Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Crash course in social media.

On October 22, A 62 year-old woman drove her BMW SUV into a gym car park. Something happened, and said BMW ended up mounted on two other cars, one of which was a Hyundai Elantra.

You can see the security camera footage above.

The video had more than 1.6 million views. In a nice touch, Hyundai Canada offered to replace the Elantra driver's car. Just eight days after the initial incident.

Courtesy Mashable.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

129 million views.

'Charlie Bit My Finger...Again.' has just become the most watched YouTube video of all time. I don't know what to make of that. You can watch it here and draw your own conclusions. If you figure it out, please let me know.

Cover of the New Yorker, Halloween edition

Monday, October 26, 2009

Brand new old ideas.

We actually did this creative work in a previous life, for a previous agency. Two or three years ago now.
But as far as I can tell, this is the first time it's seen the light of day.
The Stoneleigh vineyard occupies a delightfully sunny space on the western edge of Marlborough's Sauv-blanc fields, and actually has a good old-fashioned USP; magical sunstones.

You can see the full website here.

And the cute litte TVC here.

We were CDs. Writer Lea Egan, AD Nicoleen Agnello

Can't get enough of that new work...

New Mazda CX-7 Spot through CHE Melbourne. Props to producer Georgina Toole, supersuit Chris Ivanov and CDs Mike O'Hare and Stephen Fisher.

New commercial for Totally Workwear.

Totally Workwear is a national chain of stores specialising in, well, tradies' workwear. Boots, reflective vests, drill shorts and the like. The retail experience in TWW is somewhat different to that of other stores; because they're on the clock, customers don't want to stuff around chatting to staff, and the simple layouts of TWW stores reflect this. From there, the positioning line 'Get What You Want then Get Back To Work'is only a short hop.

Pacific Brands paid the bills, Fenton Stephens created the opportunity and we wrote and directed the spot.

There's also some nice radio spots, which we'll post later...

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Ikea furnishes New York's narrowest house.

From the clever people who brought you Abba and Eric the Red.

"IKEA has offered US$10,000 worth of furniture and free design advice to the buyer of the narrowest house in New York City.

The red brick house, located at 75 1/2 Bedford Street in Greenwich Village, is 9 1/2 feet wide and 42 feet long, and was built in 1873 in the alleyway between 75 and 77 Bedford Street.

The house was put up for sale last month for US$2.7 million, and a plaque on the building notes that poet Edna St. Vincent Millay once lived there, as did anthropologist Margaret Mead. When the house went on the market, real estate broker Alex Nicholas was quoted as saying the future owners would “have to be very clever in how [they] decorate,” prompting the proposal from IKEA.

IKEA spokesperson Janice Simonsen explained the furniture giant’s offer, saying, “We know that space is a premium in most homes and especially in this home… We’re so in love with small spaces that we’re putting an offer on the table, albeit a skinny table – free furniture and design expertise to the eventual buyers.”

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Blurring the lines.

New music video/ad/content/whatever by Fallon London for Cadbury.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Quite briliant

Where does product end and marketing begin? This iPhone app for Mini roadside assistance manages to make the brand look even smarter and their drivers even more fervent advocates. How would such an app make you feel about your car?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

If you print this email, I'll chop off your arm.

I love this. It's a USB-powered chainsaw that sits on your desk. Why?

You know those little messages that exhort you to consider the environment before printing an email? And how you ignore that message?

Well, every time you hit CTRL - P, the chainsaw goes off. Can't ignore that!

You can order one here.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Someone you love would love this new work.

QV is one of Australia's largest range of in-pharmacy skincare products.

Its (hitherto) unspoken brand truth is the way we first encountered it; more often than not QV was recommended to us by a nurse, by a parent, by a relative, by a friend.
Then, once we tried QV, we recommended it to others we cared about.

QV has that most precious and uncommon of things; a community of brand advocates.

With our friends at Admark Communications, we came up with a positioning line; Someone You Love Would Love QV.

To bring this thought to life, there's this commercial, a print campaign, some radio, a new website (coming soon), Twitter and Facebook pages.

