advertising, marketing, planning

Coles 1, Woolies 0: an abject lesson in new versus traditional media thinking from Australia’s favourite oligopoly

option A: partner with a major TV network to secure access to the biggest pop group in the world and give customers the chance to win tickets to an exclusive extra show. communicate this through the competition’s own dedicated website, hashtag, and social media, supported by print, broadcast and PR.

option B: make a 90 second TV ad that talks about, well, I’m not sure exactly … but I think, the value of time?

it may be harsh to call this an abject lesson in new versus traditional media thinking, but this really is an abject lesson in new versus traditional media thinking. and just in case anyone is looking for a (far from exhaustive) checklist, here it is:

  • create new news (don’t assume people care)
  • integrated the channel approach (not single broadcast solution)
  • create exclusivity and scarcity
  • do don’t say
  • leverage a passion point
  • develop a plan and strategy for earned media
  • integrate into store
  • connect to product purchase

here are the boys again … just for fun.

featured image source: Coles via Mumbrella

advertising, broadcasting, commenting, conferencing, debating, opinionating, social media-ising, tweeting

Dispatches from Mumbrella 360 Day Two: Twitter’s Barnes on having something to say, McLennan on turning around Ten, state of the media, and technology + emotion = awesome

mumbrella360-melissa-barnesso big day two of Mumbrella360 kicked off with an awesome presentation from Twitter’s Head of Agency and Brand Advocacy Melissa Barnes.

essentially a ‘best of’ how brands are using the Twitter platform, Barnes more than delivered on her job title, as I suspect there were a great many more advocates for Twitter in the room at the end of her session than there were at the start.

I’ll save the content and examples up for a separate post, but its worth capturing here one of the key points that Barnes was making – that you have to approach and use Twitter differently, and with an understanding of what the platform offers and what its users expect.

she noted that she see’s lots of brands approach Twitter with a ‘display’ mentality, which just doesn’t work. the best examples on offer were cases where a brand had something to say, something entertaining and / or interesting to share, or, interesting, a crisis to manage. one fascinating chart in particular showed how a calm, human, humourous individual in chart of a mobile phone company’s Twitter account in the aftermath of a network outage was able to mitigate the anticipated ‘hate’ emotion you would typically see in sentiment analysis of an outage event.

… as an aside, huge thanks to Melissa who was generous enough to pop into PHD last Friday and share and discuss some of the examples with the agency … we loved the session, and I think someone may have actually swooned ūüėČ

up next was the less swooney Hamish McLennan on turning around Network Ten


Ten’s McLennen, source Mumbrella

in a frank and fascinating discussion with the Burrowes, the boss of the struggling network discussed a strategy designed to focus on an older demo and live TV (as the latter is more easily and readily monetised) … saying that¬†what the channel most wants to be known for is ‘the home of great event TV’.

he was frank that¬†Ten was hurt by the advent of digital channels, and should have launched ist digital channel (11) earlier than in did, and arguably before launching One.¬†the strategy is designed to get a fair(er) share of FTA’s $2.8bn by getting a¬†fair(er) share of an aging demographic.

this would seem to represent nothing short of a full-scale retreat from a younger audience who, in McLennan’s own words “aren’t engaging with TV as much”. the network is looking to beat Seven and Nine by joining them in a fight for an older and more easily monetised audience. the strategy is to back off from digital channels, let alone digital platforms – which are (I suppose not wrongly) seen as the place for programme marketing more than anything else.

PHD Chief Exec Mark Coad asked about the network’s¬†digital strategy, given the NBN (national broadband network) roll-out, but not much was forthcoming. it took a second delegate to ask a similar question to elicit the response that McLennan saw post-NBN as a “big opportunity”, the citing of the example of creating subscription channels evidence that there’s more than a little NewsCorp left in this boy yet.

I jumped into a session on The Encore Score and after lunch joined the debate on the State of the Media.


