Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Can People be brands?

One of my lasting memories from university is a verbal stoush I had with a fellow student whilst sitting in a packed lecture theatre in my brand management class.

The topic of the debate was "can people be brands?" and like the warm words between Russia and the USA during the Cuban missile crisis, the idea of what love was really all about between Mike Tyson and Desiree Washignton and the differing views of the UK health system and Amy Winehouse, our stances couldn't have been more polar opposite.

Like my fellow student, Sally Belford, managing director of Principals believes 'a person is only a brand if that brand has the power to shape markets.' Yes, I agree - if we are talking about using people as opinion leaders to sell our products. But what if we take the commercial component out of the equation and the market we were talking about here were the people in our lives? What if we were trying to sell ourselves on a daily basis? Couldn't people be brands then too?

At the end of the day isn't every person in this world trying to sell themselves to other people? Aren't we all looking for love and acceptance, a job? Are we therefore in a very strange way not looking to be consumed ourselves?

If we are always looking to sell ourselves then don't we, like a brand manger trying to position a product, try to position ourselves in a way we believe will ultimately end up in the consumption of us as human beings...therefore, are we not always trying to brand ourselves? Do we not, like Coca Cola, Adidas and Calvin Klein, constantly market ourselves to hopefully one day get that job, find that love, make those friends, reach that personal objective?

Are we not therefore brands ourselves?

If you're answer is still no, ask Barak Obama...

Monday, December 8, 2008

How the internet has provided the marketing industry with the credibility it deserves

When it comes to marketing online, marketers are beginning to dig deeper and deeper to find out the plethora of endless opportunities available for their brands in cyberspace. For the traditional marketer not only has the internet provided more doors to open than the MGM Grand Hotel but it has given the industry the lifeblood it so desperately needed and thrust the careers of these marketers into a new and credible era. No, it's not only lonely young teenagers (etc..) who have benefited from the magic that is the internet but in today's economic climate where accountability is king the internet has provided an ability to record data and make marketing accountable (yes accountants, you heard me) - accountable!

There are two key metrics that create such accountability; average time spent per month and unique visitors per month.

Average Time Spent - For a brand campaign one of the key things a brand manager wants to understand and have a serious grip on, is the perception of his brand in the marketplace. By being able to track the average time spent on his site a marketer can establish how engaged his consumers are with his brand. - "Boom! Sales aren't just by chance... consumers really want to find out about us.." Isn't this what marketers truly want, consumers to find out about who they are, what they stand for and how their brand can benefit the life of a consumer? - ACCOUNTABLE!

Monthly Unique users - By tracking the amount of unique users (not page impressions) an online marketers can establish how many different people are being attracted to his site. And then once they are there it's all about data collection! Email distribution list, email distribution list, email distribution list! - "So it's not just my mum checking it out my website - success!" Don't marketers really want to know how many unique people are really interested in finding out more about the story? - ACCOUNTABLE!

Imagine sitting down with your CEO and saying, for a $5000 investment this month, our website attracted 50,000 unique visitors (that couldn't be one family could it?), each staying for an average time of 6 minutes 12 seconds. That led to 10000 sales units for the month with an average spend of $15 per unit. So, as a result of our online marketing campaign that led all this traffic to our website, we've turned over $150000!

We are now in an era where marketing campaigns are not only quantifiable but yes accountants they are now more ACCOUNTABLE than ever!!!

Friday, October 3, 2008

entering popular culture

A few weeks back I got insight into what one of Melbourne's leading planners thought was the pinnicle of advertising planning success. An account director's wet dream. His premiership. His Alan Border medal.

What was his trophy? His trophy was for a communcations strategy to enter popular culture. For it to be used in some way or another by the masses without them even realising that what they were using / saying was actually part of a strategy to make them consume. Well I guess this makes sense. I mean what is the point of pouring oodles of money into an advertising campaign? To get noticed isn't it? For your brand to be rememebered and therefore lead to sales right?

My friend's premiership medallion came in the form of a risky technological product with his client's branding, exploding onto the popular culture seen three years ago. My friend knew it had reached this level of awareness when at the cricket a member of the crowd painted on a banner saying that his product had just arrived, and gee was he happy about it!

Other great communications strategies that have left the same impression are the 'Priceless' Ads by Mastercard, The 'Not Happy Jan' Ads by the Yellow pages (below) and of course The 'Bugger' Ad by Toyota. Each of these has effortlessly entered popular culture on the streets of Australia by becoming part of common vernacular.

