Monday, October 28, 2013

Marketing & Customer excellence: how could the Indian hospitality industry potentially get to the top of the world...

As I just returned from a 10 days trip though India, I got to stay in various hotel and realized that the Indian hospitality industry holds a very unique key to being the best model in the world. Having worked for a few hotel groups around the world (from Intercontinental to Starwood and Marriott), I couldn’t help myself , everywhere I would check-in, from having my brains in professional mode when it came to customer experience & hotel management : despite a few key areas of improvement, I realized that the hospitality groups in India (Oberoi, Taj, Leela etc...) could potentially possess the most powerful & winning combination of art & science when it comes to Customer satisfaction and could inspire many other service industries (airlines, banking...) in the quest for Customer Service Excellence.
However, at a time of economic pressure , less-than-expected growth in inbound travel, devaluation of the Indian rupee against the US dollar  and room supply overshooting demand, the need for India’s hospitably  industry to better structure & optimize its revenue structure & operations is pressing whilst its inherent superior assets could be better utilized...

First, focusing on the assets that have been mastered:

1.    Beauty : they generally own or build /operate magnificient palaces: from a Maharajah palace in Rajasthan  to an utra modern building In Mumbai or a renovated boutique Haveli in Chennai, how many countries can boast so many real estate treasures per km2 ? These gems are generally located in gated areas that offer an oasis apart from the surrounding bustle & hustle. Even for the most recent constructions, there is a clear resolve to reminisce of a past splendor & architecture, sometimes with success, but always with lavish materials & volumes...These groups rarely go stingy on land, marble, flower arrangements,  plush fabrics or antique furniture in a country where these supplies and best artisans are available at a very reasonable cost...

2.    The Indian culture of hospitality is a tradition and comes from the heart: based upon the Sanskrit saying “Atithi Devo Bhava  meaning "the guest is God", this fundamental principle of Indhu culture is shown in a number of stories where a guest is literally a god who rewards the provider of hospitality... The word ‘Athiti’ defines the guest as a person who could show up at home without a prior notice or formal invitation and on a day and time of his own choice...This is a defining trait of the Indian identity and still engraved in modern India.
3.    the importance of traditional / old-world good manners, dedication & humility : probably influenced by the 200 years British rule, both fair practice of English & sense of proper etiquette are more common among all classes of personnel that in many other countries, let alone other former Commonwealth nations such as Canada, Australia or in Africa...But more importantly, you get the sense that “Yes. Sir”, “certainly” or “You are welcome” are truly meant: that, when anybody addresses you, they don’t -and shouldn’t- feel inferior or demeaned by their show of respect & humility but rather expecting the same from you: it’s a win/win relationship ! Now, try picturing this in France , Mexico or Brazil, or even the USA, you soon realize that the general sentiment & attitude would be quite different, whatever the training & corporate policies in place. Another reason might also be that, for most Indian employees at almost every level, their job in the Hospitality industry is a real career choice and true social accomplishment not a simple gig between two jobs in order to pay the bills... this is probably why it makes sense and is profitable in the long term for Indian based hospitality industry to invest so heavily at every level in training for staff that will generally stay with the company for years or their entire career unless they cross over to the competition... That’s no coincidence that, for instance, The Oberoi Centre of Learning and Development (OCLD) was established almost 5 decades ago and has management training programmes that are considered among the best in Asia and a benchmark for international excellence within the hotel industry.

However, despite these very unique qualities, I also found  that beyond these irreplaceable assets in the art of hospitality, some other areas & more technical skills in the science of the trade seem to be missing in action or underutilized...At a time when many Indian joint ventures with Western groups are dissolving under the economic pressure that the country is going through, a pro-active charting & consolidation of these strategic skills could help Indian hospitality groups grow more efficiently by unleashing more profitability and  an optimized customer experience , helping to consolidate what could become the most powerful marketing mix in the global hospitality industry landscape:



1.    Customer Relationship management:  analytics, technology & marketing utilization: whereas most of American hospitality industry has learned in the past 5 years how to fully harness the power of segmentation & analytics when it comes to identifying the most profitable customer groups & the respective drivers of their satisfaction (rewards, personalized perks, discounts & promotions etc...), it seems that very few of these tools are actually formatted and brought to hotel’s front office employees so that it can inform their interactions with each customer: where is  the Customer Acquisition & retention strategy ? In a market that caters to so many different types of clientele –from experiential travelers who want to experience the country by themselves to segments like MICE , leisure, honeymooners, junket , Adventure or religious tourism...- how do you make sure that you properly identify, target & retain the most profitable / valuable segments , address customer pain points & moments  of truth for each brand while avoiding cannibalization within  the same portfolio...? Where is the Customer loyalty framework for Heritage or value segment customers when it comes to establishing a long term relationship & dialogue with a new guest after their first stay ? Where are the specific offers or advantages that will nurture repeat and brand preference ?  Where are the data related to a customer’s history & profile when it comes to anticipating their personal preferences, habits & expectations so that , whatever the personal memory or talent of some specific staff, they always feel welcomed & recognized as valuable & individual guests rather than a sheep among the herd ? All things that the global Airline industry, rental car or some US-based hotel chains have long scaled in order to maximize revenues & their share of Customer Lifetime Value...For instance, SAS, the Scandinavian airline, which uses its CRM systems to identify all the passengers who are flying on the airline for the first time, build a profile of the customer using social media and other third-party information: when the customer checks in for their flight, they are given a small gift based on what the airline learned about them.” A person whose social media feed indicates an interest in athletics might be given a sports bag, for instance...

It’s telling that, after staying as a guest in 10 different hotels belonging to various International chains, I was never exposed nor prompted at no time to enroll (from booking to check-in to after stay...) in any loyalty program or club ! How do you keep the positive memories of my stay alive and capitalize on the magic & unique experience that I just went through ?? Where are, beyond the one email offer for discount to the same hotel (how am I likely to soon return to India from the US and in the same Rajasthan hotel ? ) rather than making me a concrete offer for an hotel on the continent of my residence...?


2.    Empowerment/flexibility in decision making: both a result of training but also better suited tools and customer intelligence availability, the capacity of customer-facing managers (food & beverage, Spa, rooms..) to better predict, track & manage specific customer preferences or expectations can make a difference in the efficiency of day to day operations as well as in the delivery of an appropriate experience...But for that to happen, there is also a deeper need for staff & managers to be AND feel empowered so that they can adapt to real time situations or requests and react on the spot - as it is generally the case in European or American hotels- by making the appropriate judgment call without having to go to their direct report below a certain stake level...

