Tuesday, November 26, 2013

make the logo bigger, eaon

I got hammered by some commenters on Mumbrella for suggesting that the John Lewis Christmas ad, while a stunning piece of content, creativity and all that, is best viewed as an exception rather than a rule in terms of the amount of branding available in the film.

I noted that for most brands - and the challenge of mental availability - it is advisable to introduce distinctive brand assets into their content quicker and more frequently than the John Lewis example.

I stand by my remarks, and offer this by way of an example.

Is this piece of RedBull media any less exciting because of the presence of branding?

Monday, November 25, 2013

excuse me while I kiss the sky

The Asch conformity experiments were a series of laboratory experiments by psychologist Solomon Asch in the 1950s.

The various experiments demonstrated the degree to which an individual's own opinions and behaviours can be influenced by those of a majority group

The Asch experiments informed the idea about social proof that we often use in advertising.

8 out of 10 cats and suchlike.

Essentially people will often do things that they see other people are doing.Especially similar others.

One experiment, easily replicable and with predictable results is the one in which one or more direct agents in a public space would point up into the sky, as though there is something to see.

Bystanders, or passive spectators if you prefer - will predictably stop to look up into the sky to see what the other are looking at.

My hunch is that some of this background was influential in the creation of this fantastic bit of digital outdoor created by Ogilvy for British Airways.

Who among us has not gazed up to the heavens at a climbing plane and not thought 'I wonder where that one is off to?'.

And then thought 'Wherever it's going, I wish I was on it'.

The lesson? It's easy to lose sight - amid all the huffing and puffing about what advertising does or does not do - of the simple fact that the fundamental, number one task advertising has to perform is to get noticed in the first place.

Gold Lion in Outdoor.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Fridays Angels: links of the week 22|11|13

The latest attempt at a recurring feature in this journal.

Friday's Angels will hopefully be one post every Friday with a handful of links of interest from around the web this week.

This week here's three favourites.

Squat the…?
As an entertaining and rewarding nudge to promote exercise (in the context of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia) OlympicChanges installed a very special ticket machine at a Moscow subway station.
Instead of accepting money as payment, the ticket machine only accepted exercise.
Riders receive a free ticket by standing in front of the machine’s camera, and performing 30 squats or lunges.


Sharing fast and slow?
The psychological connection between how we think and how we spread news on social media.
What drives sharing? It’s a mix of attention, emotion, and reaction. Here’s hard data on which news stories took off and which didn’t on social.
Obviously 'Fast and Slow' is a riff on Daniel Kahneman's thinking, and most of the points in this article refer directly to some of those key concepts.

read Sharing Fast and Slow


How to protect yourself from 'prediction addiction'.
I always say 'never make predictions'.
Particularly about the future.
We can't stop second–guessing what's coming next. Our need to gaze into the entrails of the markets – what Jason Zweig, the behavioural finance expert, calls our "prediction addiction" – is hard-wired into our brains.
But the one really predictable thing about our forecasts is that most of them will turn out to be wrong.

read Prediction Addiction

Thursday, November 21, 2013

dog's dinner

Richard Rumelt's Good Strategy/Bad Strategy is just so full of sense and nuggets that it would be easy to just quote the whole book.

Such is it's dip-in-and-out-ability, it's handy to have at one's side to be referenced on almost any occasion.

This passage seemed to resonate this week as a kind of slice of agency life...

'One form of bad strategic objectives occurs when there is a scrambled mess of things to accomplish—a “dog’s dinner” of strategic objectives.

A long list of “things to do,” often mislabeled as “strategies” or “objectives,” is not a strategy.

It is just a list of things to do.

Such lists usually grow out of planning meetings in which a wide variety of stakeholders make suggestions as to things they would like to see done.

Rather than focus on a few important items, the group sweeps the whole day’s collection into the “strategic plan.”

Then, in recognition that it is a dog’s dinner, the label “long-term” is added so that none of them need be done today.'

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

a note on salience and the purpose of branding

As much for myself as for anyone reading this, it's worth - from time to time - to have a quick refresh on the fundamental purpose of branding.

The purpose of branding is to identify the source of any given product or service, and to help us, buyers, make quicker decisions that require less processing/ thought

This is why branding was invented.

This requires the use of things and characteristics that distinguish one brand from other competitors.

First and foremost is, obviously, the brand name itself.
Along with with other distinctive elements of a brand identity.