Other credits go to Stephanie at QV, Clare and Stu at Admark, Chris Sferazza (director), Simone Adamson (producer) and the digitally strategic ladies at codenamemax.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Friday, July 3, 2009

Making the intangible physical

Just Landed - 61 Hours from blprnt on Vimeo.

From the creator, Jer Thorp

I was discussing H1N1 (swine flu) with a bioinformatics friend of mine last weekend, and we ended up talking about ways that epidemiologists model transmission of disease. I wondered how some of the information that is shared voluntarily on social networks might be used to build useful models of various kinds.

I'm also interested in visualizing information that isn't implicitly shared - but instead is inferred or suggested.

This piece looks for tweets containing the phrases 'just landed in...' or 'just arrived in...'. Locations from these tweets are located using MetaCarta's Location Finder API. The home location for the traveling users are scraped from their Twitter pages. The system then plots these voyages over time.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Faster, faster, faster...

Swine flu goes from nothing to everything to almost nothing again in two weeks.

Millions of people who didn't even know there was an election in Iraq, turn their Twitter avatars green to protest the result a few days later.

Jeff Goldblum is reported dead in the morning, confirmed dead at morning tea then goes on national TV in the evening to prove the contrary.

And Michael Jackson goes from object of ridicule to the King of Pop again in 24 hours. Flashmobs erupt, Presidents eulogise, people weep.

Culture is moving at light speed. This is the reality in which the brands we advertise now live. To simply keep up, and avoid becoming your category's Susan Boyle, we need more messages more often.

Classic 'Economist' ad featuring Henry Kissinger.

I remember a while back presenting an idea for Maggi to a suit, featuring featuring Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise (when they were together)living as a normal couple in suburban Kogarah. The suit loved the campaign, loved the scripts than asked 'Hey, can we do this with normal people instead of Tom and Nicole?"

I wonder if the suit said, when presented this script, 'Hey, can we do this with a normal business guy instead of Kissinger?'

It would be much easier.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

George Lois is a Genius.

Advertising doesn't do a very good job of learning from its elders. This doco on George Lois is thirty years old and every bit as relevant today as it was then.

Extremely accurate pie chart.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

iPhone apps as art?

Does the People's Love for their iPhones have no end?

From Creative Review

At Apple's recent WWDC developer conference, 20,000 of the most popular iPhone apps were showcased on a pulsating wall of 30 Cinema Displays. Whenever someone downloaded a particular app, its icon pulsed light outwards creating a mesmerising display.

Monday, June 15, 2009

I don't want a friend, I want a bank.

On the weekend, I had to take some money out of an ATM. It was a Westpac one.
I don't bank with Westpac, so I knew I was in for a fee. But that's okay.
I key in my desired amount. Insufficient funds. $2.
I key in a lesser amount. Still insufficient funds. Another $2.
I ask to see my balance. Another $2. No longer ok.
And so I leave the ATM with six dollars less than I started with and a burning desire to start a riot. But I calm down. Until I see this.
Now it's game on.
'We're care factor 50'? 'We're take a jumper just in case'? Now you're taking the piss. You're laughing at my inability to find a non-robbing ATM or real competition in the mortgage market. You're pointing out and underlining the inequity of our relationship, while pretending that we're all equals. And fooling, who?
How did that even get off the creative's pad, let alone get on TV? In a couple of hours, my attitude toward Wetspac turned from ambivilance to irritation to a well-founded suspicion of pure evil.
I've worked on banks in the past. I don't know what it is, but they are obsessed with being liked. With having their charitable deeds and community activism acknowledged. With having their essential place in society acknowledged.
While at the same time charging people $6 to withdraw no money from an outsourced ATM and thinking they won't notice.
Here it is, Banks. I don't want you to be my friend. I don't want you to send me a card at Christmas. I just want you to be a bank, without violating me too vigorously.
Something Barclay's seems to understand.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

What's on the Wall?

Hmmm...a man with a jackhammer, a pipe, eye patch and heroic Chinese workers. What kind of ad will it be?

Friday, June 5, 2009

Is it ok to steal ideas from YouTube?

