Lightning McQueen, Mater And The Rebranding Of An American Icon

The year was 2006. The marketing medium with the biggest budget was direct mail marketing. Playing in theaters was an animated movie from Pixar about a race car who finds himself on what was once a bustling byway of tourists from around the world that is now a desolate, shell of its once former great self.

The movie of course was CARS and the once bustling byway was and still is, the legendary Route 66. Also known as the Mother Road, it runs from Chicago to Santa Monica and is America’s most celebrated automobile highway and a famous symbol of twentieth-century American culture and history. However, the construction of the interstate highways in the middle of the twentieth century bypassed many communities along Route 66, and subsequently numerous towns and cities along the route have faced economic hardship. It was the inevitable blight which was served as the basis for the film. Continue reading

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The most unusual & insightful marketing predictions EVER

I am what many may refer to as a pop culture savant. How else would you describe someone who co-wrote a trivia book entitled Off the Top Of Your Head? The book was essentially a release for myself and two friends (Tim Stanton and Rich Romig) who grew tired of firing one pop culture trivia question after another at each other and decided to put pen to paper.

Don’t bother Googling the book – it never went anywhere past the manuscript stage but it was cathartic to my co-scribes and yours truly for sure. I can tell you we did submit it to Games Magazine to gauge their interest and were told it was “too difficult.” We took a lot of pride in that response.

But that was then, as in a thousand or so years ago and this is today which leads me to the most unusual & insightful marketing predictions EVER. Continue reading

Is The Social Media Slumber Finally Over For Big Brands?

Perhaps it is because I am the father of a 13-year old daughter but whenever I hear the word “slumber” I immediately think of the phrase “slumber party” – which then conjures up fun, unless of course you are the host parent of said party.
However, if you’re a big brand, say on the level of a Fortune 500 brand, your “state of inactivity” – AKA your slumber – when it comes to social media, may finally be over. At least it may finally be over for some as that’s the indication one gets from reviewing data from a recent study from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research.
You can clearly see the uptake in social media usage across the board re: the big social media networks. Most notably is the increase in blogging among Fortune 500 companies – up 28% in just one year.
However, the study delved deeper into blogging and in fact showed that blogging among Fortune 500 companies is up over 112% since 2008.
And try this stat on for size re: blogging: Brands ranked in the top (Fortune) 200 were more likely to blog than those ranked 300-500.
Coincidence?
Here’s some other findings/stats:
  • The 171 Fortune 500 corporations with blogs represented 58 of 75 industries in the Fortune 500.
  • 8 of the top 10 corporations actively post on Twitter.
  • 72 of the 75 industries represented in the Fortune 500 use Facebook &  Twitter
  • Only 1 of the top 10 companies (Ford Motors) is on Instagram.
  • Walmart is the only company among the top 10 to use Foursquare.
  • Half of the top 10 have a Pinterest board.


And speaking of Pinterest, in what should come as no surprise to anyone, it has seen a growth of 350% YOY, 2012 to 2013, going from 2% to 9% adoption among Fortune 500 brands. It is worth noting we’re talking very low numbers – 11 companies in 2012 to 45 in 2013 but, you can surely expect to see that number increase as more and more brands take full advantage of the visual-social networks.

Why Has It Taken So Long?
I am a very curious person by nature so when confronted with facts and figures like those above I am left wondering “why has it taken so long for so many large, multi-billion dollar brands to realize what we already know?”
Social media is not a fad. It is not going to go the way of other fads and one day be found on sale on eBay or discovered by the American Pickers sitting in someone’s farm with dust and cobwebs over it.
It is where your customers and future customers are spending more and more of their time so why would you not want to be there with them?
Not that should I have to do this but I will anyway.
Just some, some of the latest stats re: social media usage:
  • 27% of time spent online is on a social network
  • Facebook has 1.11 billion monthly active users
  • Twitter has over 550 million users
  • More than 1 billion unique users visit YouTube each month
  • There are more than 2.1 million LinkedIn groups
  • Pinterest has nearly 50 million users

So why Mr. & Mrs. Brand?

Why has it taken you so long to come around and why so others among you continue to resist the open invitation to join the party – the social media slumber party?

