i20's "Preparing for the Future in 2005" event in Los Angeles last Thursday tackled issues related to media discipline changes, consumer empowerment and advertising opportunities, as well as key lessons learned in 2004. Speakers told the marketers and media executives in the audience that the future is unfolding rapidly.
Ian Beavis, former SVP/Marketing for Mitsubishi Motors Corp., started the event off with a keynote entitled, "Upcoming Changes in Automotive Advertising." With automotive budgets under extreme pressure these days, he said there's a greater need for a balance of brand and retail advertising. There's an opportunity to do a better job of driving people from the TV to the Web.
He also noted that too many automotive marketers are jumping on the technology bandwagon, warning us that technology can be both our friend and our foe.
"The future is not about technology, it's about people. People are in control of technology, so choose what technology you use wisely. Don't just use whatever is receiving the latest buzz because it may not necessarily work," said Beavis.
Challenging the audience to look beyond opportunities in the United States, he told us to watch out for the following five trends:
- Substance over style. Style may get a brand noticed but it doesn't last. Marketers need to reward the consumer with real solid experiences.
- The rise of brand transparency. Brand communications must be honest; honesty never goes out of style. An emerging trend to utilize is brand journalism, which involves unique story telling.
- Viral power. Word-of-mouth marketing will ultimately make or break every brand.
- Mobility. It's the way of the future, as evidenced by Asia's early-adopting cultures. Not only do we need to think beyond the laptop, we need to look even further than WiFi.
- Immediacy. Consumers want to know and they want to know now. Marketers need to give them what they want to know right now, in real time.
Following Beavis' keynote was a set of interviews discussing "New Developments in Theatrical & Home Entertainment Marketing." First up was Stacy Jolna, General Manager at TV Guide, who told us that the future needs fresh ways of integrating entertainment and marketing and more creativity than branded entertainment.
After Purina backed out of a branded entertainment deal last year that he had already negotiated with NBC, he learned that advertisers are still scared to take risks. He offers experimentation and partnerships as ways for brand advertisers to create new experiences without taking on substantial risk.
The next interview featured Kevin Campbell, SVP/Marketing at Universal Pictures, who offered his candid views on entertainment studios' marketing efforts.
"Our marketing campaigns are not about creating flashy Web sites, they're about getting butts in seats in movie theatres. We never tried to make the KongIsKing.net Web site for our "King Kong" movie a revolutionary Web site," Campbell said. "We want advertising that works, so the media allocation is not as important as how it functions."
For so long, marketers have relied on marketing to demographics and geographics. However, Campbell believes that communicating according to like interests works best. Universal Studios is learning to be more specific in its targeting. For its "Dawn of the Dead" release last year, Campbell found out ahead of time that there was an online group interested in this genre. He decided to build a fan club for this group through which they could communicate. And it's certainly doing well -- the club has at least 50 to 100 people chatting at any given time.
The final interview was with DVD marketing expert Gordon Ho, SVP of Home Entertainment Marketing for Disney, ESPN, & ABC. Ho noted that trial and error has helped him find the best return on investment for his spending, and that recognizing consumers' sensitivity to pricing is mandatory.
"Nobody wants to pay a higher price for a DVD than they have to, so we try to get pricing information to consumers as soon as possible," Ho said.
When asked if interactive properties would control more of his budget in the future, Ho responded: "You have to first look at what a medium helps you to accomplish before investing more in it. The Web is the best place for us to provide information to consumers as well as to sell products and tickets."
Many entertainment executives are worried about the movie industry's business model, but Ho soothed those concerns.
"The movie industry has learned a lesson from the music industry that a new business model must be developed and tested. The individual song-based market works, proving that people don't need to purchase an entire CD," said Ho. "But in the case of movies, people want more than just a five-minute clip of a movie."
He shared that the reason why DVDs have become so popular is the desire to build a unique collection. Since libraries of DVDs reflect a person's personality, a DVD purchase is not just a single, alienated transaction.
Tomorrow: More on i20.