Moderated by Darren Woolley, MD at TrinityP3 and Denise Shrivell, MD of MediaScope (on the right above), the panel consisted of (left to right) Lynda Pallone, marketing services and integration manager, Blackmores; Rob Dingwall, media & marketing operations manager, Kellogg’s Australia; Chris Mort, CEO, TMS Australia; Toby Hack, MD Australia, PHD Media (woop);¬†Tony Kendall, director of sales, Bauer; and Zac Zavos, co-founder and managing director, Conversant Media.

this was the first of two plus ça change sessions, with the debate eventually getting to some of the elephants hovering in the back of the room.

On industry relations,¬†TH said ¬†that “industry collaboration has improved” with ZZ adding that [media owners] “don’t get enough feedback from clients and campaigns”.¬†CM was clear that “it’s a high pressured business … If you can’t do the job with the tools you have you need to step up” [or get out].¬†TH on people development noted that have “a choice … to invest in people or not.”

a debate on programmatic buying led to some predictable places, most notably concern from ZZ that automation leads to commoditisation of media (which it does, because much of the time media is a commodity). TH described the two emerging centres of gravity in agencies around creativity / innovation and automation / analytics – which RD slightly misinterpreted as an agency split, which admittedly at this stage would seem a rather drastic solution.

this session also saw the revelation that industry-wide plans for a move to electronic trading have been shelved. this was first debated at last year’s 360 conference, with a panel consisting of senior agency and media owner representatives debating the subject of automation.

whilst the panel wasn’t the most warmly received (media man unmasked commented that “When you put 9 of the most senior executives in our industry in front of a room full of people who look to them for inspiration and leadership and all you get is a school yard argument it doesn’t bode well”), the point was that something was being done.

this now doesn’t seem to be the case.

one suspects that the shelving was brought to you by the letters M F and A and the numbers 7, 9 and 10 … but I won’t pre-judge. I’ll do some digging and write up anything I land on.

anyhow, back to the state of the media session … where there were a many more questions than answers. so much so that I was moved to ask a question of my own – specifically after this debate is over what happens next? who’s responsibility is it to drive the necessary change?

Darren Woolley reiterated his Golden Rule … that “the man with the gold makes the rules” …¬†and what is the rule made by those with the gold? in a refreshingly honest comment Kellogg’s Rob Dingwall illuminated us with the admission that¬†“ideas may not be paid for but they are valued – if you are valuable you will see money coming.”

and this is essentially the muddle we are now in … media is commoditising but clients won’t (generally) pay for the skill of planning and innovating with media. it’s seen as added value. but there’s less and less value because client procurement teams are driving down margins, so agencies seek additional revenue streams which leads to accusations of lack of transparency. and on we go.

in perhaps the most disheartening comment of the session, Blackmore’s¬†Lynda Pallone actually said “see you all next year for the same conversation”

… I really rather hope not.

to lift one’s spirits and to finish I’ll share some of the awesomness that is some of the great work coming out of Asia at the moment. in a session entitled ‘Unleashing the Tiger’,¬†Peter Wilson, the retail planning director at Cheil Australia, discussed how “there is a massive step-change taking place in our industry … a new trend, where agency groups based in non-traditional markets lead the new paradigm, led by technology rather than traditional advertising.”

Wilson described the idea of Tu Hon, I’ll let the video do the talking …

Wilson suggested that central to Asia’s current creative success is down to tapping into emotion, and shared three examples. the first genuinely moved me, the second one actually elicited a tear, and the third one made me very jealous that I didn’t come up with it when I was working on a similar project a few years back:

SAMSUNG CAMERA video coming soon ūüėČ

all brilliant examples of how, in Wilson’s words, “a happy marriage between creativity and technology are becoming the norm” … lovely stuff.

advertising, innovating, planning, social media-ising, user-generating

When Dove met Facebook: and the illusion of a schedule that controls what people consume

Dove’s ‘The Ad Makeover’ campaign allows women to replace ads promoing low self esteem with something a little more positive

John Hammond: You’re right, you’re absolutely right. Hiring Nedry was a mistake, that’s obvious. We’re over-dependent on automation, I can see that now. Now, the next time everything’s correctable. Creation is an act of sheer will. Next time it’ll be flawless.

Ellie Sattler: It’s still the flea circus. It’s all an illusion.

John Hammond: When we have control again ‚Äď

Ellie Sattler: You never had control! That’s the illusion!

