Thursday 30 December 2010

#YearInReview - Brand Curious: most read posts of 2010

 In case you missed some of them,  here are your favourite posts this year:
  1. a review of the must have social media marketing book Wikipedia + Mentor + Superpower = #micromktg
  2. My unshakable relationship with a coffee brand Loyalty beyond reason = Nespresso
  3. Product innovation of the year candidate ?? Free #Summermash IPhone Bumper
  4. The catwalk comes to the nappy (diaper) category the war of nappies
  5. A simple and effective brand refresh  How to refresh brand equity without alienating your audience
  6. Comeback brand of the year  How #oldspice rescued 30' ads
  7. The best Christmas ad bar none this year Hyundai vs #Pamplamoose = outlandish soundclash
  8. A must read marketing rant The trouble with swatting flies
  9. Delightful US (football) world cup coverage ESPN world cup so far so good
  10. Hmmm.... already out of date Twitter tips ! Twitter 101 smart twips and top links


Thursday 2 December 2010

Xmas 2010 Ad of the year: Hyundai vs #Pamplamoose = outlandish soundclash

Love it. Quite possibly the most emotive, engaging and irreverant TVC's of the year.... Great work by the brand, the band and of course the agency and production company Innocean Worldwide Americas and Lemonade Media.

Enjoy all 3 of them. 


Sunday 14 November 2010

Dream Big at the Langham Place - Kowloon HK

A hotel is a hotel is a hotel right ?......Staying in a 5 star hotel is always a memorable experience but often not remarkable the pampering and door opening is no different to any other premium experience.

The Langham Place in Kowloon Hong Kong is remarkable because It was able to use smart branding and simple communication - executed immaculately to catch my imagination like no other hotel.

....During the evening turnover service you get a chamomile tea in  cup shaped envelope with the message "Dream big".

I like to call this place the Langham Palace , because its more than a place.


Saturday 16 October 2010


a simple show of support to raise awareness of a disease that has touched my family and many more.


Thursday 14 October 2010

Cereal Dissonance

In search of a new breakfast cereal brand experience I opted for the eloquent yet mysterious sounding  - Product 19 (by Kellogg's).  It seemed a plausible substitute to Kellogg's Special K, which continues to cause  serial dissonance when I purchase  it - in the same way that lip balm, and moisturiser causes agitation and frustration that male targeted options remain few and far between.....Anyway, while I haven't actually opened the box yet,  I am enamoured with the claim of  "Live Better. Live 19".....(  years beyond expectation perhaps...)
Stop Press .... after a closer inspection of the front cover I discover a yoga lady subtly blended into the artwork....and then low and behold I notice the 80's-esque  cycle lady on the back I guess I was naive ..where is the (adult) male cereal in grocery  stores ????

Sunday 26 September 2010

(the trouble with) Swatting Flies

Isn't it curious that the harder you try to swat a fly the more it seems to anticipate your movements and preempt your action?

Marketing buzzwords are plentiful, but when I heard the 'attention war' during a presentation by James Andrews (aka the key influencer) my ears pricked up, and I found myself exonerated from defending the status quo.

  • What if you reverse your brand strategies to focus on being found rather than incessantly trying to find people ?
  • What if you work only on tactics that elicit discovery and not tactics designed to interrupt ?
  • What if instead of trying to out-do your competition you simply out-do yourself over and over and over again by delighting only a minuscule group of consumers?
  • Why try ever harder to combat 'attention attrition' ? What if you just listened more to find out where people are spending their time ? how about an act of generosity - by helping them have more of that precious time.
Wouldn't that be ample reason to reward you with a little more attention?


Monday 23 August 2010

Wikipedia+Mentor+Superpower = #Micromktg

DISCLOSURE: As a Twitter follower of Greg Verdino I was one of 10 tweeps who offered to provide a review on Amazon for receiving a free (and signed) copy of his new book Micromarketing. I honestly think you should check out the book, because it was a page turner and so I post here the extended version of my Amazon review.

Starting off with an introductory experience that every marketer can relate to delivers the implied presumption that you will proceed to read a manifesto, where Greg Verdino dismantles sticking with the traditional mass approach as a winning marketing strategy. He eloquently constructs his propositions that small is the new BIG, and micro is the new MASS, neither of which are new ideas, but are ample incentives to make you read on.