Here’s a few of the reasons I believe it took so many brands to accept the invitation and/or continue to refuse it:
  • Fear. Pure, unadulterated fear. Fear, when it comes to social media, comes in many shapes and sizes and at or near the top of the list for brands is fear of saying something or doing something stupid – for all the world to see.
  • Lack of true ROI. This reason is perhaps trotted out by more brands as to why they don’t participate in social media. Plenty of articles written about this topic. Here’s a real good one from Natalie Burg, my fellow Forbes contributor: How To Measure Your Social Media Return On Investment
  • Lack of content. I think there are still a great number of brands – both big and small, who know they need to be at the party but simply do not know what to say; what to share, what to post and on and on and on. So they choose to watch from afar, hoping one day to take the leap – which of course they won’t and it won’t matter anyway for it will be too late.


The bottom line to all of this is very simple in my humble opinion.

Now, more than ever, it is vital to establish and maintain a relationship with consumers. And short of going door-to-door or inviting everyone over for a backyard BBQ, the next best alternative is to interact, engage and relate to them via social media.
Come join the social media slumber party.
Pajamas are optional.
Named one of the Top 100 Influencers In Social Media (#41) by Social Technology Review and a Top 50 Social Media Blogger by Kred, Steve Olenski is a senior creative content strategist at Responsys, a leading global provider of on-demand email and cross-channel marketing solutions. He is a also a member of the Editorial Board for the Journal of Digital & Social Media Marketing and co-author of the book StumbleUpon For Dummies. He can be reached via TwitterLinkedIn or Email

Price Always Trumps Brand, But It Shouldn’t Matter To Marketers

Let me preface this article by saying categorically I believe very much in the power of branding. I myself (isn’t that redundant?) have worked on many branding campaigns for marketers and advertisers of all sizes and shapes. I know first hand the value of branding done right and done on a consistent basis i.e. staying true to a given brand’s tone and voice over time.

But I also have been witness to a growing trend. 

A revealing trend that is bringing to the light the fact that more and more consumers are sacrificing brand loyalty for the best price on a given product, service, etc.

brand loyalty

  • 1/07/2013 – Is Brand Loyalty Dying A Slow And Painful Death? “Sponsored by AisleBuyer, a survey conducted earlier this year revealed that nearly 75% of consumers would switch brands if offered real-time discounts and promotions that were delivered to their smartphones in real time while they were shopping in a store.”
  • 1/09/2013 – The Most Powerful Brand Ambassadors In The World May Not Be Brand Loyal “A stunning 75 percent of women now say it’s important get the lowest price on everything they buy, up 12 percentage points. from 2008 and up 22 percentage points from 2004”
Exhibit B
Consider the above Exhibit A and the following to be, well, you get the idea.
The following (below) relates to a little something I like to call social media. Perhaps you’ve heard of it.
The lines have been skewing for some time now when it comes to brand loyalty and social media and with each passing day that line is skewing more toward the almighty dollar or if not currency in the monetary form, some other form of currency for sure.
From a Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council and Lithium survey in 2011.
price and consumers
Then there’s this (below) from a report put out by Forbes Insights and Turn late last year called “The New Rules of Engagement: Measuring the Power of Social Currency”:
price trumps branding
And finally and most recently, this below, from a survey conducted by PwC:
marketing considerations
Not So Breaking News
If there is a marketer out there who finds all or any of this news to be “breaking” he/she may need to start considering other employment for this should come as no surprise to anyone.
Consumers are people, people. Get it?
In general they want the best deal, period. Now juxtapose that thinking over a failing or still-recovering economy depending on who you speak to, and price just becomes all that more important in the pecking order.
‘Ah but Steve, what about those brands who can never win a price war for any number of reasons? Are they doomed to fail?’
Good question.
No, of course they are not doomed to fail.
If, if they realize that there’s more than one way to skin a cat or in this case win a consumer’s heart, that is – which ties into the “why it shouldn’t matter to marketers” part of the title of this article.
Obviously many brands consistently thrive and survive just fine without being the cheapest on the shelf. They do so for a myriad of reasons including something I like to call “quality.” Remember the old “you get what you pay for” adage? Yeah, that kind of goes hand-in-hand with this thinking.
So there are plenty of marketers, brands and so on who wake up every morning knowing they cannot possibly win a price battle but they know there’s a quality product so all is well in the world.
Not So Fast 
The real winners in ALL of this will be the brands who come to grips with the fact that while price and quality will always play a role in a consumer’s decision making process, it is the relationships they create with a consumer that will ultimately determine success or failure.
Make no mistake about it, we are or already are, in what Responsys CMO Scott Olrich referred to as “the relationship era” in an end-of-the year piece entitled Looking Back, Looking Ahead – CMOs Weigh In.
His exact quote was “We will see the beginning of what I refer to as “the relationship era” whereby marketers will move away from an acquisition first mentality to a relationship first one. Marketers will focus more on the entire consumer experience to build and foster a long term relationship with a consumer as opposed to just that initial purchase phase.”
The brands who understand how to cultivate and maintain relationships with consumers will be the ones who reap the biggest rewards.
Photo credit: Wikipedia
Named one of the Top 100 Influencers In Social Media (#41) by Social Technology Review and a Top 50 Social Media Blogger by Kred, Steve Olenski is a senior content strategist at Responsys, a leading global provider of on-demand email and cross-channel marketing solutions and a member of the Editorial Board for the Journal of Digital & Social Media Marketing.

