January 23, 2012
As the end of January nears, a lot of us will be thinking about our new year’s resolutions and how well we’ve stuck at them. This year, more than ever before, a whole range of apps and techie solutions have been at hand to help us along. According to trendwatching’s report on ‘DIY Health’, there are over 9,000 health apps available, with this number expected to rise to 13,000 by mid-2012. The ‘Jawbone’s Up’ product allows users to monitor sleeping and movement patterns by simply wearing a personal wristband.
The popular RTE programme Operation Transformation returned this month once again. With coverage on the John Murray show as well as a mobile website giving the chance to track your own weight loss, Operation Transformation is not just a TV programme but a multi-platform solution to those needing a bit of support to meet their weight loss goals (the recipes on the website are great too, if anyone is looking for a bit of inspiration).
With all of these great resources, it should be easy to stick to our new years goals. Shouldn’t it? Plenty of people would say no. According to Oliver Burkeman, Guardian columnist on self-help, happiness and other matters related to transformation, the very idea of new year resolutions is wrong. The ‘focusing illusion’ often takes place, which means that when we don’t meet our own high expectations of the shiny new person we picture ourselves becoming, we then feel worse about ourselves. Burkeman suggests instead that we set one modest goal, and give it a 30 day trial . This way it’s more likely to become a habit as opposed to an unsustainable grand change in our lives.
If it feels like this advice is coming too late, think of how much easier it will be to set a goal when the weather’s milder, the days are longer and the hellish cash strapped days of January are over. And making a resolution in February means the pressures off – half of people who’ve set new year resolutions have broken them within a month.
December 19, 2011
Something happened somewhere along the line that we all missed. We missed that meeting, we slept through it. We meant to spend a bit of time getting our heads around it, but somehow it kept slipping off the urgent list. I remember when there was no Google and I know that it’s everywhere now. It’s just the in-between bit that I’m sketchy on.
I’m also convinced that there’s nothing we can do about it. So, really, questioning the rights and wrongs and moralities of it, whilst it might be interesting (or not?) is kind of an irrelevance. It rains a lot in Ireland. In some ways I wish it didn’t, it’s pretty annoying. In other ways I’m glad that it does, the green landscape is really beautiful. But I’d never sit around debating whether or not it should rain so much here or not. What’s the point? There’s no ‘should’ about it – it just does. Rainfall is up to God, Superman, ComReg, the BAI, ClearCast or whoever it is that regulates our weather.
Back to Google. They’re on the cusp of being the single biggest ‘media’ vendor in this market and beyond. As I asked at the beginning, when the hell did that happen? It doesn’t matter when it happened. How did it happen? Doesn’t really matter either, it just did. So what are we going to do about? Well, nothing we can do about it. They went straight to the client on this one – that is the consumer, the public, the people using the world wide web. They voted with their traffic and that’s the way it is.
As long as they have a monopoly on the audience, we haven’t a leg to stand on. Imagine a world in which the biggest media vendor doesn’t give you a percentage of discount, a percentage of media commission. No volume deal, no share deal, no early payment deal, no annualised incentive. Even talking to them is on their terms. Depending on which of their client categories you fit into, you get to speak with a specific layer of their sales organisation. Thanks for your business. Paulie in Goodfellas had a similar service ethos.
And yet, and yet, and yet… Flip this on its’ head and is this not the best thing to ever happen to a media agency? We don’t want to be commoditised, we don’t want a race to the bottom, we want to add value and be rewarded for more than just bulk buying media space as if it were paper clips or ink cartridges, right? We said that, didn’t we? Alright then, let’s get on with it. Google is a level playing field for every agency, every client, everyone who wants to do business with them. The only differentiator is how well you use their products and services. In other words, the only differentiator is you, the agency, through your people. Which is what we said we wanted all along.
So get out there and start differentiating, get a competitive advantage and leave the moral navel-gazing to someone else.
