Tag: advertising

Brands That Cry Wolf: Marketing’s Authenticity Crisis

Marketing, Social Media3 Comments

One of the best stories you probably missed last year was that of the missing Panasonic Tough Lumix FT10 digital camera. Found by a fisherman at the bottom of Cowan Creek near the Hawkesbury River in NSW, it was retrieved in perfect working order, prompting Panasonic to launch a campaign to reunite the camera with its  owner.

Normally I’m a sucker for feel good stories that confirm we’re not all scum, but when I heard that Panasonic were driving the campaign, I thought it smelled fishy. And I wasn’t the only one.

While we all turned out to be wrong and the camera was legitimately lost and subsequently returned to it’s rightful owner, there was plenty of reasons for our skepticism. The same month the missing camera story broke, Panasonic had already been sprung trying to pass-off an actor as a real person in a campaign.

And who could forget Witchery and Toyota‘s botched attempts at currying favour in social media.

In each case, a brand had deliberately set out to deceive the public and when exposed, done a piss-poor job of explaining it, potentially causing long-term harm to their image and reputation.

I’m honestly surprised that in this age of openness and transparency, brands and their agencies would still engage in deceptive or misleading advertising practices. If there’s one thing we’ve learned from the rise of social media is that the truth will come out and that privacy is disappearing. Brands need to remember that this doesn’t apply to the individual but to them as well and start behaving accordingly.

While it’s possible that the long-term impact to the brand is negligible since ‘it’s only advertising’ it makes the job of marketers and communicators that little bit harder when we do actually have something genuine and authentic to say when every message is either taken with a big grain of salt or dismissed altogether.

What do you think? Does advertising and marketing have a responsibility to be authentic?


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Ideas don’t need to be big, just portable

Digital Strategy6 Comments

Increasing media fragmentation has made it harder and harder for marketers to get their messages in font of audiences. Driven by the Internet and the abundance of choice it brings, consumers have the freedom to watch, listen and read what they want, when they want.

With so many potential touch points, you can no longer rely on a single execution to get your message across let alone guarantee that it is going to be heard.

Current research on changing media consumption shows that Australians are preferring to spend our time online than watching TV (which is probably time-shifted anyway), listening to radio or reading a newspaper. Even if we are, a smartphone, iPad or laptop is seldom far away. And online, the list of potential activities is endless whether it’s browsing your favourite sites, checking RSS feeds, instant messaging, paying bills, posting status updates or simply sending an email.

The seeds to drive attention, interest, desire and action can be planted on a multitude of platforms, each with their own unique mechanics and nuances. For instance:

Email must be personalised and timely if it’s to achieve all important clickthroughs.

Similarly, search engine marketing must be targeted and relevant based on the context of the users search.

Social media is about not marketing to your customers (in the traditional sense) but starting a conversation.

The point is it is you can’t treat them all the same. Big ideas tend to work only one way. It is not enough to take a good TV execution and shoehorn it into social media or a ‘viral video’ (with the exception of Old Spice). Ideas need to work across multiple touch points.

Marketing is now less about having the big ideas seen in Mad Men and The Gruen Transfer, and more about having lots of small ideas that can be tested and refined in parallel on multiple channels.

Don’t spend all your time and resources upfront searching for the big idea. Instead start with a touchpoint analysis of where your customers are and then see which ideas will tie them together.

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Is Old Spice the best social media campaign ever?

Digital Strategy, Social Media11 Comments

When the Old Spice videos started showing up on social media a couple of weeks ago, I was amongst those who promptly declared it “the best social media campaign ever.

Now that the dust has settled, I thought it was time to revisit my original assertion (I was wrong) and see what impact, if any, the campaign had and we as marketers can learn from it.

It began with traditional media

LOLing at the hundred or so YouTube videos that were created, it’s easy for international audiences especially to forget that the Old Spice campaign first took shape as a very traditional TV ad. Not just any ad, the spot earned top prize at this year’s Cannes Film Lions Grand Prix and went viral.

For this reason it’s a misnomer to call it a pure social media campaign. Without the mainstream awareness and equity built by traditional media, it’s doubtful that we would have cared as much as we did when Old Spice started creating personalised videos responding to Twitter celebs.

Where’s the ROI?

Cynics were quick to point out that despite the attention, the Old Spice ads had failed to translate to sales.

Turns out they were wrong as well with Procter & Gamble (Old Spice’s parent company) recently announcing a 55% increase in sales of Old Spice over the last 3 months and a 107% increase in the last month alone.

The bottom line is the campaign worked and based on the massive growth over the last month, and while we can’t say for sure social media played a role in this.

Extending the brand with social

So if the Old Spice ads as a whole did what they were supposed to and drive sales growth, what did Weiden + Kennedy (the Portland agency behind the campaign) get right with social?

Based on the overwhelmingly positive feedback towards the TV ads and the affinity the public felt towards the Old Spice guy, they identified an opportunity to move the campaign beyond traditional media and bring the character to life with social media.

