Marketing, Chicago style

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Ron Bess
Ron Bess

Euro RSCG's Bess on millennials, the holidays and more

Q: What marketing channels do you expect to take precedence overthe next few years?

A. Clearly, digital comes to mind first and foremost as the channel of which people most need to be aware. That's made a dramatic difference in every­body's business planning. I also think social networking is connecting things very dramatically. Digital and social media is absolutely second nature to millennial consumers, it's how they live their day-to-day lives. The ways that they experience news and information, the ways that they stay in touch with each other and the ways that they decide what they're going to do and how to do it are all connected.

Q. How important is authenticity when marketing to millennial consumers?

A. Marketers have to find ways of being credible and authentic. Newer consum­ers have a sense of involvement and control and don't respond to traditional sales pitches. The new millennial con­sumer is looking for more opportunity for control in the brand relationship. They are wary and skeptical of the traditional sales pitch.

Q. Does marketing from the Chicago area have any unique qualities?

A. I think, traditionally, the Chicago agencies have done communications work that has had a high degree of credibility to it. I think there has been the tradition of what Draft has built here in Chicago on the direct side, and what Leo Burnett and couple of others built here on the general ad side. Those were agencies grounded in values, communication and respect for the consumer. Some of the most successful companies in the country have depended on Chicago agencies for decades as clients.

Q. In light of the recent economic woes, what's your advice to clients regarding their 2009 marketing spend?

A. Well, I think that everybody cer­tainly needs to be cautious and thought­ful here. This is a time that is beyond what any of us have seen before, in terms of the potential difficulties and dangers out there in the marketplace. On the other hand, it can also be an opportunity to grow business with thoughtful marketing efforts and to take advantage of an opportunity to gain market share. Consumers are still in the marketplace. You have to be sensitive to the times, but also make sure you don't back off and don't lose momentum.

Q. What are your expectations for holiday campaigns?

A. Certainly, in the retail marketplace, the holiday season is the critical season. I think this year is going to be an impor­tant one for a lot of retailers. They have to be thoughtfully aggressive in how they go forward and market to consum­ers because this season is a valuable and significant part of their revenue and generation of sales. I think that over the past couple of years, the retail space has been somewhat cautious around the holidays — and that is going to be the case going into this year, too.

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