What comes to mind when you think of luxury? Chances are, brands like Krug Champagne come to mind. For almost 200 years this champagne has been the epitome of luxury and refinement. Douglas Commaille is an expert in luxury branding and someone who has worked with the brands discussed in this audio which will not disappoint. Douglas joined Nathaniel Schooler to discuss how luxury branding can be transformative and innovative. Don’t miss this exclusive opportunity to learn from one of the industry’s top experts!
Summary of the transcript from Luxury Branding with Krug
- Douglas Commaille is a mentor and associate to Nathaniel Schooler for many years.
- Douglas has worked with Krug Champagne and other top luxury brands for many years and knows a lot about their branding
- One of the key things that Krug does in order to protect its brand is to never get distracted by novelty and to keep true to the quality of their product
- Street markets in Asia have done immense harm to branding in general, as they produce cheap, shoddy copies of well-known brands
- Branding has become more vulnerable to watered-down brands in recent years
- The example of a luxury handbag that smells and feels cheap shows how damaging this can be
- Brands that have been bought by larger companies often lose their essence and heritage
- Cadbury bought green and blacks for 20 million in 2005
- Caroline, Nathaniel’s cousin, was involved with Green and Blacks from the beginning and wrote the first book!
- Green and Blacks went down a mass distribution route, which diluted the quality of their product
- They should have focused on two things: the range and breadth of their products
- Douglas Commaille thinks they missed a trick by not launching a secondary brand
- Brands can learn from how Google, Amazon, and Facebook behave
- These companies are risking upsetting consumers with their actionsTeen suicide is linked to the lack of recognition that teenagers have with their brands
- The individual feels that their input is not valued by the company and that they are not given importance
- The frustration comes when there is a lack of communication or understanding between the user and the company
- The brand should focus on performance differentiators in order to be successful
If you wish to learn more about brand stories you should check out this blog and resources: Secrets of Audience Research – Brand Storytelling with Content Marketing, you can also learn more about Personal Branding here in The Ultimate Guide.
The full transcript is below
Nathaniel Schooler 0:29
Today I’d like to introduce one of my mentors and associates. I have been working with Douglas for five years and he is an experienced bilingual business director, transformational brand marketing leader.
I think many of you who listen to this will have seen my personal brand changed about 10 years ago over the last few years. And Douglas has helped me to position my personal brand and, you know, get me in the right place to do business.
We discuss Luxury Branding with Krug Champage and some other key luxury brands.
Like all my associates he is someone that I have huge respect for. He was commercial director at The Lab at Leo Burnett, which was a time old advertising agency. He’s done all sorts of different things, but he’s also a barrister in law and a very, very interesting individual. And I think, you know, he shares some insights here from his time working at Krug Champagne and many of the other big brands in the world. He also used to write speeches for the Prime Minister of Malaysia. So I think you’re going to enjoy this as a great episode.
So Douglas, when you are working with Krug Champagne, what did you learn about their branding?
Douglas Commaille 1:41
Right? What did I learn? That’s a big question. Although in essence, the fundamentals are really very simple Krug Champagne is a luxury product and appears at the top of nearly every quality Champagne list and has done for a long time.
And I guess the question when asks oneself is how did they manage that?
Both in terms of the product and in terms of the brand, which your subject is today. I suppose the essence of it is that they never forget, and never get distracted by novelty, or anything akin to it. And by keeping true to the essence of what the brand is, which is the quality of the product, they protect that brand, very, very carefully.
And in fact, you can see the same thing in many luxury brands, the difference between Krug Champagne, and certainly, the time I worked with them, which is a few years is what is so different. I’m trying to find the word for with effectively the people who are living out in the Far East and produce copies of their brand, right, and very accurately, cannot reproduce the quality of their brand.
Nathaniel Schooler 3:23
Douglas Commaille 3:24
And so they, to some extent, are protected from this constant stream of copying and fake goods. And, yeah, illegal production. I mean, you can see what it’s done to businesses.
I mean, for example, in the sunglasses, business premium sunglasses, and let’s just take Dolce & Gabbana for a minute. I mean, you can see that their business is affected by street markets out in Asia, in Kuala Lumpur or in Thailand Thailand or in Asia generally and these people have done immense harm to branding, right because they’ve introduced the idea that a brand cannot be premium I saw recently a Louis Vuitton handbag, which was just a copy.
Nathaniel Schooler 4:27
Douglas Commaille 4:28
And it was cheap, shoddy and rather unpleasant. And it felt really horrible. I mean, you don’t wear a handbag obviously. But when you touch it with your fingers, you can just tell it was probably glued together. You know, it’s not going to carry anything worth having. I mean, certainly wouldn’t want to carry a little pooch and it would you they do in Hollywood. And that’s a big difference. It’s that Krug protected their brand viciously, in that sense.
