Guest post by Isabelle Loiseau, a marketing & communications professional. She has been working in Paris on BtoB and BtoC top of range brands, mainly at advertisers in the paper industry, and worked on awards-winning campaigns. She also writes. Her first short-stories compilation will be published this fall. She is now living in Vancouver.
As we live in a world of marketing and advertising, it is a business area that either looks easy to some people or upsets others.
As I was talking to a friend the other day, trying to cheer him up with issues he was going through, he gave me a “please stop with your marketing, you just sound like a brand signature” . That did not offend me. As I reminded him, Nike’s “just do it” or Apple’s “think different” are great inspirational brand signatures that actually talk to a lot of people. And there is nothing to be ashamed of.
As we live in a world of marketing and advertising, it is a business area that either looks easy to some people or upsets others. It’s the same inside a company where employees outside of the marketing department seem to always have an opinion on the latest campaign of a product launch and question the choices made on the design, the signature, even the distribution network. The marketing principles are a blur to a lot of people from other departments and I always find it useful to explain the context of a campaign to the next door office colleagues whether they work for the legal or accounting department and actually ask me “what is it exactly that I do?”
I remember the question of an employee of a paper company I was working at during an internal presentation where we showed the TV commercial made for the rejuvenation of our brand. The TV ad was showing a drawing being made on a sheet of paper. This lady asked the marketing manager if she had been the one who made the drawing, far from guessing that we had to work with an advertising agency to create the ad. And I almost fell off my chair once as a work colleague of the sales department told me, about a prescription newsletter sent to hundreds of teachers each month: “the marketing department has nothing to do with that, right, as there is an agency working on it”. I took a couple of minutes explaining about the brief, the editorial line, the validation process, the proofreading etc…
A product launch is all about details and there are so many of them.
Because they are packed with swatches, magazines, books and samples, marketing departments always look so cool and entertaining to the other colleagues. They end up being the party offices where everybody comes to hang out on their coffee break. Whereas it’s always nice to have people around, I often think “Well, do you mind if I actually try to get some work done here?” It can be useful to remind that marketing is not only about choosing with the agency between two different shades of green for the new brand logo or choosing which music is going to be featured on the next TV commercial, as the excel sheets and strategic presentations that are not so appealing are not displayed around the office.
When I passed my master’s degree in marketing, one of our teachers kept warning us that “no chain is as strong as each of its links”, illustrating this phrase with examples: the great TV campaign launched at night and the consumers facing empty shelves the following morning as the product is somewhere in a truck that did not make it to the store. Or the e-mailing sent in German to the English database and in French to the German one. A product launch is all about details and there are so many of them. But it’s so magical when you actually look back on the hard work done for a launch and go through the first strategic presentations, thinking of all the different phases you had to work on with your team.
“Behind the scenes” movies are a great way to educate the consumers and our colleagues of the corporate world about what is going on behind the doors of the marketing department. Mac Donald’s Canada just did a movie to explain why their sandwiches look different between the advertising and the store. It shows the ropes of all the talents an advertiser needs to promote a product, his added-value with the agency, and it is a great way to talk about all the talents that are needed for a campaign, and maybe it will make students want to be working in marketing…