Pope Paul III - invoked the Council of Trent

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! 



A bonus ignition for you this week – adidas, facebook and lynx all doing interesting things at the moment,



Online Rewards

March 22, 2011

Each day it seems as though there is a new statistic on how big and powerful Facebook, blogging and other forms of online communication have become. This weekend it emerged that Facebook now has 500 million users and is the most visited site in the U.S, ahead of even Google.

The facts are there. What seems to be missing, however, is any kind of explanation as to why so many of us have become part of the ever-expanding online community.  Guardian columnist, Oliver Burkeman offers an interesting suggestion. In his eyes, it’s all about reward. Long before Mark Zuckerburg was ever born, it emerged that people repeat behaviours that they find rewarding. According to Burkeman, we click compulsively because there might or might not be a reward – a new email, a new blog post – waiting for us. In other words, technology is merely facilitating our appetite for ideas, suggestions and messages.

Social networks and blogs offer not only information, but also the opportunity to present ourselves in the best light possible. It’s all too easy to de-tag unflattering photos and let others know about what trendy things we’ve been up to at the weekend. Aoife recently blogged about how Facebook places now allows users to let friends know how much of a “social bee” they are in real time. This is rewarding too.

Facebook rewards

And let’s not forget the more recent advent of tangible rewards being offered by the likes of Facebook places and other geotargeted promotions. Money-off offers and freebies further incentivise being part of an online society. 

 No matter how you look at it, social media is rewarding. Who can argue with 500 million people?


Some other nice stuff including SleepPods for tired workers, VW Fox Twitter campaign and Lipton Green Positive Project #1 on a wall in Sydney.



Uk and Germany sample surveyed but still some really interesting stats relevant to the Irish market,


In a lovely initiative that was part team-building, part customer- delighting, and part charitable contribution, B&Q executed a UK-wide synchronised flash mob last Saturday in aid of Comic Relief. Flash Mobs are nothing new, but this, I think, qualifies as taking it to the next level!


Open happiness with Coke, interact with Ford C Max augmented reality six sheets and the rest,

Your Monday morning ideas shot,


Apple, Guinness and Nike are all brands who have all successfully, over time,  shown us who they are, without having to tell us.

Building Brand Equity

I’ve been involved in some interesting brand deep-dives recently, and the same thing has been coming up again and again and again. In a world of brand-savvy consumers who are crying out for authenticity, brands who are trying to build brand equity need to stop telling us who they are and start showing us.

A clever comrade in advertising arms argued recently that Dunnes Stores is an example of a brand that has been left behind in this regard. Dunnes tell us they’re better because they’re Irish. Is that good enough anymore?

Do we believe that something can be better by virtue alone of being Irish? Well, no, not really.  For that matter, we’re not really sure we can put our finger on what makes one supermarket ultimately better than another. There’s lots of things that matter to us, including buying Irish. Ultimately,  if Dunnes want to centre their communications around the fact that they’re Irish, that’s fine. That’s as good an attribute as any upon which to hang your hat. But we’re a culturally distinct people; there’s a rich supply of Irishisms there to exploit without having to simply say ‘I’m Irish’.

Simply put, I trust myself, so if I interpret what a brand does and says and sum those things up as that brand’s identity, I believe myself. The job of the brand owner is to nudge the customer towards the right conclusion. 

My feeling is that there is a vast spectrum on this, which goes all the way from “Buy me, I’m X”, to a brand so perfectly identifying and embodying X that they never need to talk about it. Yes, getting it right is where the magic is; Apple, Nike, Guinness, these are all brands that perfectly embody their own values, and appear to do so with ease. Some brands, (Jamie Oliver?), try just a bit too hard and come across as a little contrived. In the modern world of branding, the ‘Buy me, I’m X’ brands come across as cheap and desperate and do little to help their own brand’s health in the long run.

Apple don’t talk explicitly to consumers about their brand values, (Simplicity, ease of use, user focused, fun & humour, memorable and different, innovative, personalisation, coherency) they just are those things, and it’s reaffirmed in every single interaction we have with the brand. As a brand, you know you’re there when people use your brand as a descriptor for other things.  This, of course, is the Holy Grail, and achieving it requires confidence, courage and no small amount of investment.



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