The blog.

Money beats sense

I’ve always had an issue with the alphabet song.

A, B, C, D, E, F, G.

H, I, J, K, L-M-N-O-P


T, U, V



According to Wikipedia, the song was first copyrighted in 1835 by Charles Bradlee, a Boston-based music publisher, and given the rather (for a simple song) ostentatious title, “The A.B.C., a German air with variations for the flute with an easy accompaniment for the piano forte”.

My issue is with both the metre and the rhyme. They don’t make sense.

The rhyme ends in an “ee” sound.

Which is great for Americans.

But I grew up with the English Zed – an “eh” sound.

So the song always sounded odd trying to rhyme the “zed” with the “Vee”.

The metre, also, seems odd.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

1, 2, 3, 4, 5-6-7-8-9

1, 2, 3 (PAUSE)

1, 2, 3

1, 2 (PAUSE)

1, 2, 3.

It’s all over the place.

It felt like someone was just making it up. To my English and more pedantic ear, the song would be better with a more regular metre and a rhyme on the “eh” sounds (which are more abundant than would seem at first glance).

Consider this metre

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

And overlay it with the “eh” rhymes found in f, m, s and zed.
“Eh-f” “Eh-m” “Eh-ss” and “Z’eh-d”

And you get…

A, B, C, D, E and F

G, H, I, J, K, L, M

N, O, P, Q, R and S

T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z

It always seemed like a more elegant solution.

The only thing it has against it is the amount of current usage, the popular acceptance of “The A.B.C., a German air with variations for the flute with an easy accompaniment for the piano forte”, cultural intransigence (people like to be right about stuff, and the alphabet song is ALWAYS sung that way) and the limited desire for change (It’s easier to live with a slight mental discomfort – if there is one at all – than to go through the effort of change).

It would take more money than I have to even try and get people to change, even if the “zed” doesn’t rhyme. To own the mental and physical salience (as Uncle Sir Professor Byron so eloquently puts it).

It’s a question any manager of any brand that isn’t number one in its category must ask themselves.

My solution makes perfect sense, why isn’t anyone else buying it?

And the answer is always one of four.

The incumbent number one owns the mental space in people’s heads.
The incumbent number one owns the distribution channels.
The current market is happy enough with the number one’s products.

Any future market isn’t going to pay me enough to recoup my launch costs.

Something to consider next time someone says to you, ‘I’m giving you $10,00,000 to launch this thing. It should be as easy as A, B, C.”

Blanding our way to the bottom – Part 3

How Ehrenberg Bass stopped me having to think.

Great advertising bypasses the brain and walks straight into your wallet.

Over the last two days, I’ve questioned the modern marketer’s reliance on Ehrenberg Bass.

Not because I have an issue with the institute’s findings.

But because I think it fosters lazy thinking in some marketers.

Let us consider the challenge of the constant battle for attention.

The institute has successfully sunk the idea of brand loyalty and brand love.

Good on them. I never liked Kevin Roberts anyway.

But “love” seems to be the neat little pigeon-hole into which some marketers have slotted the entire sweep of marketing to women.

According to Bloomberg3, women control 85% of all consumer purchases. They are the great juggernaut of the world economy.

And this critical mass of market spending is being cast to one side by marketers in the battle to make everyone aware of their brand.

The issue for marketers is, and always has been, the constant balance between rational messages and emotional attachment.

As Binet & Field have shown, rational messages have short term impacts.

The impacts of relevant emotional messages are hard to measure in the short term. But, over the long term, these messages develop incredible power in terms of salience and memorability with customers. They are like the compound interest of marketing.

The crux of the whole issue of marketing to women is salience.

Salience, made effective through the creation of memorable brand assets.

“Because you’re worth it” might seem trite to men, but it makes sense to women.

Or the Dove, “Real Beauty” campaign – which seems to be selling a truck load of product.

Or the recent “Like a Girl” campaign for Always. Part of its effectiveness was the 30-year history of puberty-education the brand had. It was a salient piece.

Compare these with the recent Audi “What do I tell my daughter” ad. By riding the coat tails of a societal trend, they ended up with a “nice to say, nice to hear” piece that has no real effect on the market because it doesn’t come from the product or draw a line of relevance between the customer’s day-to-day needs and the benefit (however general) of the product.

And, as the internet was quick to ask, “If equality is so important, why are there no women on Audi’s board?”

I’ve always like the OMO “Dirt is Good” campaign.

The insight was garnered from talking to their main market – mothers.

They asked them about their lives, not their laundry, and came up with a delightful campaign talking about happy healthy kids.

A campaign which didn’t alienate men. Or non-mothers. But which was salient to the mass of the market buying the product.

And which paid off for the business in spades.

Why am I going all “marketing to women”?
Not because I’m an expert. (If you want an expert in this, talk to Bec Brideson. Full disclosure. She’s a friend. Her husband and I tell lies to each other about fishing. She has spent ten years focused on understanding how to leverage a woman’s relationship with shopping. She knows stuff.)

I’m doing this because I’m disappointed with the myopic view of the marketing status quo exhibited by many marketers. How can they embrace the science of Ehrenberg Bass and ignore the data around the power of the principal purchaser?

If you want long-term success, build an emotionally relevant brand.

Start with great advertising, the stuff that bypasses the brain and walks into your heart.

A great ad will stop you having to think. And mass awareness just increases the power of piece.

But great marketing thinking doesn’t occur if we don’t ask the salient questions.

If 80% of your market is men, develop your marketing based around an insight gleaned from what men like and how your brand fits their life.

If 80% of your market is women, develop your marketing based around an insight gleaned from an understanding of women.

If your market is split 50/50, take a position and go all Ehrenberg Bass.

Go for mass awareness.

But always remember the battle is for mental and physical salience.

Capture my heart and my mind will follow.


3 July 22, 2016, Chart Attack