rather than attend, I’d use SXSW as a reward for my team. There’s simply no better event than SXSW for soaking in digital knowledge, meeting smart people and seeing where the industry is headed.

As we look to become the most digitally fit CPG company in the world, SXSW became a key event to focus on. Instead of attending CES, Internet week, AdTech and all the other great summits, we focused on the biggest and best for max impact.

We saw SXSW as a 4 day intensive digital fitness boot camp for the organization. To make attending meaningful, we created a Noah’s Ark model. Each brand/business lead was asked to nominate and send 2 people from their teams. Those team members were then paired with a digitally fit person from our marketing, advertising and digital teams.

With more than 1,000 different sessions, there’s simply no way to cover all the great knowledge, the competitive presence and the vendor assessment. The team’s were asked to attend sessions that would benefit their business and/or increase their digital fitness. For example, I attended a session lead by Target and Coke about their new corporate website redesigns being built around the Newsroom Websites.

Additionally, in a great example of collaboration and recognizing our “team” includes those from outside our walls, our agencies (many who were already planning on attending) joined us in being digital fitness guides.

I applaud our organization’s support of sending such a diverse and comprehensive team to SXSW. There’s no doubt the financial and time investment will pay dividends quickly.

There’s a certain responsibility we all need to have in attending. Following the trip, each attendee is to craft a recap outlining:

1. was it a good investment
2. what did they learn that could be applied to their business or another business
3. who would they nominate attend next year

This is the first time we’ve ever sent a team to SXSW and I want to make sure we’re seeing business driving benefits from attending. The early read from the team, is that we invested in the right event. To those who think SXSW has peaked or sold out, I don’t see that all. I see new relationships being formed and the bar being raised in content quality. Oh and the BBQ is better than ever.

As I’ve said time and again, we’re committed to being a digitally fit organization. We’re lucky that our leadership is willing to back words with follow-thru.

Moments Happen Every Day

As we move to an age of what some are calling “real time marketing” we need to consider how to make our marketing more meaningful. This past Super Bowl was a tipping point for brands who might have been on the fence about social media marketing. Efforts by Audi, Oreo and Walgreens highlighted how providing quick and contextual marketing during an event can breakthrough. This post by Jay Baer does a great job of highlighting how hard it is to do great marketing. Notice, I didn’t say great social marketing or great “real time marketing.” I said great marketing. Getting to great marketing is tough. It takes a near perfect storm of the right brand, the right team, the right opportunity and the right stage.

The key for making a lot of this work is being honest about the social currency your brand has. Not all brands have a natural social currency that leads to a natural intersection of pop culture (eg The Oscars) and marketing. Additionally, I can’t stress enough the importance of planning. “Real Time Marketing” or whatever we need to call it, isn’t just about events, it’s about being in the moment…and moments happen every day, not just during the Super Bowl, Oscars or Grammy’s.

I tend to think this is less about real time marketing and more about right time marketing. Real time marketing, as currently conceived, seems almost forced. It’s being fast for the sake of being fast. Right time marketing is more about making sure the right message, is delivered at the right time to the right audience. This isn’t easy. It takes work. It takes effort. It’s a process. It’s a marathon.

It definitely requires some new wiring internally. That re-wiring takes time. But, eventually the muscle memory gets there and it simply becomes the way you create amazing experiences.

As I turn the lens inward, we’ve evolved in the last year. I see progress every day. We, like many brands, definitely stepped up our game following the Super Bowl. For example, this effort by our Campbell Kitchen team during the Grammy’s sticks out as nailing the right moment with the right creative at the right time:

There’s still work to be done. We’re not 100% bright. No one is. That’s the fun.

There’s a certain level of “geek” in all of us. It’s part of what gets us excited when we see a great ad. One of the most challenging things is balancing the inner-geek with what’s right for the business. The inner-geek wants to do the things that are interesting, cool, innovative and headline grabbing. But, I have a responsibility to my team, the great brands I work on and the company who trusted me in this position. The easiest way to temper that inner-geek is to remind myself it’s about driving a brand’s success, not my own personal success.

