Security, Cowardly New World | Privacy, Brave New World

What kind of world have we become? To see Sony, theater owners and distributors initially cower over release of “The Interview,” in the face of a cyberterrorist threat was—and is—unnerving. Clearly, businesses feared that Sony’s victimhood would be exported to others. Yes, the movie eventually was released online and in limited theaters, but the initial fear expressed was disconcerting, to say the least.

What kind of world have we become? To see Sony, theater owners and distributors initially cower over release of “The Interview,” in the face of a cyberterrorist threat was—and is—unnerving. Clearly, businesses feared that Sony’s victimhood would be exported to others. Yes, the movie eventually was released online and in limited theaters, but the initial fear expressed was disconcerting, to say the least.

This incident shows how incapable company leaders must feel they are to thwart cyberattacks. Is data anywhere ever really secure in the face of determined malfeasance? I doubt most of the cinema owners were genuinely worried that theatergoers would be physically at risk of terrorism. Rather, it’s the data—proprietary, internal, sensitive, privileged, confidential and otherwise private—being unscrupulously stolen and, once out of the bottle, splayed across gossip pages by “news” media as if they scooped the story. Intellectual property, too, was compromised. Hollywood, actors and all, seemed frightened.

As cybersecurity—or lack of such security—plays out on the international stage, privacy—and Americans’ attitudes about it—is taking a more mature, nuanced posture.

A new Pew Research Center survey on privacy in found that many opinion leaders now realize that our online selves are public, social sharing is currency for being known (online), even if views are mixed over whether or not a privacy rights infrastructure will emerge during the next decade. Consumers will offer personal details in exchange for convenience quite readily.

As The Los Angeles Times reported, “‘Lack of concern about privacy stems from complacency because most people’s life experiences teach them that revealing their private information allows commercial (and public) organizations to make their lives easier (by targeting their needs), whereas the detrimental cases tend to be very serious but relatively rare,’ Bob Briscoe, chief researcher in networking and infrastructure for British Telecom, wrote in his response.”

To me, this is a signal that privacy is a fluid, dynamic state of mind. Our marketing lives are an ever-constant bartering of data—I give you this information about me, you will give me that product, service or convenience—and the only answer to “real” privacy is to never engage in a convenience or transaction. Not many people choose to be Rip Van Winkle. They might yearn for solitude, but it’s not pragmatic or practical.

Furthermore, I believe this “conversation” shows that there is danger in the rigidity of would-be privacy laws and regulations. Yes, privacy (and security) baselines are necessary—but we must not squelch responsible data collection and use, innovation and convenience, especially as consumers become more comfortable and more demanding. In the world of marketing data, self-regulation has served us well for the better part of 50 years. Outlaw fraud. Outlaw data theft. But let information flow where it may to serve consumers better. The White House said as much earlier this year in its Big Data report.

Now if only creative expression was allowed the same latitude. Some people may fret over today’s perceived loss of privacy, but it is security—is the Sony theft the costliest breach in history?—that has made business leaders run for the hills.

A happy, prosperous and free New Year to all.

2012 DMA ECHO Green Marketing Award Goes to: Vestas

The Green Marketing Award is not about marketing environmental products, services or causes. Rather, it’s about how efficiency and sustainability—and profitability—are incorporated in a successful marketing campaign. This year’s winner was Vestas Wind Systems (Arhaus, Denmark). The business-to-business campaign, targeting large-company executives at 23 Fortune 1000 firms, was remarkable in how it used market research, social media, direct mail and digital media to provide a truly personalized campaign to convince companies to consider wind energy as a power source for their operations.

During the summer, I had an opportunity to serve as a judge on a panel to select the Direct Marketing Association‘s special ECHO Green Marketing Award winner for 2012. That award was presented recently at DMA’s annual conference in Las Vegas, DMA2012.

The Green Marketing Award is not about marketing environmental products, services or causes. Rather, it’s about how efficiency and sustainability—and profitability—are incorporated in a successful marketing campaign. This year’s winner was Vestas Wind Systems (Arhaus, Denmark). The business-to-business campaign, targeting large-company executives at 23 Fortune 1000 firms, was remarkable in how it used market research, social media (InMail via LinkedIn), direct mail (custom Bloomberg BusinessWeek magazine wraps) and digital media (EnergyTransparency.com) to provide a truly personalized campaign to convince companies to consider wind energy as a power source for their operations.

Vestas tapped two research firms, Bloomberg and TNS Gallup, to complete two studies. One was a Corporate Renewable Energy Index that reported on corporations’ energy consumption, and the second was a Global Consumer Wind Study, that examined consumer demand for renewable energy. The surveys documented that consumers want products made with wind energy, and that corporations are eager to source more renewable energy.

Working with its agency partner, Vertic Inc. (New York, NY), the campaign targeted 419,000 employees and 300 top executives inside the 23 companies. Audiences were segmented by geography, seniority, work role and industry. Opinion leaders also were targeted. Using InMail, LinkedIn company-specific banner ads and the magazine wraps, traffic was generated to 600 individual URLs associated with EnergyTransparency.com where an executive could inspect energy consumption trends in their company and industry sector, along with customer brand preference information relevant to the company.

Overall, the campaign cost less than $1 million, and generated more than 10,000 site visits with average visit lasting more than 7 minutes on average—with 80 percent of opinion leaders visiting the site, and 30 percent of top executives targeted. InMails achieved at 13.37 percent open rate and 5.78 percent conversion rate. Business sales resulting from the campaign were not disclosed.

The judges welcomed seeing 1:1 communication, effective personalized used of social media, magazine wraps, banner ads, and successful delivery of brand interaction among C-suite executives—always a tough challenge. On the sustainability front, judges welcomed use of existing communications channels—magazines already subscribed to, social media networks where professional profiles already are present—to provide messaging, using little in the way of new production materials to convey relevant information. Overall, the campaign focused on energy use, so what better way to reach executives efficiently.

Global, integrated print & digital, b-to-b … congratulations to Vestas Wind Systems and Vertic!

Resources:
This Year’s DMA International ECHO Green Marketing Award Winner (see page 14):
http://dma.seqora.com/prod/Desktop/page.aspx?id=25&mode=SP&name=EchoAwards2012