The occasion is the weekly management meeting of a leading food retailer. The CFO's report gets the ball rolling: “Sales are down five percent from the same period last year, for the third week in a row.” The CMO takes his chance: “This clearly shows our brand is losing attractiveness. We need to ramp up our share of voice on TV!”
Then all hell breaks loose.
“You keep saying that,” the northern region's commercial director yells, “but your fancy commercials just don't sell the goods. We should run more in-store promotions. That's where people make their choices.”
The southern regional manager echoes: “Absolutely! In-store is the way to go. Why don't we also send out an additional leaflet next week? That's how we'll lure shoppers back into the store.”
The CEO, who had been staring out of the window until this moment, now turns to the group. “TV, promotions, leaflets. I've heard it all before. It's the same story week in, week out. But can any one of you tell me what we really get out of any of these things?”
Silence fills the room. The CMO reaches for his coffee. The commercial directors fiddle with their BlackBerrys. The CFO keeps staring at the sales chart, as if to reverse the trend line through sheer willpower. But they all know that none of them has a real answer to the CEO's question. What a way to start the day!
Most readers will have been in similar situations at one time or another. Marketing and branding discussions ...