I rarely write about projects that I’m involved with, but I am super-excited about AXE App Day 2011, the first-ever developer day staged by a brand.
Developer conferences are not new. Tech companies like Apple, Google, Facebook and Microsoft have them all the time. What makes AXE App Day 2011 unique is that Unilever is staging it. How will it work? Think of it as “iTunes for AXE.”
Now why would anyone need iTunes for AXE, or any other consumer packaged goods brand?
Imagine you are in charge of a global marketing department with products distributed in 200+ countries. You have hundreds of telephone companies, local agencies and production companies to manage and your job is to determine the return on investment (ROI), return on advertising spend (ROAS) and media effectiveness ratio (MER) on hundreds of apps, on hundreds of platforms, on hundreds of carriers in dozens of languages. Daunting? Now think about it from the creative side. How would you create a scalable business process to manage ideation, creation, production and distribution?
Actually, the solution is well understood on the tech side, I call it the “Steve Jobs/Tom Sawyer Paint The Fence Paradigm.” Steve Jobs created a way to enhance the value of Apple iProducts by enlisting the help of thousands of third party developers. He did so by creating a platform and business processes that enable gifted, self-interested artists, artisans, technicians, engineers and ordinary tinkerers to profit from the relationship. Apple is a manufacturer – consumer packaged goods companies are also manufacturers. Is there a way to adapt the “paint the fence” paradigm to a CPG company?
I think so. Create a platform for the marketing department with appropriate application programming interfaces (APIs), create a software development kit (SDK), craft a set of brand messaging and measurement guidelines and then gather a group of gifted, self-interested artists, artisans, technicians, engineers and ordinary tinkerers and teach them how to use it.
When Social Media platforms are used to enlist virtual armies, the third parties sometimes called “brand ambassadors.” Whatever you call them, the concept is clear. If you enlist a large number of third parties whose economic interests are aligned with yours, good things will happen.
So, AXE App Day 2011 is an invitation-only one-day hybrid developer conference, training seminar and networking day designed by Unilever to engender communication, collaboration and ideation around the AXE Master Brand of personal care products.
The goal of the day is to familiarize the development community with a new opportunity to work with AXE, and to unveil a new business model.
The day will begin with AXE brand presentations to familiarize attendees with AXE’s brand messaging goals. The main objectives of are to:
A) develop strong relationships with the app development community.
B) create an environment for the free flow of ideas and technology.
C) pick some app ideas to be funded and deployed.
There will be a series of Case Study presentations by world-class developers and a complete overview of the technical specifications and the business opportunity. There will be a moderated “idea jam” where developers will share their ideas with the group.
There will be breakout sessions with key developers who will help have specialized knowledge of both AXE marketing requirements and AXE technical specifications. During the breakout sessions, developers will craft short presentations of their best ideas for AXE apps. There will be time for teams and individuals to present their ideas. There will be an awards presentation for the best ideas at the end of the day.
This is a baby step towards building something new and different. Yes, it requires an open mind – but change usually does.
If you’re a great app developer, or if you work magic with Facebook, Google, Google+, Android, Xbox, Apple iDevices, social networks, mobile stuff, gaming, utility apps or other platforms where AXE-oriented communities of interest may form, please feel free to request an invitation to AXE App Day 2011. It’s going to be awesome!