Tag Archive: Chrysler


“Did the (Dodge Ram) company really just use Dr. King’s words about the value of service to sell trucks?”New York Times, February 5, 2017

The unfortunate answer was … “Yes.”

Did somebody … anybody … at Chrysler suggest that its Super Bowl LII advertisement shown to 103.4 million viewers (Nielsen Ratings) may not be the best idea? One would hope the executive management at Chrysler is not exclusively composed of yes men and yes women.

If a viewer watching next Sunday’s Super Bowl LIII advertisements takes a sip of tequila every time a cause marketing spot comes across the screen, would that person be smashed by half time?

Based upon last year’s Super Bowl and the trend so far this year, Almost DailyBrett will take the over.

Even weighing Chrysler’s public relations/marketing disaster last February, it seems the trend toward questionable cause-marketing advertising is growing, not subsiding.

Razor Blades and #MeToo?

“Razor blade commercials aren’t supposed to make national headlines, but these aren’t ordinary times. Last week’s Gillette commercial playing on the #MeToo movement became the latest piece of corporate messaging to berate and belittle men.” – Karol Markowicz, New York Post

For Almost DailyBrett, it seems the growing use of cause-marketing advertising with predictable somber music and societal images are mostly lame corporate attempts to attach product brands to a public policy push or cultural icon.

The question remains: Are cause marketing advertising practitioners, who recommend paying $5.1-$5.3 million per 30-second Super Bowl LIII spots to their corporate clients, playing with fire works in the forest with a company’s hard-earned reputation and brand?

Consider Nike’s cause marketing folly of tying its “Swoosh” athletic apparel to Colin Kaepernick, who in many quarters is persona non grata for taking a knee on the flag, the Star Spangled Banner and America.

Is Colin playing in the Super Bowl next week? Will he ever play again? Almost DailyBrett will take the under.

We all know that Chrysler was burned big time for attempting to link the words of the late Dr. Martin Luther King’s sermons to the sale of Dodge Ram trucks.

Who thought this poor taste linkage was a good idea?

Ditto for Gillette tying razor blades to the #MeToo movement or Nike taking a knee on Old Glory.

Almost DailyBrett must ask: Were the ads submitted to focus groups (qualitative research)? What was the input of in-depth interviews from African-American respondents (Dodge), women (Gillette) and veterans and their families (Nike)? Was any random quantitative research conducted to validate or contradict the focus group reactions?

Tying the sale of muscle trucks by a publicly traded company to the words, works and deeds of a renowned assassinated civil rights leader/legend sounds risky at best.

The national response to boorish men continues to this day. Is Gillette taking a stand against the #MeToo movement? Hope not.

Does Nike management have a problem with the Star Spangled Banner?

Infamous Or Notorious Brand?

Defenders of dubious cause marketing ads, which draw justified rebukes, will predictably respond that millions of viewers now identify with the (tarnished) brand/product. They will piously state that nothing is worse than spending $5 million-plus for a 30-second spot and the viewers don’t remember the sponsor of the advertisement. Okay, but …

Your author is not carte blanche taking aim against all cause marketing ads.

For example, Verizon cleverly tied its wireless services to first responders running toward the flood, the fire, the earthquake … ensuring they receive the urgent call for their life-and-depth services.

What are Almost DailyBrett’s rules for cause marketing spots, whether or not they are intended for the Super Bowl of Advertising?

  • Appreciate that tribalism is rampant in America, and the warring camps simply do not care, let alone in many cases tolerate each other. Avoid taking sides (e.g., Nike). The predominant views in your locale (e.g., Beaverton, Oregon) are most likely not a reflection of the country as a whole.
  • Contemplate that movements are based upon redressing grievances. They have leaders. They have organizations. They have a determined cause. Don’t try to hijack a movement to sell your products (e.g., Gillette).
  • Invest in qualitative (i.e., focus groups, in-depth interviews) and random quantitative research (e.g. surveys). Don’t prejudge the results. If the respondents essentially question or even revolt against the proposed ad … don’t argue, don’t rationalize … drop it (e.g., Dodge Ram).
  • Embrace honesty with company management about the possible repercussions in terms of reputation, brand, sales, stock price, market capitalization, P/E ratio.
  • Consider that viewers are smarter than you think. They may not respond kindly to clumsy ads that attempt to sell trucks with the words of a slain civil rights leader. How about using puppies or horses to sell beer (just as long as no animals were injured making the ad)?
  • Know that cause marketing is overdone, and is almost becoming cliché. That statement does not preclude cleverly tying a relevant product (wireless communication) to first-responders (e.g., Verizon).

And most of all, follow the Almost DailyBrett Golden Rule: When in doubt, throw it out.

https://www.boston.com/sports/super-bowl/2019/01/24/super-bowl-ad-prices

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2018/09/04/nike-takes-a-knee/

.http://superbowl-ads.com/cost-of-super-bowl-advertising-breakdown-by-year/

https://adage.com/article/super-bowl/2019-superbowl-liii-ad-chart/315605/

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/05/business/media/mlk-commercial-ram-dodge.html

https://nypost.com/2018/02/04/dodge-ram-under-fire-for-using-mlk-speech-in-super-bowl-ad/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/arts-and-entertainment/wp/2018/02/05/its-been-a-tough-year-america-these-7-super-bowl-commercials-tried-to-give-us-hope/?utm_term=.3dc3a75c7cc3

Believe it or not chief executive officers are human, even CEOs that have attained rock-star status.

