5 Articles From 2019 That Will Provoke Sharper Marketing In 2020


I went back through my sixty-some-odd posts on Forbes.com in 2019 and plucked out five that include inspirations from Radiohead, Qantas, General Mills and others, dealing with lofty and relevant issues like pitching, small/big ideas, getting to a brand idea, a way to “do good” without alienating half the country, and learning to say no sometimes for the benefit of the brand. All to help you envision a better 2020. Have at it.

ONE: Radiohead teaches us how important it is to say no sometimes.

ArticleA Lesson In Long-Term Branding From Radiohead

Radiohead In Concert - New York, NY

Thom Yorke of Radiohead.


Synopsis: If I brought your brand a promotion that, while it might be a little off brand, would nearly guarantee a huge spike in sales, would you do it? Most marketers in this age of short-term-or-no-term would say yes. Make the money now and worry about the brand later. Radiohead would have said no. In fact, they did exactly that back in 1997 rejecting a certain hit, “Lift,” because it would have taken their band (brand?) into the wrong direction. While the marketing of corporations is more complex and bureaucratic than it is with a rock band, there’s an inspiring brand lesson here nonetheless.

TWO: Need to get your marketing team to understand why a brand idea is so important? Try this.

ArticleA Simple Exercise To Prove The Power Of A Brand Idea

Manifesto for a bike company.

One bike, two brand ideas.


Synopsis: If you’ve read any of my previous Forbes posts, you know how important I believe brand ideas are to a company. Maybe you agree, but work at a company where there are people in influential places who do not. Frustrating, right? Well, I have a very simple—and fun—exercise you can use to prove the power of a brand idea to your team.

THREE: Qantas got tons of mileage out of one small, kind gesture. What could your brand do like this?

ArticleQantas Airways Proves A Big Marketing Idea Doesn’t Have To Be Expensive

Excerpt from a child's letter to the CEO of Qantas.

Excerpt from a child’s letter to the CEO of Qantas.


Synopsis: Ten-year-old, Alex Jacquot, wrote a letter to the CEO of Qantas, Alan Joyce. It wasn’t fan mail, it wasn’t a complaint about the food and it wasn’t a typical request for a kid to see the cockpit on his next Qantas flight. It was a serious, hand-written letter from one CEO to another. But what Qantas chose to do in response was a big, free and heartwarming idea.

FOUR: I truly hope we’ll see less of these exploitative pitch demands from brands like General Mills this year. But it’ll be up to you and to agencies.

ArticleGeneral Mills Pushes Agencies With Pitch Terms, But Will Agencies Push Back?

General Mills rice cereal: CHEX brand in store shelf.

General Mills rice cereal: CHEX brand in store shelf.


Synopsis: Traditional agencies are getting it from every direction. The big consultants are encroaching from above (think Deloitte with Heat, Accenture with Droga5, etc.), the specialists are encroaching from below (content agencies, social agencies, etc.) and even the highly coveted award of “Agency of Record” is fast becoming an anachronism. But as General Mills is the latest to prove, the biggest pressure agencies are feeling is coming from clients in the form of pitches with ever-more-difficult terms attached.

FIVE: Making the world a better place through marketing is challenging in such a polarized world. But here’s one way.

ArticleIf Your Brand Wants To ‘Do Good’ In 2020, Here’s Your Creative Brief


It’s a polarizing world. What’s a brand to do?


Synopsis: Given the tremendously polarized world we live in right now where it’s almost a contest to see who is more righteous than the next, I have an idea as to how a brand can actually “do good” in the world without taking sides on any one issue. In fact, the idea is about eliminating “sides” altogether. And I am going to communicate this opportunity to you in a language we all understand: a creative brief. At the bottom of the post is an image of an actual creative brief you can print out and use, if you feel so inspired.

There you have it.

I hope you find these posts useful as we barrel into 2020 at full speed. I wish you and your brand a happy, sharp, exciting, marketing-filled, prosperous new year!

This article first appeared in www.forbes.com

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About Author

Will Burns

Will Burns is an advertising veteran and current CEO of Ideasicle.com.

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