No, they didn’t mess it about a mess around with it. They had very little at the time that I was with them in the way of promotional material, for example, because with a very sensible decision that if they end up trying to become too much of a novelty item, it would get in the way of the purity of the product.
Nathaniel Schooler 5:30
Douglas Commaille 5:30
So they commissioned the role I think it was Rolls-Royce or Bentley to produce what was essentially an estate car which they sold the product out the back of at key events, so at Ascot, for example, the estate car would go down there and represent the brand in all its finery.
Nathaniel Schooler 5:55
It was Rolls-Royce, I think I seem to remember seeing that. Yeah, yeah.
Douglas Commaille 5:59
And it is a wasn’t unusual, unusual vehicle at the time.
Nathaniel Schooler 6:05
Yeah, it was like a hearse. Almost.
Douglas Commaille 6:07
Certainly very big, because they had to get the boxes at the back. Yeah, then you never mind the body. Yeah, but they were very protective of their brand.
And that is the moral of the story. If you look after your product quality and make it as uncopyable as you humanly can, you will find your brand thrives. And even today, Krug is a premium brand. Yeah, and it’s good it’s a superb product. It’s not just good. It’s actually superb.
Nathaniel Schooler 6:46
Douglas Commaille 6:47
And that’s the story of all high-quality luxury goods in my opinion, right. And that’s you become a hostage to fortune and to opportunity opportunities.
Nathaniel Schooler 7:00
Right, we’re talking in essence now about brand extensions, aren’t we, like I was talking about the other day with someone from the drinks industry. And I know you’ve worked in multiple industries, multiple sectors, but we were talking about, Absolut Vodka, and Smirnoff, and how they launched like, this just cheap kind of flavoured kind of brand extension, you know.
Douglas Commaille 7:23
Well they are brand extensions, yes.
Nathaniel Schooler 7:25
Diluting the brand to the core. By just launching too many products and not focusing on what they do best.
Douglas Commaille 7:33
But the other thing to remember is the core product when they launched these extensions, and they’re not quite as good.
That’s the core product. I mean, I doubt whether you’d find any Russians actually ever buying these peripheral products.
Nathaniel Schooler 7:49
I doubt it, they just want Vodka.
Douglas Commaille 7:54
They just want alcohol they don’t want lemon juice or orange juice or whatever rubbish else that they are putting in it.
But it’s the core story of the last 30 years of branding. Branding has just become assaulted by all of these copy products. DVDs, CDs, anything that can be printed materials.
I was speaking to someone from a premium luxury paper company and they were saying they were getting hit by in China by copies of their own making bits of paper for God’s sake and that’s the problem.
If you make it too easy to copyright? You’re always going to be vulnerable to them watering down your brand.
I talked to you earlier about the Louis Vuitton handbag. I mean, I cannot get over this. I mean, I remember when we looked at it, and we had a sniff of it inside the bag. Oh, God, it smelled dreadful. I mean, you could not believe that was going to be charged a so-called premium product.
It smelt of absolutely horrible stuffy, cheap material. Cheap glue, nasty little fake rivets, right or buttons, you know, in the fabric. It was actually revolting. I mean, I didn’t touch it for very long because I didn’t like it but I know somebody else who did as some of the ink came off on their hands. Now, what does that say what does that do for Louis Vuitton?
Nathaniel Schooler 9:47
Well does it not make their brand more widely known? And actually, people realise that it’s better?
Douglas Commaille 9:57
Well, it may well make their brand widely known but the problem is what for?
Nathaniel Schooler 10:02
Well, it’s a good point it depends on if people actually think that’s a real Louis Vuitton or a fake.
Douglas Commaille 10:07
If you want a glass of champagne at your wedding yeah do you want just some sparkling something or other?
In which case that’s why God created Prosecco.
If you want to have tip-top vintage champagne with a name and a heritage and history; that is worth having of which you can be proud that you’re serving you’ll have Krug, for example.
They did that incredibly well I always thought they sold in a very limited area of London. Around a certain area in town which was fairly discreet right but they did it very well.
What was important in there I think in their eyes was that they didn’t water down the essence of what being Krug meant and it was a family-owned company at the time. I think it still is you may need to check
Nathaniel Schooler 11:19
I have a little look while you’re talking
Douglas Commaille 11:22
I remember talking to their owners and they were fiercely proud of their heritage and the however many years they’ve been running the business and I will admit that I did actually buy a case of Krug a few years ago and it was quite delightful.
Nathaniel Schooler 11:49
Just having a little look here yeah its own multi know now by my Moet Hennessey, Louis Vuitton. Yeah interestingly enough to tie that in.
Douglas Commaille 12:01
Nathaniel Schooler 12:02
That’s very interesting I didn’t know that I usually and they also include So it includes Moet Chandon Veuve Clicquot, Château d’Yquem and Ruinart as well, which is interesting.