That’s where the right balance between established procedures and adaptive judgment /flexibility needs to be taught on the basis of specific examples and situations...This is how junior employees & managers will strive, grow and acquire the customer centric mindset & adaptability that generally help better motivate & incentivize teams but also deliver better customer satisfaction at every level of the organization. There might be a cultural shift & adaptation here for Indian personnel that will only happen with the right user friendly tools but also with the right training...Radisson Hotels were known as one of the first to initiate a full scale employee empowerment by removing the upper layers of hotel management and allowing levels of middle management & front line employees more power in the decision making process: with decentralized management, some selected employees were encouraged to deal with situations using their own initiative and creative thinking with customer satisfaction within a preset amount of budget autonomy, still being held accountable for the bottom line at the end of the day.


3.    More assertive brand buzz & leverage of social media: if, as a US based traveler, I have acquired through other countries a distinctive awareness of some of the  top Indian hospitality brands such as Oberoi or Taj, I am stunned by the fact that these global brands don’t seem to be building , as other Luxury , lifestyle or Airline brands regularly do , much exposure & brand equity in European & US markets by conveying the special story of their fine quality & differentiation...and I am not talking about a 1 page featuring a property in a few international magazines, I am talking about a “wow” real media-to-event marketing program with partnerships that tell the tale of the magic & soul of India’s hospitality, there is much to be done either online or offline around that kind of material... Beyond the advertising storyboard, the fabulous profiles of historical properties or destinations could provide an incredible content to a more aggressive P.R. offensive through editorials. Even basic exposure would also make a difference through targeted online display on key travel websites such as, Expedia or Agoda at a time of booking, which I never got.Beyond communications, internet analytics can provide a wealth of customer intelligence that could feed into a refined /pro-active Customer segmentation & loyalty strategy to tailor messages & more personalized offers or packages as well as providing more readily accessible insight for hotel staff in terms of their guest’s preferences or interests (informing them about yoga class, food experiences or local excursions...). When it comes to leveraging the power of social media, I found that very few Indian hotel chains have their own Facebook page to communicate or engage with fans or those could become most active brand ambassadors... While more & more Internet savvy Indians book their hotels online  and India is the second market after the USA in terms of Facebook users with more than 62 millions, nothing seem to indicate that much of the attached analytics are being mined & gathered by marketing hoteliers to complete a customer’s DNA profile  and help design more targeted offers...When it comes to Twitter, many American hotel brands are utilizing the social media channel to reinforce their brand image and to communicate directly with their guests on a more intimate & timely basis. In the USA, Bill Marriott was one of the first CEOs to jump onto the Social Media bandwagon when he started his 'On the Move' blog in 2007...From Starwood to Hyatt or Ritz Carlton, many hotel brands maintain & promote their own Twitter pages to provide concierge services, updates on hotel properties or responses to specific questions from guests...


Last but not least, I found -maybe telling of the digital maturity of India’s hotel chains – that very few, even five star – of the hotels still don’t offer the basic courtesy of complimentary in-room first 30 mn for their guests to check their emails whereas it has long become, like cable TV or A.C., a commodity & necessity in the rest of the world for most business travelers...

In conclusion, with the current slowed growth that it is going through, maybe it’s time for India’s hospitality industry to rethink some of its strategic skills & upgrade its approach & tools when it comes to their Customer strategy, Service Excellence & delivery. It will be even more crucial to the growing trend of Internationally-branded, mid-scale offerings and value segment  which are more & more required by both domestic and international travelers...For that to happen, the best of traditional Maharajah style hospitality will have to incorporate an innovative 21st century strategy & its marketing tools that the population of Modern India & the digital age have already adopted.

If that happens, India’s hospitality industry might be in a position to become the most qualitative, competitive & efficient on the planet...!  

Sunday, July 28, 2013

BIG DATA vs SMART DATA: the next BIG shift of strategic marketing

Big Data is the biggest game-changing opportunity for marketing and sales since the Internet went mainstream almost 15 years ago.Big Data refers to any data sets which are so large and complex they are difficult to manage using traditional methods and software. This includes anything from medical records and military surveillance to the results of the Large Hadron Collider experiments. Today’s channel-surfing consumer is comfortable using an array of devices, tools, and technologies to fulfill a task Understanding that decision journey is critical to identifying battlegrounds to either win new customers or keep existing ones from defecting to competitors: therefore, organizations face overwhelming amounts of data, organizational complexity, rapidly changing customer behaviors, and increased competitive pressures. At the same time, the explosion in data and digital technologies has opened up an unprecedented array of insights into customer needs and behaviors. Those that use Big Data and analytics effectively show productivity rates and profitability that are 5 – 6 % higher than those of their peers. McKinsey analysis of more than 250 engagements over five years has revealed that companies that put data at the center of the marketing and sales decisions improve their marketing Return On Investment (MROI) by 15 – 20 %. That adds up to $150 – $200 billion of additional value based on global annual marketing spend of an estimated $1 trillion. Conversely, companies who miss big data opportunities of today will miss the next frontier of innovation, competition, and productivity. Analytics  & measurement have become more and more of a priority because every shareholder, CEO, and VP on the planet wants to make better decisions. Because of this, the business analytics market continues to innovate and grow at a solid rate big data can lead to better marketing through BIG testing: the key to better, more pragmatic marketing is actually the embrace of marketing experimentation as a driver of continuous innovation: new technology and new talent allow to start creating hypotheses. Then to use Big Testing to prove them out – right or wrong. The fundamentals of marketing remain the same, with the aims still being to build your brand, create awareness, and encourage trial, repeat purchase, preference and advocacy.So make sure your team has an excellent grounding in the old ways and an appetite to deliver them in new ways.

