Interview with Brian Sheehan: Why Write Loveworks?


Lovemarks Campus recently spoke to Brian Sheehan, Associate Professor of Advertising at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University and author of Loveworks: How the world’s top marketers make emotional connections to win in the marketplace. In the first of part of the interview, we asked Brian, “Why write Loveworks?”


Brian Sheehan: I decided to write Loveworks because I thought it was necessary. Having been with the company [Saatchi & Saatchi] so long and seeing how Lovemarks had grown from being this thing that a lot of people, even in our own company, were skeptical about, and see it named by Advertising Age as one of the “Ideas of the Decade”; to see Kevin [Roberts] personally being named one of the marketers of the decade; and having them point to Lovemarks as a key idea of leadership in our industry.

And then to realize that people were buying into Lovemarks, but what almost everyone was saying was “It’s a great theory, but how do I get there?” “How does my brand become a Lovemark?” “What’s the roadmap?” And that’s really difficult because every brand is in a different competitive position. Every brand is in a different category. Economies change. We can be in a recession at one point, we can be in a deep recession at another point, we can be in growth economy at another point, and that all changes the dynamics of the marketplace.

So it’s not easy to just say if everyone follows the same sets of rules, regardless of category, regardless of economy, regardless of position, regardless of the history of your brand, you’re going to be a Lovemark. Ta dah! It became a bit of an empty promise for a lot of people. “Yeah, it’s great, I love it, I want to become a Lovemark, I have no idea how.” And you don’t have a roadmap.

I remember talking to Kevin Roberts, and some of the key players at Saatchi. Talking to Vaughan Emsley who runs our Procter & Gamble business, and Richard Hytner, who does all our training worldwide, and what I said to them was, “We have top clients; some of the biggest, most successful companies in America – Procter & Gamble, Toyota, General Mills, MillerCoors; some of the most profitable and successful companies in the world – T-Mobile, Visa Europe.

We have case studies that go from Africa, to England, to the United States, to Argentina, to Brazil, to China, to Australia, to Japan. Where clients of ours have taken this theory and executed it in such a way that they have built Lovemarks status.  Either for their company, or for their brand, or for their category. So my feeling was, why don’t we show how some of the smartest marketers in the world have taken this theory and used it to win in the marketplace. And what can we learn from that? So if there isn’t a roadmap, or a GPS with a nice woman’s voice telling you ‘Turn Right’ ‘Turn Left’, can we look at what all these companies have done and figure out rules for the road?


Brian Sheehan is Associate Professor of Advertising at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Syracuse University. Previously he was with global creative powerhouse Saatchi & Saatchi for 25 years, with CEO roles at Team One Advertising in Los Angeles and at Saatchi & Saatchi Australia and Japan.

Loveworks follows Brian’s books Basics: Online Marketing (2010) and Basics: Marketing Management (2011). He has been published in Advertising Age, theJournal of Advertising Research, and in several peer-reviewed books and journals. In 2011 Brian was presented with the coveted Teaching Excellence Award by the Newhouse School’s graduating class.