They say word of mouth is the best (and cheapest!) marketing tool. By creating an effective communications strategy that leads to a brand entering popular culture a campaign enters a fifth gear and a form of word of mouth that provides expendential limitations to camapign's success.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The power of song in an advertisment

Very often songs will make an ad, not creative. The Sony Bravia ad is a perfect example.

Watching the footy last night I had an enlightening thought. After a goal was kicked and an advertisement break was taken the Sony Bravia commercial appeared. A great creative ad, showcasing lots of bright colours which of course positions the Bravia Plasma as a TV that gives consumers the best possible viewing experience because of its extreme colour quality. I think the execution is brilliant using the Plasticine bunny rabbits and the messaging is clear enough as it is. However there was one thing that became evident to me after the commercial finished and this enlightenment came from my friend Michael with the simple words "I love that song, I love that ad."

There are of course MANY reasons for successful ads. Ultimately however an ad is successful if it is remembered and an ad is remembered because it strikes a chord with the consumer. That can be because of humour, a clever execution and as I realised out with Michael, a great ad can be because of a great song.

In this particular ad The Rolling Stones, "She's a Rainbow" is used to perfection. Not only was this song a great choice because it is just simply a terrific song from one of the classic bands of our time (which is why Michael was such a fan of the ad) but also because of the lyrics referring to 'rainbows' which of course instantly associates the ad once again with colour. So how can the viewer can't escape this colour messaging? Shit!

Other great examples of great song choices are Fiest's 1,2,3,4 in the iPod ad which is a very new age & individual song coupled with a very new age and individual product. On another level the iPod's simplicity to use is also highlighted by the song's chorus which starts off 1,2,3,4... In the same way the Lily Allen song 'Smile' was brilliantly used for the Sportsgirl campaign 2 summers ago. A very Summery tune the ad was launched just prior to the national release of the song and uses the independent woman image of Lily to to position the Sportsgirl range in the same way. In addition using such a fun Summery tune also helped position the Sportsgirl brand as a fun and lovable brand. Luck fell Sportsgirl's way too when the song reached top 10 status on the charts..

It's not easy to find the perfect song for a specific creative execution but by God is it effective when the perfect combination is found!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Human Billboards

Anyone who knows my views on successful marketing and advertising strategies knows that I think the key to a successful campaign is pushing the boundaries of convention.

You will NEVER reach your consumers if you take Vanilla ave to Normalville. Brands will never penetrate if they aren't remembered and will never be remembered if they don't break through all the clutter that infiltrates our daily existence. That's why I loved what I read in the MX earlier this week about cranial billboards.
An ailine in New Zealand is offering customers $1000 to shave their heads and have them temporarily tatooted with advertising for viewing at airport check outs.
Superb idea. Not only will these human billboards stand out in check out but they are a walking advertisment for weeks! The'll stop traffic!
Marketing stratgies must be unique to stand out in today's market place and such an idea will do exactly that. Hats off to the boys in NZ for an original idea! Keep em coming!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Can all products be 'environmentalised'?

I was at a friends house last night after he had just returned from the Melbourne Fashion Festival. "What did you see?" I asked. "An environmental fashion show." He responded.

A what??? Honestly, what on earth does that mean?

Apparently the show was marketed like this as it used pre-loved clothes and styled them in a new age way which amazingly gave birth to "an environmentally friendly fashion show". I'm sorry, I know everyone is trying to do their bit to save the world but an environmental conscious fashion show? W.H.A.T.E.V.E.R.

The global warming crisis facing the world is very real and I think too many people are taking advantage of this public soft spot. Hey if you're a company that can reduce your carbon emissions, by all means let everyone know about it because you are genuinely helping to solve the problem. If you're a car manufacturer that can create fuel substitutes which ultimately slows down global warming then please, let me roll out the welcome mat. But a product that recycles clothes so that one less garment is made in China (that'll put them out of business..) which means one less millionth of a cubic pound of electricity is used then you are really not doing much to save the earth.
Marketers really need to think about changing their products in a way that will reduce its affect on the environment or better still modify their product in a way that will help the world. Taking advantage of the global environmental fad and developing an environmental communication strategy to position your product as helping the world when it will won't do a thing
is just selfish marketing.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Brave Marketing

Well well well, if it isn't the case of well I could have told you that. I mean we all knew the second we sprinted to the corner store and guzzled our first putrid sips of Coke Mother last year that it tasted like dirty rat piss. But I must say, hats off to the marketing team of Coke for being brave enough to know their product was like vomit on toast. Have a look at the great messaging of the current Coke Mother campaign launched in the last few weeks which is the gutsiest marketing move I have seen for quite some time.