BIG data is now happening BIG time: What the ‘Big Data’ marketers are concerned with is mainly the digital content that’s being created at a phenomenal rate that you can use to gain insights into your customers.Think YouTube videos, social media platforms, Facebook Likes, Instagram photos, instant poll results, LinkedIn group discussions... It's even been called 'the sexiest new marketing tool around'.There’s now so much information available about customers that innovations are emerging to handle these disparate forms of data. It's imperative for marketers to understand these, in order to stay successful in the shifting digital landscape. It means that there are novel opportunities to deliver targeted customer experiences based on in-depth insights. This will enable businesses to develop relationships with customers and keep them engaged over the long term.Destination marketing is key when marketers start their Big Data projects by thinking of the end goal and then working through all the details. This so-called “destination thinking” helps the strategic marketer avoid the traps of many Big Data Marketing projects where the deliverable becomes the end goal itself instead of the business value imagined at the outset...
Although it’s mostly scientific , there is a specific art to approaching BIG data: leveraging actionable insight, customer segmentation is a good structure to start with , esp. when you merge attitudinal with behavioral: so if you apply the same sorting/logic of organization to social media, mobile or retail, you will keep a model that’s rich and can actually serve as a pillar of your marketing strategy & competitiveness...Example: collecting the likes on FB might be as rich in potential growth as the actual clicking on suggested links; understanding the questions that our customers are asking when they do a Google GOOG +0.07% search, visit a website or participate in a social media conversation... Start with the consumer decision journey : understanding that decision journey is critical to identifying battlegrounds to either win new customers or keep existing ones from defecting to competitors. Some 35 percent of B2B pre-purchase activities, for example, are digital, which means B2B companies need to invest in web sites that more effectively communicate the value of their products, SEO technology to make sure potential customers are finding them, and social media monitoring to spot new sales opportunities. One online retailer, for example, tailors its offers and discounts based on predictions of how likely a valued customer is to defect...
...and there also are some hurdles/risks to Big Data: obviously,  privacy is a primary one: with the recent outrage with the IRS scandal and big brother NSA revelations, American consumers might become more & more nervous about either Governmental or private entities mining & manipulating tons of personal information, even if it’s for straight commercial purpose: so give them clear/transparent information and let them decide how far they want to have their data utilized: most of them will not mind as long as they have been asked and feel in control of the level of privacy they set for themselves...That’s partly what Facebook had accomplished under pressure in the past 2 years...but failed to capitalize on after their collaboration with NSA was exposed during the scandal...

The field of applications in sales & marketing is huge: to start with , Retailors for whom it’s more strategic than any other industry because it’s reshaping their entire business & operating model: Walmart is using big data from 10 different websites to feed shopper and transaction data into an analytical system. Sears and Kmart are trying to improve the personalization of marketing campaigns, coupons, and offers with big data to compete better with Wal-Mart, Target, and Amazon. As the leader in the space, Amazon uses 1 million Hadoop clusters to support their affiliate network, risk management, machine learning, website updates, and more
More importantly, there is seamless commerce- also called  omni-channel- form of retailing, which lets consumers move seamlessly among all retail environments -- real and virtual -- as if they were one, will be the norm. For exampleH.H. Gregg and Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores let their consumers check inventory by store, buy online and pick up the product at their chosen location. Restoration Hardware makes its stores into brand showrooms, where consumers can handle and test products while shopping the chain’s vast online catalogs and website. WalmartLabs is mining SoMoLo (social, mobile, local) data to predict shoppers’ next purchases and stock based on social-media activity.
It may seem like a simple task, but unifying the focus of a Fortune 500 retailer or manufacturer along these lines is a complex undertaking. First, you have to prioritize among hundreds of possible initiatives. Then you have to rethink the customer experience across channels and devices, and build the communications web to bring it together, from conference room to showroom. Within the organization, you need to break down functional silos and create incentives for different departments to share data and sell products from every channel.
Most retailers may have begun to adjust, with improved customer-service policies, new mobile features or updated product-delivery options, but they are still largely missing the mark. Still, several of the world’s most innovative chains are closing in on the ideal. Nordstrom’s, Best Buy, Macy’s, Urban Outfitter, Staples and Restoration Hardware are beginning to make the organizational transitions needed to develop a consistent experience for myriad types of shoppers.
Led by the belief that this is the future of retailing, these chains are uniting retail and e-commerce teams with one leader, integrating technology systems to act as one, seeking a unifying goal for the business (not the channel). Instead of year-over-year store comps, they’re measuring the combined impact of communications and sales across all channels. In stores, they’re adding quick pickup counters for online purchasers, training staff to handle instant checkout via smartphone and tablet and gathering data to personalize the shopping experience.

Consequently, this Big data  shift has interesting repercussions for the marketing consultants & partner agencies of advertisers: just as consumers can't be bothered with disconnected retail channels, retailers don’t want to juggle a dozen consultancies to accomplish something they’re too tied up to do in-house. They need partners capable of going from roadmap to results in a matter of months. So they’re starting to ask agencies to do things that Don Draper never imagined would be part of the scope of work. For starters, we have to help clients think through business policies, aspects of store layout and customer service. It doesn’t serve the business to cruise consumers through an elegant online experience -- picking out the products, finding the stores, checking inventory and making the purchase -- only to stick them at the back of a customer-service line when they enter the store for pickup. The hassle is amplified by the angst of people waiting to return faulty items. So we need to help wrangle with questions likes these: Do we have designated spaces in the parking lot for people who bought online to pick up in-store? Do we have a dedicated pickup counter? Are we engineered to make ordered items available for pickup in less than 20 minutes? Do we have cabinet space for all the products that are awaiting pickup?  Do we allow customers to return endless aisle products to a store location, even though they were purchased online? If so, how is that product returned to inventory? 

Other industries like Financial services are also leveraging Big Data for their product development: Morgan Stanley ran into issues doing portfolio analysis on traditional databases and now uses Hadoop to analyze investments “on a larger scale, with better results.” As well, Hadoop is being used in the industry for sentiment analysis, predictive analytics, and financial trades.

In Automotive, Ford’s modern hybrid Fusion model generates up to 25 GB of data per hour. Why? The data can be used to understand driving behaviors and reduce accidents, understand wear and tear to identify issues that lower maintenance costs, avoid collisions, and even confirm travelling arrangements.Insurance companies such as Progressive actually turn this kind of data into action to target various customer segments with appropriate, fine tuned  premiums & coverage solutions...

In the Entertainment industry, companies like Time Warner, Comcast, and Cablevision are using big data to track media consumption and engagement, advertising, and customer retention as well as operations and infrastructure. The video game industry is using big data for tracking during gameplay and after, predicting performance, and analyzing over 500GB of structured data and 4 TB of operational logs each day. Even brands like ESPN are looking to get in on the action.

The Hospitality or Travel industry have embraced big data for a few years , enabling them to go beyond the traditional analytics of customer loyalty metrics: British Airways is doing more to remember personal preferences with its “Know Me program” that can, for example, spot when passengers choose window seats for short-haul flights and aisle seats for long-haul flights because they want to stretch their legs, and that pattern can be repeated automatically. "They're combining everything they know about passengers, and historically that sort of information has been very fragmented across a variety of system," said Davenport. "They're also bringing that information to the front lines -- even to the cabin crews using iPads -- so it adds up to an impressive effort." Multiple airlines are pushing revenue management to the next level by calculating, for example, the value of a group of customers who will miss a connection due to a flight delay and then determining whether to delay their connecting flight or book them on the next plane.Travelocity applies analytics to pricing, inventory and advertising, and all three dimensions shift on a daily basis depending on supply and demand. It's using techniques like look-alike modeling, next-best-offer analysis and recommendation engines to push the right offers to customers that fit certain profiles.


