Archive for April, 2011
To sit alongside the uplifting recent bout of sunshine, royal weddings, multiple bank holidays and whathaveyou, I’d like to share with you the smiliest instore promotions lady I’ve ever met, on behalf of Walkers Crinkles in Tesco yesterday:
It would be fair to say that the poor folks from Walkers’ agency who were trying to get happy customer vox pops to put in their debrief presentation were slightly less upbeat…
The lovely Russell has changed the format a bit for this year’s Interesting (London) on June 18th. It’s going to be more about Doing Stuff than Listening. There will be a few less tickets so get yours quick (and they inevitably cost a bit more, what with all the Stuff you need in order to Do Things).
The equally lovely Tim and his friends are also gearing up for Interesting North in Sheffield on September 17th. IntNorth will follow the traditional Interesting format of listening to interesting people talk about their secret passions. Info and tickets from here.
At the end of a night out over the bank holiday I called my favourite taxi company Amber Cars to take me home. They’re my favourite as they have a fancy computer system that sends you a text to say your taxi is waiting outside (so no hanging around outside the bar trying to avoid drunk weirdos) and then there’s a screen inside the car showing your name and destination so you know you’ve got into the right vehicle (they have 200+ cars so often have several waiting outside the same bar).
But Amber have taken it to another level. Not only did they text me with the make, model, colour and reg of my waiting taxi, but they also sent this:
Local, needstate specific cross-selling. I love it.
Catching up on last weekend’s Sunday supplements, I saw this ad for Wickes
which included this copy:
It strikes me that the whole ‘talk to second person in order to list product benefits’ is a fairly lazy and old-fashioned way of doing things (although it depressingly probably ticked off all the boxes on the client’s brief) – and reminds me this:
by Hugh @ gapingvoid, cc applies
I’m quite looking forward to the Royal Wedding and rather wish I had a Royal Wedding Party to go to (big hint to any mates reading this…). But nevertheless, on The Big Day I will be happily sat in front of the telly, albeit with a laptop running twitter alongside, mainly for the snarky comments the TV presenters wouldn’t dare make on live TV.
Magazines are currently packed full of wedding inspired spreads, both editorial and advertising. And I’m sure it all seemed like a good idea (at least to the clients) a few months ago when creative briefs were being written.
But we are fast approaching Royal Wedding Fatigue nearly two weeks before the event itself, and some brands are getting it a bit wrong. T-Mobile’s royal wedding viral (as covered by Famous Rob last week), not only is a poor fit with their ‘Life’s for Sharing’ line and previous flash mob efforts, but it’s also a direct rip off of the rather lovely and genuine JK Wedding Dance, which at the last count had 65M views on youtube, so I can’t be the only one making the negative comparison.
It also seems like every fashion brand in the country has rolled out a ‘wedding wear’ spread in honour of the occasion. I do appreciate that it is non-royal Wedding Season too, but those of us who don’t have a big church ‘do to go to in the next couple of months are left wondering if there’s anything in the shops apart from fascinators and knee length dresses at the moment.
Matalan also possibly need to have a word with their media agency since this spread in The Sunday Times’ Style magazine was sandwiched between the Interiors and Food sections rather than in Fashion.
I can sympathise, clients can be very determined about doing a themed ad or promotion – I’ve already had to tell one client that they can’t plan an Olympics themed campaign for 2012 because a) everyone else will be doing it, b) their category is not what you’d call a natural fit with sporting prowess and c) since they aren’t an official sponsor they’ll get sued.
In fact I’m starting to dread the Olympics, just because I know I’m going to be spending the next 12 months being asked to think of ways to communicate ‘hurrah for the Olympics’ without using the words games, 2012, London, Olympics, event and so on. If you’re having similar problems already and need some ammunition for client meetings, the official advice from the London 2012 Organising Committee is here.
I’ve been working on a lot of retail projects recently. So I’ve inevitably been in a lot of shops. And it keeps striking me that as agencies we devote so much time, effort and creativity to trying to get people through store’s doors – and not nearly as much on persuading them to buy something once they get in there.
POS, promotional material and so on often seems to be addressed as a separate marketing issue, with a separate brief – when from the customer’s point of view it’s all coming from the same brand. ‘As seen on TV’ signs can be as far as some retailers get in integrating their brand’s communications along the entire customer journey.
Away from the hardcore retail specialist agencies, I’ve found that on the average retail pitch POS can be an afterthought, pushed through artwork the day before the pitch and not exactly lavished with care and attention
But there’s no point in chucking millions of pounds at glossy production costs, prime airtime and a swanky social media strategy, only for potential customers to find a handwritten a-frame outside the store utilising a dodgy product based pun and accessorised with a couple of balloons.
pic via PSFK
The in-store environment needs policing every bit as much as social media mentions or brand infringements. On my recent travels, I’ve seen mucky carpets, stained ceiling tiles, offers which don’t relate to the product they’re sitting on, shoplifter’s dream POS that shields stock from the CCTV and over-zealous marketing materials that completely cover the items they’re supposed to be flogging.
