Hayes Roth: Shaping brands into recognition

Last month, Hayes Roth, Landor Associate’s chief marketing officer, boarded a plane headed for Beijing. He was attending a branding roundtable where Mattel Inc., under scrutiny due to recent recalls of China made toys, will be a major topic of discussion.

Roth said the recalls are damaging, but he believes the brand will survive the crisis.

“If Mattel continues to react in the way they have demonstrated so far by being very upfront, in the long run, we believe the brand will be just fine,” said Roth, who attended the Landor Associates sponsored Economists Conferences’ Fourth Branding Roundtable on Sept. 18 and 19.

And he should know.

With more than 30 years of broad based marketing experience, Roth has helped shape some of today’s most recognizable brands and helped to guide a company through a crisis strikingly similar to Mattel’s.

Remember FedEx when it was Federal Express? Working closely with the company’s top executives, Roth not only shortened the name, he helped reimagine the company’s image from the look of its trucks to the colors of its uniforms.

His résumé includes work with companies such as Panasonic, Lucent, ITT and the New York Stock Exchange.

Now, Roth manages marketing and business development around the world for Landor and Associates. In the early ’80s, he spent a stint at Botsford Ketchum Inc. in San Francisco, now Ketchum Communications Inc.

Although he works primarily in New York, he frequently comes to San Francisco, where Landor Associates is headquartered.

Before joining Landor Associates in 1995, Roth was running his own company, Roth Marketing Communications Inc., and representing Perrier.

Like the lead paint that has cast Mattel’s image in a dangerous light, a 1990 benzene contamination scare threatened to tarnish Perrier’s image of purity.

“We dealt with it,” said Roth, who believes that Perrier survived because it had “the strong underpinnings of a good brand.” But not all crises are so easily overcome in the global marketing world.

“If you make a mistake in advertising, you can fix it,” he said, “but if you make a mistake with what we do, you’re stuck.”

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