All these examples show the multiple and deep repercussions  that the BIG data revolution is opening: companies that understand that next necessary stage of customer centricity transformation on the heels of the digital revolution will be able to yield invaluable insight,  innovation  and competitive advantage for years to come...This is BIG !

Monday, December 31, 2012

5 IMPORTANT THINGS you can learn from 5 exemplary marketing phenomenons of 2012

First of all, this list is not another top 10 ad campaigns or social media: it’s not about fun AD campaign or smart social media use, it is about real  original marketing thin king translated into an integration of various channels & modes of communications: they can each teach us something new & groundbreaking when it comes to approaching  the strategic direction of a brand or a company: the reason I have selected them is that I believe that less & less marketers are actually looking after the deep health of the brand they manage but rather busy chasing the latest impressive cosmetic fix:

  • The rediscovery of vertue & relevance of a mastebrand portoflio: P&G’s “Thank you Mom” for the Olympics:
On Mother's Day 2012, P&G launched a campaign called "Thank You, Mom." Throughout the campaign, P&G featured Olympic athletes training from a young age, and emphasized the impact their mothers had on their lives. The "Thank You, Mom" campaign also included the "Raising an Olympian" video series to highlight specific athletes' experiences;
For a company whose products or services aren't directly related to sporting goods, P&G managed to speak to both mothers, homemakers, sun & daughters that we all are at some point with an overarching , fundamental emotional message /dimension , also generating more coverage for this campaign than many other masterbrands like Nike whose products were more naturally & historically linked to the Olympics. Each "Raising an Olympian" video received close to 1 million views, and the main "Thank You, Mom" video received about 53 million views !
The lesson here is very simple: through an effective use of “newsjacking”, P&G not only leveraged the popularity of a major, worldwide event, but they also stood out with relevance , true to the core values of their brand portfolio & corporate mission and the key consumer groups they cater to across the board…  As a result, they were also able to attract a lot of media coverage and thus, reach a global audience. When you're coming up with your next marketing campaign, think about ways you can expand its reach to more people and in a universal yet focused way  ? 

  • Best Sponsorship/branded content : the Red Bull Stratos project: talk about integrated, core to the heart & values of a brand & standing out:
When one thinks of Red Bull, one might remember their creative tagline, "Red Bull gives you wings." Well this year, Red Bull decided to put that tagline into the hearts and minds of their audience by hiring Austrian extreme athlete Felix Baumgartner to break the world record of the longest freefall jump of 128,000 feet above the Earth, reaching the high speed of 833.9 miles per hour. Talk about intense!
Over 8 million people watched the jump live, and over 30 million people have relived the jump on YouTube since then. Furthermore, the live jump was shown by over 40 TV stations and 130 digital outlets. Red Bull's Facebook photo of the jump generated 216,000 likes, 10,000 comments, and over 29,000 shares. The jump was also a trending topic on Twitter worldwide.
Breaking world records is always an exciting way to garner some attention. Red Bull's jump also aligned with its tagline, "Red Bull gives you wings." As a marketer, you always want to make sure your marketing campaigns are aligning with your company's mission and the interests of your audience. You may not always have the opportunity to break a world record, but an important lesson from Red Bull is to remember that your company's culture and mission should also be taken into consideration when executing any campaign.Plus this event was totally consistent with the line of events that Red Bull sponsors around the world such as FlugTag, Air race etc… 
  • Guerilla tactics & social buzz marathon: the 2012 Obama presidential campaign: and it’s not here because of the content of the political platform or quality of his record but how it was played;
Of course, there was the magnitude of the biggest brand war ever waged (with budgets expected to top $4.2 Bn by Nov. 2, amounting to what is essentially the biggest product launch /Ad campaign even conducted  Even global advertisers like Procter & Gamble (4.18Bn) or the Coca-Cola Companies (2.5Bn) spend less across their entire portfolio of brands (over 300 for Procter, more than 500 for Coca-Cola)…
Of course, Republicans had a huge Women’s sympathy deficit, an Hispanic problem…Of course, the GOP failed by focusing too exclusively on white men : as Marketers crafting campaigns would be wise to remember, GOP strategist Chuck Warren who mused that “To be frank, we’re a Mad Men party in a ‘Modern Family world.”
And in the last round, hurricane Sandy totally eclipsed the Romney campaign narrative and naturally reinforced the sitting Commander In chief position & credentials for the job in a very emotional yet powerful way.
But more importantly, there was a consistent set of smartly designed & crafted guerilla tactics, largely driven by digital research & channels: a large portion of the cash raised online came through an intricate, metric-driven e-mail campaign in which dozens of fundraising appeals went out each day. Here again, data collection and analysis were paramount. Many of the e-mails sent to supporters were just tests, with different subject lines, senders and messages. Inside the campaign, there were office pools on which combination would raise the most money, and often the pools got it wrong.
Another astute insight uncovered by the campaign strategists was the importance of the ‘understands problems of people like me’ question” as into the summer, Romney was in the teens in this category, the choice was made: the onetime campaign of hope and change soon began a sustained advertising assault that cast Romney as a heartless executive, a man who willingly fires people and is disconnected from how average Americans live their lives — an approach reinforced by Romney’s mistakes along the way.
There was also the smart Facebook leverage: the O campaign used Facebook to "replicate the door-knocking efforts of field organizers" on a mass scale. During the final weeks of the campaign, Obama's supporters received pictures of their friends in swing states. They were then urged to click a button asking the swing state voters to register to vote, vote early or get to the polls. The campaign found that the tactic worked 20% of the time "in large part because the message came from someone they knew."
In the Chicago H.Q, the campaign recruited a team of behavioral scientists to build an extraordinarily sophisticated database packed with names of millions of undecided voters and potential supporters. The ever-expanding list let the campaign find and register new voters who fit the demographic pattern of Obama backers and methodically track their views through thousands of telephone calls every night.
That allowed the Obama campaign not only to alter the very nature of the electorate, making it younger and less white, but also to create a portrait of shifting voter allegiances. The power of this operation stunned Mr. Romney’s aides on election night, as they saw voters they never even knew existed turn out in places like Osceola County, Fla. “It’s one thing to say you are going to do it; it’s another thing to actually get out there and do it,” said Brian Jones, a senior adviser. In the end, the result was an electorate that was far less white, and far younger, than Republicans had ever anticipated.
Without the clear financial advantage it had in the 2008 battle, the Obama campaign relied more on the tools of micro-marketing than on the oratorical gifts of the nation’s first black president. Above & beyond the gravitas of the well written inspirational speeches, the president focused on Romney. Meanwhile, his campaign spoke early and often with “persuadable” voters, selected for targeted e-mails and doorstep visits through demographic data unavailable last time.

