Zag Ep. 63 - NOTHING strikes again, your value as a CMO, & music marketing magic…

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📅 This Week

In this week’s ZAG:

  • NOTHING. Again. No seriously, they launched a new phone and have sent the marketing world in a frenzy.
  • Bang & Olufsen adding visuals to their music
  • How do CMOs showcase their value in a tough market?
  • Meet some amazing CMOs and have a free dinner


📱 Launching the NOTHING Phone 2 last week, Carl Pei and his team have yet again reinvented the tech marketing playbook and done away with the standard format of "launch keynotes" which have become ubiquitous.

In just one week, the high-design smartphone captivated consumers and ignited a marketing frenzy.

So aside from a sleek design and celebrity endorsements, how have Carl Pei and his marketing team solidified their position as a true Rival in the category when it comes to their marketing?

nothing phone 2-1-1

Courtesy of NOTHING

Let’s break it down:

💖Create a tribe

  • As we know, building a tribe or community is a lot easier said than done.
  • But they’ve lent on 2 core repeated messages, throughout every campaign, video and tweet:
  1. We aren’t for everyone.
  2. Incumbents don’t innovate because they care about the earnings call, not about you.
  • They’ve been able to leverage the us vs them mentality and build around the idea of being the revolutionary in the midst of tyrant technology companies who don’t want you to be part of innovation. Quite similar to the position that Yonder (the credit card challenger brand we loved in the last ZAG) has also taken.
  • That feeling of being left out of innovation and being duped by “big business and wall st” feeds perfectly into real-world trends but also generational shifts which means that NOTHING is building a tribe of Millennials and Gen Z who will become increasingly loyal and decreasingly price sensitive to future product drops.

👀 Founder-led brand

  • Like any good challenger, (see WHOOP, Tesla, GYMSHARK) they’ve realized the power of a founder-led brand.
  • Much of the initial hype around NOTHING was the curiosity about what Pei had left OnePlus to create so it’s only right they double down on that.
  • In the most endearing ways, Carl is front and center as the visionary CEO who is at the front line of the revolution making himself seem like a man of the people.
  • You can actually see him on most of the firm's YouTube videos.  

👟 Sneaker Culture

  • Remember, NOTHING recognizes that is trying to build a tribe of millennials who have grown up on the SNKRS and StockX app.
  • So that means no grand launch keynote, just a lot of earned and influencer marketing leading up to exclusive global product “drops” at their pop-ups.
  • This drops strategy is borrowed from sneaker culture and streetwear brands, where a limited run of products will be available on a set date and often in mystery locations.
  • It creates fast hype,  immediate sales, and long term brand equity in one clean strike.

📲 Viral Vlogs

  • Vlogs are a staple of this generation and if done correctly, they often have much higher engagement than your typical launch keynote would.
  • So for this launch, they led with the tagline “make tech Carl fun again” playing into the founder brand and the core vision but through a vlog format and using a formula that would keep people engaged until the very end.
  • A great viewing experience and definitely effective at converting even the most skeptical (me) to consider a NOTHING product - check out the vlog here: Introducing Phone (2) ft. Casey Neistat

👩🍳 Here’s the formula for reference:

  • Celebrity - Casey Neistat joins for a cameo to help Carl find his fun again by taking him on a rollercoaster.
  • Challenge - Carl has a deathly fear of rollercoasters.
  • Credibility - Casey gives a glowing review for NOTHING and Carl.
  • Problem - Carl reiterates the problem NOTHING are solving
  • Constant movement - He’s flying globally and the camera is changing scenes every 2 seconds.
  • Candid honesty - Carl addresses some of the feedback from NOTHING Phone 1.
  • Behind the scenes - Carl shows you the inside of the design studio, and the factory where the phone is made.

✔️ In conclusion, the launch of the NOTHING Phone 2 has once again demonstrated Carl Pei and his marketing team's ability to revolutionize tech marketing. By creating a tribe mentality, emphasizing the founder-led brand, adopting sneaker culture strategies, and leveraging viral vlogs, NOTHING has solidified its position as a true rival in the smartphone category. With these innovative marketing tactics, NOTHING is building a loyal following among millennials and Gen Z, positioning themselves as the pioneers of innovation in a sea of tech giants.

🪞 See Yourself in Sound

Bang & Olufsen, the Danish audio brand, introduced a new way for music enthusiasts to share their love for music in their new campaign.

🧐 What is it

  • Through the "See Yourself in Sound" campaign, users can create personalized 3D avatars based on their music preferences.
  • You can connect your Spotify account and using your music choices, B&O will generate a unique 3D avatar that represents your eclectic tastes.

🤨Why did they do it?

  • “The aim of this campaign is to reach that audience and do it in a way that doesn't feel like it's just advertising. We're not asking anything of them. We're giving them something back in the form of an experience. It is about literally looking at your avatar as an interpretation of your sound.” Paul Collins, B&O’s Creative Director.

🙂 Why is it good

  • The initiative embraces digital interaction and reflects Bang & Olufsen's commitment to staying relevant in the evolving landscape of virtual worlds and with younger audiences.
  • They’ve created something unique and shareable which is surprisingly hard to do in a space where Spotify dominates.
  • Also, we know how much we all used to love Window’s media player visualizer- this is that but on steroids...

😂 Our own Rival avatar?

Funny you ask, but yes, we did put a selection of our own Rival favorites into the B&O machine. Apparently, we’re legends or something…

Screenshot 2023-07-18 at 16.04.01

Create your own here

💬Question of the week from CMO’s

Q: With the uncertainties of the future economy and the need to demonstrate content ROI, how can marketers effectively co-own key marketing metrics with other functions and showcase their value-add to management? 🔮

A: It’s not about owning the metrics, it’s about owning the solutions to certain business issues London Roundtable

🥊 Check out the full answer along with other questions we answered in this week’s Punchy

📺Watch it here

📖Check Punchy out on our Rival page here


🍽️ At the Rival Roundtable

#Rival #Roundtable in London last Thursday!

Another thoroughly fascinating conversation with some of the smartest #marketingminds from Fintech to Fashion.

If you're a CMO and want to join the next one, you can apply for a seat here:

📖Recommended Reads

We recently had veteran CMO Lucas Bergmans 🚀 join our Rival Roundtable dinner last week in London. Aside from incredible marketing stories, he's been writing an insightful blog about what it actually takes to build a scale-up. You can check out his blog, "Notes From the Rocketship" here!

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