broadcasting, innovating, television, viewing

Doing digital on TV: How lastminute plan to get us all channel-hopping on Saturday night

thanks Emily for the heads up on this brilliant bit of thinking from who – fresh to to TV advertising for the first time in four years – are playing for a media first on Saturday night.  an emailer to their database explains:

"On Saturday 28 February at 9.50pm, watch us on telly and win a big bundle of
good stuff.

We're creating a television first – and we want you to be
part of it. Tune into ITV on Saturday 28 February at 9.50pm. Three 60 second
adverts will be aired, straight after each other, starting on ITV, moving to
Channel 4 and then ending on Channel 5.

It's going to be the world's
first Mexican wave of thumbs up… spanning the channels and spreading the good
stuff, right around the UK. Watch the three adverts and guess the number of
thumbs you see.
Come back here and tell us
how many thumbs you think you saw.

could win a great big bundle of good stuff"

everything is in place here; (1) an dCRM and PR strategy to get this onto people's radars, (2) an innovative bit of media thinking that is consistent with and relevant to the campaign aims and (3) incentive to get involved, in the form of prizes to be won after the event.

but what's most smart is the line of thinking that got them to this idea in the first place.  Simon Thompson, chief marketing officer at lastminute explained in a Guardian article that "because is a digital-based brand we have to go on to telly with a digital mentality … To follow this ad consumers need to participate".  a brilliantly simple bit of logic that has gotten them to a very smart place indeed.

so it's all good – unless you're the OMD TV buyer, in which case 9.49pm on Saturday night may be a very nervous moment indeed ;o)

blogging, branding, broadcasting, listening, social networking

Twitter’s ascent: why the emergence of this best kind of media space means brands have never had it so good

and so to Twitter, which – thanks to, in part, Obama, Ross and Fry – post a 27-fold increase in the last 12 months is now the seventh most popular SN site in the UK.  with such growth has come the inevitable and necessary Campaign article on how brands can capitalise on this particular bit of media evolution.

some sense talked by Robin "have genuine conversations with people … show your real personality and allow people to connect with you" Grant and Faris "we've got to earn attention by being entertaining, useful and also nice" Yakob. 

but also some craziness bounded about by Dare's Flo "create a fake receptionist" Heiss and internet consultant David "don't anthropomorphise it, what if an inanimate object was to Tweet" Bain.  the question of how much fun a social network would be if inanimate objects Tweeted aside, (although its not entirely mad – my fridge for example; "feeling great today post a thorough defrosting and clean out yesterday, brrrrr – life good" or my Wii "exhausted post Chris playing for sixteen hours non-stop on Super Mario Galaxy – still at least he's completed it now and he and I can get back on with our lives"), the question remains why, when and how should brands enter the Twittersphere?

the debate is picked up in a post on Robin's We Are Social blog, where he makes two important points: (1) a brand's Twitter strategy should be built around the business objectives its trying to achieve, and (2) the hard work only really begins when you're up and out there creating and managing the day after day micro-interactions with real

its worth reading down the comments, one by Adriana Lukes struck me as particularly relevant:

"If you think about brand as identity and branding as behaviour lots of
the idiotic advice rightly ridiculed in the post just looks absurd.
Fictional or inanimate characters' behaviour fools no one and is just
another tool in the messaging toolbox. And one-way communication is
messaging, two-way communication is behaviour. Twitter is rather
supercharged on that front…"

the evolution of media and communications and the fragmentation of
channels and empowerment of consumers that has come with it, is not a
beast to be grappled with.  rather its a gift to be embraced.

we need to change our collective idea of what 'broadcasting our brand communications' means.  from… a single-minded focus on one-to-many (with things like Twitter playing around the edge), to… having and using a tapestry of touchpoints by which to reach existing and potential customers.

TV ads and Twitter should be part of the same plan, because they come from the same place – the brand, and more specifically the reason for being & idea that sit behind that brand.  understanding and continually and consistently articulating that idea is what will align 'one-to-many' as well as 'many-to-many' touchpoints.