  • Best Retail revival: TacoBell Doritos & new menu roll out are building the chain's customer base. To start, the popular Doritos Locos Tacos introduced earlier this year are improving perceptions about the brand among its core customers of young men.Meanwhile, the introduction of higher-quality "Cantina Bowls," positioned as an alternative to more expensive competitor Chipotle, are bringing in more women.
Who would have ever thought that fast-food Mexican chain Taco Bell, faced with sagging sales in 2011, would find life again in a taco with a Doritos-flavored shell The Doritos Locos Taco was launched in March of 2012, and with more than 200 million units sold, it has become the chain’s best-selling new product ever, even helping to lift profits for Yum! Brands, Taco Bell’s parent company, by 23 percent. To put some perspective on that number, McDonald’s sold its first 100 million burgers in 1958 – 18 years after the first McDonald’s burger stand opened, and three years after Ray Kroc started his first McDonald’s franchise… The company credits much of the DLT’s success to marketing campaigns using Instagram and Twitter.Their CMO stated that the way they thought about launching was, What’s the story? “We wouldn’t have sold 100 million Doritos Locos Tacos in the first ten weeks if all we did was say, It’s a new product and you’re going to love it because it’s now made with Doritos. We really listened in a different way for this program, to what people were tweeting and saying on Facebook. And that’s how we got our launch execution. We found out this kid drove 900 miles to Ohio get a hold of a DLT during the market testing, and it became inspiration for the commercial. It’s been a real breakthrough for us, in terms of turning our brand into an experience around stories shared. Most recently, we’ve got an ad on TV that is told through all the Instagram pictures that everybody is taking of the DLT, and we’ve done Twitter campaigns where we post people’s tweets about the DLT on billboards in Times Square and Sunset Blvd…”
Not only this innovation became a powerful commercial success story but it also turned an entire marketing approach around the customers…Talk about full bloom customer centric marketing transformation !

  • Just spreading fun Gangnam style: well, this one is not really a marketing strategy but simply an organic phenomenon: like the Macarena or other Lambada in the 90’s, it took the world by storm:
We all know by now that it became the first video in the history of the Internet to be viewed more than a billion times and it is the most watched video on YouTube, after surpassing Justin Bieber's single "Baby”…it’s not highly sophisticated, this Hip Hop Korean guy dancing like a cow-girl is just so much fun to watch, you just want to get along: it’s a tribal thing, a universal totemic symbol of being light & silly despite any gloom of reality, worth seeing for its caricature of contemporary Asian and American urban lifestyles-it turns out that the video is rich with subtle references that, along with the song itself, suggest a subtext with a surprisingly subversive message about class and wealth in contemporary South Korean society…
The label behind Gangnam, YG Entertainment, had a plan long before the video went live. They knew they wanted to break into new markets and started building a platform they would be able to push content out on. Looking at their various YouTube channels they had 2.5 million subscribers pre-Gangnam and had achieved in the region of 1.6 billion views of musicians’ videos across those channels. Having these subscribers is key and meant they could get a high number of views in a short space of time helping them quickly gain shares and get featured in YouTube’s daily chart.
After debuting  at number one in the Korean Pop Chart and gain 500k views on its launch day mid July,
 the video started to build global momentum the next month, but the volume of tweets and searches rose at a far slower rate than later on in the campaign, and predominantly featured traffic and search emerging from South Korea.
In mid-July there were then a few further tweets from @AllKPop, relating to the video's general profile, sales of the song as a ringtone doing well etc, but nothing out of the ordinary. Although much has been made of the impact of various celebrity supportive tweets, my interpretation is that mainstream media coverage initially brought it to many people's, including celebrities attention.
On 30th July Gawker wrote it up leading to 19k in Facebook likes/shares. I believe this lead to Billboard writing it up and the barrage of well followed celebrity tweets that followed, all pushing lots of traffic to YouTube.
There was no stopping Psy after this, with coverage in Time Magazine and Mashable followed. The next big announcement came on September 3rd when a YouTube video showing Psy drinking a shot with Scooter Braun, who is best known for managing Justin Bieber. This shot wasn’t just some friends catching up over a drink it was the start of them working together and marked Gangnam for big things in the states.
Activity over the next two weeks triggered the biggest spike in the entire campaign, as Scooter Braun made some inspired media bookings. Alongside these bookings, Scooter also has a contact book to die for and his own artists have some of the largest marketing databases in the world, all of whom Psy now had access to.
Thanks to Scooter Braun, Psy appeared at the MTV Awards as a last minute guest and alongside another of Scooter's clients, before going on to make his first appearance on the TV Show Ellen alongside Britney Spears. Britney (of course) tweeted this, creating a huge 1.3m tweets containing the term "Gangnam Style" over those few days alone. Just as growth started to slow again, Scooter got Psy a spot on NBC Today show, and a second appearance on Ellen, that triggered a final but forceful spike in searches, tweets and video likes.
Imagine if you are a marketer wise enough to get associated with this type of thing, how much groove & exposure you can just gain…But be reminded that like any tribal thing, it will be forgotten in a global glimpse, moving on to the next gimmick of the moment. So not much long term , multidimensional brand building on this one…but still a good trick not to forget, especially if you are a brand in need of instant global recognition.

CONCLUSION: What these 5 stories show is a set of very different modes of communicating in a 21st century global environment of the most competitive & crowded marketplace: from catching attention to surprising with a real innovation  or capturing imagination, from convincing to inspiring , making news or just feeding or entertaining, these 5 cases give new pointers for modern marketers to score big. It proves that not one channel or marketing vehicle is prevalent or serves a a magic bullet  but rather that a daring, passionate & integrated  big idea executed with the right strategy & grassroots tactics can make a global success.

