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April 2010

Consumer Giant Unilever Unites Filmmakers With Global Brands

Unilever In an effort to integrate consumer generated content into its marketing and branding efforts, global powerhouse Unilever has partnered with MOFILM to announce the "Unilever Consumer Creative Challenge."

MOFILM is a pioneer in mobile entertainment and represents a global community of filmmakers and content creators. Market leaders in the area of mobile content, they have worked with industry legends such as Robert Redford, Kevin Spacey and Isabella Rossellini.

The competition involves 13 of Unilever's key brands and encourages content creators to submit advertisements for one of these brands. Five winners for each brand will be chosen, along with an overall grand prize winner who will pocket a cool $10,900.

Babs Rangaiah, VP of Global Communications Planning for Unilever, says that winning content will be integrated into Unilever's online and/or TV brand marketing. So...what's so cool about this competition?

1) It's participatory in nature and takes advantage of the interactive capability of the internet

2) Unilever realizes that the best ad campaigns come from stories about how consumers interact with their brands

3) The company is taking an innovative approach to connect with consumers and their brands

4) The campaign will be entirely trackable and results will be used to further develop brand attributes

5) Exposure in terms of cash, cool gifts and worldwide recognition is extremely high for the competitors - I suspect that more than one career will be launched through this competition

Congratulations Unilever for realizing the significance of consumer generated content and that film is a powerful way of conveying a brand message.

Do you see the power of film being an important way to tell a brand story? What do you think of Unilever's competition and approach?

"Story Is King" As Pixar Urges Us To Never Grow Up

Up2 It never ceases to amaze me how many companies claim to be innovative, yet when you meet the management team they don't seem to have an innovative or risk taking bone in their body.

I've worked in marketing communications and advertising for over 20 years - many of which were in the areas of corporate communications and branding. There have been some creative and innovative companies, and many who thought they were - but clearly weren't. The world of business is a serious world of mission and value statements and objective setting for numerous "stakeholders." To make money, it's essential to have a well-defined plan to reach your end goal. You have to go through the necessary motions to make a profit.

When I look at companies like Pixar, I'm amazed at how a company filled with such innovative and brilliant people can consistently make a profit - while remaining true to their childhood heart. I used to think that the business world rejected those with a passion to go against the grain. In the 1980's, having an imagination (let alone using it in the workplace) wasn't as accepted in the business world as it is today. Companies like Pixar prove that it IS possible to be profitable and to follow corporate norm - without sacrificing imagination, ideas and a desire to reap the benefits of adulthood while going back to the best in our childhood.

In the book "Innovate The Pixar Way - Business Lessons From The World's Most Creative Corporate Playground", authors Bill Capodagli and Lynn Jackson offer tips to help any corporate manager craft a more creative story and brand.

Here are some tips that guarantee you'll never look at corporate strategy the same way:

  • Don't let life beat the kid out of you...It's never too late to remember the magic (remember the world when we treated everything with a sense of awe and wonder?)
  • Redefine the story you're trying to tell. What's your dream? What are your customers dreams? What story are you trying to tell? How do you want your customers to feel after their experience with your organization?
  • True earned emotion is something you really have to craft
  • "Story is King" - Everything that goes into the development of a Pixar film is in support of telling the best story they can
  • Craft customer experience and brand in terms of dreams fulfilled, magical moments, doing the impossible, story, plot and theme - and strive to create unique, memorable and engaging moments

Think of your job as being one of a corporate storyteller or film director - rather than acting as a traditional "corporate communications manager." What cast do you want in your film? Do you want boring, unimaginative people or those who want to do things a different way to achieve even better results?

Stop being uncreative and boring! Take a chance on the "black sheep" once in a while, and see how your profit margins increase. Just because someone has always done things the same way (while achieving mediocre results), doesn't guarantee that their way will work the 100th time around. Remember that every business is show business. Decide to never grow up, and you may be surprised how quickly your boring old corporate story is transformed into something magical that engages customers and gives them a reason to buy your product and/or service.

Unleash creativity in your organization and watch the results. After all, you have nowhere to go but "UP!"