From Jurassic park (1993)

a rather interesting debate is being had over a rather innovative campaign from Dove in Australia. playing out across the fine pages of B&T is a discussion about the relative merits of a campaign that allows women to replace ads that encourage low self-esteem (shut up, we’ve all seen them) with¬†one of eight encouraging messages, which you can share across and beyond your personal networks.

the bit that’s causing the debate is that¬†you can select facebook keywords that you feel describe other women who you think should see the ad that you have selected. You and Dove making-over Facebook one demoralising ad at a time, but in doing so you replace – presumably – ads that would have otherwise been there.

so, obvs, this is really smart thinking. ¬†on message for the campaign and for the brand – with innovative and relevant use of the Facebook advertising platform that empowers people to engage with a brand thru media on their terms. fans all round then? no so much …

Nick Keenan, department head of implementation planning and investment at MediaCom has commented that “It’s very innovative but I think it serves Facebook and not the advertiser … at the end of the day I’m not sure what kind of surety it gives to other advertisers that are doing things with Facebook.”

this most awesome use of the word ‘surety’ kicks off a real battle between Keenan and¬†chief executive of media agency Fusion Strategy, Steve Allen

Allen: “that’s “phooey … this is the new today … the new era for advertising and the internet is the first line of that.”

Keenan counters that “that’s completely na√Įve … how do you plan a schedule for that?”

back to Allen: “it’s like serving up Porsche ads to people in wheelchairs, it does more damage than good”

even‘s Freedman chips in:¬†“The idea of empowering women to create their own advertising landscape is a disruptive one and that always translates to the kind of cut-through required when talking to women in a very crowded market.”

as entertaining as all of this is (and it is), it reminds me of one of the key reasons that I started and continue to write this blog. we live and work between two worlds; our media past and our media future. the debate being played out is between stalwarts of those two worlds, as the language used suggests.

Keenan is arguing that people’s actions will disrupt bought media impacts. like leaving the room in an ad break to make a cup of tea, or turning attention down to the tablet when the ads come on?

Allen argues that people know what brands they know and only want communications from those brands (“you are better off allowing consumers to select what they want, rather than to try and force them into things. Your impact is going to be much more valuable if they are people that want to know about your kind of product or brand. They are going to be receptive to it”) … which one could argue, and I would, leads to a rather myopic experience of brands and media.

for my twopenneth, its a debate about control, and the illusion that we ever had it.

media schedules are amazing things. I really mean that. to an experienced practitioner a brilliant schedule can sing. it can tell stories and decribe audiences and ideas and phases and roles of media. it can articulate behaviours and pinpoint the most intricate nuances of what a planner is seeking to achieve.

but a schedule can never control what people consume. that, to paraphrase Ellie Sattler, is the illusion. a schedule may be the sheet music but it needs people to play it. this is the illusion that we have, or indeed ever had, control.

that illusion is the great trap of applying 20th Century media planning in a 21st Century media landscape. Facebook isn’t like TV, and within a few years TV won’t be like TV either. the rules may not have changed as radically as Allen suggests, but they have changed.

we’re all of us fighting a war for attention, kudos to Dove for developing such a smart weapon for getting it.

all quotes from ‘Ad industry in flap over new Dove app article’ on B&T

disclamer: I don’t work for Unilever or Dove but I did pitch for their business last year and enjoyed the process very much


advertising, printing, publishing, social media-ising

Not by the hair on my chinny chin chin: Lessons from The Guardian on getting, well, everything right

so I’ve been roused from a bit of a blogging famine (not self-imposed) by the surfacing of a rather remarkably brilliant bit of storytelling on two fronts by The Guardian. on one hand, the above is (nice one BBH) a wonderfully articulated ad showing what journalism looks like in the second decade of the 21st Century. the second element of storytelling however relates to The Guardian product itself – and this is where it gets a lot more interesting…

because whilst other newspaper titles have faced a digital-fuelled funding crisis by (delete as appropriate) building pay-walls around existing content / attacking aggregators such as Google / devaluing their brand with ongoing price promotions / bundling subscriptions / creating much-hyped tablet-only titles / add as appropriate – The Guardian has quietly gotten on with doing three things rather well.

