Top 10 in 2011 Marketing That We’ll Still Be Talking About In 2012

I think a look back is only as good as it helps you look forward. So here’s my list of what happened in marketing in 2011 that I think will shape what comes in 2012.

1. Imported From Detroit — One of the year’s first campaigns, with a two-minute version of Eminem in the TV spot debuting during the SuperBowl, is still among the best from the entire year. It dramatically restaged the Chrysler brand, and simply took my breath away. Of course there’s a t-shirt. It’ll be fun to see what Chrysler keeps doing with it, including digitally. I suspect with jobs the biggest cultural and economic issue going on, we’ll also see much more Made in USA types of advertising and content.

2. Sustainability — Green has gone from side street to Main Street in marketing, and will be even more important for brands in 2012. I’ve been working lately with OgilvyEarth, our sustainability practice. When done right, it embodies the company from the inside out. It’s never just marketing a message, but authentic storytelling of company beliefs and behaviors which customers expect — and reward. You can read a ‘Red Paper’ on it called “Mainstream Green” by Freya Williams and Graceann Bennett. Adweek also showcased this Nissan LEAF spot as one of their favorites from 2011.

3. Meet the brand editors — I thought I was so ahead of the times when I started proposing that brands should have Tina Browns serving audiences across channels (digital and otherwise) for brands. Someone highly creative and strategic to propose and develop content, events, videos and conversation across not just Facebook, SlideShare and Linkedin but also CRM channels, advertising and new platforms like Google+. But by the time my piece appeared in Direct Marketing News, agency McCann hired a Chief Brand Editor, Twitter hired its own editor, and I created the role on of our big brands at Ogilvy. There are dozens more out there too, though I suspect some are more sophisticated than others. Expect to see much more of this evolution of content management in 2012, and I hope to scale our model as well. Here’s also a recent posting on Harvard Business Review blog with more of a retail perspective.

4. Google the Marketer — Starbucks didn’t advertise until recently, but it certainly didn’t rush the stage as big as Google has over the last 12 months. Google’s advertising, especially for Chrome and recently for Google+, has been everything from innovative to emotional to even a bit bland. Just like the real brand it has become. It nailed several medals at The One Show Festival and Cannes Lions, and we should all expect to see more creatively in 2012, and maybe some marketing muscle from Facebook too for a big face-off. Dear Sophie for Chrome is one of my sappy favorites.

5. Pay for itThe New York Times paywall was controversial and brilliant. Finding that balance between free content (which never really is) and subscriber is delicate and I was impressed although the signup was clunky and I still don’t know why Lincoln paid for my original basic one. (We gave up our Mini for ZipCar — the only Lincoln I’ve ever been in has been a Town Car to the airport) Next year I think we’ll see much more exploration of pay for service models and while many will hunt around for ways around them, companies have to make money to survive and pay their people, including journalism, services and yes, software like Spotify. I help pay for NPR, I can pay for The Times.

6. Twitter as customer service channel — Maybe Zappos pioneered it, but 2011 was breakout year for brands swarming to use Twitter to solve customer complaints. Hotels. Restaurants. Public sector (NYC311 is amazing and Rachel Sterne is the city’s Chief Digital Officer, bringing more services online) And perhaps most importantly if you’ve ever been trapped on a runway or weather delay, airlines are getting Twitter down to a science with serious resources and response time. My buddy Joseph Jaffe’s book Flip The Funnel (a good read too) also underscores the central role of customer service to marketing a brand the he modern age so expect to see even more ambitious customer support across platforms in 2012. Watch out too for embarrassing tweetstakes. Brands can easily suffer in the manner of Ashton Kutcher. (that rhyme was on purpose).

7. Nebish Netflix — The sub-brand and pricing fiasco was stupid, but it was perversely fun too. Every year, we need a brand to make a gaffe to help remind us how do things right. The goal is not to be the one who does it. The Washington Post recently had a quick slideshow on digital darwinism and survival. Sears, of course, is in there, with the prediction of its disappearance in 2012.

8. Klout — The new social currency for digital influence will either tempt you or drive you mad. Some revile it, many are obsessed by it, many more are ignoring it. But just as there is a badge to your number of Twitter followers, we also have a fetish for new algorithms. This one is your power and personal share of voice. Mine dipped for awhile and then climbed up to 51 as of this writing. One of the best ingredients to a good Klout score, I’ve learned, is not just volume of activity across channels but folks retweeting and re-sharing what you do say. Recognition of good sharing has gone from simply being a compliment to a tangible asset. The end goal? If you’re a gamer, you can simply enjoy the game of it. Another could be monetizing it.

9. The Cloud —Like many, I love Dropbox and now there’s iCloud too, but the biggest marketing of it was in business-to-business by players big and small. It’s a boon not just music and personal storage but for small and medium-sized businesses who can outsource much more of their infrastructure. If last year started to market that it existed, this next year will be about who’s is best and what it does for you.

10. Political Ads — Now that web video is so mainstream, I bet we’ll see tons of political advertising that’s not fit for TV but created to be passed along online. Cain’s unintentionally hilarious smoking ad and Perry’s aggressive anti-Obama leadership ad (which ends like a movie trailer) give a taste of what’s to come.

There will be plenty of other lists (I’m sure with catvertising on many) but this is mine. There’s also plenty of Olympic advertising and changes on Youtube and Search to look forward to. Have a good holiday. Mine is starting early.

—Your humble ad correspondent near (but not too near; the crowds are awful) Madison Avenue

Mat Zucker is Chief Creative Officer of OgilvyOne Worldwide, New York. He is a recognized leader in digital and direct marketing and creative management, working across industries including auto, cons ...read more

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