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Running away to the Circus: Dispatches from The Festival of Commercial Creativity – Josh Spear on the Fringe

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Circus_josh-spear Josh Spear is "from the internet".  no really, he is.  he put everything owned in the Internet and now has much of his possessions stored in the cloud.

his website, JoshSpear.com emerged in 2004 from the back of a Journalism 1001 class in which he was disappointed with the way academics ignored blogs as an emerging media. Josh describes his home as "a daily source of inspiration for marketers, brand managers, advertising executives, and a wide range of everyday people from around the world who love to stay ahead of the curve"…

which I guess more than qualifies Josh to be talking to us at Circus.  his theme was 'the Fringes of the Internet', and the way the internet is affecting people and businesses.

he described how shortly after starting his blog he was approached by businesses who wanted to put ads on his site, this turned out to be a fine way to made money, and led to a conversation with advertisers about how effective the ads on his site were.  very effective it turns out … they were seeing click-through rates of 2%…

two percent? asked Josh.  yes, they replied.  that's a 98% failure rate, said Josh.  yes they replied, impressive isn't it!

Josh guessed then that the internet would have a major impact on businesses, and co-founded Undercurrent, a digital strategy firm that applies "a digital worldview to the challenges and ambitions of complex organizations"

"It's about the human behaviour we're going to talk about not the specific websites"

4chan is bad place on Internet but it's also important.  it's anonymous.  people respond to photos with photos.  [it's a bit like the Abyssal plain of the internet; a deep, unexplored region rich in biodiversity that influences the rest of the ocean in ways that we're only just understanding] … it's where 'I can haz cheezburger?' began … the LOL-CAT meme.  a meme which now results in tens of thousands of cats created every day.  like this one:

Lolcat

the misuse of worlds isn't an accident, it's very deliberate.  and globally consistent and understood.  it's a language called LOL-Kitteh.  the Bible has been translated into LOL-Kitteh.

Rick Rolling began on 4chan.  in fact "anything funny that's unexplainable starts on 4chan".  to the extent that a Time Magazine poll ranked Moot (4chan's creator) as the web's most influential person.  only later was it noticed that the first letters of the ranked online poll spelt out a phrase.  an incredibly sophisticated and advanced work of electoral engineering / hacking.

Moot_time_magTime Magazine's 2009 online poll results.  the first letters of the top 21 names spell out "marblecake also the game".  marblecake is the name of the IRC channel where Anonymous started their campaign against Scientology, and "the game" is a reference to "The Game" meme source: Wikipedia

the rabbit-hole, it would seem, goes very deep indeed.  "4chan is 'the bottom billion' pageviews on the Internet".  Spear points out that two things consistently happen to Moot (who is called Charles) (1) he is forced to dump 4chan's data every 12 hours due to hard drive space and (2) every week he is served a subpoena for the information he holds (before it's dumped).

[this is all pretty mind-boggling I'd have thought for the average brand marketing manager, and you can see how they would be queuing up for the elvish Spear to safely have them gaze down the rabbit hole without falling down.]  things used to be simple.  then there was digital.  which disrupted.  everything.  this is such a familiar phrase that it's beyond cliche, but Spear asks a very interesting question:

"is there a unit of disruption?' … and how do you stay on top of the disruption?  which happens all around you all of the time and increasingly finds ways to impact on your sensory sphere.  much as this blog discussed in a January 2010 post, Spear describes Tweetdeck as one way to control the disruption.  he has "become an air traffic controller of my disruption"

we are our social graph.  we're made up of our disruptions [connections], a point made wonderfully and elegantly with this map of the world, a map formed by nothing but the connections on Facebook.

Facebook_world

What happens to a generation of people growing up in the world as drawn by this map and 4chan?  a world populated by cat memes and Rick Rolling?  a world in which gifts are given virtually.  Spear pointed out that thousands of dollars are spent on things that don't exist.  virtual economies are springing up everywhere.  Farmville makes $50m a month.  when Bear Stearns collapsed, a friend of his at Facebook didn't contemplate the collapse of the further banks but rather was promted to think that Facebook should start a bank. 

