ME* Conference 2010

Dana Anderson's Celebrity Rules for Digital Marketing

What You Can Learn From Robert Downey Jr., Angelina Jolie and Lady Gaga

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Dana Anderson, senior VP-marketing strategy and communications at Kraft, brought a gaggle of pop icons to the ME conference in New York. Even marketers can learn a thing or two from glossy celebrities such as Robert Downey Jr., Angelina Jolie and Lady Gaga.

Dana Anderson
Dana Anderson Credit: Pete Kolonia
For Ms. Anderson, celebrities and musicians show the course for big marketers looking to evolve for digital communications. Here are her simple rules for dragging a big, old-school organization like Kraft into the digital age.

Have swagger
Ms. Anderson first looked to bad boy Robert Downey Jr., whom she dubbed the king of swagger.

"If you want to inspire people to go with you, you need the charisma and swagger," she said. "You need a little bit of Robert Downey Jr."

Ms. Anderson herself was a prime example of the value of swagger. Her confidence and ability to energize the crowd and to frame marketing lessons in easy pop-culture references and humor were evidence enough that the bad-boy rule also applies to girls. Badness is equal opportunity, she said.

Be sly
Digital experiments also require a different set of rules than the typical measurement-driven campaign. Where new digital programs or media may be difficult to quantify by old standards, there are ways for an organization to dip a toe in and get people used to a new format.

"Pilot is my new favorite word: It means we are going to learn and going to have less risk," she said, adding, "Recess trumps calculus every time. Playing beats math. We're not going to worry about that [measurement] right now, we're just going to play."

That experiment mindset could also lead to an unexpected discovery of something valuable. "Two things I want you to remember are penicillin and electricity," she said."'Should we do social media?' is kind of like saying 'Should we get a light bulb?' when electricity was invented."

Play house
A next step is bringing people together to learn digital lessons in a more meaningful format than a training session. At Kraft, those events are called "digital hothouses." People are asked to bring their work problems to the hothouses and can expect to leave the event with an outline of a solution.

"It's not that people don't like training; they just don't have time for it," she said. "If you make it valuable ... they'll show up."

Don't settle
Ms. Anderson stressed that marketers should follow the lead of Angelina Jolie, who as an award-winning actress, mother and philanthropist, never settles. While her reference was playful, she acknowledged that digital means culling the herd.

This advice especially applied to staffing, talent and agency partnerships, where settling should never be encouraged. "Be like Angelina," she said. "Learning about digital is hard for some folks," she said. "Not everybody is a 10."

"Not only do I want my guys to demand the very best, I want them to be the best, too," she added. That said, marketers and others need to be realistic -- or at least self-aware. She outlined the Rule of Two, where on a scale of 1 to 10, a person can only date someone two points above or below them.

"Let's say I am five, I can date two up and date two down," she said. "The same thing applies to being a great client. If you're a 5, you'll buy a 7 or 3, but what are the chances you'll inspire a 10?"

Be a little reckless
Next on Ms. Anderson's list of pop icons was Lady Gaga. From her, marketers can all learn a lesson in recklessness.

"Sometimes if you only color within the lines, you miss a lot," she said. "A lot of times when our folks get started, they think it's all about community, but pushing them beyond that can mean something great."

Live large
Staying in music, Ms. Anderson took a page from rap mogul Jay -Z's book. He does it big -- he even bought his wife, pop icon Beyonce, an island for $19 million. With him, Ms. Anderson emphasized the sheer scale of digital.

"We're moving to the big-D digital," she said. "Whether you're the new-products guy, the customer-service woman, there's a way for big-D digital to play a role in what you're doing."

Kiss and tell
Following pop star Katy Perry, Ms. Anderson says we should remember to kiss and tell. (She kissed a girl, and she liked it.) Especially in large organizations such as Kraft, marketers have to remember to share successes and new projects.

"You have to walk those halls and tell people what's going on," she said. Ms. Anderson tells her teams to take pictures for her.

"I'm going to tell these stories later," she said. "You have to work inside to let other people know you're having success."

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