Baker's dozen of marketing success drivers

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Lexus, the division of Toyota Motor Sales USA, challenged traditional luxury carmakers at the beginning of the 1990s on the strength of a powerful ad campaign. It used the tagline "The relentless pursuit of perfection." That tag neatly sums up what Advertising Age has done in compiling 10 years of Marketing 100s-represented in this Special Report as the Marketing 1000. Though the editors didn't know it as we sat down in 1992 to generate the first Marketing 100, we have in effect encapsulated a decade's worth of marketing excellence-a 10-year stream linking visionary marketers and the brands that left an imprint on advertising. A thousand passionate executives who got it-who saw the big picture.

With the assistance of consultancy The Everest Group, we've mined 1,000 Marketing 100 profiles for lessons the next generation of marketing leaders can use, and called it the "baker's dozen of marketing success drivers."

Each of the 1,000 case studies was reviewed to determine the factors responsible for that brand's success. When the team finished, we had classified each of the 1,000 brands into one of 13 "success driver" categories. While it is true that a blend of marketing disciplines supports a product or service, these 13 drivers set the foundation. There are some caveats. The team focused only on the stories as originally written and did not follow up to determine how the brands passed the long-term market test of time. Out of 1,000 stories over 10 years, some were more "successful" than others. Some became huge hits; others made a short-term splash but no longer hold any market presence. It should be noted the key driver for each story was based on interpretation and judgment; there was, admittedly, some "gray" in making choices. Using a brief example of each, the drivers are:

One of a Kind. These are pioneering products and services that blaze a new trail that causes competitors to blanch and wish they had thought of it first. U.S. Robotics' Palm Pilot emerged from the ashes of Apple's Newton and Casio's Zoomer to capture the excitement of the techno-gizmo crowd initially and a broader audience today. Then VP-Marketing Ed Colligan attributed Pilot's success to its simplicity, positioning as a PC accessory, its industrial design and its user interface (AA, June 30, '97).

Exceptional Creative. Sometimes the energy generated by advertising is "almost as if the campaign has taken on a life of its own," as then-VP-marketing for Dutch confectioner Van Melle, Liam Killeen, saw with his Mentos campaign. Quirky "Freshmaker" spots created a cult following in 40 countries and made it the fastest-growing non-chocolate confection in the U.S. (AA, June 24, '96).

Promotion Flair. Hockey in Ana-heim? The power of Disney helped sell a franchise with the unlikely name of the Mighty Ducks. Films, merchandising and "the Taj Mahal of hockey arenas" were part of the un-hockeylike promotion that took the well-scrubbed image of Disney's entertainment behemoth and built attendance and interest in the early '90s. It was an entertainment-style approach that rubbed off on other sports franchises (AA, July 4, '94).

PR Power. Viral marketing is a relatively recent buzz phrase, but the power of PR programs in creating excitement about a product or service is a time-tested marketing technique. One example, from the 1998 collection, was Ketel One vodka, which sold 310,000 cases in 1997 and helped build the superpremium vodka niche. Ad dollars were few and far between, yet "We sold it a bottle at a time," said then Nolet Spirits USA Exec VP Carl Nolet Jr. as his PR program built a following among young movers and shakers (AA, June 29, '98).

3Rs-Restage, Reposition, Reprice. For a carmaker such as Hyundai Motor America, plagued by labor and quality problems in the 1990s, the solution involved bringing in Dave Weber as VP-marketing in 1998. A cohesive ad strategy centered on a new warranty program helped steer the repackaged and repriced Hyundais to an 82% sales increase in 1999 (AA, June 26, '00).

Breakthrough Identity. Brands pursuing this strategy can create powerful competitive insulation that can often outlast product performance claims. So it was with SoBe (South Beach Beverage Co.), a small juice company looking for a way to participate in the growth of alternative beverages. Unique glass packaging with Asian mystical graphics, trendy herbal ingredients, flavor names like Wisdom and Eros, and the funky Lizard Love Bus for sampling at target audience events all combined to create an identity unlike any other beverage-enough to get PepsiCo to buy SoBe in 2000 (AA, June 28, '99).

New Audience. For products that have mined core buyers, a common technique to build sales is to expand the target market. Dannon, which had gotten mileage from spots featuring 100-year-old Russians, had begun to sag. By tinkering with its yogurt lineup and adding Dannon Light and Dannon Sprinklins, Dannon and VP-Marketing Bob Wallach scooped up diet-conscious adult and kid consumers to rebuild sales (AA, July 5, '93).

Redefined Universe. A substantial number of the Marketing 1000 took a successful franchise and expanded by asking the questions: "What business am I in?" and "What business could I be in?" Oreo redefined its universe from cookies to Oreo taste. The new universe allowed it to expand into ice cream, cereals, milkshakes, pie crust and other categories where the taste of Oreo could be leveraged (AA, June 30, '97).

Mutual Advantage. Aida Moreno was probably the only person to have gotten archrivals Christie's Auction House and Sotheby's to work together at their own expense. Partnerships played a large part in building PBS' hot show "Antique Roadshow," where attic treasures get a day in the sun. Participants and viewers were hooked by the moment when appraisers ask: "Do you have any idea how much this is worth?" (AA, June 28, '99).

New Sandbox. This includes both geographic expansion and emerging channels, such as the Internet. Kohl's, a Midwestern chain, grew its business in the '90s by entering mid-Atlantic and Southern markets. One Merrill Lynch report called it a "retailer with potential Wal-Mart type growth" (AA, June 30, '97).

Direct Touch. Looking to extend Robert Mondavi Corp.'s wine franchise, then-VP-Marketing Martin Johnson wanted to avoid a traditional approach to what he called "the same group over and over." A direct marketing campaign that in part linked its new Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi label to upscale dining Web sites produced shipment gains of 30% in 1996 (AA, June 24, '96).

Best of Class. Procter & Gamble Co.'s Bounty paper towels entered the '90s as a premium product in a category swarming with private-label competitors. By capitalizing on P&G strengths in research and production, P&G developed a strong product-superiority message that turned Bounty into a top paper brand in the '90s (AA, June 24, '96).

Packaging Punch. Dean Foods aimed to take milk, 80% of which was consumed in the home, out on the town. Dean took the whimsical shape of an old milk bottle, with its wide, chuggable mouth, and built a plastic, resealable bottle. Launched with a zippy campaign, "Milk. Where you want it," Milk Chugs became a triple-digit volume-growth star (AA, June 29, '98).

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