one, they’ve developed genuinely channel and delivery-neutral platforms for their product. two, they’ve defended investment in content. three, they’ve introduced and demanded fair pricing for their product.

there are people better qualified than me (The Guardian themselves for one) to comment in more detail about the specifics and implications of these endeavours to their title and the wider journalism category.  what interests Mediation is how these three principles apply to brands per se. because those exact things that The Guardian has done so well should be top of the agenda for every brand and client right now.

one – channel and delivery-neutral platforms

for all our talk of bought earned and owned and platform neutrality, we still have some way to go to break the last remnants of the broadcast disruption advert model. ‘make an ad and get it seen’ is still for too many situations the default option.

our focus should be on a brand’s business challenge or opportunity, not on default bought media solutions. channel-neutral is now easily a decade-old idea, and it feels almost retro to talk about it with even a degree of reverence … but new pressures can fuel flights to perceived safety – flights that more than ever need guarding (appropriately enough) against.

two – investment in content

from podcasts (oh my beloved MediaGuardian podcast) to video to applications and beyond, The Guardian’s story is not just one of investing in content, but of investing in content despite a reduction in revenues as digital impacts cannibalised (traditionally more profitable) print impacts. there was no retreat, no back-pedaling, no compromise in the investment nor distribution of content.

here too brands can learn. ¬†new models are more content hungry than old ones. in short they require much more than 30″‘s worth of content! longer-form video, multi-platform, often generated in real time and in response to a brand’s activities are essential if a brand is to capitalise on and exploit the opportunities that new models present. will it cost more? perhaps. will it return more? perhaps? will you get left behind if you don’t. absolutely.

three – fair pricing for that content

I’m not suggesting that brands start charging for people to engage with their communications (although Apple seem to do quite well in monetising the best ads they ever made in the form of a retail space that isn’t a retail space). rather brands need to acknowledge that for many people the old contract has evaporated…

the contract stated that in return for free content, a brand can interrupt that content as long as they entertain or inform us whilst they do it. for many this simply no longer plays, or indeed pays. The Guardian increasingly, I suspect, relies on a model not dissimilar to an iTunes set-up – simple easy small payments that allow people to access the content they want, when they want it, where they want it. many people are prepared to (micro) pay to do so.

brands face a similar challenge. what are the new contracts you can form with the people with whom you want to connect and engage. what are you offering in return for their attention? value, usefulness, entertainment, information, inspiration? to say that continuing to offer an interuption that communicates what your business believes people should know, hardly seems worth dignifying with a debate.

there’s two last things that brands can learn from The Guardian’s predominance in their field. firstly, let people in – whether its helping to devour MPs expenses data or teasing people to piece together a story that a super-injunction prevents them from reporting, The Guardian isn’t just better by having people be part of the debate, they are – just like brands – increasingly dependent on it.

and secondly, this reporter of fairy tales stands for something. as a brand, as an organisation, as a business, they understand why they exist in the world. they can articulate why the world needs them. and rather than telling people that, they show them…

there is no more powerful navigator for this new world than to have built into your DNA a compass telling you every day in every way which direction to take.

its tempting to say stop the world and ask to get off. to that, I say not by the hair on my chinny chin chin would I want it any other way … ¬†keep up the good work Guardian.

advertising, campaigning, funding

Get Up’s ‘It’s Time’ Ad gets on TV: How grass-roots movements are reversing the broadcast < conversation model

(Featured image Source)

breaking news courtesy of @mrbenjaminlaw of twitter fame (thanks Benjamin and Mimi), suggests that the above rather excellent and marvellous ad for Australian marriage equality has secured enough funds to be broadcast on national TV this weekend.

the GetUp! campaign website notes that “this weekend, delegates at the ALP National Conference will be voting on whether to make it their policy to end marriage discrimination. This video has already reached nearly 1,000,000 people — but a national TV campaign this week would reach double that again, and really put the pressure on!”

mission, it would seem, accomplished.  the ad will air over coming days in Sydney (Channels 9/10), Melbourne (7/9/10), Adelaide (9/10/SBS), Perth (9/SBS) and Brisbane (SBS).

