OPINION: MILLS ON MARKETING

Most of us have by now, I suspect, been exposed to the Ericsson work in which the Swedish mobile phone company asks consumers to make themselves heard.

Most of us have by now, I suspect, been exposed to the Ericsson

work in which the Swedish mobile phone company asks consumers to make

themselves heard.



The latest version - in the Wall Street Journal Europe - shows an

elderly couple still very much in love. ’It takes a lifetime to say the

things you want to say. Make yourself heard,’ the copy goes. In the

small print we read about how Ericsson has - in its words - ’been

helping people share their thoughts for over 120 years’ and encourages

us to continue doing so. All of which is a bit yukky, not to say wanky.

I have lots of thoughts which, frankly, should never see the light of

day. Similarly there are lots of people out there whose thoughts I don’t

want to share.



But that is to carp. I’m coming round to this campaign gradually because

I admire its ambition. If you strip away the wank, this is a generic

campaign for global communication. Ah, but you say, hasn’t BT done this

before with Bob Hoskins (and with Stephen Hawking)? Yes, but that was

for fixed-line telephones and the power of conver-sation, whereas the

Ericsson campaign is larger in scope because it touches on two

areas.



The first is the idea that communication also includes data as well as

voice transmission.



The second is that because Ericsson is a mobile phone company, the

communication process is subject to fewer physical restrictions.



What’s particularly interesting is that Ericsson is stepping into the

gap BT could have owned for itself had it only stuck with the generic

work. The point about trying to own a category is that it takes a long

time and, once started, you can’t give up half way. But if you genuinely

want to be a global brand, then ownership of that category becomes

crucial.



The autobiography of a famous old-time footballer once had a chapter

headed, ’What the average club director knows about football’. The rest

of the page was blank.



After last week’s Newcastle fiasco you could say the same about football

and marketing.



In business and marketing terms, football has come a long way in the

past five years. Too far, too fast, perhaps.



A football club is the ultimate loyalty marketing scheme. However, the

normal loyalty model (eg, the Tesco Clubcard) operates in reverse.

Instead of being rewarded for their loyalty, fans are being punished for

it by being sold even more merchandise at ever-higher prices and with

increasing cynicism.



Mostly, because it’s football, they all get away with it (visited the

Chelsea megastore recently?). It’s not the apparent cynicism that will

do Newcastle in, but the contempt.



Remorseless marketing-driven organisations such as Asda, Tesco and

Procter & Gamble may be ruthless and cynical - but they are never

contemptuous of their customers. As for those that are, well, look at

Gerald Ratner.