Virtual economies are being used by brands – for example the number of tweets Uniqlo products received affected their price – a fascinating dance between buzz and value.

Uniqlo_tweet_price

 

Radiohead_in-rainbows

Radiohead invited people to pay what they thought their album was worth, an invitation that made more money than all other record sales combined.  People's idea of money is changing.

the same goes for people's idea of location…  take Foursquare, which introduced game mechanics in the form of mayors and badges.  Foursquare also allowed tips to by left inside the check-ins, inside the game.  tips linked to location so that they're readily available to those who enter the space.  Foursquare allows reviewing in realtime on a geographical basis…  Spears asked why people share all this information, and showed a slide outlining three reasons why we share adapted from MIT research and Henry Jenkins:

  • Strengthen my bond – you are what you share in your social graph
  • Define collective identity – you are based on the five people you spend most time with
  • Give me status

Viral = a bad thing, something you catch

Spears notes that 'pass-along' is made not of viral, it's made of people sharing something with more than one of their friends, and so on.  reaching people is about tapping into cultural resonance.  to test this, Spear's office put an image of a funny(ish) joke about Tiger Woods on the web.  the pic got 30,000 views in first 48 hours, created a 'microblip' of cultural resonance … a map of interest, which could then be observed.  so how, in Spear's opinion do you create cultural resonance?

group of people + unique culture = amplify to affect society

it's about tapping into a shared interest online because you can't rely on time and space, as shared interests are a way of creating cultural resonance. connect your brand to this.  or don't.  these interests are being shared whether brands get involved or not.

but be careful brands – angels fear to tread where P Diddy TV trod with Burger King.  the video has long been removed, but fortunately for us Lisa Nova's spoof lives to remind us how it want down (nb Nova is now working in TV comedy – she got noticed because she understood the rules of the internet)

in Spear's opinion the fringe of the internet has a novelty scale:

Spears_novelty_scalethe fringe's novelty scale, as presented by Spears

Spears says that agencies who want to use things like crowd sourcing or 'the fringe' to do their work need to either be the lowest cost option, or the best.  if you're neither, you're stuck in the middle, and the middle is not a great place to be.

Spears asks what is the Internet good for?  advertisers and agencies may answer that it's good for awareness [incremental] and persuasion.  but Spear observes that this is not what the Internet is meant for.  the internet is meant for sharing, cooperating and collective action.  the latter of which is, in Spear's words, "the holy Grail of humans using technology"… at the fringe are the beginnings of these kinds of great examples…

Copenhagen-wheel

the Copenhagen wheel collects data from your bike.  one person doesn't generate enough data to paint a picture of a city, but eveyone's data does … and allows the aggregation and interrogation of usable data to generate insight and utility.

Ushahidi encouraged free and fair elections in Zimbabwe, and in the aftermath of Haiti and Christchurch interactive maps directed resources in realtime to where help was most needed.  the US state dept now relies on this kind of information to coordinate relief efforts.  crowd sourcing is used to collect and sort data.  organisations no longer ask for money but for a little bit of time and effort.  Alive in Egypt transcribes voice messages into tweets, allowing people to deploy messages and information even when access to the internet is being blocked.

Egypt_alive-in-Egypt

So what has 4chan guy got to do with the fringe?!  well what if all the people sending cats around every day gathered intelligence instead?  they already have, it's called WikiLeaks, and "we can't yet imagine how this will affect the world"

Some challenges for brands:

  • how do you change from interrupting people into adding utility for people?
  • How can brand engage with born digital consumers in their language?
  • If you take a brand into the universe of the internet, ask yourself if you are following the rules of that universe?
  • Are you surrounding yourself with enough people that speak digital?

the contents of this post [unless in square parenthesis] is the content of a talk given by @JoshSpear at Sydney's Circus in February of 2011, thanks to Josh for his input in writing this post

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Running away to the Circus: Dispatches from The Festival of Commercial Creativity – Chow on Chrome and Vervroegen on Creative Constraints

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the second session of the first day of this week's Festival of Commercial Creativity, Circus, saw Marvin Chow, the Marketing Director for Google across Asia Pacific and Erik Vervroegen of Goodby Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco take us through two very different kinds of creative process…

