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Updated Maslow

People increasingly value seemingly irrational things. A product’s price is often outweighed by sustainable and ethical efforts in its manufacturing. When applying for a new job, the salary may come second to the mission of the company you’re applying to.

Although it may seem to be completely against our instincts, it probably happened to every one of us at some point in our lives that we decided to pursue something bigger than ourselves. Take, for example, parents, as their own interests are often far less important to them compared to ensuring the health and well being of their child.


There is no need to introduce A.H. Maslow to the readers of TDLY magazine. Being one of the most eminent psychologists of modern times and the author of the famous ‘Hierarchy of Needs’ pyramid, he is one of the most cited psychologists in introductory psychology textbooks.

However, as researched by Koltko-Rivera in 2006, the version of the hierarchy depicted below is inaccurate according to Maslow’s later description of the theory. In 1969, Maslow himself amended his model from 1943. Yet, his later descriptions never earned the appropriate attention of the academic community and so the complete theory is not commonly taught even nowadays.

traditional maslow

As a reminder, the theory says that a person’s motivation alters based on the stage on the pyramid he or she currently is. The rules are that we go from the bottom to the top and in that given order. According to Maslow’s amendments, however, there is not self-actualisation right at the top of the pyramid as self-transcendence should be placed even higher. Contrary to self-actualisation level which stands for the fulfilment of personal potential, self-transcendence represents a person’s need to further something beyond himself or herself and to experience a communion with something above oneself.
updated maslow hierarchy

This “new” perspective may help to shed some light on altruism, religion, terrorism and social movements in general. In fact, the application ranges across all social studies. In terms of business, for example, it clarifies that a brand’s social responsibility activities may not only positively impact a brand’s image but also fulfil the CEO’s self-transcendence needs. Moreover, it may fulfil customers’ self-transcendence needs as by purchasing a particular brand, they also support some cause (e.g. charitable). For instance, Steve Job’s passion for technology or Elon Musk’s devotion to environmentalism, enabled them to authentically build the brands of Apple and Tesla on these foundations which consequently transcended to both consumers and the employees of the companies by fulfilling their self-transcendence needs.

Fenty by Puma and Rihanna AW16 Collection

With celebrities endorsing a range of sportswear and fashion, it is no surprise that brands as a result, do extremely well – prime example Adidas and Kanye’s ‘Yeezys’. What most sportswear aficionados probably already know; but the rest of us would find surprising, Puma’s AW16 collection with Rihanna, titled Fenty, has consistently sold out on both releases within 2 days. The newest collection was sold out within a few days.

 

Rita Ora’s collection with Adidas did not have as much success in comparison to Rihanna’s with Puma, which is unparalleled to Kanye West’s with Adidas who is coming up to the level of achievement Michael Jordan has had with Nike.

This has proven that some celebrity collaborations work and some do not. However, it does raise the question of ‘is it the celebrity that enabled the triumph or failure?’ moreover ‘does it depend on who the celebrity is?’ Or is it simply related to the aesthetics of the products.

Nonetheless the excitement for trainers (or sneakers) will never allure some of us and will render others in an endless spiral of refreshing their browsers waiting for a release!

We wish you luck sneaker heads!

 

The Death Of The Ad Agency?

Recently I had a conversation with a former colleague concerning an AdAge article, which spoke on the emerging role of Account Managers. He referred to it as how individuals in the Ad Industry need to become “A Jack Of All Trades, Master of Advertising”. However, the biggest takeaway from this conversation was that in today’s world so much more is expected from agencies than ever before.

Increasingly companies are moving marketing expertise in-house (Sprint being a prime example). Marketing budgets are being decreased, whilst clients want greater ROA. I could talk about how this is a vicious cycle – drop in marketing expenditure leads to drop in sales which leads to drop in budgets which leads to drop in marketing expenditure and so on and so forth. However, I think that there is something more vital that we need to consider, and that is whether or not Ad Agencies are still needed? Are we slowly but surely witnessing what some might call, an inevitable demise? After all, why would I pay somebody to perform a service that I believe I can do myself and at a lower cost!?

