Archive for February, 2009
This has been winding me up on my way in to work for weeks.
First Bus in Leeds promises a regular service on their special UniLink service, every 10 mins.
Well actually, that’s not true. It’s really
up to every
most of the day
I’m willing to bet this was a classic case of communications decision making by committee. A bit like this perhaps?
For the last year and a half, I’ve been on the AdAge Power150 list of marketing blogs, which has been very exciting.
I’m at number 576 today (the Power150 is confusingly currently made up of 947 marketing blogs and growing daily). I used to rank much higher, but the list has doubled in size since I joined, so despite my Scores improving massively, my ranking does sound a bit rubbish.
I don’t really mind, except it appears that it’s easy to grab something called the OPML file (??? I’m not very technical) off the AdAge website and expand it into a list of names and email addresses.
Which seems to be what an awful lot of Online PR types have done. My inbox is full to bursting. I suppose it’s some kind of karmic payback for the year after graduating I spent as a PR Exec churning out press releases before I realised that Planning existed as a career option.
Today’s classic was this:
Quite why Tina Clough, SEO Manager at TopPosition thought I’d be interested in sales trends for sex toys I’m not quite sure. Or why her message was sent with High Importance. Then there’s my fellow (mostly American) Power150 bloggers, who send me regular upbeat updates on how wonderfully their marketing business is going and always end with some insight ‘on a personal note’.
I’m careful to make sure that my email address (sevensteps at tiscali dot co dot uk) is never available online as email@example.com to prevent spiders from collecting it to bombard me with spam. I use a different address for commenting on other people’s blogs and that seems to stay spam free. But still the emails arrive.
I do honestly appreciate the heads-up I get from PRs when something cool is out there and its nice to feel connected. I could just do without quite so much thoughtless spamyness as well.
Re-reading Victoria Routledge’s chick-lit debut Friends Like These, I found the most brilliant letter from the heroine PR exec to her client:
I am delighted to enclose the proof of your Spring/Summer promo brochure. We are thrilled with the finished version and hope you will love it as much as we do. Everyone here at Dunleary & Bright is sure that this will be the breakthrough season for Detritus and that this dynamic promo will be the clinching factor in securing excellent magazine and TV coverage.
I would be amazed if you could be bothered to cast your eye over this proof and let me have any of the myriad and pointless corrections you might like to make. I will need to pass this on to the printers by August 31st, so I won’t expect to get any indication from your office that you have actually received this until it is far too late to do anything, that is to say, late September.
When your directionless and inarticulate PA does get round to it, I will, of course be here on my direct line for personal abuse and blame-apportioning. Please do contact me if there are any further questions I can answer, or more likely, if you require the whole thing explained to you, with diagrams.
All best wishes, Rachel Sanderson, Dunleary & Bright
The new Diet Coke ad from Mother had its first official airing last night during The Brits.
I can’t say that I exactly warmed to it – and I’m bang on target audience. Based on the ad, I’m led to believe that drinking Diet Coke will make you want to ride around on a bicycle in the middle of the night, singing your heart out, while women nearby (in scenarios direct from the Singleton Chick Flick Cliché Book) sadly sing along with you.
It’s almost as ridiculous as suggesting we should all be roller-skating in white jeans or skydiving at that time of the month.
I’m guessing the creative brief was something about Diet Coke enabling you to about taking a moment to remember who you really are and what makes you happy (a modern Diet Coke Break for the downturn).
But there’s nothing empowering or engaging about the execution. Every non-Duffy woman in the ad comes across as weak and some kind of blokeless loser, buying singleton ready meals late at night or stuck on the Girl’s Night Out from hell. Duffy doesn’t come out of it all that well either, I don’t think the song particularly suits her style or range.
To be honest, I not impressed with the endline ‘Hello You’ either. It just doesn’t sit right and reminds me too much of Avon’s Hello Tomorrow.
So then, in short, I’m not a fan.
Judge for yourself:
A bit of detective work via google, youtube and itunes reveals that the song I’ve Gotta Be Me was recorded by Sammy Davies Jr. in the late 60s and originally came from a musical on Broadway at that time called Golden Rainbow. Here’s the man himself in action (starts 25 secs in):
So, the economy is in free fall and we’re all doomed. Right?
The quallies at work have been doing a lot of focus groups with Credit Crunched Mums recently. Apparently yes, Mums are being careful and trying to be more frugal – but a lot of them are doing so not because they are very worried about their finances right now, but because they think things are going to get worse before they get better.
I think we might be talking ourselves into making the economic situation worse. The media isn’t exactly helping, a quick dig round nexis revealed dozens of recent case study stories about families who were cutting back and lots of first-person pieces by jounros describing how they were economising madly, but nothing suggesting that just maybe, a few people were actually carrying on pretty much as normal.
