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Archive for December, 2007

How to get to better ideas?

December 12, 2007 4 comments

Have an armory of questions you should ask yourself while planning your next campaign. Like:

– Who’s your enemy?

Honda’s enemy is complacency

Nike’s enemy was the way football had become ‘ugly’

Dove’s enemy is the beauty industry and the way it portraits women

Then ask yourself what you can do about it, to help the situation. Ideas will then flow very easily.

– What would the PR release be like?

Apparently, Bogusky does not accept script anymore. If you want to show him an idea, it has to be in the form of the press release announcing your campaign. Urban legend or not it does help judging whether the idea will cut through or not.

In the case of their latest campaign for Burger King, you can see it works perfectly:

From Digg: “What would you do if you entered your favorite local Burger King all set to order your favorite Whopper meal and the employee behind the counter said, “I’m sorry but we no longer serve Whoppers. Burger King’s marketing group staged the publicity stunt in order to capture the reaction of their customers.”

And a brilliant campaign as a result: Whopper freakout.

Most of Fallon’s recent campaigns could fit in that model:

” colour bunnies invade NY”, “million of balls unleashed in San Fran”, “Druming gorilla takes the nation by storm”…

– What can I do to get into popular culture?

This is how started the latest Axe campaign “Bom Chicka Wah Wah”.

From Business Week:

It’s a simple sales pitch, really: Hey, dude, spray Axe deodorant all over your body, and you will become irresistible to beautiful young women. But what Russell Taylor, the Axe vice-president, proposed doing with that straightforward idea was ambitious. He wanted to turn it into a truly global marketing message, one that would work in all 75 countries where Unilever (UN ) sells Axe. The solution that came back from advertising agency BBH was to invent a new phrase that guys would hear as an international expression of lust—a female wolf whistle heard ’round the world.”

Just by using these three questions you can open a new world of creative solutions, compelling territories and interesting point of views.

Make me use you before I buy you

December 10, 2007 Leave a comment

This is how you promote a toilet paper brand.

You ask yourself, how could I create a context in which my potential consumers might really appreciate my products and what I have to say?

You create a public toilet where they are notoriously difficult to find. I.e. in the middle of Manhattan.

You do something good for people and these people will happily try your products (and realise by themselves that what you have been claiming for years in your advertising is actually true), look at your branding and advertising messages and leave with a positive feeling about your brand a hundreds of TV spots could never re-create.

This, is the future of advertising.

Episodic content on the web

December 7, 2007 1 comment

A few innovative formats have hit the web recently.

One of them, ‘Where are the joneses’ has gathered great reviews from many in the industry.

It’s the web 2.0 version of a sitcom where the ‘community’ could log-on the WATJ website and participate in the screenwriting before each new episodes (some would say co-create), helping shape what would happen next on the sitcom. It’s a narrative project, whih means you need to start from episode 1 and watch them in order to fully understand the plot.

The project has been sponsored by Ford, which obviously provides the car, featured in many episodes.

All the communication industry has kept an eye on it, to know whether this type of format could be successful on the web or not.

Imagination partnered with award winning production company Baby Cow (the UK comedy production house established by Steve Coogan and Henry Normal). So the budget was there as well as the right people and the right web tools for distribution (the complete Web 2.0 arsenal, wikis, blogs, maps, Flickr, Facebook groups, etc.).

Everything seems to be in place for a guaranteed success. Lot of publications even mentioned it like The Guardian, calling it the ‘better than any TV sit-com’.

So. Let’s look at the results. Lets recap that the campaign started on June 15.

– The community, helping to write the script, seems to include 27 people.

– Most importantly, on Youtube, the main (and only?) distribution platform, the first episode, kicking off the project, gathered 7,824 views.

– The second episode, got 3,139 views, about 60% less than the first episodes. Surely, this is an indicator of content ‘likeability’.

– The third episode, 2,080 views. The 4th 1,660. And the decline goes on.

The last few episodes a mere 600 views.

125 people subscribed to the Youtube channel, another indicator of the content popularity.

Now, it’s hard to call these results a success. 6 months after the campaign started, the average views for each of the 96 episodes is close to 1,000.