Circus_marvin_chow first up, Marvin Chow, who talked about the marketing of Chrome, and about what happens when creativity meets technology…

declaration of interest – Google are a client of PHD Australia, where I spend a lot of my time

Chow  started by making a few points about Google:

  1. one, Google is an engineering company. engineering is part of the culture. Google people like to solve big problems, he cited that driver-less car came from an engineer asking how Google can stop people dying on the roads
  2. Ideas can come from anywhere, for example the search-able maps that helped coordinate the Queensland floods response was conceived and developed by a Sydney engineer who wanted to help
  3. the role of marketing at Google is to bring technology to people.  often this is about filling the existing Google pipeline with content, for example the Life In A Day project, an idea that came from Tim Partridge in London.  The Life in a day video … which was created from a bank of 80,000 clips has now been seen by 13m people on YouTube and will have a cinema release later in the year
  4. finally it's about bringing a culture of engineering to marketing.  engineers are interested in the responses of real people to the real world.  there's no substitute to what real people do in real situations.  Google test 6,000 marketing ideas a year.  they fail regularly, they fail fast, they fail well – test and iterate people, test an iterate…

given that context, what follows is "the story of how one product can change the world" … the story of Chrome.

we know, I suspect, one side of the Chrome story, but the other side is just how challenging it's been for Google to gain market share and gain penetration in a market with a significant, dominant and entrenched player.

the first question was why bother?  why invent another browser?  when Google asked people about browsers, they found that people found browsers indistinguishable from search…

the suggestion is that people see browsing = searching…  Chow made the point that "browsers are a lot like Tyres – we know they are important but we don't care or think about them every day"

the last time a browser launched [excluding Firefox presumably] was in 1995.  Google's ambition was to bring speed, stability and security to browsing.  but how to evolve the browser proposition? … it's been a long time since 1995 and people do lots more than browsing with their browsers, it's no longer a passive experience; browsers are TVs now (35 hours a video a minute currently being uploaded), they are phones and communication devices (100bn emails and texts are sent daily).  this was the new context for the browser and for Google – and how Chrome should drive the web experience forward.

the marketing of Chrome actually began with a comic book, which was distributed in december 2008 to innovators influencers in the web space.

Circus_google_comicChrome's comic book, distributed in 2008, was drawn by Scott McCloud and can be viewed, courtesy of Creative Commons, in full here

post the comic book Google looked to deliver more scale, and so developed ideas around platform of 'why switch?' … exploring Chrome's value proposition and product benefits.  they experimented and tested different benefits, for example this effort around 'simple'…

made by a small team in japan, this was broadcast in the US and became Google's first broadcast ad.  but here's the trick, Google didn't just test 'simple' – they tested a whole range of value propositions and product benefits.  and tested them not in focus groups but in the real world.  how did they measure success?  which ones led to the most Chrome downloads … real people in the real world remember…

'fast' (rather than 'simple') worked best, and so fast became worldwide creative brief, which eventually led to this…

"The idea of showing Chrome and speed in a different way excited us" noted Chow … the next iteration of comms was Chrome Fast Ball, which invited browsers to browse the web as fast as you think in a race across the Internet…

the coolest thing – and very Googley – is that these ideas are being crowdsourced from everywhere … ideas like this one which has since adopted another classic Google behaviour – users being able to generate their own versions of the ad.

two and a half years on from launch and 100m people around the world use chrome.  Google seem to be happy, although as the below chart from Wikipedia shows, there's quite a long way to go for Chrome yet.

Share of browsers.svg

one of the most innovative areas of crowd-sourced comms for Chrome is Chromexperiments.com … I'm not going to lie, I don't actually know what these are – the website says that "Chrome Experiments is a showcase for creative web experiments, the vast majority of which are built with the latest open technologies, including HTML5, Canvas, SVG, and WebGL. All of them were made and submitted by talented artists and programmers from around the world" … I'm not sure that I'm any the wiser :o(

one example of which is Arcade Fire's The Wilderness Downtown – saw this a good while back but didn't connect at the time that this was a Google idea.

