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Best-Selling Author Scott Goodson Speaks to getAbstract about Building Brands

In his best-selling book “Uprising: How to Build a Brand and Change the World by Sparking Cultural Movements“ Scott Goodson explains his concept of “Movement Marketing,”- a fascinating notion that lends brands some soul in our mass-marketed, mass-produced post-millennial world. At getAbstract, we wanted to know more, so we interviewed Scott Goodson to gain a better understanding of how every company can benefit by sparking their own uprisings.

Scott Goodson Speaks to getAbstract about Building Brands and Changing the World

gA: In Uprising you illustrate movement marketing with lots of powerful examples by the likes of Apple, Dove and VW. You also demonstrate how NOT to do movement marketing, via the KFC example, when they tried to align their brand with breast cancer awareness. In your opinion, what could KFC have done to create a SUCCESSFUL movement marketing campaign?

SG: I have had the privilege of building some of the world’s most iconic brands: IKEA, Heineken, Pampers, Emirates Airline, Sabra, and Smart Car. From my early days I believed that movements do more to build a business than advertising. Once you have a cultural movement you can do anything in an evolving media and technology environment.

Every brand can spark a movement but not every brand deserves a movement. When I coined the idea of movement marketing I envisioned that the brand should be aware of its own culture and connect to an idea on the rise in culture in an authentic way, i.e. in a way that aligns with the brand benefit or brand purpose. In the case of KFC they do good by enabling many people to eat. People don’t starve in America. KFC helps provide a consistent quality food product that is accessible to many people. And they do it in a safe and efficient manner. When I was in China recently it was evident just how vital this benefit is. For Movement Marketing to be effective, the key is to align with something that is relevant to the lives of your audience and that it is an issue that they truly care about in their lives. Education is a big one. So too, are empowering women… connecting families together in the age when technology is pulling families apart. Indeed, there are a lot of important issues and breast cancer is an important issue too. Was it the right one for KFC? You decide. Perhaps they should have aligned themselves with a brand that was relevant to their products and aside from chicken “breasts” there was no common ground. The purported linkage between KFC and breast cancer breaks down like this: KFC causes obesity, and obesity increases one’s risk of breast cancer. It can therefore be argued that KFC causes breast cancer. Compared this to Dove, which is a beauty brand that aligned itself with a movement related to beauty with their internationally successful “real beauty” campaign.

gA: Successful advertising and marketing has always tapped into the consumer’s emotional frame of reference via messaging and/ or imagery. How does Movement Marketing take this one step further?

SG: Traditional advertising finds a creative way to present a product so that it’s memorable and distinguished. Movement marketing starts with an idea on the rise in culture and ties it back to the brand benefit. Advertising is exclusive; movements are open. Advertising is about inspiring people to buy, movements get people to do something or change their behavior. Movements are all about crystallizing and curating consumer passions, advertising is all about the product. Advertising starts as media dollars flow and stop when media dollars are shut off, whereas movements are sustainable. Advertising happens primarily in traditional media; movements start by honoring the community, using social to spread the message like wildfire, and traditional media to amplify that message to a wider audience. Movements tap into core beliefs that individuals have a passion for outside of the consumer market. And now there is a movement for movements. Some of the greatest marketing minds of our time are arguing for a deeper use of brand such as Jim Stengel in Grow or Denise Lee Yohn in What Great Brands Do. Indeed, Daniel Pink, Adam Morgan, John Gerzema, Guy Kawasaki and even Sheryl Sandberg, the CEO of Facebook, all touch on this in their recent literature. They are right and it is true.

gA: Your client case studies on the StrawberryFrog website span LG, European Wax Center, Jim Beam, Emirates, Onitsuka Tiger, Pampers and more. How do you take a brand that doesn’t have a clear path to a social movement and identify the route to creating one?

