Aired March 11, 2015
On the latest broadcast of Marketing Matters, Sirius XM 111 on Business Radio Powered by Wharton, WFoA’s Executive Director Catharine Hays and guest co-host Jenny Rooney, Editor Forbes CMO, spoke with four CMOs and Brand Builders about their diverse marketing strategies. The conversation with Kevin George, Senior Vice President and Global Chief Marketing Officer at Beam Suntory; Lisa Mann, Executive Vice President at KIND Healthy Snacks; Marty St. George, Executive Vice President, Commercial and Planning at Jetblue Airways; and Mike Linton, Enterprise Chief Marketing Officer at Farmers Insurance Group, touched on a range of topics including the need to connect with Millennials and the increasing importance of consumer-focused brands.
“Spirits are a really interesting category because they are pure branding,” said Kevin George, Senior Vice President and Global Chief Marketing Officer at Beam Suntory and the first guest on this week’s edition of Marketing Matters. George launched a global marketing campaign for Jim Beam bourbon in 2014, starting in ten countries and growing it to 50. As Jim Beam is a 220-year-old
brand, their idea was to focus on making history. “The millennial generation, in the US and abroad, all have a similar quality they look for in brands; authenticity, story, and history,” George explained. A product with the history and authenticity of Jim Beam “gives that generation a real touchstone.”
Beam Suntory noticed that spirits are traditionally thought of as something to be enjoyed on their own rather than paired with food like wine. But today, consumers are becoming “discoverers,” seeking new, bolder combinations. “You can pair Maker’s Mark with a steak, and market a product in a completely new way,” he suggested. Similarly, spirits have long been targeted predominantly to men. “But you look at the data on tequila for example, and realize that 80 percent of tequila is drunk in margaritas, and that 60 percent of margaritas are drunk by women.” Creating new campaigns to capture such overlooked markets has been a focus for George.
Another challenge for George is to create campaigns that to connect to the loyal core while also expanding to the “discoverer” market. The recent Jim Beam campaign featuring Mila Kunis exemplifies that. “Mila loves bourbon, so she is authentic, real, and down-to-earth. At the same time, pairing a 220 year old brand with a 30 year old woman helped develop the traditional image of Jim Beam.”
Marketing to this new genre of consumer was a topic touched on by the next guest on Marketing Matters, Lisa Mann, Executive Vice President at KIND Healthy Snacks. An emphasis for her company, she explained, is field marketing. “The gift that field marketing brings is that KIND is now a brand that is discovered, not marketed,” said Mann. “The field marketing team goes
where the KIND-oholics are, and they become advocates for the brand.” She described a recent KIND field marketing campaign in San Francisco, where the team set up a flower wall. “We gave people two KIND bars and a flower,” she said. “They kept one bar, and then did a kindness for someone else, giving the bar and flower away.” This campaign promoted the product and the mission of the brand, which is to make the world a little kinder.
For Mann, real time marketing is the most rewarding and salient form of contemporary marketing, particularly for a product like KIND. Real time marketing can of course be digital: earlier in her career, Mann was behind the famously on-point Oreo tweet during the Super Bowl blackout in 2013. But real time marketing can also be offline. “What’s important is the holistic elements of real time,” she explained. “You bring a brand into a culture, become salient in the consumer’s mind, and be a part of their lives. My M.O. is to be where the consumer is.” Focusing on real time marketing gives KIND, as Mann described it, “vitality online and offline.”
Also joining WFoA Executive Director Catharine Hays and guest co-host Jenny Rooney this week was Marty St. George, Executive Vice President, Commercial and Planning at Jetblue Airways. Jetblue has been a market disruptor since its inception in 2000. “When Jetblue started, air travel was a broken industry,” explained St. George. “Customers were paying high prices for bad service. We wanted to break that paradigm.” Strong customer service
grows from a strong culture, something that is essential to Jetblue. “We brand people into Jetblue; every employee’s job is to shepherd the brand,” he said. “You get the culture that you deserve. If a culture truly is important and you nurture it, you will reap the benefits.”
Jetblue, unlike more traditional airline companies, puts customers front and center, undertaking innovative campaigns such as “Carmageddon.” In 2011, a 30-mile stretch of the 405 highway in L.A. was going to be closed for a weekend, a nightmare for the car-centric city. Jetblue stepped in, offering flights for $4.05 between Long Beach Airport and Bob Hope Airport in suburban Burbank. “The idea cost us maybe $10,000,” explains St. George. “And we knew how big a deal it was when it sold out in two hours, and our website got over eight billion hits.”
St. George sees the airline industry as faced with a unique challenge: convincing the consumer that flying isn’t a wholly commoditized business. “We use the phrase ‘America’s forgotten flying,’” he said. “We want to convince them otherwise.” The recent Jetblue campaign, which uses pigeons as a metaphor, draws on this idea, pushing consumers to recognize that they don’t have to be “America’s forgotten flyer.” As a smaller company working to disrupt consumer expectations, Jetblue doesn’t want to just offer another service, it wants to create a different consumer environment: “We want people to see there is something else out there.”
The final guest on Marketing Matters was Mike Linton, Enterprise Chief Marketing Officer at Farmers Insurance Group. Farmers, an 87-year-old company based predominantly on the west coast, recently rebranded for the first time in 55 years in anticipation of expanding east. “We wanted to reflect what we are today, and have a brand that carried well across different media,” explains Linton. “But we also wanted the heritage of our company to remain intact, as customers respect that.” Respect is a central tenant of Farmers, where consumer education is crucial to the marketing strategy. “One of the challenges about insurance is that is massively complicated, and a mistake can really cost you,” says Linton. “Every time you touch our brand, we want you to come away smarter about insurance. We’re not trying to sell to you, we’re trying to educate you first.”
As in all industries, innovation is changing the face of marketing methods for insurance. “The combination of technology, big data, and consumer usage allows for a whole new way of thinking about things like insurance,” said Linton. Mobile insurance, where people will buy a car and insure it on the spot, is one such example. The constant flow of new technologies of course brings with it challenges. “You have to try to deliver todays business results while you protect the brand for tomorrow,” said Linton. “And that is always a balancing act.”