Price Always Trumps Brand, But It Shouldn’t Matter To Marketers

Let me preface this article by saying categorically I believe very much in the power of branding. I myself (isn’t that redundant?) have worked on many branding campaigns for marketers and advertisers of all sizes and shapes. I know first hand the value of branding done right and done on a consistent basis i.e. staying true to a given brand’s tone and voice over time.

But I also have been witness to a growing trend. 

A revealing trend that is bringing to the light the fact that more and more consumers are sacrificing brand loyalty for the best price on a given product, service, etc.

brand loyalty

  • 1/07/2013 – Is Brand Loyalty Dying A Slow And Painful Death? “Sponsored by AisleBuyer, a survey conducted earlier this year revealed that nearly 75% of consumers would switch brands if offered real-time discounts and promotions that were delivered to their smartphones in real time while they were shopping in a store.”
  • 1/09/2013 – The Most Powerful Brand Ambassadors In The World May Not Be Brand Loyal “A stunning 75 percent of women now say it’s important get the lowest price on everything they buy, up 12 percentage points. from 2008 and up 22 percentage points from 2004”
Exhibit B
Consider the above Exhibit A and the following to be, well, you get the idea.
The following (below) relates to a little something I like to call social media. Perhaps you’ve heard of it.
The lines have been skewing for some time now when it comes to brand loyalty and social media and with each passing day that line is skewing more toward the almighty dollar or if not currency in the monetary form, some other form of currency for sure.
From a Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council and Lithium survey in 2011.
price and consumers
Then there’s this (below) from a report put out by Forbes Insights and Turn late last year called “The New Rules of Engagement: Measuring the Power of Social Currency”:
price trumps branding
And finally and most recently, this below, from a survey conducted by PwC:
marketing considerations
Not So Breaking News
If there is a marketer out there who finds all or any of this news to be “breaking” he/she may need to start considering other employment for this should come as no surprise to anyone.
Consumers are people, people. Get it?
In general they want the best deal, period. Now juxtapose that thinking over a failing or still-recovering economy depending on who you speak to, and price just becomes all that more important in the pecking order.
‘Ah but Steve, what about those brands who can never win a price war for any number of reasons? Are they doomed to fail?’
Good question.
No, of course they are not doomed to fail.
If, if they realize that there’s more than one way to skin a cat or in this case win a consumer’s heart, that is – which ties into the “why it shouldn’t matter to marketers” part of the title of this article.
Obviously many brands consistently thrive and survive just fine without being the cheapest on the shelf. They do so for a myriad of reasons including something I like to call “quality.” Remember the old “you get what you pay for” adage? Yeah, that kind of goes hand-in-hand with this thinking.
So there are plenty of marketers, brands and so on who wake up every morning knowing they cannot possibly win a price battle but they know there’s a quality product so all is well in the world.
Not So Fast 
The real winners in ALL of this will be the brands who come to grips with the fact that while price and quality will always play a role in a consumer’s decision making process, it is the relationships they create with a consumer that will ultimately determine success or failure.
Make no mistake about it, we are or already are, in what Responsys CMO Scott Olrich referred to as “the relationship era” in an end-of-the year piece entitled Looking Back, Looking Ahead – CMOs Weigh In.
His exact quote was “We will see the beginning of what I refer to as “the relationship era” whereby marketers will move away from an acquisition first mentality to a relationship first one. Marketers will focus more on the entire consumer experience to build and foster a long term relationship with a consumer as opposed to just that initial purchase phase.”
The brands who understand how to cultivate and maintain relationships with consumers will be the ones who reap the biggest rewards.
Photo credit: Wikipedia
Named one of the Top 100 Influencers In Social Media (#41) by Social Technology Review and a Top 50 Social Media Blogger by Kred, Steve Olenski is a senior content strategist at Responsys, a leading global provider of on-demand email and cross-channel marketing solutions and a member of the Editorial Board for the Journal of Digital & Social Media Marketing.