Monday, October 8, 2012

The 2012 US presidential campaign: a telling case of complex brand strategy & 21st century marketing

 (for the lazy or time-challenged)
This election is a fascinating example of all layers & key dynamics of a complex, massive scale 21st century brand strategy exercise that will probably mark a turning point in terms of societal values and ethical marketing

As the US are about to elect a new president, the American people and beyond, the global community at large, have to form an opinion and make a choice between 2 very different brands incumbent Barak Obama & Republican nominee Mitt Romney…
Of course it’s a choice of society, set of values that you believe in…but with all the digital ads, social buzz before / after each appearance, campaign trail quotes or debates , it has also become  a true branding war in which  each candidate attempts to convey the essence of his platform, character & values, towards what Mark Twain once called the "best Congress money can buy”…

The campaign budgets are staggering, expected to hit an all-time record, topping $4.2 Bn by Nov. 2, according to various sources, amounting to what is essentially the biggest product launch /Ad campaign ever conducted (in comparison, the 2010 election in U.K. amounted to just over £30M ($50M) and the 2012 French presidential race -where political campaign expenses are subjected to a maximum ceiling- didn’t exceed the €22 M mark ($30M). Even global advertisers like Procter & Gamble (4.18Bn) or the Coca-Cola Companies (2.5Bn) spend less across their entire portfolio of brands (over 300 for Procter, more than 500 for Coca-Cola)…
On TV alone, total political spending on American broadcast TV (local +national) has crossed the $1 Billion mark, blowing the lid off of the 2008 election record of $ 515 M while investments across ALL MEDIA have reached  1.35Bn for Romney campaign  vs 1.16 Bn for Obama’s, the rest mostly spent on telemarketing, grassroots, events & rallies etc…).
Even beyond the US, international attention  & editorial coverage serve as a model (the 2011 Russian Presidential election strangely resembled the decorum & media format of America’s ) and can reach surprising level of interest in unsuspected places In the past few weeks, hundreds of thousands of Chinese tuned to the US convention speeches as they took place. Volunteer translators rushed to attach Chinese subtitles to online videos and photos of these speeches just hours after their delivery, Web users poured their feelings into discussion threads on Weibo (equivalent of Google)  that ran thousands of posts long… Commentators pointed out how Chinese watchers often find the deeper aspects of American politics, beyond the charisma of individual politicians, most moving. Among them: humanity and humility that American leaders seem to so highly value. Having learned in school about the Communist proletarian principles and the motto "serve the people," many Chinese people also value these concepts as defining qualities for good leaders, but often express disillusionment when party leaders don't seem to follow those same ideals…
When even Venezuela’s president Hugo Chavez entered the conversation & relayed the US presidential election to the Venezuelan people by endorsing Obama, you know that the entire world’s public opinion is exposed and impacted.
Last but not least, the thousands of media articles , billions of impressions from  earned Media (vs paid) and social Buzz probably multiply the Ad value equivalent of the budget by 2 or 3 times…According to Forrester Research in April 2010, people in the U.S. generate more than 500 billion online impressions on each other regarding products and services. And if around 150 people view each of these posts (a conservative estimate), that's another 250 Bn+ impressions. In short, earned media is a powerful channel and social media has made it even stronger…
So no wonder that every day in every of the 50 states, Americans are subjected to dozens of TV ads over prime time , news & talk shows , on radio or outdoor billboards during their morning commute, or online banners every time you watch an online newsflash or a Youtube video on a computer or mobile device…
In that context, yes, the exercise boils down to the highest stakes , multichannel brand strategy & implementation exercise that lasts for months and culminates with the 3  Prez. debates and the Nov. 6 ballot.
The complex set of challenges of this branding battle towards moving the needle are:
  1. clearly define a compelling unique value proposition that embodies your key D.N.A. , values & vision and a solutions-platform,  that answers your buyer’s motivation or speaks to his direct benefit  (“what’s in it for me ?” rather than usual talking points…Romney’s Believe in America plan ”how 4 years of the same Obama’s policies will not get things better for middle income Americans“ or  for Obama “ Give me 4 more years in the same (right) direction for better results…”
  2. Emphasize your character/personality through your demeanor, personal style & ethics  (family/friends, compassion, religious belief, life record, charitable causes/community actions etc..): the “cool” factor from Obama, the “My experience as a business grower can bring America back” Romney
  3. Raise your profile and leadership through experience (communication style, standards, actions in your life that speak to your values: show how you are above the fray, how you were able to work across party lines (Romney’s Governorship in Democrat’s controlled Massachusetts’s legislature…) as the tone of your ads & speech have to be tweaked towards  your unique personality.
  4. Keep on top of the key drivers & interests of the public : stay relevant , set the record straight when the message gets derailed or off point or just renew the message when you get to a dull news  lifecycle position: that’s how Romney campaign's message of the day jumped around quite a bit in Sept., from foreign policy after the embassy attacks on Sept. 11, to China, to labeling Obama a redistributionist, to hitting the president for saying he can't change Washington "from the inside."
  5. Establish a conversation and connect with every one of your key audience segments, not all or anyone & everyone…mass is dead, multi-segment is king (focus on the most important demographics & states where your marketing can make a difference , make or break your win such as swing states , specific groups i.e. women, ethnic or religious groups etc…) throughout the full spectrum of channels & formats,  from town Halls to online forums, from an Ohio trade fair to an army base , a national Black caucus or a Florida retirement home…Cf. how Ryan featured his mother at a Florida retirement home rally to speak to the Republican’s commitment to Medicare or Sandra Fluke as the face of Obama’s dedication to women’s rights…
  6. Have a compact set of consistent platform subjects & objectives  applied in the key areas of interest/buying criteria’s of electors (from the economy to social issues to foreign policy or heath care): even though the economy is the top driver, chance are that over the months, campaign themes will move and the difference can also be made on secondary but also important for some voters like civil rights, security, heath care, immigration etc…the infamous “9-9-9 “of Herman Cain or the relatively recent 5 points economic plan from the Romney campaign
  7. Avoid negative, comparative or divisive rhetoric  as it can only lead you so far or just plain backlash… and doesn’t exactly speaks to your leadership & highest moral commitment in front of the Whole country…even if it can get you some interesting coverage from snippets, they have been shown to not generate a huge impact on voter’s behavior. See Romney’s  “47 %” comment or Obama’s “you didn’t build that business on your own…” or Biden’ chains” comment at an African American rally…
  8. Strike a balanced customer acquisition & retention strategy , between keeping your base energized (loyalty) and attracting undecided or independent voters (acquisition): that’s probably where the Obama campaign has been the most skilled with the Digital strategy…appeal to both new comers (new generations of voters) and keep  your base energized.
In that respect, and without prejudging of the election result, its already seems that each candidate went though a learning curve & had their own mishaps:
Camp Obama win:
As Obama had already led the charge during the game changing , digital -savy 2008 campaign, they pre-empted  Digital media very early in 2011 and outsmarted GOP counterpart for months, starting  with an ever more aggressive  budget allocation  to Digital  (more than $30 M on digital Ads so far- including text messages-according to ClickZ Politics analysis i.e. 3.5 times Romney's $7.6 M…In 2011, Obama's online ad expenditures merely doubled Romney's .
