David Packard of Hewlett-Packard once apparently said, “Marketing is far too important to leave to The marketing department.”
Mr Packard is obviously 100% correct with this statement.
After all a business is nothing without customers - so getting and keeping customers is not something that should be left to a marketing department; it's the primary function of the entire organisation.
And now more than ever, when issues of trust are so important and technology advances are levelling the playfields - great marketing and strong brand building is vital for the long-term success of a business.
So what does it look like when marketing leads?
What does it look like if 'the brand' drives the relationship with customers and products are simply a way to deepen the connection?
Two good recent examples; PRIME Energy Drink and Wrexham AFC.
Let's start with PRIME - the global drinks phenomenon spearheaded by celebrity influencers Logan Paul and KSI.
With a combined YouTube following of over 40 million subscribers, Logan Paul and KSI are mega-brands catering to a mega-audience. Adding an energy drink to their mix is a sure thing in global sales terms.
Tweens and teens around the world - including here in South Africa - want to be a part of their story, so of course they are going to queue for hours to get their hands on a bottle of their drink.
Far from just endorsing yet another drink like most influencer marketing requires, PRIME has become a character in the Logan Paul / KSI narrative.
Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney are brilliant story tellers.
They know how to charm an audience with humour and grit; so when they decided to buy a struggling Welsh football club in November 2020, Wrexham AFC, and offer the story of the club's hopeful journey forward to Netflix as series - it seemed like a nice fit.
Hollywood stars + small football club in a struggling Welsh mining town = the perfect stage for a story of hope and resilience.
Less than 3 years later and the club has now been miraculously promoted to a higher league, sending the Internet into a frenzy and demand for Wrexham AFC tickets, merchandise and more TV stories through the roof.
BTW - let's not forget that this is not Ryan Reynolds' first foray into successfully connecting his audience to one of his products.
Isn't this just all thanks to the power of influencer marketing?
No, I wouldn't classify these examples as influencer marketing at all; this is something quite different to that.
Here we have examples of strong brands not just endorsing a product for a fee (influencer marketing), but rather incorporating their own new products and ventures (things where there is some kind of deeper ownership; aka skin in the game) into their ongoing brand narratives.
This is a new kind of brand extension if you will, or perhaps signs in a shift in how people are now starting to want to build deeper relationships with trusted, authentic brands and brand personalities.
The marketing isn't thanks to a marketing department - the ongoing marketing is all that there is; just add product.