Twitter isn't something 'else'… like so many emerging platforms its the best kind of brand space; a space where you're forced to be relevant, interesting and polite, but most of all a space where the people you're so desperate to talk to, can talk back.  we've never had it so good.

advertising, converging, engaging, integrating, praising

Ka’s missed opportunity to make ‘Find It’ tangible: why brands need to incorporate incentive for time & attention into campaigns

and so to Benjamin Button (great but too long), which Mediation caught last weekend at the Brixton Ritzy; or more specifically the ads that came before it.  the new adidas effort with Becks at the coolest house party ever was on show (wonderful – very post-Skins – and cracking seeing it in the cinema), but what caught my attention was the new Ka effort.

opening with the copy '80 Kas?', the ad clearly invites you to look for and find the 80 Ka images hidden in the ad.  the fact that you could never catch them all in one view means that you have to follow the trail online.  after a bit of online exploring you eventually reach, only this appears not to exist, as you're immediately directed to Ford's corporate space for Ka.

so far so complicated.  the site then has a host of product stuff and ways you can engage with the campaign and the brand, much of which is vaguely interesting but its a bit of a gush of stuff.  everything from Banksy street art in Shoreditch to using mobile phones to make a Ka digitally appear in the real world are present.  and they all genuinely add up to the campaign 'Find It' idea.

the question I have is why?  aside from engaging further in the campaign, what's the reward for taking part?  a huge amount of effort has clearly gone into creating a great ad (= broadcast & amplify the campaign idea) and website (= access & digital engagement), but not a lot of effort – it would seem – has gone into incentive.

you could argue that the website being difficult to find is reward in itself, but its a bit of a push.  no, it seems Ford, like a lot of campaigns, are assuming that engaging with the campaign is reward enough.  it's a busy and cluttered world out there.  time is short and attention precious.  planners should be asking themselves hard questions about what they are giving consumers back.  what's the quid pro quo for their time and attention.

would have been great to have seen some Kas hidden either around the country or in the digital space.  how much fun could it have been to make the campaign idea tangible by physically being able to find and take home a Ka?  this could also have provided the link between the TV ad and the digital experience…  the first person to locate all 80 Kas wins a real one?

the question for planners is clear…  what incentive are you planning into your campaigns?  what's the reward – above and beyond engaging in your brand's idea – for someone's time and attention; it may not come as cheaply as you may think.

(here's that adidas ad – a joy)

designing, engaging, innovating

Exploring a new word order: visualising word associations with Visuwords’s online graphical dictionary

Visuwords I've been pointed in the direction of the wonderful visuwords application by Eva.  describing itself as an 'online graphical dictionary', it assembles words in space depending on their relationship to each other.  so in the above example brandmark (verb: "mark with a brand or trademark") is three steps away from symbol (noun: "an arbitrary sign (written or printed) that has acquired a conventional significance).

it would be even cooler if you could click on a word and then
subsequently see the association cloud emerge from that word; but then
you wouldn't want to lose too many hours on a word association
breadcrumb trail…

a great tool for quick desk reference when writing decks, brainstorms or to explore the word associations of brand names or positionings.  try typing in Absolute for example, and you're not far away from arbitrary, living and infinite; not such bad word-company for a radio brand in the early 21st Century.

advertising, publishing

“Like a tiny cat piping hot farts through a pot-pourri pouch”: Charlie Brooker’s war on Walkers’ crisp experiments

the always delightful Charlie Brooker today added his voice to the chatter surrounding Walkers' 'do us a flavour' campaign.  is his G2 column he observes that "the cheap end of the crisp market has to pull stunts to distract you from the crushing social disgrace involved in actually purchasing a bag"; he has subsequently taste tested the Walkers potential flavours on behalf of Guardian readers.

