Marketing with Meaning: Marketing that Ads Value from the Digital Hub Non-Conference

Add real value with your marketing was the theme of this session by Bob Gilbreath, CMO at Bridge Worldwide. This was probably my favorite presentation of the conference with a good mix of theory and examples. While many of the sessions concentrated on the same theme – adding value with the marketing, not just the product – Marketing with Meaning gave clear examples and a framework for assessing what this really means. It means more than just proving information or rewards.

The Problem

1) Increasing Advertising Clutter: People are inundated with ads and have a lesser propensity to tolerate them than before.

o Advertisers are finding new and creative ways to put their ads everywhere.

o The average American sees between 300 and 3000 ads per day depending on how you measure them.

o Ads are becoming more and more intrusive as marketers attempt to monetize our lives. (social networks, emails, sheep, voicemail)

2) Technology is giving consumers control to avoid ads:


o Internet TV

o ITunes/online radio

o Video games like Madden 08 are growing and watching live TV sports is declining

o BitTorrents/Illegal Downloads

o FireFox Ad:blocker

o Popup Blockers

o Banner Blindness

3) “Going digital” is not the answer

o Myspace, facebook – are not profitable

o No good business models

o Government is cracking down on targeting tools

The Solution: Marketing With Meaning

Bob presented a new model for marketing (which is the premise of his book Meanit!), that provides digital marketers a framework for bringing marketing to a new level. Marketing with meaning is about marketing that people choose to engage with; marketing that improves peoples’ lives. Yup that’s right. The marketing improves their lives, not just the product. This is a fairly consistent theme from the non-conference; I think that Bob did the best job of really building a framework around what this actually means.

The new model is based on Maslows Heirarchy of needs – move up from needs to self-actualization in the hierarchy of meaningful marketing. Starting at the bottom:

Base – Solution

Information, relevant, help save $$ or time, give rewards

Samsung proves charger stations at airports – offers a service with branding.

Middle – Connection

Entertaining, social


o Insight: about 60% of people eat lunch at their desks

o Healthy Choice created an online TV show that is a mix of the office and whose line is it anyways. You can see the characters in a live show where the audience decides what happens next (for Healthy Choice).

o I watched it – it was funny but also extremely annoying at the same time. Being able to vote made it more entertaining.

Customization and engagement – customize Pringles, Jones soda labels, M&Ms

Top – Achievement (this is where you want to be)

Actual value-ad achievement where people feel good about themselves

Kraft cooking school – actual solution where people feel good about themselves for learning how to cook.

Healthy Choice – Opportunity to actually make healthy life – meal planner, questionnaire that assesses and rates your health choices across a # of areas. Helps people make changes to improve their lives.

Expectations are Rising Across Brands

Consumers are demanding more from their brands, and the demands are coming from other industries.

Example – The Pizza Tracker. People expect to have their packages tracked (from UPS or FedEx). Now they want their Pizza tracked – Dominos pizza launched a Pizza tracker (hysterical). It worked because:

o People are addicted to information.

o Dominos saw savings in fewer phone calls regarding the status of orders.

o Hit their millionth user in 2 months with no advertising.

Example – Updates. On social networking sites like Facebook and Myspace users get updates to their mobile phones. Now airlines are giving updates to mobile phones.

o Builds positive equity as customers are notified immediately of changes.

Find out who is setting the bar in a space. It is not good enough to be best in class within industry. Look outside the industry for best-in-class examples to build off of.

What do YOU think?

Is this new model of engaging consumers on a more meaningful level the way of the future? How can brands better meet rising demands of consumers? Do you have any examples of brands who are doing this well?

This is only the tip of the iceberg – Bob has a book coming out called Meanit! Which based on the presentation is sure to be worth a read. You can also follow on twitter @mktgwithmeaning


  1. […] The Marketess added an interesting post today on Marketing with Meaning: Marketing that Ads Value from the Digital Hub Non-ConferenceHere’s a small reading … o Video games like Madden 08 are growing and watching live TV sports is declining… […]

  2. […] While wandering around I came across some smart, useful, and relevant examples of “Marketing with Meaning” a concept that is the basis of a book coming out next year by Bob Gilbreath, CMO of Bridge Worldwide (you can learn more about Marketing with Meaning at his blog or in the post where I covered his session at the Cincinnati Digital Hub event). […]

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