WFoA Super Bowl Tweet Meet 2015

As the Seahawks and the Patriots prepare to face each other in Arizona, advertisers are prepping their most lavish TV spots, and the Wharton Future of Advertising Program’s esteemed battery of panelists are preparing to turn their sharp eyes on those ads. Which treat their audience respectfully, and which go for a cheap shot? Which are genuinely surprising and inspiring, and which fall back upon cliché?

WFoA’s Super Bowl Tweet Meet, now in its 5th year, will offer in-the-moment reactions to the ads of Super Bowl XLIX at the #whartonfoa hashtag on Twitter, as well as post-game evaluation of which ads were most effective,  which inspired the most reaction, and picks for “Best Tweet of the Meet.” Follow along on Twitter on Sunday, February 1, and check out the main Tweet Meet page here.


Marketing Management Matters: Interviews with CMOs and Brand Builders on Sirius XM 111

Aired January 21, 2015

“The first thing I did was take TV off the table [when I arrived at Converse],” explains guest Geoff Cottrill, VP of Brand Segments for Converse, on the latest installment of WFoA on Marketing Matters. “We forced ourselves to say: ‘if you had this same money, what would you do with it?’”

This question—how to allocate resources that in the past would have been earmarked for media buys, and use them to strengthen a brand in other ways, has dominated Cottrill’s approach at Converse, and has helped the shoe company become the third most-liked brand on Facebook. Key to Cottrill’s philosophy is the idea that being useful to their key customers creates goodwill and organically joins the brand and its audience: “We don’t borrow equity from our concord consumer; we asked ‘what can we do to help you?’”

cottrillConverse has long enjoyed an association with the music and art communities, and to this end, Cottrill established Rubber Tracks, a recording studio in the Williamsburg neighborhood in Brooklyn that offers free services to fledgling bands and which has been in operation for over three years, with a second location due to open in Boston. Converse assumes no ownership over the music produced at Rubber Tracks—as Cottrill says, “we aren’t in the content development business, really. It’s about us enabling others to create content for their networks.”

This sort of experiential marketing doesn’t necessarily focus on selling shoes, but as Cottrill observed, “Interacting with our fans when they’re not thinking of buying shoes…builds goodwill and community, and it absolutely has an effect on the brand and its perception and reputation. For the cost of a six-week flight of tv ads, we’re running a recording studio for five years. I would much rather drive deep relationships over five years than run six weeks of tv ads.”

Alshimelsteino joining WFoA Executive Director Catharine Hays and guest co-host Jenny Rooney, CMO Network Editor at Forbes, was Bruce Himelstein, CMO of Loews Hotels. Loews, which operates 22 hotels and resorts in the continental US, has made an effort to grow its customer base over the last three years with a mix of new services and messages. A recent partnership with Fiat allows guests to either test-drive, or be chauffeured in, Fiat automobiles during their stays at five of Lowes’ hotels.

Himelstein emphasized the importance of speed and experimentation to Loews’ reinvention efforts—recent innovations have included social reservations—the ability to book a hotel stay via Twitter. As Himelstein put it, “When you’re smaller you want to move faster. My team brought us the idea of doing reservations on Twitter, and ten days later we were on the Today show as the first hotel to do social reservations. In my old life that would’ve been three months of meetings.”

lboffGuest Linda Boff, Executive Director of Global Brand Marketing at GE, likewise underlined the importance of experimentation in marketing. According to Boff, the recognition that GE’s name enjoys is a challenge: “it’s not being known, it’s being relevant and current…the idea is to have people see us in a new and unexpected way.”

One of the products of these efforts was the Missions high-top, an updated Moon Boot co-developed with sneaker label Android Homme and e-tailer The shoe was based on the original boots worn by astronauts during the moon landing, which were made from GE-developed plastics. The boots went on sale on the 45th anniversary of the moon landing, and sold out in seven minutes.

The boots themselves grew out of another GE marketing initiative—its social media presence. Boff has been a proponent of low-cost ways of showing off the inner operations of GE to its customers: “A lot of our stuff is invisible: you only notice it when it doesn’t work… when we got on Instagram 4 years ago, we just started taking beautiful pictures of our big majestic machines.” When a member of GE’s Snapchat team took a picture of Buzz Aldrin wearing his original moon boots, the idea for an updated moon boot took hold. The company has also been active on Vine, inviting users to submit “six-second science” lessons.

Boff echoes Cottrill’s sentiment that connecting with and being helpful to consumers is as important as selling a specific product. As she frames the company’s social media efforts, “We’re not gonna sell a jet engine on Snapchat, but what we will do is we’ll reach people who make some, if not all, of their decisions online… as people interact with the brand, we’re connecting the dots back to the things that we do.”

For gurishidaveest Rishi Dave, CMO of Dun & Bradstreet, modernizing the business data company’s brand involved taking a step back from message optimization to re-evaluate how the company’s customers understood what it did and was capable of. Partnering with ad agency Droga5, Dave learned that customers often found D&B’s language to be “complex.”

“What they wanted to know,” says Dave, “was how to use the data. The way we talk to customers is going to be different.”

