Episode 75: Jonathan Salem Baskin: Branding Only Works on Cattle; Marketing Interventions and The Sock Puppet Blues

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JSB slays the sacred cow of branding in his book, "Branding Only Works on Cattle: The New Way to Get Known (and drive your competitors crazy) Apply Brand Here." Learn the new model of marketing: targeting what your customers actually do. Learn how to affect behavior through marketing communications, distribution strategies and customer service to birth your brand anew. From the ranks of Edelman PR and Grey Advertising, Jonathan cut his teeth at brands including Nissan, Infinity, Blockbuster, and Limited Brands. Now he tells us why the marketing world has changed forever and what you need to know to flourish including his formula for a marketing intervention.

Learn about Tom Standage, author of The Victorian Internet and how as humans we are always living on the edge of the future... Learn why Buckminster Fuller's ideologies are as applicable in today's world of sustainable living as they were in his heyday. Suz and Jonathan talk about the greatest minds in advertising including David Ogilvy (Confessions of an Advertising Man) and Marshall McLuhan ("the medium is the message").

Described as a "merry iconoclast" by Publisher's Weekly, Jonathan ends the show with his song, "The Sock Puppet Blues."


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Susan Bratton: Welcome to DishyMix.  I’m your host Susan Bratton.  And on today show you’re going to get to meet Jonathan Salem Baskin.  He is the self-described Chief Heretic of Baskin Associates.  And we’re going to talk about his new book, which is “Branding Only Works on Cattle”, a new way to get known and drive your competitors crazy.  We’re also going to talk about Jonathan’s life, which is fun and amazing and we have a really special treat at the end of the show, which you’re going to learn about in love.  On today show, we’re going to talk about “Doing a Marketing Intervention”, we’re going to do it right on the show.  We’re going to have The Sock Puppet Blues, we’re going to talk about dim bulbs, we’re going to do some mascot and spokes animal bashing and we’re going to talk about being a merry iconoclast.

Jonathan Salem Baskin: It occurred to me maybe instead of saying presuming we have all the right answers about brand and marketing, maybe we marketer should pause for a moment and question are questions about brand and marketing, and that really -- that would drove me -- my writing of the book Branding Only Works on Cattle.  My premise is that instead of looking a brands as mental states or as emotional or other psychological attributes that we hope and expect and want customers or consumers to attach to our -- these are the products and services we sell.  I suggest, actually we look at brands in terms of behaviors, what actually drives Apple’s success is the behavioral reality what they built, where they built it, how they built it, where they sell it, how they support it, that’s all about reality.  They built the brand on top of that; the brand does not come first.  If you want to deliver behaviors instead of just marketing communications and images take the company.  And that means that the folks and marketing, and the folks and all the operational departments actually have to come together and agree on doing it together.

Susan Bratton: I’d like to welcome Jonathan to the show.  Welcome Jonathan.

Jonathan Salem Baskin: Thank you Susan, it’s great to be here.

Susan Bratton: It’s good to have you too.  I enjoyed seeing you at Tex -- Chicago, we had a really fun lunch together and shortly thereafter you sent me an advanced reading copy of Branding Only Works on Cattle, so that was great, now the book is out right?

Jonathan Salem Baskin: Yeah absolutely, it’s been out for just under a month.

Susan Bratton: Excellent.  And you’ve got a couple of free autographed copies for my listeners?

Jonathan Salem Baskin: I do, indeed.

Susan Bratton: Thank you for that.  I’ll tell you how to get your copy autographed by Jonathan Salem Baskin at the end of the show.  Also Jonathan, I want to take a minute to just go through your amazing bio.

Jonathan Salem Baskin: Well, OK.

Susan Bratton: I usually don’t do the big, you know kind of bio background or thing on my guest figuring that anyone can Google anyone at anytime but it such -- such an important context to the book you wrote; the experiences that you’ve had.  So, you started in brand and marketing in high school, which I like, so you worked at that agencies in PR Agencies while your friends buy groceries and delivered pizzas.  So, you started that way ahead of the rest of us.

Jonathan Salem Baskin: Yeah, I get the affliction early on Susan and I’ve never been able to get it out of my system.

Susan Bratton: You love the world marketing.  You got your degree in English Literature and you played in a punk rock band, which you also never got out of your system.

Jonathan Salem Baskin: You can take -- you can take the guy out of rock and roll but you can’t take rock and roll out of the guy.

Susan Bratton: Well, and you’re going to do a little singing force at the end of the right?

Jonathan Salem Baskin: God help us all, yes.

Susan Bratton: I love that.  So, you left -- went -- after graduation you went to New York, you worked at Edelman Worldwide ---

Jonathan Salem Baskin: Yep.

Susan Bratton: --- then Gray.  You moved with Gray out to LA and ran the launch of Nissan Infiniti Car Division that was in the 80s right?

Jonathan Salem Baskin: Yep.

Susan Bratton: And, then you moved in house to Nissan, so you went from agency side to client side and you did the first integrated marketing campaign for the Altima and also worked on the corporate ad campaign “Build for the Human Race” ---

Jonathan Salem Baskin: Yeah.

