Moneyball: A great story about the future of marketing.
About the movie.
In Moneyball, the Oakland A’s, a desperately underfunded team, adopt an analytical, evidence-based approach to assembling a team and winning games. Despite industry criticism and organizational push-back, Billy Beane (Brad Pitt), ignores conventional wisdom – he shifts focus from gut instinct and standard statistics like stolen bases, RBIs, and batting averages (typically used to gauge players) to alternative metrics such as on-base and slugging percentages. These stats steer the team’s decisions about recruitment, management, even coaching. In turn they built a championship team and completed one of the longest winning streaks in history.
At one point, Peter Brand (Jonah Hill) explains to Billy Beane (Brad Pitt), the General Manager of the Oakland A’s, that “there is an epidemic failure within the game to understand what is really happening and this leads people who run major league baseball teams to misjudge their players and mismanage their teams.” Change the subject from MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL to MARKETING and it’s an incredibly accurate statement. Watch the following clip with that in mind and I think you’ll see what I mean.
Moneyball marketing is about getting runs, not home runs.
Moneyball marketers do not exist to create award-winning, Super Bowl ads. They understand that the ‘game’ has changed and the proactively seek new ways to market their brands. They do whatever it takes to sell product. They carefully track their success to minimize the cost of acquiring new customers and maximize retention.
Ten years ago the acne treatment category was dominated by Procter & Gamble’s Clearasil and GlaxoSmithKline’s Oxy, two products whose companies had massive ad budgets. Yet tiny Guthy-Renker launched ProActiv Solution and built it into an $800 million brand, overtaking the established leaders.
Guthy-Renker tests many new product concepts in low-cost TV infomercials. It measured the sales response and tweaked content and media until it found ads that payed off. They launched products only after they discovered the magic break-even marketing formula.
Ad agencies and traditional marketers look down on companies like Gunthy-Renker, much the way the rest of major league baseball laughed at the Oakland A’s. I know because I used to be one of those snobs. And as much as I miss the days of creative importance and extravagant production, it would be foolish of me to cling to something so unsustainable.
We have to play a different game.
Everyone knows that the marketing landscape has changed and that a new approach is necessary. That’s bad news for large advertisers and agencies that are reliant on an outdated model and workforce because change will be hard and come slow. But it’s great news for agencies like Nomadic because we are small. We have to play different – we can’t afford to compete on the same terms as larger agencies. So we’re willing to abandon conventional approaches to campaign planning, ideation, and creative asset development. We have no choice but to embrace and utilize tools that technology has produced. We must develop more predictive marketing models that can be used to eliminate the guesswork in marketing. As a result, we can’t help but create more segmented and targeted creative solutions.
Out of necessity, we are committed to understanding what’s “really happening.”