As any good 'guru' his value add comes via a new spin on micro marketing - re defining it as a sum of micro cultures, explosion of microcontent and the rise of insidious micro mavens that build (and kill) brands in real time. Yes! it's dramatic stuff, and in the light of the recent double rainbow and bed intruder Gregory Brothers music phenomena (as reported by Reuters) his very first viral example in the book "sasquatch" dancing man is spookily apt and validates that he's on to something.

The chapter titles, section headers and buzzwords earn and maintain your attention (my favourite coming from chapter 4 "Feed Me, stream me, like me, link me" (inspired by a U2 song title perhaps?) . Verdino initially romances you with charm, passion, sweetish words of wisdom, and subtle tones that leaves a twinkle in the eye.

Yes he's that good - and with skepticism now subdued his arguments lead further away from the comfort zone/status quo (antiquated safe plays of the 4P's traditional marketing blah blah). For example, the replacement for reach and scale is depth - and the commensurate new desire to establish lengthy rich engagements with small audiences.

Each of these propositions transform into sexy stealthy epithets that pummel you into a state of acceptance, anticipation and eventual awakening. In addition, Verdino perpetually ladens the book with multiple experiences and emotive examples where micro strategies and real time mindsets trump macro tactics, and in doing this introduced several that I was completely unaware of most notably of a fellow Brit called Lauren Luke.

This leads to the only gripe I have with this book; namely that it is (over)jam packed with proof points, examples and cases with corresponding web links. Perhaps they were planted to overwhelm 'uber-skeptics', or to futureproof the content, but to a 'micro' convert such as myself it left me feeling that the pace and vitality of the main message was being constrained . Perhaps, an interactive eBook/vook version would be the immaculate solution and premium priced masterstroke ! STOP PRESS on page 220 you will find a link to enhanced content ( and of course for free) ...

I lie, one other trivial gripe is that on page 200 he misspells Procter & Gamble (incorrectly using Proctor) - bound to aggravate all P and G readers!

I had fun writing this review, and it proved as effortless as absorbing the multiple micro messages that Verdino seeds. If you're a brand manager, social media expert, CEO or even small business owner who thinks you've seen and heard it all for free (in multiple blogs) just might be right, and good luck on cataloging and synthesizing it all. But if you truly truly believe you don't need another social media/marketing book - I urge you to think again.

Think of #micromktg as 1/3 'grown up' Wikipedia, 1/3 nurturing mentor (uniquely poised, respected, and with a bountiful repository to deliver persuasive democratizing and honest wisdom) and 1/3 (not so) secret superpower in rendering 'old school' thinking impotent.

Armed with a hugely disarming writing style I found that Verdino was as provocative as business(ish) authors such as Gladwell and Godin, but wasn't as polarizing. I recommend Micromarketing as THE go to book that bridges marketing and social media, a book you urge your VP or CMO to place at the top of the reading list for your team, and the book you reference in agency meetings whenever 'one-upmanship' is necessary. To repeat myself yes this book is that good !


Wednesday 11 August 2010

Free #summermash Iphone bumper

Why spend money on an Iphone bumper!....Simply repurpose one of those rubber wrist bands that they gave out at #summermash....Kudos to @scottfmurphy for co-creating this idea at the at the Chicago Mashable event.


The war of Nappies

A brand war between designer brands is underway.....The cool twist is that its happening in the aisle where you find nappies (aka diapers to my US! readers).  A recent visit to my local Target made me realise that the days of boring functional benefit driven (poo catching claims) are long gone in the category. 

The largest collection for this season belongs to Cynthia Rowley with c. 15 styles for Pampers.

Emotive marketing that focuses on child development and peaceful sleep may be taking a back burner for a while. So, are babies getting vain.... or is it actually their parents (rhetorical i know)? But it did provoke the thought  - how do the parents actually justify spending more for stylish nappies vs their regular brethren?

Could the cache of Fashionistas and celebrity style be enough to get parents to consistently invest more in the category? With two huge brands such as Huggies and Pampers slugging it out you know that this will be a battle worth watching.


Thursday 22 July 2010

Almost Bigger than Michael Jackson ?

