Marketing Doctor John Tantillo’s Winner and Loser of The Week
Winner: Frank Welker
Loser: Guerrilla Marketing
Folks, who do you think has been the Number 1 grossing actor at the box office in the last three decades?
Tom Hanks? Samuel Jackson? Good guesses but wrong. Jackson, whose 88 movies have earned more than 5 billion, is Number 2. Hanks is Number 3.
So who is Number 1? That would be Frank Welker with a gross of more than 6 billion dollars in 95 feature films.
Before last week I hadn’t heard of him either. That’s perfectly fine with Mr. Welker.
You see, you and I might not have heard of Frank Welker but we’ve heard from him many, many times. He is a prolific voice actor who has been credited films and TV, everything from Spartacus to the Scooby Doo cartoon series to Aladdin to the Simpsons.
Welker is our winner because he is one of those rare personal brands that seem to understand that you must find your niche and then consistently meet the requirements of that niche despite your ego or some kind of conventional aspirations. The key here is asking the question: am the leading man type or the supporting actor type? Am I the leading man or Ed McMahon?
In fact, for Welker it was asking a followup…Am I a behind-the-scenes guy, someone who doesn’t appear on screen.
Welker understood that he would never be the leading man (at least not in live-action movies), but he clearly understood his gift for voices and knew that that gift could fill a very definite need in the film industry.
Welker has another strength that’s rare with actors, especially with voice actors. He actually takes direction. In other words, if a director wants him to say a line a particular way, he’ll do it. And he’s efficient. He can nail the right take quickly.
This is a lesson for any brand, no matter what career you are in. Fact is, if you can identify exactly where you fit and then make yourself someone who consistently delivers what is needed and does so while being easy to work in the process –bottom line, that is brand gold… And in Welker’s case, box office gold as well.
Folks, last week one kind of monkey, the Return of the Planet of the Apes, was our winner. Well, this week another kind is our loser.
I’m talking about guerrilla marketing, which I guess you can define as unconventional and imaginative promotional strategies and tactics that seek to generate buzz or interest in a particular Target Market.
Now the trick with guerrilla marketing and the reason many corporations justifiably steer clear of using it is the possibility that it will backfire on the brand.
Why? Because on some level, guerrilla marketing isn’t really above board. It usually involves consumers by making them think one thing when the message is actually something else
Bottom line, at its best, a brand makes an honest, truthful connection with its Target consumer or user. The brand says this is what I am and this is what you will get when you purchase me.
This might seem naïve, but it isn’t. Successful brands have always been about making a contract with their customers and being consistent when it comes to connecting their advertising and communications with what the customer actually receives.
Some guerrilla marketing, especially when it works to simply get attention, is fine. But when it does something controversial or offensive to get that attention for the brand then obviously you’ve got a conflict that will hurt the brand’s image –even though it might make the reputation of the guerrilla marketing team involved.
Guerrilla marketing probably makes the most sense when it is done for a product or service that already has an edgy reputation or is just getting started. But, folks, even then it can go badly wrong.
You might remember about four years ago, guerrilla marketers in Boston trying to promote an animated television series inadvertently caused a bomb scare when their light displays were mistaken for explosives.
But this week, guerrilla marketing got another black eye because, according to AdWeek, it looks like a consultant’s seemingly altruistic decision to conduct some kind of social media experiment with a Starbuck’s virtual gift card was actually a ploy to promote Starbucks.
Starbuck’s has denied a connection to the promotion and so has Stark but there is a lot of suspicion that the coffee company was using doubtful tactics to get more attention.
But, again, guerrilla marketing is really an entrepreneurial activity, definitely not one for a mature corporate brand. Entrepreneurs and new company’s can always start again, but an established brand like Starbucks that incurs damage because of inconsistent promotion and marketing can be permanently hurt. You simply can’t have loosey goosey, unpredictability –and besides, what is most guerrilla marketing but a new name for an old activity, the publicity stunt? Yep, just a variation on the theme.
At the end of the day, guerrilla marketing has reminded us that its scope is very limited and it is not a cure-all for the difficult promotional world we find ourselves in.
The point is that you need to be certain of the kind of message you want to send with your brand and that message must be built on trust.
And, remember, it’s always easier when you keep marketing and branding in mind.
TODAY’S TANTILLO TAKEAWAY – Your brand’s relationship to its Target Market should always guide your marketing.