broadcasting, television, viewing

The Broken Contract: Why FOX8’s Snag a Simpson paints a worrying picture for TV as we know it

FOX8_Snag_a_SimpsonFOX8's Snag a Simpson initiative … creating viewer engagement or bribe to increase viewer minutage?

so I returned home last night to find one of Pelican's number playing the above game on FOX8.  the channel invites you to try and 'Snag a Simpson' … this involves you pressing select to play, and when you see a Simpsons character on the screen you snag them by pressing Red on your FOXTEL remote.

I know for a fact that you can do this because I watched said person do it.

only you need to 'Snag' 10 Simpsons in 15 minutes for your reward.  the guide explains that it's free and you can play as many times as you want.  I bet you can.

the generous interpretation is that FOX8 is genuinely looking to create viewer engagement and reward consistent viewing.  the less generous interpretation is that the channel is blatantly attempting to bribe you from switching channels during the ads breaks (or shows for that matter) and at the same time increase their minutage amongst the measurement panel.

I fear that it may be the latter.

but I also fear that its another worrying sign that the implicit contract between channels and viewers (and advertisers) is broken.  the contract states that you get the programmes for free (or for less if you're on subscription) and all you have to do is watch the ads…

only people don't buy that any more.  in fact the contract seems a great deal less attractive than it once did…  why?  (1) a lot of people pay for their TV now, so they're not getting their content for free (2) the amount of choice available makes switching all too attractive (3) we're increasingly trained to consume micro-content – small packages of TV or otherwise that can be consumed in a couple or minutes (or seconds if you're browsing your Tweetdeck) – this makes catching even only a scene on an another channel preferable to sticking to an ad break (and even if you miss the rest of the show you caught the first half so what the hell) and (4) the ads in most ad breaks are pretty crap … I've taken time to watch a few ad breaks of late and I really really have been stunned by the general drivel that advertisers and agencies seem to think passes for an ad…

we made the contract together and I guess that we'll break it together; everyone involved will have been complicit in it's cancellation:

the viewers got impatient and became happy to flick around ubiquitous content.

the advertisers only cared that a small but big enough fraction of people who saw an ad responded, ignoring the fact that the vast vast majority of people who saw it were either ambivalent (neutral brand equity effect) or disliked it (negative brand equity effect) or hated it (super-negative brand equity effect and potentially damaging WOM.

channels continued to print money and fight for petty share wins, ignoring the fact that overall viewing was in decline and that viewers were distracted, multitasking and ambivalent to the efforts of the advertisers from whom they were taking money.

and what of agencies?  perhaps agencies will become the most culpable of all.  we failed to ask the networks the questions we should be asking, going along with their playground share battles, whilst all the time taking micro-payments in the form of a commission from every ad that we placed.  agencies sat like market stall traders at the base of a dam that was about to burst; not investing in an ark but instead telling their customers that everything was fine … that the dam would hold … that the flood would never come.

we may come to see a great deal more endeavours to encourage viewers to 'Snag a Simpson", or a Robinson, or heaven forbid a Grimshaw.  it's cheating.  we can do better.  whether or not we choose to accept our fate of SImpson-Snagging is up to us.

advertising, content creating, flashmobbing, television

Never critique a movie you haven’t seen: How T-Mobile at T5 is a triumph of execution over strategy

so you've seen the above already … T-Mobile's latest real-people-crowd-mob-activation-engagement thing, which took place at Heathrow's Terminal 5 not too long ago.  big thanks to Laura for sending it in my direction.

I've had two totally separate conversations about this activity.  the first was on Saturday, where in a discussion about T-Mobile's latest effort my general line of observation was along the lines of 'yeah but they've pretty much done that now … where can they possibly go? … they're in danger of becoming a one-trick pony – I fear I may have even gone as far as to use the phrase 'jumped the shark'.

my thinking was that it all sounded rather a bit much.  a tactical idea that started – brilliantly – at Liverpool Street a couple of years ago is now being stretched just a little too thin.  been there, seen T-Mobile doing that.  singing to people as they arrive at Heathrow.  really T-Mobile?  really?!

the second conversation I had about the effort was this afternoon.  a full six hours after I actually took three minutes out of my life to watch the above video of the effort.  it would seem that Mark Kermode – who says never critique a movie you haven't seen – is totally right…

strategically this is a tactical activation re-imagined in a new time and place.  strategically this is an inside-out TV ad and not a lot more.  strategically this is a PR platform that engages relatively few people in the actual experience.  strategically we should all be really very over this already.

only I'm not over it.  I happen to adore this tactical replay of a PR-led inside out TV ad.