Well Old spice just might be ! Just over a year after Michael Jackson took over the music charts, Old Spice is dominating the viral video charts and tearing up records with the top 4 spots this week and 42 million views according to Ad Age (113m for the total campaign).

 .......Wieden & Kennedy take a bow, Isaiah Mustafa take a rest and.....Old Spice brand team please take it easy on the competition !


Tuesday 20 July 2010

How #OldSpice Rescued 30' ads

Old Spice has set new standards for  viral video making and delivered amazing stats stats yet the current YouTube campaign is under scrutiny due to  poor product sales...Leading to the inimitable question - does advertising work ? and is this campaign truly effective ? Here are 4 reasons why I salute Wieden and Kennedy + the folks at P and G, (also shared on the beancast  in response to topics for their podcast on 7/18).

1. Creativity and Context are powerful
I'm intrigued as to why a sales decline on the brand or product  satisfaction/relevance comments are thrown at Old Spice. As a marketer, I simply watch in wonderment at the magnificence of this phase of the campaign. It is truly immense on an insight, engagement, creative, intelligence, and context level. All this originating from the allegedly dead 30' ad !

2. Paying into the brand Equity
There should be no criticism from a brand or marketing perspective. If the campaign delivers against the brand equity and measures that were set - then bravo to all. I feel that effectiveness should be measured in a way that explicitly seeks to capture all benefits to the brand, irrespective of sales or market share change.
  • For example, lets quickly look at this from the Sales department perspective - they can now call their retail partners in the full confidence that their brand has been elevated, eulogised and is front page news. The call or visit will run smoother, the promo plan will be seen more favourably, the orders will be placed more promptly.

  • Now Imagine being the Old Spice brand management folks who are now able to show metrics that are transparent to product development, design, finance, customer services....they can now more easily demonstrate the value they can add, they can show engagement growth, viewers, new prospects, influence change, brand image improvement etc etc.

3. Marketing Innovation does NOT require a new product
For me the best part of all this is that it has happened on a low tech commodity product (compressed fragranced air). Clearly highly creative people re-envisioned the way to look at the category and how to communicate WITHOUT needing a new product ......sometimes we just might too quickly seek comfort in new products, when often there is a world of opportunity to simply stop, think and act differently.

4. Raising the Bar
The challenge has been set to every brand mananger and marketing/ad agency out there. What are you doing to get a consumer to care about your brand, that doesn't involve the easy option of maintaining the status quo or doing the same old thing?

That's the kind of challenge that makes me LOVE what I do.

Disclosure - despite being a former P and G employee, yet a competetitor deodorant brand user, the thoughts here are without any predetermined bias for or against Old spice.  

Friday 16 July 2010

Sharp copywriting from Proactiv

Its not often that a Billboard catches my eye, but this one off Ohio St. in Chicago did.

Sharp wordplay, sharp photography and new territory for a brand that is now taking on the 'beauty' big hitters  such as Procter and Gamble and tapping into the more conventional aspirational messaging approach.  Read more perspective here from a  New York Times piece. Interesting to see if they divert more funds to this strategy.

Wednesday 30 June 2010

ESPN World cup - so far so good

ESPN's coverage if the World Cup and football in general is first class.  I'm particularly enjoying the integration with mobi tv where you can watch live games via the iphone app and the quality and reliability of the service has been great.  Only downside is there is no Ipad that would be truly  impressive.

Saturday 22 May 2010

Quitting Facebook

Will there be a mass revolt to leave Facebook - or will Facebook prove savvy enough to fix the privacy issues and still remain 'sticky' ? This post is my response to a great question raised by Bob Knorpp at the Beancast - you can find his full question here.

Quitting Facebook
This issue is so emotive, hence upfront I must say that I empathize with people's frustrations, however I feel a lot of the sentiment is a function of a lack of understanding of the new digital age that we are in....Here's why.

On a personal level I am shocked at the lack of inhibition and naivety people have when they use a medium such as Facebook. Having seen the expression "get off my Facebook" a few times - it is clear that some people have become desensitized to any implication of 'Liking/following/friending' a person, product, brand, company, or cause, (or poking them for that matter !). Doing this on a platform such as Facebook is intrinsically a public and not a private event.

Change your mindset
You can guess where I am going .......We are proceeding through a digital revolution. With this change (eg akin to the industrial revolution) the old mindset of how things "ought" to be, how people "should" behave, how relationships "should" work no longer hold true. 

