Tom Doctoroff has decades of experience in the world of cross-cultural branding. It seems strange for him to write a book with the intriguing title, “Twitter is not a Strategy.” After reading it, you realize the primary focus is on cross-cultural branding and just has passing comments on social media. Perhaps the title should be, “Branding in China and Observations on Today’s Social Media Marketing.”
However, in spite of the misleading title, the book has value for today’s social media marketer. He will help you avoid the tunnel vision of being overly focused on tactics, not a strategy.
TOM DOCTOROFF OPINES
Doctoroff’s thesis is repeated many times in the book: new forms of technological engagement are not, in and of themselves, creative ideas. By the end of the book, he concedes that there should be a fusion of traditional marketing and new forms of digital marketing.
He gives a tangible example of this “lack of strategy” concept when talking about roast beef sandwiches. On page 158 he cites a social media campaign that generated traffic but didn’t sell roast beef sandwiches. Tweeting for the sake of Tweeting can be a waste of time. However, he seems to disregard the large body of marketing information that recommends all social media promotion to be tied to a strategic concept.
He re-states this idea several times, including on page 95 where he writes
Latching on to the latest big thing without thinking about how it links up with the brand idea.
In supporting this thesis, he seems to make statements that will not hold up in a debate. For example, on page 177 he states, “Technology is useful for making ideas more powerful – but advertising professionals have been and always will be the crafters of ideas.” The importance of advertising professionals may come as a surprise to all the people who look at ancient Greece as the source of many ideas.
On page 137 he writes, “brand ideas are the mother of invention.“ Wilbur and Orville Wright didn’t have much connection to advertising professionals. It seems obvious that Doctoroff may have gone out on a limb to back his thesis.
One can feel the sarcasm in his critique of newer forms of marketing. However, he ends the book with claims that the distinction between digital and traditional is artificial. One must use both at every stage.
When he retains his branding hat, he does make interesting observations about Asian culture. For example, he suggests that North Asia has a focus on secular activities while South Asia can be viewed as having a focus that is more spiritual. He comments about Chinese people buying brand names to show to people outside the house, but not inside. Another cultural observation was the fortuitous naming of a candy bar called “KIT KAT.” When translated into Japanese, the phrase roughly can mean “surely win.”
Tom, we know that digital media has not eclipsed traditional media. For the record, most marketers today know standard advertising dwarfs digital. We also know television spend dwarfs digital. He speaks from the multi-national fortunate few, not the small startup. For the startups and people struggling to grow, a digital strategy can level many playing fields.
Doctoroff is a word guy. He has many quirks when it comes to terminology in his book. It seems like he has spent too much time in China because of many of his terms at hint accuracy but misses the target completely. For example, he repeatedly uses the term, “Netizen,” as someone who uses the Internet. Most would say the term “netizen” was in and out of style. Even when it used, it suggested someone who was helping others on Internet forums in some community setting.
Instead of “family” he uses the politically correct term “clan.” One has to wonder how this got jumbled in his lexicon. The word on page 166 “e-Influencer,” is rarely used outside this book.
The most entertaining of all is his catchphrase, “filmic expressions.” When Dave Barry came up with Mr. Language Person, he was certainly thinking of Doctoroff’s use of this fractured phrase. In an attempt to remind readers that video is more than television, he calls it “filimic expression.” Entertaining, but the phrase seems to fall short.
Tom Doctoroff also has a pet peeve when it comes to plurals. He likes to use the phrase social media are doing this. Media and data are now considered to be singular. Your insistence on this older form of grammar is distracting and weakens your message.
Buy it for the title, read it for the cross-cultural branding ideas.
When not searching for KIT KATS, John Gilroy puts on workshops to improve face to face communications. If you have any challenges with intergenerational transfer of knowledge, contact me. firstname.lastname@example.org 703-627-3830