Among his other talents, Mr. Ovitz brings to Disney his experience in helping build one of the great brands of the world, Coca-Cola. Never mind that his talent agency's advertising for Coca-Cola has been a series of unrelated and even disjointed commercials with no apparent strategy and direction. It doesn't matter outside the U.S., because no one strategy would work on a worldwide basis.
The Coke approach, at any rate, is closer to the model the big media companies will use to build their powerful brands around the world. CNN, Disney, MTV, ESPN-these brands will rival and surpass such mainstays as Nescafe, Colgate, Kodak and Perrier.
The advantage the media brands have is that they are constantly seen-not just in 30-second increments. People's entertainment habits are more uniform around the world than their purchasing habits, and so the great media brands will be beamed into viewer's homes in Africa or Asia pretty much the way they're seen in the U.S.
The marketing equation of the 21st century will be far different from the one followed today. The product will be part and parcel of the communications process, and they will feed off of each other at every turn.
Coke, for instance, could turn its polar bear mascot character that Creative Artists Agency created into movies and TV cartoon shows, which in turn could trigger sales of toy polar bears. And not incidently, Coca-Cola.
Microsoft seems to understand the new realities of this seamless marketplace, where the product and communications process are interchangeable. As part of the massive Windows 95 introduction Microsoft is producing a TV show about Windows-thus making Windows part of the communications and the communications part of Windows. Two worldwide brands, Coca-Cola and Kodak, are sponsors.
What the big media companies are able to do is create vast complexes that can be used to feed their media programming needs, at the same time enhancing and reinforcing their overall brands. Disney, for more than a year, has been working to create the Walt Disney World International Sports Complex. Now, Disney has the perfect outlet in ESPN to absorb all the sporting events emanating from the new Disney facility. "Look at the stuff on ESPN2 like the Extreme Games, and you see sports that didn't exist 20 years ago. The assets that ABC and ESPN provide allow us to be a player in ushering in a whole new generation of sports," says Disney's VP-sports development. A whole new generation of sports and other events feeding a whole new generation of media feeding a whole new generation of brands.
Traditional product marketing doesn't stand a chance.