Susan Bratton: --- which I always really liked.

Jonathan Salem Baskin: Yeah, I thought it was catchy too and it was we changed it after a while to build by the human race and actually applied it to their social good works, which I thought a great adaptation.

Susan Bratton: Nice.  Then you left LA, you moved to Columbus, Ohio and you worked for limited incorporated, which is Victoria’s Secret, Abercrombie & Fitch, Bath & Body Work, etc. and you went to Blockbuster, did you go down to Texas for that?

Jonathan Salem Baskin: Yeah actually with a stopover in Florida right after the acquisition but when I come -- yeah that’s been -- I spent a couple of years in Texas.

Susan Bratton: So you went down to Blockbuster and then finally you moved to where you are now, the Chicago area and started Baskin Associates with all that great experience that you created.

Jonathan Salem Baskin: Yeah.

Susan Bratton: And so, then, you wrote this book Branding Only Works on Cattle where essentially you are saying the branding is useless.  So here you are, agency-side-client-side working for some big, big brands and you think branding is useless, so tell us the story of how you arrived to the fact that branding is useless, having been a brand there for so long?

Jonathan Salem Baskin: Yeah I am still a brand guy, you know it’s -- I’m still a member of the faith, it’s funny Susan but most marketers will admit at least to themselves that we fight a rear-guard battle half of the time, if not more so and our professional careers.  On one hand, we articulating claim with branding is absolutely important, which has been a lot of budget and time doing it.  But then we spent the other half of our professional life defending it against sort of this incessant disbelief from otherwise my people -- often times in the organizations where we work and/or our clients.  And it occurred to me as I was working through the business world that this disconnect couldn’t just be a failure of education, it wasn’t that these other people or these naysayers were dumb and that we had to do a better job by informing or enlightening them, it occurred to me, maybe instead of saying presuming we have all the right answers about brand and marketing, maybe we marketer should pause for a moment and question are questions about brand and marketing, and that really -- that would drove me -- my writing of the book Branding Only Works on Cattle that I wanted that how a book can kind of a -- a little time for us to not just have another jeep with answer to how to deliver brand and marketing effectively but really depose and say, is it even reasonable to want to deliver it the way we want to deliver.  My, my conclusion in the book is yeah, maybe not.

Susan Bratton: It seems like you spent the most of the book saying that everything we’re doing is wrong.  Maybe that’s why Publishers Weekly calls you a merry iconoclast.  You do it in a very nice way but basically you bashed the shit out of branding almost throughout the book.

Jonathan Salem Baskin: Yeah, well it’s funny but you know, when you -- when you arrive sort of in the temple you kind of got out you know, overturn the tables if you will and I, I really -- I actually tried very consciously never bash without actually offering up for instance or what if.  So, you know while I, I set out and try to make a pretty I think cost and case for why like brand and marketing, don’t deliver what we think it delivers, I actually dedicate most of the book to some, you probably agree pretty far of ideas about what we could be doing instead.

Susan Bratton: Absolutely.  We’ll first go, go to your core tenant about ---

Jonathan Salem Baskin: OK.

Susan Bratton: --- what’s wrong with branding and -- and what we should be doing because I think your advice about what we should be doing makes a lot of sense especially in an economic downturn ---

Jonathan Salem Baskin: Sure.

Susan Bratton: --- when we have to get better at what we do.

Jonathan Salem Baskin: Yeah, I think in a nutshell Susan, my premise is that instead of looking a brand as mental states or as emotional or other psychological attributes that we hope and expect and want customers or consumers to attach to the -- the products and services we sell.  I suggest, actually we look at brands in terms of behaviors, so instead of relying on what people might think or how they might feel, care about that of course, I mean motivation is absolutely important to getting people to go to stores or go online to forgo with their money.  But, in terms of understanding what the brand is and how we manage it and grow it, why not look at the behaviors that actually result in things like people buying stuff and repurchasing stuff, so not so much about the content of our communications as much as how that content is coordinated, if you will with context of time and place.  So the people actually start out not knowing about products or services or being attached to one and what’s -- if you will the behavioral map or game plan that will get them to actually buy things and repurchase stuff.

Susan Bratton: So, give us an example of a brand that connotes feeling and the brand that connotes behavior and the difference between the two of these; bring it from theoretical to practical for us?

Jonathan Salem Baskin: Well, sure I mean I -- but the shortcomings or the example of the business of that I think waste far too much money on brandings, it’s too easy a case to make.  I would just offer up any of the domestic car companies for instances, they’d spent vast, inordinately vast amounts of money, trying to attach abstract feelings to, to pieces of metal and the premise is always been people buy automobiles because they’re, you know they’re evidencing a dream or they’re realizing some sort of psychological passion ---

Susan Bratton: Um-hm.