Chow's two key messages … that ideas can come from anywhere, and that it's crucial to experiment and iterate.  he stressed the importance of understanding the problem that you're trying to solve, and whilst I'm not entirely that sure his solution – hire an engineer to fix it – is feasible for everyone, the last of his comments is true for all of us … that "you have to resist the voice inside you that says only you knows the answer" let go of the problem and let the answer come to you…

you can view Marvin's prezi here.

Circus_erik_vervroegen up next in session two was Erik Vervroegen, who as the recipient of seventy Cannes Lions, is a very creative person indeed.  his thesis was that life in agencies is hard :o( … but don't feel too sorry for the ad agency kids just yet, because it turns out that the result of constrained conditions often produces the best work … the more problems you have the more creative you have to be…

problem one: no money (but free media to use and a super-tight production budget)…

…which was a problem faced by Amnesty International.  the answer for whom was to make this…

of this spot for the Nissan QashQai, where Vervrogen's agency came up with creating an entire fake sport…

McDonald's had no money and no time to combat a recycling message so recycled ads to create new posters…

Circus_erik_vervroegen_McD_recycle

it's so beautifully obvious in retrospect, but it takes someone to imagine such an elegant solution in the first place.  take these examples for Amora Hot Ketchup, the shoestring budget necessitated a shoestring production, which the creative embraces and uses to its advantage…

some of Vervroegen's most creative work is for AIDS prevention charity AIDES who's brief was "nobody knows us and we can't advertise but we want to be the biggest provider of Aids prevention in Europe' … the solution: target the advertising industry with the magic word 'awards'

if you want proof as to whether or not the strategy has worked I urge you to Google image search AIDES, but here are some of the highlights…

Circus_aides_skull

Circus_aides_trouser_snake

Circus_aides_space

Circus_aides_underwater

Circus_aides_spider

Circus_aides_scorpion

stunning, brilliant work for a client with no money but a lot of balls.

problem two: the impossible brief

Vervroegen quoted the following actual brief from an actual real life client (I'm paraphrasing) "we would like exactly the same ad as last time only this time we want it to work" … you couldn't make it up.  another example was the bread client who said that they wanted to show an entire breakfast table and demonstrate that their bread was the softest.  the solution:

Circus_erik_vervroegen_bread

Nissan QashQai asked Vervroegen to come up with an ad that showed the car in the urban environment and which showcased every angle of the car.  every angle.  every.  angle.  they actually said "think of it as a 45 sec 360 degree pack shot" … cue this beautifully elegant solution in which a 45 sec 360 pack shot has never looked so good…

Amnesty International want to show the power of a petition.  specifically in the background they wanted to show the harshness of torture and execution … without violence.  this poses a bit of a problem, as it's hard to show torture and execution without violence…

problem three: Burnt out creatives

…who feel sorry for themselves and are producing tired work.  the solution, observes Vervroegen, is to continue to push the idea.  and push and push as far as it will go…  for example a brief to show how Mir washing powder 'keeps black strong' let to the obvious place of clothes with budging muscles, which was able to be pushed to these fellas…

Circus_erik_vervroegen_mir_arms

Circus_erik_vervroegen_mir_spider

Circus_erik_vervroegen_mir_vaders

another example of pushing a bad idea until it becomes a good one was for a brief for Playstation to show rebirth, the idea for which was this tired (his words not mine) approach…

Circus_sketch_egg

which was pushed to it's limit and resulted in this…

Circus_erik_vervroegen_ps_birth

…an effort which secured one of Vervroegen's seventy Cannes Lion in the print category.  the last example, again for Playstation was around a brief to show the excitement of the Playstation gaming experience and equate it to sexual arousal.  here's the obvious sketch…

Circus_erik_vervroegen_sketch_bulge

and here's the pushed execution…

Circus_erik_vervroegen_ps_blow-up

that was it for session two.  I'll aim to get session three written up tomorrow…

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Running away to the Circus: Dispatches from The Festival of Commercial Creativity – Day One, Session One

