These events have more in common than one might think. Not alone the obvious fact that they both begin in the next few days, they are also the biggest events within their respective fields.A Cannes Lions is the most prestigious award a person within the creative communications industry can hope to win, while the FIFA World Cup is the biggest tournament any aspiring footballer could dream of winning.

So who are the big winners going to be this year?

Cannes Lions

On a weekly basis we admire best in class ideas from around the world in our Ignition 5 sessions and often we see the cream of this crop rise to the top when the Cannes Lions come around. Some of the favorites to pick up golds are Guinness for their “Made of More” campaign featuring “The Sapeurs”, British Airways real time digital outdoor #lookup campaign and Volvo Trucks “The Epic Split ft. Jean-Claude Van Damme”.

In terms of creative, these are some of my favorites but only time will tell if these campaigns get the recognition I believe they deserve.

World Cup

Brazil – The bookies’ favorite has to get a serious nod; they have home advantage as well as a cracking team. Interestingly, Goldman Sachs have created a statistical analysis which suggests the home side are favorites for a reason.

As usual with large sporting events, brands have come in their droves to get a slice of the World Cup audience. Nike have two new World Cup specials, and there are brilliant new ads from Adidas and Beats by Dre. A collection of the best ads can be found here.

Here at OMD, we have been working on our World Cup impact reports. We are monitoring each country’s interaction with the event and creating global reports on how brands and consumers are interacting, viewing and engaging with the World Cup across every market. If anyone is interested in getting their hands on this report be sure to get in touch and we can share it with you.

Best of luck to all the teams and agencies in both competitions!



Brad is the Pitts

October 16, 2012

When Chanel released a teaser picture of Brad Pitt appearing in their new Chanel No.5 campaign females worldwide swooned, however following the release of the full ad yesterday no doubt many have been left unsatisfied. Pitt is the first male in the fragrance’s 93 year history to feature in an advertising campaign and has reportedly been paid $7 million for his efforts. According to the man himself;

“What’s important to remember about Chanel N°5 is how revolutionary this fragrance is; when it was introduced, it broke all the rules,” Brad said. “N°5 has always been the most iconic women’s fragrance. That’s what I see being the appeal of this campaign; it goes beyond the abstract of emotion or beauty to evoke what is timeless: a woman’s spirit.”

Sorry what?

Following some truely iconic ads for the fragrance over the last few years, including those featuring actors Nicole Kidman and Keira Knightley,I really think this is a step in the wrong direction. As always we’ll let you make up your own mind.


Brand X Factor

October 11, 2011

With the live shows now started, X Factor is well and truly back!

A new judging panel this year means things are a bit different. But, hold on, are they? At the audition stage, we still had the good, the bad and the ugly. The sob stories remain. And Louis continues to make some shocking decisions (Kitty? Really??) Even the Welsh woman with the handbag came back this year for another shocking display of her vocal talent – or lack thereof.

With Gary having taken on the role of Simon, it seems the X Factor formula which works so well has been cemented. And now with X Factor USA on our screens, the show is hard to avoid. But is it too much? I have one friend who literally can’t cope with the sob stories, and insists on hitting mute when they come on. Is this a growing trend? Does X Factor need more of a makeover?

Well, as they say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. In the 1980’s, Pepsi introduced the ‘Pepsi Challenge’ with many consumers preferring the taste of Pepsi to Coke. Coke reacted by introducing ‘New Coke’, replacing the old recipe with a new one. Coke’s CEO described this as ‘the boldest single marketing move in the history of the consumer goods business’. Unfortunately, it also proved to be a disastrous decision, with Coke going against the brand values of authenticity and tradition. Millions of fans claimed the new formula tasted like furniture polish and sewer water.

This year, X Factor contestants are set to star in the M&S Christmas TV ad. The deal is worth millions, and the ad will feature contestants singing a contemporary version of ‘When You Wish Upon a Star’. For now, at least, it seems the X Factor success story is set to continue. Sob stories included.


Creative Destruction

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.


Last week’s Apprentice asked contestants to create and brand a new pet food product. Team Venture chose to manufacture a type of cat food designed to keep felines trim and healthy, with their rivals, Team Logic, bringing their canine expertise to bear on a dog food suitable for any pooch, with the imaginative title of ‘Every Dog’. Team Logic put together a quirky ad, but when it came to the crunch, the one-fits-all approach just wasn’t good enough. Their efforts fell short, branded ‘tragic’ by the show’s host, the pugnacious Alan Sugar. It’s not the first time a new product targeting a broad market has come acropper.

In the ‘Long Tail’  Chris Anderson points out the importance of offering niche products in small quantities. The growth of online retailing provides evidence for the success of this type of business model. There’s now an array of products from a huge number of websites. Something out there to suit every need, or so it appears. Amazon attributes much of its success to its ability to offer obscure titles that bricks-and-mortar stores just don’t have space to stock. New marketing techniques such as PPC and viral marketing across social networks are also seemingly better suited to niche products than traditional advertising.

Despite a wider range of tailored products, the popularity of mass-consumed goods continues unfettered. In a previous post, Tim pointed out that certain products, Coke and Ford cases in point, have yet to lose their mass appeal after decades of first being launched. A one-fits-all product is fine – if there’s a gap in the market. Which there wasn’t for ‘Every Dog’. Maybe next time, Alan Sugar’s would-be Apprentices should listen to what their focus groups have to say.


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.



Brand Survival

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.

Brand Survival

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.


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.

The market is saturated with famous people (we know this), not only in magazines, they are judges in our TV programmes, talking in our twitter feeds, endorsing the products we choose.

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


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.



I was reading an article the other day about fame in general and in particular the article posed the question as to who might people still be talking about in 500 years time. After all a fair proportion of the world know a bit about Da Vinci, Machiavelli and Socrates a long long time after they decided to move on to a better place. Who will be the Da Vinci of today that the world talks about in the future? The Beatles possibly, Lady Gaga possibly not.

It got me thinking about great brands and great adverts that last the test of time.  Brands that earned the right to call themselves household names. Some brands have been household names for quite a while: Coke, Guinness, Ford; others not quite so long, but they’ve made a major impact in their so far relatively short life spans: Nike, Google, Facebook. People talk fondly of Persil, Guinness and Bisto ads of old – will they still do so in 50 years time, let alone 500.


In most cases the brands that have achieved this longevity, have done so through a body of consistently great communications over decades rather than years. Persil celebrated 100 years recently and has a portfolio of advertising that would be the envy of most brands.

Google, modern wonder of the world that it is, breaks all the rules. It manages near ubiquity yet I’m not conscious of seeing a paid for media placement by Google in any media. This fact in itself may ensure we still talk about Google in 500 years. Indeed we’ll probably require Google to find out about those brands and famous people from way back in 2011 – Jedward anyone?


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