No excuse for small copy

Small_copyI would like to get a slight bug-bear off my chest.  on the way out last night I caught this 16-sheet at Goodge street tube station.  its for a bed company and they’ve taken the tried and tested approach of utilising long copy on a cross-track.

but the copy is too small to read.

now I’d be the first to confess that my vision is hardly 20:20.  but I’d like to think that it’s fairly representative of the population as a whole.  and I simply couldn’t read the poster.

there’s no excuse.  Viacom (now CBS) can electronically mock-up copy in-situ and quickly get it to a client or creative agency.  whilst this won’t let you exactly see if every word can be read, it does give you a reliable idea of scale – allowing you to judge to what extent the copy can be easily read.

CBS optimistically estimate that they are asked for mock-ups of creative for only one in every thirty campaigns.  this just doesn’t seem like anywhere near enough.

waiting for a tube train is frustrating enough.  let’s not make it any more so!

advertising, branding, engaging, planning

five thoughts on peer to peer (viral) marketing

Network_p2pwhilst there aren’t rules per se, and the way a brand creates viral – or what I’d suggest we term peer to peer marketing – will vary depending on the market, brand, and most significantly the target audience; there are some general principles that I think are pertinent:

one – motivation

the consumer’s motivation to pass on will always be grounded in what’s in it for them, this can be one of a variety of things…

> credibility – getting kudos for finding something first, the act of passing it on is implicit proof of this

> financial reward – people who do something as a result of you passing something on earns the sender a reward (many online promotions work like this)

> exclusivity – you could famously only join Gmail if you were asked to join by an existing member

the rule of thumb therefore is don’t create peer to peer marketing material on your terms, but on consumers’  …what’s in it for them?

two – mechanism

consider how the material will be seeded, received, consumed and passed on…

> seeding / receiving – who are you originally sending it to and how?  material that comes from a known source will have more credibility

> consumption – is it easy and quick to access the material?

> passed on – is it easy and quick to pass it on? – remember consumers are time poor and information heavy

facilitate the spread – minimise viral file size (or host remotely) and allow forwarding easy

three – methodology

historically – viral comms were spread via the garden fence; communities were geographically limited

with the advent of tintinet – it became possible to quickly reach a multitude of people very quickly (exponential spreading of material)

more recently the creation of hosting platforms has attracted attention – eg MySpace, YouTube… which has meant that material is hosted independently of the viral location of it (ie it’s the link that’s viral – the content is hosted by an aggregator eg YouTube)

so… consider where and how you choose to host – it will convey independence (or otherwise), but this will have consequences for the extent to which – as creator – you are given credit

four – contemporacy

novelty value – if it or it’s like has been seen before, it will be less likely to be passed on

currency – easier to spread if its grounded in current affairs or the zeitgeist

reportage – ideal is to get established media to report the activity – such breakthroughs are rare but massively extend the reach of the viral as well as convey credibility and ‘buzz’

make it relevant to something beyond the current state and needs of your brand

five – measurement

whatever you’re putting out there, make sure you keep track of what’s happening to it

who’s getting it, who’s passing it on, who comments? – technorati, delicious and blogpulse all can help brands do this

Host the content somewhere where there is inbuilt measurement (YouTube, MySpace etc)

basically… don’t send off all you hard work into the ether without tying a lead on it first

internet, user-generating

Entertaining hijacking at a time of mourning

Oc_castI was going to write an entry mourning today’s decision to axe The OC at the end of season four, which is about to screen in the UK;  but on conducting a quick scan on the web to see what others were saying at this (sad) time I discovered something much more entertaining.  reading the Guardian blog on the subject I found that the entire conversation had been hijacked by people posting comments re the prevalence of Jews in the US broadcasting industry.

now that’s more than a little off-piste for my little media blog, but it does highlight the extent to which internet discussions are free from the conventions of traditional publishing.  in the latter, a subject is extensively (or otherwise) explored and described, opinions given and conclusions made.  there is no such rigour on the web…

in the above’s case the discussion veers widely off course to the dismay and despite the pleadings of those wishing to grieve:

"Ladies and Gentlemen, this is a forum for those mourning the passing of the OC. This is not a space for anti-Jewish rants. I wish to dialogue with others who share my depression at the passing of a true phenomenon. Those of you who cannot empathise with those of us who are grieving, there are many other places on the GU blogs where you can express your views".

Posted by TomBrown on January 4, 2007 05:41 PM.

no chance Tom, the rules don’t apply.  as many a brand has learned to their detriment, the internet is not the place for rigorously researched and tested messaging, at least not if you want consumers to own, discuss, and distribute it on your behalf.  and quite right too; consumers own internet content – the cut it, change it, re-edit it, and then of course they may distribute it for free on behalf of a marketeer.  you can’t have it both ways.  as William Gibson so succinctly put it; "The remix is the very nature of the digital."

its worth noting that this flaw is conversely on of the traditional media’s greatest strengths.  whilst the Guardian’s blog veers wildly – if entertainingly – off subject, consumers can be confident that the traditional version of the paper will not.  and are happy to pay for such.  for this amongst other reasons, predictions of the demise of the newspaper are extraordinarily premature and wildly off the mark.

and the same applies for TV.  there remains – and will remain for a good while – the need for quality studio-produced broadcast entertainment.  as I’ve often said to TV clients when discussing how they negotiate the flood of user-generated content we are increasingly consuming (occasionally but as not as often as is implied to the detriment of broadcast impacts); you’ll never make the OC in your living room.  which is a shame really, cos after today’s news that’ll soon be the only place it can be made.

advertising, planning

Good and aren’t good enough any more


I like this ad.  I like the line and the insight behind it – namely that in a time-poor, work-dominated busy London life it’s no longer enough to expect love to find you; you have to find it for yourself.  Make it happen.  With a little help from of course.

It’s also a good looking ad – it’s bright and stands out on a drab underground platform. But I hope that the campaign hasn’t stopped with this one good rectangular underground ad… Good ads are all well and good.  But good ads simply aren’t good enough any more.

Its an insight (and indeed a brand promise) that deserves to be taken further – in short it’s a comms insight and there’s the potential for media channels to be much more than just the medium for the conveying of the make love happen message. Rather, there is the opportunity for the role of media to be a facilitator of making love happen, or the educator to help the increasing numbers of single people to make it happen.

A few starters for ten:

  • Awards for venues that are proven to offer the best chances of meeting a Match
  • Commission a survey to identify the best places to meet people
  • Inserts in magazines featuring entertaining advice on finding a Match
  • Free cinema screenings with drinks afterwards when you register – use the common ground offered by movies, maximise this with in-cinema media
  • Online in-ad questionnaire – an application that determines (based on where you go out / what you like / do) your best strategy for getting a Match

None of these of course could and should better the product (ie the site), but they do offer the opportunity for media to be a true taster for what’s on offer; and – crucially – to make the brand evident through behaviour, not just through messaging.  I hope that are doing it …their insight deserves it.