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How we see it: Three senior executives on the future of marketing
Steve Ridgway CEO of Virgin Atlantic Airways John Hayes CMO of American Express Duncan Watts Principal research scientist at Yahoo! Research
There is no quick path to success in the new era of customer engagement. Progress is likely to come incrementally—by listening to customers, making adjustments to engagement strategies, and learning through trial and error. Since diverse perspectives will be essential to mastering this new landscape, McKinsey’s Luke Collins, Tom French, and Paul Magill recently sought out three practitioners with very different ...view middle of the document...
Where mass media still matter
It’s popular these days to say that television and other traditional forms of marketing don’t work—that it’s a fragmented world out there, and marketing is henceforth all about the thousands of little things that companies do in different constituencies, markets, and segments. I’m not sure that’s altogether right. Focused, laser-like efforts are certainly very valuable, but I worry that we might get all the “micro” things right and miss the bigger picture. I don’t want to lose sight of how important it is to have all of our marketing efforts somehow embodied in something bigger—something iconic, even. That lesson was driven home for me by the recent success of two of our, what would be considered traditional, “above the line” television campaigns.1 The first was in 2009, when Virgin Atlantic Airways was celebrating its 25th birthday. At the time, everyone was depressed about the world economy, and we just wanted to put a smile on our customers’ faces and on our own faces. The result was “Still red hot,” a TV campaign 2 that started in the UK, went viral, and had an
1 “Above the line” refers to marketing campaigns that use paid channels such as television,
newspapers, or magazines. Traditionally, in “below the line” marketing efforts no commission is paid to an advertising agency, such as with direct mail or other promotions. 2 Released in January 2009, the 90-second “Still red hot” commercial was set in London’s Heathrow Airport at the time of the airline’s launch, in June 1984. It featured a young businessman wearing suspenders and carrying a brick-sized mobile phone, who becomes spellbound by a group of Virgin Atlantic flight attendants wearing flame-red uniforms. The commercial is filled with other 1980s artifacts, including its soundtrack, Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s “Relax.”
absolutely massive effect in creating a positive halo for our brand not only among our customers but among our staff and suppliers as well. We’ve always focused heavily on brand and brand awareness, but this campaign sparked something more—it energized and engaged a whole new constituency out there before they’d even set foot on a plane. Of course, beneath the traditional campaign sat a series of related, “below the line” efforts in all the new mediums. But it was quite a revelation— and a surprise, frankly—for us to see how powerful it can be to put ourselves out there in the market with this really big, confident shopwindow, rather than concentrating on the fragmented world that everybody is telling us we have to be in. We simply wanted to reinvigorate our brand, to produce a powerful campaign to show that we were still alive and kicking and that our brand still had spirit, and it suddenly became more than that. The experience has spurred us to launch a second TV campaign, “Your airline’s either got it or it hasn’t,” and its success has taught us more still, while further convincing me of the need to have a...