Storyboard: FS Marketing Guy Embraces Challenges
Serge Lapointe takes the category from low-interest
to fun. Expect nothing less from a biker.
Originally posted Friday, August 31, 2009
The Marketing Landscape
What are the biggest challenges you see
in marketing right now?
One, the changing media consumption habits of consumers. People
still watch TV, but they watch it differently. They watch with
their laptops; vote for things online; skip by commercials. They
spend more time online than ever before, and less time with newspapers
and magazines than ever before. It’s really difficult for
our media suppliers to adapt. The old ways of looking at things
– reach, frequency, measuring campaign effectiveness –
don’t work. You’re not measuring apples to apples
anymore, so it’s harder to plan and harder to determine
Two, the impact of the economy on consumers and
marketing. We’re in the middle of a recession that’s
making a profound impact on how people consume and think about
consumption. Frugal consumption is now “cool.” You’ve
never seen more Mercedes parked in front of Wal-Mart than you
do today. People are looking for value, which has an impact on
your products and services. Consumers are questioning in the value
of added-value services. For TD, that means people who buy car
insurance are relooking at their policies and changing their deductibles
– so the value of the policy is dropping. Our market share
is growing, but the value of our portfolio is actually diminishing.
I have seen a lot of info that suggests that these
changes are permanent. Enough people have been burned that it’s
going to change how people consume permanently. Enterprises need
to adapt to that.
What do you think of the various social
Tons of people go there; we [marketers] spend an awful lot of
money there. But we haven’t cracked it yet. We don’t
understand the dynamics. Can you sell product? How do you measure
sales? Or are you creating an environment where they’ll
buy in the future?
Personally, I don’t frequent them a whole
lot. It’s not clear to me what I should be doing there.
On LinkedIn, I just get people that want to do business with me.
I don’t follow many forums. Forums are places where people
complain. And, I don’t find my friends in these places.
Serge, you only have 10 friends on Facebook!
Exactly. I have 10 friends, and they’re all around here.
I just had lunch with Graham, and he’s one of my Facebook
friends. What on earth do I have to tell him on Facebook that
I couldn’t tell him over lunch today?
Career Path: Why Marketing?
How did you know you wanted to get into
This is all I’ve ever wanted to do. When I was 15, my vision
was to be an Air Force fighter-jet pilot. I read a book called
which is all about imagery, phallic symbols, booze – and
how those images influence people. What really struck me was not
so much the imagery and the idea of subliminal seduction, but
the idea that a small group of people can influence big numbers
In my own way, I realized I could actually change
things and make a contribution.
Now, I’ll say that I have been in it a long
time… I have never seen a production that involves changing
imagery to make it subliminally seductive, but it has fulfilled
What’s your favorite part of your
job right now?
Creating a new brand. Changing a brand is not just changing the
logo and communication. That’s just the veneer. It’s
what you deliver behind it and how you deliver it.
That’s my entire job right now. TD Insurance
is the combination of two companies that really don’t have
any particular brand positioning. We are just a bunch of names
to our customers, and there’s an awful lot of white space
available. So, how do we change ourselves from a brand perspective,
a cultural perspective, and so on, such that consumers here in
Canada can say, “Yes, these guys are different.”
The fun part is that I’m into everything -
brand advertising, business advertising. We’re spending
seven figures in research to understand consumers’ attitudes
towards insurance in Canada. Then you have 4,000 employees that
have to buy into this. It has to be part of the corporate culture.
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