Bar, Raised

Last week there was a lot of discussion about Oreo’s efforts during the Super Bowl. There should have been; what they did, with the speed the moved at, was deserving of recognition. The world moves in real time and Oreo has been the standard for the past year in how brands match that tempo.

Following the Super Bowl, our team regrouped, reviewed our own efforts, and had some great dialogue about how we move quicker and become more contextually relevant. The efforts inside of 3 days were nothing short of remarkable and lead to a standout performance by our Campbell’s Kitchen team.

Last night when Justin Timberlake took the stage for the first time in years, Oreo was quick to share their thoughts:

Not bad. Love the bow tie. Definitely on brand. Definitely quick. I like it. But, look at what Campbell’s Kitchen did at nearly the same point in time:

Notice the tint on our photo? As someone tweeted me last night, it’s the details that matter and we nailed it. I often say, speed wins. It’s true. But, nailing the details is what turns something from good to great. And in this case, we took an extra 5 minutes to nail the details. The tint is the same tint JT used when performing. We matched what was happening on TV, in near real time.

Kudos to the Mandy Weger, our brand team and our legal team. Without all of them, working together and striving for the same common goal, we couldn’t have made this happen. I can’t stress enough how important preparation was for this. The legal team helped us put together some guidelines, the brand teams met with the social media teams and we even leveraged some resources from the design team. Definitely a team effort. We shirked a “social media command center” in favor of some old school tools like eMail, Yammer! and phones. This allowed our teams to move quickly, communicate effectively and still spend quality time with family.

Not that I’m keeping score, but I think we won this round. Some say the bar is low for brands in twitter, because there’s so many bad experiences. I don’t necessarily share that point of view, but I understand where they’re coming from. Whether the bar is low or the bar is high, I consider the bar raised every day for us. That’s what keeps me waking up every day and coming into the office with fire in the belly.

Managing Through Change

Change, as they say, is the only constant. I’ve found, in my career, that those who can manage their way through change are often recognized as leaders. The uncertainty of change is what makes change so difficult. We’re accustomed to knowing what’s next. We’re conditioned and trained to have a set of steps that pave a way to the next “thing.” I think it’s why driving fast…around corners…is so scary. We don’t know what’s around the corner. It’s the unknown.

So here’s the thing then…if change is a constant and you know that organizational change will always happen…and those that manage their way through change are seen as leaders…then why, when faced with change, do so many people have such a tough time adjusting? They desire and then cling to action plans, definitions, and milestones. But, won’t those action plans, definitions and milestones just change? I mean, change is constant, right?

MARC USA, one of the best places I’ve ever worked, had a personality model that they built around the concept of an “ad.” People were characterized as either:

  • Headlines: people who just wanted the big picture
  • Body Copy: the devils in the detail people
  • Logos: valued the relationship above all else
  • Illustrations: wanted the spotlight on them

I was a headline/illustration. I’m sure that doesn’t surprise you. When it comes to change I just want the big picture. I want to know where we’re ultimately going to get to. What, the vision is. I trust the people and the organization to get us there. No plan, regardless of how well thought-out, is flawless and immune to change.

Change is constant.

Much of my leadership foundation is shaped by my mentors and the leaders I’ve observed. But, another portion comes from understanding the ins and outs of great leaders. Of all the leder I’ve studied, none inspires me more than General George S. Patton. With a Sinatra, “My Way” approach, Patton truly did it his way. He got away with “his way” because the results were continually there. He delivered. But, why? Well, if you read up on Patton, you learn three things:

  1. He was a student of history
  2. He lead from the front
  3. He made plans, contingency plans for those plans, and contingency plans for those contingency plans and so forth

Patton, more so than anyone on the battlefield, adapted to change. He had a plan, but didn’t panic when the plan didn’t go according to…plan.

I find significant similarity in the way a general plans a battle and the way a leader in an organization delivers on a vision. And when it comes to organizational change I try to be the one who keeps their head above water, focuses on the big picture and expects change to continue happening.

Expect the change to keep coming. Don’t focus on the “body copy” when it comes to change, you’ll just end up frustrated.