Ads worth chewing over

August 24, 2011

I have been regularly noticing these ads over the last few months:

I think they’re really effective and an example of something you don’t see very often: communications addressing a category issue rather than creating brand preference. I assume the chewing gum category is declining or at least that more upmarket people are reluctant to use it because it seems rather uncouth (as my mum would say: we were never allowed to have it as kids).

No matter how much a brand talks about its dental benefits or fantastic taste, they’ll still run up against this image barrier which means they don’t even get considered by some people. This is not a situation unique to gum of course (frozen food, babyfood …) but I can’t recall seeing such a explicit yet elegant advertising response to that kind of situation.

It’s an interesting way of using celebrities: shot in their real lives with quite real-sounding first-person copy. And they’re good celebrity choices: quite posh yet likeable people who you wouldn’t expect to chew gum.

The branding is interesting: kept low-key and Wrigleys have selected their sugarfree, teeth cleaning brands Extra and Orbit as the most acceptable face of this initiative (rather than say the classic Wrigley’s sugared flavours like Juicy Fruit and Spearmint). Minor quibble: wouldn’t it have been confident and clear to use Extra throughout, rather than sticking Orbit into one?

And the media planning is well-targeted and unexpected: I’ve seen it in quality newspaper weekend magazines and the Metro.

‘Worth chewing over’ is a nice understated summary thought. I’ve only just noticed that it’s not just a line but a website address. Going there you see an attempt to get people expressing opinions on a forum of sorts:

But it looks pretty unvisited, with no recent comments at all. It looks like they succumbed to the current vogue for all communications to link to some form of online participation, rather than taking the more realistic perspective that very few people will bother (particularly given your core audience are disengaged with the category!).  And that’s OK: the ads work by slow-burn exposure. You just keep seeing them and it gradually helps to change your perspective. Nicely done.

 

Zero Moment Of Truth

August 15, 2011

Google have published an ebook about the ‘Zero Moment Of Truth’, a term they’ve coined for all the consideration and research that now goes on before people get to the ‘shelf’ or actual purchase situation (typically called the First Moment Of Truth apparently). Clearly they have a major vested interest in drawing attention to the importance of this stage, because much of it happens online (whether on a desk computer or on mobile phones), but they’ve done some new research (although only in the US) which has a few interesting bits in it that illustrate the scale and breadth of influences before decisions are made.

For instance, they asked people who had purchased fairly recently in a variety of categories (cars, insurance, grocery, toiletries, …) which from a long list of sources they used to help them make a decision (then Google have categorized them below into Zero Moment Of Truth vs. First Moment Of Truth sources). You can see that many people are doing a lot:

Obviously it varies significantly by category, but even for decisions you would think are largely unresearched, like fast food restaurants, there’s some form of consideration phase for some people:

I often hear clients say ‘that’s not really happening in my category’ but this data indicates that it probably is, and it will be growing fast. It’s so easy now to find a bit more about before you buy – you can do it on your phone while you’re waiting to pick the kids up or in the store itself and what you get is often really useful, now that sales popularity ratings, experts’ opinions and user reviews are often readily available.

As marketers we expend loads of effort getting our ‘marketing stimuli’ right – the ads or other marketing that will trigger some interest from a consumer – but then do we expend enough effort thinking about what people will do next and how our brand can facilitate that process and have a relevant presence?  Almost certainly not.

Old Spice oh dear

July 26, 2011

It’s bad news I’m afraid. The US Old Spice campaign with Isaiah Mustafa – probably the campaign that’s made me laugh more than any other – is no longer. They have moved on to a new character Fabio. Why oh why oh why … I can hardly bear to watch …

Sort of to their credit they’ve made loads of executions, including responses to Tweets, and put them online quickly, but personally I just loathe it. It goes to show how hard it is to be brilliant all the time, and the challenges of ‘the difficult second album’.

It’s trying too hard. And the casting is dreadful compared to the previous inspired choice – he’s too self-consciously silly, gay and not attractive. The strategy doesn’t work if women don’t fancy the character and men don’t want to be him.  Having said that the Twitterverse seems divided with some people liking the way they’re deliberately sending up their own idea. Hmm.

Fabio has today challenged Isaiah to a duel, to be broadcast at 5pm UK time today I think.

But frankly I doubt whether I’ll watch. Seems a rather desperate attempt to borrow some of the charm of the predecessor, but will presumably just make it even more obvious that they’ve cocked up. As one commenter on YouTube says: “If Fabio wins I’m switching to Axe [Lynx in the UK]”.

