When the fever breaks

Photo of Cliff Courtney
Date: 2010-08-02 19:02:34 // Categories: ROMI,
By: Cliff Courtney
Date: 2010-08-02 19:02:34 // Categories: ROMI,

It’s called White Line Fever, and after a raging breakout in 2008, it just hangs around, seemingly as hard to eradicate as a cockroach in the floorboard.

White Line Fever is what grips Product Managers, Brand Mangers, CMO’s, and as we’ve seen too well, even some CEO’s. “Stay in the middle of the road” becomes their mantra. “Don’t make any sudden moves. Let’s target EVERYONE!”

They are the risk adverse, believing that it’s too volatile out there to take chances lest stakeholders believe them to be irresponsible at a time when perhaps prudent decision-making is called for.

But the best generals know all too well, the best defense is a good offense. That measured rewards come with calculated risks. That better to lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way… And a hundred other clichés that speak to a single, undeniable, and unassailable fact: Today’s marketplace presents a rich opportunity for those who eschew paralysis by analysis, and attack with heavier media weights and powerful messaging.

Don’t think for a second that the winning, strategically smart, companies can only be found on America’s back roads. Wal-Mart not only leaped into the recession with a softer brand tone and new end line – walking away from the seemingly bulletproof (but one-dimensional) “always low prices” approach – but in 2008 they also upped their measured media spend from about $500MM to $863MM, a whopping 56% bump while every other retailer defaulted to HDM (Hunker Down Management).

And let’s not confuse a fearless approach to growth with a lack of focus. Five Guys doesn’t kick the competition to the curb with a fever-busting assault of new product and promotions. They just believe that recessions, cut backs, and tighter wallets are all negated by quality food, quality experience, quality everything. And while other QSRs and Fast Casual concepts define their marketing by calendar periods, Five Guys puts its budget where its Content Marketing is, lavishing their money on the products and letting their customers do the marketing for them. The result is 620 locations with only an eight-year history of franchising.

Geico seemed immune to White Line Fever as they continued their shock and awe media buy (can you say 500 TRP’s a week?) and iconic, de-commoditizing creative platform.

Our client Papa John’s, already running away from a coupon-driven, bed-ridden competitive set, continued to succeed not with the cheapest product on the block, but instead a pitch perfect value proposition that put a premium on quality in an industry where it once never mattered.

There are others, though not nearly enough. Fever can be hard to shake and brought on by sudden bouts of shareholder scrutiny. Few have the power to douse it with a little courage. If, however, you want a business partner who will go on the offense to gain share, you know where to find us… the marketing antioxidant that will join you on the highway to ROMI, pulling away from the competition, turning closed minds into open roads, fever broken, revenue firing on all cylinders.

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