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yesterday saw the first day of Sydney's first Circus – a festival of commercial creativity for the advertising, media and communications industries.  and a rather cracking event it was too.  a series of speakers took us through what creativity was to them, how it was under threat, how it is thriving and how a changing world places ever incresing demands on those to work to use creativity to commercial ends.

despite starting rather dubiously – we were invited not to tweet, and to only ask questions if we thought that they'd be relevant for everyone (not the most encouraging of starts for a festival aiming to – in part – explore an evolving communications landscape) – it turned out to be a rather inspirational day…

this was how the first session of day one went down…

Circus_jeffrey_cole first up was Jeffrey Cole who eleven years ago founded the Centre for Digital Future at USC.  his talk was on surveying the digital future – and in particular the impact of the Internet on our behaviours.

he introduced himself as a TV guy, and observed that we 'blew' TV – in that we knew it was going to be a mass medium, but didn't track audiences to see how it was changing their lives.  important questions like where did the time to watch TV come from?  what did it displace? …went unanswered.

emerging media are way more powerful than TV.  in 1988 for the first time kids were watching less TV in the US, the result of the rise of computers and the web.  where Cole believes that we lost the opportunity on TV, we can make up for it with online, and eleven years ago set up a research programme to track a panel over time as the internet changes their life…

key findings from the research are around teenage behaviour and in internet, but crucially, Cole seeks to make a key distinction between those behaviours and attitudes that teens do and have because they are young and have time, and those behaviours and attitudes which are permanent.  what will drop off as life gets in the way?  versus what do they do that is 'transformational' with regard to the society that they will grow up to form.

he observed that college students setting up home for first the time are particularly instructive. no landline and no newspapers for them. but also no cable (90% penetration in US so this is a significant trend).  Cole believes that whilst we're not looking at the end of cable, we are looking at the end of the cable pricing structure as it stands.

things that teenagers abandon…

  • teenagers say they're not affcted by advertising.  which isn't true.  like all of us they are they just don't like to admit it
  • they believe that unknown peers are 'just like me' and can be trusted – similarly this comes to change over time as they learn the world isn't always what it seems
  • teenagers don't use email and claim to only need IM, texts and facebook (they go further and say that voice calling is 'an intrusion' – similarly this is an attitude that fades into adulthood
  • they want to know all the details of their peers' lifes in what they describe as 'ambient awareness' (a phrase strikingly similar to the continuous partial presence that Faris described in May 2007); Cole observed that Twitter works because of this … ambient awareness is a general understanding of someone's situation, and a reflection that teens want not fifteen minutes but fifteen megabytes of fame
  • we're not initially good at distinguishing truth from fiction. Cole argues that this is because we didn't have to question the mass media we grew up with (the Chinese for example are better at critical media assesment) …we are better at understanding amateur vs proffesional, which Cole suggested was due to beter understanding the limitations and boundaries of ugc
  • he talked about Murdoch and MySpace, and reflected that at the time of the NewsCorp purchase he commented that "it's a great investment but he'll never hang onto the teenage users" … an angry NewsCorp rebutted by saying "look how much money we're making" but Cole by that time already had the hindsight to see Friendster and Geocities go.  to teenagers, he said, "social networks are like nightclubs", despite this, Facebook is going nowhere (yet), a fact underlined by his observation that at their last Zeitgeist, Google seemed nervous (they have no place nor role in Facebook's world)
  • finally, teenagers have no sense of the nature of and need for privacy.  for good reason the law says you can't sign contract till 18.  whilst this attitude means that kids upload potentially very compromising things to the internet, this is not a lifelong attitude, and with maturity comes a sense of what is public and what is private

which brings us to the things teenagers keep, and with them significant implications for society, brands and advertising…