The most withering judgement one creative can pass on another's work is; 'it's been done'. In our peculiar segment of our peculiar industry, originality is valued above all else, even intelligibility and efficacy. The current head on the chopping block (or chopping blog in the case of Campaign Brief) is JWT's new spot for Allen's lollies. In it, a giant doll walks down a city street, blowing bubbles that turn into sweets.

Now regardless of any other considerations, it does bear remarkable similarity to this piece of film posted by a company called The Electric Pig.

Or even this viral campaign for Levi's Jeans by BBH in London.

Predictably, the creative community cries 'plagiarism'. And it's hard to believe that at least some of the people involved in the Allen's job weren't aware of the Electric Pig project.
But does it matter that creatives find inspriration on YouTube? In Oasis' pomp, Noel Gallagher proudly noted that he stole most of his ideas from the Beatles. The Rolling Stones started out overtly and publicly trying to mimic Southern Blues artists like Muddy Waters. Visual artists and novelists are also proud to identify the origins of their ideas.
Perhaps these other creative types understand that there is little that's absolutely original in the world, and instead try to move the good ideas that exist just one step further. Or mix two existing ideas together to produce something new.
However, unlike pure artists whose work needs to stand in it's own right, we are commercial artists who use ideas to promote and sell our client's products.
Is it right to hold ourselves to a higher level of creative accountability? Is the 'it's been done' argument a reach for higher standards or nothing more than self-indulgent creative naval-gazing? Should we be less concerned about where an idea comes from, and put more thought into making sure it achieves what marketing objectives it is meant to?
There are 20 hours of content uploaded to YouTube every minute, let alone other video sharing sites like Vimeo. If we discount all of this, what are we left with?

Monday, June 1, 2009

There might be something in this social media after all.

Last week, Russia's Digital Sky Technologies paid US $200 million for a tad less than 2% of Facebook, valuing the social network site at $10 billion. Which sounds like a lot while argument still rages about Facebook's lack of ability to carry advertising or deliver sustained, mass-market advertising results. But what the Ruskis might have worked out, that most of us have not, is that Facebook represents not just another medium to flog a sales message, but rather a tell-tale of how technology is changing the way companies communicte with their customers. A smarter man than me explains it all here.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Don't do it Jana!

Station promos in Australia are generally extremely persuasive commercials for the immediate abolition of the entities they're supposed to promote. My personal low-point was seeing hitherto-respected Jana Wendt sing cabaret with Ray Martin to flog another year of 9. WHY JANA WHY? At least ITV here are trying.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Brand Kings Cross Clare

Last Saturday night, there was a shooting in Kings Cross, Sydney.

This in itself is not unusual. People are, and often ought to be, shot in the Cross all the time.

What did catch the eye was the magnificent TV interview with an eyewitness, Clare.

In a few, beautifully short sentences, Clare etched herself into the memories of millions.

Less than a week later, she has 10000 facebook fans, 100,000 Youtube hits and a PR Agent.

Some have even questioned whether or not Clare is real, or just an elaborate PR stunt. Which is either a barometer of the underemployment of industry commentators, or a low-water mark in the histroy of marketing.

She has come to mean something.

Clare from Kings Cross is now a brand. As one YouTube commentator said 'hot,but bogan'.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Hole Card.

A mob of ex-TBWA-ers have started up a online social group for bright people who've been laid off due to the GFC. By posting their old business cards online (altered to refelect their newly liberated state of mind), they put themselves out there for collaboration and/or employment. Some of the sentiments are really inspiring. I hope for many, this'll be the start of much better things. Was for me.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

More new work

New campaign for new generation Mazda 3, through CHE Melbourne. Other credits to Stephen Fisher, Ian Bear, Georgina Toole and director Michael Spiccia. Special effects by FIN.

