Former BBDO Chief Shares Marketing Insights

Take a look at Then We Set Hair on Fire: Insights and Accidents From a Hall of Fame Career in Advertising. The title of this amusing and instructive memoir refers to an accident involving the hair of Michael Jackson during the shooting of a Pepsi commercial in 1984. The superstar’s hair got in the way of special-effects fireworks, and within hours the accident became news around the world, lending an unanticipated boost to Pepsi awareness.

Phil Dusenberry, the former chairman of BBDO North America, believes in the power of accidents, or "unintended consequences." Since accidents can’t be anticipated, Dusenberry recommends that marketers focus on creating insights. "Insights are not ideas. They are rarer and more precious than ideas (which are a dime a dozen in this business), come in all shapes and sizes, and sometimes come from the most unlikely places," says Dusenberry.

According to Dusenberry, an idea can generate a great PSA or web advocacy campaign. But an insight can distinguish your organization’s brand and cut through the proverbial clutter. Hair on Fire is thick with instructive anecdotes as Dusenberry brings together his own insights gained through forty years of experience working on campaigns for top corporations, almost all of which are equally relevant for nonprofits and foundations.

Dusenberry also addresses the challenges of branding in today’s "parity economy," doing research, creating messages and campaigns ads that actually "sell more stuff," launching a brand, distilling what it stands for as the starting point for generating insights, and building a superior creative team. He also emphasizes the importance of professionalism and disciplined thinking.

Nonprofit and foundation communicators should take a hard look at his five-step RAISE program, a "linear matrix of research, analysis, insight, strategy, and execution:"

  • Research
  • Analysis (of research findings)
  • Insight (discerned from the analysis)
  • Strategy (for putting the insight into action)
  • Execution.

Hair on Fire will do wonders for anyone who needs a creative jumpstart.

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Nancy Schwartz on December 8, 2005 in Nonprofit Communications, Recommended Resources, Strategy | 0 comments
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