  • teenagers have, and keep into adulthood a total control over their media.  Cole cited the 17yo who first unlocked his iPhone; he didn't want to unlock it for anything in particular, he unlocked it so that he knew that he could
  • a huge implication for the media industry is that permanent changes in attitude mean we're seeing the beginning of the end of platforms … Newspapers, in Cole's opinion, are history. environmental reasons is one reason for teens, but furtermore the concept of owning media is in it's last days as we move to the cloud.  on newspapers, teenagers not using print is a permanent shift. they are very much into news, but the internet delivers this.  Cole's prediction is a stark one – because every time a print reader dies they are not being replaced, print has about 5 years in the states, and around 8-9 years in Australia (perhaps)
  • teenagers don't grow out of not wearing watches (the mobile is their watch and alarm clock and much else besides) – this is not a problem for Rolex, but will have consequences for more mainstream inexpensive watches
  • TV is not on a set top box and is not scheduled.  YouTube is TV, and TV is any content you watch on your schedule
  • Game playing is serious business that ecourages task-oriented behaviour and is similarly a behaviour and attitude that is here to stay
  • "Mobile isn't everything – it's becoming every thing" – it's rapidly becoming the primary and predominant place where teenagers get media
  • on the iPad, Cole observes that it is NOT the fourth screen, rather it replaces the second screen (the pc), and that we're witnessing the beginning of the end of the PC as standard home device for many people
  • finally and most significantly, there is an emerging and permanent shift in the perception of real versus perceived empowerment. we are passive readers no more, we contribute and correct. we self-diagnose our illnesses. we negotiate on deals based on pre-research and start our negotiations based on wholesale prices … the "internet is best at shining light into dark places", giving everyone power over governments, over repression … this most important trend will emerge and very much in Cole's opinion stay with us.

Q&A

will Facebook eventually be displaced?  yes, but it will continue to grow for around four more years. it will be supplanted by another more fragmented social media landscape.  Facebook won't be abandoned completely, but will become more passive – an ongoing reminder of the biggest social networking site there ever was or ever will be.

2% of people drop off the internet each year…  they leave because they change jobs or their PCs break. with few exceptions their back within 14 months.

advertising will remain the model for content. Cole wants to see content survive, and so wants to see digital advertising survive.

I asked about permanent vs transitory media.  there was suggestion that whilst the legacy media (BBC, NBC, NYT) were permanent, emerging media (notably social networks) aren't – they are transitory platforms that people adopt for a while before moving on.  will Hulu – for example – be permanent or transitory?  Cole's opinion is that all platforms will need to learn and adapt.  Google will adapt. as will Hulu.  legacy media brands – and indeed all media brands – will be defined by their ability to evolve.

Circus_agnello_dias next up Agnello Dias – creative director at Taproot, who talked to the festival about the remarkable story of advertising and comms work for The Times Of India, a story that began with a brief…

a brief to celebrate India's 60th year of independence. an argument broke out in the agency about whether India was on the verge or greatness or the cusp of the abyss.  the client talked about the country being at a crossroads. was India to go forward or back?  Dias scribbled a paragraph describing 'India vs India' as a creative brief, but as time ran out the client ran the brief as an ad.  the brief.  a dat later Dias was informed that the brief wouldn't be an ad after all … it was to be the front page editorial.

the front page became audiovisual content which became a YouTube viral.

which became a debate.  a debate so emphatic that The Times Of India decided to call the debaters bluff…

the response to the video was a national platform that created a parralel decision making group, bypassing party politics and supported by politicians.  facilitating democracy in a nation a billion people strong.

what has any of this to do with brand and selling newspapers?  nothing.  to the client it's not about that.  it's about building credibility – something that has huge benefit for a paper… after all who is the prime minister going to call?

the latest phase was editorial that ran on the anniversary of Mumbai terrorist attacks. The Times Of India ran a headline saying love Pakistan – a controversial position that stimulated a great deal of opposition, even people in Dias' office didn't want to work on the campaign.  but the objective was to start a debate that would lead to peace, rather than perpetuate an argument for war…

Circus_toi_fp_love_pakistan

the jury, according to Dias, is out on whether or not they should have done it. they will see what results.  whatever happens, it's a phenomenal story … a story of a media brand acting not as reporters or observers but as instigators of change.  as provocateurs of debate.  as writers of the future.

Circus_jess_greenwood next up the enigmatic Jess Greenwood of Contagious fame who talked about projects not campaigns – and a shift away from the creation of advertising to the creation of projects with no specific timespan.  less say and more do, behaviour rather than talk.