I adore it because of the dedication and effort to make it executionally so polished.  because of the realness and authenticity of people's reactions.  and because it's a piece of communication that reflects a genuinely positive aspect of the human condition.

strategically this shouldn't work.  but in execution, it delivers in spades.  a strategic one-trick pony it may be, but as ponies that do a trick go, you've got to admit its a pretty good one…

broadcasting, content creating, remixing, television, viewing

No more than Skins deep: how a direct Remake misses the opportunities presented by a Remix

Zaac pointed me in the direction of the above this morning.  it's the trailer for MTV America's remake of the UK's beloved Skins.  as someone who watched and loved the show it makes for strange viewing.  on one hand the new cast and setting looks strikingly different.  but after a while the similarities between the above and the original UK version become not just clear but blindingly obvious.

the car going into the water.  the quick edit phone conversation.  taking to one's own genitals.  even the back garden (yard now) trampoline.  all conspire to indicate that this is a clean remake of the show.  something which, if true, presents not only a missed opportunity but a huge failing of producing.

a missed opportunity, in that the best adaptations of shows for US audiences haven't been remakes but remixes.  same show, different culture.  think about how The Office transferred from Slough to Scranton, or how the boys from Manchester evolved into a very different Queer as Folk Baltimore.  great remakes, or should I say remixes, protect and nurture the truth of a show whilst mixing in a new culture and society's perspectives and nuances.

Office_uk The_office_us from Slough to Scranton – same Office, very different culture

Queer_as_folk_UK Queer_as_folk_US from Manchester to Baltimore – same, err, well totally different actually…

that "the remix is the very nature of digital", is of course now so widely held to be true that it's almost too obvious to quote it.  but Gibson's elegant maxim is too often ignored.  by TV makers and brands alike.  just as in the case of TV shows that fail to capitalise on the opportunities that a remix affords, how many global ads do we see land on the screens of shores a far cry from their (often European or American) origins?  or worse, dubbed out of their native tongue, so that we are sold to by smiling fresh-faced lip-synced avatars…

the pressure to create ads that can be deployed across a multitude of regions leads to centrally developed, but often locally less-relevant communications.  distinctiveness in communications is key – it mitigates misattribution and builds brand cues that extend the return of a media investment out of the short term and into the longer term.  simply deploying a global property locally is no guarantee of success.

this presents a problem for TV producers and brands alike … a problem that, for the latter, will only be exacerbated by a shift away from broadcast interruption as the de-facto method for audience reach, towards a two-way content and community-led platform that seeks to engage an audience.

MTV's gamble with Skins – to create what looks like a remake rather than a genuine remix – should give pause for thought for marketers.  to what extent are we acting in a brand's best interests by picking up and redeploying content into a country – and culture – for which it wasn't designed?  how many opportunities are missed, and investment wasted, by failing to reflect the nuances of a culture with whom you seeking to engage?

broadcasting, television, X_Factor-tipping

The Joy of X Down Under: X-Factor has hit Australia, but why are only the Brits excited?

last night the X-Factor hit Australia.  but despite a huge marketing push by Seven, the launch episode achieved only a disappointing 1.186m, making it the fifth most watched programme of the night behind four news and current affairs efforts.  the winner, Nine's A Current Affair, won the ratings battle with – ironically enough – an interview with the family of Matthew Newton, the X-Factor host recently dumped by Seven.

as a big fan of the show in the UK – where it's fair to say it's a bit of a national institution – I've spend much of today (amongst other things) pondering why it is that Australia just doesn't seem to 'get' X …

on paper it should all add up.  Australia likes Reality formats (as evidenced by the huge success of Masterchef); there's a gap in the schedule (the aforementioned Chef has just finished); there's a natural audience underserved by reality music shows (Australian Idol is a distant memory); and awareness of the show's imminent arrival was more than apparent.

