Thursday, September 22, 2011

A world where everything changes.

       Advertising Age gives awards for the "Small Agency of the Year". In the Midwest, the award was won by an ad agency that changes its identity every 150 days.

       The agency is called Space 150, in Minneapolis. Every five months, the agency changes everything --- including business cards, signage, and its website.

        According to its president, Marcus Fisher (who appears to be a constant), "Everything we preach is that change is permanent. So we live it and breathe it. The agency's founder, Billy Jurewicz, agrees. "If you try to invent a mission statement for 20 years, it's tough to predict what it's going to be like. Even the Constitution has amendments", he added.

        While this defies conventional thinking, they say it has produced good results for Space 150. They've done some work for biggies, including American Express and Dairy Queen. Their idea of changing every few months seems to be more of a p.r. ploy, I think. Note they haven't changed their name nor do they change employees regularly, nor more importantly, their way of doing business.  Looking at your identity as your business cards is way too narrow. They remain the Minneapolis agency that's into change.

       It's hard to live in a world where change is constant, but it's important to be aware that it is, and incorporate that into what we marketers have to do.

         A while back I was at a conference sponsored by the University of Michigan. One speaker was the marketing director of Coca Cola. After he spoke, someone had a question. "Everyone knows about Coke. Why do you advertise?" The marketing director said he could answer that in one word: "Pepsi."

        We're bombarded with marketing messages every day, by the thousands. One out of every seven Americans moved to another place this last year. New people are coming into and out of demographic and psychographic target markets every year. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the average worker will have three to five jobs in a lifetime. The economy is changing, the world is changing, and you're not standing still, either.

        A  marketing executive from Macy's came to our school to talk to our fashion marketing students. They asked him how he keeps up with the fashion business. "You may find this hard to believe," he said, "but I read the Wall Street Journal every morning. It's got great coverage of the fashion business and marketing."

        I've been absorbed in it every day since, as well as Yahoo, the Internet sites, Adweek, Ad Age, CNN, the New York Times, Bloomberg Business Week, books, and anything else I can lay my hands on.

       Change isn't easy to keep up with, but if you want to be in marketing and advertising, you have to. People change, fashions change, media change, technologies change, and so do tactics and techniques.

       And if you don't, as the Coke marketing director noted, your competition will.

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