advertising, campaigning, integrating, voting

Calling to Action: What Australian Political Parties can learn from Marmite

so in this week’s PHDcast we’re talking Aussie election, which kicked off (officially) this week with a deluge of media and collateral, including these two efforts from the two leading parties, Labor offer us a New Way:

whilst the Liberals are offering us a New Hope:

there will no doubt be other places and spaces where the ads themselves get debated and dissected, and aside from the observation that naming an election slogan after Star Wars Episode IV is just plain awesome, we’ll leave all that to one side for the moment.

there is one difference between the two ads though that I think is important. it’s a really subtle but I think significant difference in the dying moments of each. quite simply one has an embedded call to action and one doesn’t.


Labor’s video has not just a specific call to action in the copy, but an embedded ‘click to volunteer’ button in the video.

in the podcast, Stew (who anchored magnificently) asked me for the advice I would give the comms teams in the election, I commented that at the moment there isn’t one communications strategy, there are several (broadcast, social etc).

the big opportunity it seems to me is to join the dots … and identify very specific roles for comms, with all roads leading to getting people to act … if people act early, cognitive dissonance will kick in and people will act to maintain consistency with their perceived beliefs when they get into the booth.

that the Labor ad gets that its not just an ad may seem to be a simple and indeed obvious distinction, but its a simple and obvious distinction that its Liberal counterpart – nor a great many commercial brands for that matter – grasp. which brings us of course to Marmite, who this week unleashed this awesome little gem:

the predictable and ridiculous backlash has fortunately been met with a truckload of praise for the ad … but the sheer entertainment value that the ad provides aside, the communication is a gold-standard example of two really important aspects.

one, it doesn’t take too much pondering to work out that there is a very specific business issue being tackled here. the team have clearly done their homework and gone beyond ‘consideration’ or ‘like-ability’ to identify a specific issue that they’ve gone on to tackle head on.

two – and this is where I’m making the tenuous link to Australian politics (because its my blog so I can) – there’s a clear and integrated call to action strategy. the video ends with a clear call to action that is an integrated and consistent extension of the creative construct of the ad:


this then takes you through to an owned-media platform from where you can interact to your heart’s content:


there’s one last aspect for both of these that I think bears repeating, and that’s the importance of cognitive dissonance – the first fundamental assumption of which is that “we all recognize, at some level, when we are acting in a way that is inconsistent with our beliefs / attitudes / opinions. In effect, there is a built in alarm that goes off when we notice such an inconsistency, whether we like it or not. For example, if you have a belief that it is wrong to cheat, yet you find yourself cheating on a test, you will notice and be affected by this inconsistency.” (source)

the really smart opportunity is that by getting people to act within a communications content (for a brand or a political party), you potentially establish and crystallise such a belief / attitude / opinion. when people subsequently come to a supermarket shelf or a polling booth they will – according to the theory – be more inclined to behave in a way that is consistent with said belief.

in short … a integrated, powerful and engaging call to action, far from being the tick-box exercise at the end of the ad, can be the linchpin of the whole communications operation. given the choice, you’ve got to love that.

featured image via Herald Sun

connecting, developing, integrating, internet, social networking

Ping vs. Fabulis: what Steve Jobs can learn from Jason Goldberg about Social Networks

Ping Steve Jobs launching Ping earlier this week

last week Apple continued their ascendancy with the unveiling of a revamped iPod range, but also with Ping; a social network, housed within iTunes, based – not surprisingly – in and around music.  so a small step for iTunes but a giant leap for Apple into the social networking space.

they're not the first.  back in July 2008 I wrote a post in response to news that MTV was launching a social networking initiative called House.  I expressed concern then, that brands sailing into social waters did so at significant risk…  there's simply only so many networks people can and will be part of…

at the time I ranked a very un-statistically robust sample of social network membership and (unsurprisingly) a long tail emerged…  whilst a small minority of sites (Facebook, MySpace) account for the vast majority of social networkers, there is the potential for a network to aggregate a strong and viable community around a niche topic or area.  but therein lies the rub…  if you're stuck in the tail then running a social network could be an expensive way to aggregate and entertain a niche audience.