With Nearly 1-in-5 Americans (17%) say they got news yesterday on a mobile device, with (78%) on their cell phone and 19% of the public getting news headlines on social networking sites yesterday (+ 9% vs 2  years ago) with the percentage regularly getting news/ news headlines on these sites has nearly tripled, from 7% to 20%): the news consumption profile has definitively shifted, notwithstanding the fact that more &more young people go just news less.
Targeted digital ads can help the candidates better engage with the key voters they need in what's sure to be a close election: the elusive swing state independents, the coveted Hispanic groups, Catholics or Jewish voters …Digital  allows your brand personality to be a lot more precise with your message whilst, compared with broadcast, cheaper and easier to track… whilst being able to copy test various ads and readapt on the go.
Meanwhile, the Obama invested key social media platforms with success, now boasting more than 29 Millions “Like” on his Facebook page littered with intimate photos of the President in his daily life (only 8 M for Romney) and more than 20 Millions Twitter 1.2 M followers for Romney). In the first 6 months of 2012, the Obama campaign outnumbered the combined effort of the four leading Republican campaigns with any notable online Ad presence by a ratio of 10 to1 !
Camp Obama miss: during the first debate, given several opportunities to counterattack on some of Romney’s points, Obama appeared unwilling to do so, retreating to bland, small-bore, Clintonian talking points. Among the weapons that the president left on the stage was any reference to Romney’s now infamous “47%” comment that could have changed the dynamics of characters in the debate back to Romney’s need to justify & explain… 
More crucially , the President is also facing an unavoidable underlying question that he has not been able/or willing  to address nor deflate, at least indirectly, the  basic defining question infamously spelled by Ronald Reagan in the 1980 debate vs Carter:  “ask yourself : are you better off than you were four years ago? ” Even with the best comprehensive set of references to the economic context in which he took office, it remains the most basic, challenging & legitimate question for any consumer that should consider buying your product again…”there you go again” (!)  for defining a compelling value proposition !
Camp Romney win: when he seemed under tremendous pressure to regain leadership & demonstrate his ability to be aggressive rather than defensive in the 2 weeks leading to the first Prez. debate, Romney was able to deliver  a stronger performance  and reenergize his campaign  just 30 days before the election, generating $12 M in online contributions as well as a surge in volunteers and bigger crowds at his events. This was sheer illustration of successful profile raising and  asserting leadership while respecting the office of the President…
Camp Romney miss: obviously, beyond the “ I bet you  $10 000…  “ or “47%... “ unfortunate blunders, one of the biggest hurdle that candidate Romney has had to overcome has been to look approachable, seeming able to connect with the average American , making them feel that he understands their plight and everyday challenges…that’s where the character needs to come across through personal style, words, facial & non verbal language…elements of packaging, graphic design codes or personality that make a brand warm & loved as opposed to just considered, respected or remembered…
So, if anything , this campaign can teach  a few valuable lessons/cornerstones of complex brand strategy that every marketer should remember:
  • A) Illustrate your essence /vision with your track record & pragmatic commitments…rather than a succession of technical points (brand essence rather than succession of ad campaigns): that’s how a brand inspires trust and substance: laying out a vision or a program without applying it to people real life or your own actions doesn’t allow it to reach consumers’ hearts and minds. That’s the spirit of such successful brand strategies such as new Ally bank’s “no non-sense, just people sense” or Dove’s “Real beauty” campaigns that resonate so deeply with the consumer’s needs & state of mind of the era…
  • B) Lead the conversation, don’t let  your competitor or his allies define you: spell out your unique value proposition & unique style, don’t get caught reacting or playing defense, just lead your own music…too many brands respond to other players initiatives and forget to change the game with sheer innovation  i.e. The  new Doritos taco shell from Taco Bell !
  • C) Be opportunist, keep the pulse of the buzz , air du temps and readjust quickly: how Romney seized the Sept. 11 attack on the Lybia consulate to relaunch a new (albeit inarticulate) offensive on Obama’s failed Foreign policy…
  • D) The consistent story is what really matters but renew the narrative (lights on different facets) … In the age of the nonstop news cycle, every new development is the most important thing that has ever happened, meriting breathless coverage -- until the next, more important development inevitably overtakes it in a day or two. i.e. Romney campaign aiming to continue to talk about the failures of the president's policies, but in a forward frame, in a forward-looking discussion about how 4 more years of the last is not going to be good for the American people…
  • E) Stay on a simple & strong message, a consistent & clearly defining one: the one that will have the voter believe that they will get exactly what they mean to buy when they cast their vote, and not something around it…so any strategy that calls for various building blocks & phasing might work in the Ad executive circles but not in the general public arena: That’s how Geico “ 15 mn phone call could save you hundreds …” or “More Saving. More Doing”Home Depot have encapsulated a unique, concise set of benefits
  • F) leverage the conversation through your tribes & allies in the new media ecosystem: media, community support network, citizen journalists or customer forums are the new levers of the most permeable media of all: the daily, approachable one from seemingly peers: social media campaign engineering such as Old Spice ‘s ”The man your man could smell like”, the  fastest-growing and most popular interactive campaign in history that reached 1.4 billion impressions and 40 million video views  in a week, is an extreme capsule of that tribal marketing.
Now, for the moral value , one could ask how acceptable it is that a choice of candidate or society in one of the most advanced democracies in the world could be depending so much on marketing, the size of war chest or consultants: at a time when everybody recognizes the need to cut spending and address the budget deficit of a country, isn’t the necessity/benefit of a $5 Bn image war over the course of 12 months worth  questioning ?  
How would the democratic process work if Ad spending that the US Supreme Court decided to leave Unlimited in their 2010 landmark ruling in “Citizens United v. FEC” was reduced to “organic” social buzz & editorial coverage from media organizations ?
But then again how would you ensure that this coverage is fair, unbiased & balanced so that the voting public can make the most informed decision ?It’s hardly disputed that the Media are mostly skewed towards a Liberal bias and except for Fox News, few high profile /big audience outlets stand out  on the other side…
Maybe after all, this is like the Democracy it stems from, the worst model at the exception of all others…
However, I believe that in 20 years from now, this paroxystic point of political marketing will have found a more mature & reasonable framework of the election process whilst marketers will further refine the exemplary nature of this complex and exciting case of brand management.
  One thing is sure, whatever the eventual result of this US election: we now live in a global conversation where iconic figures fight hard & dirty for a universal model of society in which we want to live…quite a return from the multiculturalism  or laissez-faire & free-form / multi-local social experiments from the 70 and 80’s stem from the fragmentation & eventual explosion of a bipolar world that had given birth to many colors of politics both in terms of style, nation leaders and models…

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Why publicize the house when you are a house of brands ?