Jonathan Salem Baskin: --- well, the reality is that the drivers of white people buy vehicles have a lot more to do with behavior and reality.  Now, they could be behavior and, and experience that evoked and then yield the motions but the drivers of those perceptions about those cars and what people want to buy, originate actually and fundamental fact, not started out in fantasy, so I’m offer having images and ideas about stuff as such how do you form them, you don’t deliver them fully formed, you actually prompt them by doing things in reality.  The example of the good one actually is going to surprise you and I’d say it’s Apple.  Because Apple actually has everything to do with experience and with behaviors and very little to do with the image, we as marketers because we owned hammers so we see all the world’s problems like nails.  So, we look at the Apple experience and say yowzer, that’s all about brilliant advertising, it’s the PC against the Mac and it’s beautiful stuff.  I’d argue it actually has nothing to do with that stuff, that’s all I asked to the fact.  What actually drives Apple’s success is the behavioral reality what they built, where they built it, how they built it, where they sell it, how they support it, that’s all about reality.  They built the brand on top of that; the brand does not come first.

Susan Bratton: And going back to the cars themselves what you’re saying is no more television commercials where you have the jeep at the precipices of the Grand Canyon.  But instead, you’re talking -- are you talking features and benefits, are you talking attributes and, and maybe just like how the product works and what are some of its better capabilities.  I’m still a little unclear about what you mean by behavior?  I think it means more to you than it does to us, listening to you still.  So, take us further into understand in that.

Jonathan Salem Baskin: Got you.  And it’s a really good question I mean so, for instance if I want to get you to buy my car, do I tell you that it will be a symbol of your success or do I behaviorally evidence what that success might be so that’s tangible and real to you.  So whether that’s a functional attribute that says, yeah you’re right, here’s -- you know the -- the car drives better, it runs faster, it’s more dependable, functional attribute absolutely I think were the core of any brand preference, versus being something the -- then gets added to the brand afterwards in terms of making good or not on a promise.  But then secondly, if I want evidence to you as it would be customer-consumer that my brand is something other than just functional attributes, I think I have to find ways to behaviorally demonstrate that reality to you versus just claim it.  So, in other words, if I want to say that this car will make people think you successful, I have actually go out and do things that evidence that truth and actually verify it in reality before I can claim it to you because if I just cut to the chest and run a glass, you had that says successful people drive Alexis.  The first thing you’re going to do is if you’re all enterprising, which you can go in the internet, check and see whether or not that’s true.  Or see whether or not there’s a substance to the claim or find the 2000 -- unhappy customers who’ve actually posted comment thing that is in fact not true in here and so why?  Behavior doing things in the real world, the more we’re able to virtually connect and virtually construct and virtually contemplate requires that there’d be a more real assessment of the input into that -- into that conversation and I’m arguing those inputs have to be behavioral and that they have to be real.  And then we can build wild and crazy and fantastic imagery on top of it.  But that is core reality matters and -- or if you will, reality is back invoke.

Susan Bratton: So then doing -- just going with what you’re saying, if I were the jeep advertising person, instead of focusing on the jeep at the precipices of the Grand Canyon, I might have my commercials be aware -- jeep has this program where you can go and drive a jeep on one of those cool like dirt hill, dirt hill things ---

Jonathan Salem Baskin: You’re right.

Susan Bratton: --- challenge courses, wouldn’t you want your video to be of the people driving your jeeps in there and how they felt about the handling in the product after that experience, did it not kind of an off road playground?

Jonathan Salem Baskin: Yes, it’s that the performance handling was it all relevant to the reality of where my would be customers going to drive it, if it’s just about ---

Susan Bratton: Oh yeah, right.

Jonathan Salem Baskin: --- yes, you could drive a car on the Audubon or through, you know for the stream in it ---

Susan Bratton: Yeah.

Jonathan Salem Baskin: --- and I wasn’t that cool, our customer buy the fantasy ---

Susan Bratton: Yeah.

Jonathan Salem Baskin: --- and then send it back.

Susan Bratton: Then it’s wrong, got it.

Jonathan Salem Baskin: Right.  That’s -- to me that’s the wrong way to go, the other way -- the way to go would be -- give me the real -- make it relevant to my purchase and my experience and ---

Susan Bratton: I can get my costco toilet paper and paper towels in the back.

Jonathan Salem Baskin: And come up with the actual services and support that actually make my experience of ownership better.  And make that part of the marketing and part of the branding versus having it as an ad on, you know you see now most of the imagery for car businesses, wide long winding road ---

Susan Bratton: Right.

Jonathan Salem Baskin: --- at the end of it, it says oh and by the way three years of -- or you know 50,000 miles for drive train coverage.

Susan Bratton: Yeah.

Jonathan Salem Baskin: Well, if coverage for instances, a real driver, no pun intended to that consumer, make that part of the branding itself not the attached ad on, make it relevant.

Susan Bratton: Yes.  The cow’s tail is wagging.  So, you don’t really thing branding with regard to marks mascot’s animal spokespeople that’s like old school shit to you now right, I mean it’s like the -- it’s the so last century right?

Jonathan Salem Baskin: Well, and not that I don’t love it but yeah, it’s totally shit, I mean that ---

Susan Bratton: Yeah.

Jonathan Salem Baskin: --- the reality being I’m all forgetting awareness ---

Susan Bratton: Yeah.