September 27, 2011
I first came across the term Creative Destruction when I read Alan Greenspan’s memoir, The Age of Turbulence (a quick Google tells me it was actually Karl Marx who came up with the term). The former Chairman of the United States’ Federal Reserve used the term to hypothesise that for economic markets to grow, existing trading methods need to be broken down and then rebuilt in new improved forms. Reading the book back in January 2008 it felt like reading the blueprint for financial success. I’m sure if I were to revisit the book now it would feel more like a blueprint for financial disaster. Context is everything.
I came across the term recently again as I dipped into John Hegarty’s book, Hegarty on Advertising. He defines Creative Destruction as the breaking down of old habits and practices that, in turn, create new and more powerful means of expression. He sets it in the context of various cultural revolutions through the ages, from Caravaggio to Elvis, from Michelangelo to punk, and applies it to modern day advertising, which he encourages to embrace technology and the new branding techniques and audience landscapes that come with it.
Last week announcements in the world of social media, were I guess, the latest form of Creative Destruction as both Facebook and Google moved to the next steps of their evolutionary processes. Indeed Facebook spell it out to us with the introduction of Timeline. And while a lot of the debate has focused on the corporate power plays of both of these organisations, the more fundamental point is that of John Hegarty. People, our consumers in marketing speak, are changing their behaviours every day and some companies adapt quicker to them than others. I’m told that Google+ has made 91 documented changes in its first 90 days of existence. Now a breakfast cereal mightn’t be able to do that, but it can evolve its communication because if not, relevance can be lost in this modern world very quickly.
I read yesterday that in the world of marketing, Google is currently the most desired company to work for and on some levels one can see why. Yet their world, all encompassing in so many ways, is only part of the picture in others. There have been more water cooler conversations about Downton Abbey in the office this week than Google and it’s the skill of understanding how all consumer touchpoints come together that give a broader perspective and understanding of the world that makes media the intellectually challenging and fun environment of which Google and Facebook are but an important (if rather sizeable) part.
July 18, 2011
In an interview with the Times this weekend, Arianna Huffington claimed that ‘self-expression is the new entertainment. In the past, people just sat on the couch watching TV’.
The notion of ‘cognitive surplus’ was originally made famous by Clay Shirky. This is the idea that when applied to other endeavours, the time normally spent watching TV can be highly productive. Shirky also argued that we’re now living in a time when people enjoy producing, just as much, if not more than consuming.
A recent report from Trendwatching outlined a whole host of innovative ideas not just from big brands, but also small businesses. A high number of these innovations demand active consumer involvement, as opposed to passive consumption. The Swedish retailer Papercut is offering discounts on a variety of items through its website speedsale.se. There is one small catch, however – shoppers must avail of the reduced price within 4 seconds, or the offer is gone forever. Meanwhile, the ‘Google Wallet’ allows android users to make payments for products and services through their smartphone after downloading the app. NFC technology allows payments to be made through shoppers’ Mastercard accounts.
These examples show that consumers are willing to spend time interacting with new technology if the benefits are great enough. With advertising, while consumers still spend time passively consuming media, the amount of time spent interacting with ads, whether they’re outdoor, online, or on mobile, is on the rise.
As technology advances, shoppers are becoming more and more empowered. Nowadays the role of the consumer has changed, and we’re playing more of an active role in our purchasing decisions. The bar has been raised, as greater challenges lie ahead for marketers.
May 17, 2011
Jedward – nil points.
Well, not quite, but a disappointing result all the same. After so much hype, our favourite twins finished 8 out of 25 last Saturday on the Eurovision. Despite being one of the top search terms over the past couple of weeks, Jedward failed to meet expectations. Not only is this disappointing, but also a little surprising. I know I’d give them my vote, why wouldn’t my European counterparts do the same?!
The problem, I feel, lies somewhere in the complicated world of culture. Often, something which goes down a storm in one country just doesn’t quite work in another. This is something of relevance not only for Eurovision acts, but also for marketers. During this year’s SuperBowl, GroupOn ran an ad featuring actor Timothy Hutton explaining that although the culture of Tibet is in trouble, its people can still “whip up an amazing fish curry”. The ad, watched globally, caused outrage, with thousands of complaints relating to its cultural insensitivity issued.