How Twitter can help move mass markets

What's the quickest way to get a new product to a mass market? Put it on Oprah!
On today's show she's decided to feed America, with a free coupon for a new kind of KFC grilled chicken downloadable from her website.
Right now the Twitterverse is abuzz with people talking about the offer, the chicken, whether grilled is less fattening than fried, how to download the coupon, how long the queues are outside the stores.
People are actually talking about KFC and shifting their perceptions of the brand.
Which fits in with the line for the new grilled chicken: Unthink KFC. Brilliant.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The making of Radiohead's 'House Of Cards'

I personally found the video for Radiohead's House of Cards, directed by James Frost, a bit like their music; undoubtedly original, not easy to enjoy and lives with you for a long while afterwards.
Frost's idea was that everything around us in the world is data, so instead of filming with cameras, the promo was shot entirely by lasers and scanners.
Admittedly, when I saw first saw it on TV, it didn't do much for me.
But the song and the film resonated more when I watched the 'making of'.
Which begs the question; should the music video be able to stand on it's own (it does have 6 million hits on YouTube) or is the depth of the experience provided by the 'making of' a legitimate part of the whole communication?
Thom Yorke's band were one of the first to understand the emergence of the digital music business model. Fans were invited to download their 2007 album In Rainbows and pay as they saw fit for it, using free or discounted music as advertising for upcoming music tours.
They probably know what they're doing.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Radio Pink

Austereo have announced the launch of a digital radio station completely dedicated to Pink. Songs, interviews, songs from her favourite artists.
The launch of the station will coincide with her Funhouse tour to Australia in May, and continue fof 3 months.
What's really neat about this is that fans choose to listen to the station (online or with digital radios) to deepen their relationship with their favourite artist.
But Pink is a brand, with the same marketing imperatives and challenges as many others. With the sharp decline in CD sales as a way of making money, artists now make the bulk of their income through touring and merchandising sales.
What better way to promote your tour, and your branded products, than through a dedicated media channel?
Cleverly handled, this could also provide opportunities for other brands.
Imagine Kia having a dedicated channel during the Australian Open. Billabong over the long summer holidays. Moet or Yellowglen over the Mlebourne Spring Carnival. Holden over the duration of the V8 Supercar season.
Thousands of people choosing to immerse themselves in your brand for hours at a time.
Much better than shouting at them over 30 seconds when they're trying to watch the news.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The power of music.

The late Paul Arden once said that music is 50% of your script. Monty Propps' treatment of the Diff'rent Strokes titles proves it.

“Man’s greatest fear is not being inadequate, but powerful beyond measure”

There is a place for every brand in the universe, if only it has the courage to be something. Even if that brand's name is Joel Bauer.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

New Work (sort of)

Our good friends at Fenton Stephens scored an invite on the Gruen Transfer. The brief? To sell synchronised swimming as a participant sport to teenage boys. Last count on the Gruen website had the Fenton boys as clear winners.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

0.25% Compassion.

Every now and then we get asked to prepare an advertising campaign for a bank and generally the marketing problem is the same; 'people think we're money-grubbing pricks'.

Now partly this is a perception issue; banks do perform an essential function in society and do a lot of good. But the rest of the time, they have a tendency to behave like, well, money-grubbing pricks.

It's something they don't like to hear.

Take yesterday's interest rate cut by the Reserve Bank. To manage the ravages of the global financial crisis, in a climate of crumbling industry and lost jobs, the governers of the nation's monetary policy decide to reduce interest rates by 0.25%.

The aim of this policy was to reduce the financial pressure on households and get them spending again, to speed the economic recovery.

This event was widely reported, and the nation's families were eagerly anticipating the cut.

And the reponse of the banks? To keep most if not all of the cut as profit. Westpac, ANZ and CBA passed on just 0.1% of the cut while NAB passed on nothing at all.

The RBA fired it's best shot in the locker, only to see it almost entirely absorbed into the bottom lines of the Big Four banks, who've taken advantage of the GFC by buying up smaller lending institutions and consolidating their oligopoly on home mortgages.

The recession, and the near-perfect exchange of information enabled by the internet, has made this high-handed behaviour unacceptable to the modern consumer. As the article in the Economist says, it's compassion that people are looking for in brands now, not vaucous statements.

If you're going to behave this way, why bother running ads like the one below? You're treating your customers as less than stupid. And in the end, your bank's brand will be the one to pay.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

It's more important to be interesting than right*.

Wouldn't it be great if your advertising idea was so interesting, that people would want to watch it, not just in the ad breaks but in the program too? (See the original Cadbury 'Eyebrows' ad here).

