If you pay peanuts…

August 28, 2009

 ideas bounty only

Peperami have fired their creative agency Lowe and decided to post their creative brief on a new crowdsourcing website, ideabounty.com with a $10,000 prize for the best idea. They seem pretty delighted at the prospect of saving all that money on fees. And instead of getting the resource of only two or three account people, they will now benefit from the minds of thousands.

Many of us have encountered a client whether on the creative or media side, who decide that they are paying that flashy agency far too much money and surely they could do it better themselves inhouse. They’ll save a bundle – it’s a no brainer.

Some companies do this very successfully – Innocent is a great example. But Innocent is also a rare example. It is a company which was founded by ex-advertising employees who developed a product with inbuilt marketing from the start. Most companies who choose to go it alone, do an awful job.

There is a reason professionals are professionals, and a reason they cost money. Yes “good ideas can come from anyone” – that doesn’t mean they are equally likely to come from anyone. In practice, good ideas are much more likely to be thought up by people who have dedicated their working lives to developing strategic skills, gaining practical experience and actively immersing themselves in creative stimuli.

David Ogilvy absolutely believed in the necessity of craft. “I asked an indifferent copywriter what books he had read about advertising. He told me that he had not read any; he preferred to rely on his own intuition. ‘Suppose,’ I asked, ‘your gall-bladder has to be removed this evening. Will you choose a surgeon who has read some books on anatomy and knows where to find your gall-bladder, or a surgeon who relies on his intuition?’”

In reality, ideasbounty is just another creative agency – with cheap labour. What you are hiring are graduate creatives or amateur creatives. I have no doubt that some of them will come up with excellent ideas for Peperami. However in the longterm, if this crowdsourcing approach takes off,  the prizes will need to be come bigger and bigger, to attract the best talent.  Because ultimately, you get what you pay for.



I wish I was Three Again

August 27, 2009


A hot bath – just you and Prince William? A dream which comes true at last. Relax with a cup of tea in the bosom of England’s royal family.
Make it real: let’s TeaParty!

This is very much a random post but I found these teabags designed by a German company called Donkey Products and they really caught my eye. I love fun things – everyday products that put a fun twist on things. Life can be boring sometimes – we get into a routine and suddenly it seems like the mischief and excitement is gone. (Eamo introduced us to the Music and Life youtube which really gets you thinking). We grow up and then ultimately (by choice or otherwise), we move away from colour and fun and mischief .

I try my hardest to avoid age and practicality (difficult as it may be). I’m a sucker for fun and cute products. At home I have a heart shaped egg poacher, Tetris and heart shaped ice-cube trays, a vegetable garden on my balcony and a pillow for my bath. These things, though impractical, make me happy and make me smile when my day is long or my heart is low.

But the fun shouldn’t stop there – work should be fun too! We should try and inject a bit of fun into our planning. The best ideas are the fun ones – T Mobile Flashmob, Cadbury Gorilla, Hubba Bubba longest chewing gum ever etc. And it seems to be the route lots of brands are going. My favourite TV ad this year is the McDonalds Eurosaver ad. Its fun and that’s what makes it memorable.


I don’t really know what the point of this post is – I’ve jus celebrated another birthday so that might explain the sentiment. Bill Vaughn, American author says “ A three year old child is a being who gets almost as much fun out of a fifty-six dollar set of swings as it does out of finding a small green worm.”  I want to be three again! (and so should you)


WOM – en

August 26, 2009

gossipy women


Ever wonder why the first three letters of the adult fairer sex start with WOM. Is someone trying to tell us something? Well fact – women are four times more likely to share personal stories with a friend compared to men. Okay I hear you say it’s just men are four times less. Either way, let’s not fight over it. It’s all about greater word of mouth. Fact is, if you are marketing to women, or indeed not, (and maybe you should be) WOM can be of great benefit to your product or service through references.

It appears women are natural word of mouth spreaders, they are wired that way.  My friend used to say ‘if you really want to communicate something there are three main ways, Telephone, Television and Tell a woman’. He’s still single.  A serious article I read said that women have four times as many connections between the left and right hemisphere of the brain. Women tap deeply into connecting with others. Apparently it’s true, and as such, is a good consumer insight into how we market to women and how we might tap into this WOM mentality to our benefit. 

If a woman can be such good ambassador, it is important to respect her opinions and needs. So, what can you do to increase women’s WOM, – well, appeal to her particular social senses.  Don’t just give 15% discount if she signs up three of her friends, she’s not going to sell out her friends – how about, – ‘you and everyone of your friend who sign up will get 15% off’, and now the individual has access to a discount that she can pass on and share with friends.

