New Razorfish report discusses how marketers have responded to the recession

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Today my employer Razorfish announces the publication of the sixth annual Razorfish Outlook Report. This report takes a hard look at trends affecting the chief marketing officer, drawing on essays from thought leaders and an analysis of 2009 media spend by Razorfish clients. Here are a few highlights from the 2010 edition (#RZOR):

1. Good news/bad news: economic recovery is here

An economic recovery is under way — which is good news or bad news depending on whether you innovated during the recession. Optimism about a recovery stems from the fact that Razorfish clients increased their media spend by 4 percent in 2009 versus a 13 percent drop in 2008. We believe that the CMOs who used the down time to innovate and advance their brands are in a great place. Those that failed to do so are going to fall further behind the innovators. MillerCoors innovated during the recession, for instance with a new product feature, the cold-activated can. Mercedes-Benz USA innovated with the launch of the E-Class sedan. Those companies are poised to fully benefit from an economic turnaround.

2. Recession = digital experimentation for many

Razorfish clients had an appetite for experimentation with their media spend in 2009. One hundred percent of Razorfish clients that spent on digital-out-of-home did so for the first time in 2009. Eight out of 10 clients who invested into ad exchanges were doing so for the first time (as opposed to simply carrying over their spend from 2008). All told, the channels that were most popular for experimentation in 2009 included data brokers, digital out-of-home, and ad exchanges.

3. Watch out, Google

Google still dominated search in a recessionary environment, but not for long. About 45 percent of Razorfish clients’ media spend in 2009 was invested into portals and search. Google still leads the search category. However, Razorfish expects the combination of Microsoft Bing and Yahoo! to challenge Google’s dominance. Bing is a good example of how innovation can occur even with a tried-and-true form of marketing — search.

4. Think and act locally

Many clients are also learning how to think and act locally as they emerge from the recession and seek to grow globally. The popular credo “think globally, act locally,” does not adequately explain what those marketers need to do. In fact, global marketers need to immerse themselves in the increasingly sophisticated and fragmented micromarkets around the world — thinking and acting locally several times over if you will. That’s why the Razorfish Outlook Report contains perspectives on the growth of global markets (in a chapter known as “Looking Ahead”). For instance, Razorfish Strategy Executive Joe Crump contributes a tantalizing point of view on Brazil, an increasingly powerful and digitally savvy market crucial to global players like Nike. Joe discusses “Classe C,” an increasingly upwardly mobile economic cluster of 70 million people who are shaping the future of Brazil. Joe asserts that the digitally savvy Classe C has rapidly made Brazil too important for any serious marketer to ignore. Joe is now launching research into Classe C that will be unveiled later in 2010.

I invite you to explore the report, and feel free to download charts and graphics from flicker. I welcome your comments. What I’ve summarized here barely scratches the surface.

MillerCoors: a bold product launch in a recession

Recently Christine Overby and Shar VanBoskirk of Forrester Research speculated that a recession is the best time to innovate — a theme of the 2009 Razorfish Client Summit and a position taken by BusinessWeek and WIRED.  MillerCoors is the latest example of a company that proves the point.  Rather than retreat during recessionary times, MillerCoors is plowing ahead with the launch of a new product, the cold-activated can.  And my employer Razorfish is helping MillerCoors through a bold digital marketing campaign.

As reported by Stuart Elliott in The New York Times, at the heart of the campaign is a playful website, the “National Glacier Tracking Center,” that allows you to follow the progress of a dramatic cold front in the Rockies that causes (make-believe) glaciers to break free and launch themselves across the United States.  You can follow the paths of the glaciers as they work their way to major U.S. cities in time for the launch of the cold-activated can on May 15.

The message: Coors Light is pretty freaking cold.

But the microsite is just part of the effort.  Content from the site will also be reproduced as banner ads on properties such as ESPN.com, Pandora.com, and Weather.com.

A glacier menaces Manhattan

As Razorfish Creative Director Tim Sproul mentions to Stuart Elliott, the campaign is all about making an emotional connection with the consumer.  Rather than explain the innovation behind the cold-activated can, the campaign uses humor to associate Coors Light with a refreshing break from the heat.  It’s an approach that Razorfish has employed many times for MillerCoors — for instance, the creation of a comedy video series, Callin’ It a Day, designed to raise brand affinity with young men of drinking age.

MillerCoors has something in common with Intel.  Both companies have worked with Razorfish to launch new products during a recession — the cold-activated can for Coors, and the Core i7 microprocessor for Intel.

Who says innovation has to wait until an economic turnaround?