branding, praising

in praise of… Innocent Smoothie Bobble Hats

Innocent_smoothies_with_hats_1this isn’t just a couple of innocent smoothies bobble hats on.  …well, actually it is just a couple of innocent smoothies with bobble hats on, but its more than that too.

me and my friend Charity met for breakfast this morning at EAT on Tottenham Court Road where to our surprise and joy the entire shelf of innocent smoothies were adorned with bobble hats.

it turns out that 50p from the sale of each bottle (25% of the retail price) goes to Age Concern.  so a great case study of a Christmas-season promotion to make people feel better about spending £2 on a bottle of crushed fruit.  well yes, and no…

of course its a marketing campaign with the aim of getting you to buy more smoothies, but the promotion doesn’t stop at the shelf…  the Innocent smoothies blog directs you to the Supergran flickr group, where you can view pics of all the hats different people have knitted, as well as the people who’ve knitted them.  it really doesn’t feel cynical or false, its a promotion that seems to have galvanised a community of people to get knitting for good.

and thats the real joy of this promotion.  when you learn that each hat is individual and hand made, and that for the last six months thousands of volunteers have been knitting hundreds of thousands of bobble hats.  for smoothies.  for us to buy.  so that Innocent can sell more bottles and give money to Age Concern.  its actually all a bit crazy when you think about it, but I guess thats why I like it.

so to Innocent smoothies and moreover to all the volunteers who have worked for half a year to knit hats for bottles of fruit… we salute you.

praising, user-generating

in praise of… William Sledd

William_sleddtoday we praise a 23 year old from Paducah, Kentucky, whose youtube channel currently has over 20,000 subscribers, and whose Denim Edition vlog special has attracted almost a million views in a month.

yes, this entry is in praise of William Sledd; the presenter of youtube’s ‘Ask a Gay Man’ series, who in the world of web 2.0 has become a user-generated celebrity in the blink of a month.

the big question… is he sponsored by his employer?  he wears GAP, he compares GAP and he recommends that if you’re after something you head to the GAP.  are we in lonely girl territory; is this corporate wolf in user-generated sheep’s clothing?  or is the kid from Kentucky who loves fashion, telling it straight, and Sex And The City a genuine brand advocate, whose found fame just by saying it as he sees it?

and does it matter?

well yes it does.  the point of something being user-generated is that its precisely that, its made by kids in Kentucky, or guys in Grantham…  that is its value; its real.  to learn that something’s not, that its the result of a corporate brainstorm, leaves it all a little soul-less.

but that is to take nothing away from the completely-genuinely amazing William, online mega-celeb and fashion hero to the masses, and of whom Davodd of sagely notes "Who would have thought some kid out of Padukah, Kentucky could be so right?"  …we agree, and William, we salute you.

engaging, experiencing

London Wine Show

Oz_clarke_wine_show_1a recent visit to the wine show at the business design centre gave me ample opportunity to experience and observe three great examples of brand engagement.

the first was a wine tasting crash course by Threshers, which gave me and my mate Astrid a steer on the best things to look for and ask whilst wine tasting.

the second was watching for a while a wine tasting theatre sponsored by Vinopolis, with Oz Clarke running the proceedings (pic above).

finally, Sainsbury’s were there too – suggesting which wines would best go with different foods, and of course allowing you to sample as you went along!

these three experiences are to my mind examples of why it’s not enough for a brand just to be at an event.  it’s not enough to say ‘this is who we are’…  I remember these three examples because they were working hard to give consumers a genuine experience above and beyond that which they would have had just by going to the event.  call it added value, call it engagement, call it experiential marketing.  call it whatever you want…  these three brands made an effort.  it was appreciated.  and they will be remembered I’m sure by more then just myself and my mate Astrid.

branding, social networking

branded me

Me_brand_tshirtsomeone from MSN reminded me of something today that I’d thought about ages ago…  they said that users of their Live Spaces sites were "using social networking as the media space to sell their own brands".  they were impling that people were conscious of themselves as brands and marketing themselves as such.