The personal touch has always been appreciated and spoken about, but make sure you deliver on your promises or fix them if you break them, bad WOM is not good.  Make sure you meet expectations, because women are very strong on bad service.  A personal thank you note is appreciated, it doesn’t have to be extravagant, remember her child’s name, or her birthday. These are small examples but if you can adapt this mentality on a bigger stage you might have a greater chance of being talked about, recommended, or even loved.

I read a good story about a financial advisor to a certain woman who has two dogs. Every visit he sends the woman home with two dog biscuits, he even knows their favourite flavour – sausages.  Her husband couldn’t care less and the dogs are oblivious to it.  The woman loves her dogs and appreciates the man’s financial advice, but what really endears her and her friends to him,  is the thought ……….and the sausage biscuits.



Armstrong’s tweet success

August 26, 2009


 Lance Armstrong brought traffic to a stand-still yesterday when he decided to take a cycle through Phoenix Park. More than 1,000 cyclist showed up from around our fair city- to join the seven times tour de France winner for the impromptu ride announced on twitter.

I haven’t taken to twitter, I haven’t signed up, I haven’t followed. That is not to say that I won’t sign up in the future, I may eventually warm to it, but for now it doesn’t appeal. It’s another social network on top of 3 I’m currently signed up to that I don’t need. I feel I know enough about what my friends are up to, and see little benefit in knowing what Lily Allen has just eaten for breakfast, how uncomfortable Stephen Fry is in a lift, or where Kim Kardashian has just been shopping.

It’s with surprise then that I found that a flash mob was to organise itself in phoenix park. That Phoenix Park Bike Hire was to be completely booked out of it’s 190 hire bikes within two hours of the post. That as of July Twitter had over 97,000 irish users. Have I just missed the point?

A top ten of twitterers shows Ashton Kutcher as the most popular, with 3,335,747 followerers. Following closely are Ellen de Generes, Oprah, Britney, Ryan Seacrest and Barack Obama. Marketers are quickly including it in their campaigns. A recent campaign ran in the UK for http://www.comparethemarket.com, saw the introduction of the new cult figure Aleksandr Orlov. Aleksandr the meerkat has been using twitter (http://twitter.com/Aleksandr_orlov) as a regular means to keep in touch consumers, with over 26,549 followers.

Meanwhile back on our home turf, Lance Armstrongs phoenix park cycle was the first successful tweet that made me stop in my tracks. It made the 9’ o clock news, front page of this morning metro, hundreds of websites. Great PR exercise for the cancer society summit that draws the cycling champion to our shores. What have Aleksandr, Lance, Barack, Oprah got in common that makes their tweets so successful? Personality! Using tweet as Marketing tool is useless unless consumers are drawn to the character that you are presenting. Out of the top 10 global twitterer’s, 8 are famous personalities.

Will I be tweeting any time soon? Probably not! I’m not sure people really want to know what I’m up to. When I become famous maybe what I just ate for breakfast (tea and toast) could be a life changing revelation for them, but for now it’s just a mundane detail…

Like the Truman show and Big Brother, people are drawn to other people, we enjoy the voyeurism. This might explain its success to date. Will it succeed in Ireland? Figures to date show it is slowly getting there. Can it be used as a successful Marketing tool? I think Lance just answered that one for us.


Free Toast

August 26, 2009


I dropped into my usual coffee shop this morning for my breakfast – a latte and toast. Until recently, my breakfast was just the latte, but now they have a deal and the toast is free with my regular hot drink. That’s a fantastic deal. But there are some problems with it.

Firstly, if it’s acceptable for you to give away toast for free, why did you charge us so much in the past?

Secondly, now that it’s free, you’ve devalued the toast. If you remove the deal in the future, someone like me who wouldn’t have bought toast to begin with sees the price of toast rise by 100%.

Thirdly, and most importantly, you’ve devalued the coffee – the product I was interested in in the first place. Some days I eat my breakfast at home and I just want to buy coffee. But now, all of a sudden, just buying the coffee seems very expensive. I didn’t used to think it was so expensive – I bought it every morning. Now that I have been getting so much for my €2.95, it seems pricey for just a cup of coffee.

This leads me to think that, once the promotion is over, I’ll re- think even buying the coffee.