Rather confusingly the first Isaiah ad has just arrived in the UK – well at least on YouTube:

But what on earth is that huge ugly pack he’s holding?!  It just looks silly. It only works if it all works.

I haven’t heard any hype about the UK launch at all. Maybe they haven’t yet properly launched it here yet, or maybe they’re hoping that just putting it on YouTube will do something. The ad’s had more than half a million views on YouTube but I suspect it’s too late for Old Spice in the UK to get resurrected – it seems deeply naff and has very little distribution as far as I can see.

The original campaign won an Effie recently – the US equivalent of our IPA Effectiveness Awards. You can read the entry here http://s3.amazonaws.com/effie_assets/2011/4882/2011_4882_pdf_1.pdf.  It shows a doubling of sales in the short term but doesn’t mention the longer term results, and has some nice evidence about how the campaign dominated online conversations, especially with the ‘response’ second element of the campaign where they filmed 186 YouTube videos where the guy responds to the questions people have submitted.

 

Holiday reading

July 15, 2011

At this time of year the newspapers are full of lists of books to read on the beach. While I tend to make sure that I don’t read business books while on holiday some of you might want to. But the question is: which one or two of the thousands of business books should you go for?  I couldn’t possibly answer that but my friend and sometime collaborator Emma Rea was asked that question by a client and asked a few of us for our recommendations. I was quite surprised by the list that resulted – a mixture of marketing classics and newer/more narrative style/more personal perspectives. Here they are (in no particular order), with my comments in italics where I’ve read them:

The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding (Al Ries & Laura Ries)
Very easy to read in bite-sized chunks; quite old now and a bit simplistic but some good core principles for those quite new to marketing. 

Eating the Big Fish (Adam Morgan)
The original ‘challenger brand’ book (although the principles often apply to all brands). Nicely written although the examples might seem a bit out-of-date now. I really like his subsequent book ‘The Pirate Inside’ too – full of practical stuff about how to pull of being a challenger brand. 

Never mind the sizzle where’s the sausage? (David Taylor of Brand Gym)
Lots of good principles delivered via the story of a fictional company. Personally I prefer the non-narrative ‘how to’ approach of the other Brand Gym books but this one is really easy to read so could be a good pool-side intro to the Brand Gym.

How Disruption brought order (Jean Marie Dru of TBWA Paris)
How deliberately thinking in a disruptive way can help you develop distinctive and successful ideas. Can feel a bit familiar and/or overly contrary now but some good examples. 

The Tipping Point  (Malcolm Gladwell)
About how small things can make a massive difference with respect to trends/ behaviours/brands crossing the ‘tipping point’ to spread like wildfire. Very enjoyable to read, as are his other books such as ‘Blink’ and ‘Outliers’. 

Drive: the surprising truth about what motivates us (Daniel Pink)
I haven’t read this one but this is what Amazon says: Forget everything you thought you knew about how to motivate people – at work, at school, at home. It is wrong. As Daniel H. Pink explains in his paradigm-shattering book Drive, the secret to high performance and satisfaction in today’s world is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and the world. Along the way, he takes us to companies that are enlisting new approaches to motivation, and introduces us to the scientists and entrepreneurs who are pointing a bold way forward. 

How brands grow: what marketers don’t know (Byron Sharp)
This was my suggestion and I’ve posted about it here before. Probably not ideal beach reading but some really important mind-altering stuff that has stayed with me. Read it on a train to a meeting or something. 

Innocent: building a brand from nothing but fruit (John Simmonds)
I haven’t read this but you can imagine what it’s like. Personally I feel I’ve heard enough about Innocent already.

Delivering happiness (Tony Hsieh – the CEO of the very successful American online shoe retailer and cool company Zappo’s)
I haven’t read this but am going to buy it now. Looks inspiring and relevant for all those tricky service company challenges where you’ve got to engage and motivate a massive team of people behind a common vision. 

So that was the list Emma gave to her client. Plus here are a couple of books that have recently been recommended to me that I going to buy alongside the Zappo’s one:

Onwards: how Starbucks fought for its life without losing its soul (Howard Schultz, the CEO who founded it, left, then returned to revive it).
Emma Woods of PizzaExpress says it’s a good read and full of good tips relevant for their company.