Douglas Commaille 12:15
How interesting. Now Ruinart is a very nice Champagne.
Nathaniel Schooler 12:19
it is nice. Yeah,
Douglas Commaille 12:21
The Ruinart Rose is particularly good, huh?
But I wasn’t aware that they all been bought up by Louis Vuitton.
Nathaniel Schooler 12:29
No, I didn’t know that either. Very interesting. But it still retains that family kind of heritage, doesn’t it? Yes. But it’s very difficult, though, isn’t it? For these parent companies, a lot of the time they will buy a brand where they and then they will damage it. Because someone in head office or some external consultant doesn’t understand what they’re going to actually do to that brand. And how it’s going to affect the future of it. Right. So if you look at, let’s go-to chocolate for example, and you look at Green and Blacks chocolate.
What happened with them is Cadburys bought Green and Blacks, I don’t know how many millions, it was a fair few million, or it was, you know, it was a fair few million anyway.
Douglas Commaille 13:17
They bought, they bought them.
Nathaniel Schooler 13:21
I’ll have a look. But they came along they launched a non-organic version of green and blacks and then they extended it into all sorts of different areas. And then obviously, you know, what does that do?
Douglas Commaille 13:33
Let me can take you to what may seem rather than the luxury market. But the mass market in a supermarket. What does it do? Well, the place to go and have a look is cleaning products.
Because if you go into any supermarket, you will find metres and metres of shelf expanded on all these cleaning products. Some will do one thing, some will do another, others will do something else.
What does it all do? Well, the first thing it does, I think is confusing people.
Nathaniel Schooler 14:13
Douglas Commaille 14:13
I mean, if you’re trying to buy something to clean the kitchen, I’m not looking for anything complicated. I’m looking for something very simple, right? If I’m looking for the bathroom,
That old favourite going back many years Dettol, which is a great brand, which has moved very successfully. I think it’s owned by Rackets now.
It has moved very successfully to develop new products, but they’re all antibacterial. And that is the Dettol proposition. Yeah, it’s not complicated. You don’t have to have expensive advertising for it, it just has to pass one little message.
So this thing kills bugs.
Nathaniel Schooler 15:02
So can I just stop you there for a second and get a bit of an explanation. So it is possible then to actually extend the brand in that way, right. As long as it’s actually the message is clear. Is that what you’re saying?
Douglas Commaille 15:15
Well, I think yes, it is. That’s the essence of what I’m saying.
And the trouble is, I mean, the way these brands operate, is the last person who walked through the door of the company’s marketing department is given the job of developing brand extensions.
Nathaniel Schooler 15:37
Douglas Commaille 15:39
Well, it doesn’t take a jump of the imagination to imagine how much of their time they spend doing it by the results they come up with. Yeah, because it’s all researched through focus groups. Nobody takes a decision much of anything right. And what we come up with isn’t good or bad. A decision based on a random committee.
Nathaniel Schooler 16:03
Reminds me of this story. You told me about the bubbles. Isn’t that what they made you do to try and come up with a new product to the died because of their decision? Is that right? Do you want to tell me that story I quite like it.
Douglas Commaille 16:18
I’m sitting in an unnamed company many years ago, and I wasn’t really joined the job. And the job was to differentiate a bubble bath.
And I thought, Well, okay, let’s have a look at what we got. And there was a packaging which was as bad as interesting as a blank wall. And my alternative to differentiating it was to actually do nothing more, but put it into a transparent bottle with to quite deep colours, say, looked attractive on the shelf.
And I make no secret that I knew I wasn’t exactly breaking any kind of record for creativity. But at least it did look different to the previous incarnation. But part of the job was to actually do research on the size of the bubbles.
And I remember sitting in this company’s offices and writing this report based on research in the size of bubbles.
I don’t know whether I had one of those moments you haven’t life where you think, Oh, god, my life has reached the Nadir of in of interest when I’m writing all these words about how to describe bubbles, they’re bubbles, that’s it, they have. No, they have no duration whatsoever, as long as they don’t, oh, they just evaporate or, you know, they dissipate either spontaneously or you deliberately get rid of them.
But I just thought I can’t do this for many, many, many more months. I need a real job.
Nathaniel Schooler 18:21
Was that when you decided to do a degree in in in law?
It was just like, right, that’s a light bulb moment. You want to change something and just progress.
Douglas Commaille 18:32
I just thought it was wasting my life.
Nathaniel Schooler 18:36
It’s just ridiculous. It’s ridiculous.
Douglas Commaille 18:38
There are people who write reports on more ridiculous things than that.
Nathaniel Schooler 18:42
But people would enjoy it though, wouldn’t that and if you’re not, exactly.
Douglas Commaille 18:45
Yeah. So that says more about them than…
Nathaniel Schooler 18:48
There are people who enjoy all sorts of things, you know, let them get on with it.