Despite missing out on Saturday’s top spot, however, Jedward helped the Eurovision reach a record number of Irish viewers this weekend. The contest, which ran on RTÉ One from 8:00 – 11:27pm was watched by an average of 1,174,300 – a figure higher than all the previous contests since 1997. Jedward are also currently rising high in download charts not only in Ireland, but also across Europe .
Perhaps Jedward’s loss lies more in complicated European politics than in cultural differences.
Either that, or people just didn’t get it. Surely not?
April 12, 2011
I haven’t seen the movie Killing Bono, but having watched the trailer, I love the conceit: “I was nearly in the best band in the world but fate dictated otherwise”.
I’d love to be able to say the same is true of me and how close I came to being Liverpool’s centre forward, but if Killing Bono is a ‘true-ish’ story, any claim to me having a fledgling football career would be a downright lie.
What are the near misses of the marketing and advertising world? What left turn did Harp take that only those of a certain age have fond memories of Sally O’Brien and “the way she might look at you”, whatever happened to the Radion family and their stain busting washing powder, and more recently what caused Bebo to be overrun by Facebook and why does Nokia look like it’s once unassailable position in the handset market is crumbling before their very eyes.
I guess the truism that the only constant is change plays its part. Harp, once part of an (un) holy trinity of Guinness, Smithwicks and Harp suddenly found itself fighting against the Americans and Nordics as Budweiser, Carlsberg et al entered the scene with seductive allure of unconquered worlds on their side. Radion fell to a combination of multi-national rationalisation and the ever evolving technological advances of its stable mates and competitors. Facebook garnered the momentum of the adult social network that it has become and Nokia came face to face with the genius of Steve Jobs and the creative positioning of Samsung and HTC in the android world. There are hundreds of other examples one could choose.
So how do we protect ourselves from ending up being the second best band in Artane? To use another marketing cliché, stay in touch with our audience. More than ever consumers can garner information, move quickly and switch loyalties. We need to stay in touch, stay relevant, engage and at times entertain. Bono once claimed that U2 were re-applying to be the biggest band in the world. I think he wouldn’t make a bad marketer if the music thing doesn’t work out. The McCormack brothers are waiting in the wings, only to eager to fill his shoes.
April 11, 2011
Charles Darwin was a misunderstood man. But perhaps his most misunderstood line was the supposed doctrine of the ‘survival of the fittest’, by which he meant fittest for purpose rather than the largest or fastest. “It is not the strongest of the species that survives,” he said, ‘nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”
As in nature, so in marketing. The speed of technology and changes in society means those responsive marketing beings sensitive to the changing commercial habitat have most to gain from changing consumer trends. With tough times ahead, the Irish marketplace is packed with brands facing threats to their very survival. Almost inevitably, a few dinosaurs will fall away. Yet it need not happen. With insight into the needs of clients and consumers, companies not only survive, but prosper in the ever-changing environment.
It was all on show last week in Lisbon, at the OMD EMEA Insight Conference. This is where our European counterparts were falling over each other in an effort to showcase inspiring examples of how they are responding to their own market conditions. In Lithuania, the OMD office faced a very specific challenge. The beer company Utenos, spotting a gap in the market for a dark beer for female drinkers, wanted to fill it with their own brand Utenos Tamsus Lengvas, (Dark Light). The campaign kicked off with a huge display of lanterns, lit up by members of the public and then sent into the night sky. The event sparked a campaign across traditional media including tv and print using images from the event. An emotional connection with the target was made, and sales went through the roof.
Smart insights are needed now more than ever. Tough economic circumstances and changing technologies mean it’s a fight for survival. Firms who respond to their changing surroundings will come out in a better position than before. Ask Darwin.
April 4, 2011
We presented the current Adidas and Nike YouTube campaigns in the last two Monday morning ignition 5s, and they got me thinking about the future and especially the future of celebrity.
Cheryl Cole is last year, this year who will it be? Amy Huberman, Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, Charlie Sheen….
