New International Marketing Head Prompted in Universal Studios

Steve Kaplan Startup:

Josh Goldstine joined Universal Pictures in 2011 after twenty years at Sony Pictures.  He entered the new production company as the president of domestic marketing for their films, a title that he has held for the last three years.  In this position, he worked closely with his co-president of domestic marketing Michael Moses and the executive vice president of international marketing Simon Hewlett.  Together, this team has eased nineteen films towards the top spot at the domestic box office in the last three years.  In terms of worldwide success, Moses, Hewlett and Goldstine gave the production company its best year at the worldwide box office in 2013.

This success has been rewarded, as an article recently completed by The Hollywood Reporter indicates that Goldstine has now been promoted to president of worldwide marketing at Universal Pictures.  His new responsibilities will involve any and every global marketing efforts, including creative advertising, media, publicity, promotions, digital marketing, home entertainment marketing and administration.  The announcement came this week from Goldstine’s future bosses, Universal Filmed Entertainment Chairman Jeff Shell and Universal Pictures chairman Donna Langley.  The announcement is the most recent of several, as Universal works to move the headquarters of the leadership of its international operations from London to Los Angeles.

The article specifically notes that Universal will not attempt to fix what is not broken—Goldstine, Moses and Hewlett will continue to work together very closely to create future successful marketing campaigns, as they have done in the past.

from Steve Kaplan Startup

Generosity is Good, Feel-Good Marketing

Steve Kaplan Startup:

With the introduction of the Internet, customer loyalty has become a very hard thing to come by.  Now, with the availability of many variations of the same project, companies struggle more than ever to retain a loyal consumer base.  According to a study completed by Ernst and Young, a mere twenty five percent of customers in the United States hold loyalty to a set brand.

An article recently completed by Forbes addressed this issue and provided some specific advice to help brands build a loyal base of returning customers.  In the eyes of the article, kindness is key.  Termed Generosity Marketing, this campaign draws on an anthropologic means to generate strong reciprocity bonds.  In essence, social customers demand something stronger than the standard charms of average marketing campaigns; they want something more—a connection to the brand and the product.  Emotional connection to a brand will work wonders in generating present and future business.

The first means to this end is to harness the strength of social media portals to the corporation’s advantage.  Consumers have become the best ambassadors for a product, thanks entirely to the capability of social media to spread word on products.  Corporations, as a result, should not hesitate to reward their customers through their use of these sites; reward points based on shares that build towards future purchases.

For Milennials with shorter attention spans, instant gratification can also be a very profitable reward method of Generosity Marketing.  To accompany an online purchase, include a digital gift card reward that offers an instant extra gift attached to the original purchase.  This little touch may prompt the extra incentive to stick with one company over a competitor in the future.

Finally, there is the method of employing the Social Halo, which is the most well known form of Generosity Marketing.  Consumers are constantly more aware of the global challenges faced by those around the world.  Finding a way to address these concerns in return for purchasing a product will draw in far more consumers than any stale marketing gimmicks will.  For instance, Toms, a company that has had much success in the Social Halo market by creating a pair of shoes for a child in need with every pair that is purchased, is now expanding this idea to their coffee sales; for every bag sold, a day of clean water can be provided to those in need.

from Steve Kaplan Startup

Big Data Not Guarantee to Big Success

Big data was traditionally defined in terms of the three V’s—volume, velocity and variety.  However, according to an article recently completed by Forbes, the three V’s are no longer sufficient in terms of harnessing big data to find the path to success.  A conception has formed that big data automatically guarantees better preparation to solve all marketing problems.  However, if it isn’t interpreted and applied correctly, big data will simply lead to further confusion on the part of the corporation’s leaders.

To resolve this issue, the author of the article has developed an updated definition for ‘big data’—a journey through the gap in the data that is available to them and the business insights that can be driven from the data.  In essence, the data cannot do all of the talking—business and technology leaders must use the space in between to interpret the figures and adapt a plan to win, serve and retain customers.