Greenwood also talked about how everything is advertsing and – in a phrase of which I was particularly fond – that we need to be "less 360 in our thinking and more 365" … nice.  as an example she cited how after tweeting to complain about the music in the Air New Zealand lounge in LAX, her tweet was picked up by the airline in New Zealand who called the lounge front desk in LA who invited Greenwood to choose her own music.  this all took less than 60 seconds.  remarkable stuff.

so how do we change, well one we put insights before advertising. no more the Mad Men model of ideas leading executions, of working out how to execute ideas generated on gut feel.  two, its about engagement over reach (allelulia) – citing one advertiser who said they would rather have 100 engaged people than 1,000,000 passive ones.

the Contagious mantra is that branded communications in the early 21st Century should be Useful and or Relevant and or Entertaining.  a mantra she expounded across three main themes…

ONE – Inside Out Marketing

we need to stop mindlessly pushing marketing and product into the world and instead be the change we want to see.  as example is Operation Nice, which seeks to encourage people to embrace an emering sense of independence by saying that 'if you want something doing…'

her next example was Dulux who want to own colour.  rather than telling people that they want to own colour they behaved like they owned colour via an urban regeneration project.  they asked people which areas deseved colour, then launched Let's Colour.  they went to areas around the world and added colour, areas like Tower Hamlets. the brand managers and local communities did the painting, and produced some rather remarkable content…

their sucker punch is that Dulux 'own' colour, but communicate such in a very real and credible – or inside-out – way.  Greenwood talked about a smart approach by Dulux to how this thinking is deployed on a global via local level; the global mandate was to find out what colour means to your country, and make it happen through actions and behaviours at a local level.

Greenwood talked about mass media as an "iterative process", citing the example of how VW and a tiny Darth Vader 'jacked' the superbowl.  the ad was deliberately released prior to the broadcast to build buzz prior to seeing it on the Superbowl screen.  it is TV (advertising) but TV not just designed for TV – it's wholeheartedly designed for theiInternet.

another example from Levi's and their Go Forth organising idea (note not campign).  Levi's are using this idea to generate behaviour and action as opposed to making and broadcasting hyperbole. Levi's – amongst other things – built a community centre and funded the library in Braddock.  they are building infrastructure. they've opened workshops to give substance to their claim that 'Levi's makes things by hand and makes things the right way'.  this makes levi's meaningful.

Greenwood talked about four pillars of convergence in media and communications:

  1. AV experience on screen (whatever and wherever that screen may be)
  2. Interctivity of internet (facilitation two-way engagement, converstion, debate and cooperation and cocreation)
  3. Location-based functionality and customisation of mobile phone
  4. Real world experience

when developing insights and ideas we need to ask ourselves if said insight or idea can work in and across these four areas. if it can, then it could work…  for example T-Mobile create advertising as programming. if you're doing mass media it has to be this engaging…

"it's designed not just for broadcasting but for sharing.  they are creating mass media for the Internet, for niche media".

TWO – be Prolific not Precious

'Social media makes stories' – this, in Greenwood's opinion, is the evolution of user generated content … smart brands monitor and track the stories as they emerge around them – cue Gatorade Mission controlness.

another example is reformed drug addict Ted Williams, the story of whom was picked up by a journalist who learned he had a great voice for radio.  he made a film about ted's life.  which went from zero to 13m views in two days.  this in turn ws picked up by Kraft who used the Ted in their ad.  all of which is phenomenal enough, until you consider the timescale…

Monday – upload the video
Tuesday – watch the views pile up
Wednesday – Ted appears on TV with ad agency
Friday – Ted's voiced ad is on air

using social media to tell stories garnered 450m media impressions for Kraft.  and there are a plethora of examples where that came from…  Qantas flew the girl with the twitter handle @theashes to Australia for the Ashes.  all because said girl / handle got messages from people wanting the cricket score … a bit of support via #gettheashestotheashes and Qantas and Virgin were fighting it out to make it happen.

Hippo snacks example of using tweets as distribution management system and saw a 76% increase in sales.

and finally on proliferation, the South African low cost airline project (not campaign) around the World Cup in aid of being the 'unofficial national carrier' of the World Cup… the best thing about this campaign was something they hadn't planned for.  the airline offered free flights to anyone called Sepp Blatter, so when a dog came forward to say that that was his name the airline flew the dog around the world.