From Lee Iacocca of Chrysler, Jack Welch of GE and Steve Jobs of Apple, these names became dangerously synonymous with their company brands. Investors, media, analysts, customers, suppliers, partners and employees couldn’t get enough of them.

But what happens when these rock stars demonstrate their inevitable mortality? What happens when nature runs its course and the meeting with the grim reaper gets closer-and-closer…or actually occurs?

Is it proper to plan for the CEOs demise when she or he is successfully running the ship? It would be foolish not to.

Consider the Stuttgart, Germany sales call made by Texas Instruments chief executive officer Jerry R. Junkins on the morning of May 29, 1996. Junkins suffered a major heart attack and immediately died. There were no prior indications of heart issues with Junkins…and 58 is way too young to pass away.

junkins

The sudden passing of Junkins – maybe not a rock star, but certainly beloved by all who knew him at Texas Instruments – required a middle-of-the-night, all-hands-on-deck fire drill. The TI Board of Directors held an immediate conference call, designated Vice Chairman William “Pat” Weber as the interim CEO and started the process of searching for a new chief executive. The Investor Relations Department contacted the NYSE and asked for trading on the company stock (NYSE:TXN) to be halted until the Street had proper time to digest the news. They also made the necessary 8K filings (material event) with the SEC. And of course, the PR Department prepared the necessary news release and conducted media briefings announcing to the world Junkins’ passing, the selection of Pat Weber as the interim CEO and the upcoming search process.

Eventually Texas Instruments started trading again. Weber and the TI team picked up as best as it could for Junkins. And the board eventually selected a permanent CEO Tom Engibous. The key was that TI had a deep bench and a plan for succession…and that plan has been a classic example of successful crisis communications.

Many have wondered if the same would apply to Apple with its rock star CEO Steve Jobs when as the Economist headline stated, “The minister of magic steps down?” The answer so far is favorable to Apple…at least judging by the performance of the company stock (NASDAQ: AAPL)

The stock closed last Wednesday at $376.18 just before the company announced at the close of market that Jobs was going to permanently step down because of health concerns. AAPL opened at $365.08 on Thursday and closed at $373.72. The equity finished the week at $383.58 or $355.6 billion in market cap, actually higher than before the announcement of Jobs’ stepping down as CEO. Why was that?

One reason may be attributed to the fact that Jobs’ health concerns are not new to the Street and his eventual demise may have already been baked into the stock. He has taken medical leave three times, once for pancreatic cancer surgery and another time for a liver transplant. In his stead, Apple’s chief operating officer Tim Cook has assumed the leadership role three times and the Apple board is impressed as The Economist describes with his “remarkable talent and sound judgment in everything he does.” Jobs remains as chairman.

jobskeynote

So obviously Texas Instruments performed well in a fire-drill, aided by advance planning. Likewise, Apple (so far) has not been negatively impacted by the still-shocking-news that Jobs has relinquished the day-to-day responsibilities of running Apple.

Taking these two examples of well-executed CEO succession and others that come immediately to mind, what are some public relations/branding strategies to plan for an effective transition, thus preserving the company reputation and continuing to enhance brand equity?

Repeatedly Contemplate Succession. Even though “succession” is a very touchy subject in most companies, particularly for long-time CEOs nearing retirement and who detest the R-word, you still need to think about this inevitable day. The board of directors will make the call, but you need to cognizant of the strengths and weaknesses of all of the company’s executives. There is a good chance that one of these will serve as the chief executive at least in an interim capacity.

Put Your Bench Players Into The Game. Think of your CEO as the team head coach and the key executives as the assistant coaches. CEO time is valuable. Does the CEO have to be made available for every media interview or every financial conference? It makes perfect sense to show off your upcoming Wunderkindern. This technique also gives you an opportunity to assess who are your best performers before media, analysts, employees etc. in telling the company story. There may also be cases in which the CEO is not available or the EVP or VP may have deeper insights into a particular facet of the company’s business.

Have Your Facts Straight in Advance. Always have a complete bio and background materials at your ready disposal just in case the CEO suddenly passes away or steps down. Maintain a similar repository of information about the other key executives, particularly if one of them is selected as the interim chief executive. Be familiar with the workings of your board of directors and HR Department and understand how they make decisions.  Be ready to learn as much as possible as fast as possible, if the Board of Directors goes outside the family to select a new chief executive.

Never Say Never.  At LSI Logic, we maintained a policy of never engaging in a public discussion of the internal working of the company’s Board of Directors. We made one exception. When it came time in 2005 for Chairman/CEO Wilf Corrigan to step down at 67, we wanted everyone to know that he had been working with the board on his succession for two years. Our strategy was to head off at the pass, any speculation that his retirement as CEO was anything but an orderly process involving both Wilf and the board.

Second-Person Plural, Not First-Person Singular. The best chief executives never use the first-person singular in their internal or external communications (Me, Myself, I). Instead, they employ the second-person-singular (We, Us, Our) to emphasize the team that makes the company’s success possible. The same applies to company chief lieutenants as well. If there is more of a team culture, rather than a cult of personality, it makes it just that much easier to eventually continue business as usual when the time comes for a CEO to move on or the Grim Reaper comes-a-calling.

http://finance.yahoo.com/q/hp?s=AAPL

http://www.nytimes.com/1996/05/30/us/jerry-r-junkins-58-dies-headed-texas-instruments.html

http://www.ti.com/corp/docs/company/history/timeline/key/1990/docs/1996junkinsdies.htm

http://www.ti.com/corp/docs/company/history/junkins.shtml

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lee_Iacocca

http://www.businessweek.com/1998/23/b3581001.htm

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