Totally Flawsome

May 28, 2012

A new development in the land of trendwatching is the ‘flawsome’ brand. According to the popular site, consumers are embracing brands which show their personality more and more. Think Ben and Jerrys, or Innocent Smoothies. In a world in which social media is playing a major role for brands, conversations are happening all the time. Without complete control over what messages are being put out there, it seems that brands have no choice, but to bare themselves, warts and all.


Some brands are doing this well by embracing the trend. The Four Seasons Hotel in New York is one example of a brand using its website to include customer reviews, Facebook posts and Twitter comments. Being transparent seems to be working well both for the hotel and many others.


Others could learn a lesson or two. In February last year during the uprising in Egypt, designer Kenneth Cole sent out the following tweet, “Millions are in an uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online”.  This move by the clothes line was just plain flawed.


It seems that at its core, this trend is all about brands being human. This is nothing new, when you take for example, Marmite, who have been telling consumers to love it or hate it for years. What seems to have put this idea in the spotlight is the media through which brands now tell their stories. Instead of focusing on self promotion, brands now must build relationships – something essential for the wellbeing of people too. Perhaps we could all learn a lesson or two from how the ‘flawsome’ brand is behaving.




Happy sunny Monday!


In the world of advertising, there are always new innovations and developments which keep keep media fresh and engaging.  One of the more recent  ones is augmented reality, which advertisers are using to connect with consumers in a more fun and entertaining way.  Most people will remember the example of the Lynx “Fallen Angels” augmented reality screen in Victoria Station London, which brought to life a digital billboard.   In a TED video this week, Marco Tempest (a magician and illusionist) spins a beautiful story of what magic is, how it entertains us and how it highlights our humanity — all while working extraordinary illusions with his hands and an augmented reality machine.  We can’t wait to see how augmented reality further evolves in media, but in the meantime, this is a lovely example of it’s capabilities.







Associating your brand with something that people feel strongly about is an incredibly powerful way of building brand equity. But, sponsorship is complicated, and making a sponsorship worthwhile in terms of ROI requires incredible attention to detail. Look at this still from a Santander TV ad :


Santander has a great campaign going here – they’re neatly tying their F1 support back into products and using it to support their overall comms. But, look again at this image. Vodafone and Mercedes branding is all over this ad. It’s something Santander just have to work with, but i’m sure they consider it less than ideal. Remember all the way back when Tiger Woods was endorsing Accenture? A Nike logo, whether on his shirt or hat, was front and centre in every ad. A bonus for Nike, but a bit of a problem for Accenture.  

Sponsorships can be made to work brilliantly, or can fall short and fly completely under the radar. What is really clever is when brands manage to build a meaningful association without putting an official sponsorship in place.

On the slightly more ham-fisted end of the spectrum, there are brands which have patently lied about their associations, but have done so in a sufficiently tongue-in-cheek way that they’re forgiven (by the public at least, if not the regulators). In 2010 and 2011, we saw Hunky Dory’s hijack Irish rugby and Gaelic Football and receive a rap over the knuckles for both, the latter of which was upheld as recently as this week.

But there are many ways to skin a cat.

Research carried out by Brandwatch between December 1st 2011 and February 7th 2012, showed that 7.7% of online conversations about the Olympics were associated with Nike. By contrast, Adidas was bringing in only 0.49% of conversations, despite spending a reported £100m on the official sponsorship deal, and an unknown amount amplifying through advertising, PR etc.

In January, Nike ran a #makeitcount campaign which made use of their own sponsored athletes, many of whom are Olympians. In the year that’s in it, it’s an obvious enough thing to connect sports brands with the Olympics, and sports brands generally will no doubt feel the positive effects of this year’s event. But Nike have managed to create an association stronger than those of any official sponsors (at least according to online buzz), just by making existing sponsorships work hard for them and without forking out massive fees to the International Olympic Committee. Very clever indeed.

Nike is one of the world’s leading advertisers in terms of the quality and quantity of their output, and they have a baseline share of heart that most brands would kill for. But there is a lesson for smaller advertisers too. If your brand has genuine heritage in a particular area (like Nike does in competitive sport), there may well be an easy way to connect more deeply there without breaking the budget on sponsorships.


Consumer engagement is something advertisers are constantly striving for and over the past while a number of innovations have come to the front that are aiming to increase levels of engagement.  Two campaigns caught my attention recently, where brands have built a greater level of interactivity into their communications.  While I did think that both were an interesting use of media, I couldn’t help but be left wondering what was in it for the brand?  What were their original campaign objectives and did they achieve them? Both examples feel like steps in the right direction, but at the same time, they felt incomplete.

The first of these came from Brown Thomas who in a first for an Irish retailer teamed up with VStream to bring their exclusive shows to a wider audience.

Through a brand new type of video platform viewers not only have a front row seat at the most exclusive shows they can also interact with the most desirable labels such as Diane Von Furstenberg. By simply clicking on any item of clothing, accessory or pair of shoes the viewer has access to information such as price, designer and current stockists.

This is a notable step for Brown Thomas as they do not typically showcase their collections online. It’s giving the consumer more opportunity to engage with the brands but I do wonder what if any effect it will have on sales – there is still no platform to buy online from the website and the showcases have been limited to a few select designers.

The second campaign, is from an entirely different arena – in a bid to raise awareness about how the general public can intervene and help put a stop to domestic violence a series of interactive billboards have been installed at Euston Station, London.  On the first screen we see a video of a man shouting violently at a woman, passersby are encouraged to interact with the billboard using their mobile phone. If the opt to do so they are brought to a mobile site where the characters on screen can be controlled – here they can literally drag the man away from the woman.

While it’s certainly a very clever use of media; a series of connected billboards see the abuser being dragged further and further away from his victim, it left me wondering how effective the campaign would be. Would passersby actually take the time to visit the site and interact?These two unique campaigns both take advantage of the increasingly creative ways in which consumers can engage with more traditional forms of media, but I just don’t feel like they’ve completed the process.  At the end of the day, consumer interaction is two way street.  Both brands and consumers should come to benefit at the end, without that, what’s the point?

– Sorcha



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