Anything you want (Derek Sivers)
Recommended by Seth Godin on his blog. One of those ‘how I did it’ stories by an entrepreneur but has a good cover that makes it more likely to get into the beach bag:

There is another way however. There are some business books that offer neat little summaries of what the authors regard as the best business books. I’ve got these two:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They’re divided into useful sections (Leadership, Innovation and Creativity, etc.) and written in a user-friendly way, with things like one-sentence summaries, ‘takeaways’ and suggestions of further reading if you’re interested. ‘Marketing greatest hits’ is (unsurprisingly) more marketing-oriented but there’s also a ‘Business greatest hits’ version. It’s written by a Brit whereas ‘The 100 Best Business Books of All Time’ is written by two Americans, but they’re both good. And they both have online versions where you can get regular summaries of new books: go to 100bestbiz.com or greatesthitsblog.com.

For the beach I’d go for one of the first person narratives, but these are good to have on the shelf for when you’re seeking some fresh inspiration, need a primer on economics or want to refresh your memory of what the hell book X was all about without actually re-reading it. Enjoy …

What Apple mean by APPLE

June 21, 2011

I work with quite a lot of service businesses and it’s a perennial challenge to find instructive yet inspiring ways to encourage customer-facing staff to behave in the way the brand desires. So I noticed this in an article (PSFK, from businessinsider.com) about how they use an APPLE code to get staff to remember the basic guidelines for interacting with customers:

pproach customers with a personalized warm welcome.
robe politely to understand all the customer’s needs.
resent a solution for the customer to take home today.
isten for and resolve any issues or concerns.
nd with a fond farewell and an invitation to return.

Simple but effective I bet. There are some interesting additional guidelines too:

* “Listen and Limit your responses to simple reassurances that you are doing so. ‘Uh-huh’ ‘I understand,’ etc.”
* Employees are not supposed to sell products but to help customers. “Your job is to understand all of your customers’ needs — some of which they may not even realize they have.”
* Employees can’t correct mispronunciations of Apple products. If the customer calls iPod Touches “iTouches” that’s just fine.

I’ve marvelled at the exceptional service in my visits to Apple stores, often from young cool guys, and this helps to explain how they pull it off. I can see how they do follow these principles, in a very natural yet highly consistent way. No wonder Apple’s stores have grown into a $12bn plus empire.

 

Ads I like

June 3, 2011

Some nice ads I’ve come across in the last couple of days that made me stop and stare – thought I would share in case you haven’t seen them.

Lipton tea: not a brand I know much about but seems to be doing some charming and category-disruptive stuff in France (and these ads very possibly run in other countries too). This is my favourite:

Looks like a tricky brief about new lighter tasting teas in a category that I imagine is quite staid and comfortable (if it’s anything like the British tea category) but they have conjured up something rather magical. French advertising as its best.

This is another of theirs in a similar vein:

I think these ads show the power of creating your own unique brand ‘world’ (visual, aural, tone) so that even if the messages are fairly generic you can stand out and create something ownable.

Heineken: just launched is the second instalment in their global Open Your World campaign, ‘The Date’:

I like this one even better than the first ad ‘The Entrance’ which came out in December last year – online only – and got 4 million hits on YouTube in its first three weeks:

Amazing little mini-movie epics, rich with all kinds of detail. Must cost a fortune but the brand’s confidence at operating at this level is part of the take-out. I like the strategy: painting an aspirational but sufficiently tongue-in-cheek picture of Heineken drinkers as sophisticated, confident, resourceful ‘men of the world’.  It makes you wonder why no other premium international beer brand has plundered the James Bond cupboard before (or maybe they have). My only question is whether these two ads are already too similar and whether the campaign can remain interesting.

Top 100 most valuable global brands

May 9, 2011

It’s been a while since I posted. Katharine is one of the people who (touchingly) have noticed and now she has prompted me into action by sending a link to the new BrandZ annual report into the Most Valuable Global Brands. For the uninitiated, BrandZ (pronounced BrandZee rather than Brandzzzz) is WPP’s version of Interbrand’s ‘Best Global Brands’ report and is different, and arguably better, in that it includes consumer research data as part of the evaluation (as well as detailed financial analysis).

Here are the 2011 results:


Note that the ranking of say Coca-Cola is that of the consumer-facing brand rather than the Coca-Cola company (although also note in the footnotes that they’ve included Diet Coke/Coke Lite and Coke Zero in this case – judging them as sub-brands rather than distinct brands).

There are some neat statistics here about the power of brands … such as the fact that the stock market value of these 100 brands grew by 36% since 2006 compared with a fall of 1% for the S&P 500, or that these brands have added $500bn in value since 2008. In other words, strong brands are more resilient, whether to recession or more specific catastrophes – as evidenced by Toyota rebounded to the no.1 spot for cars, despite the massive challenge to its reputation from its product recall sagas. However it’s still too early to tell for BP, which is judged here to have dropped in brand value by 27%, vs. ExxonMobil up 10% and Shell static.