And this is the problem with free; once you have continuously offered something for free, you can’t reasonably expect us to start paying for the same thing. This is the issue being faced by online publishers –they’re increasingly looking to create platforms where news content will have to be paid for. How are we as consumers going to react? For me, unless they do something that adds a great deal more value, I just can’t see myself paying to read the news online. What’s more, the extra value they offer will have to be costly enough for them to produce that it represents a barrier for their free- to- read competitors.  Otherwise, those competitors will simply copy what their counterparts are doing, and put it to market for free.

Seth Godin sums it up what we need from these publishers:  ‘People will pay for content if it is so unique they can’t get it anywhere else, so fast they benefit from getting it before anyone else, or so related to their tribe that paying for it brings them closer to other people.’

I’m going to need my coffee in a diamond- studded cup.



The Art of Storytelling

August 23, 2009

I’m really passionate about the art of storytelling in presentations, so it pains me to admit this, but I do think most Irish Media Agencies have been guilty of neglecting the showbiz sparkle for too long. We’re like the shoeless children of the village cobbler – we work in the persuasion business, but frequently fall down when it comes to adopting our silky communication techniques for ourselves.

Whereas Creative Agencies are now masters in weaving creative mystique and sex appeal, from their office decor to their multimedia presentations, Media Agencies are still catching up. While we all make a special effort for pitches, there’s no reason that day to day media presentations cannot be just as engaging and insightful.

Yes in Media we work with lots of numbers, from CPTs to reach & frequency. Yes we have lots of competitive data, share of voice charts and detailed media research to justify our plan rationale. No, unlike the Creative Agencies, we’re not drawing pictures or scripting stories – those things are easy to make sexy. Except in reality, we should be drawing pictures and scripting stories for our presentations. The medium is the message.

Our clients, like our consumers, are busy people with limited time, attention and sometimes (gasp!) limited interest. Too often, we do our robust thinking and sound strategies a disservice, by focusing too much energy on the steak, and forgetting about the sizzle. Too often we watch others’ weaker ideas gain momentum with clients, and cannot fathom why ours were overlooked. It’s our own fault – they were better storytellers than we were.

Luckily, we work in an ideas meritocracy – so we just have to work harder on making our stories shine.

Slideshare is a haven for inspiration on how to do it right, as is Presentation Zen, Seth Godin and Ted.com.


seth godin quote jpeg

won't listen

One of the things we’ll soon be hearing a lot about is the new film ‘New Moon’, sequel to ‘Twilight’, based on the wildly successful books of the Twilight series, written by Stephanie Meyer. I’ve recently been working my way through the books, and pretty quickly too (they’re quite addictive). But then, I’m good at getting fanatical about things. I quite enjoy it. I’m a fan of lots of things; I like to get involved, even if I do sometimes take it too far and become a little obsessed (I’m positively giddy in anticipation of Mad Men season 3). For similar reasons, I’m also an advertiser’s dream. I’m happy to listen; in fact, I’ve sometimes gone as far as to consciously reward good advertising by making purchases.

There are, however, lots of people who don’t like Twilight, and I would hazard a guess that many of those people are firmly in the “I’m not reading that nonsense/claptap” camp. Similarly, there are many, many people who are closed- off to advertising. They may be over- exposed to it, or they may consider themselves too ad-literate to get involved, or maybe they are just too cynical about the whole thing. They may simply be oblivious. Whatever the reason; some people can’t hear, and some people won’t listen. In both cases, we have to be clever about how we try to reach them.  

It would be easy to jump to the conclusion that we’re talking about doing something sinister and tricking people into listening. I’m happy to argue that we’re doing them a favour. Most of the time, the message is about something that will offer them a benefit of some kind; otherwise the product or service would never have been produced. For the consumer, information is power; it helps to purify the market and tilts it in their favour. Of course…. individual consumers don’t think like that.

So what can we do? When building a communication strategy we need to think about more than ‘what are we doing for what target audience’. We also need to think about what we are doing for the part of that audience who can’t hear or won’t listen. If they can’t hear, maybe we should shout louder, or try a different pitch. If they won’t listen, we should think about catching them on the hop, reaching them when they’re not expecting to be reached in a way they can’t anticipate. It gives us the opportunity to be truly creative in our thinking. Instead of rejecting this part of the audience as ‘the unreachables’,  really, shouldn’t it be the part we’re truly excited about?


