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Screen Shot 2013-04-23 at 4.21.10 PMNot too long ago I spoke with a group of UNC Ad Club students who were interested in pursuing planning as a career. Many had been through internships in larger agencies where planner roles and related job titles varied widely. My take was that titles don’t really matter. They should find out what titles or group of people within the agency are responsible for strategy, and that’s where they should try to find a job. Strategists have a a keen perspective on the marketplace, the competition and the client’s business that are at the heart of effective planning.

That was all well and good, until someone asked, “Where does strategy come from?” At the time, I gave what I thought was a good answer about the process that leads to a good strategy. Looking back, this is what I should have said:

Developing a strategy is just like playing chess, driving home during rush hour or even coaching a football team. In theory anyone can do it, but early success is rare. Over time it becomes easier. Patterns emerge. Opportunities reveal themselves. Outcomes become more predictable.

In the end, Strategy comes from experience. It comes from the ability to process lots of seemingly unrelated information and identify a better solution, knowing there is always room to adapt and improve. Strategy comes from a mindset to outthink others. Bobby Fischer did it with chess. Bill Belichick does it on a football sideline. Where will you shine? What is your strategy?

by Dwayne Fry Brand Futurist/Minister of Strategy/Department of Idealists


When you’ve made your stockholders rich by selling $4 cups of coffee, surely your next move would be of a similar strategy?

Wrong-O, coffee breath. Starbucks is introducing INSTANT Coffee. So, Starbucks is now saying, “Hey! Instead of stopping here in the morning for a $4 cup of coffee, get up 5 minutes earlier and make a 50 cent cup of coffee at home.”

I’ll let that sink in while I talk about the ad executions. In my opinion, well-executed and memorable. I can see the conversation between Starbucks and their ad agency – “Hey! We’d like to shoot ourselves in the foot – we need your help aiming!”

In my opinion, I think these funny ads are going to cause people to flock towards the cheap coffee, while store sales drop. I can’t believe marketing MBAs with $120,000 degrees are making these decisions.

When your brand is associated as being expensive, yet you have a loyal following, don’t screw it up. Introduce a new brand. Make new friends without offending the old ones. Because once you’ve lost your good name, that’s it.

by Dwayne Fry Brand Futurist The Republik Commander Strategic Ops

Photo Credit: © Starbucks Corporation