But so back to back to Cadbury, right. They bought green and blacks for 20 million in 2005 months. Yeah, my Mum’s first cousin might so yeah, she Caroline. She actually wrote the Green and Blacks Chocolate book. She was involved with Green and Blacks in the early days. Right at the beginning, she was the marketing director for them. Unfortunately, she passed away a few years ago, but she did a fantastic job with Green and Blacks in the Covent Garden soup kitchen as well. She did the recipes for those.
But it’s, it’s a, it’s a real, real shame that Green and Blacks actually went down that sort of mass distribution kind of route diluted the quality that made them who they were, you know because you like you were saying, you can extend your brand, right. And when I was working with my Dad’s company, we had a, we had a Port that we launched, and then we launched a Reserve Port. So we had a Reserve, right, yeah, with a year on it and everything else. And it’s been proven that if you have two products one is a cheaper version that sells more, would you agree with that in terms of branding or not?
Douglas Commaille 20:08
That I think it really depends on, I just think it depends on the quality of the product, right? I mean, it’s only a personal taste. But what I find surprising about Green and Blacks; who’ve done nothing wrong, really. I mean, they built a very successful business.
Yeah, is that they didn’t focus on two things, the range the breadth of the range of their products.
Nathaniel Schooler 20:37
Douglas Commaille 20:37
Because they, they sell lots of different types of chocolate. Yeah, and they certainly have little packaging books, and it’s quite well done. Yeah, but they didn’t take one of those, which is what I would have done and try to create a secondary brand.
Nathaniel Schooler 20:56
Douglas Commaille 20:57
And I always thought that was missing a trick. Now, maybe they’ve researched it, and nobody particularly liked any of them outstandingly but it doesn’t matter. I think they probably would have found something in the air.
Nathaniel Schooler 21:10
So what do you what do you mean then, exactly? when you’re talking about do you think they should have picked one of the particular varieties of chocolate like one style and then done what with it exactly?
Douglas Commaille 21:17
Well, I think they could have relaunched it in bigger bars right with the main core brand right and I was always thinking that when I tried Green and Blacks that there were two particular chocolate sizes chocolate flavours or variants which one One of them was the orange which sort of picked up on the chocolate orange ball that Terry’s had and which did quite well in the UK, it still does.
Nathaniel Schooler 22:05
They do have orange, so they’ve what they’ve done they’ve actually put that into some sort of funny packaging. I found it here, it’s an advert from Waitrose and they’ve launched it in some sort of velvet fruit dark chocolate with a real fruit centre and it has no Organic reference it does say does it say ethical.
It used to be very ethical Green and Blacks it was supporting you know small independent growers I believe in from Belize is what they started out as. That’s what that’s that’s what my cousin was so passionate about in the beginning you know but then they grow into the mass market, don’t they? And they and they and they and they want to just grow sales.
What would you do if you kind of went straight into a to a brand and they and they wanted to perhaps like launch a new product or a new service what would you do?
Douglas Commaille 23:16
Give them a day off, stay at home, go fishing it will be more profitable!
The desire and the will to develop new brands is it’s almost an obsession in many marketing departments even today. And you can see them being advertised on the TV they’ve got brand extensions into their website into an online offering. Well firstly if it’s an online offering it’s got a different demographic to the last supermarket I walked around you know so that’s the first thing.
And the second thing, the chances of you coming up with something are seriously against you right i mean if you think that bread I mean I was the last I mean Warburtons is a particularly successful brand and they’ve done that very well
Nathaniel Schooler 24:15
They have actually yeah the launch to premium range.
Douglas Commaille 24:19
Well yeah they’ve not just got a premium range, they’ve got secondary products which are now doing quite well, of course, I got distribution for it right but you know it’s difficult coming up with stuff like this.
I mean for example they didn’t produce a crumpet right like everybody else’s crumpet okay so they produced almost wagon wheel sized crumpets, so large crumpets, so they got the Muppets to advertise it.
Nathaniel Schooler 24:52
So to everyone is listening around the world. A crumpet is a kind of round sort o a good
citizen. I’m not sure they have crumpets. Let me I’m going to look at what a Crump crumpet is. is a baked kind of not that fast on my crumpet is what
Douglas Commaille 25:13
talk amongst yourselves Well, he has
Nathaniel Schooler 25:15
Yeah, I’m just having a little thing here. It so it’s a thick, flat savoury snack with a soft, porous texture made from a yeast mixture cooked on a griddle and needs and toasted and buttered, well that sounds rather interesting.
Informal British this. So this is a bit of British slang for everyone out in the rest of the world. A crumpet is apparently a bit of crumpet, it’s a woman regarded as an object of sexual desire. So there we are.
But anyhow, back to back to the brand extensions. It’s in the dictionary, right?
