Friday, October 30, 2009

passion is a fashion?

Marketing starts from the inside out.
This is something that is often forgotten.

Do the employees believe in your product or service?
Are they buying in 100% to the brand?
Is there a purpose or meaning that the workers can connect with?
Is the brand saying one thing outwardly but internally not walking the talk?

This came up in an email ping pong this week with Petar

We've discussed the idea of how brands can participate in the social web many times here and always come back to the notion of creating value in situations where the brand can be relevant.

In the workplace is where this starts.

Here's my diagram of the 3 kinds of advocacy.

1 - Customers
This is the no-brainer, and where the focus often stops.
Satisfied customers are loyal and will keep buying. Though there is both passive and active loyalty (passive loyalists are equally likely to stick or split if they get better 'value' elsewhere)

2 - Fans
Fans are the 20% or so of customers who absolutely love what you do, and will happily tell others about it. though fans may not actually be customers (fans of luxury brands for instance may not have the actual economic situation to be owners - this is where low cost brand extentions come in handy, but thats another story).

3 - Evangelists
This is the trick that's often missed.
This week Seth said:
'Every industry has people who are worth more, buzz more, care more and buy more than other people. Don't treat people the same, find the ones that matter more to you, and hug them.'
Marketing starts from the inside out.
Do the employees believe in your product or service?
If they do then it's the best word-of-mouth tool you've got.
If they dont?
I'm sure we have all experienced this, chatting to someone who works for company x and being told ' I wouldn't buy product x if i was you, I've seen what goes in it..' or suchlike.

In the same way that great advertising will not save a shit product and a great product can be killed by shit customer service, a brand without meaning, that says one thing outward and another thing inward will not generate those internal evangelists, the ones with the passion...

I spotted this from Spike Jones..
'Passion is contagious. It’s exciting. It fuels word of mouth. And we’ve talked about how it’s no longer a product conversation - it’s no longer about you and what you can do. It’s a passion conversation - it’s about how you fit into people’s lives and how you can be a conduit to their passion. You’re the enabler, not the destination.'

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

mush-a ring dum-a do dum-a da

In 2002 Busta Rhymes recorded his hit 'Pass the Courvoisier'. In a classic case of unintentional branding, that same year, Courvoisier sales shot up 30% to over 500,000 cases, almost triple the growth rate of the entire cognac category.

With a Whisky brief sitting on my desk, I'm wishing big Phil was still around.
Whisky being an altogether more rock'n'roll experience...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

kasabian football hero

Football and rock'n'roll - culturally connected since forever.

'An experiment to create a giant (three stories high!) guitar game controlled with footballs. Football Hero is played by a team of insanely gifted young freestyle footballers. The game is programmed with the Kasabian track Underdog'

Finders fee to Andy Whitlock.

The tech skinny is at engadget.

royale with cheese

'What you see is what you hear!' This is the bollocks, awesome.
Pulp Fiction audio visual mashed up thing - with some considerable style - produced by a Dutch fella called Robin Koerts.

the great gig in the sky

To promote the screening of 'Pulse', The Floyd's 1994 live performance of Dark Side of the Moon at Earls Court, which was shown on Sky Arts 1 HD last Friday (and again on Monday 16th Nov), Cakegroup created the iconic album cover for Sky Arts using LED lighting and light lasers on Primrose Hill in London, beaming across the London skyline. Epic.

protect me against ads like this

This Dettol ad currently running gives me the creeps. Its Daily Mail-esque shameless exploitation of swine flu fear really grates. Plus that wee girl has an evil look, like those twins in the Shining or something. Someone needs shot for this.

Protect Against Cold & Flu Virus

Monday, October 26, 2009

living in the lights

'Living in the Lights' is a short film made by Bandito Brothers for the BMW M3. For those who remember 'the Hire' series from back in the day, it's in that vein.

Slightly guileless of BB to infer 'Me and my bros went out and shot a film over the weekend about my car' on their YouTube page, when it is clearly BMW 'branded content' but tasty content none the less..

bird is the word

I sat on a panel next to the fantastic Trey Pennington at SMiB last friday and marvelled at his ability to answer audience questions whilst power tweeting at the same time without even a blink.