The idea was deliciously simple and surprisingly low-tech considering the buzz it generated. Essentially, it leveraged on a very simple concept “make a series of 30 sec spots” and used social media to make it relevant to the audience. Read Write Web wrote a terrific piece about how the videos were made.

We should be doing this

Well actually, no.

While it’s a foregone conclusion that client’s will soon be asking their agencies for copycat campaigns (Cisco already tried and failed with Cisco Guy), without spending big bucks to build brand equity and a campaign concept that resonates with customers, it’s doubtful that Old Spice’s success can be replicated.

Even then, for social media marketers, the Old Spice campaign failed to leverage all the good stuff inherent in social media: conversation, community, engagement. As great and as innovative as the campaign is, it remains a brilliant traditional media idea that was very smartly repurposed and repackaged for social media.

Hat-tip to Mitch Joel and Joseph Jaffe who I just found out covered this topic in the latest episode of Six Pixels of Separation. I only realised this last night while listening to the podcast and well after this post had been written. If you want to hear their thoughts, you can listen here.

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AC/DC and Iron Man Destroy Rochester Castle!

Marketing, Music0 Comments

The intersection of music, film and architecture results in an outstanding 3D building projection that is also an excellent example of ambient media. Historic Rochester Castle is shaken apart, brick-by-brick with a stunning visual display bringing together AC/DC and the film Iron Man 2.

If you thought the Northern Lights during the Adelaide Festival of Arts were cool, wait till you get a load of this!

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Who Owns Social Media?

Digital Strategy, Social Media8 Comments

Last week, Michelle Prak asked on her blog where social media sits in an organisation. As social media becomes a mainstream activity, the question must be who within an organisation is ultimately responsible for it?

“Social media and PR work well together”

Michelle argues that since social media is about conversations, PR professionals are best suited to take advantage of it. Marketers, she says, are not as interested in what audiences are saying about their brands.

The problem I have with this, is the general misunderstanding about what exactly marketing is. I am a marketer, and in my mind, the essence of marketing is matching consumers with the right products and services that fulfils a need or want in their life. This encompasses everything from supply chain management and customer service to sales and communication.

By my definition, PR, advertising, digital, etc. are all fall under the umbrella discipline of marketing. This is not to say that I’m a PR expert, which I’m not. I’m a marketer with specialised expertise in marketing communications and digital media. Conversely, all PR people are also marketers and to extend that a little bit further, so too is everyone else in an organisation. Understanding what marketing is and what the implications are for business can only make you better at what you do. For instance, customer service are right at the coal face and have more interaction with customers than anyone else. They have as much responsibility for marketing an organisation and embodying what it stands for as someone with ‘marketing’ or ‘communications’ in their job title. By being aware of why it is important to stay on-brand and what that means, they are more able to do their job than someone with no clue about why they have to say or do the things their job demands.

Where was I? Oh, right.

To try and limit social media to just the realm of PR, advertising or any other niche discipline, is to restrict the potential social media has to fundamentally transform a business. Social media must have a multi-disciplinary, marketing-led approach that first and foremost takes into account business objectives before tactics and execution. Only by taking a step back to ask ‘why?’ will an organisation truly know how best it applies to their business.

“Social media fits within a business’s communications strategy”

The first instinct most marcomms people have when presented with something like social media is, how can I use this to broadcast my message? This is exactly the wrong approach to be taking. While the disintermediation of media has enormous advantages, it has almost meant that brands now think they can start broadcasting their message directly to their target market instead of going through a media channel. Just because a conversation is happening out there about your brand doesn’t give you the right to engage with them uninvited.

Thinking about social media purely as a communications tool ignores what I see as two of it’s biggest benefits. Instead of rushing into engage, organisations need to first listen and learn what their customer’s are saying and how they want to be engaged. Going beyond Google alerts and other searches, social media monitoring tools such as Radian 6 and Dialogix gives brands unprecedented ability to monitor and analyse what’s being said about them online.

This insight and access into the mind’s of their consumers allows brands to really build intimate relationships with their customers by tailoring and personalising their approach. Building massive followings and blindly bombarding them with offers and promotions is no different to the traditional advertising that audiences are already switching off to.

As the always insightful Jay Baer writes, a better use for social media might be to strengthen the relationships you already have, rather than create new ones with people you don’t know.

“Why would a consumer “friend” us or “fan” us or “follow” us in social media, unless they were either already a customer, or at the very least had us in their purchase consideration funnel? The average Facebook member becomes a fan of just two companies per month, yet is exposed to thousands of brands during that same period. People don’t experimentally engage with brands in social media, they engage with the brands they already support.”

While the industry is still incredibly nascent, it appears that the best use of social media is when it is approached holistically and not just focused on the conversation but also on the insights into what an organisation’s customers think and say.

Read Michelle’s original post.

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