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Keep Spending More Money on Marketing That Doesn’t Deliver? That’s a Tough Pill to Swallow.

By Meghan Termat

For those seeking job security, it might be best to avoid the role of Chief Marketing Officer. Search firm SpencerStuart has reported that the median CMO tenure at the 100 most advertised brands in America is only 30 months. At less stable companies, a marketer’s time in the c-suite can be even shorter, with turnover consistently greater than other positions.

Difficulty proving effectiveness may have something to do with the revolving door of CMOs, but a Korn Ferry survey indicated only about 9 percent can’t quantify their impact. The real problem? A mismatch in the expectations of the organization for what marketing can accomplish and reality. More often than not, marketing is seen as a salve: sales are slow, and marketing is the quick-fix to the malady. …


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Tapping into New Markets through Brand Story

By Meghan Termat

Imagine this scene: A large arena with blinding lights illuminating a captive audience; loud music pumping from speakers; people sporting Gucci and Balenciaga sneakers amidst the crowd. BMW sponsorship signs line the walls, and screens displaying a Louis Vuitton collection hover above the masses. It’s New York Fashion Week, right?

Wrong, this is the scene at the League of Legends World Championship.

League of Legends is a team-based online game where two opposing forces battle against one another, taking over enemy bases on their way to victory. As a professional esport, League of Legends has an annual championship hosted by video game developer Riot Games where the top 24 teams in the world compete in a four-round elimination match. …


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When Your Brand Becomes the Monster It Set Out to Destroy

By Hannah Landers

Music is intensely personal for each listener; it’s the soundtrack to first love, heartbreak, celebration, and loss. And no matter what kind of emotional state someone’s in, Spotify probably has a playlist for it.

Amongst the massive streaming service’s myriad “Mood” playlists, users can match their emotional state to: “my life is a movie,” “Life Sucks,” “idk.,” “Sad Bops,” “Cranked Up,” and “Tear Drop” — described as “Emo rap feelings for the misunderstood.”

Thanks to its deeply personalized suggestions and massive overall library of tunes, Spotify has quickly become the streaming service of choice for millions, providing soundtracks to workdays, parties, crying sessions, and plenty of life’s other moments, big and small. Going head-to-head with behemoths like Apple and Amazon, the Swedish startup has held its own as an organization driven to “unlock the potential of human creativity — by giving a million creative artists the opportunity to live off their art and billions of fans the opportunity to enjoy and be inspired by it.” With physical music sales in a downward spiral (making up just 10 percent of recorded music revenue in 2019), and digital downloads faring even worse (at 8 percent), Spotify’s purpose appears well-suited to ensure that the creatives and consumers key to the music industry would thrive amidst this changing landscape. …


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Throwing Weight Behind the Right Brand Message

By Hannah Landers

Make yourself a gift to the world.

This is the message that fitness brand Equinox chose to broadcast to its more than 300,000 Instagram followers just days into 2020 — the key moment when New Year’s resolutions drive gym memberships higher than any other time of the year. Accompanying this message was an ad in which a woman details the story of a slim, muscular, and barely clothed Narcissus — but positions his self-obsession as a virtue.

“If you are your best self, whatever self that is, you’re going to be your best for the world,” explained Equinox Chief Marketing Officer Seth Solomons in an interview with AdAge. …


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By Rachel Fox

It’s been called “the most important company to come out of Silicon Valley that no one has ever heard of.” A future-focused Apple spinoff 20 years ahead of its time, General Magic accurately predicted what technology consumers of the future would find essential. General Magic’s founders, Marc Porat, Andy Hertzfeld, and Bill Atkinson — all members of the original Mac team — envisioned both a personal computing device that would evolve into the smartphone and the services that would be integral to the experience of using it.

Like Apple, media and industry lore shot General Magic into mythic territory. It led to the team raising $96 million before a product ever saw the light of day, and an IPO with a valuation of $834 million. General Magic was so convinced of the guaranteed success of their innovative products, they were blinded by unfocused ambition and ultimately destined to financial ruin. The founders’ limited prospective was met with other disastrous missteps and setbacks: the inability to juggle complicated corporate partnerships and being undercut by the company its founders abandoned, Apple, which beat it to market with the similar-looking Newton PDA. …


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When Strategy Doesn’t Align with Story

By Hannah Landers

2020 began as another year in the Golden Age of television. It was also supposed to mark the dawn of the Quibi era — at least according to Jeffrey Katzenberg, the creative mind behind the streaming service that officially launched on April 6.

“Five years from now, we want to come back on this stage and if we were successful, there will have been the era of movies, the era of television and the era of Quibi,” the DreamWorks co-founder and Disney veteran prophesized to a crowd at South by Southwest in 2019. …


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Aligning Innovative Product Extensions With Story

By Dante Pannell

Who could have predicted that a cheese-flavored lip balm wouldn’t completely take over the world?

The origin story of Cheetos is one part myth, one part military, and one part ingenuity. America’s favorite cheese-flavored snack food was conceived as the same time the US military was developing dehydrated dairy products; a potato chip entrepreneur, Charles Doolin, was also trying to incorporate cheese into his products at snack food conglomerate Frito-Lay. Doolin believed the military’s newly discovered cheese powder could serve as a viable alternative to the more laborious effort required to make snacks with standard cheese.

By taking this powdered dairy product and tossing his chips in it, Doolin could lower the cost of ingredients, shipping, and storage. And, as Doolin was already military supplier, he knew exactly where to sell tins of his new snack. In 1961, Frito-Lay became the first seller of this cheesy snack food — Cheetos — and it became the leader of a flavor revolution. …


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Removing Barriers Between Storyteller and Audience

By Dante Pannell

In the fictional town of Lake Wobegon, “All the men are strong, all the women are good looking, and all the children are above average.” Every week, for almost forty years, Garrison Keillor , delivered this description during a monologue within his public radio variety show, A Prairie Home Companion. Originating as part of The Grand Ole Opry, the show quickly became a popular window for all Americans into Midwestern heritage and its satirical humor. Shows such as A Prairie Home Companion require powerful storytelling: they must immerse listeners into a different world absent visual or physical context. …


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By Rachel Fox

Anthony Bakker was working as a banker in New York when he answered a help wanted ad: the Nightingale-Bamford School needed someone to implement a computerized system to send out tuition bills and track accounts payable. A self-taught programmer, Bakker developed his software on nights and weekends while holding down his day job at Manufacturers Hanover Trust. He delivered his product; the success of the Student Billing system earned him referrals to implement his system into other schools, catapulting him from banker to software executive almost overnight.

His new company became Blackbaud, the global leader in supplying nonprofit organizations with cloud-based software. From Student Billing, Bakker developed Raiser’s Edge, a fundraising and donor management software built specifically for nonprofits. Raiser’s Edge became Blackbaud’s flagship product, and steered the company down the path of exclusively serving the social good community of foundations, corporations, and education and healthcare institutions. …


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Why Smart Decisions Require Story-Driven Precision

By Hannah Landers

Whether they were calling, texting, or playing snake, if someone had a cell phone in their hands during the late 1990s or early 2000s, there’s a good chance that it was a Nokia. More similar in appearance to an average landline than the iPhone, Nokia’s devices were chunky, and fairly simple; just a set of twelve buttons on the main keypad below a small, rectangular screen.

Nokia gained an early lead in the nascent global mobile phone market and showed no signs of stopping as the smartphone era dawned; the brand owned nearly half of all smartphone sales in the third quarter of 2007. …

About

woden

Story Architects: drafting narratives that propel organizations forward.

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