but even during the day yesterday there were worrying signs.  I asked a few people if they were looking forward to X that evening to which the most upbeat response I got was "oh, maybe".  in fact the only person with any enthusiasm for rushing home for a night in with the format was another Brit, who assured me that his fellow Brits were similarly excited.  but it seems, as judged by the shows performance, it was a decidedly British sentiment.  a hangover from the glory of the show in the Motherland.

having watched the show there's clearly some issue with the content.  the production quality lacks the shine of the UK version, but this may very much be a result of the hastily re-edited version that Freemantle had to get out of the door following Newton's departure.  but the issues don't stop there – the judges lack conviction; Ronan's quiet as a mouse, Guy is far too puppyish and whilst he had valid comments they just weren't packaged; the Imbruglia seemed to be focusing on how attractive the talent was and poor Kyle just seemed to hold an expression of mild boredom before rolling off a pre-prepared put down.  the judges, ironically, lacked a confidence that's fundamental to their role.

but the content on the other side of the table didn't fair much better.  there was some good but certainly not spectacular singers; if X is hoping for an international recording artist to emerge it better have had more up it's sleeve for the second round of auditions.

but none of this explains the poor performance of last night's show – as none of this would have been apparent until the show went to air, by which time not enough people were watching (and by my straw poll of six they were mainly Brits).

we can only hope and expect that the show gathers pace.  the talent needs to come through and the judges need to find their feet, and the production quality of the live finals will surely increase.  but in the meantime serious questions must be being asked at Seven…  about just why Australia doesn't seem to want the X-Factor; because whilst it's going to be a yes from me, how Australia votes is another matter entirely.

broadcasting, converging, social media-ising, social networking, television

Building Social Shells: the trap and the opportunity of NBC’s ‘fan it’ initiative

Nbc_fan_it NBC's 'fan it', which launches today

thanks to Lauren for the heads up that NBC is today launching 'fan it', a initiative that the company describes as a "win-win opportunity that broaden's [our] shows' visibility" … "What better way to spread the word about our shows than with the help of our loyal fans" asks Adam Stotsky, president of NBC entertainment marketing.  quite right.

essentially viewers interact with shows and they're rewarded with fan points, and points mean prizes; be they exclusive early access to shows, merchandise, or discounts.  you can even win 'big-ticket sweepstakes items', like props from the Office.

there's much to be lauded about NBC's effort.  its rewarding fans of shows for being fans of shows, which generates that most potent and valuable of comms properties: word of mouth.  but rather than having a WOM strategy that at best involves an occasional email and at worst involves crossing fingers and hoping for the best, NBC are investing in WOM that they can consistently stimulate, interact with, and measure.

but I wonder if it goes far enough, and fear that its doesn't…  there's a danger that this is seen as the newest and shiniest way to promote programmes…  a bit like this…

Tv_social_oldold school TV marketing trap, with Social as added-on component

but Social is a different and much more potent beast than conventional advertising…  for one, its intrinsically part of the shows that stimulate it.  there's no filtering or polishing, no Photoshopping up the best bits; what people generate based on what stimulates then is what gets created and deployed.

for another, there's less control over how much gets created and what the sentiment of it is…  conversations and word of mouth can go both ways.  NBC would never create an ad saying "this show isn't as good as we thought it was going to be, but stick with it cos its got a great team and some legs yet", but that could easily be the nature of a conversation around one of it's shows in the social space.

and finally – unlike advertising – when social media talks back you can hear it.  the many whoops and sighs, cheers and jibes that echo around online conversations (and beyond) as a result of TV shows that we know and sometimes love are there for the social network and broadcast network to hear.  what the broadcast network chooses to do with that social networked conversation, with that collateral, is up to them…

I'd suggest that for all these reasons, Social is better seen as a 'shell' which surrounds TV product.  a shell which is intrinsically part of the TV product; reflecting, amplifying, and sometimes influencing the content that stimulates it.