Jonathan Salem Baskin: --- and, you know, a Geico lizard is great because it’s a different image on the TV and it gets my attention for the first nano second.  But unless you’re telling me something that’s relevant or meaningful it’s just a gimmick, it’s -- it’s a distraction, if you’re going to get my attention as a consumer to watch TV or click or look at an internet site for a nano second you actually want to wave my attention with something stupid.

Susan Bratton: Um-hm.

Jonathan Salem Baskin: You know, again not that ever moment has to be meaningful and relevant but well, yes it does.  I don’t have ---

Susan Bratton: Yeah, on limited budgets.

Jonathan Salem Baskin: --- a lot of moments to spare.

Susan Bratton: Yeah, it’s not even your budget as a marketer that’s limited, it’s my time as a consumer that’s limited, that’s the real issue here right ---

Jonathan Salem Baskin: Hold on.

Susan Bratton: --- we’re barraged by branding.

Jonathan Salem Baskin: You totally get it Susan ---

Susan Bratton: Yeah.

Jonathan Salem Baskin: --- and in fact what we’ve done is we replace the interruption model or marketing and advertising with the distraction model.

Susan Bratton: Yeah.

Jonathan Salem Baskin: Because not only, no, we’re not telling people to buy something or wasting their time with something else because we think it’s too, you know, too politically incorrect to actually just deliver a relevant sales message.  I’m thinking let’s actually go old school when it comes the word will you sell, you know marketing advertising for or actually tell people why they should buy stuff, what a consent.

Susan Bratton: What I want to do is go to a break and when we come back I want you to do a marketing work us through how we’re going to conduct our own marketing intervention because I think that is one of the best parts of the whole book.  And, you know we didn’t get to so many of the things I wanted to cover, you have a whole section in there about how more search equals less brand and the whole search dynamic, you talked about the myth of the consumer-producer, you talked about bus marketing and brand behaviors and where price fits in, you called the bugaboo of brand communications, so there’s a lot of things but for me the most powerful part of your book was this, Idea of a Marketing Intervention and I’d love for you just highlight the steps for our listeners and then they can go get the book and go through with our -- get one of the free copies on the DishyMix Facebook Fan Club potentially as well.

Jonathan Salem Baskin: So with me.

Susan Bratton: So, let’s go to a break; thank my sponsors who have a story to tell you.  It’s not just their name, not just their brand ---

Jonathan Salem Baskin: OK, sure.

Susan Bratton: --- they’re telling a story, I think they’re getting there and we’ll come back and talk about the marketing intervention.  I’m your host Susan Bratton, we’re with Jonathan Salem Baskin, he’s written a new book called “Branding Only Works on Cattle”, the new way to get known.  Stay tune and we’ll be right back for your marketing intervention.

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Susan Bratton: We’re back.  OK, so tell us about this, this whole series of steps that you’ve created in a book and I’m going to follow along with you and read these.

Jonathan Salem Baskin: Well, it’s interesting because I think if we -- if you buy into the premise and hopefully listeners will or if they don’t, you know let’s debate it, I think it’s a topic for great conversation but my premise is that if you want to deliver behaviors instead of just marketing communications and images take the company.  And that means that the folks and marketing, and the folks and all the operational departments actually have to come together and agree on doing it together and unlike a marketer who would say the challenges to get the rest of the operations to embrace the brand and left marketers lead them.  I suggest and then actually we got two sort of equally worrying factions that need to have an intervention and get together and actually agree on a common ground for delivering brand as behavior so, I called it an intervention, you write in a book, I literally list out a couple of steps and the first step is to the marketer, which has ban the B word.  In the reality as such that you can’t ask two marketers in the same department what brand actually means or more importantly what doesn’t that means, it’s one of these expensive words that has a meaning for anything and everybody and my first suggestion is if the marketers are going to sit down with the rest of the operational folks, don’t talk about brand, try to use the different word ideally and action verb that has to do with reality so anytime you would have talked about something being for of or because of the brand, use another term like sales, what a refreshing concept that best of the people in the organization have been waiting for the marketers actually utter that word, you might have able to start using instead of trying to lecture them about brand.  Now, when I talk about intervention that means actually two sides have to come together, so my suggestion, the next step for the operational folks is stop talking about their buzzwords like customers centricity and all the stuff about the customer value and the customer comes first.  You know at the end of the day the customer doesn’t necessarily come first to the other operational folks, in fact, what they’re busy doing is prophesies their bill to run the business not necessarily do anything for customers.  So I say operational folks leave your Power Points aside, don’t bring your checklist, so what -- what the company is doing as we just sit down with the marketers, you’re each going to stop using your favorite buzzword and then actually agree on what you can agree on, agree on the business plan, agree on the above fundamentals of the business, agree for that matter.  And who’s responsible for what again in terms of actual behavior and actual reality.  Now, I could stop right here Susan and say if businesses just got this far they would have vastly improved their capacity to deliver brand and support the business proposition.  But now after that if once you’ve agreed on what you need to do the next thing I want to do -- you need to do is agree on what you’re going to measure.  And this idea of the marketers having their metrics of ROI or ROE or likeability or awareness or any of the other nonsense acronyms we used to try to make up for the fact that we can’t really measure branding.  Those don t count.  What matter is actually the metrics that the business uses that’s statistical controls of the rest of the organization relies on sales, productivity, unit shipped cost and goods required, blah, blah, blah, blah.  It’s the real numbers that actually made on, I think this intervention has to be based on the numbers that everybody cares about.  I want to agree on that again, this is incredibly moving the ball down the field, you then want to develop how you’re going to influence those numbers.  And what I suggest this, one of the bigger Ahas in the book proactively this idea, the chronology of purchase intend, think on the internet, think of how we map, how people behave on the internet.  We think we are going to click on this, you’re going to go to this site, you’re going to request something else, you’re going to register, we -- you know the online world, we can map out these behaviors pretty explicitly.  My suggestion is that we use a similar model only looking at the real world.  We could look at our target customers or consumers and say if we want these numbers to move that we’ve all agreed actually matter.  Now let’s map out what behaviors are require to deliver those numbers, what do we want them to do, when do we want them to do it, why would they do it, and then what do we do to prompt and support those behaviors?  It’s almost like you can -- you could almost structure this, this dance, this [xx] you at, I didn’t use that in the book but actually I would say it prompt into my head.  Literally of actions and reactions again thinks the business is going to do irrespective of who owns them in the business to influence the behaviors that yield the business numbers if it matter.  And then finally you can actually step back and say who does what?  Not thinking about thing in terms of well, that’s a marketing thing or that’s a finance thing but there are things that matter and who’s best equipped in the business to do it.  So you may very well have finance folks doing things that are marketing relevant, or marketing folks doing things that are operationally relevant.  In the end of the day, it’s all relevant to the brand and it’s all focused on prompting the behaviors that yield business result, it’s a fundamentally different way of looking a brand instead of it being something that the marketers representing in a Power Point to the rest of the organization.