Nobody told you the rules have changed !
It is up to the individual to adapt.  Facebook is ultimately a powerful and open communication tool with the world, and if you want to keep things private - you must now resort to meeting face to face, sending a letter or even making a phone call ! Under the digital rules it is fine to change your mind - but up to (you) the individual to know how to undo or unlike or unfriend (and don't be surprised if it is not as easy as you would like it to be !!). Remember the rules changed when 'free' services such as Facebook and Myspace and Twitter installed themselves as indispensable platforms - that have greater reach and influence than tv.

I have amazingly popular and friends who were wise before their time and understood that to retain their privacy and avoid any risk of compromising they simply chose not to: blog, tweet, buzz, digg, or use facebook etc !

Staying Close
On a professional level Facebook (as per blog's, podcasts etc) have been transformative, and are an invaluable listening, learning and connecting tool. Ironically, in some companies these types of website could be on a 'blocked' list - yet are a way to build absolute closeness with consumers.

In conclusion.... I am not quitting Facebook, but I empathize with those that want to.

Wednesday 19 May 2010

I am NOT an Olympic Champion

Every day we are bombarded messages that are supposed to inspire us to do and be here are two perfect posts to help you get there.

1) Seth Godin reminds us that the hardest part is the last 10% of any task...which of course he concludes is where you should make the most effort, find the link here

2) So then I read this amazing post on the BBC about Carolina Kluft (an Olympic champion) who found winning so boring, she changed to an event she has no chance of winning..... 

Confused ? You shouldn't be, as I guess when you are an Olympic champion a commitment to making the most effort can only mean challenging yourself in an event where you are NOT the Olympic champion......

Saturday 1 May 2010

50% NOT Seth Godin...more books that provoke action

Completing my list of 6 books to buy are the reamining 3 that got me agitated, engaged and excited......and happen not to be written by Seth Godin.

What Got You Here Won't Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful (Marshall Goldsmith)

Its a smart choice to listen to the Audio book version of this, as the author has a way to get your attention, and shake you out of your complacency on the subject matter. Expertly written and full of useful tips on how to succeed in your career - notably what to change, do less of and the key things to do more of.  Its a book that will be trusty accompanyment and a repeat read (listen) - for the rest of your career.

What Should I Do with My Life?: The True Story of People Who Answered the Ultimate Question (Po Bronson)

Whilst the title is a little misleading this is truly a a book of hope, charm, and intensity that leads the reader to reflection. The book is a series of interviews with people who tell their story, often of how they changed or discovered a new life path, be it early or late in life. An engaging read, and one that will force you to re-think what you are currently doing with your life - you have been warned !
Outliers: The Story of Success (Malcolm Gladwell)

This book challenges the perceived wisdom that self determination is the lead reason for success. By studying the phenomenom of 'outliers' Gladwell uncovers the pivotal role of environmental factors and biases that lead to outstanding achievements. A great book that helps you see the real 'facts', and an excellent read for those who like to challenge the status quo.

Sunday 4 April 2010

50% Seth Godin - Books That Provoke Action

Seth Godin's writing provokes me into action each and every time, hence no surprise that 3 of the 6 books I'm recommending are by him, so check them out. Catch the remaining 3 books in my next post.

Purple Cow, New Edition: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable
The test of a good business book are if the core principles stand the test of time. In this case, c.9 years after publication the edict to be 'remarkable' holds truer than ever, (although innevitably) some of the brand examples are beginning to date a little.  Godin comprehensively undermines the traditional mass tv driven advertising business model, and as the sage he is - the social media phenomena has proven his core arguments to be fundemantally true.
Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us
Tribes doesn't stray too far from the 2 topics of leadership and avoiding mediocrity. Seth Godin hammers home the vital importance of being remarkable and NOT wasting your resources on simply maintaining the status quo. He makes it plain that mediocrity is equivalent to invisibility and you cant help but love him for pointing that out.
The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick)
This book helps educate when you should quit and move on or to stick and push through. Seth keeps it short and focussed so you only need 2 hours or so to absorb the key learnings. Perfect! 

Tuesday 23 March 2010

Help nourish your brain

It dawned on me that its amazing what a claim can do in the home, and in this case - in my fridge.