I’m neither criticising the content nor the idea, but just looking at the hard figures. And audience of 1,000 viewers is close to nil.

If a Charlie, a 17 years old can pull 100,000 viewers for each of his home-made videos and get almost 20,000 subscribers, surely we should be able to do better?

In comparison, each of the ‘Will it blend’ video clip was closer to 400-500K viewers, with videos getting in excess of 5 million viewers. The Youtube channel has 46,716 subscribers.

So, how to explain these poor results, despite the great content and original idea?

– For me the first question concerns the narrative nature of this project. You need to watch each episode in order. I’m not sure this is the best format for the web as opposed as new executions coming from a big idea, like the ‘Will it blend’ channel.

– The idea of being able to contribute to the script writing is a great one, but I’m not sure it has been communicated enough.

– The content itself. If each new episode loses 50% of its previous audience, surely there is something that is not working or missing. The content quality is definitely good. But is good content enough for online success?

– The exposure. Everyone is the industry knows about it. But no one outside of it does. After all these efforts, surely Ford could have contributed an extra 10-20K to promote and seed it in viral charts for example, reaching a critical mass that could have started a viral effect.

I do think the right long term creation and distribution model online is closer to ‘Will it blend’ or ‘Charlie is cool’ than the one from the Joneses. Multiple and non-linear executions building a bigger brand idea, rather than narrative and episodic content.

Branded utilities

December 6, 2007 1 comment

Or branded applications. Whatever you want to call it. It seems to be the new buzzword at the moment. Virals are dead, long live branded utilities.

But what I find intriguing is that they have been around for more than a century. They used to be the best way to reach a mass audience and get people to care about your products, as well as building your brands. Then TV arrived and suddenly, branded utilities became obsolete. It was all about TV spots. But then something new happened again. The Internet. And advertisers to realise if they want people to care again about their brand and products, they need to provide something useful or interesting. Back to square one.

Famous examples of branded utilities:

1) The Guinness book of records (1957).

From Wiki “On 10 November 1951, Sir Hugh Beaver, then the managing director of the Guinness Brewery, went on a shooting party in North Slob, by the River Slaney in County Wexford, Ireland. He became involved in an argument: which was the fastest game bird in Europe, the golden plover or the grouse? That evening at Castlebridge House, he realized that it was impossible to confirm in reference books whether or not the golden plover was Europe’s fastest game bird.[2]

Beaver thought that there must be numerous other questions debated nightly in the 81,400 pubs in Britain and Ireland, but there was no book with which to settle arguments about records. He realized then that a book supplying the answers to this sort of question might prove popular.”

Now that’s got everything. Consumer insight, great creativity, and strong link to the product. Everything a modern planner should be doing.

I wonder why Guinness is actually not leveraging this asset more in its communication.

(image from Modern Mechanix)

2) Michelin. The king of branded utilities.

From Wiki again: “In 1900, André Michelin published the first edition of a guide to France to help drivers maintain their cars, find decent lodging, and eat well while touring. It included addresses of things like gasoline distributors, garages, tire stockists, and public toilets.”

“The guide’s restaurant ratings using Michelin stars are probably the most recognized and influential culinary ratings in western Europe.”

It’s just genius stuff. My company builds tyres. People couldn’t care less about tyres. How could we make them care about us? Dont just advertise ‘my tyres are the best’, but make your consumers’ experience of driving better. Become the ultimate driving companion.

That’s probably why they also created the Michelin maps. You can’t buy a map of France, without it being a Michelin map.

More to come.

The Zune campaign.

December 6, 2007 Leave a comment

The Zune campaign has started a while ago accross the Atlantic.

Microsoft, finally launched what they hoped would be the Ipod killer. One of the main selling point is the fact that Zune users cans share files between them. Opening up your music library to your friends who own a Zune.

It does look cool.

In a typical Microsoft way, the budget seems to be unlimited.

But their approach was quite unusual. I feel like I’m just scratching the surface of what’s actually been produced but boy! they have created a lot of content. Both for TV and online.

They can be split in 3 different categories. The ones that advertise ‘Zune, you make it yours’, describing the fantasy world most users seem to live in.