Tv_social_new new school TV marketing opportunity, with Social as shell which is amplified out

this is the real role of Social Media for TV.  NBC have taken a glorious step with 'fan-it', but social is not a block on a schedule to be added on, rather its the prism thru which shows are advertised.  and moreover, its the collateral that's there to be deployed online and – increasingly – on-air…

'fan-it' can be a broadcast network-out initiative or it can be social network-in conversation.  the choice – and the challenge – may be NBC's, but 'fan-it' remains a brilliant next step – for both networks – towards a new TV media ecology.

advertising, broadcasting, social media-ising, television, viewing

Message for Chrysler: the 1980s called and they want their marketing model back

Superbowl_empty_stadium NBC's SuperBowl broadcast cash cow; could the last marketer out please turn off the lights (pic sourced)

news this week that Chrysler has caused quite a stir by 'snapping up' one of the last remaining ad spots in the Superbowl.  'Chrysler' you say, 'the Chrysler that got bailed out by the American taxpayer to the tune of $13.5 BILLION last year?' … yes, the same.

I am, in a word, stunned.  stunned that an advertiser that had just been bailed out by the American taxpayer could decide that blowing something in the region of $100,000 per second on a 60" TV ad is in any way shape or form the right thing to do.  when oh when are people going to get that broadcast advertising is neither efficient nor effective at selling things.  McKinsey, if you remember, did a really cracking bit of research that went a long way to proving that consideration isn't a funnel and doesn't work like that.


I'm not suggesting that advertising (ie one-to-many 'adverts') isn't good at doing things.  it really is.  it's very good at (1) communicating new news, (2) getting people talking about your brand and (3) it's very good at validating purchase decisions.  but none of these are relevant for Chrysler; who in this move have only succeeded in getting people talking for all the wrong reasons…

Ad Age quote one commenter as saying that the move is a "slap in the face to every American taxpayer … This is Chrysler's way of saying 'Thanks for saving us, but now screw you, America. We're gonna use the money to pay for some Super Bowl ads".

a spokesperson for Chrysler- quoted in the same article – comments that "The Super Bowl is one of the most-watched TV programs of the year, not only for the football game but for the creative advertising … It provides an efficient platform to make a statement, set the new brand-positioning and reach the maximum number of viewers in comparison to traditional advertising … It would be more costly to achieve the same number of viewers in traditional media placement and ensure the high viewership attention span that the Super Bowl delivers."

I'm sorry but the 1980's called and they want their marketing model back.

its a statement from a company marching backwards: "efficient platform to make a statement", "set a new brand positioning", "in comparison to traditional advertising", "high viewership attention span" … I really am at a loss for words.

Advertising Age's headline was that "you're damned if you do and you're damned if you don't" – their reporting suggesting "Don't advertise, you don't move product. Advertise, you get hammered for wasting money" … I'm sorry but in this case Chrysler are just damned.  damned because they have.  they have wasted money, they have taken a lazy way out, and they have ignored the new paradigm of marking and communications that has evolved around them over the last decade.

Pepsi decided that they wouldn't be damned if they didn't.  the company that spent $142m on SuperBowl advertising between 1999-2009 (source) have decided that they'd rather invest the money on something a little more meaningful than lining the pockets of Madison Avenue's Bad Men.  Pepsi are marketing by investing in the people and projects that people think are worthy of investment.  Pepsi get that ad money isn't there to 'sell' stuff.  it's there to get people talking about your brand, because what you're doing is worthy and meaningful and acting as though you give a damn about the people that you want to buy your products.  and full credit to them.

in the slow painful death of the broadcast sales model, it's the existence of events like the SuperBowl that will allow its last standing defendants to cry "it works … we can shout at people and claim 'our brand believes in freedom, or choice, or in the human spirit, or technology or whatever we think will most differentiates us from a competitive set that we create in order to validate our investments and people will believe us and they will buy and it will be awesome".

but if the reaction to Chrysler's move tells us anything its that the long held contract between advertisers and people who buy stuff may be starting to show more than a few cracks.  people are realising that thereare other ways to be marketed at than to be shouted at by a company who can spend $100,000 a second on an advert.  sure the model and it's contract will hold, probably for a good while to come, and Chrysler seem happy to throw their dollars at it.  but I'd rather be one of the first ones to get out and taste the fresh air than be the last one to turn out the lights.  what you do, I guess is your call.

applicationing, broadcasting, content creating, converging, innovating, social media-ising, television, viewing

Fulfilling its Social Potential: Why TV could very well be the comeback kid as media emerges from the recession

