|Team One's David Palmer: 'Experiential marketing is not about television, radio or print. It is about engaging your consumers, keeping their interest level and being innovative about how and where you reach them.'
Why you need to know him: Mr. Palmer, who will be responsible for the Publicis Groupe ad agency's 17-person event-marketing team, will focus primarily on Lexus, the luxury arm of Toyota Motor Sales USA. Executives at Team One have put together alliances for Lexus in the recent past with the U.S. Open and Paul McCartney's U.S. tour.
Credentials: Mr. Palmer recently worked at the William Morris Agency, where he headed a division that scouted licensing and merchandising opportunities for clients such as LL Cool J, Ryan Seacrest and Whoopi Goldberg, among others. He also was a member of the talent agency's corporate-consulting department. He's a veteran of cable channels and Hollywood studios, having worked for 18 years in corporate marketing, TV, consumer products and strategic promotions at MGM, Disney, Sony Pictures Television and Turner Broadcasting Systems.
Mr. Palmer took a moment from his new job to e-mail with Madison & Vine.
Your job is a newly created position at Team One. Can you talk about what your focus will be? "The event-marketing, entertainment and strategic-alliance group has done an amazing job in developing and executing programs that build upon and reinforce the Lexus brand DNA. I am looking forward to working with the team to elevate the level of opportunities, ensure that they are immersive and experiential and, most importantly, able to quantify a return on the financial investment."
What role do alliances, sponsorships and events play in building a brand? "Lexus is all about the pursuit of perfection. Since the launch of the brand in the late '80s, brand equity continues to be second to none. Lexus and Team One will look at creating, developing and executing events that can be measured. Our hotel partnership program is a great example of one of the strategic alliances that has been implemented to date. We will look at other prestige brands and luxury goods to align and partner with."
Lexus sponsors the U.S. Open, the Hollywood Bowl and the Aspen Food & Wine Classic. How would you like to shape those deals for the future? "We will continue to look at lifestyle, sports and entertainment, as well as other key touch points that resonate with our current consumers and potential conquests. The team's goals and priorities are to further build out our existing events and ensure that they are measurable.
"For example, Lexus sponsors the Hollywood Bowl, and it's always been static displays of cars with signage and a hospitality area. What we are considering doing in the future is a program that would get people in the cars. Since everyone hates the traffic and the parking at the Hollywood Bowl, we're thinking about creating a limo service for some VIPs and season-ticket holders. They would call a number, and we'd pick them up at home in a Lexus LS and drop them off at the bowl. We'd drive them home afterward. We'd track who responds to the program and then who visits a dealership or buys a car. That would be a much more effective use of that sponsorship."
How do you measure success? "ROI will be looked at three ways: brand-building, conquests and conversions, and retention. Team One has one of the preminent research groups. Our goal will be to work with them prior to greenlighting an event to ensure that there are measurable ways to incorporate ROI. We are in the process of developing a strategic plan, which will take into account the media plan, our interactive activities and other marketing initiatives in order to maximize and capitalize on our existing partnerships. The goal is also to continually redefine and reinvent existing partnerships to make them relevant and exciting for the target Lexus consumer."
How do you start figuring out a plan of attack for engaging consumers with your brand? "Experiential marketing is not about television, radio or print. It is about engaging your consumers, keeping their interest level and being innovative about how and where you reach them. Lexus and Team One have been at the forefront in developing programs that don't involve traditional forms of media but resonate with consumers on a different and higher level. Our goal, while working internally at Team One, is to leverage our relationship with our media partners to maximize value for the client. By working in tandem with the agency, we will ensure innovation, continuity and accountability to deliver results."
There's still a lot of debate over exactly what branded entertainment is. How do you define it? "Branded entertainment can be defined in many ways, but my personal definition is one that reinforces the brand DNA through innovative and quite frequently, nontraditional media outlets. While there are many examples of brands being integrated into television, music and film, the creative strategy and execution is often not consistent with the direction of the product, doesn't influence or reinforce the DNA of the brand and often looks forced. Lexus' messaging has been very clear. Team One and Lexus' creative vision is cohesive, direct and innovative. It is something that Lexus truly owns. Together, our objective is to be at the forefront of the business, develop groundbreaking ideas that are measurable and implement them in an innovative way that has direct correlation to the brand."
What are some obstacles branded entertainment still faces? "People are enamored by entertainment. When you have car introductions such as the LS 460 or the LS Hybrid, there are numerous opportunities to target the prestige-luxury market in new, untapped ways. Messaging and how brands communicate with consumers has changed and evolved. Spots and dots are not impacting the growth of the brand. Team One is looking at new media, event marketing and the existing advertising landscape to create and develop new ways to reach and speak to consumers."
What's on your TiVo? "'American Idol,' 'The Amazing Race,' 'Saturday Night Live,' 'Desperate Housewives,' 'Brothers & Sisters.'"
What do you do on your downtime? "Travel, spend time at the beach, read, collect modern Japanese woodblock prints."