Krispy kreme 2

2008 and Q1 2009 saw ourselves in coordination with our OMD UK colleagues launch the Walkers crisps ‘Do us a Flavour’ campaign. The idea of this was to involve the consumer in the brand, and simply put, have them ‘Do us a flavour’. Punters were asked to create a new flavour of Walkers crisps. Six of the best would then be pitted against each other and then the public would vote for their favourite. The finalist flavours were ‘Builders Breakfast’, ‘Cajun Squirrel’, ‘Chilli and Chocolate’, ‘Crispy Duck & Hoi Sin’, ‘Fish and Chips’ and ‘Onion Bhaji’ and  these were all available to buy and try over the course of the campaign.

 The winner was announced in April of this year and the prize was a cheque for €50k and 1% of future sales of the product!

 Now Krispy Kreme are going down a similar road, and giving their greatest fan the opportunity to design and name their own doughnut. Doughnut lovers in Australia, Canada, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, and the UK are being asked to send in a photo and an explanation of ‘How has Krispy Kreme made your life special’?

 The winner from each country will be given a years supply of doughnuts (healthy….!), a trip to the home of Krispy Kreme in Winston USA and the chance to design their own doughnut to go on sale April 2010. They will compete against each other for votes on the Krispy Kreme Fave Fan website.

 I think this mechanic is great! It’s interesting, engaging, fun and imagine the five minutes of fame…?? My doughnut would be coeliac friendly and taste like Crème Brulee – It would be called the Crème Veeliac.


Upon reading Neasa Cunniffe recent blog of August 17th  I realised that the perceived glamour about the Ad industry seemed to be deep rooted in the past.


It was forty years ago this summer when free love, flower power, peace and protests combined to allow freedom of expression to rule for a while, all the fun seemed to happen in the 60’s and 70’s. The era of anti-establishment was born – born to be wild. I don’t remember Woodstock myself (and no It wasn’t that…. it was just that I was too young) but it seemed a bit like the Ad industry at the time.  It was as crazy, wild, prolific, hedonistic – hard work at times, but the fun and the entertainment made up for that.

That’s why most advertising stories and tales still emanate from this era, and why? – because it had characters and a Woodstock mentality.  That’s why Hollywood films depict this advertising age and why the likes HBO’s programme – Mad Men is so popular.

So what happened to them, did they all go to the moon? Perhaps it was the late 80’s and 90’ that killed them off. The global pursuits of critical mass, concentration, cannibalisation, depletion of margins – and all this combined with the stranglehold of accountants, the justifications to auditors and the arm wrestling of procurement guru’s.  Perhaps it was the rules of engagement, or the templates, the templates and more templates or perhaps, then again, it was simply the growing popularity of bottled water with lunch.

There is no doubt the Ad Industry is stronger than ever, better managed, more effective and efficient, creatively and strategically sound. But they’re not queuing up to take our pictures anymore. Perhaps advertising needs a brief to re-position its image?

It was 40 years ago this summer when madmen did go to the moon, (I vaguely remember that one) but they soon realised, when they looked backwards out their tin can window at the blue planet – that in fact, they had actually discovered the earth.  So, if we can’t re-discover it, at least we should try and re-invent it.

Hey, by the way checkout RTE 1 new 40 minute documentary ‘Ireland’s Mad Men’ due to air on Tue 8th September.  It’s all about Ireland’s AD Men, and yes……….. it’s from the 60’s 70’s and early 80’s only.


Mad men

a new train of thought…

August 19, 2009

Pampers Golden Sleep Train

I was wandering through Dundrum Town Centre the other week and I snapped this image. My first thought was, ‘ah sure that’s a nice piece of ambient’, but when I poked around a little I found out that it’s actually a programme Pampers are touring with around the UK & Ireland. The Golden Sleep train sets up in shopping centres and invites parents to come inside the train, learn about infant sleep habits and gives them the chance to talk to experts.

 The Google- test was encouraging; a quick scan of the conversations started about this (mostly on mum’s websites and blogs) tells us that the reaction is overwhelmingly positive. It’s not surprising- this programme was chosen based on research which told them that sleep was the primary concern of parents with young children.

 So the train does three things; it’s a nice piece of media which lots of people see and it engages its audience (parents of young children). Most importantly, though, it rewards those who choose to actively engage with the brand with something positive, and that’s the key. Communications that help us sell products and services to the people we’re trying to reach, yes, but isn’t it fabulous when your piece of communication is useful to them also? If you offer your consumer something useful with your message, you can get them to take the first step, to offer you their attention. If you can achieve that, you’re well on your way to building a genuine relationship.


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