I know there are some very good agencies out there that specialise in in-store marketing and make a real effort to create consistency between the in-store experience and external marketing activity. But judging by what I’ve seen recently, not many retail brands are choosing to take advantage of them.
The eighth Bettakultcha was held in Leeds tonight. One tweet called it a middle class variety show, which actually sums it up rather nicely. You could also say it’s a bit like Interesting, but an evening ‘do with more beer and less geekery.
I had one of the 5 minutes / 20 slides / 15 seconds per slide speaking slots and chose to talk about why I love lists. So here’s a list of Five Things I learnt at Bettakulcha VIII:
- Iceland is possibly the most female-friendly country in the world
- suffering from Cystic Fibrosis can be like trying to breathe through a straw
- the plot of Star Wars would work really well as a Mills and Boon novel
- Leeds is better than Manchester
- Kim Jong Il did not invent the hamburger, despite what the entire population of North Korea may have been led to believe
held at the lovely Corn Exchange in Leeds
I’ve been witness to some truly terrible Crimes Against Powerpoint in the last couple of months, mostly when one of my agency clients send me old qual research reports as background to projects.
I still can’t believe quite how appalling some of them are, from the over-use of dodgy clipart and cheesy stock photography (blurry low res of course) to the slides with 238 words (yes, I counted) AND four random images crammed on.
These researchers seem to think if you are talking about mindset you need a stock image of a woman thinking (as demonstrated by looking upwards and placing one finger contemplatively on her chin). Or that an ‘umbrella branding’ insight requires an actual umbrella to ram the point home.
Not to mention the presentations that fail to come to come to any kind of conclusion or bury their key insight halfway down slide 23.
I suppose that’s one of the reasons why I’m all for researchers being part of an integrated agency offering – at least they might pick up a few design tips by osmosis.
My ex-agency’s Research/Insight Team hosted an Infographics Showcase at the recent MRS Conference, which went some way to showing what is possible with a little time and ingenuity. The winning entry was by Keen as Mustard:
Anyone who thinks their ppt might not be up to scratch should also check out:
Russell Davies ‘5 things about powerpoint’ video tutorial from 2006 (his top tip: when you think you’ve finished, cut it in half, ‘cos it’s always too long)
Guy Kawasaki’s 10/20/30 Rule of Powerpoint (which says that a PowerPoint presentation should have ten slides, last no more than twenty minutes, and contain no font smaller than thirty points)
I was talking to a client recently about a one-off focus group they wanted me to moderate to support a pitch and possibly went slightly overboard emphasising how I wasn’t prepared to simply produce pitch fodder and therefore wouldn’t tolerate agency people sitting in observing the group, being ‘encouraged’ as to what the research recommendations should be or editing video highlights of the group to support a particular agency viewpoint.
I suppose if you’re being pedantic then just doing one group is hardly a robust piece of research so I should come right down off my high horse. But I don’t fancy getting booted out of the MRS for breaking their Code of Conduct just because I didn’t speak up.
I’m still haunted by the filmed group looking at pitch creative I ‘moderated’ the best part of ten years ago (thankfully pre my MRS membership). The agency boss who was sitting in on the group actually started asking respondents “can you just say …..” and “what I’d like you to say is ….”. I wanted the ground to open up and swallow me but I was too young and too inexperienced to put a stop to it.
I think the last straw was when one of the respondents (a friend of a friend because, yes, I’d had to do the recruiting myself) sent a message back to me afterwards simply saying “Is your boss corrupt, or what?”.
There’s a very fine line between Research and Pitch Fodder and I suppose we all have to decide exactly how far we (as researchers or agencies commissioning research) are prepared to go.
(Can you tell from my last few posts that I’m up to my eyeballs in Groups :–)
I can’t say I’m mad keen on the new ad I saw for Matalan last night (by BBH I think).
I love the idea of Feel Good Fashion, I’m just not as keen on a 60sec ad that leaves me feeling a bit queasy and is devoid of branding until 50secs in.
If you’re going to do an amazing piece of advertainment (Sony, Old Spice, Evian etc.), then you can leave the branding ‘til the end because people are going to be engaged and anyway it’ll probably go viral and become known as ‘that Evian dancing babies ad’ or whatever.
But if you’re just going to show me lots of beautiful people having a lovely time in a park in nice clothes then perhaps you’ll need to ram the branding down my throat a bit more – however complicated and impressive the effects shots are.
The ad is undoubtedly doing a good job in persuading shoppers to reappraise Matalan as a fashion destination for all the family, but that rather relies on them remembering who the ad was for in the first place – and I’d be willing to bet that brand recall for this ad (in it’s current form) won’t be very impressive.
A quick google reveals that the ad has only just started airing so perhaps there are lots of shorter versions to come that will be more brand driven and ram the point home.