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Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Kevin Roberts, CEO Saatchi & Saatchi in conversation with Tom Peters

Kevin Roberts on his book Lovemarks: The Future Beyond Brands - We tried to make the book live, to walk the walk, talk the talk. It's designed to be a lovemark. So, if you think that at bottom lovemarks are mystery, sensuality, and intimacy, the book is full of mystery. You're not meant to know what's going to happen on the next page. Is it going to be a picture? Is it going to be a post-it? Is it going to be a family photograph? Is it going to be a case study? There is no rhyme or reason. It's meant to have mystery in it.For sensuality, we chose lipstick red.Kevin Roberts, CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi, a prolific traveler and coveted speaker, he is a constant source of inspiration to thousands of people through his vision, clarity of purpose, and inimitable, straight-talking approach.Kevin discussed the elements of mystery, sensuality and intimacy that inspire loyalty beyond reason. When asked, "What exactly do you mean by a "lovemark?" He responded like this,"I think that people now are just bored with the whole commodification of things, no matter what industry you're in. Whether it's sports—teams have become commodities. Or fashion—now everything looks the same. Whether you drink Pepsi or Coke, you're going to get a good refreshing hit of sugar and fizz, you know? So consumers are no longer going to be bothered with these PR words that everybody gives you: cheaper, whiter, stronger, bigger."Consumers need to be emotionally engaged, they need to have a relationship. A lovemark is a brand that has moved up that respect axis." Kevin cited the Apple concept stores as a prime example. "I'm loyal beyond reason to Steve Jobs, to Apple, because they put me at the heart of their thinking. They make Apple only for me, I think." Kevin goes on to add why love is very important in current times - Two-thirds of people over the age of 70 live alone [28% of people in the U.S. age 65 and over are in single-person households, according to the 2000 U.S. Census -- tpc]; they're going to die alone. The average length of a marriage in the U.S. is seven years. One in two kids in urban America is born out of wedlock. You're seeing people not having kids. People are hungry for relationships, hungry for intimacy. Trust in established instituitons like the church and the government is coming down. Because that's going to be Enron, or they're going to lay you off anyway next week and outsource you, etc., etc. So there's no trust. Many can't trust the family unit because one probably haven't seen his/her father. People are looking for relationships, they're looking for intimacy, they're looking for bonding. They're not interested in transactions. He adds,"They are looking for a relationship, whether that's with an author, an idea, a brand, a product. If you don't give them that, you're certainly never going to be able to charge a premium. You've got to remember, brands are only invented to charge a premium. That was the purpose of a brand; it didn't have any other. "Recognize me, desire me, have faith in me, trust me, pay more for me." Kevin dreams about his company Saatchi & Saatchi,to be the hottest idea shop on the planet. What's the difference - He explains," We started off with a dream, which is to be revered as the hothouse of the world-changing idea. We changed our name from "ad agency" to "ideas company." Our focus is to create and perpetuate lovemarks. Our spirit is, "Nothing is impossible." We hire anthropologists, sociologists, misfits, authors, writers, creative people.And we've changed our compensation structure so we don't get paid fees or commissions; we get paid as a percent of sales".

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