Al Yankovic’s Mission Statement: Laugh? Cry? Both?
Al Yankovic’s Mission Statement is a catchy tune, done in the style of Crosby, Stills & Nash. It’s strangely hypnotic, and somewhat soothing of a song (Yankovic has outdone himself with an original score), but is the lesson to be learned one of how we hide behind “jargon” and delude ourselves? If we were clearer in our objectives, would that help us to make the breakthroughs needed to truly become better at what we do?
(Spoiler Alert! Yeah, I think so, question is how?)
Al Yankovic’s Mission Statement (Vevo Official Video):
When I saw this, and the cooing noises of all the marketers going, “Yeah yeah! We’re so like that! Weird Al is a GENIUS!” I was reminded of the story that George Lois told me during my interview with him. To boil it down, he said “I give these presentations to advertising people, account people, creatives, etc., and I tell them they have to stop doing crap work. And they say to me ‘Yeah George! You’re right! Tell it like it is!’ and then they go right back to their desks and pump out crappy work.”
Man… ain’t it the truth. I watched this video and said to myself – “I never want to give another Power Point presentation ever again.”
Al Yankovic’s Mission Statement: We Have to “Monetize our Assets”
The hardest line to take is “Monetize our Assets,” which is a phrase I’ve heard from many a senior marketing executive. I suspect there are other lines that make you cringe as well, something that reminds you of a meeting where you wanted to bang your head against the wall, or say “well there’s 60 minutes of my life I’m never getting back”. I know we’ve all sat through marketing and advertising presentations that are like that.
I’ve read 300 page slide decks that essentially said to a client – “buy TV, make commercials, and hope for the best.” Decks that were amazing in terms of their creativity and splendor, done by some of the most amazing advertising agencies. Although seemingly impressive, in the end, that lack of clarity is basically the Power Point version of Weird Al… and it’s not parody.
The Lesson: If you can’t describe it clearly, you don’t see it clearly, and you’re deluding yourself.
From my time in Washington D.C., I learned two things that I think many CMOs would benefit from knowing:
- Never believe your own BS
- Never under-estimate the power of self-delusion.
A simple rule is this – if it’s not easily described, if it’s not easily measured, and if it’s not clearly related to a business objective – then you probably shouldn’t be doing it. Unfortunately, we get diverted – we believe our own silliness, and we delude ourselves into thinking these detours are productive for our careers and our brands.
As a CMO, your job is to ultimately cut through that nonsense and understand what can push you forward and what holds you back. All of the things you do relating to brand is ultimately focused on demonstrating value, creating value, and getting enough control to capture that value in the form of price stability and premiums. The greater the value you can create, the deeper the brand “gravity well” you create, the easier it is. Acquiring and retaining customers is really a measure at how good you are at it – it’s not the end state in and of itself. So if your strategies really aren’t aligned to one of those three activities – demonstrating value, creating value, and capturing value – should you be doing it?
As someone who focuses on how to make marketing executives more effective, I’ve noted that the following axiom is true – if it can be conceived, it can be achieved. The hardest thing that many marketing executives face is being able to “see” the objectives clearly, and being able to “see” the tactics that bring them to the objective. From my perspective, that starts with getting clear and focused in language… and stopping talk about “leveraging our corporate synergies” so that we can “monetize our assets”.