How Mike Markkula’s marketing philosophy influenced some of the biggest campaigns in the country. From marketing a product, to giving assistance in trying times, this is how his philosophy inspired these campaigns.
More than 40 years later, we get to see unforgettable campaigns such as Google’s Year in Search (2017), Coca-Cola’s Share a Coke, and Fox Portugal’s campaign in Europe. His impact extends beyond the West, and into Southeast Asia– Specifically, Malaysia.
You’ll find plenty of memorable marketing campaigns here, executed by talented minds who dared to think outside the box. But before them, there lived a man whose marketing philosophy became the foundation that future marketers around the world stood upon.
That man is Mike Markkula.
Armas Clifford Markkula Jr, or “Mike” Markkula, was an American businessman who earned millions through stock options during his tenure as a marketing manager for Fairchild Semiconductor and Intel. After his early retirement at 33, he became a startup consultant and mentor to dozens of entrepreneurs.
Then in 1977, he came out of retirement and became Apple Inc.’s first angel investor, investing US$91,000 of his funds into the company while helping them secure a US$250,000 line of credit. He eventually became the first Chairman from 1977 to 1981 and the second CEO of the company from 1981 to 1983. And despite the decades between his role as CEO to the present times, his marketing philosophy continues to inspire some of the biggest campaigns launching within the industry and remains relevant to businesses and organisations more than 40 years later.
Empathy, Focus, Impute
These 3 principles form the core of his marketing philosophy, defined, as so:
This principle revolves around understanding the needs of the customer and providing them with a service or product that fulfils their needs. I.e. Striving to create an “intimate” connection with customers’ feelings.
"We will truly understand their needs better than any other company" - Mike Markkula, Former Apple Chairman & CEO
Digi Business (#KamiCareMBiz)
In 2021, DIGI Business announced its #KamiCareMBiz campaign by pledging to support small and micro businesses through RM150,000 worth of mobile plans and digital solutions to help digitalise their business.
DIGI also collaborated with local radio stations such as MY FM, HITZ FM, and ERA FM to highlight their offerings on-air, and assisted businesses eligible for the campaign to claim up to RM5,000 from the PENJANA SME Digitalisation Grant.
“We are committed to be their trusted digital partner and help them recover and thrive” - Eugene Teh, Digi’s Chief Business Officer.
DIGI helped many struggling businesses generate the awareness they needed to boost sales and provide them with support to go digital, especially during unprecedented times when SMEs were quite literally hanging by a thread. A business will foster a positive brand relationship with their customers when they see the empathy that these businesses demonstrate firsthand
This principle is about concentrating business efforts to accomplish its main objectives and eliminating less important opportunities– opportunities that stray from the business goals or yield mediocre results.
Carlsberg Malaysia, 2018 FIFA World Cup
When it comes to making the most of opportunities, Carlsberg Malaysia isn’t one to shy away from them, especially during an event as big as the FIFA World Cup.
It was during the event that Carlsberg Malaysia identified the nations that most Malaysians supported which were Brazil, France, England, Germany, Portugal, and Spain.
They capitalised on this by showcasing the flags of the nations that Malaysians supported on their products, allowing customers to purchase specially themed cans, bottles, and a variety of premiums into collectibles that every football fan would be proud of owning.
Entitled “What is Your FANationality”, Carlsberg focused on redesigning the packaging and making that the core experience. To keep the brand association with football high, they showed the campaign via football programming which allowed people to choose their sides and engage with Carlsberg from the comfort of their homes or even at the bar.
The campaign ran for 30 days, and they achieved:
10%+ increase in sales volume
A total turnout of 9,560 participants for branded events
80,000 participants at booths
700,000 customers reached
US$500,000+ or more worth of PR value
By keeping things simple, Carlsberg delivered customers an experience to remember with personalised collectibles to match. But most importantly, they acquired a positive brand association with sports and achieved their campaign target of increasing customer reach and sales.
Impute means to name the cause of something that has happened. Despite being awkwardly named, this principle is about imparting a positive impression of the desired qualities of your product or service to your customers.
"People DO judge a book by its cover. We may have the best product, the highest quality, the most useful software, etc.; if we present them in a slipshod manner, they will be perceived as slipshod; if we present them in a creative, professional manner, we will impute the desired qualities." - Mike Markkula, Former Apple Chairman & CEO
BMW Malaysia (#BeUnconventional)
How do you promote a new product at a time when nobody can come and see it physically?
That was the challenge BMW Malaysia faced in June 2021, when the Movement Control Order was in full force due to the high number of confirmed COVID-19 cases.
The solution? Impart the desired qualities of your product in a way that resonates with your customers This harks back to the phrase “It’s not what you said, it’s how you said it.
BMW Malaysia approached the launch of their 2 Series Gran Coupé with their #BeUnconventional campaign by portraying it as an unconventional car for unconventional individuals. They targeted millennials who weren’t afraid to carve their path; individuals who don’t follow trends. They also understood that their target audience is seeking to purchase stories and relations, rather than a product itself.
Hence, they engaged 5 KOLs to create one unique story each, with the premise of sharing how being unconventional put them at an advantage. These videos were around a minute long, and told the story of how these KOLS dared to push beyond the boundaries; marketing it as a car for those who dared to be different.
To keep with the theme, they also collaborated with Auntie Siow, a.k.a. Jenn Chia, selling the car in a way you’d expect your neighbourhood aunt would; by using puns, ‘colourful’ jokes, expressed using local Malaysian slang that forms many Malaysians’ mode of communication.
The success was astounding. BMW Malaysia achieved and acquired:
9% engagement rate
65% video completion rate
350 sales inquiries
By selling the product in a way that immediately touched on a trigger point for potential customers, BMW was then able to sell one of their more luxurious cars during a time when Malaysians were told to stay at home. This goes to show the power of a great story, and how it relates back to your customers’ needs and wants.
Three marketing philosophies, endless possibilities. Marketing campaigns ultimately seek to solve a problem our customers face. Whenever you're stuck on an idea, or how to market a specific product, it helps to stop, sit back, and think about how these three philosophies in particular can help develop a campaign that's not only creative, but effective.
Markkula’s philosophies are just one of the many inspirations we draw when we develop successful campaigns for our clients here at WEBQLO. Whether you’re looking for a campaign that drives direct sales, or grow brand love with your audience, we’re ready to tailor a solution that works for you and your business. Contact us today!
Markkula, Mike (Armas Clifford, Jr.) oral history
5 brands in Malaysia that hit the bullseye for | Marketing-Interactive
Top 7 Marketing Success Stories in Malaysia (ajmarketing.io)
VMLY&R COMMERCE | Our Work | Probably the Best Football Beer (vmlyrcommerce.com)