If he could do the dance too I'd be even more impressed, though the singer here looks to be in an advanced state of SMEBS...

this is pop

This Last Supper was created by 5 artists at Toronto based Cube Works, using over 4000 Rubiks cubes (check out some of their other Warhol homage pieces including Marilyn, Mao and Campbell's soup).

I mention Warhol homage but the Cube works style is probably more akin to Roy Lichtenstein's Benday dots appropriation, eh art anoraks?

Though, as Jeremy from Popped culture rightly asks;
'Do you think they arranged the sides by hand, or just removed the blocks and/or stickers to arrange them the way they wanted?'

brand as platform

The Autodesk Sketchbook mobile for iphone takes scribbling in a moleskin or similar into another dimension altogether, akin to a mini Photoshop in your pocket.

HT to Brian Phipps from the Brands Create Customers blog who says (of the iphone as a platform for innovation):

'When a brand becomes a platform its virtues radiate in a hundred directions. They spark more innovations, often in distant quarters, then fold back to raise the platform even higher.'

Sunday, October 25, 2009

sound affects

A great, if short, TED talk from Julian Treasure, brand sound consultant type at the Sound Agency.

I was knocked out by one of his nuggets.

Apparently open-plan offices are 66% less productive environments.
How many of us work in these spaces? A lot methinks.

Headphone manufacturers take note, thats a clear insight/benefit for your next marketing effort.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

working 9 to 5

Some interesting stats from The Customer Strategy magazine website re: workplace flexibility.

One of my favourite moans is around the idea that we have been conned by the internet revolution, back in the early 90's I was convinced that by 2009 I would be directing things virtually from a lone organic croft in the highlands not filing in and out of London every day on the disease ridden tube ;)

- 81% of UK small business owners say flexible hours are key to business success, followed by online working (46%)

- 39% of UK small business owners would allow employees to work remotely if they asked for the option

- Flexible hours tops list of benefits small business owners believe will attract the best talent

- 1 in 5 UK employees would take a pay cut in favour of flexible working

- 54% of London workers are forced to travel into work, despite 47% saying they could be just as productive working from home

“It’s especially encouraging that small business owners are demonstrating a forward-looking approach to flexible working, considering they make up 99% of UK businesses."

Brett Caine, general manager of Remote Access tech providers Citrix Online.

'Tumble outta bed, and stumble to the kitchen
Pour myself a cup of ambition, yawnin, stretchin, try to come to life'

Dolly Parton

Monday, October 19, 2009

meeting request

If I could hack Entourage (or insert mail client of choice here) and change one thing it would be the 'meeting request' function. I would add in some sort of priority hierarchy to meetings.

Looking back at my diary from last week shows I spent over 40% of my working day in meetings. Meetings to decide what to do vs time spent actually doing stuff.

A lesson could be learned from The Sopranos. There's 3 quick kinds of meetings that solve most of the day-to-day problems and reduce the the need for Meeting Meetings.

1 - The Sit-down.
On point and fast, a sit down deals with one specific issue, usually when there are two opposing points of view. Situation described, alternatives weighed-up, decision made.

2. The Stand up
Usually small group, there's no need to book a room or type up an agenda. It's not even really a meeting. 90% of the decisions that need to get made could be done in this way. I'm sure the expression 'think on your feet' comes from this kind of thing.

3. The Chat
Super fast and happens wherever it happens. Person 1 has a question, person 2 gives answer. End of chat.

Over to you Microsoft.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

decisions decisions

From Seths's blog the other day:
It doesn't have to be a wise decision or a perfect one. Just make one.
In fact, make several. Make more decisions could be your three word mantra.
No decision is a decision as well, the decision not to decide. Not deciding is usually the wrong decision.

Me, a couple of weeks back (with help from Tony Soprano)..
Sitting on your hands costs sales and customers.
The world is not waiting for us figure out what to do.
The wrong decision is better than indecision.

Me and Seth, we're like that ;)

Friday, October 09, 2009


One of my favourite soundbites from Trainspotting (by the main character, Renton) goes something like:

'It's SHITE being Scottish!...Some hate the English. I don't. They're just wankers. We, on the other hand, are COLONISED by wankers. We can't even find a decent country to be colonised BY'

A relatively minor niggle that never ceases to irk is when you hear Great Britain refered to generically as 'England'

With that in mind, I was bemused by this weeks new media age cover story around the exclusive screening of the England v Ukraine World Cup qualifier via ppv on the web rather than tv.