but back to Ping, and as niche's go, it got to be said that if you're going to go after a vertical then music seems to be a fair vertical to choose; especially when you have one of the biggest and most significant music ecommerce platforms in existence, and MySpace – you're most significant rival with specific music credibility – is struggling to demonstrate a place for itself in the world.

but Ping is a somewhat limited experience.  on first use it feels like a twitter engine (you follow and are followed) with a Facebook framework.  but that's where the similarity ends and the problems start; the only way to connect with people is to invite them by email, and once you are connected there's no inter-network connectivity.  what goes on Ping, stays on Ping.

contrast this with Fabulis, the social network set up for gay men and the friends of gay men set up by Jason Goldberg (below) earlier this year. aims to help gay men and their friends discover where to go, what to do, and who to meet.

Jason_goldberg fabulis founder Jason Goldberg

two things struck me about fabulis.  one is how the site has an explicit 'currency' in the form of bits – points that you earn or win by interacting and engaging with the site and other social networkers.  for the record my meager 815 points currently rank me at 4,181st, so I've a bit of engaging to do (but then that's very much the point of points isn't it).

Fabulis fabulis tackling the onerous task of helping gay men and their friends stay in touch – it's a tough job but some networks got to do it

but the second and most interesting aspect of fabulis is how I never actually joined the social network.  I never registered a username or created a password.  nor did I upload a profile picture or suggest friends.  Facebook Connect did all of that, and moreover, fabulis was more than happy for Facebook to do it.  my sign-in, profile, and network were all ported happily and seamlessly across from Facebook.  Compare and contrast this with Ping's approach.

the fundamental difference between the networks is that Ping is insular and closed (and that's very much Apple's prerogative and indeed modus operandi) whereas fabulis is not only open in it's approach, but dependent on another network – namely Facebook – for a key element of its infrastructure.  if Facebook went down one day (run with this!) then fabulis would go down with it; it's a network built on a network, and its very much the better for it.

all of which makes Jobs' position on why Ping isn't connected into Facebook's (or another social network's) content very revealing…  in a post on cnet news, Kara Swisher describes how when she asked Jobs about the lack of connectivity on Ping, "he said Apple had indeed held talks with Facebook about a variety of unspecified partnerships related to Ping, but the discussions had gone nowhere … the reason, according to Jobs: Facebook wanted "onerous terms that we could not agree to""

Ping was a pretty unique opportunity for Apple to open it's doors and integrate part of its product into the wider web in a way that would ultimately have made Ping better for its users.  the fact that Jobs didn't says more about Apple than it does about Facebook's apparent 'onerous' terms.  it seems that Facebook's terms weren't too onerous for Goldberg, and fabulis is, well, pretty fabulis as a result.

advertising, converging, engaging, integrating, praising

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(here's that adidas ad – a joy)

engaging, integrating, praising, television, viewing

Don’t say, do: how HBO’s Voyeur showed the world how great a storyteller it is.

Jonny (thanks Jonny) pointed me in the direction of the above describing HBO's 2007 Voyeur activity, a campaign that won the Best Integrated Promotional Campaign at this year's Cannes.  great example of how brands should do rather than say.

advertising so often get's in the way…  we want people to think of us as great storytellers so let's make an ad about storytelling.  this campaign missed that cul-de-sac by a mile and instead created a campaign that immersed viewers in stories on their terms…  this was the objective from the start, this from the info on the above YouTube page:

"the campaign goal was to fortify HBO against increasing
competition by strengthening the brand's relationship with super-fans.
Incredibly engaged in all forms of media, they seek intelligent,
cutting-edge entertainment experiences. Super-fans recognize HBO as one
of the few brands that respects their intelligence. They don't just
watch HBO programs – they're completely involved and engaged before,
during and after a show.The creative task was to ignite this same level
of passion around the HBO brand itself

a website was of course integral, but mobiles, on-demand and blogs took the story much further.  for me though the best bit about this campaign was the outdoor projection.  we too often miss opportunities to use real spaces to bring campaigns to life…  context tells us that as content proliferates consumers prefer and expect real experiences (cost of recorded music coming down whilst live goes up etc)

innovative – digital-led – ways to take campaigns to the streets are too few and far between, but the reward is there for the brands that can integrate the physical and the digital so seamlessly and to the mutual benefit of each.