Did The Penn State Brand Get The Death Penalty?

There are no shortage of definitions for the term “brand equity.” You probably have your favorite. This is one of mine, especially in the context of the Penn State brand: “A brand’s power derived from the goodwill and name recognition that it has earned over time, which translates into higher sales volume and higher profit margins against competing brands.”

The reason I like this particular definition when it is applied to the brand of Penn State is because of words like “goodwill” and “name recognition” and “earned over time.”
Clearly the Penn State brand, with Joe Paterno at the helm for over 45 years, wielded the power that came from goodwill while garnering name recognition, which in turn lead to higher sales and higher profit margins – that in the university world translates to an increasing level of enrollment and an increasing level of monetary donations from alumni. All of which makes the competing brands green with envy for sure.

At its peak, which for all intents and purposes was anytime right up until the world found out about Jerry Sandusky – the Penn State brand possessed a tremendous amount of brand equity.

And while in some eyes the lines may have been blurred with many wondering “Is it the Joe Paterno brand?” or “Is it the Penn State brand?” – the fact remains that the brand was an extremely powerful one and one that surely did not achieve its massive cache of brand equity overnight.

Yet as we now know, this once seemingly invincible and impenetrable brand, has been reduced to a mere shell of its former self.

A History Lesson
We all know the line about history and what can happen when one fails to learn from it. And history is replete with brands who, for one reason or another, have failed or fallen victim to issues – some not even of their own doing, which resulted in severe loss in brand equity.
  •  
  • In 1982 Tylenol suffered a massive blow to its brand equity when seven people died after taking Extra Strength Tylenol laced with cyanide. After recalling 31 million bottles and losing more than $100 million, Tylenol rebounded and recovered to eventually regain 100% of the market share it had lost.
  • In 2004 Martha Stewart was found guilty of conspiracy, obstruction of an agency proceeding, and making false statements to federal investigators. Needless to say her brand equity and all its various offshoots, took a major hit. Her brand recovered eventually, her daytime TV show is in its sixth season, and this fall she will have a new cooking show on PBS.
  • On July 4, 2011, revelations surfaced that News of the World – owned by Rupert Murdoch’s powerful News Corporation, hacked into voicemail messages of murdered British schoolgirl Milly Dowler. Just three days later it was announced that News of the World would be shut down.
These are just three examples of major brands suffering severe damage to their hard-earned-over-time brand equity. Each of the brands recovered – well except in the case of News of the World but obviously Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp brand is alive and kicking despite the closing of News of the World.
But none of these brands needed to recover from the kind of damage that is being inflicted on the Penn State brand. The reason being none of these brands’ fall from grace, if you will, involved the sexual abuse of children and subsequent cover up by the very people who A) built the brand and B) were entrusted with maintaining its goodwill.
How can the Penn State brand possibly survive this unprecedented – a word that’s used a lot in talking about Penn State these days, loss of brand equity?
In the case of Tylenol for example, the problem was identified and corrected as fast as humanly possible. Yes it took a great deal of time to reestablish trust with the public but as you saw, it did happen and can happen again for Penn State.
Or can it?

What Does The Future Hold For The Penn State Brand?
As I sit here today I honestly do not know if the public will ever regain a level of trust with the Penn State brand. It’s quite possible I would have said the same thing back in 1982 about Tylenol. But I was only 17 and had a can of Spam for a brain, so.
But right now, do I think the Penn State brand can ever recover, I honestly don’t know.
Much of my uncertainty has to do with what is still emanating from Happy  Valley. There are still far too many brand advocates/brand ambassadors of the Penn State brand still steadfastly refusing to admit something went terribly and tragically wrong.
There are far too many who are entrusted with maintaining standards of the brand – the board of trustees for example, who refuse to admit to the public, much less themselves, that such atrocities were being committed right under their very noses.
And if those entrusted with the brand’s health and future cannot first bring themselves to this fact, how can the brand ever hope to rebound and recover? If they don’t think anything went wrong in the first place, why would they ever think they need to repair and restore the brand?
Joe McDonough, VP/Executive Creative Director at Masterminds, a full-service agency with a focus on brand integration, says it comes down to brands realizing the responsibility that comes with achieving such lofty brand equity status.
“The more respected, more credible the brand, the higher the stakes and the more critical it is to treat the public trust as the cornerstone of your brand’s foundation,” says McDonough.
McDonough, who has worked on such big name brands as MGM and Pinnacle Entertainment, says the keepers of the Penn State brand made a fatal mistake in the face of the crisis.
“When the powers-that-be decided to go into damage control mode instead of pursuing the ethical, or in this case – lawful position, the stakes were raised to double or nothing,” he added. “Imagine if PSU had actually gotten away with covering this up?”
Crisis management consultant Dr. Ken J. Brumfield says the problems transcend the playing field. “It’s not the football culture, but rather the senior executive team culture that got them here,” says Brumfield, author of the book “S.E.T. CULTURE: What Every Organization Needs to Know Before Crises Occur.”
What Can Brands Learn From Penn State?
According to Brumfield there are three distinct things the leaders of Penn State need to do to rebuild its tarnished brand.
  • Change the culture from the top down
  • Make better decisions
  • Seek outside help
Of course these are a lot easier said than done.