Crispy Duck and Hoisin – like chicken "killed with a hammer made of compacted sugar"; Cajun Squirrel – "like a tiny cat piping hot farts through a pot-pourri pouch into your mouth; Chilli and Chocolate – "they should have called it "Dirty Protest" instead"…

all feedback that I'm sure Walkers are more than happy to receive.  the point of the campaign is to be noticed and give people reasons to talk about crisps.  if advertising is – amongst other things – fundamentally about creating Word of Mouth then Brooker's war on the great crisp experiment is a complement indeed.

engaging, innovating, selling

Connecting with Fans and giving Reasons to Buy: how Trent Reznor’s Nine Inch Nails are re-writing the rules of music marketing

the above is a great video from MIDEM – the world music marketing conference – that took place in Cannes (where else?) a few weeks ago.  in it, Michael Masnick discusses how musician Trent Reznor – for his band Nine Inch Nails – has been experimenting with a variety of
new and unique business models to reach
and connect with fans.  according to
Masnick, Reznor's secret is really quite simple:

CwF + RtB = $$$ … where:

CwF = Connecting with Fans

Reznor has used a range of techniques, including hiding secret urls in tour t-shirts (al la ARG), allowing interaction with the music, and ultimately giving a lot of his music away for free

RtB = Reason to Buy

tangible reasons to purchase a product above and beyond the music itself.  for example using CDs that change colour when they're played (a 'non-duplicable USP'), or developing added features which you only get when you purchase product rather than download for free.  Reznor has gone further by super-premiumising physical content (up to $300 a pop for an album) for which fans are happy to pay a super-premium rate

$$$ = lots of revenue generation

the approach certainly seems to work.  by super-premiumising limited editions of Nine Inch Nail's Ghosts I-IV album, he generated $750,000 in less than 30 hours.  the album was free to download, and yet it generated $1.6m of revenue

Masnick goes on to suggest a broader model for Reznor's approach:

Compete with Free + Return to Business = $$$

we could apply this model to a whole host of brands and products.  compete with free by giving your product away; to fans to generate WOM or to potential customers as a recruitment tool.  then return to business; developing ways to premiumise a brand or product, adding value – through marketing – which encourages purchase and revenue generation.  fewer people buying fewer things but at a vastly increased unit price could be no bad thing?

marketing is too often about selling.  it shouldn't be.  selling focusing on the needs of the seller, marketing should focus on the needs of the buyer…  marketing should be a natural extension of the product that adds value and desirability to products based on the wants and needs of the target audience.  how could brands you work on benefit from thinking that Connects with Consumers and develops Reasons to Buy?

converging, experiencing, innovating, selling

When brands hit the high-street: How National Geographic made their brand manifest in spectacular fashion

I learned three things in a jump into central London yesterday.  one, that Uniqlo doesn't do gloves.  two, that the recession has yet to hit Abercrombie & Fitch, the till queue for which was a good twenty-punters long.  and three, that National Geographic have opened a rather amazing store on Regent Street.

National Geographic are not the first (and they won't be the last) media organisation to open a branded retail space, but they're certainly in line to be the one that opened the grandest.  its 20,000 sq ft across three floors sells everything from bug spray to the latest technology in exploration gear, but that is just the start.

the store also aims to provide an absorbing learning experience through interactive visual displays as well as an auditorium to host film
screenings and public lectures.  it's an amazing space, and one that will go towards funding the Society's aims, as copy in the store explains:

"when you buy at the National Geographic Store, you're helping launch new expeditions across the world.  thanks to your help, projects we've helped fund have uncovered the Inca city of Machu Picchu and the wreck of the R.M.S. Titanic.  today the Society supports more than 500 expeditions and research projects a year" (source: poster in National Geographic Store)

it is certainly opening in interesting times; as an article in Retail Week observes, the store is likely to be the last major opening Regent Street (and indeed London) will see in a while:

"Retail pundits will tell you that Regent Street is a thoroughfare
filled with brand flagships where having a presence is rather more
important than making money. This may be so, but in recessionary times
the tendency to let the eye stray towards the bottom line is more
tempting than last year."

which is a shame, because it's exactly this kind of initiative, exactly this kind of engaging brand innovation, that is most likely to future-proof a brand.  as a focus for PR efforts, as a destination, and as a source for new news and sparks for word of mouth, the National Geographic Store is everything an interactive and engaging brand experience should be…

…an experience grounded not in the necessity to sell, but in the discovery and exploration of why that brand pertains to exist in the first place, and what that brand's point of view on the world is; the concept and idea of that brand made manifest.  everything, in short, that a retail space in the early 21st Century should be.