THREE -  Play and Gaming

the rise of play dynamics in marketing. Gamification. adding game dynamics into marketing but also product design.  Greenwood used the example of Ford who have a virtual plant on the dashboard that grows if you drive in an environmentally friendly manner.

NBC do market research not via a focus group or survey but via fanit, an initiative that I discussed in a post in May of last year.

Nbc_fan_it

Skittles pitched David Phoenix versus Skittles fans.

Mini gaming in Stockholm example. Steal the car.

one interesting point from Greenwood, if you're going to develop or have a game or app, make sure that you have an end to it, a climax or endpoint to which people can aim.

and finally in gameification a wonderful project called iButterfly, which uses an app that captures virtual butterflies to get vouchers to people.  smart, contemporary, embedded with utility and above all fun.  as Contagious as it gets.

three final suggestions from Greenwood…

  • ensure that your communications are Useful and/or Relevant and/or Entertaining
  • make sure your idea is created, developed and deployed for real people not marketing people
  • Be brave and make mistakes

and that was session one, post is way big enough so I'll write up the other sessions in following posts…

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measuring, printing, publishing, reporting, sampling

Starting the Big Sell: How The Readership Works started the debate with agencies over the future of readership measurement in Australia

The_Readership_Works the start of the debate: representatives of The Readership Works present to media agencies last night at The Mint

so last evening saw the start of what is likely to be a long conversation between the media agency and The Readership Works, the body tasked with creating a new readership survey for Australia's media industry.

we began with a well-trodden story – the world has changed.  only, it turns out, measurement metrics haven't.  the evening was on oportunity for The Readership Works (TRW) to present how they intend to put that right.  we began with the challenges:

  1. people don't fill in surveys any more (in fact it turns out that three quarters of people flat refuse to do so these days)
  2. advertisers need more and better data (yup)
  3. other media are delivering (no doubt last year's MOVE is front and centre of TRW's mind – especially given the gestation period that this project has had)
  4. print media are no longer print media (well quite … in fact I'd question whether or not it's in their interest to still be called print media but that's a debate for another day)

so what do we want and when do we want it?  well we want – it turns out – more higher quality data, delivered in a 'more timely' manner, transparency in how it's delivered and reported.  plus we'd also like it to be future-proofed and developed in collaboration with agencies (and therefore advertisers).

all of which sounds like a lot, but saying "we need to stop doing face-to-face interviews and filling in paper questionnaires" is a bit like saying "let's stop using horse drawn trams to get people around".  similarly the idea that we need to measure readership beyond the printed page is a great deal less surprising than the fact that we don't seem to be currently doing it.

so all headed in the right direction…  a survey that:

  • collects information via a screen-based interview
  • generates new insights on how magazines build readership over time
  • provides better data on regional and community titles via smarter sampling
  • measures readership across all platforms (so print and online for now, but – in response to my question – once critical mass is reached on tablets and phones too)
  • delivers insights beyond readership, be it on sections, engagement, and new lifestyle statements (although I'd recommend that you brace yourself for still being able to tell clients that their readers are leaders not followers)
  • offers richer and deeper information on the purchase and consumption habits of readers via IPSOS' BRANDpuls

all of which, in the warm light of the next day, feels very solid and in the right direction.  it would be easy to be cynical about the whole event, but the reality is that the industry needs a better measurement system than the one we currently have.  one that its reflective of the evolution of publisher brands (ie not print brands) beyond paper, but that also plugs this information into data about what those readers think and buy.

for perhaps not obvious reasons TRW were reluctant to share details of the methodology.  there is after all an elephant in the room.  that elephant is Roy Morgan Research, who have in effect now become the competition to TRW's survey…

this put the audience in the rather curious position of being pitched a product that will inevitably create potential painful change in the market, by a body on which those same agencies have representation.  when you take into account the fact that the introduction of the new survey will require not only the philosophical backing but the financing (in part) by those agencies, you begin to see why last night's event was so important.  the big sell has only just begun…

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