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Snowcial Recap: CMOs Explain Elements to Create a Successful Brand Movement

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“Last week I was lucky enough to be able to make it to Snowcial in Lake Tahoe. This week I’ll recap some of the key takeaways from the conference. It’s only a glimpse but hopefully it provides some helpful info if you couldn’t make it.”

The “Creating a Movement” panel was one I approached with mixed expectations. Some panels fill my notes with insights as quickly as I can take them, while others drag on as time slows to a crawl. Luckily, this was did not fall into the latter group, despite a couple of panel members that couldn’t make it. Panel members included Brian Crowley (CMO of Pabst Brewing Co.), Mike Chamberlain (Brand Strategist), and Porter Gale (former CMO of Virgin America).

Creating a movement is something that I think all brands dream of pulling off successfully. We see these movements arround us as customers almost instinctively rally around a brand, but making this happen is easier said than done. It’s always hard to summarize a panel discussion, but I’m going to try (forgive me if it comes out scattered). The main themes went as follows if that helps organize the sound bites below:

  • Your brand’s values must match the company’s values for a movement to work
  • There is no way to predict exactly how movement attempts will work out
  • Stay out of the conversation and let the community drive the movement
  • Be aware of and communicate the risks of such a strategy up front
  • It is critical to deeply know your product and your customers
  • You need to be able to laugh at your brand, don’t take it too seriously
  • Make sure that the movement involves taking action, not just spreading the word

Here’s some of their words from my notes.

Bryan Crowley
Old Milwaukee – Will Ferrell

Bryan Crowley talked a few times about a movement they are just getting underway in an attempt to revive the sliding Old Milwaukee beer brand that is part of the Pabst portfolio. I think the best point he made around this attempt is that, “we have no idea how it is going to turn out.” That’s was a theme repeated by each panelist in regard to movements, you simply can’t control and predict how things will go you like you can with other marketing initiatives. Here’s a few of the movies they’ve put out:

Talking more about this promotion, Bryan said, “The hardest part is not answering the questions or comments and just letting the conversation build and roll on it’s own.” They don’t even have a YouTube channel for the videos because that would make them part of the conversation.

Bryan made a point that “You have to be able to laugh at yourself and your brand.” Taking your brand too seriously can be a recipe for failure. Speaking to the market, “A 26 of 27 year old that doesn’t have a lot of money still wants a brand that says something about himself.”

Mike Chamberlain
The Stats

Discussing the numbers of standard communication, Mike pointed out that the average person sees 5000 messages a day. From the brand’s perspective, the breakdown is as follows: “5000 are exposed, 76 are engaged, 12 recalled, and 5 acted.” The keys he shared dealt more with the foundation of a good brand rather than the realization of the movement.
First, “the brand’s values must match the company’s values. If they don’t, find another job.” He, nor any of the other panel members had seen a situation where you could successfully launch a movement when the brand’s values and the company’s values were in conflict.

Mike used English soccer fans as perfect examples of movements, and shared a famous quote from Bill Shankly, former manager of Liverpool Football Club, “Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.”

Porter Gale
Communicate the Risks

Porter Gale shared a situation where she nearly lose her job because of a movement that didn’t go as planned. The reason she kept her job was because she had communicated the risks before anything was every approved or started.

Once you get into the movement, Porter brought up a great point when she said, “make sure that people act, not just spread the message.” In one Twitter movement she was invovled in, people were simply retweeting the message and feeling like they had done their duty, when the point was to get people to act.

Finally, Porter pointed out that, “if you’re not getting some reaction, your communication is too bland.”

About Gregg & SlopeFillers
I've had more first-time visitors lately, so adding a quick "about" section. I started SlopeFillers in 2010 with the simple goal of sharing great resort marketing strategies. Today I run marketing for resort ecommerce and CRM provider Inntopia, my home mountain is the lovely Nordic Valley, and my favorite marketing campaign remains the Ski Utah TV show that sold me on skiing as a kid in the 90s.

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