SG: You need to believe that, contrary to traditional marketing dogma, a brand can identify, curate, align with, spark and sponsor a MASS movement. When I begin to dig into a brand, I start by looking at what’s happening in culture then tie it back to the brand. This means you need to have a good hypothesis of who your audience is and what motivates them.

gA: What are the biggest changes in marketing that you have identified since opening the doors of StrawberryFrog 15 years ago, in 1999? What do you predict will happen over the next 15 years?

SG: Karin Drakenberg (who is originally from Sweden) and I (originally from Canada) started StrawberryFrog in a time when the only company that could build huge global brands were the huge corporate advertising agency networks. We proved that this was no longer the case and wooed and won the world’s biggest brands as clients. Back then, we built brands on all platforms, and designed the agency to maximize an outsourced keyboard of small firms and individuals to help us deliver for our clients (versus having everyone on payroll in one building). We broke that rule too. We were doing digital campaigns in the late ‘90s. And because we were from two small countries we looked at the world as our market and fundamentally believed that if you do your homework and identify a universal idea on the rise, you can build a brand across all territories around the world. And we did that. Back then clients hired big corporate networks because they believed that they needed a big network with offices in every city. We proved that you could do it better, smarter and cheaper without the cost and slowness of a huge army of people touching a brand, and came up with our own way to deliver for clients while I dare say never losing creative quality.

Back then, we broke many taboos and grew as a company. Perhaps the biggest sacred cow we butchered was the idea that advertising could do it all. When we started a StrawberryFrog, Karin and I (because of our early careers in the Swedish ad industry), believed that brands had to do more than just sell stuff. We believed brands needed a soul, needed a philosophy, tenants… that they should spark movements. That was heresy back then and the butt of many jokes. But today it seems as though the ideas that Karin and I dreamed up of “Cultural Movement,” “Movement marketing” and “brand movements” are respected and more relevant than ever before.

However, the biggest change between then and now is that—back then—the tech companies were our clients. We helped build the Sprint, Sony Ericsson and Microsoft brands outside the US. Nowadays the tech companies (Apple, Google, Facebook and so forth) are our biggest competitors, not only competing directly for our clients but also hiring away our talent. I think every five years things change. Now it’s cool to go work inside a big tech firm but in five years it’ll be cool again to be a pirate and work for your own small creative idea firm.

gA: Is content still king? And how does it apply to movement marketing?

SG: We are loving our new era. It is the era of the idea economy. Ideas matter. Ideas are shared. Ideas are fought for and against. Ideas build brands, revitalize companies and grow businesses. The more salient the idea the better. Yes, content certainly is still king BUT it has to connect to a bigger movement idea so that it helps build the brand and works harder to drive share. Content on its own isn’t enough, it needs a strategy to release it. It also has an even greater impact when it connects to the consumer outside of the brand on a personal level.

gA: I want to start a movement. How do I begin?

SG: Read my book Uprising, which is full of practical tips and over fifty cases that are relevant to CEOs, CMOS, entrepreneurs, tech startups, community organizers and individuals like you and me. You can also stay up to date via the offshoot site, www.uprisingmovements.com.

gA: What was your favorite example of movement marketing in 2013?

SG: Chipotle.

gA: Which brands would you love to come knocking on StrawberryFrog‘s doors begging for a movement marketing campaign?

SG: Tesla, Lenovo, Instinct, American Airlines, Avon, Mr. Clean/ P&G, and Fage the authentic Greek Yoghurt

gA: How does the concept of virality play into movement marketing?

SG: One of the reasons why we are living in the age of movements and uprisings is because ideas spread virally like wildfire.

gA: Please explain the theory behind the name, StrawberryFrog.

SG: Karin and I came up with the name because it reflected our values and our movement—it is the complete opposite to the dinosaur… A small red and blue frog that is the rarest on earth…. It’s a rebel with blue jeans on… It flies through the air and, when it makes mistakes (which all companies do), it corrects them in midair. It’s agile and adaptive and it’s extremely poisonous. When we started, our briefs were all about finding the brand poison, i.e. the most effective idea that can break through the wall of indifference to build a sustainable brand and lead a movement. After all, you can’t be a movement unless you have an idea that has the power to stir the soul and cause instigation.

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