The author worked with a colleague to complete research on the best means to navigating this gap.  First and foremost, no matter what the industry, it is not free of the burden of big data; every company can benefit from collecting figures, even agricultural pursuits.  Nothing is free of risk, including big data; many issues have arisen over the years as a result of big data collection, including breaches in privacy and resulting issues of financial liberties from misused data.  However, the author still feels that, no matter the risks, the benefits of collecting data overcome any challenge that could potentially result.

Finally, technology managers, who are typically in charge of collecting data needed to draw these conclusions, cannot be forced through this process on their own.  Business leaders must carry their weight as well, to open the lines of communication, detail their business challenges so both partners can work together to find the best possible solution for all parties from the provided data.


from Steve Kaplan, The Entrepreneur

Facebook joining the ranks of small business week

The upcoming week is the annual small business week, in which entrepreneurs go to “information

sessions” on topics like marketing online and our current health-care laws. It is an opportunity for large

corporations and politicians to voice their appreciation for the small time mom and pop stores. The

outcome is an unwieldy mixture—there is no problem in spending a week focusing solely on the small

business, but the time is also rife with sponsors of a political and corporate nature with intentions of

solely promoting themselves.

Facebook can now be regarded as one of the many suitors of Main Street. The social media

juggernaut stated that it will be hosting a series of “boot camp-style events” intended for owners of

small businesses. The purpose is to bring experts in small business together with local entrepreneurs

in a discussion of using Facebook as a marketing technique. Samplings of the big companies to be

represented are: Intuit, Square, and LegalZoom as well as companies looking to sell their services to

small businesses. The program, christened Facebook Fit, will be traveling to the cities of New York,

Miami, Chicago, Austin, and Menlo Park, California.

The meetings are planned for June through August and do not actually overlap with the National

Small Business Week, but the two events are akin to each other. While business owners acquire

training, Facebook earns a bit of good will as well as prospective consumers. An estimated 25 million

small business owners operate their own Facebook pages, says Dan Levy, director of small business

at the corporation. Even those business moguls, that are exasperated with the various changes in

how Facebook treats postings, tend to also see it as a good means of reaching patrons. According to

Levy, an estimated one million pay for ads each month. To heighten those numbers, Facebook is now

charging $25 for its boot camp sessions as well as rebating the amount of $50 in credit for Facebook

advertisements. There is only so much space for business owners in each session, so the program is

limiting those who get to upgrade their pages to ones with paying advertisers. The program is a stepping

stone in showing Main Street America that a large corporation like Facebook, cares.

from Steve Kaplan Digital

McDonalds changes up marketing strategies in wake of decline

The McDonald’s Corporation is pushing a new marketing strategy aimed to highlight their freshly

cooked breakfasts as completion grows amongst other fast food chains. The battle has reached a boiling

point recently when Yum Brands Inc.’s Taco Bell starting serving breakfast last month starting with

the Waffle Taco, a move that has prompted rival fast food joints to add new items or even discount

breakfast items.

The Chief Executive Don Thompson of McDonalds has stated that they have yet to see any bearing

from Taco Bell’s new morning menu, but that the amplified race “forces us to focus even more on being

aggressive in breakfast.”

Mr. Thompson’s statements were issued after McDonald’s released a report of profits dropping for

during the first three months of 2014-5.2% from the same time one year ago. U.S. restaurant profits

open over a year have overall dropped 1.7% for the quarter and 0.6% for the month of March, making

that five months in a row for the company. Globally, sales have risen 0.5% during this quarter as well as


Mr. Thompson admitted that the corporation has lost some importance with consumers and menu

change is warranted to strengthen business. Thompson stressed that McDonald’s is committed to

steadying crucial markets like the United States, Germany, Australia, and Japan. Thompson pointed out

that in the fast food race, McDonalds has always come out on top in 35 years of business and “we don’t

plan on giving that up.”

McDonald’s has plans to run upcoming adverts informing customers that it actually cooks breakfast

unlike the many in competition. “We crack fresh eggs, grill sausage and bacon,” the CEO stated. “This is

not a microwave deal.”

