marketing and sales executives from Silicon Valley

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Truth Behind Food Styling Can be Viral

Since when does a video exposing the marketing tweaks to a product  go viral and reach over 5 million views? The McDonald's Canada video on "food styling" just did. You'll find the video on the top video viral chart there.

I try to look at business videos applying 3 main filters to understand it's influence and potential for spread:

  • Is it relate-able or use an archetype?
  • It it relevant/timely
  • Is it memorable
Is it relate-able?
There's a resounding "YES" here. Nearly everyone I've known has asked the question answered by this video. Who hasn't wondered why fast food has never looked as good in person as it does in the photos - would be a better question. The premise is good and it draws people in.

Is it relevant? 
I'd say yes, but not in the usual way. Normally, when something is relevant, it is connected with your current needs or interests. In this case, there are few people who are particularly interested in this question. The real relevancy is two fold: 1) universally relate-able topic, and 2) market concern over "pink slime" and fast foods.

Suffice it to say that a universally relate-able topic always has some relevance, but add that to the recent concerns over "pink slime", and people are more interested in what goes on or in their fast food. I'll admit that I wondered if there was any real-world air brushing or special chemicals applied to the burger, and that kept me watching.

Is it memorable?
If one of life's mysteries was answered for you, would you remember? Of course. The revelation in the video, of course, isn't so appealing, but having worked in the film industry and marketing, I came in with some expectation of staging. Sure, I've staged products, I've staged homes for sale, and even created special demos that avoided known bugs. In this case McD's gave us the tour of how it takes hours of prep, staging, and even some photoshop to make the burgers look as good as they do in the photos. 

This video hits all the key points for me, and it's no wonder that the video went viral.

Monday, June 18, 2012

C.E.O. Pay Is Rising in Effort to Spite the 99%

I was sent a article from the NY Times about how CEO pay is skyrocketing in spite of efforts of the "occupy" movement to raise awareness of the disparity between CEO pay and rank and file workers. This article made me wonder "How often do CEOs jump ship for larger pay?"

Shouldn't CEO's get paid every cent they're worth? That's a vague statement, as a quote from the article stuck out from front line workers "Why should I kill myself to get a 2 percent raise if the C.E.O. is going to get a 20 percent raise?"

The main justification for the huge pay increases is that it keeps CEOs in place and prevents them from jumping ship. This may be true in some cases, but shouldn't there be a published study about the topic before corporate boards make wild assertions that glorify huge packages for CEOs and imply a level of worthlessness to the average worker? 

A study of this topic should answer a few questions:

1) How often do CEOs jump ship for larger pay?
2) How successful are the companies who land CEOs who repeated jump for higher pay?
3) When CEOs jump ship for higher pay, does the industry matter or do they jump anywhere to make more money
4) Do CEOs jump to go to a better company or a chance to make more money?
5) What is value creation equation when setting pay for CEOs? 
6) When is it financially prudent to let a CEO jump since the pay required no longer makes sense?

My guess is that there will never be such a study, as there is no accountability for the people setting the pay package. When there's a bad hire, it's easy to say "we didn't pay enough for the right talent" than to answer some harder questions.

That said, a brief thought experiment is in order.  What if CEO pay was capped at $5M or even $1M/year plus unlimited discretionary options for long term restricted stock? You could have the potential for unlimited pay, but remove the incentive for jumping ship. Would you still see CEOs jumping around? Would you see longer tenures when the shorter term incentives are reduced?