Let me pause to clarify; as much as I would like to be all knowing, to be the “Jack Of All Trades, Master of Advertising” I’m not. Where the world will be in 10 years’ time…even in ten days’ time, is anybody’s guess. The fact that you can type in the phrase “the ad agency is dead” into Google and get over 8 million hits is a cause for concern. Do I believe there is a single answer to all of the calamities that the industry has and will face? Definitely not. I don’t have the answers, but I do think that this is a conversation that needs to continue to be had.

We’ve seen that agencies have proven themselves adept at understanding new communications platforms and finding the best, most relevant ways for brands and retailers to engage with their consumers, an example of which can be seen in JWTs work on Shell; breathing fresh air into a somewhat stale category. On a fundamental level, we see that the world is constantly evolving, the industry is changing, and as a result we find that agencies need to be ever questioning and proceed to go above and beyond what is required of them.

We could provide an endless ream of examples and praise a magnitude of agencies that have managed to evolve with the world, but that’s doesn’t fully address how to overcome this problem.

Time and time again we’ve heard that “the traditional agency model is dead”, I don’t want to reiterate this message for the umpteenth time, however what I do want to probe, is whether or not the modern agency has a chance for survival. We can talk about the importance of increasing CTR, maximising lead generation and ensuring that agencies assist in creating a fully integrated consumer experience. Yet, if agencies are to survive,  we need to explore and exploit something much more basic. Something that is often taken for granted. Agencies need to fully capitalize on the one thing that their clients don’t have simply because the corporate culture may not allow for it. To quote John Kao “The search for value has led companies to seek efficiency through downsizing, rationalizing and right-sizing – approaches that eventually result in a diminishing level of return. But what will fuel growth in the future? Growth will come through mastering the skills of creativity – and making creativity actionable.”

Yes, yes and yes! Creativity is key! Actionable creativity even more so, but in the age of Big Data being a creative agency is no longer enough. When one person with a wireless connection can be an agency, a media company, and everything in-between, it ultimately results in advertising organizations having to change their culture, processes, structure and talent policies in order to embrace the change brought about by digital connectivity.

The growth of digital advertising that bypasses agencies’ traditional role in placing content has a major impact on how agencies are viewed. In my humble opinion, overcoming this problem comes down to one thing, which is what agencies have been doing since their inception, but merely change the direction of focus. Put simply, this is understanding people. With a slightly different hook, instead of only having a consumer facing approach, one needs to appreciate that the businesses they deal with are not some sort of mystical, ‘Holier-than-thou’ entities. Surprise surprise, businesses are comprised of people, and just as consumers can be persuaded into thinking a different way, so can businesses.

Humans perceptions can be changed, humans can be surprised, they can be maneuvered into a place whereby a desire for something new can overcome the “importance” of simple numbers on a page . For ad agencies to survive the shift to open systems, they must not think of providing clients simply with innovations but rather, transformations. Agencies must rethink their business models and go from being place-based organizations that sell time, to creating a new operating system that harnesses the creativity all around them. They need to be fearless! They need to stand out! A new, fresh approach to the type of people an Ad Agency looks at needs to be embraced, having an incestuous circle of hiring from agency to agency destroys any and all hope of differentiation, the same service is provided by the same type of person, the only difference is a name.

Ultimately, there is a need to question the status quo. Francesca Gino and Bradley Staats put it perfectly, “Early in life, we realize that there are tangible benefits to be gained from following social and organisational norms and rules. As a result, we make a significant effort to learn and adhere to written and unwritten codes of behavior at work. But here’s the catch; doing so limits what one can bring to the organisation.” Agencies can no longer afford to meet expectations, they need to thrive to exceed them, at the end of the day, the client is the employer, the agency the employee, and as Steve Jobs famously said, “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” If this is the perception that can be created… maybe, just maybe, they can keep the grim reaper at bay for some time to come.

 

Coca-Cola and Relationship Marketing

What Coca-Cola sells is essentially fizzy sugar water, and it has been doing so for over 120 years. So how can such a simple product be consistently so strong in the market? Of course, you’re reading a marketing magazine so the answer should be pretty obvious to you. Coca-Cola ranks number three in the Interbrand 2015 Best Global Brands list, which quantifies the contribution of brands to business objectives. But how did Coca-Cola build such a strong brand that gets people excited for a product that is, from a purely objective point of view, not very interesting and has (almost) stayed the same for over a century?