Coke has the colour red, and the bottle shape, for example.
And taglines - 'Just Do It', 'Think Different' etc.

All of these things help buyers to notice, recognise and remember the brand, in buying situations, and are the most important parts of advertising.

A great creative idea is a great commercial creative idea when it acts as the vehicle to get the brand noticed and remembered.

The more distinctive and salient these ideas are then the more links are made in memory, therefore the easier it is for the brand to be identified and remembered at the right time.

One of the ideas from psychology literature that it's important to recognise and apply in these situations is the idea of the 'availability' heuristic.

Whereby we tend to estimate the likelyhood of events by how easy it is to think of similar examples.

For instance one is statistically far more likely to be killed by a refrigerator falling on top of you than in any act of terrorism, but because examples of terrorism attacks come most easily to mind we fear those more.

In the advertising industry bubble one has no problem in identifying the latest John Lewis Christmas ad, in part, simply because of the availability of the discussion, within the bubble, around the ad this week.

It would be an error, however, to assume that anything approaching the same amount of discussion and dissection has happened in the lives of ordinary people.

However, for John Lewis, to get noticed and remembered by a mass of people in a buying situation would be the ultimate result, and with a huge PR and integrated push around this 'ad-as-event' it looks to have succeeded.

But it is interesting to watch the video below, and notice how little 'branding' ordinary people take away from the ad on first look, and how many other brands they speculate could be the providers of the content before it is finally revealed.

Also recognise how easily this could have been fixed by inserting distinctive branding throughout the spot.

Therein lies the lesson for the rest of us.

That's not to say it's not a great piece of creativity, and without doubt evokes an emotional response, but as commercial creativity it's an exception rather than the rule.

For most brands, even the greatest creativity cannot act as a substitute for establishing the brand name, the source of the product or service, if it doesn't prime the viewer to remember the brand name it fails.

Waiting until 1:57 to reveal is a risk for all but the most compelling content.

I'm being slightly harsh, John Lewis are big enough, popular enough, famous enough - and the JL Christmas ad is an 'event' anticipated by the public - to get a pass (ha!) this time, but we should be mindful not to take this example as case in point or applicable to the majority of our clients.

thanks to Martin Weigel who tweeted the vid.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

because I'm in love with rock'n'roll double jeapordy

The marketing phenomenon that is perhaps the hardest one for many marketers to stomach, the duplication of purchase law, can be described for us nicely and pop-punk-ily in Ready Steady Go by Generation X.

I was in love with The Beatles (ooooohh!)
I was in love with The Stones (no satisfaction!)
I was in love with Bobby Dylan
Because I'm in love with rock'n'roll

Very, very few people are 100% loyal to any single brand.

People who bought the Beatles also bought the Stones and bought Dylan.

A brand only gets big by attracting less committed buyers (although they may be heavy buyers of the category) to buy a bit more often.

Exclusive brand loyalty is largely a myth, and focussing effort on cultivating it is commercially unwise.

People who bought Generation X also bought the Pistols, the Clash and the Jam.

Unfortunately, in the UK, the Pistols and the Jam attracted more light buyers than Gen X did.
Presumably that's why Billy eventually bailed out and relaunched himself in a bigger market (the USA) with a bigger label and more reach and went on to be one of the biggest pop acts of the 80's.

And Tony launched Sigue Sigue Sputnik as a mass media spectacle, creating huge mental availability before any physical product was available to buy, which subsequently led to massive rapid growth.

Indeed Gen X probably suffered under the law of 'Double Jeopardy'.

The Jam, for example, were rewarded twice: they not only had more buyers, but these buyers also boughty more often (thus with greater loyalty). Whereas a smaller brand like Gen X were sadly punished twice: they had fewer buyers who bought less often.

Yes, it's true that bigger brands do receive slightly more loyalty than smaller brands.
But the big difference is not about how loyal their customers are, but simply that they have so many more of them.

The Clash would have been much bigger than they were if they had gone on Top of The Pops and reached a larger audience beyond simply the hardcore of Clash fans. In walked U2 a couple of years later and stole their chops and thunder.

Indeed the rejection of Top of The Pops by the Clash could be interpreted as something of a 'sunk cost fallacy', there is something of a dissonance at play as their decision to tour as support for the Who (mass audience, light buyers, Shea Stadium etc) helped them the huge selling Combat Rock album in '82, just before the band imploded.