One would think the sub ed at nma would have access to the google machine should he have any difficulty with geography, but no. The line reads..
'With the UK VERSUS UKRAINE game getting no tv coverage, are people ready for live sports streaming'...

UK V Ukraine?

Thanks, but no thanks. Scotland are out and we'll deal with it.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009


The fella who famously said 'half of my advertising budget is wasted..I just don't know which half' must be getting even more perplexed.

Two headline stories last week.
The IAB reports that 'The internet now accounts for 23.5% of all advertising money spent in the UK, while TV ad spend accounts for 21.9% of marketing budgets.'

Cue mass web v tv hysteria on twitter...

Interesting, but on further investigation (and I tip the hat to Simon Kendrick who done the digging so we don't have to) the growth in online advertising is propelled on the whole by search not display (so get back in yer box digital advertising types - display accounts for less than 20% of said online spend)

Serving only to confuse matters even further is the story from Adage that 'the number of people online who click display ads has dropped 50% in less than two years, and only 8% of internet users account for 85% of all clicks'

In reality, we all know that click thru is the most bollocks of measurement anyway, and the ratio points at something in the area of classic 80/20 rule, so no big deal.
And, again, averages really tell us nothing. Response levels and degrees of engagement are going to vary by industry sector (and by creative use of the format).

Ads that offer meaningful interaction and deliver return on interest for the user are going to be more effective. Boring, shit ads will not. End of.

I commented on Simons piece that as more and more ad supported media moves online (tv, newspapers, music, films, books etc etc) it stands to reason that ad spend will shift.
What would be MORE interesting would be to find out portion of total marketing budgets are moving from paid-for advertising spend (all media) to ‘other’ activities that tip sales in active evaluation, like customer service, utility and service driven activity.
That would be a real story.

Finally classic quote from Danish sage and former Aberdeen FC boss, Ebbe Skovdahl..

'Statistics are just like mini-skirts, they give you good ideas but hide the most important thing.'

Saturday, October 03, 2009

happy birthday gandhi

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi born this day in 1869. Quite rightly honoured by google today.
Always good value for a quote of the day...

Thursday, October 01, 2009

incorporation and commodification of subculture

As social media continues it's 'incorporation' into the mainstream I'm reminded of the 2 strategies commonly employed by the establishment (or petit-bourgeois, if you like – hence the nod to Barthes) in dealing with the 'other'.

The following has been largely influenced by sections of 'Subculture' by Dick Hebdige, a study of UK youth subcultures from the 50's to late 70's (a fantastic academic book. Fairly unique among academic writing in that it is actually readable for mere mortals)

First plan of the establishment is often to attempt to transform the 'other' into meaningless 'exotica'.
This is what Barthes describes as ‘pure object, spectacle, a clown’
Examples of this were the mainstream media outrage around 'facebook riots' (you know the drill, party invite goes up on facebook - 10,000 kids trash the house) add to that the, particularly bizzare, willing self-commodification by 'social media experts' trapped in some perpetual groundhog day of vacuous pontification about personal branding.

Or, secondly the ‘other’ is trivialised. What was 'otherness' is reduced to 'sameness'.
We can see this in the twitter-columns in the newspapers, who's main focus is highlighting what mainstream media celebrities are saying about each others divorces.
In effect a 'transmedia' amplification of the gossip magazines and daytime tv ;)

Advertising is of course now appearing to 'embrace' of social media (hey, it's all just 'media' now...) and the ultimate accolade for the first 'wave' of 'new media' celebrities is to be published in book form.

Note: I will undoubtably change my view on this the minute the phone rings or twitter tweets from a book publisher 'outreach'...

This incorporation minimises the ‘otherness’ and then ultimately defines the subculture in exactly the terms which it originally sought to resist in the first place. 'Punk' couture anyone? Acid house ad soundtracks? Phoney 'youtube' style tv ads?

So, as soon as the innovations that signified a subculture (web 2.0) are translated into commodities and become everyday they lose meaning, ie what were subcultural 'signs' become mass produced stuff.
What began by being symbolic as challenges (the 'other'), end up becoming the new conventions (#moonfruit anyone?).

'I believe in this, and it's been tested by research. He who f*cks nuns, will later join the church..'