Watching tv - group
the established institutions of 'old' media were always going to take the hardest hits as the combined effects of a global advertising slowdown and a digitising media economy came to bear.  such seems to have been the case.  according to Warc's latest Consensus Forecast, 2009 TV revenues in the States will fall 10.9% yoy versus total global ad spend yoy decline of 10.5%.  more substantial 2009 decreases in TV are anticipated in the UK, France, Germany and Japan.

looking forward to 2010, TV could very well be the area of media that not only emerges most strongly from the recession, but charges out guns blazing leading the brigade of other media behind it.  the same Warc report suggests that marketers in two-thirds of the sample are intending to devote more revenues into TV next year, with Brazil, China and India up by more than 11%, the US by 1.8%, and France by 1.3%.

in fact whilst advertising revenues have declined throughout the recession, there seems to have been limited disruption on the quality of networks' output.  new offerings, such as the US's FlashForward or Australia's Celebrity Masterchef have emerged and more than held their own.  and whilst it could be argued that reality TV has more than shaped current TV output globally, it hasn't stopped the likes of Glee and Modern Family making their mark.

but despite strong content and a return of ad revenues in 2010, viewing will surely switch online right?  well no necessarily so.  this week also saw a report from the UK's Enders Analysis arguing that the scale of the VOD market has been overplayed, and that by 2020 the overall national UK average of VoD viewing will be 5%;

"and at these levels, and after taking into account the lower tolerance of interruptive advertising in on-demand programming, non-linear VOD services are unlikely to have a significant impact on commercial spot advertising revenues during the next 10 years … the traditional linear broadcast TV model continues to work well in terms of reliability, simplicity, ease of choice and ability to deliver popular programming with mass appeal"

but all this is without taking into account the phase shift that could and should happen with TV in the year ahead.  2010 could be the year that TV genuinely goes social… as the Guardian observed in a cracking data-fueled article on Jedward's storming of the Twittersphere;

"Every Saturday and Sunday night, Twitter is exploding with real-time boos, back-pats and reactions to the show's performances. It's a re-imagining of the old-media watercooler ("Did you see The X Factor last night?") in live, online space ("Omg jedward are through!") – and it could point the way to the future of TV…"

as Gary Hayes, a former development producer for the BBC who now lives in Sydney and blogs rather awesomely here, points out:

"we now know when our attention is required, especially those inciting moments when emotion or serendipity may be possible. So with these two things happening there are a growing number of services trying to glue the two – either bringing the TV to the back-channel or layering the back-channel ‘over’ the TV" (source)

hayes has aggregated a whole host of services, either existing or in development, that are bring TV to the social space and vice-versa.  here are three of my favourites (all sourced from Hayes' original post):

EpiX has high-profile backing from the likes of Viacom, Paramount, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios and Lionsgate.  it's a platform for viewing content online, but specifically you can invite your mates to private screening rooms and interact with them…  ITV if you're listening, X-Factor was made for this…


another favourite (and another example of the increasing warmth between and cooperation by the Gates and Murdoch organisations) in the shape of X-Box and Sky who have teamed up to make the latter's content available on the former's entertainment console.  but the basics of the streaming aside, the really interesting bits are when the TV screen pans back and your in a room with your and your mates' avatars.  representations that you can support, deride, encourage, laugh at or ask questions of.  real social interactivity in real time with real people…

there's a full video of a presentation that Xbox product manager Jerry Johnson gave to paidContent:UK here – jump to 5 mins 40 secs to get the social bit:

finally, on the mobile front there's tvChatter, a iPhone application that allows you to connect TV content to the Twitterstream relating to that show in real time.  you can follow Tweets from everyone or just from people you follow.  and if you're not sure what to watch, you can see which shows are generating the most interest and check them out:

this is exciting stuff.  and I'm not pretending for a second that its anything new: we've been talking about, SMSing and debating TV for years.  but never have we been so connected to so many people we know in real time to do so.  never have the conversations about the TV we love been so prevalent and so accessible.  I hope then that 2010 isn't just the year that TV sees a resurgence in revenues, but also the year that TV finally gets social…  we will never look at our screens in the same way again.

