Big Think Interview With Bob Lord

Question: Can brands that have lost the trust of the public ever bounce back?

Bob Lord: Yeah, you know so the classic example of a brand that did very, very well was J&J back I believe in the 70s where there was a Tylenol scare and they pulled lots of product off the shelf.  Actions speak louder than anything that you can do or say in marketing, so when we talk about marketing, when we talk about actions and BP is challenged at this moment in time and probably will continue to be challenged, but no amount of marketing, no amount of ads they have in the New York Times or commercials that they put out there are really going to help them until their actions are speaking louder than their words and they stop the leak and then they do the cleanup and I think then they would be able to revive themselves.  I believe when brands are challenged they can’t talk about things.  They need to act very quickly and their actions will allow them then to rise again and actually could put them in a better position than they were sometimes before.  You can sometimes turn lemons into lemonade in these situations. 

Question:
Should BP be focusing on marketing during the oil spill disaster?

Bob Lord: Yeah, I think thing that the BP organization can do right now is really from a public relations standpoint is to inform the public about what they’re doing and how they’re doing it and the actions that they’re going through and the process they’re going through to establish and who they’re bringing in to help them.  They shouldn’t try to handle this on their own right now.  They should get citizen communities involved.  They should take recommendations from people about what they should be doing or shouldn’t they be doing and they should bring that into their plan to create that we’re all in this together to solve this awful disaster that is happening in the Gulf of Mexico right now.  I think as the plan starts to execute, which it is and they’re starting to siphon off some oil now, and they start to make progress, once it seems as though they have turned the corner I think then they can open up the marketing speak again about how BP is helping to change the environment, et cetera, et cetera. 

Question:
How has the creative process of marketing changed?

Bob Lord:  The creative process within the marketing world is being challenged and it’s being challenged because there are tools and methodologies now that involve the consumer in the development and review of the creative process more than ever before.  The marketing companies that are doing things well are the marketing companies that are bringing the consumer in early on to test and learn about how people will react to a particular message to understand what they would want in product development, so when the product actually launches the consumer has already been involved with the evolution of that product, so if you think about Starbucks again My Starbucks has been a great boon for them where people are helping to design new drinks for them and they’re harnessing the power of the consumer to bring their ideas into what will be potentially the new drink for them.  There are automobile companies that are enlisting the help of the general public to help to design the car of the future.  What do they want the car of the future to look like?  What attributes do they see as important?  And those features are being fed into the product design element and the developers that are then being inputted into the cars, which ultimately you now have a virtual focus group to help you in your marketing message and your design process.

Recorded on June 16, 2010
Interviewed by Jessica Liebman

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