Years ago I was marketing and product development senior VP for Pioneer's home and car divisions. Back then our advertising agency was Chiat Day and at one point we put the account up for review and invited them to compete for the business along with three other agencies. The process took close to two months, culminating in presentations from all four contenders.
I no longer recall what the other three did but can to this day still see the Chiat Day presentation, which featured a video of quick-cut Pioneer product shots set against a goosebump-inducing soundtrack with no dialogue. At the very end was a close-up of a turntable arm lifting off a record. As the music stopped, the words "Because the Music Matters" were emblazoned on the screen. I still get chills thinking about it.
We retained Chiat Day despite whatever differences we felt we had with them because they encapsulated what we were all about in those four words. Or rather, they reminded us what we were supposed to be about. Like many working at large CE companies, without knowing it we had lost sight of the reason people bought our products. No one purchased a CE device to own a (generally) black box. As Chiat Day said, they did so because music matters.
I was reminded of this recently when I attended Monster Cable's Monster Jam retailer awards and party at 2007 International CES. An annual event, this year featuring George Benson and Al Jarreau, the Monster Jam is a throwback to the days when there were a number of great CES industry parties to attend, many of which featured artists of the caliber of those jazz greats. Obviously, now as then, manufacturers invest in these affairs believing the return will be worth it in terms of improved relationships with their retailers.
As an ex-marketing VP, I know it can be difficult if not impossible to justify the expense of having a great party. A tough sell for most finance VPs. (Right, Ron Stone?)
As the title on his business card says, Noel Lee is the Head Monster and I would bet that Lee only has to convince himself that his Monster Jams are a good idea.
Lee is unquestionably a successful businessman but that is not who I saw standing on the stage that night. In his place was Noel Lee, a true audio/video enthusiast — an individual who, as Jay Chiat reminded me years before, knows that the music, and now video, matters.
It would be a good idea if all who manufacture or sell CE products occasionally reminded themselves why people buy their stuff. No one I know buys any of today's high-tech products for the sake of owning them. Instead they buy it for what it can do for them; because the result, whether it be video entertainment, information processing, communication or simply listening to music, does indeed matter.
Noel, I had a great time at your Monster Jam and thank you for inviting me. But much more than that, thank you for reminding us why we all do what we do. Because the music matters!