Yes, it is a bit of British slang there, Douglas.
Douglas Commaille 25:57
Thank you. So much!
Nathaniel Schooler 26:04
So what else do you think I’ve been, I mean, I was talking to the chap from he actually grew the Patron Tequila brand the other day, and I did an interview with him.
I think Episode 23 or something. And he was saying that you know, exactly what you’re saying basically, is just to do what you do best, because Patron, they actually invested in a Vodka, Ultra Premium Vodka or something, I forget what it was called. It was like Ultra Vodka or some naff name. And they try to market that with Patron. So they were like, right, we’re going to launch this Premium Vodka, we’re going to use the same distribution, and we’re going to market it next to Patron and people just got confused.
So if the story really fits in so it’s it’s the story and it’s actually fitting the corner to the product with the story. Right. And, and, and making a decision, like holding your hand out, not sticking your finger out the window, licking it and saying, well, we’re going to launch a product, it’s, it’s about doing that research, right. And seeing it seeing if there’s sort of a gap in the market for what you’re talking about. And then if it fits in with your existing range, right. I mean, that’s, that’s the most difficult part of it, isn’t it?
Douglas Commaille 27:32
Absolutely. But you’ve got to produce something as a brand extension. That is good common sense.
A few years ago a great example. It says Caterpillar. Caterpillar introduced a range of clothing now what does Caterpillar stand for really? to the average punter?
Nathaniel Schooler 27:58
Boots now, well it boots.
Douglas Commaille 28:01
Exactly, yeah, but at the time it was. Big building equipment.
Nathaniel Schooler 28:10
Douglas Commaille 28:11
Road building equipment. And within that brand, it was implied that the brand was hard-wearing, that it was rugged.
Nathaniel Schooler 28:24
Douglas Commaille 28:25
So it made perfect sense to them to launch a range of clothing that was hard wiring and rugged and brand it Caterpillar, right, which they did. And it worked very successfully, they didn’t thank God introduce a range of perfumes.
Nathaniel Schooler 28:44
Douglas Commaille 28:46
That wouldn’t be grabbing too much out of the ether. Right. The trouble I find is with extensions is the ones that worked, that work on are the ones that you remember, because they make fundamental sense. Body Shop extend expanded its range considerably from the days of Anita Roddick.
And ultimately, I mean, of course, she, she, she died, I think in the early night.
Nathaniel Schooler 29:23
She did. She visited my Dad at the winery thing that had a conversation there was part of the same sort of business networking group down there Worthing, I think.
Douglas Commaille 29:35
But every extension made sense because it underwrote the essence of their brand. Which could be, which at the time was we don’t experiment on animals.
And we don’t explain, we don’t exploit indigenous people. And we don’t try and pollute the environment, or whatever it is, and we care about the seas. We don’t want, you know, so on lots of plastic nowadays is the latest one.
But it has to have a ground it has to be born out of common sense. In reality, not some fantasy, environmental issue, right? When people are stupid.
You could put out an extension, and you it’s not difficult to come up with ideas. No, but successful ones are really tough because you’ve got to buy into people’s belief in what the brand is doing. And that really is the fundamentals of it.
Nathaniel Schooler 30:45
So what about what are your favourite kind of brands in, in the world that you think people can learn from?
Douglas Commaille 30:56
Wow, I mean, that’s a big question really, I think, I mean, they can learn from at the moment, we’re going through the growth of the digital brand into almost a super brands. And there are different differentiating themselves and creating spin-offs from themselves in all kinds of ways.
But they are doing so in my opinion, to the risk of upsetting far too many consumers.
I mean, the way Google and Amazon and people like that Facebook behave is constant media fodder. And unless they take real notice, on this issue of teenagers and suicides, they are going to find they will be affected far more than they actually think they will be. I’m convinced of it because they are all hiding behind algorithms. And all algorithms are is a little formula. Yeah, that they have created, which allows them to identify respondents to the online offer.
Nathaniel Schooler 32:29
So what sort of effect Do you do think the teenage suicide, right? Is it because teenagers are more isolated? Or you referring to some sort of bullying online?
Douglas Commaille 32:44
No, I think it’s, they are to me anyway, and I’ve spent 20 years in branding. They are not recognising the link that they have with their market and the brand.
Nathaniel Schooler 33:04
Douglas Commaille 33:04
Why people are using them, right, just ignoring them and saying, we’re going to do it our way is not the answer.
Nathaniel Schooler 33:13
Right. So when you talk about that, you’re talking about the buying experience, aren’t you? So just as an example, a few weeks ago, I tried to buy something on Amazon, right. So I tried to log into Amazon. Okay. wouldn’t let me log in.
