Monday, September 21, 2009

Comm Club Attends BusinessWeek’s Best Global Brands 2009 featuring Microsoft, Audi America, KFC and Cisco

I had the pleasure of attending BusinessWeek’s Best Global Brands panel today as a “Delegate" of New York University (according to my badge). As I had expected and hoped, the conversation that Burt Helm, BusinessWeek’s Marketing Editor, moderated ended up focusing on Social Media. Each executive (from Microsoft, Audi America, KFC and Cisco) had his or her own perspective on how it can and should be used as a marketing tool.

Here are the live notes (condensed and edited to the best of my ability) from this panel. Please pay attention to the bolded inserts which are my attempt to comment on the statements they made from the perspective of an NYU student and Comm Club Vice President. Also stay tuned for embedded video from, once they put up the content.

Apologies for the poor image quality.

Monday, September 21, 2009 2pm-2:45pm


Javier Benito – (JB) Chief Marketing Officer, KFC

Scott Keogh – (SK) Chief Marketing Officer, Audi of America

Marilyn Mersereau (MM) – Senior Vice President, Cisco

David Webster (DW) – GM. Brand and Marketing Strategy, Microsoft


Burt Helm, Marketing Editor, BusinessWeek

Jez Frampton, CEO of Interbrand, gave the introduction.

Interbrand is the firm that provides the statistics each year for BusinessWeek’s Best Global Brands.


JB (KFC): Our biggest challenges….are all related to disposable income, how do we make sure consumers are spending money on our brand and making it their brand of choice.

SK (Audi): In my role it’s incumbent to keep optimism in the system because if it turns the other way there are a whole bunch of problems.

MM (Cisco): – We watch the Cisco ranking by Interbrand very closely… My job is to teach people at Cisco what branding means, to teach our inside executives what the brand means….Our second biggest challenge – we grow through acquisitions…130 companies…We acquired Pure Digital who thinks there Flip is a great brand too. “ARE WE A HOUSE OF BRANDS OR A BRANDED HOUSE? THIS IS ONE OF THE CHALLENGES WE DEAL WITH.”

I capitalize this quote not because she was yelling, but because it really stood out to me as something important to consider when dealing with such a big brand. This is of course something NYU probably deals with on a daily basis. There is Steinhardt, Stern, Gallatin, Tisch, but there is also this one larger NYU brand that appeals to many of the thousands of students who apply.



BH: David Webster: Asked about the launch of "Bing", a new online search engine

DW: Is it Bing, or Bing by Microsoft? These are key questions. People needed to know that it was from somebody they had heard of. In order to even have the credibility….by in large around the world consumers have an enormous trust in Microsoft.

BH: How do you silence bloggers and press versus perception of actual customers, how do you go about thinking about that.

MM: When I do something outbound, when we talk about a new product, our server business, we launched on blogs, where technologists were talking about it first. Then, later on, more traditional media. Most marketers tend to focus on outbound stuff…” She finished off her statement basically saying how often marketers tend to try to find new customers instead of trying to find already existent fans of their product. As the best social media practitioners in advertising have already been teaching, the uniqueness and importance in social media is the ability to let the fans of your brand come and find you. It is very important to be out there in different social spaces so they can find you when they start looking.

SK: We have all sorts of mechanisms to track things. We get back to people. Enthusiasts make sense, we’re an enthusiast brand.

BM: How does Microsoft play in social media?

DW: If you looked at “echo chamber.” Critical thing is when people are actually influential and how to engage them. We have been very active. We have 10,000 bloggers at the company, Twitter accounts for every sub-brand.We crowd-sourced the creative we ran on TV –took user-created videos and put them back on TV. We used it because it allows you to have a conversation. But, don’t get distracted by 5 people, if you overreact to negative statements it will feed into their empowerment.

BM: Last Social Media question for Scott: Is Social media the best marketing medium for building trust, is it useful period?

SK: I’m asked by many people at Audi, why don’t we make this a social media cause, or uploadable. The odds to make it become a viral success is small. Often we just need to focus on selling cars and investing in the future. Social Media from our point of view would be more for customer service, customer relations environment. Not just a pure marketing tool.

The rest of the panel was extremely interesting and due to Advertising Week’s policy on recording I was not able to capture it. I did however ask the first question when the panel was opened up to questions:

My Question: “This is a question for David from Microsoft. I am a student from New York University and every year I notice that most students are purchasing Macs. What is Microsoft doing to compete in this market and to make their computers as sexy as Apple’s products seem to students?”

DW: We have an entire team dedicated to this. For operating with bookstores, the fact that our products are much cheaper compared to Apple’s products, especially during the economic downturn. We are heavily invested in .edu engagement. Also, we have other brands with a “high degree of relevance and engagement.” If you have a Xbox, with a PC you can connect them and get high-def movies, etc.”

The second question from the audience was: What social media spaces do you engage in?

DW – I tweet, I Facebook, personal blog, post videos occasionally on YouTube, I dabble in pretty much everything. I blog through Facebook to over 150 of my team.

SK: Twitter, Facebook

MM: Social Media as a broadcast, “I see a lot of guys from high school that remember me”

-Natan Edelsburg, Vice President, Communications Club


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