Then some other animations that seem to promote ‘sharing’ in some sort of very abstract ways. Trying to build the brand, not even showcasing the product. They have commissioned some great artists to do some work for them.

They can all be accessed online at Zune Arts.

And some product advertising about sharing files. More concrete and to the point.

They obviously got the whole experience on their website, where you can go through an interactive Zune journey (i gave up after 30 sec), watch the ads (as if), share your music tastes with other people (as if).

So it got me thinking. The’ve got A+ for amount of content produced and for the quality of it. Most of them are visually stunning. But none of them actually really stand out. There isn’t one thing that makes me go ‘wow’. Judging by the amount of clicks these videos got on Youtube (that is very little), I’m not the only one.

They have tried to building different experiences accross different medium. Which I applaude. But the whole thing leaves me rather cold.

I seem not to be the only one as Ed Cotton thinks whatever Zune tries, it will never be really cool. I guess authenticity is not something you can buy.

So to summarize, this campaign does tick all the boxes. Sharing, cool looking ads, top artists and designers involved, many different executions, all platforms… But where’s the idea? What’s Zune point of view? This campaign could have been so much better if it had a strong idea at its heart…

But what did generate lot of noise online though are user reactions to Zune… And they are getting a lot of traffic.

The Zune phone. V witty.

or Zune Balmer.

Or even CNN mocking Microsoft Zune.

I’m sure Zune will do quite well in term of sales anyway, due to the mega-zillions Microsoft will keep on spending on its promotion.

It’d be interesting to see the ratio advertising spent vs sales for Apple and Microsoft…

Is consistency a good thing?

December 5, 2007 2 comments

Let’s take the latest Orange campaign ‘ good things never end’ as an example.

It was started by a lovely TV ad

Explaining that Orange believes that ‘good things should never end’ hence why they give unlimited texts to any network. Good work.

They also added a iTV piece that starts where the TV execution stops. It could only be accessed by pressing the red button on sky. Here it is.

Which continues the TV execution by describing all the other great things that you get with Orange like free gig tickets… Spectactors can press the key associated with the service on their remote control and be taken to the page detailling the said service.

Great job. Very watchable and entertaining way to showcase a lot of content.

Then came the website. ‘The page that never ends’ that got much buzz and credit in the blogosphere. It’s essentially an online adaptation of that interactive TV, using the same visuals and concepts. You can scroll down the ad, interacts with some of the elements, and get a lot of information about Orange different services. The clever bit that the page, well, never ends, you can never scroll down to the bottom of the page.

Here’s the page

They even created some online advertising to drive traffic to this page.

Again, it’s all lovely stuff there, great interactive piece of content.

They’ve done an amazing job. Each piece in its on right is fantastic. But I sometimes think that consistency has been achieved with the executions rather than the bigger campaign idea (good things should never end) and that a trick has been missed not to engage consumers more deeply with it on other channels. I might be wrong.

The new rule of creativity

December 4, 2007 2 comments

Be quick!

Find a succesful viral video, add a new spin, insert client’s product.

Take ‘Chocolate rain’, Internet success with over 12M views on Youtube.

Which becomes ‘Cherry Chocolate rain’ for Dr Pepper.

But only got one million views so far. The second video, although containing a few funny moments, has lost the spontaneity, originality and authenticity of the first one.

It will still get a couple of million views but I’m not sure punters will love that one. The branding is very subtle and you could manage to watch parts of the video without realising it is actually some branded content for Dr Pepper.

Or take the midly funny Leroy Jenkins Video of the World of warcraft. This one was more risky to reuse as a viral. It ‘only’ had 3 million views, so not much considering the size of the US market.

Yet the creative at Saatchi decided to make a spoof of it for the new Toyota.

But in this situation, somehow, even if you haven’t seen the original video, it manages to stay funny. It’s obviously targeted at a particular audience of young males who will ‘get’ it, but they pull it together quite nicely.

Proof is they got 2 million views very quickly, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they beat the original viral in term of million of views.

What’s even more interesting is that they turned a random piece of Internet pop culture into a 30″ TV ad…