Changing the culture means first admitting the culture was bad in the first place. As I mentioned previously, I’m not so sure the leaders of Penn State would openly admit their culture was bad.
As for making better decisions, that of course comes down to who is making the decisions in the first place. With all but one of the board of trustees still in place, if not power, making better decisions than those previously made may not be so easy.

And as for seeking outside help, setting up advisory boards, etc. – that too will depend on if the leaders of Penn State deem such an action necessary and warranted.

For his part, McDonough believes the best thing a brand can learn from Penn State is that despite all the years one spends building trust with the consumer, it can all come apart in the blink of an eye.
“The public’s trust is hard won and easily lost. In this day and age it’s the public who bestows the value of your brand upon you – they assign which rung on the brand consideration ladder you grasp – but the hold is tenuous and needs only the slightest negative momentum to send you tumbling down,” he says.

“Now that ‘all media is social’ and every conversation can become a public forum that trends in the millions for even trivial snippets of reality TV flotsam – the need for stewards of brands of every scale to maintain actual credibility – not just the veiled appearance of it, is paramount.”


Named one of the Top 100 Influencers In Social Media (#41) by Social Technology Review and a Top 50 Social Media Blogger by Kred, Steve Olenski is a freelance copywriter/blogger currently looking for full-time work. He has worked on some of the biggest brands in the world and has over 20 years experience in advertising and marketing. He lives in Philly and can be reached via email,TwitterLinkedIn or his website.

Did The Penn State Brand Get The Death Penalty?

There are no shortage of definitions for the term “brand equity.” You probably have your favorite. This is one of mine, especially in the context of the Penn State brand: “A brand’s power derived from the goodwill and name recognition that it has earned over time, which translates into higher sales volume and higher profit margins against competing brands.”

The reason I like this particular definition when it is applied to the brand of Penn State is because of words like “goodwill” and “name recognition” and “earned over time.”
Clearly the Penn State brand, with Joe Paterno at the helm for over 45 years, wielded the power that came from goodwill while garnering name recognition, which in turn lead to higher sales and higher profit margins – that in the university world translates to an increasing level of enrollment and an increasing level of monetary donations from alumni. All of which makes the competing brands green with envy for sure.

At its peak, which for all intents and purposes was anytime right up until the world found out about Jerry Sandusky – the Penn State brand possessed a tremendous amount of brand equity.

And while in some eyes the lines may have been blurred with many wondering “Is it the Joe Paterno brand?” or “Is it the Penn State brand?” – the fact remains that the brand was an extremely powerful one and one that surely did not achieve its massive cache of brand equity overnight.

Yet as we now know, this once seemingly invincible and impenetrable brand, has been reduced to a mere shell of its former self.

A History Lesson
We all know the line about history and what can happen when one fails to learn from it. And history is replete with brands who, for one reason or another, have failed or fallen victim to issues – some not even of their own doing, which resulted in severe loss in brand equity.
  •  
  • In 1982 Tylenol suffered a massive blow to its brand equity when seven people died after taking Extra Strength Tylenol laced with cyanide. After recalling 31 million bottles and losing more than $100 million, Tylenol rebounded and recovered to eventually regain 100% of the market share it had lost.
  • In 2004 Martha Stewart was found guilty of conspiracy, obstruction of an agency proceeding, and making false statements to federal investigators. Needless to say her brand equity and all its various offshoots, took a major hit. Her brand recovered eventually, her daytime TV show is in its sixth season, and this fall she will have a new cooking show on PBS.
  • On July 4, 2011, revelations surfaced that News of the World – owned by Rupert Murdoch’s powerful News Corporation, hacked into voicemail messages of murdered British schoolgirl Milly Dowler. Just three days later it was announced that News of the World would be shut down.
These are just three examples of major brands suffering severe damage to their hard-earned-over-time brand equity. Each of the brands recovered – well except in the case of News of the World but obviously Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp brand is alive and kicking despite the closing of News of the World.
But none of these brands needed to recover from the kind of damage that is being inflicted on the Penn State brand. The reason being none of these brands’ fall from grace, if you will, involved the sexual abuse of children and subsequent cover up by the very people who A) built the brand and B) were entrusted with maintaining its goodwill.
How can the Penn State brand possibly survive this unprecedented – a word that’s used a lot in talking about Penn State these days, loss of brand equity?
In the case of Tylenol for example, the problem was identified and corrected as fast as humanly possible. Yes it took a great deal of time to reestablish trust with the public but as you saw, it did happen and can happen again for Penn State.
Or can it?