(*Thanks to Richard Huntington for this assembly of words.)

Change your tone, or change what you do?

Just as the Federal Treasury was printing Kevvie's $900 cheques, there was an article in yesterday's Financial Review about adopting the right tone of voice in your marketing (I'd offer up a link, but the AFR make you pay to view. Sorry).

Industry luminaries talked about whether you acknowledge the recession, or pretend it wasn't happening. The AJF Partnerships 'Times are tough. But Australians and Holden are tougher.' got a mention, as did the simple pleasure of Cadbury's 'Gorilla'.

It makes sense to take the GFC into account when plotting our strategies, but I'm thinking that maybe people are after a bit more substance from their marketing messages. Wanting to see something that's actually different, rather than the same thing painted a different colour.

Holden didn't actually change the build of their car to suit the times, nor did Cadbury alter the formula of Dairy Milk. But when Hyundai found new car sales plummetting in the US, they actually altered the substance of what they did.

Uncertainty about job security was leading many Americans to put off getting a new car, so Hyundai created Hyundai Assurance.

Essentially, if you lose your job within 12 months of leasing a new Hyundai, they'll let you out of it and take the car back. Covering up to $7,500 in negative value.

Sure there's a bunch of fine print, and no doubt there will be folk who miss out, but as a brand statement-wow!

Even if you weren't in the market right now, or even if Hyundai isn't your brand, you can't help but admire the audacity of the move and the understanding of where their customers are at.

Not too hard to write a compelling ad to that proposition.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

How to not write copy.

Flicking through the Good Weekend last Saturday, I came across this ad for the HTC Touch smart phone. It caught my eye because it is so painfully wrong in so many excruciating ways.

The layout is dreadful (seven shots of the same phone and a target market Gen Y-er in his Dad's jacket), two or three pointless headlines and two logos specifically placed to confuse and disorientate the reader.

But as a copywriter, it was the words that really hurt me.

I'm no expert, but I understand that the HTC is actually a pretty good phone.

But being a touch-screen 3G gadget it's playing in a sandpit dominated by iPhone. So this ad should be weaving a pretty convincing argument as to why I should shun that beloved device and choose something that looks liken every other phone in the Telstra shop.

So how did they go?

Let's start with the headline;


Hmmm...the 'power' here helpfully explains that the Touch runs on electricity, not steam or uranium like other, less modern telephones. A quick scan of the ad doesn't reveal where the 'passion' comes from unless it refers to the Gen-Y'er, by whose glazed smile we can presume is watching downloaded Japanese porn on his 2.8-inch screen.

Look if you're going to have one, the headline is where you set out the stall of your argument.

HTC's biggest brand issues are that;

(a) nobody knows anything about them

(b) it runs on Windows, which everyone loathes, and

(c) it's not an iPhone

This headline adressed none of this and was a waste of 1.23 seconds of my Saturday morning.

To the first line of copy;

'HTC, one of the world's leading designers and manufacturers of smart phones, brings you the Touch 3G, a phone that combines their innovative TouchFLO interface technology with the awesome power of 3G.'

Crap. Until six months ago nobody outside the industry had ever heard of HTC, and most still haven't.

A quick Google reveals it to be a Korean company that made its name making components for other phone companies.

HTC stands for 'High Tech Computers', a name that conjures up a dusty PC shop off the Oakleigh high street before a global colossus striding the smartphone stage.

And bin the self-adulation; 'world's leading', 'innovative', awesome'. That is your puffed-up opinion of yourself, not a fact that will persuade the equivocating buyer.


'The category-HTC Touch 3G (no, the iPhone defines it) powered by Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional (I hate Windows on my computer, why would I want it on my phone?) takes your touch experience to the next level (there's that puffed-uppiness again).'

'With next-generation TouchFLO (if it's next generation, how can this generation have it? Waste of words), voice and text communications (you know, talking to people), web browsing and media playing are now more intuitive than ever before (how? How? Are you going to tell me? No.).

The touch-reponsive interface of Touch 3G is designed to respond perfectly to finger gestures
(yes, it's a touch screen, you've already said that) helping you navigate seamlessly through contacts, media and web pages with speed and precision (so it doesn't take you to the wrong places, slowly? Wow!).