Susan Bratton: There’s two things that popped in to my mind.  The first one was that a recent episode of DishyMix has Marcus Buckingham in it and he wrote a new book called “The Truth About You: Finding Your Strengths” and what he’s trying to do is get T-cross organizational teams, his dream, you know, is to get cross-organizational teams to understand what their strengths are in pursuit of the ultimate goals of the organization and then to have those individuals or those groups own that work.  And when you are just talking about, if finance needs to do that thing for marketing, have them do it, not marketing people.  Whatever it might be, finding your strengths as a team against the objective, that’s exactly what he talked about.  And then there was another thing that popped into my mind while you were talking and I forget the name of the author, I’ve interviewed him, he works at Prophet, P-R-O-P-H-E-T.  And he wrote a book, which I think is called “Operationalizing Your Brand”.  And in that book, he really gets into how you can have the whole organization understand their touch points with the customer and how marketing can get more universal involvement with bringing awareness and sales of the company’s products to the world and he does a good job, both mapping all the touch points, which is kind of similar to your -- wait, I want to say exactly the right word.  You have a certain name for it.  Your chronology of purchase.

Jonathan Salem Baskin: Yeah, right.

Susan Bratton: Yeah.  It’s just similar to that.  And then he goes into actual ways that you can talk to the people in your company and have inter-departmental meetings.  He actually shows you how to run an interdepartmental meeting so that you can come to some terms around these ideas.

Jonathan Salem Baskin: And then it all comes -- it sounds very much imperiled to what I’m talking about in that, the end of the day, you know, you can’t get two warring factions to agree on what peace means.  So therefore, you don’t negotiate peace, you negotiate a settlement and a ceasefire.  Similarly, we can’t get people in the organization to agree on what brand is.  So, let’s stop talking about the brand and let’s start talking about successful business ---

Susan Bratton: Um-hm.

Jonathan Salem Baskin: --- and that’s why I offer a behavior as the litmus test for anything that we’re going to talk about on these interventions or in the chronology of purchase intent because that’s observable reality.  There is no question about it.  We can agree that things happen and when things happen, they lead to other things.  I think it’s a very empowering approach to trying to really redefine what brand -- ultimately what brand means for a business.

Susan Bratton: Now, you have a really good blog and I subscribe to it and I get your news letter every week where you comment on things you see.  It’s almost like, satirical in a way.  Well, you’re constantly making fun of marketing campaigns.  They are similar to Bob Garfield in that way, you know the ad critic.  You’re always calling bullshit on bad work, which I really like.  You have a very rise sense and your blog is called the dim -- it’s called dim bulb.

Jonathan Salem Baskin: Yes, and I am the dim bulb.

Susan Bratton: You are not the dim bulb.  Hardly dim, very bright, but ---

Jonathan Salem Baskin: Well, thank you.

Susan Bratton: --- one of -- so, I would recommend the listeners who want to know more about you both read your book and enjoy your blog because the poster, short, pithy, wonderful, critical, satirical, nice.

Jonathan Salem Baskin: Thank you.

Susan Bratton: Yeah.  And one of the questions that I asked you when we were getting ready for the show was, what’s one thing that people misunderstand most about you?  And, tell us your answer.