in some respects we’ve always been brands; marketing ourselves to friends and acquaintances by how we look and behave.  but the advent of social networking has taken this to a new level.  with the removal of physical limitations, we can now market ourselves to the online world without meeting a single person.

we authors broadcast first impressions of ourselves to the great many more browsing observers.  in doing so, we’re creating shortcuts for and extensions of our own personalities to communicate what makes us who we are.  we’re selling ourselves and our lives.  we’re marketing.

does this make us more brand literate?  I’d suggest it does.  in doing so, we implictly learn to identify and actualise the shortcuts and cues of what makes us who we are, and learn to spot and understand them more readily in commercial brands.

does it make us more shallow?  absolutely not; its a though millions of autobiographies are being conceived and written before our browsing eyes.

engaging, internet

dazeddigital does Project [RED] in style

to mark world aids day on December 1st, dazeddigital is using its site to broadcast artwork by well known artists as well as web users.  the aim is to raise awareness of aids issues by coming together to exhange ideas and information, as well as draw attention to Project [RED].

as well as running on, the 24 hour long event will also run on the dazeddigital myspace site… creating an opportunity to grow awareness their own site by engaging with a significantly larger online aggregation of audience in a real and credible way.  a great example of a media property doing something that is genuinely in the spirit of its brand…

for more information click here.


McDonald’s social networking

Mcdonalds_msn_spaceI wrote recently about Ofcom’s misplaced effort to improve the health of children by imposing a ban on junk food before 9pm, hitting the revenues of kids TV channels and the quality of the programmes as a result.

McDonald’s is already using online social networking sites to communicate to kids.  expressinit is a site on MSN’s social networking offering Live Spaces.  the competition asked for designs for original characters to use as MSN emotes and winks, the winner received a MacBook for her efforts.  lots of other people who visited the site are now aware that "The Pound Saver Menu range was created for you.  Have it Your way!", and not a regulation in sight…


junk food ban for all the wrong reasons

the junk food ban announced last week represents not a sensible curb on the influence of advertisers on naive young minds, but rather an unnecessary step pandering to the notion that a curb in advertising will improve the health of children.

two things will improve the health of children in th UK.  eating healthier food and getting more exercise.  neither of which will happen as a result of OFCOM’s regulations.  whether you like it or not, kids in the UK – as indeed are we all – are exposed to a barrage of commercial messages.  these messages exist and a funded because there is sufficient demand for the products they advertise.  and there is demand not because the industry brainwashes children into buying them, but because kids or parents is buying junk food.

the only consequence of the regulations will be a hit on the commercial incomes of channels targeting young people.  the only consequence of that will be a decline in the quality of the content on those channels.  which is in no one’s interest.

in fact, TV is arguably the only media channel that educates children whilst serving them ads.  junk foods will still appear on posters and an array of other media, children will still be aware of their existence.  the only thing the kids will miss is quality programming to educate and stimulate (as well as of course entertain).

so well done…  TV revenues down.  programme budgets slashed.  junk food still being sold.  and regulations in place to do something that any responsible parent should be doing in the first place.


the internet isn’t a media channel

I think we need to get something straight.  the internet isn’t a media channel.  it’s a technology.  a technology capable delivering content across of range of different media.  a technology that can be TV, or radio, or press (or probably as we should say; audiovisual, audio or visual).

it’s bugging me to hell that in the same breath people are talking about the demise of television and the rise of the internet.  the internet is television.  but it’s television on viewers’ rather than broadcaster’s terms.  the issue isn’t the demise of TV, but the decline of the broadcast model and of the broadcaster as commissioning editor and content aggregator.

the internet is TV, and radio, and print; and it’s no co-incidence that the commercial entities that were formerly the only conduits for these forms of content, are the same commercial entities that are feeling the most heat.  if you’re a media owner in this position the challenge is therefore twofold – one, how do you maintain value for consumers in the offline delivery of your content, and two, how do you deliver your content online whilst turning a profit.

but please, stop calling the technology that is the internet a medium. not only is it a misjudged and unfair comparison to offline media but it massively underestimates the capabilities of the web.