Marty Echt, the new head of marketing at Hunsk Engines, is determined to bring the motorcycle maker back to its roots. He says it’s not enough to project authenticity to customers–employees must personally subscribe to the brand’s values. Should the company’s CEO support Marty’s “real deal” vision? Five experts comment on this fictional case study. Bruce Weindruch, the founder and CEO of the History Factory, says that an authenticity-based campaign can be effective–but only if it’s truly drawn from history. Marketers like Marty often remember their organization’s past in a golden haze.
Weindruch recommends exploring old engineering drawings, ads, and product photos in order to understand what customers and employees really valued back in the day. Gillian Arnold, a consultant to luxury fashion and fine jewelry brands, thinks Marty’s approach is right: People in key marketing posts must be passionate about their products and know them inside and out. She argues that the CEO needs to commit more fully to the new campaign and address the significant gap between the staff and the brand. James H. Gilmore and B.
Joseph Pine II, the cofounders of Strategic Horizons, point out that Hunsk needs to manage customers’ perceptions rather than trying to be a “real company” or forming a management team whose personal interests match the brand. People purchase a product if it conforms to their self-image; that alone determines the brand’s authenticity. Glenn Brackett of Sweetgrass Rods, a maker of bamboo fly-fishing rods, says Marty seems to be one of the few people who understand Hunsk motorcycles. If employees bring blood, sweat, heart, and soul to a product, it will manifest that spirit, and customers will line up for it.