I have gained a lot of respect for Coca Cola for choosing this strategy to turn their sales around. They had two major options when they saw the spiralling sales of Mother: (a) Put it to bed, and never speak of it again like the girl you once brought home that you don't want you mates to know about and deny ever happened. (b) Relaunch it with a new taste and a message, "yeh we messed up but we've fixed the problem and think you need to try this again." The energy drink market is so large now I don't think Coke could have afforded to have given it another shot..

I don't think the marketing team could do the 'sorry we messed up' campaign too often but I think as it is such a fresh angle, it's refreshing! So much so that... I think I need a drink..

But well done Coca Cola, the next time I walk into my corner store you will get my round 2, taste test. And you know what? I don't think I'm the only one! Just hope it doesn't taste like dirty rat piss...

Friday, August 29, 2008

The power of viral marketing

With more than 2.9 million worldwide views of the original viral video not to mention the 1.4 million views of other classic hits on its website (www.aglassandahalffullproductions.com), the Cadbury Gorilla campaign is one of the most successful viral campaigns of our time. And it's about time Australian marketers learned how important viral marketing campaigns can be to a brand's marketing mix.

In 2007 Cadbury in the UK was in dire trouble after a series of product recalls. Since the launch of this ad however, it's subsequent win of a Grand Prix award at Cannes and best ad according to tellyads.com as well as numerous copycat YouTube videos and Facebook appreciation groups it is no surprise that according to British company YouGov that the tide has turned in Cadbury's favour and public perception is now in the black once again. Phew! But what makes such great viral execution? What rules can be applied to other viral campaigns to help get such a reaction?

Whilst working for MySpace I have encountered many a viral campaign. Some great, some woefully average. I have come up with three key learnings that all marketers can take away.

The video must be entertaining

The reasons why users forward viral videos on is because quite simply it is entertaining. If someone finds a viral video entertaining they take ownership of it so they can pass it on to their distribution list and get a reputation amongst their friends of being the email king. Don't underestimate how important this can be to some people! So remember, if you want a viral campaign to work it has to be entertaining enough for people to want to forward it on.

The video shouldn't be more than than 2 minutes long

When people look at their emails it is generally before work, at work or at school which means they don't have the time to watch a long video. Keep it under 2 minutes, this way you will be sure that the majority of people will watch it in it's entirety and if it is entertaining enough pass it on.

The video MUST be original

The aim of the video is for it to be passed on. Personally I know I get backlash from my friends if I'm sending on sloppy seconds so be sure no one has seen anything like it before. The reason why the Cadbury commercial has been such a success is because no-one has ever seen anything like it!

The Cadbury campaign cost Cadbury 6.2 million pounds. It may sound like a lot but that video will be passed on for years to come and be a trigger point for chocolate consumption every time it is watched. So has this viral campaign paid for itself? You bet! It's about time Australian marketers take a leaf out of the the books of their UK equivalents because it's time to get viral!!!!

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Samsung Olympic commerical - Is that rubbish or am I a bad judge of ad?

The Samsung advertisement that ran during the Beijing Olympics was terribley executed but the planners had got off to a great start.. Have a look below.

What a great opportunity to connect with your audience on such a big stage and what a way to blow it.

The planning for this add was teriffic. How do we target our youthful target market during the olympics? Have a cool edgy add that incorporates the sounds of the olympics in a great dance track. The blue print was there but what went wrong? It was a missing a crucial link..

In order to advertise successfully in the olympics a brand needs to bring out its emotional side of it's consumers. It's about penetrating the skin, massaging the heart and leaving the consumer warm and fuzzy. Unfortunately, Samsung's Olympic campaign was about as emotional as an Aussie male at a V8 convention.

As a reult this ad just didn't break through for me. If this blue print went one step further to take advantage of the emotional fabric that make up the Olympic spirit then "imagination" may have "lived".

Sorry I'm Samsung no medals for you. In fact I don't even make it past the heats.