brand extending, branding, campaigning, co-creating, community-building, connecting, earning, gaming, owning, praising, social media-ising, user-generating

Big Planning and Big Thinking: How Bendigo and Adelaide Bank use owned & earned media to deploy a little utility into the world

Got a big idea that you want to bring to life? Create a plan, share it and make it happen with help from the PlanBig community

so the lovely and awesome Zaac posted a link to my wall of the above effort from Bendigo and Adelaide Bank.  it's called PlanBig and, in it's own words, its…

"… a way for people to get together to make things happen and make a difference.  We [Bendigo and Adelaide Bank] believed that there was some real value in giving people the chance to come together in one place to talk about ideas, share inspiration, offer advice or help make things happen for themselves or someone else.  PlanBig brings together the experiences, knowledge and expertise of people with different skills from all walks of life and all ages to help each other get ideas kick started."

it's a delightful and instinctively attractive platform, which elegantly ticks a range of boxes including – amongst others – socialisation, co-creation, crowdsourcing and gamification.  it also has a elegant and seamless execution that connects with the Book and other social platforms…  the badges-as-reward effort has been borrowed from FourSquare, as has the Book's Like concept (in fact the functionality is a bit like a social network functionality greatest hits, which isn't a bad thing – better to use functionality with which we're familiar … makes it more, well, functional).

as the site observes, "Bendigo and Adelaide Bank feel so strongly about helping people realise their dreams, they’ve been doing it in local communities for over 150 years" … so this platform is just a natural extension of a brand proposition that's been in market for over a century.

it's also another example of the owned and earned media combo (note the absence of bought media) to create (1) utility (2) meaningful connections with a community of people and (3) content ripe for the amplification – if even a few of these ideas get big it will be marketing gold-dust.  all of which makes a great deal more sense to me than buying a shedload of ads telling people what competitive lending rates you have.

this genuinely feels like a brand / product extension with sociable and marketable assets built in from the ground up.  it's a communication for people, by people, and its infinitely better for it.  good on 'em.

brand extending, social media-ising, social networking

Lustable, Paypal, and the polyfaceted brand: why brands need to evolve a diversity of identities for a diversity of platforms


yesterday saw the birth of Lustable – a site designed to be the ultimate companion for online shoppers.  partnering with five of Australia’s most highly regarded fashion and design bloggers, the site aims to be a living breathing online shopping resource profiling the web’s best kept fashion secrets and is designed to be the ultimate companion for online shoppers.

describing the site, Adrian Christie of PayPal Australia commented that “Lustable celebrates the world of online fashion, covering everything from up-and-coming young designers, to fashion sites that offer great value – like free shipping and seasonal sales”.

I should say at this point that I'm breaking my first and most important rule of blogging in writing this post.  I am for the first time writing a post about a client of an agency at which I currently work.  I'm breaking the rule because Lustable makes a very valuable and necessary point about the future of brands, and specifically the diversification of the identity of brands…

there are examples aplenty of the diversificaton of brands, the goal being to grow and engage with new audiences – some of these are very tight (think UK telco O2's creation of the The O2; an engagement space with an identical name to that of it's parent brand) … but increasingly, brand extensions are differentiating from their parent companies.  so diverse that they become wholly new offspring of their parent brands, with their own identities and behaviours and affiliations.

all of which begs the question… why does Lustable exist?  why has PayPal – which is an established and trusted brand in its own right – invested the time and effort to create a whole new and differentiated brand?  what would be so wrong with  it seems rather counter-intuitive to create and invest in a brand that's not your own.  a worst case scenario exists in which that investment delivers no payback to the parent's brand ie the strategy is actively mitigating ROMI.

the reason Lustable exists, as I see it (I wasn't involved in planning it's inception) is for the simple reason that it needs to exist.  the opportunity to aggregate and stimulate a community of online shoppers is, for obvious reasons, high up on the agenda for a brand like PayPal; but PayPal isn't necessarily in a position to aggregate and stimulate an audience around fashion.

it would, for a host of reasons, be a leap too far.  much better to reach out to existing experts in the field of online fashion shopping.  much better to amplify their voices.  much better to invest in conversations that they will have with existing and new followers of their sites and online spaces.

