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The Business Lesson in Chanel No. 5's Marketing Disaster

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What makes great advertising work?

Whether you're watching a panel discussion at the Cannes Lion or reading an article in AdWeek, the majority of the discourse revolves around three things:

  1. The big idea.
  2. The size of the media spend to make enough noise.
  3. Luck.

Sure, there are nuances. Some agencies will talk about the brand's ability to truly allow the agency to spread their wings, then there's the heated discussion over important details like the casting and time spent on the copy.

I was walking through the shopping mall and came across a perfume store. The main advertising in the window was Chanel No 5. It was a massive headshot of Brad Pitt with a small Chanel bottle in the bottom right corner. I just laughed.

Much has been written about the TV commercials and advertising following Chanel's decision to use Brad Pitt as their spokesperson (the first male to be chosen for this particular perfume brand). Even more has been written and created surrounding the somewhat laughable debut commercial featuring Brad Pitt.

Is it true that the ultimate insult was delivered by Saturday Night Live, when the late-night live television sketch comedy and variety show decided to parody the commercial by actually running it as is? They figured, nothing could be funnier that what Chanel No. 5 considered to be a legitimate form of advertising.

The point of laughing.

This isn't about being overly critical of a brand or a choice of spokesperson or advertising creative and more. I laughed as I passed this point-of-purchase advertisement, because it occurred to me that what makes great advertising -- in it's entirety -- is the right fit. That's what makes advertising so hard, so random and so challenging.

The right fit isn't just about the right face for the right product, it's about everything. From the start: is the brand and agency the right fit? Are the team members the right fit? Is the strategy the right fit for the brand? Is the creative the right fit for the strategy? Does the media buy fit? You get the idea.

How often do you think about the right fit?

Media professionals have a million excuses when a campaign fails. "Fit" is sometimes mentioned in the excuses, but not frequently enough. As we all head off into the holidays, take a break, regroup and come back in January with a new zeal to do better and more remarkable work in marketing. It would be well-advised to spend some time during this break to think about whether or not you have the right fit -- in each and every thing that you are doing.

This doesn't mean to start from scratch, and it also doesn't mean that you can't, through the power of effective conversation, stir things into a more productive relationship. What it does mean is that great ideas, luck and managing a budget become somewhat arbitrary when you have the right fit.

Chanel No. 5 probably has some thinking to do about whether this deal with Brad Pitt produced the results that they anticipated. My guess is that your brand probably has some thinking to do as well, in terms of drilling down into the work to make sure that you have the right fit across the board.

Now, over to you: is there anything more important than the right fit when it comes to your marketing?

Mitch Joel is president of Twist Image -- an award-winning digital marketing agency. HIs first book, Six Pixels of Separation, named after his highly-successful blog and podcast of the same name is a business and marketing bestseller. His next book, CTRL ALT Delete, will be in stores on May 21st, 2013.

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