Jonathan Salem Baskin: Well, it’s funny because there are gazillion books about brand and marketing.

Susan Bratton: Yeah.

Jonathan Salem Baskin: And if anything -- one of the things that I’m constantly misunderstood for is being just another one of those guys.  And -- because really, the MO is write a book about brand and marketing, offer up your own proprietary solutions and then people will read and hopefully hire you.  I’m actually selling nothing on the back-end of my book.

Susan Bratton: Right.

Jonathan Salem Baskin: My goal is to just prompt conversation and prompt debate.  So, I get misunderstood because I really -- in the end of the day, I’m not interested in brand and marketing as much as I am interested in business and in people and that’s really I think at the core of coming up with a better set of questions and then better outcomes for brand and marketing that we look at it, in terms of broader bigger pictures and the context of where we work and how we work versus saying aha, branding is actually brainwaves and if we change the brainwaves, we’re going to sell more products.  Not so much.

Susan Bratton: Well, here’s an insight that I have into you, Jonathan.

Jonathan Salem Baskin: Oh, oh.

Susan Bratton: I actually think that you wrote this book because you like to ask the bigger questions.  You needed an outlet for asking the bigger questions.  Just knowing that, you -- some of the people you asked about who your mentors were and you said your role models were Buckminster Fuller and Edmund Wilson.

Jonathan Salem Baskin: Um-hm.

Susan Bratton: And also, you talked about the people that you follow in advertising, the most amazing people in advertising, Marshall McLuhan and Vance Packard, these are critical thinkers.  Everybody that you track that you admired that you followed are massively critical thinkers, thinking in very, very new paradigms.  And I think you’re drawn to that and I think that you wrote this book because you wanted to ask the bigger questions about branding and where we are now today with that and what we’re doing because everyone does it that way and what we really should be doing.  And I can imagine your frustration that people wouldn’t take that seriously and I love one of the outputs of that frustration, which is your -- you wrote your own review for Brandweek.  So, tell us about that funny little comedy piece that you did.

Jonathan Salem Baskin: Yeah.  You know, again I’m having fun with this and I’m also practicing what I preach and yeah, I couldn’t -- I can’t get Brandweek to even reply to an email anymore, I’m not sure why, I think they’re probably just busy, but -- so, I just took it upon myself to write my own review and I actually -- we did a full couple pages worth of the online issue, which was available at baskinbrand.com and yeah we call it Brandweek and I just said I’m going to write my own review about what if and obviously, the very tongue-in-cheek and I also created a lot of very funny ads for the dummy issue but yeah, it’s, you know, don’t wait, you know don’t -- don’t complaint, just act.

Susan Bratton: Well, I think that’s really funny.  You should definitely -- I’ll link from my blog to that ---

Jonathan Salem Baskin: OK.

Susan Bratton: --- so that everyone can find it because everyone can find the DishyMix Blog.

Jonathan Salem Baskin: Um-hm.

Susan Bratton: They won’t have to remember Baskinbrand, they already have to remember dim bulb.

Jonathan Salem Baskin: Yeah true, you’re right.  Enough with the having to remember, I agree, go to DishyMix, absolutely.

Susan Bratton: I’ll have all the links for you to everything so you can get them.  I wanted to ask you about a book that you most recommend to friends.  I hadn’t heard about it but I want to talk about it.  Tell me -- tell us what it is.

Jonathan Salem Baskin: Yeah.  It’s a book by a guy named Tom Standage, who is now the Business Editor for the Economist and the book’s called “The Victorian Internet” and it’s a very short book, it’s a quickie read.  And what he did is, he wrote the history of the telegraph back in the mid-1800s through the early 1900s and the parallels between the technology then and how it was understood and misunderstood and then how it changed the world.  Parallel, what we’ve been seeing with the internet almost to the later.  And so, one it’s a fascinating read in terms of science and technology and cultural history but I thought it was also very interesting because it reminded me that you know we really aren’t, you know we’re not just on the cutting edge of the future now, we come after successive generations each of which were on the cutting edge of the future of their time.  So, to understand what’s happening to us and what we’re doing I think it’s very helpful to try to understand the past so that we learn from the mistakes and more importantly we get some perspective on what we’re doing.  I think a lot about we’re experiencing in terms of on the internet right now and how it’s changing the world, actually we can understand by some very established ideas and experiences from the past.  If not, just this net new thing, no pun intended.  That’s just sort of descended on us from the future, it’s like you know what, it’s always -- we’ve always -- as mankind lived on the edge of the future.  And I just find that a very fascinating idea, great book.  Again The Victorian Internet, it’s a great read.

Susan Bratton: I was quickly removed from my smugly superior pedestal just pondering the truth and how we’ve always lived at the edge of the future.  Wow, that was a nice profound thing for me about 6:30 this morning.  He also wrote another book called “A History of the World in Six Glasses.”  He divides the whole -- all world history into beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea and cola.  And he talks about how these were discovering new drinks were monumental moments in history.  And I am going to order that book actually.