Look, there's a whole other paragraph of this rubbish and I can't be bothered going though it all. But it doesn't get any better.

If you're going to interrupt somebody's Saturday morning with a wad of words, try to make it something useful or funny or informative.

Tell me why Windows is better for a phone that OS/X. Give me the ammunition that will persuade my friends at the pub that this is cooler than an iPhone.

Tell my why HTC are better at making smart phones than Apple.

George Orwell once raged agains words that were mindlessly erected into sentences, 'like pre-fabricated henhouses'. Lord help any battery chook that has to live in this.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

People like stories.

Adidas recently launched House Party, a new campaign celebrating 60 years of decking the world out out in triple stripe.

Directed by Nima Nourizadeh, the centrepiece is a 160 second long spot shot at a (you guessed it) house party where everyone’s dressed in adidas. In amongst the beautiful plebs are celebs like David Beckahm, Missy Elliot, Katy Perry, and behind the bar shaking Martinis a very unlikely Ilie Nastase.

For a campaign that ends with the line 'Celebrate Originality', it's not a terrifically original idea. (Check out this Coke ad from the 70s; instead of Becks, they've got Brocky!) But it is a nice vehicle that uses online and offline spaces to build the idea nicely.

As well as the Big Telly execution, there's a YouTube channel packed with extra content like the invitations going out, Becks and Kevin Garnett killing time before the party and a paint fight at a Ting-Tings gig. Even a Simpsons parody. Naturally, there's a website where you can buy all the gear.

It's all hopelessly self-conscious and tries a bit too hard. But the track's infectious and there's a lazy, veging-on-the-couch kind of charm about it. Best of all, it all fits and there's a story that adds up to more than the sum of its parts. It piques the curiousity, egging you onto further exploration, unlike Smart Energy's 'Zoetrope' spot which starts with a nice positioning before undoing all its good work.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Genius or accident? Cadbury Gorilla meet Johnny Farnham.

Last night, while watching the gyrating mammary parade that is 'Underbelly' my wife and I saw the Cadbury 'Gorilla' ad, local version. Instead of Phil Collins' 'In The Air Tonight', the popular primate twirls the sticks to Johnny Farhham's 'You're the Voice'. From it's launch in the UK in 2007, this ad has caused controversy, and the result was no different in our household. "What's that got to do with chocolate?" chocolate-loving Mrs Baker said from the sofa, "What rubbish!" The truth is, it has everything everything and nothing to do with the stuff. Chocolate is of course, all about chocolate. But it is also about joy and sharing, and this ad is nothing if not all about these two qualities. YouTube proliferates with home-made remixes (check out the Deep Purple cover), the Gorilla facebook page has more than 100,00 friends, while the old-school broadcast version is still provocative enough to generate discussion on the Baker family couch. But did it work? In the UK, sales were up after a bleak year for the company, while the campaign scooped the pool at all the creative award shows. Working in advertising agencies, we sell our clients on process and rigour, as if funding enough focus groups and territory boards was a guarantee for market success. Sometimes it does, often it doesn't. But this campaign works, just because it does. Rather than telling you what to feel about the product, it simply makes you feel it. And that's rather nice, isn't it?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Joy. What else do you want?

There's not enough joy in the world. Here's a little more. If I was with this phone company, I'd feel a lot better about it.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The power of posters?

There's an outdoor site where they hang 24-sheet posters just around from where we work in Melbourne. It's on a busy corner, and there's room for about 5 diferent posters.
Now, due to the GFC, the outdoor advertising market is having a bit of a tough time, and the same posters, presumably on a 2-3 month buy have been up for 6 months or more.
Last week they were torn down, presumably because the bean counters frothed at the mouth about clients getting something for free.
So now, instead of a corner of five well-produced posters, there's a wall of scrappy half-torn, half-glued paper.
Now, presumably when the sales team are out there trying to sell outdoor to their cash-strapped clients, they talk of visibility and passing traffic and brand impressions.
Let's then presume that the half-convinced client then drives past this highly visible site...hmmmmm.
If you spend your life trying to convince others of the persuasive powers of outdoor, use the medium to sell itself.
If you have no paying clients, show work of good photographers or artists. Tell a joke. Start a competition to best use the vacant space. Get people talking about your product.
Anything but this.
Because when the recovery starts, you're already behind the curve.

