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July 28, 2004

Branding Smackdown: Godin vs. Ries. Loser: McDonald's.

You, fellow event marketer, have life easy. You only need to worry about one brand message. Sure, you may require tactics that converse to differing verticals to deliver that message, but it's essentially the same message: Your event = X.

Not so your customers. Or at least some of them. Well, maybe just a couple. All right, only McDonald's.

There's a new term being bandied about. Brand Journalism. It is not positioning. At least not as you were taught. Or maybe it is. Sort of.

Larry Light, Chief Marketing Officer of McDonald's, introduced this 'concept' at the recent AdWatch conference (link pops as pdf). According to Light, "Any single ad, commercial or promotion is not a summary of our strategy. It's not representative of the brand message. We don't need one big execution of a big idea. We need one big idea that can be used in a multidimensional, multilayered and multifaceted way."

Over the past three weeks, this 'concept' has been discussed at great length by just about every brand guru. After reading a bunch of comments on it, I think there are three camps. The first is Larry Light's. The second is Seth Godin's, who thinks there's an opportunity (albeit requiring some signficant tweaking), and the third isLaura Ries's take , which is more traditional. (Godin's brief comments are nicely elaborated upon by Jennifer Rice at Mantra).

I tend to agree with Laura Ries on this one. I know I'm not going to McDonald's for meetings, nor do I know anyone who is or would. McD's is for kids. Always will be. The guys over at Marketing Playbook suggest that McDonald's follow the Chuck E. Cheese strategy for neighborhood get-togethers.

Again, not for me nor anyone I know. Heck, I don't even go to Starbucks for meetings. That's for, um... Starbuckians. You know who I mean. (I will go to a local coffeehouse or bar, however).

As for the argument itself, yes, I'm Lovin' It.

But we have bigger things to worry about. Don't we?

03:53 PM in Trade Show Marketing | Permalink


If meetings happen at McD's by coincidence, good for them. But I don't think they'd be successful in pursuing this as a strategy.

On the basis of your comment, sounds like the kids would be just as happy going to a playground where the ambience is decidedly more adult um, like Starbucks?

I smell a niche.

Posted by: Rich | Jul 28, 2004 6:42:50 PM

Great post but some good questions. What is a meeting? It's not always an event. Sometimes it's just two people or two families or groups getting together someplace. Hey, I don't love that my kids love McDonald's. But I live in Seattle and ever since a bunch of them put in huge jungle gyms indoors I find myself meeting a bunch of other parents there, many of whom I either already do business with or hope to. Seems like something worth capturing.

Posted by: johnza | Jul 28, 2004 6:28:37 PM

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