It wouldn’t let me in, because I hadn’t locked in for ages. I haven’t bought anything on Amazon. Like, for a year or so. Okay, so So wouldn’t let me look into it. They basically just blocked me from going into their system. Yeah. So so then it took me like, forever to get into Amazon. Okay. And some guy calls me up. I was writing I was exhausted.
I just spent an hour and a half a button new bicycle. I wanted to buy a helmet and light and all that good stuff that saves you from killing yourself on a bicycle ride. And by the time Amazon and call me I had already ordered from eBay. Okay. Right. Which took me an hour and a half. I was absolutely exhausted I should have employed someone to order it for me, right. It’s exhausting stuff.
But the thing is, is that that process just makes you want to switch to someone else. But you don’t switch because there isn’t as better the reason a better option, right?
Douglas Commaille 34:28
Oh, there will be one.
Nathaniel Schooler 34:29
Yeah, there will be yeah, there’ll be a better customer orientated business.
Douglas Commaille 34:33
I mean, these people just operate as if they’re not answerable to anybody.
I find they have returns policies, which are so complicated, it’s not even worth talking about. Most of the time, I bought some books for a friend, he’s, he was only quite young, and I didn’t actually need to give them to him.
And as someone else had bought them for him. And it became a major exercise trying to communicate with them because they don’t want to talk to anyone.
Nathaniel Schooler 35:12
No they want to keep the cost down.
Douglas Commaille 35:15
We could talk to call centre, but you can’t talk to anybody who knows what the hell you’re doing, or why you’re doing it.
Nathaniel Schooler 35:24
Douglas Commaille 35:25
And I think they will lose impetus because they are completely blind to the issue.
Nathaniel Schooler 35:34
So in terms of sort of teenage suicide and this kind of stuff are we really talking about like the brand not being responsible is that what we’re really getting to?
Douglas Commaille 35:50
Ultimately they’re doing it.
Nathaniel Schooler 35:52
Yes, so really that comes down to the actual values that sit behind that brand and like the mission. I want people to have access to the best information that’s why I launched this expert series of Podcasts so I can interview people like you.
So people who have just the interest who want to learn and actually might not have any money can learn from the best in the world.
Douglas Commaille 36:18
Nathaniel Schooler 36:20
That’s my ethos for launching this and to motivate, encourage people.
Douglas Commaille 36:25
So your is educative.
Nathaniel Schooler 36:27
That’s what my Podcast series is for.
Douglas Commaille 36:29
Nathaniel Schooler 36:30
So, so that is my mission, right for this. So basically, what we’re really saying is that someone needs to come up with some values that are actually more meaningful than I want to connect everybody in the world.
Douglas Commaille 36:48
Nathaniel Schooler 36:50
And more empathetic and compassionate is what we’re, we’re in essence talking around, right?
Douglas Commaille 36:55
Yes. And values that rather than just sort of statements of intent. Statements that they can deliver on in practice. There’s no point telling everybody you want to connect with everybody in the world. If you’re properly ignoring large sectors of your universe that are in deep trouble, or not feeling well, or ill, or dying, or, whatever it is, it doesn’t, it doesn’t actually matter.
And when you start saying, for example, you can’t delete Facebook profiles, that’s quite difficult because you’re basically saying, people whose relatives of deceased are that are up in Facebook, even though they’re no longer alive.
And they came up with a solution, which was they were going to memorialise I mean, you know, I don’t understand what they’re gonna do with it. But it’s obviously not for anybody’s benefit other than their own.
Nathaniel Schooler 38:07
I think now, it looks like you can actually delete, you can actually delete that now. But thing is, they know how addictive their platforms are. And in essence, we’re, you know, we’re kind of talking a bit about that as well, really, because what it’s doing is, is encouraging people to just have virtual relationships and their time looking at the screen, which I’m doing is I’m checking some facts out.
But, it’s actually causing a lack of real, you know, face to face communication, which is, in essence, damaging the underpinning of the human nature of actually having a proper conversation. Like, we’re sitting here, I’m in your, your front room, and we’re having a conversation, okay.
But a lot of these people, I mean, they, they, they actually pretend to have a life that then they’re not living. So they will take pictures of their running shoes, for example, and then take their running shoes off and sit down and go back to bed, because they’re in clinical depression, because someone’s bullying them, or they’re unhappy in their lives and stuff like this.
And I think that technology does have a way of helping those people to make them more aware of it. But the problem is, the algorithms are so inherently addictive. Well, they target people to make them addicted to this sort of stuff.
Douglas Commaille 39:34
I’m very lucky because I don’t know what these algorithms are designed to do. But I know what they do is pretty harmful. Yeah. And they’re only in the interests of the company. Yeah, they’re only about dollars and cents.
And in the end, do you find if you’re backing of business, supporting a brand that is, is only about dollars and cents, you will come up, you will start to hit a very bumpy road when it goes wrong because it will go wrong. All it needs is one little pothole in the road. Yeah, and you will hit it and then everything will go wrong.