product placing, regulating, television

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

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

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

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

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

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

DC: erm

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

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

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

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

ps thanks Bevvo for the stats and the vid…

advertising, broadcasting, buying, content creating, converging, measuring, television, viewing

More questions than answers: fighting for the future of digital broadcast in Mediatel’s playground

Mediatel_playground yesterday Mediatel held their annual Media Playground and Mediation popped along for the afternoon seminar discussing Digital Broadcast.  it's a broad topic area, covering emerging technologies, content, changing consumer behaviours and rapidly evolving business models.  one thing is clear – we have a lot more questions than we have answers.

it was apparent that we're entering an age of complexity in how content is created, deployed and consumed.  no one solution will predominate.  Bruce Daisley – Agency Leader at YouTube – observed that it's less about the platform, and referred to a 'long tail' of competitors.  that content rules, was echoed by the panel…

Rhys McLachlan – head of implementational TV at MediaCom – noted that this is, ultimately, what consumers will resolutely follow.  this was echoed by Jon Mitchell of Spotify who suggested that Hulu – recently down 3% – is plateauing.  they have (as opposed to Spotify) a limited amount of content, to thrive in a digital content economy you need ubiquity of supply.

and where eyeballs go commercial impacts follow right?  not necessarily.  McLachlan, in one of several soap-box moments, commented that "clients are increasingly risk adverse" and that "it's hard to invest in channels that are unproven.  there's an absence of valid metrics out there … we are retreating to rather than flighting to quality.  people who want a share of my broadcast budget aren't making a strong enough case for their platforms"

McLachlan went on to comment that "we're complicit in perpetuating a trading model that was created in the 1950s … we need to move on from this legacy model, a model that's been broken for some time".

it occurred to me that it's not the only model that's broken.  what so often get's lost in the maelstrom of how to aggregate and commercialise impacts in the new world of digital broadcast are the opportunities to engage audiences beyond the spot.  the spot is important and will not vanish into history anytime soon, indeed Daisley noted that YouTube's best performing ad (Gorilla of course) out-viewed their best performing piece of longer-form content (Wallace and Gromit if you're interested) by a ratio of forty toone "YouTube", he said, "is empirical evidence that great ads work".

but the spot ad no longer sits alone in the communications toolbox, and to approach commercialising long-form on-demand content by interrupting with ads really does defy belief.  interruption in a on-demand world is at best a contradiction in terms and at worst a failure to grasp the brilliant opportunities that on-demand offers the brands (and for that matter agencies) willing to embrace it…

because if anything is true as we negotiate the future of media and communications it is this; that brands and brand communications have – like everything else – to be in demand.

ad funded programming, broadcasting, television, viewing

Opening up the store: how Sainsbury’s gave us an authentic and balanced window into their world

Becky_craze brilliant bit of PR from Sainsbury's last night in the form of I'm Running Sainsbury's on Channel 4.  in the first of four episodes, Becky Craze aimed to prove that her idea of bagging a meal would not only deliver on Sainsbury's feed your family for a fiver efforts, but would help the coffers of the supermarket giant, which we were reliably informed are to the tune of £30k per minute.

described by C4 head of factual
entertainment Andrew Mackenzie
as "a look at the psychology of shopping and an opportunity to understand
the institutions where we spend our money" the show – made by Silver River – was a genuinely balanced view of life working at the retailer.

overnights are reasonable – pulling in 1.6 million viewers and an 8% share, with a further
284,000 watching on catchup service Channel 4+1 an hour later (source MediaGuardian).  and the show seems to be generating a fair amount of chatter online.

positives were the genuine support that colleagues seemed to give each other
(especially in the stores) and the enthusiasm of Becky to make a real difference to the company for which she works.  negatives were the patronising looks and comments from more senior figures within the company.  but with such negatives came credibility, the programme had an authenticity which I suspect will do well for the retailer.

but the real insight for me was the growth of own label.  Sainsbury's products in Sainsbury's now number 15,000 lines and account for half of all the sales in the supermarket.  one in every two items sold in Sainsbury's is own label.  and they're clearly holding their margin – the own label reportedly count for – nearly – half of all revenues).  enough to make any doubters of the continued rise of the retailer think twice.

next week should be fun, the show will feature an enthusiastic employee who takes the store to the customer – "it's not really stalking" she observes, "it's targeting".