Lustable can aggregate an online fashion community in a way that PayPal couldn't.  it can have credible and transparent conversations, and stimulate that community, in a way that PayPal couldn't.  in this regard Lustable is a brand intermediary – a site designed to reach out to and engage with an audience more efficiently and effectively that PayPal ever could.

is it a risk?  yes.  but the greater risk is choosing to either not engage with an audience or engaging with an audience in a sub-optimal and ultimately inefficient way.

what Lustable is evidence of is a direction of travel for brands into polyfaceted creatures.  as platforms for engagement (a word I choose very deliberately over reach) proliferate, the ability of brands to spread themselves ever thinner becomes more difficult and tenuous.  think about the number of successful branded TV channels?  OK … think about any successful branded TV channel?  the reason it's hard is that brands don't necessarily stretch that far – multiple facets are required and called for.

all of which of course requires new and emerging specialisms.  Lustable was created and deployed by social media agency We Are Social* – who's expertise in this space was necessary to ensure that the project was developed and implemented as effectively as possible.  as brands become polyfaceted so too do the specialists and skills that marketing folk need to surround themselves with…

all of which begs another question – who is the brand guardian?  fortunately that's easy … people are, of course.  people who use PayPal, and now people who engage with Lustable.  Lustable creates new associations and connections between people, and a brand that was brave and sensible enough to give birth to a wholly different creature.  a brand brave and sensible enough to understand that PayPal and Lustable are greater than the sum of their respective parts.

disclaimer: PayPal is a client at PHD Australia, where I work.  I was not involved in any of the discussions or planning that led to the execution of Lustable.  * PHD Australia shares offices and the more than occasional glass of wine with We Are Social, who have developed the Lustable strategy and concept for PayPal.

brand extending, creating, realtiming, social media-ising

It’s a crazy world, but I wouldn’t have it any other way: me and a pair of limited edition adidas’ that I was never destined to own

its a beautiful Friday evening in Sydney, but before I head out for a few drinks for Zaac's birthday, I'd like to tell you a story.  its a story about a great brand, and about how the world of communications works now; but more than that its a story about me and a pair of trainers that I will never now own.  and why thats OK.

it begins last Saturday, when Size sent an email to their mailing list.  on that list was my friend @fraser201 who, upon seeing that contained in that email were some of the most amazing trainers he'd seen an a good long while, forwarded the email on to me.  he knew I'd like it, you see two of my favourite things in all the world are trainers and Star Wars.  and there on the Size email were those two things.  together.  in one place.  Star Wars limited edition trainers.  and they were glorious.

so I turned to Google and got a few results from Star Wars and various trainer sites, but notably saw a result from @adi_originals.  so I promptly hit TweetDeck and fired off a Tweet to adidas, and heard back almost immediately…

Cws_twitter @adi_originals re StarWars collection, awesome stuff!! when are the orange Xwing hightops hitting Sydney? and where can I get them?

Adidas_twitter @cwstephenson The Skywalkers will be available at our Sydney Originals store. Give them a call:

following their link, I got to their Town Hall Originals Store website and placed a call.  the wonderful Chrissie picked up.  she explained that there were strictly limited numbers and that they'd go on sale on a first come first served basis on Friday.  in the diary Friday morning went and I did the polite thing and sent a Tweet back to adidas:

Cws_twitter @adi_originals nice one, thanks – looking forward to picking up some Skywalkers on Friday

and so the week passed.  and when I wasn't working or going out or up to no good, I was thinking about a limited edition pair of adidas Star Wars Stormtroopers, and tweeting about them to @fraser201 and @willsh.  Friday morning, this morning, couldn't come soon enough.

I however, could have come considerably sooner.  too late, I was.  I simply got there too late.  by the time I got to the store there was already a queue and as, one by one, people entered and left the store, the limited editions, one by one, left the store with them.  very soon there weren't any left for me.

I'm not angry or pissed off.  I guess I'm just a little blue.  somewhere in and around Sydney there are limited edition adidas Stormtroopers being worn, or admired, or stored in a safe, but none are being worn or admired or stored in a safe by me.

please don't feel too sorry for me.  there's more where they came from.  the first transport may have gotten away but battle will recommence in a month's time…  the prize?  these little puppies…


but thats not the end of the story, because towards the end of this morning the following popped into my Twitterfeed:

Adidas_twitter @cwstephenson What did you pick up? May The Force Be With You:

adidas remembered.  not just that I was interested in their products but that I was planning on getting some this morning.  four days after our Tweet exchange – an eternity in a world that's converging into RealTime – they remembered and sent me a message.  perhaps its just me, perhaps I was feeling needy, but I find that pretty remarkable.

play my story back again… here's how it went down: a retailer sent a mailer out which was forwarded to me via someone in my network so I searched then tweeted, then tweeted some more, then went to a store and missed out but then received a tweet which contained a link to the below rather amazing ad which I clicked on and watched.

the ad came last.

after all the product development, partnership building, new news generating, social networking and direct communicating, I watched an ad.  and ad designed not to make me go and by something.  quite the opposite.  an ad as an affirmation.  a validation of the journey that I'd just been on.  "thats why I love this brand" is the response it so deservedly earns.

because in all of that story, in all that maelstrom of communications and connections, at no point was any media bought.  at every step along the way it was earned; earned by a brand creating something that in the end I wasn't even able to buy.