Nathaniel Schooler 40:16
There’s publicity at the moment on Facebook the other week was saying that they’ve got, however, many billion users. And actually, they said that we’re half of them are fake, apparently, as well. I read you know.
But I think so, in essence, what we’re talking about is getting buy-in from people so that no matter where your product is seen, or what platform you’re communicating on because they might die, these platforms, people are still going to remember you.
Douglas Commaille 40:44
Yes, MySpace did.
Nathaniel Schooler 40:46
But people so people are going to still remember you based upon your ethics and your and your values, system?
Douglas Commaille 40:56
Yes, very much.
Nathaniel Schooler 40:58
Because otherwise, they don’t feel valuable. Do they feel?
Douglas Commaille 41:01
Nathaniel Schooler 41:03
Then they’re not really they’re just a commodity.
Douglas Commaille 41:05
I said, you know, there’s a very good anecdote in this story that you accounted for about what had happened to Amazon where you could log on. I mean, did they delete your login details?
Nathaniel Schooler 41:19
They then called me it was awful. They called me and I was absolutely exhausted at that point. And no, but they called me and this guy was very good at telesales. And he persuaded me to stay on the phone while they reset my password. Yeah. And I said, Look, just send me an email, and I’ll reset it.
They sent me an email, and it didn’t work. And they didn’t give a monkey’s if they don’t actually care. Yeah, and called me afterwards. Yeah, and said, Did that work? Are you in enough? Can you do it, but then it took them three days to actually work out that I had not logged on, right. I tried to reset it again, three times.
And then it finally worked eventually, after someone in their tech department, right, had obviously looked at it. And it just reminds me of the BlackBerry days. When Blackberry really fell on its face the BlackBerry app world crashed because some bright spark in tech made everyone reset their passwords, and no one could reset their passwords. So you’ve got locked out of the Blackberry app world, you weren’t happy about it. So what if I got now I’ve got an iPhone, it’s simple.
You vote with your feet, don’t you? Because you don’t feel valued.
Douglas Commaille 42:31
But you see, that’s the thing when you start just randomly going through your database and deleting large chunks of it. And people don’t know you’ve done that. You only find they find out by accident. Yeah, I had a period where I didn’t really use Hotmail. Yeah, and I’ve been using it quite a worse but 10 years, 10 or 12 years. And it was all gone every single thing. Gone Hotmail. Just deleted it. And you couldn’t get on I mean, Skype, did it right, which I suppose is Microsoft.
Nathaniel Schooler 43:09
Same account. Yeah. Because they merge the two together.
Douglas Commaille 43:12
I mean, now they’re talking about merging all the apps together with messenger apps. Yeah, today when I hit the papers.
Nathaniel Schooler 43:21
It is it’s got to a state where you, you actually have to study I would say, two hours a day now to keep up with whatever’s going on, perhaps one hour if you’re very intelligent, but trying to keep up with the way things are going, I think we’ve reached the rate of moving forward at such a quick rate that….
Douglas Commaille 43:41
But the fundamental point is this, we may be going quickly. Yeah, but one thing you can be sure of is the last person who actually knows is the user and nobody wastes their time telling them; or thinking that they matter.
And that’s the lesson if they provide free accessibility to the Internet, and everybody then gets on board with it. They just cut off whatever percentage of the list they delete because they can’t be bothered to maintain it.
There’s a big story there because it really causes a lot of disappointment and frustration.
Nathaniel Schooler 44:29
I mean, I think that that goes to that goes back to the whole values and how your brand makes people feel right. Because you want people to buy into like this microphone. I’ve got here. Right. So Blue Yeti microphone. Yeah, they’ve been bought by Logitech. Okay. It doesn’t matter to me. I’ve got a Logitech video camera for my laptop. Right. And I adore this product. It’s the way that it feels. It’s the settings are right is the way it looks. It’s the sound that it creates everything about this product. I absolutely love for desktops. Mike. And I brought it over because it’s the best microphone. Right? And it works very well.
They’ve launched a new colour recently. I still like it in silver.
But this brand gives me a good warm feeling inside. And I’ve had it for a few years, it’s been all over the place. I’ve interviewed all sorts of people using this microphone face to face even went to the gardening club in London interviewed Mike Tobin OBE with this right, sat there,
Douglas Commaille 45:45
Did you interview him or his OBE?
Nathaniel Schooler 45:46
Well, we were in the smoking-room. And we It was funny because it was so noisy. And I adjusted the settings on here, which just gave us a like the setting we’ve got here, just in case your wife comes home and like says. What are you doing? You know, we might sort of here but you know, in essence, the people in the smoking-room dulled out their noise. Do you get the point I’m trying to make?