We’re all aware of Apple’s recent turbo-charged growth but this perspective on it illustrates the scale of change: 84% growth and now 37% bigger than Google at no.2. However I believe Apple’s market capitalization is still behind Google’s – its lead here is the result of including the perceptions of global consumers.  Interestingly Interbrand’s Top 100 of 2010 has Apple way down their list at no.17, although growing very strongly:

Other interesting nuggets from the BrandZ ranking:

Facebook is the biggest riser since last year, now at no.35 having grown 246%. The second biggest riser is a brand I’d never heard of: Baidu at no.29, the largest Chinese language search engine which specializes in understanding the nuances of Chinese languages and cultures as applied to searching the internet (a massively growing pursuit for China’s 1.3bn citizens).

There are another 11 Chinese brands, 3 Brazilian ones, one Indian and one Russian brand in the Top 100, reminding us not to be too myopically Western in our perspective. For instance Pizza Hut does well here, with 58% growth, driven partly by its performance in China. In the UK we might regard it as rather an embarrassment, a brand that’s had its heyday, but that’s clearly not the case everywhere.

Amazon edged past Walmart to become the no.1 retail brand at no.14, despite having no physical stores. As it enters ever more product categories (including food?!) I do wonder whether it will stretch too far. But witness the genius of not choosing a brand name that anchors you to a product category, as well as the power of fantastic execution.

Pampers does amazingly well at no.34 (ahead of Facebook). This is partly because the valuation includes an assessment of the extent to which the brand itself contributes to its value – e.g. via trust and an emotional relationship. Luxury brands like Louis Vuitton and Porsche score highly on this measure, but so do massmarket brands in emotionally important sectors, such as Pampers, Guinness and the Skol and Brahma beer brands.

The full report is worth a read – see http://www.brandz.com. There is even an app, which I have to admit to finding quite good. You can look at different regions and product sectors, and see brands that don’t make it into the overall Top 100 but are in the top 10 within a product category. You can also shake it and it gives you a random product category with the highest ranking brands displayed as a ‘word cloud’ thing. You will know you are a brand nerd when you find yourself doing this.

The world’s first low carbon restaurant

January 16, 2011

Being a sucker for all things green and someone who does a lot of work with restaurant brands, when hungry in Soho yesterday I decided to try Otarian, ‘the world’s first low carbon restaurant’, which I read a bit about when it opened recently. There are two in London and two in Manhattan.

otarian restaurant

 It’s totally veggie, because of the massive environmental impact of the livestock industry. Fair enough. And the food was really tasty – I had the Tex Mex burger and sweet potato fries and they tasted very fresh, handmade and high quality.

But it just didn’t quite work for me. The restaurant interior was very basic and ‘fast food’ yet my meal was £8.  There was no soul to it at all, and I don’t think that was just because they are quieter on the weekends. It feels like it’s trying too hard to make a point, and has failed to deliver the vital enjoyable atmosphere that makes you want to be there, and which is necessary to offset their worthiness.

They have lots of collateral explaining their point of view – for example:

 

I think the claims about how much carbon is saved if you just ate one Otarian meal a week, or if everyone switched to the Otarian version of a meat dish just once, are the right way to go: being realistic about how often people might go and not assuming our eating habits are about to suddenly transform. However there are also more extreme claims in their animated film along the lines of ‘if every American gave up meat the grain saved would feed Africa’. Well possibly but I think that strays into implying the brand is a too dark green for even the more enlightened lunch buyer.

I’m not sure they need to go as far as talking about how wheat-free they are or that their bouillon only contains natural ingredients. Or to have this kind of bollocksy stuff on their website as their vision:

“Otarian is based on my passion for, and dream of, a sustainable planet, and this vision is paramount to the concept and implementation of the Otarian philosophy. It is the tangible display of my hope in the intelligence of human kind to understand, accept and adapt to a more sustainable way.”
“We know that to save one life is to save a world entire; that one seed holds within the possibility of regenerating all the world’s forests.”

Plus as far as I understand it’s incredibly difficult to measure the carbon footprint of individual products so I feel rather sceptical about how they know the carbon footprint of my burger is 1.72kg which saves 0.83kg versus ‘a Tex Mex burger’ – presumably a meat one but which? 