what’s interesting from Mediation’s point of view¬†(personal agenda aside)¬†is the total reverse of the media model. ¬†from “fund an ad on broadcast TV > start conversation and debate > affect change” to “distribute content online > galvanise support and fundraise for broadcast > affect change” … the goal remains the same, but (1) the conversation comes first and (2) broadcast becomes an end-point not a starting point.

interestingly broadcast becomes that end-point funded by the grass-roots community РTV not as passive distributor of message but rather an active signal to decision-makers that enough people care enough about this cause to fund its deployment in a broadcast public forum.

it’s important that this ad is on TV. ¬†it’s important because of the signal it sends to said decision-makers, but also because it will ensure the important message that it contains reaches people who – because of the echo-chamber effect of some online networks – wouldn’t otherwise see it.

online networks have brought powerful, timely and positive changes to how we communicate – but broadcast retains it’s potent ability to reach all of us. ¬†and, thanks to the efforts of GetUp! and its supporters, it is all of us who will be reminded that It’s Time for mariage equality this weekend.

this weekend a grass-roots community is, for one minute and fifty six seconds, taking TV back … and our TV is the better for it.

advertising, creating, gaming, planning

The game of the movie or the movie of the game?: The opportunity of choosing the immersive over the immediate

(featured image source)

“Several years ago in the video game industry the big buzz word was “transmedia”. ¬†it was a term that was coined for original worlds and properties that spanned multiple venues, from the game to the TV series to the movies to the books. everyone was aflutter with this idea; these mega properties were going to dominate the entertainment landscape and change how we consume media.

flash forward to now and it’s clear that very few studios were ever able to pull off this “holy grail” of world development. budgets skyrocketed and very few wanted to take a gamble on building a new world. Ubisoft, however, pulled this off with Assassin’s Creed, and they did it with flying colours.

let’s face it – we live in a digital and connected world. a distracted world. there are always multiple things vying for our attention, be it social media or mobile devices. in this era creatives need to craft games and worlds that gamers “marry” not ones that they casually “date”. there are numerous ways to accomplish this, but one of the best ways to do it is to make a game world that is so extraordinarily deep that it takes an army to sort through all of the facts and details. the world of Assassin’s Creed is one that is easy to get into but can take years to fully understand and appreciate.”

Cliff Bleszinski – Design Director, Epic Games

it’s strange reading the above commentary outside of a media planning text, the parallels are so similar as to be striking … “buzz word was ‘transmedia'”, “change how we consume media”, “a digital and connected world. a distracted world” …

Bleszinski’s comments were written for the prologue to the Assassin’s Creed Encyclopedia, a beautifully designed hardback book included as part of the Animus Edition of Assassin’s Creed Revelations.

Assassins_creed_2 Assassins_creed_3 Assassins_creed_4 Assassins_creed_5

Ubidoft’s unboxing video of Assassin’s Creed Revelations Animus Edition and images from the Assassin’s Creed Encyclopedia: careful, spoilers alert

that games now come with encyclopedias may be news enough for some readers, but the fact that Assassin’s Creed does (in fact there’s an audio CD and a short movie in the Animus too) bears testament to just how evolved some game worlds now are.

evolved, and big business.

a Guardian article last week¬†reported¬†that¬†Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 had set a five-day worldwide sell-through record, with sales of more than USD $775m. ¬†it went on to comment that “the number also far exceeds the opening revenues from any movie or album release in 2011 ‚Äď the biggest film of the year, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, made $202m in its first five days. It is likely that Modern Warfare 3 will join the select group of ¬£1bn-grossing entertainment properties by Christmas.”

some digging courtesy of the same article notes that DFC Intelligence puts the 2010 global games industry figure at USD $66bn, whilst the LA Times puts the 2010 global cinema box office figure at USD $31.8bn and eMartketer estimate recorded music revenues at USD $35.1bn.  games win.  by a long shot.

