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  • 04.30.04

Brand Promise on the High Seas

Brian Collins works as executive creative director for Ogilvy and Mather. After two computer crashes and a last-minute recreation of his presentation, Collins gave a fast-paced, good-humored speech about brand promise and performance. What follows is a partial transcript of his GEL remarks:

Brian Collins works as executive creative director for Ogilvy and Mather. After two computer crashes and a last-minute recreation of his presentation, Collins gave a fast-paced, good-humored speech about brand promise and performance. What follows is a partial transcript of his GEL remarks:

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I’m going to jump into the deep end. What you’re going to see what put together in the last 15 minutes. I work at a team at Ogilvy and Mather that started six years ago. The advertising model is dead. Advertising used to rule the roost. Creating a brand experience used to start with the ads. Then there’d be the Web, retail, and the product itself. But over the last few years, advertising’s influence has decreased because of the emergence of the brand experience. Can you name brand that has no advertising? In addition to Google, has anyone tried Krispy Kreme? They have money, but are they going to buy an ad or invest in another store?

The model we’re working with is no longer linear. It’s anything and everything, and it’s all interconnected. I love all the brand forms that name themselves. My favorite is Brandtastic. We think a brand is a promise made consistently over time. Think about the brands that we experience every day. Let’s go to the future. What does the future hold? Maybe TimeWarner becomes OprahTimeWarner. That’s sort of scary.

I don’t want to hear about Target, Apple, or Volkswagen. Those are great brands. Let’s go back, back, back. In 1744, there was an extraordinary brand. Around the turn of the century, you’re in the thick of a magnificent sailing ship, a Spanish galleon. You’re going back to see your family. You see another ship coming closer and closer to yours. They raise a flag, and you can see whose ship it is. This is what you see. A pirate flag is a brand promise. And it’s promise is that you’re f’d.

Now, what’s interesting and incredible is that between the early 1700’s and when steamships arrived, all a pirate had to do was raise that flag. You’d drop your cargo and flee. Brands speak to two people, the consumer and the employees. Sailors, it’s time to act like pirates. Brands remind people how to behave.