Mon, Nov 22, 2004 - Page 11 News List

Ad chief advises on branding

CONSUMER RELATIONSHIPThe CEO of a global advertising giant said that building a brand was akin to birds building a nest, and not just a matter of buying ads

By Jackie Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

The coffee giant has utilized consumers' store experience as its best marketing strategy. People know what they'll get in its outlets all over the world, from the decor, music, chairs and sofas, to drinks and the overall "feel" of a store.

Now it has even placed kiosks inside some stores, allowing customers to make customized CDs or download music, which shows its strong commitment to offer novel services beyond its core business, Lazarus said.

But what consumers want is not something that all companies know, Lazarus noted. Companies should think ahead about their potential buyers, and get to know what they dream about, what they worry about, what will make them smile and what will make them feel smarter.

This is especially true in the process of adjusting marketing strategies to suit local circumstances, when advertising products in international markets.

With an MBA in marketing from Columbia University, Lazarus, 57, joined the international advertising and marketing company over 30 years ago. Named the company's CEO in 1996 and chairwoman in 1997, Lazarus has been listed in Fortune magazine's annual ranking of the 50 Most Powerful Women in American Business since the first such ranking in 1998.

During her speech, she also tossed a question to a packed audience, who all looked bemused by the challenge.

"When advertising Dove shampoo internationally, we had local users do testimonials on TV. But how are you going to promote the brand in a place where hair cannot be shown?" she asked.

As shown on TV commercials, a smiling Islamic woman wearing hijab in Malaysia tells a camera how her husband and kids love to touch her soft and smooth hair after she uses the products. By using local methods to describe beauty, Dove can still touch hearts in different markets, she said.

Brand-building takes times and money. "Imagine what kind of outcome you want to happen and who you try to reach before you work to build the brand through media advertising," Lazarus suggested.

"Then there is no reason why local brands cannot become international brands," she said.

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