the article ends however by observing that total reach of cinema far exceeds that of games, and comments that “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is big, that’s for sure, but as a mass cultural event, it still has a looooong way to go” … the fact that this observation is disputable aside (include social and casual gaming and there’s plenty of examples of games with scale and ‘cultural event’ status – Angry Birds anyone?), the difference between movies and gaming audiences is a reflection of the difference in the type of content/context between movies and gaming.

movies are inherently lean-back, immediate and assessable. games (casual and social aside) are inherently lean-forward, immersive¬†and require time, effort and energy. it’s no surprise that the former has a bigger audience footprint than the latter, but that the latter generates significantly higher revenues per head than the former…

what’s interesting from a media planning perspective is the choice that it presents – ask yourself what context/content we in the advertising and communications industry generally create? ¬†is it¬†lean-back, immediate and assessable … or¬†lean-forward, immersive and demanding of our time and energy. ¬†advertising was born and grew up in the mass-broadcast era – its no surprise that we predominately not only produce in movie-mode, but have extensive metrics and marketing theories (Byron Sharp anyone?) to prove its validity.

and yet we know we have to move on.

we take our content and we re-purpose it. ¬†we’re media and channel neutral, we create experiences and promotions and we socialise and innovate around our movies. ¬†we create the games of our movies.

and in doing so we’re missing a huge opportunity. ¬†because Assassin’s Creed and games like it don’t create games from movies (that would inherently limit their scope – search for ‘successful movie-based game franchises and you’ll see what I mean) … Assassin’s Creed creates movies from games, and more specifically, from an imagined world in which that game is set. they start, always and every time, with an immersive and lean-forward content/context – after which spinning out lean-back immediate content is childsplay.

the point is that we have a choice. ¬†stay as we are – create in movie mode and spin out the immersive and engaging game stuff off of the back of it … or we can decide to more often start in gaming mode. ¬†what world do we want to create? ¬†what are it’s rules and stories and mythologies? (all brands have them – we just don’t think of them in these terms) … then how do we create lean-forward, immersive and rewarding ways into our worlds? ¬†and then, and only then, how do we create content – of thirty seconds or three hours duration – that expands the penetration of our worlds, and of our brands, via more immediate and assessable means.

it’s harder to do. ¬†it’s expensive to fund. ¬†it’s difficult to measure. ¬†and it takes longer to produce. ¬†but that’s our choice … and as anyone who has ever completed a game will tell you – it’s more than worth it. ¬†speaking of which…


The hate of expectation: Why we judge next more harshly than now, and why we need to stop

(featured image source)

we watched and discussed the above case study (or a version of it) at our weekly plannery-type meeting a few weeks back.¬† whilst the tone of the discussion was generally positive, there was a nagging persistent line in the debate that went along the lines of “we’ve been here already, seen it before, done it now, enough already, time to move on” …

and it kinda bothered me, because here we have a brand that, rather than resting comfortably in the knowledge that it is generating awareness through sponsoring a property, is investing time and energy in using that platform to create experiences that can more deeply engage and entertain us.¬† and there’s a very real danger that our response is: “meh” … would we really rather that they had done this?

would we really rather that Skoda had invested time and energy in thirty second ads that they could broadcast at us with the intention of interrupting us?

or what about this effort for Yeo Valley from Blighty that broke a few weeks ago in the first live X-Factor final…

on the UK’s apparent emerging yogurt wars (who knew) – of which this above is no small part – JVW makes an interesting point in a post on his Smithery blog:

“…on a slightly more thoughtful note, I think it‚Äôs part of a slightly worrying, one-dimensional train-of-thought in agency land; the push for the ADVERSPECTACULAR, the greatest song and dance show it‚Äôs possible to put on in thirty seconds … (Although better in sixty.¬† Though, actually, it only really works as a ninety‚Ķ)”

JVW’s valid point is that the entertaining ante can only be upped so much before we all collectively explode in a blast of entertainment on-upmanship that destroys us all.¬† but surely efforts to entertain, or educate, or be useful or create experiences – as opposed to just reach or interrupt us should be applauded?