Friday, March 6, 2009

RailCorp: dill of the week.

In case nobody noticed, the game has changed. Companies and corporations are no longer the custodians of their brands, their customers are. Marketing managers and advertising professionals don't get to decide what a brand is, and what it is not. What we get to do is divine what people will or will not permit us to be, and then be that to the best of our ability. Which makes NSW's RailCorp the dill of the week. When a bright young spark created an application to allow commuters to check on Sydney's (notoriously unreliable) timetable on their iPhones, the Bureaucrats got all medieval on his ass. Legal letters were issued, threats to sue were made. After mumbling some crap about timetables being 'copyright', the government institution then issued other threats against makers of similar applications. No doubt a shiny new TVC will be out soon extolling the virtues of the Sydney rail system, and how grateful Emerald Citysiders ought to be that 90-something percent of their services run on time. Which will only rub salt into the would of the poor viewer who's just got home an hour late. Despite what lawyers might say, marketers and corporations don't own the 'copyright' to their brand attributes. The public can withdraw it just as fast as they give it.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

You do not own your brand, your customers do.

For decades, brands like Bonds, Stubbies and King Gee have had a special place in the Australian heart.
From Chesty Bond to Steve Irwin, the iconic blue singlet, the front-pocketed short, the faded khaki work shirt became something close to revered.
They had managed to become part of the national identity.
Then they were bought, sold, amalgamated and floated. Local factories were closed and the manufacturing was shifted to places where labour costs were inevitably less. It all made perfect business sense, yet today people marched the streets against the 'owners' of these brands. The same people have been condemned by the Prime Minister and the Opposition Leader.
The CEO of the company has been pilloried in the popular press and the stockmarket has punished the company by valuing the entire Pacific Brands entity at less than one of it's mid-sized brands.
All successful brands are a mix of personal passion, happy accident and commodity. when you forget about the first two, all you're left with is the last. The consumer's gift to Pacific Brands was the ability to run campaigns like the one shown. Now, it seems, they've asked for it back.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A Promise Kept.

'A promise kept'. It's the best definition of a brand that I've heard. And the man that has taken brand to a new level was inaugurated as the 44th President of the United States of America this morning (Melbourne time). President Barack H. Obama's campaigns for both the Democratic nomination and the Presidency rewrote the rules of political marketing, and provides the definitive case study of communicating a seamless brand across both broadcast and digital media. The Obama brand, if there was an accurate way of measuring it, would surely be amongst the most valuable on the planet at this moment. How much it is worth in four years' time will depend on his ability to keep the difficult promises he has made. I hope, for all of us, that he does.

Friday, January 16, 2009

TV isn't dead, it just has a nasty cough

It's 9.50 on a Friday night and I'm captivated by a one-day cricket match between Australia and South Africa. SA need 14 runs with 13 balls to go. It's broadcast in Channel 9, with a single, good old-fashioned 30-second ad between overs. With the entertainment on offer, I'd imagine the audience will be sitting happily through them.
But what happens when the entertainment isn't quite so good? As is often, if not usually, the case?
If you're an ad-blog junkie like me, you'll read a lot about the death of broadcast media. How the TV stations are toast and newspapers a quaint throwback. It's all RSS, YouTube and podcasts these days, don't you know.
But there are moments, like this game tonight, where the broadcast medium can prove it still has its moments. And doubts remain over digital's ability to move mass markets on its own.
So while TV isn't quite as dead as some would like it to be, it appears that digital isn't quite grown up enough to step into the breach just yet.
For creative people like us it presents a particular challenge; it's not enough to invent ideas that work for either broadcast or digital. You must invent ideas that work for both.
An idea that works well on television but is unitelligible online ignores the new consumer reality. But a solo digital idea can simply get lost in an ocean of limited time and unlimited choice.
Do such ideas exist? Of course they do. And if you're not getting them you should be asking your agency why not.