Brand Winners... And Losers: Blagojevich and Big Ad Buys

Brand Winners…

   And Losers

The Marketing Doctor says:

Winner: Rod R. Blagojevich

Loser: Big Ad Buys (Not Glenn Close)

The Winner:

Our winner this week can be considered a winner for argument’s sake only.  (Disclaimer: the Marketing Doctor is not going into the business of seeking out crooks and cons for special praise and favor.)

I’m picking Rod R. Blagojevich for one thing: his appearance on Friday.  For sheer bravado, this one has got to go down in the record books.  See the NY Times take on the story here

Essentially, he made a spirited and unequivocal defense of his innocence. 

He may or may not be innocent, but in branding terms, Blagojevich’s timing could not have been better, because doubts were starting to percolate about just how guilty he is (and how provable this guilt may be).  It also works because he’s showing that he knows his brand: a no-nonsense pol doing what everyone in Chicago politics does.

The one-time bookie did two things:

1) He made it clear that he was not going to go without a fight, thereby gaining leverage and reinforcing his tough-as-nails brand, which was needed to get elected in a city where payola is as common as a duck to water.

2) He built on growing momentum that suggests there might have been a rush to judgment on the part of the media, a rush of reckless statements on the part of the U.S. Attorney and the possibility —unlikely as it may seem— that the governor was just running his mouth on those taped conversations and, in fact, did nothing wrong —or at least nothing that could be easily prosecuted.  Could the U.S. Attorney have mishandled this announcement and inadvertently created sympathy for Blagojevich?!

Obviously, it still looks like Blagojevich won’t win in the long run, but given the cards he has to play, he used them in a surprising and effective way.

We will (hopefully) never face this kind of situation ourselves, but everyone can walk away from the governor’s Friday performance with the certain knowledge that even in dire situations when public opinion is completely against you (Blagojevich’s popularity is in the very low double digits) a spirited, direct response that re-states what you believe your brand essentials are can still be made. 

Stay tuned to see if it works in the governor’s case.

The Loser:

This one is simple and is a kind of confirmation of what I’ve been writing about in this space for the past year: big ad buys for a single big shot at a single, monolithic Target Market is dead.

GM, the lucky recipient of the latest government lottery drawing, seems to be using good marketing sense when it comes to this question.  According to this article on Advertising Age, GM is bypassing the Super Bowl and other big-ticket ad buys in favor of a sponsorship maneuver with a much smaller audience (the show “Damages” —that’s why Glenn Close is pictured above; she’s the show’s star).   Apparently, the show is going to be tagged, “Commercial-free, courtesy of Cadillac.”

As I said recently, sponsorship is definitely something we are going to be seeing a lot more of, because given smaller and more fragmented audiences, the best technique is to target your audience and dominate that opportunity.  (By the way, I recently read a quote from NBC’s Tina Fey that roughly said TV these days is like vaudeville in its final years —losing clout and market share.)

Along the same lines, in the retail world, we’re seeing that those retailers who narrowly target their markets and then consistently fill their Target Market’s needs (and adapt to these needs) are doing very well. Here’s that NY Times piece.

Yes folks, feel sorry for those mega marketers with jumbo advertising budgets who must now figure out the most intelligent, cost-effective media buys to reach their Target Markets, while simultaneously reinforcing the products’ benefits that create buying behavior in their targeted consumers in the first place.  Yes, marketing is the new advertising.

Bottom line: the days of being general for a general market are over.  These days, the marketer has to be ever more energetic and dynamic to reach that Target Market wherever it is to be found.  See my recent take on “narrowcasting” here.

And remember, it’s always easier when you keep marketing and branding in mind.


Be eager to find and then meet the needs of your Target Market. The “build it and they will come” approach is dead.


What did you think of this article?

  • No trackbacks exist for this post.
Page: 1 of 1
Page: 1 of 1
Leave a comment

Submitted comments are subject to moderation before being displayed.

 Name (required)

 Email (will not be published) (required)


Your comment is 0 characters limited to 3000 characters.