It’s admirable if someone decides to live more frugally now in order to try and safeguard their immediate future. But with every scare-monger story the media puts out, perhaps it has got to a point where people are taking more severe steps then they really need to, in turn bringing about the next step of the downturn they were trying to protect themselves against in the first place…
New Business is turning into a bit of a farce at the moment.
A client I pitched for in November (who announced within 24 hours that we were down to the final two agencies) let us know today that they’d finally made the decision to appoint the other lot. That’s three months it took them to chose between agencies A and B. How hard can it be?
Then there’s the never ending PQQs, ITTs and other tendering related, time vampire red tape, the client who took so long to decide on which agency to appoint that they went bust in the meantime and the clients who are seemingly incapable of returning calls or emails politely enquiring if a long overdue pitch decision is imminent.
Pitching is an incredibly expensive way of doing business and most clients don’t seem to realise that the agency ‘overflow’ resources which have to be redirected towards time consuming pitches are becoming increasingly scarce in businesses that are running a tight ship in order to stay afloat in this stormy economy.
Fortunately my place is winning new business as well as being messed about a lot (otherwise I’d be worrying about my job), but in the meantime, may I present the New Rules For Clients Upon Calling A Pitch:
- Underestimate the budget you have allocated as it will almost certainly have reduced by the time you get round to appointing an agency.
- If you think your company is about to go bust, now is not a good time to hold a pitch.
- Pitching is very, very expensive from the agency’s point of view. And it takes up a lot of your time and resources too. There may be agencies hungry for work and desperate to get on the pitch list, but limit creative pitches to as many agencies as you can count on one hand. And tell them how many they’re up against so they can make an informed decision on whether to proceed or not.
- Keep in touch. Honestly, we understand that your company’s circumstances might unexpectedly shift and you’ll need to re-evaluate. But only if you actually talk to us.
you can run, but you can’t hide, Mr Client
We are officially in recession, the economy is nose diving and there’s no question that clients have got less money to spend. Unless you happen to work in Digital (where every agency I know is still turning work away because they’re too busy), it’s looking a bit bleak.
I’ve already written about how as Planners we need to demonstrate our own effectiveness, both externally and internally, but maybe it’s becoming more about redefining the role of Planning itself in light of the new realities.
I’m getting quite evangelical about a greater role for Planning at the NPD stage (and fortunately my agency agrees with me) and from a purely practical point of view, involving Planning at this early stage can make the NPD research work harder and reduce the need for costly additional research and retro fit planning further down the line at the comms stage.
The value of Planning can also be defined in terms of the agency’s bottom line. Good planning advice and involvement upfront in campaign development (advising that those three briefs are actually two, tightening up propositions, giving the account director ammunition to deflect the client’s madder ideas, even on accounts which don’t have a regular Planner assigned to them), results in less creative resource being required, which saves agencies money.
So think about it, how are you saving your clients and your agency money?
My Dad has techno-distrust issues. He disagrees on principle with having to click ‘start’ when you want to switch a PC off and can’t understand why Windows crashes more often than your average demolition derby. So when he asked to borrow my SatNav I knew that a refresher session on how to use it was going to be challenging.
First the battery died on us, then the system couldn’t get a signal because a wall was in the way and finally my Dad got a bit overenthusiastic with the touch screen and it tried to send him to a viewing facility in St Albans. Understandably, he found this a bit frustrating.
But my view has always been that if you approach technology with a degree of pessimism, expecting it to malfunction at some point in the not too distant future, then in the unlikely event of everything functioning normally you get a nice surprise…
I ended up on Creative Director Dave Trott’s blog today. His latest post recounted him bollocking (his words) an account handler’s boss because the account man hadn’t found out why the client wouldn’t buy some ads he’d presented. As I understand it, the discussion mostly consisted of him shouting and swearing at the account handler’s boss. This was apparently OK because ‘it’s worthwhile having a row with her because she’s got a brain and she cares’.
Dave, you really care about the work your produce. I get that. But is there any chance you could communicate this without all the aggression?
I’ve been working in this industry for ten years and I keep coming up against people (men and women, agency and client side) who think its fine to lose it because they’re just being passionate about the work.
I thought we were supposed to be great communicators?
Life’s too short to spend it getting angry – and too short to spend it making other people upset. We use up far too much of our time on earth at work for it to be an aggressive, confrontational environment.
And just because shouting and swearing runs off your back like water, the people you’re dishing it out to might not take it the same way.
I really think as an industry we have to start consistently behaving more professionally (by which I mean politely and with mutual respect) – it’s good for recruitment, for staff retention, for better client relationships and because dishing out that kind of aggressive behaviour on a regular basis is an open invitation to a constructive dismissal claim…