Besides revamping breakfast, the fast food giant has plans to further marketing on their staple

menu items like the Big Mac and their french fries. Those two products alone make up for over 40% of

McDonald’s sales. In an effort to further serve customers faster, the company is adding measures for

staff to be more efficient such as additional prep tables for customizing specific orders.

The corporation also has intentions of selling more company-owned stores outside of the states to

foreign franchises. 81% of McDonald’s over-seas stores are franchised. Royalties from the franchised

locations provide for an unwavering income for the corporation.

McDonald’s dropped from $1.26 a share to $1.21 a share in one year. The corporation accredits this to

a decrease in income-tax benefits last year.

from Steve Kaplan, The Entrepreneur

TruTV Seeks to Break its Copy Cat Image

Steve Kaplan Startup:

With the approach of Upfronts—the television industry’s term for the annual negotiations with advertising agencies for next year’s TV season—TruTV seeks to change its image in the hopes of attracting more advertisers.  The network’s current programming has very few, if any, shows based in original content.  Their biggest hits—Hardcore Pawn, Container Wars, Storage Hunters and Swamp Hunters—all have plots that mirror original hits from other channels.  As a result, Chris Linn—president and Head of Programming for the Turner Broadcasting owned cable channel—says it is time for a change.  An article was recently completed by Advertising Age to detail the intended amendments to programming and marketing for the network.

Since TruTV survived the transition from Court TV in 2008, their programming has been stuck in a stagnant state.  Not only is there a limited amount of original programming, Linn says their shows all even look, sound and feel similar to one another.  Linn isn’t alone is this observation; consumers have noticed too.  Prime-time ratings for the network are down over thirty one percent for the season and it averages a meager six hundred eight four thousand total viewers.

The most popular show on the network—and one of the few that is original in content—is Impractical Jokers, a comedy that averages a little over two million viewers.  Based on this information, Linn has made the choice that the focus of the network should be geared towards comedy.  Therefore, they have introduced three comedies that will debut in their new line up.  The Carbonaro Effect will feature comedic magician Michael Carbonaro as he performs various tricks on clueless people and captures it on camera.  The show is slated to begin in May.  Friends of the People will be a scripted sketch comedy series and Motor City Masters will be a comical competition series; no further details on these series have been provided at this time.

Linn is aware that comedy is a slippery slope.  As such, he declared that TruTV wishes to appeal to “fun seekers,” but perhaps not the audience that is drawn to the acquired taste of networks such as Comedy Central.  They look to create comedy that can appeal to everyone in the hopes of pulling in a variety of advertisers in the process.


from Steve Kaplan Startup

Big Companies Cut Back on Everything, Except Advertising

Statistics for big companies throughout 2013 indicated that businesses, in general, limited spending due to money strains. However, one item larger corporations chose not to slack on was their funding for advertisements.  An article recently published by Advertising Age sought to explain this choice.

After the economic breakdown of 2008, companies, both big and small, have struggled to regain the trust of the consumers.  Frequently, ads are their chosen method of doing so; it is by far the easiest means of communication between the company and the buyer.  However, the article did note that a statement by Corebrands founder and Chairman Jim Gregory indicated that there is still a long journey ahead in terms of regaining trust.  While consumers are slowly beginning to spend money and put their faith back in the economy, businesses cannot rely solely on marketing to get the word out on their successes.  According to the article, reaching out with employment needs indicates a healthy business with booming profit.  In essence, if the company has spare money to hire further employees, consumers will interpret this as a solid indicator that things are going well.

Money must also be invested in the company to keep things stable.  Generally speaking, companies have found investing in advertising far cheaper and more productive than engaging in research and development.  However, this puts a lot of pressure on the ads being issued; they must hold a strong emotional component to hook customers on products that may not have undergone much development.

Technology is a likely avenue for reinvestment as well.  Technological sources can provide some of the development at a cheaper cost than more traditional research and development paths.  It can also provide statistics that allow the company to supply the perfect amount of product to meet the current level of demand; therefore, no money is wasted by over supplying or failing to produce products that could’ve been sold.  Finally, technology can also be a cheap means of advertising, if marketing methods are applied affectively and appropriately.

from Steve Kaplan Digital