Well it’s quite simple. Coca-Cola consistently invests colossal amounts of money in relationship marketing, and it has been doing so decades before the term “relationship marketing” even existed. Coca-Cola’s marketing campaigns revolve around attaching the brand to things that are dear to consumers, touching their hearts and finding a place for the brand at the core of who they are. Indeed, Coca-Cola’s relationship with its consumers is one that relies on the principle of self-expansion. As a result, Coca-Cola isn’t just a soda brand for many. It is a friend, and a part of who they are.

Although the list of campaigns produced by Coca-Cola to achieve such strong relationships with its customers is endless, I’d like to give a few representative examples of how the connections are made:

Coca-Cola and American Patriotism

Coca-Cola has been a patriotic symbol in America ever since the company started supporting American soldiers during World War II by shipping cases of Coke to military bases abroad. Coke was giving a helping hand in times of adversity and quickly became very dear to the soldiers who missed their homes. To them, Coke was far more than a consumer product. It had an enormous emotional value as it gave them comfort and reminded them of their ‘normal’ lives while they were in a highly unstable situation and had little control over outcomes. In addition, Coke represented their country and what they were standing for.

In parallel, Coca-Cola’s advertising campaigns back in the US revolved around the soldiers deployed abroad and how Coca-Cola was supporting them, which of course gave a very positive image of the brand in its home market.

More recently, during the 2014 Super Bowl, Coca-Cola aired the infamous ‘America is Beautiful’ ad, which depicts Americans of all races and religions singing the patriotic ‘America the Beautiful’ song in different languages. The ad aimed at reflecting the rich cultural diversity of the country and for many, was a powerful message of unity and harmony. However, for many other more conservative people, the ad represented a betrayal from an American symbol. It was an attack on their values and their idea of what America is, and therefore an attack on their individual selves. As a result, the controversy quickly generated a buzz, flooding social media platforms with outrage statements (often racist. There, I said it).

Coca-Cola’s Friendly Twist Campaign

This year, the brand launched a campaign in Colombia whereby college freshmen received bottles of Coke on their first day on campus. Nothing too creative you say, however, there is a twist (no pun intended). The caps of these bottles could only be opened when clicked together with another cap. This encouraged students to collaborate in order to open their bottles of Coke, and therefore facilitated starting conversations between strangers on a day when students usually are a bit lonely and don’t know anyone yet. The video of the campaign makes a pretty cool ad and associates Coca-Cola with positive emotions for the viewers. But for the students who participated, the brand could potentially establish a significantly more important bond. By playing a key role in making the freshmen meet, in addition to diminishing the awkwardness of the first day of college, Coca-Cola could be directly associated with the start of important friendships, and therefore with joyful and long-lasting memories.

Coca-Cola Hello Happiness Phone Booths

Dubai employs thousands of South Asian blue-collar workers who came to the UAE in order to sustain their families back in their home countries. Making an average of $6 a day, these workers cannot afford to make international calls to their families. This is where Coca-Cola comes in as an enabler to these people with the Hello Happiness Phone Booths. In exchange for a Coca-Cola bottle cap, these booths allow the workers to make 3-minute international calls to their home countries. Here again, the video gives a good image to the brand for viewers. But for the communities of workers, Coca-Cola is nothing short of a hero. Indeed, every bottle consumed within the workers’ communities will come with joy and hope. Once again, Coca-Cola is a facilitator of important human relationships and finds its place in cherished long-lasting memories.

 

I could go on and on about the countless ways in which Coca-Cola touches people and becomes part of consumers’ selves. Be it through ad campaigns, or sponsoring events such a summer music festivals the world over or the FIFA World Cup, Coca-Cola consistently manages to associate itself with things that matter greatly to its customers. And it does so for absolutely any type of people in the world. Coca-Cola is the second most recognised term on the planet after “OK”. You can find it in the most remote villages of third world countries, just as you can have it mixed in your £12 Jack & Coke in the most upscale clubs in London. Take a second to think about the typical Coca-Cola drinkers. Difficult? That’s because there isn’t a typical Coca-Cola drinker.