IAB – Fran Kelly keynote

Frank Kelly is the CEO of Arnold US and has written a book ‘The Breakaway Brand – How Great Brands Stand Out’. However, I found his talk about using interactive to help build brands extremely frustrating, with multiple asides and exclamation marks in my notes as he said something that I disagreed with or just left me baffled. (I’ll add those in to the notes as I go through). As the person next to me said, he was obviously selling his book but not necessarily giving any real insights into interactive usage. He’s CEO of an agency that has dome some great interactive work but he’s the CEO – I’m not sure that indepth understanding is within his remit. The first half of the talk was about branding in general before moving onto interactive. Again notes are taken as fast as i could, paraphrasing where necessary.
Building Breakaway Brands in an Interactive World

Companies aspire to get their brands to a great place and the book looks at 50 brands that great.

The web is the greatest development in marketing since TV; there’s unbelievable potential but lots of problems. You have to understand it but by focusing on many small details, on building a better heart monitor, we may end up blowing up the hospital.

To be a breakaway brand you have to be in a category of one, you have to be different. Interactive is a growing influence in building a brand. 15% of Arnold employees are digital specialists; for their biggest 20 clients these specialists sit in the service teams, not in a separate team.

You have to understand how the brand is different and then execute to drive the brand away from the competition. Interactive currrently has aound $16billion out of an industry of $300billion so there is a plenty of growth available.

The disaggregated model make sit harder to get a breakaway brand as all elements need to work together. You have to have a core idea against which all activity is executed. A good example would be Dove, Campaign for Real Beauty. The best campaigns often come from such simple insights.

Marketing has moved from building businesses to building brands and is now building communities. The two key elements in any campaign are TV and the web; you need to focus on how they work together, along with all the other channels. (The conference chair later made a comment about how three years ago they were doing sessions about convincing people that the web was an important component so was pleased that a CEO was now saying it was key)

We now move into the core of the talk, where Fran goes through 7 areas where he thinks the web really helps drive brands.

Building Commuity

Interactive is best for this. Three examples his agency has worked on – Royal Caribbean Cruises, Timberland and VW.

This section was the one that most annoyed me. There was no talk about how these sites build community; from the examples and from the text, it seemed to be that building community was equated with building a interactive site that engages people and gets them to spend time on the site. Not encouraging interaction and feedback amongst brand fans and back and forth with the brand which is where I’d put building community.

Driving Results

Examples – Google and Vonage. Both of these have used the web to successfully drive results and drive brands. Google is a $140billion idea and Vonage uses brilliant segmentation to drive targeted advertising.

Google is a web company and of course needs the web to drive the results. Google search was used as the key example that drives the results as opposed to the contextual ads which were the key to driving revenue. Again, the example driven did not illustrate the point enough for me.

Stretching Budgets
Example: theTruth.com Truth funding has reduced from $100m to $25m. !0 years ago 80% of their advertising was on TV, now it is only 20% and they are using the web to drive most of their message and stretch their budget. The site is continuosly changed and updated to keep it fresh

Here’s an example I agree with. The web is great for making more of your budget when it comes to engagement (if you are not necessarily after mass reach) And the site itself looks perfectly targeted, at ‘young, disaffected teeens’. As he says, the teens who are likely to be affected by the ‘talk to your children/talk to your parents’ message are unlikely to actually be the ones the need the message!

Respecting the Channel

examples – two commercials that were used on abc.com online programming. You cannot just repurpose the TV ads for this, both the ads were specially created and were effective.

Although this is not a reason why the web is good (which most of the rest are) it is a reason why you need to think differently and cannot just use it as an extension of TV or print but have to think holistically about the whole campaign and how all the parts fit together

Building Loyalty

Examples: thetruth.com and espn.com. Tracking has shown that people can spend 10-45 mins on thetruth.

Is he measuring engagement and interest or loyalty. The first is about how long someone may stay on your site exploring it; the second is about return rates (for a website at least)? the principle is sound, the explanation is poor.

Brand Modernisation

Example talbots. A classic clothes brand (catalog) that has used the web to improve sales. the web is its fastest growing and most profitable of its biusiness. the web shopper has higher purchase and lower return rates than the catologue shoppers.

He gives a good example of a retailer that has used the web effectively to maintain and grow sales in a world that no longer relies on printed media for its at home purchases. But does this modernise the brand. Does beng on the web mean that a brand is hip and with it? No, it does not, it’s reality of marketing today that you often need to be on the web but being on the web is not a short cut to modernisation.

Disintegration vs Integration

The great brands see all the channels pulled together, it’s part of the whole campaign not treated as something different.

Again agree. But can also see the place where the web is great to try out the outer reaches of the brand message.

And that was the end of the speach. Writing it up I’m still frustrated and annoyed. Kelly is a successful speaker about building brands and building great brands. The book itself is supposed to be good. But he hit all the wrong buttons with me, not really explaingin his points.

One more to go ‘taking control of UGC’. Happily, the panel were more realistic than the title.

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One thought on “IAB – Fran Kelly keynote

  1. but still, he did hit the mark that brand and brand loyalty is important in building your company. he really wasn’t specific with his examples. And I also don’t agree that just being on the web means brand modernization. You can still do brand modernization with the other media. Maybe he still has some secrets up his sleeve reserved for his company only. :)