Like so many brands I think Otarian has obsessed about the rational and the tangible and failed to understand the emotions of brand personality and the intangibles of brand experience. And has slightly disappeared up its own arse, which also often happens with owner-entrepreneurs.

Which is a shame because the food is good and their intentions undeniably laudable.  It feels like there’s an opportunity for a charming veggie version of Leon, with a total commitment to sustainability throughout their business and brand but without making offputting claims about being  ‘the world’s first low carbon restaurant’ or product-specific carbon savings. Perspective required.

Is simple always better?

January 7, 2011

I noticed that a design agency called Antrepo had done an experiment in simplifying well-known brands’ packaging – they seem to believe that minimalism is always best. What do you think?

 

 

More at www.a2591.com/2010/12/minimalist-effect-in-maximalist-market.html.

Is it me or is it rather unsettling to see iconic brands stripped of the clothes that we know them by? They become more generic and less satisfying – less able to trigger the nice emotional response that makes people buy. I appreciate that sometimes brand managers go overboard with sticking ‘delicious!’ or whatever on packaging and that if you want to position a brand as premium then more minimalist design often helps. But I would be extremely wary of changing an established brand’s design in any major way: the design is imprinted in people’s minds in all its (sometimes in)glorious fullness and they will buy based on almost subconscious recognition of that, with all the positive emotional cues and memories that come with it.

I then saw that Starbucks are about to introduce a simplified logo which involves the mermaid only and no words – although I assume the shops will still say STARBUCKS above the door?

 

I find this a bit unsettling too: I’ve never really consciously looked at the mermaid element before, I just think of the whole logo with the reassuring solid capital letters. But I guess it’s something of an achievement that you can identify it without the brand name – maybe they’ve trying to emulate the Nike swoosh. They say it’s because they want to signal the next chapter in the company’s story and allow them to ‘move beyond being only a purveyor of coffee’. To being what, one asks? I hope they don’t go all brand extension crazy and lose the plot. We already allow them to sell food and to sell coffee at retail: how much further do they want to go?

An optimistic interpretation is that it’s what Adam Morgan would call a ‘symbol of re-evaluation’ to draw attention to refurbished shops, since frankly a lot of the ones I visit are looking rather tired now. I would far rather they sorted that out than worried about a new logo: a new logo on the existing stores will seem very lame. Let’s wait and see.

Things that might come in useful in 2011: Part i

January 4, 2011

It has come to my attention that Google now offer a thing called Books Ngram Viewer (not the most self-explanatory of titles, you have to admit) which shows you how often words or phrases have occurred in the world’s books over the decades. Well in the 10% of the world’s books that Google have now scanned. I’m not entirely sure how useful it can be but there’s a certain nerdy pleasure to be had in playing with it for a bit: go to ngrams.googlelabs.com.

For instance this is what you get for the incidence of ‘brand’ and ‘consumer’ since 1700 in books published in English in the US and UK.

 

Someone like me with a poor grasp of history might have thought they would have tracked roughly similarly in recent decades but ‘brand’ only really takes off in the 1990s whereas ‘consumer’ has been used since around 1910. You can click on different time periods and see the topline of the books which mention your phrase; for instance pre 1980 ‘brand’ comes up largely as the surname of the author or in the context of branding animals. Only in the 1990s do you see the kind of thing you would nowadays expect:

You can then click through and read these books on your screen. Which is kind of neat. If you have a lot of time on your hands or were researching a brand with a long history or something. 

This reminds me to check that you know about Google Insights For Search, which is in a similar vein and allows you to see how many Google searches have been done for particular words or phrases in particular time periods or geographies: google.com/insights/search. For instance, for ‘brand’ and ‘consumer’ again, this time just in the UK:

Here ‘consumer’ is lower and declining, which could be interesting but you have to check that people are searching for what you assume – e.g. here ‘Russell Brand’ is one of the most popular searches involving ‘brand’ and ‘consumer credit’ for ‘consumer’. So you need to be quite specific with your terms and interpret it carefully.

And the numbers are relative not absolute – you can only gauge the level of interest in the context of other terms. So for instance add in ‘x factor’ and get some perspective:

Looking at very short time periods can be useful to understand people’s habits. For instance, looking at searches for ‘pizza express’ (one of my clients) versus ‘dominos’ in the last 30 days you can see how search interest for the former peaks on Wednesdays because they are part of the Orange Wednesdays promotion whereas searches for Domino’s peak on Saturdays when people stay in and treat themselves (plus a smaller peak on Tuesdays when they do a ‘Two for Tuesdays’ deal).

Kind of cool, no?  Use it to impress people before everyone is onto it.