Jonathan Salem Baskin: That sounds great.

Susan Bratton: That sounds really -- I love historical contacts especially applied to food.  How cool was that?

Jonathan Salem Baskin: You’re talking to a guy who read a whole book about salt.

Susan Bratton: Oh, you did?  You read that book -- it’s funny.  I just bought my father-in-law a whole book about citrus.  I think it’s a whole -- the history of citrus is fascinating.

Jonathan Salem Baskin: Absolutely.

Susan Bratton: There’s not enough time in our lives, is there?  Well, so here’s another thing you know, you’re -- I think you’re younger than I am but you’re an old soul.  You -- you just have an amazing -- you have an amazing professional experience.

Jonathan Salem Baskin: Thank you.

Susan Bratton: You’re -- you know, just highly incredible professional experience in this market and you’re also very well read.  You are to me probably one of the most quintessentially well read advertising dudes in our world right now.

Jonathan Salem Baskin: Well, thank you.

Susan Bratton: And there are a lot of people who listen to DishyMix, who are still either new to the ad world or they’re in it and they know their product and they know a bit about the internet ecosystem but they’re, you know, they’ve watched mad man and that’s like the historical perspective, right?

Jonathan Salem Baskin: It’s a great show but I’m not certain how accurate it is.

Susan Bratton: Well, what I thought was really interesting, when I ask you who three of the most amazing people in advertising in Web 2.0 were ---

Jonathan Salem Baskin: Right.

Susan Bratton: --- you chose three dead people.  And I thought that was actually really important because I’d like you to talk about the three people that you said exert a meaningful influence on advertising in Web 2.0, even post-mortem.

Jonathan Salem Baskin: Sure.

Susan Bratton: And why they’re important?  Because I think these are books we should be reading or at least, the very least going to Wikipedia and doing a little studying up on these three people.  So, tell us the story.

Jonathan Salem Baskin: Yeah, well again, the premise is about the importance of contacts, I mean importance of perspective is that -- it’s very hard to write the history or even an analysis of life as you’re living it and I think Web 2.0 very much is covered and understood and a very new terms and for your people coming to it, of course it’s new because everything is new.

Susan Bratton: Um-hm.

Jonathan Salem Baskin: So, it’s as if a lot of a coverage is if we’re sort of inventing this thing in real time and it requires all these new definitions and I’m just fascinated by all the -- that context from great thinkers of the reasonably immediate past to live through times of equal, if not even great change and had great insights.  So, for instance, Marshall McLuhan, who -- again, certain people can love him or hate him but he had wrote “Understanding Media” and “The Mechanical Bride” and a bunch of other books.  He was a media thinker back when nobody really thought about the media.

Susan Bratton: Well, he coined the term the medium is the message.

Jonathan Salem Baskin: Absolutely, and the whole point of how we absorb and how we experience them, the media is actually as if not more important than the content of it itself or at least that effects and directs the content and -- and that’s a very relevant when you’re trying to understand you know, we talked about the internet enabling media rich and immersive experiences and video gaming, which I’m fascinated by.

Susan Bratton: Yeah, you talked about -- a lot about that in your book.

Jonathan Salem Baskin: Yeah, and I just -- I think Marshall McLuhan had a lot to really say about the nature of the human condition and how people interact with the media and why and understanding it.  Again, forgetting what the technology is, if he was talking about broadcast television, but looking at the dynamic of the experience, I think it’s a fundamental important observation.  Vance Packard was just a brilliant, social, critic and furious and wrote “The Waste Makers” and really -- kind of coin this idea of when you built cars that were meant to I’m totally spacing now on what the phrase was but when there were this -- a planned out lessons.

Susan Bratton: Oh, yeah, uh-huh?

Jonathan Salem Baskin: And this idea that things were built because the primary goal of manufacturing the business was to sell people’s stuff as quickly and as often as possible.  And he talked about from a moral perspective whether or not that made a lot of sense.  But again, look at Web 2.0 and look at how, sort of immediately discardable things are that we experienced and for that matter a lot of what were sold.  Is that a sustainable proposition?  Is that really the fundamental purpose of a worldwide network that links folks together?  Whether it’s selling merchandise or selling ideas?  Maybe not.  And Vance Packard was just a brilliant writer, and finally, David Ogilvy.

Susan Bratton: Wait, before you go to Vance Packard, well I think it’s really interesting and you probably haven’t connected the dots on this is that you are just talking about planned obsolescence.  And -- Buck -- Mr. Fuller, your other hero, he actually coined the term called “ephemeralization” which was this idea of doing more with less than sustainable growth and all those things so, they actually had the -- they were working on the same issue ---

Jonathan Salem Baskin: Yeah.

Susan Bratton: --- which is big now in our world of too much of everything.

Jonathan Salem Baskin: Right.  And it’s a moral, it’s a psychological, it’s a commercial, it’s -- there are so many dimensions to the idea of what is truly sustainable and why sustainability actually is a good thing to do.  But you’re right, I hadn’t mean that connection but yes, Bucky Fuller is a hero of mine for a gazillion reasons and I recommend anybody read “Spaceship Earth” or “Critical Path” or any of his other books, “Nine Chains to the Moon”.