Douglas Commaille 46:09
Nathaniel Schooler 46:10
So I will buy another Blue Yeti microphone. It might not be blue. But I just love the product.
Douglas Commaille 46:21
You’re not going to buy it for its colour?
Nathaniel Schooler 46:23
I’m gonna buy it. Because I love everything about it!
Douglas Commaille 46:26
Everything. Yeah. performance.
Nathaniel Schooler 46:29
Yes. performance. Yeah. Yeah. And so when you talk about performance, right, you talking about deliverables, aren’t you? Right? performance, always delivering what you say you’re going to deliver?
Douglas Commaille 46:42
Yep. Yeah, yeah. A premium Champagne or anything else?
It doesn’t matter what you’re talking about. Your brand is dependent on the performance differentiators. What it does differently from all the others, is how it makes the consumer or the user feel. You know, it’s, it’s really, very, very basic and fundamental to what we’re talking about.
Nathaniel Schooler 47:16
It’s basic but overlooked entirely.
Douglas Commaille 47:19
Well, it is completely forgotten, I think. And that’s the problem with these large online businesses
Nathaniel Schooler 47:27
With some, yeah, I mean, certainly with Apple, I love apple. Yeah. But what I don’t like is the fact that I have to pay them every month for storage, which annoys me, because I really want to be able to take my photos off the iCloud. And put them on a hard drive, which I own I have to pay anyone for.
But it annoys me that I haven’t been able to do that easily. And that’s because Apple, like everyone else has made a decision that they want to make money from storage, because they see that the cost that the sales of their phones are going down the number of sales because the iPhone six plus and the iPhone eight and everything else is so similar in results in what they actually do that the sales are slowing down. So they try and make money from everything else.
And that’s and that’s annoying for the consumer. And what it means is, is that when someone comes along, and they launch a phone that is equally as good or better than an iPhone, and it has an open policy, not Android because I don’t like Android. Me, personally, I don’t like Android, too much find it. It’s difficult, but Android may fix itself in my eyes and make it easier for me to use. I pick one up, I can hardly use an Android phone now, you know, but there need to be more people understanding these things, you know, in management and also consumers as well really.
Douglas Commaille 49:04
Yes. That’s true. Yes. To improve it.
Nathaniel Schooler 49:11
So it’s a very interesting subject, you know, and as part of his part of what you’ve sort of done in the past, what, 20 years, 25 years of your, of your career, it’s so it’s, you know, a small part of everything that you do, and have done so now you’ve been involved with, with, with big business development worked at Pepsi, and, you know, lots of these huge companies, and you’ve helped people as well, right, with their personal brands. You know, I’m quite impressed, though, that you, you did this degree in law when you were actually working full time as well.
How on earth did you do that Douglas?
Douglas Commaille 49:50
Well, some pretty nifty footwork in managing a job and studying. Yeah. When I was at bar school.
And some good mates; they helped as well. Mainly small things. Like when I was in central London, one of the girls used to go and stand outside of the parking space for knowing I was coming.
Nathaniel Schooler 50:16
Douglas Commaille 50:17
So when I arrived, there was a parking space to pull into, right. That’s what helped things like that.
Nathaniel Schooler 50:24
It’s important to have help from your friends, you know, very much so.
So, when you sort of when you worked on these brands, what was the most exciting kind of project that you’ve been involved with?
Douglas Commaille 50:43
Ah, well, that would be a very complicated project in Pepsi, which I initiated because Pepsi was concerned at the distribution levels and consumption levels in Denmark, which is a very regulated market and we created an initiative with teenagers who desperately difficult demographic to appeal to and we did a deal with the cinema groups in Denmark so they could get free tickets and we combined that with a deal with a magazine in Denmark called Chile and we use the Chile angle as a way of distributing samples.
Quite a few of them actually; many thousands of samples of Pepsi or Diet Pepsi or whatever it was at the time and that went over the summer and it was absolutely helpful organise because there were so many people involved in it
But you know, with a diligent advertising agency, we had Leo Burnett, Denmark Copenhagen.
We were able to create this initiative with Pepsi Cola. And that really was quite exciting because no one ever did that. And the reason I want to never do it was because they have such strict laws in Denmark protecting consumer interest.
We literally went through the middle rule-book with a fine-tooth comb point by point to see if we could get away with sampling to see what we could get away with in terms of exposure to advertising and it was quite technically complicated.
But it was very successful the bottler was very pleased, he had never seen anything like it but there you go so went really really well.
And I think that was one of the most exciting things I did in my career.
Nathaniel Schooler 53:12
Yeah sounds like fun actually. Yeah I mean I’ve heard so many sort of interesting stories from some of the things that you’ve done find it find it quite inspiring actually.
Well, thank you, Douglas. It’s been really enjoyable. I’ve, I’ve learned a lot as usual, and I will let you know when this is life. Thank you. Thanks a lot.