Bruce Philp joins Brand Doctors on Rogers diagnosis

December 18, 2013  |  Comments

Brand Doctor appears regularly in Marketing. In this online exclusive, author of Consumer Republic Bruce Philp joins our panel of brand experts

The patient: Rogers Communications. Reason for today’s visit: Rogers is making a trip to our clinic for a second opinion on what to look for as it conducts its agency review, which started just before the arrival of new CEO Guy Laurence. Laurence is known as a change agent, with a focus on customer experience. For all the excitement over a huge broadcast deal with the NHL for Rogers, the bigger questions are related to how Rogers can raise its game with cable and wireless subscribers.

Bruce Philp

Branding consultant + author of Consumer Republic
Diagnosis: There’s more truth in what consumers do than in what they say. People love to claim they hate Rogers, yet most stay even when offered alternatives. That makes for a healthy business, but unhealthy relationships. You can’t increase the net present value of a customer who feels like she’s there under protest.

Prescription: Make Rogers customers feel like they chose to be there. Cable excepted, most Rogers products have life cycles far shorter than those customer relationships ought to be. Invest less in promoting shopped products, and more in selling the credentials of the company. It’s what customers are really voting for anyway.

Alan Middleton

Executive director, Schulich Executive Education Centre; assistant prof. of Marketing, Schulich School of Business at York University
Diagnosis: In the past decade, Rogers’ more product-oriented approach used humour to serve them well versus the Telus animals and Bell’s “drama in a logo.” However, Rogers’ own CMO captured the challenge when explaining what keeps him up at night: “The outside market moving faster than my inside organization.” Competition is better today. Business customers and consumers are more demanding, especially the younger ones. The Rogers approach looks in need of refreshing.

Prescription: Build more meaningful emotional brand differentiation for Rogers and shift away from products as a point of difference. Build into the product-based approach a greater brand emotion of leadership and support and caring for the customer. Customer service is a problem for Rogers and all the Big Three. Focus on an improved customer experience first; avoid customer service as a singular focus as it would not be believed.

Michael Murray

Partner, chief creative officer, Blammo Worldwide
Diagnosis: Their brand vision is not clearly articulated in their advertising. And Rogers has no unifying idea. It made $818 million on $3.2 billion in sales last quarter, but that’s misleading in terms of brand health. Canadians are frustrated by the customer service and is unusable. But should they care, given they are guaranteed a third of the market? One day that will change.

Prescription: Rogers should ask their new agency a simple question: If Rogers had to survive in a truly competitive environment, what should they do? They need a business-changing idea that makes them genuinely consumer-focused, open and accountable. And they should execute it with bravery and vision.

Geoff Roche

Former ad man, co-founder of WearToday + Poolhouse
Diagnosis: Bell is vanilla. Rogers is vanilla with a few sprinkles. Their campaigns reflect that. There is nothing in them that comes close to reflecting today’s consumer—you only notice the spots cause they beat you to death with them. And all the rest of the sponsorship, PR and social media feels equally out-of-touch.

Prescription: Guy Laurence. This “Guy” sounds like he get’s it big time. A passionate, change agent type who will flip things on their ear with the company, people and communications. But he’d better not over-promise to consumers until he has the employees on board. Convince them, then the consumer. And the brief has to come from Laurence. Our best stuff was always with leaders who understood that the work was only ever as good as the client.

David Soberman

Canadian National Chair in Strategic Marketing, professor, Rotman School of Management at U of T
Diagnosis: Rogers advertising strategy focuses on what’s currently available at Rogers outlets (network coverage, speed, pricing packages or new devices). It’s neither distinctive nor durable over an extended period (a good deal today may be a bad deal tomorrow), so there is no common theme resonating—other than an irritating musical signature and the logo. The public feels ripped off by telecommunications companies generally.

Prescription: The winning agency cannot win without a commitment from Rogers to change the way it operates. The objective for Rogers is to identify a brand proposition that is both distinctive and can be appealing on a long-term basis, not changing every two weeks. Is it possible to treat customers differently, especially after the contract is signed? The promise is only as good as the delivery of the promise.

This story originally appeared in the Dec. 23 issue of Marketing, available now to subscribers both in print and in the iPad Newsstand app.

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