Friday, March 28, 2008

Friday Afternoon Interview: Rohit Bhargava

Rohit Bhargava is the Senior Vice President of Digital Strategy & Marketing for Ogilvy Public Relations. Monday his new book “*Personality Not Included: Why Companies Lose Their Authenticity – and how great brands get it back” will be released.

His blog, “Influential Marketing – reflections on creating compelling marketing, advertising and PR strategy” has been an outlet for his thoughts and experiences on combining traditional and interactive marketing.

For the release of his new book I was able to ask him five questions. Were they the best questions? We will find out this Monday after the votes are in… (Please feel free to vote for me here)

Here are the 5 questions:
1) What is corporate personality and why do we want a better one?

Rohit: I defined personality in the book as a combination of being unique, authentic and talkable. The main reason to have a better one is because I argue that personality is the difference between a product or service the people love as opposed to one that they just buy.

2) What was the spark that inspired you to write this book “Personality Not Included”

Rohit: I always knew that I wanted to write a book, but the other big reason was that I looked at all the marketing theories out there and thought there was a gap that I could fill with this book. The first thing I did when I got my book deal was head out and buy about 85 books that were on related topics so I had a full bookshelf to compare to. Now that the book is out, I believe that it does stand out from other books out there and offers a unique point of view.

3) “Conversation” and “dialogue” have become key words in marketing with the growth of social media, but we were communicating before the technology began to blossom. Do we have to learn new ways to communicate or just better ways to communicate through new channels?

Rohit: I think for some groups it will very much be a new way of communicating because they were used to creating content or messages for consumption rather than having a dialogue. For others, it is learning better ways to communicate through new channels. For example, I can't imagine anyone still sending a printed press release via fax (even though I know it still happens). Technology at its best makes communications faster and more efficient, but we need to still learn the lessons of how to do it.

4) Could you recommend a good quality (aspect) and an improvement in personality for these corporations: GM, Starbucks and the NFL?


GM - Good: Lots of smart social media work with influencers to engage them on GM products.
GM - Bad: Tough to have an overarching personality for a brand like GM where people associate so much with the products instead of the top brand

Starbucks - Good: Brilliant locations, ubiquitous and convenient
Starbucks - Bad: Not taking advantage of the passion of their employees

NFL - Good: Have some of the smartest marketing strategy of any brand, and certainly the best of any sports brand
NFL - Bad: Again, same problem as GM ... so much of affinity in NFL comes through the teams, but they have done a much better job of fostering the personality of the game itself (and are, in fact, the model that many other sports worldwide try to use)

5) As an “Everywhere Man” and contributor to “Everywhere Mag” what are your top three destination locations for reading your new book “Personality Not Included”?

Rohit: Interesting question, I haven't had that one before. Let's say my top 3:

1. Sydney - As a former SydneySider, I still tell anyone that will listen I think it's the most naturally beautiful city in the world. Anywhere in the city would do.

2. Mariahilferstrasse in Vienna - Not that I head to Vienna as often as I would like but this road has some of the best coffee and pastries in the world - what better combination to enjoy a good book?

3. San Francisco - Because lots of brand stories in the book come from San Francisco and that's a favourite city of mine (and also where I'm doing the launch party for PNI), I'd have to list that as my third desination.

Thanks to Rohit for the opportunity and best of luck on the new book “*Personality Not Included: Why Companies Lose Their Authenticity – and how great brands get it back.”

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