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY:(for the lazy or time-challenged):
It might actually be a rather sensible strategic choice for some corporations to engage in the branding of the house even when you have been established as a house of brands in terms of portfolio organization...


That candid question formulated at a recent Brand forum sounds interesting and touches on much deeper elements...whilst already carrying a bias as it seems to suggest that there would have to be some inconstancy if a corporation chose one strategy or the other :

I would actually argue that this is an innate/ old conundrum and has always been a back & forth cycle or sort of balancing act between building brands & nurturing a masterbrand: from G.M. to Pernod Ricard or Tata , like it or not , the profile of the masterbrand has  at times been more emblematic or recognized than it’s brand portfolio: at the time when iconic companies were established in the 60 & 70’s, L’Oreal, Dupont or Procter actually meant as much to the general public than the Ellnet, Lycra or any of the “soap” brands Procter would launch through radio & TV early days sponsorship, these corporate names being emblematic of their product’s quality & reputation and often prominently signing vintage ads…

Then, a massive , natural brand extension phase ensued in the 80-90’s consisting of multiple launching of  brands across many product some point amidst that brand boom, marketers started rediscovering the virtues of central/common initiatives: cross-selling synergies (the Danone company, Nestle or G.M. initiated cross-brands promotional programs with Retail chains or dealerships), consolidation /economies of scale (Media buying, packaging, vendors, guidelines etc…); and more importantly, new rising categories/themes that were steming from evolving consumer needs & attitudes: those can become wider than what a single brand's perceived expertise would reasonably cover (ex. from breakfast Cereal/ fiber to healthy diet and energy supplements) and, if pre-empted, can offer much more long term growth potential (new brands in wider categories or existing brand extension etc…): hence the  “Let’s Make Today Great,” from Kelloggs ,  G.E.’s “Imagination at work” or a more complex “help farmers grow yield sustainably so they can be successful, produce healthier foods, better animal feeds and more fiber, while also reducing agriculture's impact on our environment…” from Monsanto.

In the early 21st century & through the downturn, marketers had to revert to more vertically-focused investments under the pressure of their board for more immediate, tangible/accountable top line growth & R.O.I.: keeping behind-the-scenes, centralized resources, exit the active/ direct corporate value proposition to consumers…

I am therefore not so surprised that top marketers are now rediscovering the virtues of nurturing a masterbrand:
  1. A. LONG TERM GUARANTEE: Obviously,  the investment made towards the masterbrand generally pays off one day or another, preparing to take a punch for the team, lend support to the brand in a given category when it needs back-up for awareness, differentiation or reputation through a less product-centric, more inspiring (credible ?) dimension or mission statement: this makes the brands less dependent on a narrow value proposition or just a single product crisis (i.e. Mattel (2005) or Toyota (2010) recalls) by throwing the weight & support of a higher figure, the go-to school principal, the mission statement that, as Kotler says “acts as an invisible hand” more accountable to shareholders, regulatory bodies, media & consumer scrutiny…Sub-brands fade or die , their giant corporate parents still stand perennial…
  2. A WHOLE NEW HOLISTIC MARKETING: deeper sign of the times, the advent of Digital and the direct consumer behavioral data that it allows has opened the door for much more powerful, consumer centric cross-selling & promotional branding opportunities: you can now associate a buyer pattern & attitudinal profile across several categories & design much deeper/ more targeted value propositions in terms of demographics but also in regards with purchase pattern & loyalty across categories, promotional drivers or in terms of affinity with the channel, the content of the message, its context & attached geo-location services etc…Opening this new scope of shared/ single-source resources opens more applications beyond the richer needs-driven / Lifetime Value potential management such as:  multichannel communications planning, wider integration of Digital as a driving force in the conversation with the consumer, consistent benchmark of marketing effectiveness, R.O.I. and budget allocation optimization across the portfolio etc…This IS the real REVOLUTION that a masterbrand revival brings…                                                                                                     Let’s also not forget that some times, within the world of corporate politics, getting high-profile, strategic consumer-centric status for these otherwise behind-the-scenes/cross functional logistics helps a lot to get appropriate sign-off & cross-funding … It is indeed a powerful transformational theme and a new holistic marketing culture more in line with the natural perspective that Retailers always got right with their single view of shoppers, beyond category management, pricing & shelving organization …so, if it make sense and adds relevance, why ignore these fundamentals ?
  3. THEY ACT AS BRANDS ANYWAY: I would finally point out that, as BrandZ top 100 shows, some of these quiet masterbrands G.E. (15th), Chrysler (never only a sub brand) or Volkswagen (which aggregates Porsche  & VW in the study) are actually resilient enough in terms of reputation & equity  as to rank in the brandZ top 50, among "pure concentrate" brands ! (I would even argue that a special ranking for “conglomerate” masterbrands should be now created & allow for tracking & valorization…).
          This is probably no stranger to the fact that, as BrandZ points out “Consumers have little patience      with brands—and corporations—that violate trust. They publicize transgressions immediately and widely on social media…”: yes, the new consumer is much more knowledgeable & empowered, has  easier access to information and exerts more influence on a corporate governance that, after the Enron, BP or Mattel incidents has become more top of mind for consumers… so why not acknowledge that new order of transparency, take charge & manage this new dimension as a real asset rather than just have it putting up fires and only endure liabilities in P.R. hardships… ?
Somebody said “Trust is the new black”: corporate reputation is no longer about creating a vague, warm glow around a brand. It has become an integral part of the customer consideration, acquisition & retention value chain. We now recognize that corporate reputation helps convince customers that a company is relevant to them in an approachable, personal way which can directly affects purchase behaviors: it is an essential strategic asset.

So, why publicize the house when you are a house of brands ?
Well, because -not much less than for a branded house- the reputation of the house, its “brand" still has a life of its own, has much deeper repercussions than the simple sum of personalities /lives of the various family members that it harbors -children misbehaving , just growing up or leaving the nest, parents moving on to a new “empty nest” lifestyle or just seniors gently fading out of the picture: the house /family values (governance, corporate business principles) has to exist & stand strong for family members to gather, seek shelter in time of a crisis, help fund some of the kid’s misadventures…
In short: providing a guiding marketing culture and support system that remains relevant, alive & strong as the “pater noster” that once stood for the clan , well on top of the commerce stuff…