Susan Bratton: And I want to -- can I say one more thing about Vance before you move on to David?

Jonathan Salem Baskin: Yeah, sorry.

Susan Bratton: No, it’s no problem but one other things that Vance Packard also covered, he had a -- his big hit was “The Hidden Persuader” and that’s where he talked about subliminal messaging, subliminal advertising.

Jonathan Salem Baskin: Right.

Susan Bratton: And the essentially manipulation, the psychological manipulation of all of us ---

Jonathan Salem Baskin: Um-hm.

Susan Bratton: --- in the advertising world.

Jonathan Salem Baskin: Yeah.

Susan Bratton: And now, you know, I’m totally in love with Joseph Carrabis.  If you listen to DishyMix, I talked about him all the time.  He guest blogs on my blog all the time because I keep asking him questions because I’m fascinated with brain science, human behavior and the intersection of that with advertising and marketing.  And so, I think Vance was really, really onto that and I think someday there was going to be a show like DishyMix and people are going to be talking about, you know, David Ogilvy, Vance Packard and Joseph Carrabis is going to be on that list too ---

Jonathan Salem Baskin: Wow!

Susan Bratton: --- because his work on brain science and human behavior and the difference between men and women and what motivates us behaviorally is fascinating.

Jonathan Salem Baskin: Well, and I don’t know about you but I live that reality everyday.  So, I’m done answering anybody what he has to say about it.

Susan Bratton: Yeah, me too.  So, go ahead, David Ogilvy.  This is a must-read for everybody, right?

Jonathan Salem Baskin: Yeah, well Dave -- David Ogilvy is the father of advertising at least in the United States and he’s -- he was a brilliantly creative self-made guy and I love him for that.  But the brilliance of his insight was that the purpose of advertising was to sell stuff.  And it sounds excruciating simple, but think of how complicated the process has gotten since the 60s and the 50s.  This guy wrote famous ads for Aero Shirts and Rolls-Royce and Sears Roebuck and he was known for clear concise copy that actually gave people reasons to buy stuff.  So, I think it’s important because again, we live in this world now where we think it somehow politically incorrect actually to try to sell people things and we have to work around it and beside it.  And again, I love the neuro-marketing and the psychology of brain but in the end of the day, if I can give you a compelling reason to go buy something, I don’t really need to know the mechanics of how you got there, I just -- I’m thrilled you gave me your money.  So, I’m a big apricot for clarity of selling message and honesty and credibility inherent in that and David Ogilvy stood for that and he was just a brilliant guy and a great writer, by the way.

Susan Bratton: Well, I’ve read Ogilvy on advertising, but I’ve never read “Confessions of an Advertising Man”, I think I’m going to pick that up.

Jonathan Salem Baskin: It’s hilarious.

Susan Bratton: So, here we are, at the end of the show, we’ve run along because we’ve been having a good time.  You little punk rocker you, you’re still playing music.  You have a whole studio in your basement and you wrote a song.  Tell us the song.

Jonathan Salem Baskin: The song is called The Sock Puppet Blues and actually I write these songs with a guy who does marketing ROI, Jim Lenskold at the Lenskold Group and we kind of aspire, sort of the punk rock, Jim -- Tom Lears, you know, with the comedian of music.  So, this is a song -- we actually have a series of them, in support of the book, I’m going to release the second one shortly and this song is a -- sort of about a down and out sock puppet mascot at the dead-end borrow with all the other discarded mascots roving the day, he ever went to work for a brand.

Susan Bratton: Well Jonathan, we’re going to end the show here and leave everyone listening to “The Sock Puppet Blues”.  But one other things that I would say is not only is it funny like every other -- so, you should -- you should be writing for Saturday Night Live.  I really think that’s -- I know you want to quit your job and go become a rock star ---

Jonathan Salem Baskin: Yeah.

Susan Bratton: --- but I think you should be a writer on SNL.

Jonathan Salem Baskin: I’ll do that too.

Susan Bratton: There you go.  Yeah, you could just be in the band on there too.

Jonathan Salem Baskin: Absolutely.

Susan Bratton: So, we’re going to leave you with “The Sock Puppet Blues”.  But if you at all think this is funny, I would highly encourage you to get the visuals and go to YouTube and type in “Sock Puppet Blues” and watch the video, which is just as funny.  The things you made that sock puppet do on that video, I love that.

Jonathan Salem Baskin: Probably I’m going to go to jail at some point but until then let’s have fun.

Susan Bratton: I think it’s pretty much guaranteed but yeah party-on.  All right, I’m your host, Susan Bratton.  And you’ve been with Jonathan Salem Baskin.  Let me know if you want to know a copy of his book, he’ll autograph it for you.  Just go to DishyMix the Fan Club on Facebook and we’ll get you a copy or if you don’t get it, buy one.  Nothing wrong with that, support our guy.  Here is “The Sock Puppet Blues”.  Thanks Jonathan.

[The Sock Puppet Blues by Jonathan Salem Baskin]

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