I care a lot less that Skoda are following in Mini’s gamification footsteps than I care that a dozen other car brands aren’t trying to connect to me on my terms.¬† and I care a lot less that Yeo Valley are pushing the envelope on entertaining us than I care that a hundred other FMCG brands aren’t.

a discussion with the awesomness of Nicola prompted her to make the smart observation that we have higher expectations of the different.  we expect more from the new.  we demand better from the alternative.  and we judge the next infinitely more harshly than we judge the now.

part human nature, part the position media planning finds itself in as we settle into the 21st Century and part the pressures imposed by the collective jizz-fest of international awards … the danger is that we quite simply and quite wrongly carry a weight of expectation of brands and planning that tries to do different.

we let a thousand really quite average communications pass us by every day without a whimper, and mutter ‘meh’ at the next iteration of doing different.¬† when we should be celebrating…¬† every breakout, every brave investment decision, every do different, every ‘no one’s done it this way lets go’, every sledge-hammer taken to category grip conventions, every ‘why didn’t we think of that?’ and every ‘why not’ not ‘why’ should be a badge of honour for our industry.

the weight … the hate, of our collective expectation should be directed not at the brands that try to do different, but at those that don’t.

here’s that other yoghurty adventure should you be interested in taking sides in those yogurt wars … really though, the yogurt wars – yogurt brands are at war, just with each other and all, but still, who knew!?

advertising, buying, planning

Tactical Smactical: Smart Relevant Tactical Planning on Apple’s Big Day … Courtesy of Nokia

Nokia takeover on day of iPhone 4Sgetting tactical – Nokia’s takeovers which appeared across a range of titles today

thanks to Kate M who pointed me in the direction of the above earlier today; a great example of smart, relevant and appropriate tactical planning.¬† no futurology, no zappy whizz bang interaction or engagement strategies … just a simple straight-forward ad for the Nokia N9 in dominant spaces on the day of Apple’s big (?) announcement.

whether or not Nokia knew the iPhone 5 was going to be an iPhone 4S is irrelevant – even with a more talked about iPhone model the placement was a smart move.¬† the fact that Apple announced a 4S today makes the planning all the better…

the alignment of The Age’s ‘Spot the Difference’ item alongside the Nokia ad speaks for itself.¬† future-gazing and predicting and innovating and challenging are important, but I was happy for the reminder that there is – more than ever – a place in our world for smart planners who spot and create credible cut-thru tactical placements for brand communications.

advertising, branding, copy-writing, praising, utilitarising

Of Promise and Production: Lessons for Telstra in Saying versus Doing from Dulux and Coca-Cola

bright shiny and new: the revamped Telstra ad that broke this weekend

featured image source

much has already been said of Telstra’s re-branding effort, which manifested itself over the weekend in print and on TV.¬† it’s all bright, shiny and new, and doesn’t look very Telstra at all … which I guess is rather the point.

I love it.¬† it’s optimistic, bright, clean, modern and very disruptive.¬† the copy is actually genuinely really uplifting:

today is amazing. connect with almost anything and anyone from almost anywhere. got something to say? boom … the world can love it. hate it. ignore it. whatever. stop and smell the roses you purchased online from the shop you just liked. because its never been like this before. it’s life in full colour. and it’s amazing.

it’s also much more than a marketing sea-change.¬† as the below video points out – it’s extending into every aspect of the organisation – from the vans to the identity badges…

it’s this piece of communication that’s much more interesting from a connections perspective.¬† the inclusion of things like identity badges gives it just a slight sense that it’s meant as much for internal as it is external consumption; a communication to Telstra’s staff explaining what’s changed.

it’s as though we’re listening in on a private conversation between an organisation and its staff – and it feels a lot more genuine as a result … if its an accident then its a happy one.¬† if its deliberate then it’s smart, and the opportunity is to go a great deal further.

much of the conversation on Mumbrella’s comment thread has debated the value of a revamped brand identity when the product and service fails to match.¬† but as Mumbrella’s indefatigable Tim Burrowes commented in an opinion piece on the site, the product does seem to be improving.

the challenge though, starts now. as the VO towards the end of the second video above observes, “we’re doing all of this to help us show all Australians just how amazing connected life can be” … the promise of a life lived in full colour isn’t the same as demonstrating to actual people in real and simple terms, what that means.¬† the promise can’t remain unfulfilled; the bright, clean, modern and disruptive packaging can’t be wrapped around an empty box.

