public relating

Because your phone could be worth $10,000: what to make of the LG buy back


so the above came my way describing how LG are looking to buy back five of their chocolate phones.  the lucky owners are set to gain $10,000 if one of the phones are theirs.  one senses a PR machine behind all of this, but it does demonstrate a very interesting way of engaging with the owners of your phones…

all a bit Willy Wonkas Golden Ticket in reverse, but there are five LG customers out there set to gain a fair bit of cash and a new handset to boot just for owning one of the phones.  hope that it is able to go further and amplify the reason behind all of this so that potential customers are exposed to events…

because at the heart of this is a nice old Mystery Box.  why do they want to buy the phones back?  why just five?  why these ones?  and where there are mystery boxes there's media to earn.  and we like earned media, not just because its free, but because it comes from the conversation, from the buzz, the discussion and the debate.  and that's very valuable media.

all good, and if you own an LG phone… good luck!

product placing, regulating, television

2.2%: why it will take more than product placement to relieve the UK’s commercial broadcasters current woes

Channel4_news_product_placement Krishnan Guru-Murthy interviews Darryl Collins of SeeSaw media on last night's product-placement imagined Channel4 news

so six months after Andy Burnham ruled out the possibility the UK would seem to be on track for product placement after all.  the move – which would see independent broadcasters to take payments for displaying commercial products during shows (excluding news, kids TV and BBC) – will be announced by Ben Bradshaw next week.  shortly after the announcement all hell broke loose.

Metro reported Mediawatch-UK as suggesting that programmers had to be 'very careful' about which products were advertised, and Richard Lindley, of the Voice of the Listener and Viewer (just both of them?) as saying: "we believe that product placement destroys the trust of viewers in the programmes they are watching".  if that were the case trust would have already been destroyed – programmes are already packed full of brands (they're a reflection of the real world), its just that now broadcasters and programme makers will be able to monetise the exposure they give to brands in doing so.

there was an interesting exchange between Krishnan Guru-Murthy and Darryl Collins of SeeSaw media on Channel4 news last night:

CGM: do you think that brands can be trusted with this kind of power?

DC: erm

CGM: you work with them.  you know how cynical they are…

DC: of course.  what they're looking for is the greatest ROI … so they're going to have a say in what's going on air, then if that helps generate extra revenue or sales … then yes they will want to get involved

perhaps I'm just the luckiest of planners, but not many if any of the brands that I work or have worked with are that cynical.  most are interested in having a genuine, effective and engaging encounter with the people they are wanting to reach, and if placing products in TV shows allows then to do that then all power to them.  it will be a foolish and ill-advised brand that goes in all guns blazing – pissing off programme makers, broadcasters and ultimately viewers in the process.  no one will win, least of all the brands themselves.

finally a little context.  if, as estimated, ITV see about £30m a year of the £100m or so that's expected to be generated thru the move, its not going to have a huge impact.  about £1.3bn in spot revenues across the network, a good £60m more in sponsorship revenues and say £20 in online totals about £1.38bn.  £30m therefore represents about 2.2% of what ITV are currently generating.  even if ITV was to open the doors as per the below (which they won't), the promise of a few product placements is hardly salvation for the UK's commercial broadcasting sector.

ps thanks Bevvo for the stats and the vid…

blogging, measuring, planning, social networking, targeting, user-generating

Measuring the Groundswell: how Forrester are identifying and quantifying groups and behaviours in the social media space


so I've started reading Groundswell, a book about how social technologies are transforming business, by Josh Bernoff and Charlene Li.  some of its early content is a little objectionable, for example "some people were using Twitter in some pretty silly ways … giving hourly updates on what they had for lunch or what meeting they had just entered … that gets pretty insipid after a very short while".

tell that to the kids behind scanwiches – who've created an awesome space which displays cut profiles of globally inspired sandwiches accompanied by simple ingredient captions.  the point is that its not our place to judge.  the world is evolving, and what's a great more important that deciding whats insipid or not is working out how to help brands enter and thrive in a world of social medias.

fortunately then that the authors get beyond this to very usefully classify six groups according to the different activities and applications that people use in the Groundswell; the "social trend in which people use technologies to get the things they need from each other; rather that from traditional institutions like corporations".  the classifications are:

  • creators – publish blogs / content, maintain a web page, upload content
  • critics – who react to other content online, postings comments, ratings or reviews or editing wikis
  • collectors – saving URLs and tags or using RSS, collecting and aggregating the internet
  • joiners – participating thru maintaining profiles on social networking sites
  • spectators – who consume what the rest produce
  • inactives – the nonparticipants

all well and good, but  here's the cool bit.  they've created and made public their Social Technographics tool that allows you to profile a group of people based on age, country and sex against these six behaviours.  you can then index them against the general population, allowing you to plan and build social media strategies based on the kinds of behaviour people already demonstrate.  which in Mediation's book is pretty darn cool.

