Cultural Innovation in Marketing Part 3
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Part one of Cultural strategy ends with a conclusion of all of the conclusions of the previously dissected businesses that succeeded using cultural innovation. The companies covered were: Nike, Jack Daniels, Ben & Jerry’s, Starbucks, Patagonia, Vitamin Water and Marlboro. Frankly at this point in the book, I am not too sure of how I feel about Mr. Holt’s cultural innovation theory. On one hand I sort of feel like it’s just kind of a given with successful marketing; in a way I feel that any brand that has been extremely successful was culturally innovative. One can just as easily show how Ford and McDonalds were successful because of the cultural conditions they took advantage of. Ford recognized that the culture in America was ready for everyone to be mobile, and thusly created and marketed his $400 Model T to great success. Ray Croc saw that Americans had access to transportation and disposable income resulting in the dominance of the American economy after WW2; he then engineered a restaurant chain that took advantage of the latent socio-economic conditions. At the end of the day everyone is just fulfilling a customer need, or, in the case of McDonalds and Starbucks, creating one, which is simply the modern definition of marketing.
I don’t really feel that Mr. Holt and Mr. Cameron have necessarily, discovered and invented a new type of marketing so much as they are more simply explaining a phenomenon in marketing. I feel that they are more likely, sort of revealing more of the puzzle of marketing than was previously thought important or well understood. Perhaps this was and is their intentions; however they seem to “claim” fairly hard as if they in fact are inventing something. I could be entirely wrong, and in all fairness the title of the book certainly does not in any way indicate any sort of claim or ownership of cultural strategy.
Another problem I have with this theory is that it does nothing to explain why brands remain popular. Did you know that Ben & Jerry’s became successful due to its inherent anti-Reaganism culture? It’s true. That’s the reason Ben and Jerry’s was successful according to these authors, where as hundreds of other independently owned and operated ice cream parlors run by ex-hippies[sic] failed to be nationally successful. First, while I understand what they are trying to say, I can’t but think that perhaps luck also may have had a part to play. Second, this theory does nothing to explain why the brand remains popular to this day. Certainly anti-Reaganism has somewhat waned in the wake of anti-Bushism, and Ben and Jerry’s has had to change its branding in order to keep up with the times. But have they? Has Jack Daniels changed its marketing since its inception and the acceptance of the woodsman, frontiersman image it portrays? What does cultural strategy tell us about enduring brands o’ wise Oxford L’Oreal Professor of Marketing who lives in Tennessee and not England?