What Does The Future Hold For The Penn State Brand?
As I sit here today I honestly do not know if the public will ever regain a level of trust with the Penn State brand. It’s quite possible I would have said the same thing back in 1982 about Tylenol. But I was only 17 and had a can of Spam for a brain, so.
But right now, do I think the Penn State brand can ever recover, I honestly don’t know.
Much of my uncertainty has to do with what is still emanating from Happy  Valley. There are still far too many brand advocates/brand ambassadors of the Penn State brand still steadfastly refusing to admit something went terribly and tragically wrong.
There are far too many who are entrusted with maintaining standards of the brand – the board of trustees for example, who refuse to admit to the public, much less themselves, that such atrocities were being committed right under their very noses.
And if those entrusted with the brand’s health and future cannot first bring themselves to this fact, how can the brand ever hope to rebound and recover? If they don’t think anything went wrong in the first place, why would they ever think they need to repair and restore the brand?
Joe McDonough, VP/Executive Creative Director at Masterminds, a full-service agency with a focus on brand integration, says it comes down to brands realizing the responsibility that comes with achieving such lofty brand equity status.
“The more respected, more credible the brand, the higher the stakes and the more critical it is to treat the public trust as the cornerstone of your brand’s foundation,” says McDonough.
McDonough, who has worked on such big name brands as MGM and Pinnacle Entertainment, says the keepers of the Penn State brand made a fatal mistake in the face of the crisis.
“When the powers-that-be decided to go into damage control mode instead of pursuing the ethical, or in this case – lawful position, the stakes were raised to double or nothing,” he added. “Imagine if PSU had actually gotten away with covering this up?”
Crisis management consultant Dr. Ken J. Brumfield says the problems transcend the playing field. “It’s not the football culture, but rather the senior executive team culture that got them here,” says Brumfield, author of the book “S.E.T. CULTURE: What Every Organization Needs to Know Before Crises Occur.”
What Can Brands Learn From Penn State?
According to Brumfield there are three distinct things the leaders of Penn State need to do to rebuild its tarnished brand.
  • Change the culture from the top down
  • Make better decisions
  • Seek outside help
Of course these are a lot easier said than done.

Changing the culture means first admitting the culture was bad in the first place. As I mentioned previously, I’m not so sure the leaders of Penn State would openly admit their culture was bad.
As for making better decisions, that of course comes down to who is making the decisions in the first place. With all but one of the board of trustees still in place, if not power, making better decisions than those previously made may not be so easy.

And as for seeking outside help, setting up advisory boards, etc. – that too will depend on if the leaders of Penn State deem such an action necessary and warranted.

For his part, McDonough believes the best thing a brand can learn from Penn State is that despite all the years one spends building trust with the consumer, it can all come apart in the blink of an eye.
“The public’s trust is hard won and easily lost. In this day and age it’s the public who bestows the value of your brand upon you – they assign which rung on the brand consideration ladder you grasp – but the hold is tenuous and needs only the slightest negative momentum to send you tumbling down,” he says.

“Now that ‘all media is social’ and every conversation can become a public forum that trends in the millions for even trivial snippets of reality TV flotsam – the need for stewards of brands of every scale to maintain actual credibility – not just the veiled appearance of it, is paramount.”


Named one of the Top 100 Influencers In Social Media (#41) by Social Technology Review and a Top 50 Social Media Blogger by Kred, Steve Olenski is a freelance copywriter/blogger currently looking for full-time work. He has worked on some of the biggest brands in the world and has over 20 years experience in advertising and marketing. He lives in Philly and can be reached via email,TwitterLinkedIn or his website.