By now you’ve probably read about or heard P&G Chairman AG Lafley’s pronouncement that marketers must “let go” of their brands. At the Association of National Advertisers’ annual confab earlier this month, Lafley stressed that the more marketers try to control their brands, the more out of touch they become with consumers. Richard Pinder, president of Leo Burnett’s Europe/Middle East/Africa business, believes the brand horse has already left the barn. “Ten years ago, marketers were in charge of the brand,” Pinder told me in a recent interview. “Now the consumer is in charge of the brand.”
Nielsen BuzzMetrics’ Pete Blackshaw provides a great followup here, saying companies must go a step further and actually start listening to what their customers are saying. He calls for a third “moment of truth”:
” … that powerful inflection point where the product experience catalyzes an emotion, curiosity, passion, or even anger to talk about the brand. By opening up that pipeline, we not only absorb insight and deeper consumer understanding but also nurture empowerment and advocacy.”
I’ll believe it when I see it. There’s a Snake River Canyon-sized chasm between acknowledging that the consumer is in control and building (and selling) a strategy that embraces the shift. Are chief marketing officers willing to risk telling their CEO, “Hey boss, we’ve lost control of our brand”? Their job tenures are short enough as it is.