The Wharton Future of Advertising Program airs programs monthly onMarketing Matters, a weekly call-in show airing on Wednesdays from 5pm to 7pm on Sirius XM Channel 111, Business Radio powered by Wharton. Listeners can call in during the show at 1-844-WHARTON (1-844-842-7866). Programs will be rebroadcast throughout the month. Full channel information available here:

-Matt Wiegle, WFoA Program Assistant

The 26th Shopping Day Before Christmas: Small Business Saturday, AmEx, and Etsy

Aired November 19, 2014

The post-Thanksgiving shopping weekend looms like a monolith on retailers’ calendars – American consumers were projected to have spent more than $50 billion over the period from November 27-30 this year. In response to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which draw shoppers’ attention to big-box retailers and online stores respectively, American Express designated the Saturday following Thanksgiving as Small Business Saturday in 2010, using the day to draw attention to small merchant account holders around the country.

On the November 19th broadcast of Marketing Matters on Wharton Business Radio, Sirius XM 111, hosts Professor Jerry Wind and Catharine Hays spoke with executives, organizers and retailers involved with Small Business Saturday to examine how it took shape, the manner in which AmEx offers supports to local retailers, and how the event has continued to evolve with its addition of Etsy vendors to in-store events for its 2014 edition.

Wind anreyhled Hays first welcomed Nicole Leinbach-Reyhle, Small Business Saturday’s Official Spokesperson and founder of, who spoke about the challengesfacing small retailers and the ways in which American Express offers them assistance. Small retailers “are forced to work on a much more limited budget; you really have to use every dime to reach customers,” according to Leinbach. AmEx offers small retailers access to its PR resources to bolster those sellers’ own efforts, and highlights those retailers within advertising space that it has purchased. Leinbach-Reyhle also offered examples of ways in which local retailers band together in order to reach more people locally: “Some businesses have made a pass card program that connects small businesses within a local area..some put together parades to celebrate Small Business Saturday.” Those efforts have, thus far, paid dividends: Leinbach-Reyhle credits $5.7 billion in 2013 sales to the small-shops movement.

Liz Kunzier, Ambler, PA’s Neighborhood Champion for Small Business Saturday, then shared a ground-level perspective on organizing for Small Business Saturday, saying “I was out today in the frezzing cold dropping off SBS bags” to local shops. According to Kunzier, who has deep family ties to the town—her father was Ambler’s Mayor for 30 years—small retailers can feel isolated and swamped: “It’s rough to be a business in a small town.” Kunzier sees her role as Neighborhood Champion as a chance to remind these retailers that outside resources do exist for these retailers, from the advice that AmEx offers to the promotional materials and events specifically keyed to Small Business Saturday. “It’s out there for businesses to use, all you have to do is take advantage of it.”

niederhofferNew to Small Business Saturday in 2014 is an American Express partnership with online craft/designhub Etsy, which placed local Etsy makers at partner retailers for in-store events this year. According to Etsy Senior program manager Rand Niederhoffer, the next guest on the show, local boutiques applied to host trunk shows during Small Business Saturday “as an attraction to draw further customers…they run the gamut from high-end womenswear to eclectic home boutiques. Radish Boutique in Portland is hosting Etsy sellers and partnering with local food purveyors, and is also going to have live piano; we’re working with them to figure out the placement of the piano in the retail space. It’s been a lot of fun.”

gatherMichelle Smith, owner of Gather, a local retailer, co-working space and coffee shop in Cary, NC, closed out the program’s roster of guests, sharing her plans for Small Business Saturday. For Smith, Etsy and Amex’s program of local trunk shows dovetails neatly with her own efforts both at Gather, which offers gifts from local designers and makers, and her organization of local markets.

“I think, in general, the mission of Small Business Saturday aligns with the mission of my business, and consumers who come to my shop really understand that the [vendors and designers showcased] there are local, that the missions align.”

Key takeaways from this show:

  • Recognize that you don’t have to do it alone. Kunzier and Leinbach-Reyhle both emphasized the availability of outside resources to small retailers, from Amex’s Small Business Saturday-specific materials to organizations of local shops.
  • Stay on top of local competition; According to Leinbach-Reyhle, walking through your competitors’ spaces, both big-bog and small, is “the best way to discern opportunities taking place.”
  • Support other small business owners. While you might be competing, a rising tide can lifts all boats.
  • Train your staff; Leinbach-Reyhle emphasized the importance of “really making sure your employees represent you.”

The feel, atmosphere, and intimacy of a space is a giant advantage that a small retailer can offer over a big-box store. According to Smith, “the one phrase I hear over and over is ‘this place has an amazing vibe…’ if there are a lot of people engaging with the space, and I see a return in repeat and new customers, then that’s an obvious litmus for success.”

The Wharton Future of Advertising Program airs programs monthly on Marketing Matters, a weekly call-in show airing on Wednesdays from 5pm to 7pm on Sirius XM Channel 111, Business Radio powered by Wharton. Listeners can call in during the show at 1-844-WHARTON (1-844-842-7866). Programs will be rebroadcast throughout the month. Full channel information available here:

-Matt Wiegle, WFoA Program Assistant