of course if Telstra are really smart, then they’ll go the step further of actually making life more colourful for Australians …¬† what is Telstra’s similarly colour-inspired version of this?:

it’s a subtle but key mental shift: don’t just promise something – produce it.¬† don’t just promise more colourful lives, use your marketing investment to help produce more colourful lives.¬† the reach and awareness will come for free and will be more credible because the real conversations and voices of Australians will help create it.

it’s what Dulux have done with their promise of colour and its what Coca-Cola, with the recently released content below, have done with Happiness.¬† you can’t help but think that the people who created this asked themselves “what would Pixar do?” … and it’s the better for it.


advertising, broadcasting, data planning, debating, predicting, television

Media lessons from Sydney Writers Festival: or what Wikileaks and Sneakerpedia have in common

SWF 2011
we've been warned: Paul Gilding, Naomi Oreskes, Curt Stager discuss acting on Climate change as Sam Mostyn facilitates

so Friday evening was spent at the brilliant Sydney Writers Festival at Sydney's Town Hall.  the two sessions, 'who's afraid of Wikileaks?' and the climate-change-themed 'you've been warned' had illuminating things to say on a diversity of subjects but I was particularly struck by what they had to say, explicitly or otherwise, on the subject on media.

a key element in the first session was a specific question posed to the panel on whether Wikileaks is a media organisation or a political organisation.  the panel were agreed in the main that Wikileaks is a media organisation…  that they exist to aggregate, organise and make available information for distribution.

the panel were of the opinion that Wikileaks is non-political in the sense that what happens as a result of the information they release is up not to Wikileaks but rather to those who consume its content.  Wikileaks were, the panel argued, political only in the sense that Assange is a fervent believer in transparency of information, and its ability to hold corrupt organisations and governments to account.

it occured to me that the idea of 'becomng a media organistion' wasn't limited to Wikileaks…  the model – of aggregating useful information and then distributing it – is essentially an owned and then earned media combo.  and any organisation could adopt it…

The greatest sneaker archiving project is about to begin; Footlocker's SneakerPedia

there are parallels to what Footlocker are doing with the rather glorious Sneakerpedia; aggregate information – with utility – into an owned media space.  then use that to stimulate earned media (3,300 Twitter followers and counting) … bought media could come later – amplifying Sneakerpedia's greatest hits or rarest items in print ads, or short form sneaker documentary content on TV, but it doesn't necessarily have to.  Sneakerpedia, like Wikipedia, is an owned and earned media combo – and that's all it has to be: the mechanics of media now not only permit that but in many ways favour it…

because bought media is developing a serious credibilty issue.  the rise of owned media and emergence of tangible earned media has put bought media – as exemplified by the ad – into the spotlight, and the glare seems to be hurting it…

in the second session of the writers festival, a wonderful panel consisting of Paul Gilding, Naomi Oreskes, Curt Stager, Sam Mostyn discussed the hard choices we have to make now to preserve our planet.  Oreskes described how the climate change movement had been undermined (like the anti-smoking lobby before it) by an argument of credible doubt.  the proponents had used bought media to amplify their message to a broad audience.

Oreskes was asked why the pro-climate camp hadn't adopted the same tactics?  her response was stark: "advertising exists to sell people things they don't need, scientists reject that [advertising] can be used to sell climate solutions" … the message is clear, bought media lacks the credibility of owned and earned.

this should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with our industry – the reality is that we have shouted our messages to people for over half a century.  we have created as a result several generations of ambivalence towards our branded messaging, the result of which is now not only passive resilience from audiences, but outright rejection of not only the message but the media delivery channels themselves…

this point is important.  Channel 4 Chief Executive David Abraham noted in his RTS speech this week that according to Channel 4 research, "about two-thirds of all 'TV audiovisual content' viewing time ‚Äď across TV, PC and mobile ‚Äď will be 'tracked intelligently' in some way by 2020"… our working assumption should be that such tracking will only be able to be utilised if people permit us to use it.  if they are similarly minded to Oreskes, that may set up a tricky negotiation between our industry and our audiences.