its a crazy world, and I wouldn't have it any other way.  good weekends all…

brand extending, charging, creating, selling

Demanding Supply: What the Sydney Festival can learn from adidas and Star Wars

Becks_late_at_Sydney_Festival the Becks Festival Bar @ The Barracks [source]

so last night I spend a brilliant evening jumping around to Big Black Voodoo Daddy & Black Joe lewis and the Honeybears at the Becks Festival bar (above).  its all part of the Sydney Festival, which opened on Saturday with Al Green performing to about 200,000 people in the Domain.

but here's the thing – I had to buy my and Jonathan's (hi Jonathan @jonnyp) way into Big Black Voodoo Daddy et al, because all the tickets had been and gone months ago when they were first released.  it seems to me that there for a city the size of Sydney the festival just doesn't seem BIG enough…  there needs to be more stuff, more to do, because the demand is currently far outstripping supply.  …and thats the thing about supply and demand – the more there is of something, the more we want of it:

Supply-demand-right-shift-supply.svg Induced demand: When supply shifts from S1 to S2, the price drops from P1 to P2, and quantity consumed increases from Q1 to Q2 [source: Wikipedianess]

I love the counter-intuitiveness of this.  the more you create of something the more people want it.  the problem however is that at the same time the value of the commodity goes down – but only if the commodity in question is homogeneous.

this is the great opportunity for something like the Sydney Festival – you don't make it bigger by making more of the same; in order to protect value you need to produce more of the different.  more venues, more spaces and places, more 'differentiated scale'.  in this the festival can learn much – and a big thanks to a heads up from @Fraser201 on this – from adidas and Star Wars…  yeah, I know…

in December of last year adidas announced the creation of an originals range inspired by the Star Wars universe, its been trending up ever since:

there's three very smart things about this, the second two of which relate to really brilliant understanding of induced supply.  the first thing to say is that in no way shape or form will adidas ever have to spend a penny in broadcast advertising of this range: its existence will be all the marketing collateral they need.  but thats not whats really interesting about what adidas are doing.

I had a quick conversation with the lovely Chrissie at the Sydney Originals store this morning, who informed me that the range isn't all being released at once, rather its being phased over three months.  thats the first smart way of increasing supply without compromising price; phased supply over time.

secondly, not all lines will be equally available – some of the lines will be general release and fairly easily obtained, but others will be strictly limited, some down to two pairs of sneaks per store.  thats the second smart way of increasing supply without compromising price; variable availability.  the entry levels for demand are different – individuals with heavy demand will invest more time and energy than those with lower levels of demand but the value equation for both will be similar.

both the Sydney Festival and adidas' Star Wars range can teach communications a thing or two too: imagine that the theory of induced demand applies to bought media…  an increase in the volume of advertising impacts has resulted firstly in a fall in the value (real or perceived) of brand communications and secondly, an increase in the demand for brand communications…  advertising has gone from the Immortal to the Immediate:

Sistene_banksy from the Immortal to the Immediate; Michelangelo’s Sistine ceiling (top) took four years to paint, current economics wouldn’t favour its commissioning today.  Banksy’s Tesco Flag (bottom) took a little more than four minutes

it couldn't be less about doing a few things well; fewer bigger better needs to be thrown out with the noughties.  rather its about doing lots of things well enough.  on which I'll let you enjoy the awesomeness of the below…  they're on phased release from now till March, form orderly queues please…




brand extending, innovating, selling

When brand extensions become ads: How Jack Daniels is creating the most innovative of point of sale assets

Jack_daniel_woodchips_2 so Phil and Eva were shopping at the weekend and arrived at Vizeum this morning with tales of Jack Daniels woodchips.  it is true.  Jack Daniels have extended their brand into not only wood smoking chips but briquets too, allowing each of us to have great smokin flavour BBQs whenever we want.  and at the start of summer too.

the products have some great reviews on Amazon; b. observes that "within minutes, you'll be treated to the sweetest
smelling wood this side of anywhere"
, perhaps because the chips are made from the actual barrels used to make JD.  so – great marketing story one – the product extension genuinely tells part of the brand story.

the second reason we like this is the margin.  the list price on Amazon for a 2lb bag of chips is $9.99, compared to between $4 and $6 for other bags.  the reviews refer to the cost for say its totally worth it.  heritage and brand are being monetised very effectively indeed.

but the third and real genius of this brand extension is the sheer volume of space it gets on you shelf in a new and different part of the store.  its top-notch media space right at the point of purchase…  brand's offer love and money for valuable space like this.  Jack Daniels have innovated their way in whilst at the same time commanding a premium and augmenting their brand story.  lovely.

ps they do sauces too!