Being Nice, What a Good Idea

November 30, 2011

Christmas FM is back with a bang this year and this year the deserving recipient charity is Focus Ireland. Texts cost €1 and all profits go to Focus. In Dublin, you can find it on your dial at 94.3fm. All DJs donate their time for free, and the station is co-sponsored by EBS and the Irish Daily Mail.

The mechanic is simple; text in your request and they’ll play it on air. It’s all so clean; it’s so easy to donate, you get something you want and you get to give a little to charity at the same time. Yes, as you might have guessed, this post has a hint of a plug about it…

christmas fm

The station has been a real success since its launch; earning €35k for ISPCC in 2008, €70k for Simon Communities in 2009, and last year, €86k for Barnardos. Isn’t it interesting to see that over the very years that the economy has taken a nose-dive, that something like this, a service designed to raise funds for charity, would take flight? Well, a good idea is a good idea, isn’t it?

But looking at this prompted me to look a little further, so I ran the numbers in TGI. We all have less in our pockets, but as it turns out, people are more likely to give to charity than they were 5 years ago. I’m oddly proud to see that our hardships have reminded us to dig into our pockets a little more frequently, if not deeper.

As far as our consumer behaviour goes, most of us are more closely aligned with our grandparents than with the 2007 version of ourselves. And, we’re told this new behaviour we’ve learned is here to stay. This is the ‘new norm’. But it’s about more than how we spend our money; we seem to be taking more time to enjoy our surroundings, families and communities and we’re caring more for the environment. We’re just…well…..we’re  a bit nicer than we used to be. Let’s hope we keep the best of our new behaviours, that we continue to give to charity and as the economy recovers, we carry the habit.





Facebook talks Facebook

November 22, 2011

Mark Zuckerberg alongside Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, talks about Facebook’s competitors and how he sees the relationships between the big guys developing. He doesn’t, he says, envisage a future where one team wins everything, but rather sees a future where companies like Facebook, Apple and Amazon are increasingly aligned.

Ultimately, he maintains, Facebook has evolved as a partnership company where the goal is to work across all platforms, rather than replacing any one of them.

 You can also watch the full interview here



Now that the festive season is upon us, and the countdown to Christmas has well and truly begun, plenty of brands are embracing innovation for their Christmas marketing campaigns.Santa

Department store  John Lewis has produced another classic heart-warming TV ad for 2011, one aired during last weekend’s X Factor. It was also launched online, with viewers able to access the ad on Facebook and YouTube before seeing it on TV. Interestingly, iTunes should also play a role in the campaign. Ellie Goulding’s cover ‘Your Song’ went to no.2 in the UK after being featured on last year’s John Lewis Christmas ad. Slow Moving Millie’s version of ‘Please Please Please Let me Get What I Want’ on the current John Lewis ad, is available to download this week. Expect similar success.

Barclaycard, meanwhile, are using Facebook as a platform for practical advice. The bank has launched an outdoor-led Christmas campaign, supported by press and a Facebook page with tips on how to manage spending during the festive period.

Technology has had a major impact on the world of communication this Christmas (you can even find Santa on Twitter) but Christmas is still a good example of how traditional and non-traditional media can be combined effectively. Ask people what their favourite ad is, and they’ll often give the classics that are shown year after year on TV (Coke, Guinness, Kelloggs). Although John Lewis and Barclaycard have made use of online media, they’ve also used TV and outdoor within their respective campaigns, two key media for reaching consumers on a large scale.

What’s most important within a Christmas campaign is creating a buzz and making an emotional connection. Without these components, the message just doesn’t feel quite as ‘Christmassy’ as it should.




The Original Community

November 7, 2011

For those amongst us who aren’t immersed in the world of GAA, St. Brigid’s are Dublin senior county football champions after an 8 year wait.  The past two years have seen me develop something of a soft spot for St. Brigid’s, my adopted Dublin GAA club.  We talk a lot these days in the marketing world about online and offline communities.  For me, the GAA is the original community and continues to be. 


I only know one of the St. Brigid’s players, yet I shouted (encouragement) at them yesterday like I’ve known all of them since a pair of Wrangler jeans were a must- have.  Reason being, I get it.  I get how important to them it is to be in a county final playing with brothers, lads they went to primary school with, neighbours.  I understand the buzz that it creates in the locality in the build up to the game and the euphoria of bringing the cup home, doing a tour of the parish, visiting local schools and generally being a hero, for a few weeks anyway.  For me, it’s the ultimate sense of community and I guess I sought that out, even here, in Dublin. 

It’ll never replace my own club in my affections, but yesterday, I was pleased as punch for a group of players that I don’t even know, to see them lift that cup and head off into the night for much deserved celebrations.  The GAA has an uncanny ability to create that sense of community wherever it goes.  In my opinion, it does it better than any other sport or organisation in the world.  Tall praise, but I’ll back it till the cows come home. 

And to our own OMDer, Alan Daly, we’re very proud of you. 




Bridging the Data Gap

November 2, 2011

Last week it emerged that within the EU, Ireland has the second highest rate of children being raised by single parents. The number is 23.2%. Arguments exist that our social welfare system leads to this high level for two reasons; firstly that the level of aid given to single parents creates a moral hazard that encourages single parenthood, and secondly that the figure is actually over- reported because parents who are not single are falsely claiming benefits. Regardless, it struck me as a large number and prompted me to think about the proportion of any of the audiences we are targeting that falls into this bracket.

Ultimately in this job, we’re trying to work out what earns people’s attention and how and why people spend their time and money. Conventional wisdom says that in order to do our work, it’s necessary that we take target audiences and make fairly general assumptions about them. Often, it’s only in looking at a group at this macro level that we can make any real sense of them.

It’s easy to forget though, that the assumptions we make about our targets can be completely overridden by their individual sets of circumstances. For example, I would think that for all the theories we might have about a given target audience, that the single parents within that audience are still much better defined by the fact that they are a single parent, than by any assumptions we have made about the wider group. Surely that one fact must inform almost all of the choices they make about how to spend their time and money. 

So what do you do about it? Do you dilute your comms to the point that they mean very little to lots of people, or target it to the extent that they mean a lot to very few? That’s the age- old question. The age-old answer is the ATL/BTL divide.

In fact, the world has moved past ATL/BTL thinking. Clearly measurement in digital media is good enough to serve the behavioural ‘long tail’ well.  The digital guys even have their own ‘Paid-Owned-Earned’ model which replaces ATL/BTL and which makes an awful lot of sense.

That’s all well and good in an online world, but we’re not in a fully online world, at least yet. So, where do traditional media fit in the meantime?

Now that I’ve starting thinking about the behaviour of single parents, I want to know how I should consider them in my targeting. I want to know if, when they’ve just finished a day’s work and they’ve collected their toddler from the crèche and they’re rushing home to make dinner and fit in bath time, if they’re going to listen to news content on the radio, because it’s the only time they’ll get the chance in the day, or if instead they’re listening to music because they have zero attention span left for anything serious, or if in fact they have the radio turned off altogether, because they want to have a chat with the baby.  

I fully understand that the nature of digital media makes it more easily measurable, and maybe i’m being greedy asking for similar from other media, but hey, if you don’t ask, you don’t get.  

When I compare the purity of the data we can get from search marketing, with some of the data and tools available to me in other media it leaves me wondering whether we’re all trying hard enough to bridge the gap.




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