To a large degree success begets success. It's driven by the ability to scale.

Moreover, brands share their customers with other brands in the category and usually in line with their market share.
It's no surprise that Billy was in love with the Beatles, the Sones and Dylan. The three biggest and most popular rock'n'roll acts of the 60's.

So while people do have loyalties to a degree, they are promiscuous.
People are pretty happy to buy from a number of brands in a category.

It doesn't mean they like you less, but it's a mistake to expect devotion from anything but a very few.

Sure, the few need to be looked after but if you have the chance, ask the world to dance.

Or you'll be dancing with yourself.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

making the brand easy to buy

Creatives will hate this, and it won't trouble any award shows but I'd put money on it being super effective advertising.

To paraphrase Prof Byron…

'What works in branding is surprisingly simple – making the brand easy to buy by maximising it’s physical and mental availability'.

Combine Old Spice guy and prominent Coles branding (two memorable sets of distinctive brand assets = mental availability) And I can buy it in Coles (physical availability).

Thursday, November 07, 2013

right on target so direct, you're gonna make me lonesome when you go.

Ever wondered how some of the ads in the music/fashion/motor/gossip etc magazines you read on your way to work, the same ads every reader of the magazine sees, seemed strangely more relevant than the highly targeted data-driven ads you are subjected to on something like Facebook when you fire up your computer?

How can this be, when nature of brand advertising is not personal?
It knows nothing about you, yet this fact is one of the reasons why it works so well (when it's done well).

From Bob's 'Tangled up in Blue'.

'Then she opened up a book of poems and handed it to me,
Written by an Italian poet from the thirteenth century,
And every one of them words rang true and glowed like burning coal,
Pouring off of every page like it was written in my soul from me to you,
Tangled up in blue..'

Whether Bob is experiencing a moment of clarity or simply subjective validation is unimportant.

General human truths connect, they appear to be highly personal and relevant because something is true if a one's belief demands it to be true.

But hang on, my highly targeted social media campaign delivered incredible response rates?

It’s hugely tempting to get excited about response rates but it’s important to note that response rates are, in fact, not a very good indicator of effectiveness.

For a start, your followers on Facebook and Twitter are, for the most part, already your customers, and they are a tiny section of your customer base, among your heaviest and most loyal buyers.

So therefore an 40% response from targeting 10,000 people Facebook is less in terms of total responses than a 10% response from targeting 100,000 people anywhere else.

Plus the fact that the response rate is so high is skewed as these buyers would probably have bought anyway, at some point.

It’s the equivalent of handing out coupons inside your store.

That's not to say that gathering a group of enthusiasts has no value.
But these customers should be viewed as an asset not an audience.
An asset that requires putting to work to share, amplify and reach new people.

Here’s the thing about targeting and relevance. These are not the same thing.

And even in a direct marketing sense, precision targeting can actually be counter to effectiveness.

Highly targeted campaigns are fashionable with short-termist marketers because they typically deliver high arse-covering ROI in the short term, but don’t deliver growth in the long term (and in some cases can be counter to growth – as even the most loyal of customers tend to become less loyal over time, ergo targeting these customers at the expense of acquisition can make the brand smaller) but that’s for the next marketing director to worry about.

The objective must be to reach as many buyers in the category as possible – most importantly the buyers of competing brands – because growth and profit comes from here, not from existing customers.

Because the purpose of brand advertising is not to persuade or coerce individuals but is to create brand salience - the propensity of the brand to be noticed or come to mind in buying situations by more people.

So the great thing about brand advertising is exactly that it is unable to deliver precision targeting and lacks quantifiable ROI.

If the old adage 50% percent of advertising is wasted, but we don’t know which 50% is true, then perhaps we could say the 50% that’s wasted is the 50% that actually works.


Perhaps the Facebook like button redesign may result in what might be described as 'off-strategy' consumption in some parts of the world.

Readers familiar with the Doric dialect from my native north-east of Scotland will know that the greeting 'fit like?' is how the natives address each other. Often preceded with something like 'aye aye min'.

Loosely translated into English this phrase means 'how are you?'.

In common conversation the 'fit' is often shortened to 'f' and the greeting therefore becomes 'f'like'.

So I'll now be using the F-Like button as a simple greeting, and not necessarily an endorsement.

Social media experts please now factor this in to your important deep engagement/conversation metrics.