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Reiman: Companies Need 'Master Idea' to Focus Resources

Joey Reiman, advertising veteran and founder/CEO of an idea-generating consultancy, thinks today's marketing model is out of whack, based on attention instead of conversion.

That is one of the messages Reiman, founder of Atlanta-based BrightHouse, will deliver in the opening keynote address at Richmond Events' seventh annual Marketing Forum May 13-16 on board the Norwegian Dawn ocean liner.

“Consumers have had enough ads,” Reiman said. “Now they want something that will add to their lives. Agencies still focus on public perception when they should be targeting public impact.

“Business is full of marketing directors who want to direct the market, but agencies are holding them back with antiquated research tools, guessing games and brilliant creativity without real purpose. With few exceptions, agencies haven't grown up. They're just as conservative as they were more than a century ago. That's why the world is ad rich and idea poor.”

In his call to arms, Reiman will stress that creating preference takes new strategies in marketing, fresh insights in people and a different way of being compensated for ideas.

Strategy without understanding corporate culture is insanity, he will tell the assembly of marketing, ad agency and human resources executives there to discuss business in the solitude of a ship anchored off the U.S. coast on the Eastern seaboard.

Held side-by-side with Richmond Events' Human Resources Forum, this year's Marketing Forum has about 250 client company executives listening to pitches from 90 marketing supplier firms. The clients' side gets free passage in exchange for sessions with suppliers, who pay for the privilege.

Reiman's keynote is one of three planned by Richmond Events for the forum. Harry Dent, founder and president of the H.S. Foundation, will speak on “How the Future Economy Will Impact Industry.” The closing keynote is from lawyer Robert F. Kennedy Jr., whose presentation is “Passionately Defending the Environment from Corporate America.”

Reiman's speech is as iconoclastic as his ideas: “What I Learned from Darrin Stephens, Federico Fellini and Mother Teresa About Marketing and Human Resources.”

Part biography, the address will trace Reiman's evolution from closing a $200 million billings agency to writing, opening restaurants and launching the concept of “Ideation.”

“I'll show that marketing and human resources are not two ships crossing in the night,” he said, “but message and messenger who sink or sail together. I'll discuss how the 'master idea' can focus the resources of individuals and companies on their 'distinctive space' rather than 'white space.'”

The master idea is at the core of BrightHouse's mission. It originates from the client company's ethos and culture, and guides the strategy and tactics.

“Advertising is one of the tactics,” Reiman said. “The master idea is the why of a company, the purpose of the company and the flag of the company. It is discovered, not developed. It renews, it guides and inspires.”

BrightHouse has persuaded several marketers to give ear to its philosophy.

Consider MetLife. What was BrightHouse's master idea for the New York insurer? Self-worth has more value than net worth. This was amplified companywide and across partners and customers. The result of that assignment was the BrightHouse-created theme line: “Have you MetLife, today?”

Similarly, the master idea for client Delta Air Lines is “Lift the World.” Based on the founder's vision in 1928, that theme today is intended to lift the airline to the prominence it once enjoyed.

For Randstad Staffing Services, the master idea was “Life's greatest privilege is to be who you are.” This led to the creation of FlexLife, a concept that purportedly helped make Randstad the world's leading staffing service.

BrightHouse recently completed work for Pepperidge Farm and Georgia-Pacific. Older clients include The Home Depot Inc., Dixie, Coty, Hitachi, Coca-Cola Co. and Red Lobster.

The problems facing business today are not branding issues, Reiman said, they are human issues.

“Brands have become Band-Aids for life,” he said. “However, mobilizing the health of America's spirit will take an operation, not a cotton swab. Today we need companies who align their ideals, objectives and values around something greater than Wall Street.

“We don't need a leg up,” he said. “We need a legacy. The master idea does this. It identifies the 'why' of a company, its purpose in society, which, in turn, tells the company what to do. This concept impacts not just advertising, but strategy, operations, internal messaging and external reach as well. It also creates three dramatic revenue streams — financial, emotional and intellectual.”

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