CMO Close-Up with Kathy Button Bell, CMO at Emerson

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Kathy Button Bell has served as VP-CMO at engineering company Emerson for the past 13 years. She recently oversaw the launch of the newest phase of Emerson's “It's Never Been Done Before” campaign, which broke last month in TV spots and print, online and out-of-home ads. The campaign was created by DDB Chicago, and the budget for the newest iteration was $12 million. In the following interview with CMO Close-Up, Bell talks about how Emerson went through a rigorous process to pick two new customer stories for the campaign and created an integrated marketing program. CMO Close-Up: What's the objective with the latest phase of your campaign? Bell: The campaign is part of Emerson's “Consider It Solved” platform, and extends the “It's Never Been Done Before” creative, which first launched three years ago. The ads continue to highlight the global nature and applications of Emerson's technologies and expertise, but this time we put a special focus on the extreme challenges we are helping our customers solve. With these two new customer stories—Lukoil in Russia and NBN Co in Australia—we want to show that we enable companies that are operating in extreme areas—whether they're hot, cold or far away—to conduct business 24/7, 365 days a year. CMO Close-Up: How did you pick the customer stories? Bell: We have an internal matrix with four boxes—minor revisions (of products), major revisions, new to the business and new to the world. Our entire new product development process at Emerson is based on that. We want to move more and more innovation to the toughest box, which is “Never been done before.” We contact the Emerson businesses (climate technologies, industrial automation, process management, network power, and commercial and residential solutions), brand offices and business leaders and ask them, “What stories do you have that live up to "Never been done before?' ” We have to prove it, and it's a very tough criterion around the world, having not been done before. It is very difficult to get through, especially the Beijing censors. They have so many rules. For example, you can't use superlatives in advertising. We start out with 17 or 18 stories, and then we whittle them down: Do they fit into the matrix? Is it important enough for us? Is there thought leadership? Is this something unique to Emerson? Then we have to look at what will work the best creatively. We went with NBN in Australia because we have not really done a telecom story yet (in the “Never Been Done Before” campaign), and the broadband deployment (for which Emerson is supplying network technology) is simply the largest capital project Australia has ever done. With Lukoil, we want to show our ability to move oil and gas around the world, and Lukoil holds a Guinness Book of World Records' (record for operating the northernmost oil and gas facility in the world). CMO Close-Up: What is the creative strategy for the campaign? Bell: We're featuring kangaroos in our ad about Australia and a wolf for our Russia ad to help deliver our message that Emerson technologies and expertise are playing important roles in the economic growth and infrastructure development of countries around the world. In the Australia ads, we're using kangaroos to show how we're helping NBN provide a broadband connection across the continent, and it's pretty cool. (In the ad, computer-generated images of kangaroos turn into streaks of light as they hop across the continent.) In the Lukoil ad, we're using computer-generated images of weather and a CGI image of a wolf in a snowstorm to show how we're helping them run continuously under extreme conditions. CMO Close-Up: Who is your target audience? Bell: The top 200 executives at the global 1,000 companies are the No. 1 target for Emerson—not just the C-suite, but the very top people in procurement, engineering, marketing and sales. CMO Close-Up: Where are the ads running? Bell: In the U.S., TV ads are running on CNBC, the Golf Channel, Fox News and Fox Business News. Internationally, one of the biggest reaches for us is CNN International. We're running print ads in The Wall Street Journal and Fortune, and we're also doing large airport ads in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and other airports. The campaign also has a microsite (, where you can see the “Never Been Done” stories. We have found that we have been more successful not doing traditional banner ads, but using online videos that tell the stories behind the businesses. Those are doing much better for us. For example, we might have a video on that explains how Emerson treats wastewater. It doesn't feel as much like advertising, and people are migrating to a richer experience than just an ad. CMO Close-Up: Are you using social media in the campaign? Bell: We're really active with social now. We just rereleased the Emerson Facebook page and got more than 3,000 “like” in under a week. We're promoting the campaign through Facebook and Twitter. CMO Close-Up: What about mobile? Bell: We have an Emerson app called Gateway by Emerson, and we'll be coming out with the second edition for the iPad in May. It will have in-depth stories and industry thought leadership.
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