Turn that weakness into a strength….

An insight by Michael MacRitchie

Military strategist, Sun Tze, (pictured) said that “if you know yourself and your enemy you can fight a hundred battles and score a hundred victories”.  “Business” really is the name given to the war fought by organizations and brands .   Marketing strategist, Jack Trout, wrote that you should simply think of your competitors as “The Enemy”.

The branding battle is harder to win as the battlefield is in the minds of consumers.  Brands don’t exist in the real world but in the mind.  it’s all perception. A brand is simply an idea that you own in the mind.  What is the Nokia brand?  What is the idea Nokia owns in the mind?  Mobile phones.  Apple?  Cool.  Prada. Class?Xerox?  Photocopiers.

In order to win “your” brand, you need to know yourself: What your brand stands for, how it is differentiated from its competitors, etc.  You need to know your enemies: What are their perceived strengths, is there a weakness in that strength that you can exploit?

Pepsi was very successful in doing just that.  Coca-Cola refers it’s brand as ‘The Real Thing’.  So, if you are not drinking Coke, what are you drinking?  The fake thing? Pepsi turned that strength into a weakness.  Coke is the real thing but that also makes it the “old thing”.  Pepsi attacked that weakness by being young and energetic- taglines like ‘The Taste Of A New Generation’.  Pepsi knew itself and knew its enemy.  Coke is still No. 1 but Pepsi is now a powerful No. 2 – no real disgrace in that?

Besides knowing yourself and your enemy, you also need to know your “ally” or strategic partner.

So in an entertainment marketing or sponsorship sense, if you are potentially looking to engage with a particular property- it needs to be ‘well thought out and a  good fit. In essence an extension of your own personality.  A reference can be found here.

Sponsorship is just one way  to create  competitor differentiation.

You have the opportunity to stand out against your competition. This is particularly helpful if your company wants to combat a competitor with a larger ad budget. Sponsorship allows smaller companies to compete with their industry giants.

In 2008, we worked with the USA Basketball team, if you recall 2008 was the Olympics in Beijing, China. Usual suspects &  industry giants like Coca Cola, Volkswagen, Lenovo were sponsoring the games.  Our client was Dell- we realized that in order to glean some of the ‘Olympic games fever’ we had to associate the brand with a high profile sport property without it being a ‘conflict’ with the Games-but perhaps a clever sideline play… We identified that Basketball was certainly an opportunity to create ‘passion point’ engagement and the USA Basketball stars are hot property  in the middle kingdom.

We put together an integrated campaign in Shanghai (Olympic Games were in Beijing) and it hit the spot. We created a tailor made video game for Dell in the back of taxi’s, so passengers could ‘shoot hoops’ in the backseat of the taxi’s in the hope of winning tickets to the basketball games. We drenched Shanghai in marketing with the USA Basketball stars & Dell- China is basketball crazy and therefore we were able to harness this energy. The USA Basketball games vs Australia and Russia were completely sold out. The games were broadcast live to 400,000,000 Viewers in China alone. DELL received a comprehensive media coverage in BTL & ATL campaigns and DELL was able to entertain VIP’s from all over the world. The Net result- Dell turned ‘a perceived weakness’ into a strength. We can control our outcomes.  End result V Happy client. Game over.