Live From DMA2010: Bret Michaels Doesn't Know Direct Marketing, But Steve Stoute May Know How to Fix It
After Lawrence Kimmel's opening remarks on Monday, the program of DMA2010 launched right into the keynote where Scott Donaton, president and CEO of Ensemble, moderated a discussion with Steve Stoute, founder and chief executive of Translation and also a marketing superstar who's worked extensively in music branding and product alliances, and Bret Michaels, winner of The Celebrity Apprentice, reality TV star and long-time front man of the band Poison.
Both Stoute and Michaels are brands in their own right, and each has done a tremendous job of maximizing the positive exposure they bring to brands they work with.
"Work with" is not the same as endorsing. In fact the unstated focus of the keynote was on how Stoute and Michaels have worked with companies on very organic branding campaigns. Stout pioneered the modern day version of product placement, where movies and musicians will partner with a brand that was going to appear in a video or movie anyway to create a synergistic, organic marketing campaign (as opposed to those cheesy plugs we used to get on 80s TV). Michaels, a type 1 diabetic from childhood, happened to appear on a season of The Celebrity Apprentice when contestants worked with Snapple to create and market a new diet drink. Due to his own experience trying to find flavors that could be made without sugar, Michaels helped create Diet Trop-A-Rocka Tea, which he says is now one of Snapple's top diet drinks. Both men are uniquely qualified to speak about how to exploit organic opportunities to partner with other brands.
It's just a shame they didn't know anything about direct marketing. Michaels avoided the subject, entirely open about the limits of his expertise. Stoute attempted to describe direct marketing as knowing and connecting directly with your target consumers, but it was clear the idea of selling a direct response offer wasn't anywhere near his wheelhouse. What is well within Stout's and Michaels' expertise, however, is direct marketing's image problem.