so the profile of 25-34 year only men in the UK looks like this:


with the most predominant behaviours being spectating and joining (66%  and 59% of 25-34 UK men doing those respectively).  but what's interesting is the likelihood of them being collectors, indexing 183 against the all adult population.  the list obsession so loved of the lads mag genre re-invented for the social media space.

does this tell you what your social media strategy should be?  no.  does it help you identify and quantify the predominant behaviours of the people you're trying to target?  yes.  and that's important.  I've sat in two many sessions where the phrase 'we'll get people to create content for us' has been thrown out.  it of course may be the right suggestion, but a little objective rigeur and analysis never hurt anyone.  even if it was about what you had for lunch.

social networking

How the times are a changin’: what the response of two girls trapped down a storm-drain tells us about the nature of trust in a networked world

Metro_trapped if only little Timmy O'Toole had been blessed with internet access to Facebook…  news today courtesy of Metro who this morning reported on the plight of two young girls trapped down a storm-drain near Adelaide, Australia.  panic they didn't.  rather they turned to Facebook.

well you would wouldn't you.  faced with a potentially lethal situation with nothing but a mobile phone to help you, why call the puny institutional emergency services when you're entire social network is only 140 characters away.  one Glenn Benham – who took part in the rescue – disagreed, commenting that "it is a worrying development.  young people should realise it's better to contact us directly".

perhaps, but the response of our real life Timmy O'Tooles to their predicament is testament to the extent to which trust in institutions amongst young people has eroded.  our two tweens placed far more trust in their peers, in the network they had already created and curated around them, than in the police.

because trust is what this is all about.  who two girls trusted with their lives…  not for them the remote, unknown and imposed structure of the emergency services.  rather they put themselves into the hands of the known network that they've invited to surround them.  they are their network and their network is them.  in the end, this was a simple act of self-preservation.

experiencing, popping up, sampling

When a brand in hand isn’t enough: why binding experience and sampling together is an opportunity most brands shouldn’t afford to miss

Haribo_Edinburgh_sampleDr Pepper_Edinborgh_samplegrabbing samples at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival; (top) Fraser and me grabbing some Haribo, (bottom) Mark and I on the Dr Pepper

so my good mate Mark this morning sent me thru the above pics taken whilst we were in Edinburgh a few weeks ago.  during my heady couple of days of non-stop show-seeing and jumping around at the Fringe, we stumbled across a couple of brands sampling festival-goers on the Royal Mile.  hence the rather delightful pics above of my good self with Fraser and Mark (who doesn't normally have a moustache but who was in a show and so has at least one good excuse)…

which brings us to the subject of sampling.  when to do it, how to do it and who to do it to.  I guess my brief Edinburgh experiences tell me a couple of things; one – that its essential to get the right people at the right place (no poo Sherlock) but two, that I'm not very convinced that sampling on its own is enough…

to the first point; it was sunny, we were festivalled up, having fun and running around.  in that context both brands were spot on in terms of understanding who they were targeting and why.  a bag of sweets and a can of sugary good stuff were perfect additions to the afternoon.  for both brands, adding their fun-filled good stuff to such a positive and buzzing environment meant that they complemented and were complemented by what was going around the sampling teams.

but to my second point, what was the actual benefit of the exercise?  they got brand in hand but I'm sure there's more to the opportunity than this…  shouldn't both of these brands have been looking to add an experience to the sampling moment that made more of the sample's investment but also more of the person's investment in taking time to sample / experience the brand.


it is in many ways the opposite situation to that of Pot Noodle's (above) effort at last years Festival, where Mother staged a musical (which I wrote about here).  great experience but what about the sampling opportunity?  at the very least handing out pots of the stuff after the show…  but they could have gone further – what about Edinburgh Festival limited edition Pots, or a mechanic that incorporated a sampling experience into the show.

the bottom line is that sampling and experience are increasingly part of the same equation.  but not just in some strategic 'yeah cool lets join it up' way, but rather in an intrinsic, bound together, one can't and shouldn't live without the other kind of way.

a brand on which I currently work is using pop-ups shops to sample some NPD, because venturing into a space which lives and breathes what a brand stands for whilst being offered an opportunity to take a bit of that brand's product with you is infinitely more powerful than being handed it cold in the street…  and when that street in Edinburgh is one of the busiest, crowded and expectant streets in the world, that's an opportunity you couldn't and shouldn't afford to miss.

creating, praising, thinking

Thought of the day: What Eddie Izzard can teach brands about having a positive marketing attitude


"I don't feel I'm a capitalist, I feel I'm a creativist.  Capitalists make things to make money, I like to make money to make things – I love making things."