…Charlie Sheen?? Why not?
The Charlie Sheen #Winning public ‘breakdown’ got me thinking about celebrity too. He is sticking two fingers to the world, ignoring everyone and everything he ‘should’ do, screw endorsements, fronts etc – ‘I am Charlie Sheen and I’m #winning’.
In many ways he is winning – he is ignoring celebrity norms and expectations, and I suspect this may mark the threshold of when marketing moves from celebrity obsession into non celebrity obsession – or at least takes a small breather from it.
There is something extremely valuable about a product or service etc that doesn’t need celebrity to give it that premium je ne sais quoi. Eg Dove. It is certainly safer anyway….
…which leads me to the Adidas versus Nike argument.
Adidas are going the celeb route – featuring tens of big name stars in its current ‘Adidas All In’ campaign – Beckham, Messi etc. Great ad and you wouldn’t want to blink because you’ll miss a score of famous faces.
They are talking up their street/music credentials with Katy Perry and BOB big name stars. The ad has a great soundtrack and is nicely put together.
But Nike (although they certainly spend millions on celeb endorsements), have taken the higher ground, and retaliated with the ‘Nike Better World’ campaign two weeks later. I think it’s a more powerful message?
1. They recycled their collateral to make a ‘green ad’
2. They are making the world better through sport, fighting depression and discrimination
3. They are making the world better even for the haters
4. They don’t rely on celebrity to create a powerful message
A good time to think about messaging and whether a profound and thought out message can be more powerful and moving than a billion dollar celeb endorsement…
Watch the video – it moved me
March 29, 2011
Blame this blog post on a hungover Friday. My mind goes to odd places at such times…
Where to begin? A friend of mine works as a vision mixer in RTE TV. Vision mixing is like a live version of editing, with a director shouting at you through a headset to cut and transition to and from different camera angles and VTs. So she works on live TV programming – like the News, current affairs shows and live sport. Champions League weeks are busy for her, as are elections.
The other programme she also has to work on is Mass. Mass has to be broadcast live as the miracle of transubstantiation must be seen live to be experienced. So you might be out on a Saturday night having a pint with her and she’ll make her excuses as she’ll be up early to cover Mass in the morning. It was the Council of Trent in its’ 13th session, ending 11th October 1551, which officially approved the term ‘transubstantiation’ (as opposed to ‘consubstantiation’). And which also, unofficially, cut short my friends’ Saturday nights on occasion.
But do people actually watch Mass live? Or do they record it and watch it later – and therefore miss out on experiencing the miracle? Well, since ‘consolidated ratings’ (recorded on your NTL / SKY box and watched within 2 weeks) were introduced to the Nielsen system, we can now answer such burning questions. And the answer is, by and large, no, people don’t record Mass. They watch it live. Only 3 transmissions of Mass, since the introduction of consolidated ratings, have shown any impacts for non-live (consolidated ratings) – 3rd Oct, 1st Jan, 6th Feb (total of 1,400 impacts).
Roger Chilids, editor, RTE Religious Programming, kindly answered my emailed query on the subject. As to whether it has to be watched live, he said:
“I’m no theologian, but that’s certainly the advice I’ve always been given. Mind you, I also find that the priest or archbishop celebrating is usually the first to ask for a DVD. I’m not sure how that works – a repeat viewing of the miracle!”
When Sky and NTL introduced their Tivo style devices into this market, a lot of us thought that this would be a significant blow to spot advertising on TV. Why would anyone watch ads on TV if they could record everything and fast forward through the ads? There’s many reasons as to why people continue to watch ads, even with the proliferation of these devices – but bottom line is, they still do. In fact for Jan-Feb this year, for the total market, only a half of a percent of all ratings were ‘consolidated’ (non-live). Studies by SKY TV would also show that when people invest in the hardware and subscription for their home (SKY box and station package) they watch more TV overall, be it recorded or live – just more. So in fact their advertising exposure increases as a result. Going out being the new staying in these times and all that.
So there you have it, bit of a circuitous journey, but thanks for taking the time!