Eddie Izzard – Live from London (available on iTunes)

I was listening to Eddie Izzard's Live from London podcast – recorded at the apple store in Regent St – recently and was rather taken by the above quote.  Izzard was meditating on the theme of the banking crisis and observed that he was, in his judgment, a creativist.

its a great thought but what's even more powerful is the logic flow that sits behind it.  think about it.  brands and marketers that consider themselves to be in the business of making things to make money will, I suspect, end up behaving very different from those with a mindset of 'let's make money so that we can make more things'.

let's use marketing investment not to make money as an end in itself but so that we can make more (interesting, exciting, imaginative, engaging, challenging, fun) stuff as a result.  of course lots of businesses work like this – ROI from one year is reinvested into the next – but its indirect and not by any means guaranteed.

besides that what I think is more important is the attitude, the mindset that this thinking gets you into.  yeah, hell lets do some successful communications and make shedloads of money.  but let's be explicit about why we want to make money…  we want to make money so that we can increase a brand's presence in the world; not by being in more places more often and seen by more people, but by the creation of more things.  things created with people, by people and for people, that add value not just to brands but to our world.

from today I'm not a capitalist either.  I'm going to be a creativist.  and I'm going to be in the business of making money so that I can be the best and most interesting creativist I can be.  thanks Eddie.

copy-writing, creating, designing, outdoor, praising

Keep Calm and Carry On – the History of a Poster: and what brands should learn from the elegance and simplicity of its resonant slogan

Keep_calm_poster I popped into The Only Place for Pictures on Upper Street over the weekend and came across the history of the Keep Calm and Carry on poster that's been in and around for a while.  fascinating history and a reminder that simple, elegant copy writing can lodge long in the consciousness, finding new and evolved meanings over time…  what brands would give for slogans with this degree of resonance so long after its original inception.

I've copied the full text from the note in the shop below, enjoy…

in the spring of 1939, with war against Germany all but inevitable, the British Government's Ministry of Information commissioned a series of propaganda posters to be distributed throughout the country at the onset of hostilities.  it was feared that in the early months of the war Britain would be subjected to gas attacks, heavy bombing raids and even invasion.  the posters were intended to offer the public reassurances in the dark days which lay ahead.

the posters were required to be uniform in style and were to feature 'special and handsome' typeface making them difficult for the enemy to counterfeit.  the intent of the poster was to convey a message from the King to his people, to assure them that 'all necessary measures to defend the nation were being taken', and to stress an 'attitude of mind' rather than any specific aim.  on the eve of war which Britain was ill-equipped to fight, it was not possible to know what the nations's future aims and objectives would be.

at the end of August 1939 three designs went into production with an overall print budget of £20,600 for five million posters.  the first poster, of which over a million were printed, carried a slogan suggested by a civil servant names Waterfield.  using the crown of George VI as the only graphic device, the stark red and white poster read 'Your Courage, Your Cheerfulness, Your Resolution will bring us Victory'.  a similar poster, of which around 600,000 were issued, carried the slogan 'Freedom is in Peril'.  but the third design, of which over 2.5 million posters were printed, simply read 'Keep Calm and Carry On'.

the first two designs were distributed in September 1939 and immediately began to appear in shop windows, on railway platforms, and on advertising hoardings up and down the country.  but the 'Keep Calm' posters were held in reserve, intended for use only in times of crisis or invasion.  although some may have found their way onto Government office walls, the poster was never officially issued and so remained virtually unseen by the public – unseen, that is, until a rare copy turned up more than fifty years later in a box of old books bought in auction by Barter Books in Alnwick.

shop owners Stuart and mary manley liked the poster so much that they had it framed and placed near the till in Barter Books.  it quickly proved so popular with customers and attracted so many enquiries that in 2001 Stuart and Mary decided to print and sell a facsimile edition of their original poster which has since become a best-seller, both in the shop and via te internet.

the Ministry of Information commissioned numerous other propaganda posters for use on the home front during the Second World War.  some have become well-known and highly collectible, such as the acrtoonist Fougasse's 'careless Talk Costs Lives' series.  but ours has remained a secret until now.  unfortunately, we cannot acknowledge the individuals responsible for the 'Keep Calm' poster.  but it's a credit to those nameless artists that long after the war was won people everywhere are still finding reassurance in their distinctive and handsome design, an the very special 'attitude of mind' they managed to convey.

Primary source of information: Lewis, R.M., 'Undergraduate Thesis: The planning, design and reception of British home front propaganda posters of the Second World War'.  written April 1997.  accessed April 2007.

Barter Books, Alnwick Station, Northumberland NE66 2NP, England

Postscript: since the 'Keep Calm and Carry On' poster was rediscovered in Barter Books in 2000, it has become a national icon.  to read about the ongoing story of this remarkable survivor, click here.