The best claims are:

2.have stopping power
3.believable, (or at least make you feel that its believable)
4.make you buy
5.make you come back and buy again

" Help nourish your brain" from the Minute Maid brand is a remarkable claim. It wins my attention, makes me use and buy, and beats "Natural spring water" each and every time....

Monday 22 March 2010

Throwback is back

I got really excited  in my post about the Pepsi Throwback campaign earlier this year, and now the cereal brands have caught my eye.

The packaging artwork with old skool cartoons are so much more captivating simply because they look hand drawn and lovingly cultivated - although to what extent they represent todays 'family' highlights how the perspective of that era has evolved so dramatically.

Sunday 21 March 2010

Disrupting Relationships

Disrupting Relationships
I'm an ardent Man Utd Fan and was content to scour 3 channels via my provider Comcast(ESPN, Fox Soccer Channel and formerly Setanta USA) to catch their games (of football I have been forced out of my comfort zone this month with the demise of Setanta USA, leading to the creation of Fox Soccer Channel Plus. The downside has been that Comcast have not signed up the channel.

Building Relationships
The good news is that has an online service that is showing games and at $4.95 for 24 hours access is reasonably priced, and I was able to tolerate (just !) a few of the glitches during transmission of today's Man Utd vs Liverpool game.

The Dilemma
Today was the first time that I contributed to the decline of 'tv' as a broadcast medium. Comcast now have a dilemma, as a disruption to the status quo has led their consumer (me !) elsewhere and I don't see a reason to return them. The savvy content providers will serve their audience, and build relationships with them directly........Now Comcast have to make an effort to win my custom back .. eg make it easy for me to have online access to my sports channels as part of my package and perhaps I will return...

Tuesday 9 March 2010

Dont forget... to do something different

Last week I posted on the 3six5 project about a day of attempting to do things differently. It was a truly liberating experience that is still lingering in my mind, and  you can read the full post here .

Sunday 7 March 2010

Al Gore is watching

If you're ever looking for an example of effective communication this perfect sign at Mocha coffee shop  in Milwaukee does the job. Suffice to say I only took 1 napkin.

Friday 5 March 2010

Fast Company - Masters of Retention

I happily completed my subscription renewal to Fast Company yesterday. The trouble is, for over 3 months I haven't told them my new address, but they still knew the correct place to send the invoice. So now I'm puzzled - why are they still sending the actual magazine to my old address ? which is then being redirected to my new address ? I guess it doesn't matter, because masters of retention do two simple things well:

  1. have a remarkable product (service etc..)
  2. use implied permission to hold on to their consumers.
I wouldn't expect any less from them....Now if only they could incentivize me to actually mail the renewal form back.

Thursday 4 March 2010

Persistent innovation at its best - Gorillaz (Stylo)

Gorillaz have nicely reinvented themselves and now launch their animated avatars into the 3D human universe in true hyper-real surreal and magnanimous fashion.

Just to take it to the next level - add Mos Def and Bobby Womack on vocals, and use Bruce Willis in the video and you have drama that rivals 24 and the Grammys combined.......take a look here.

Saturday 27 February 2010

Breathe (the ad)

I love this ad. I saw it for the first time today. I stopped what I was doing. I watched. I pressed re-wind on the DVR, and again (and agin). I then tweeted about it (and spent 10 minutes wrestling with my iphone to copy and paste the link), and now I'm blogging about this ad. I FEEL and THINK differently than before. I'm actually interested in what CSX do. Yes I now I'm actually interested in a freight company's 'green' message, and they helped me believe it. I like the way they said it... Advertising works when it tells you meaningful stories..... Good job by Mullen.......


Sunday 7 February 2010

SuperBowl 44 Ads - The first Top 5 winners

So here we go....

1. MOST LIKELY TO DRIVE CONSIDERATION: ! Never heard of them before, and now I have 'binged' them (c'mon google is getting all the attention) !
2. MOST FUNNY: Car Max/Doritos - great use of humour and making the drama about the product benefit that consumers love them for.
3. MOST ON EQUITY: VW – totally on their US equity with an irreverent attempt to bring alive their relevance. The use of Stevie and Tracy Morgan was the twist you weren’t expecting that left a little twinkle in the eye. I would love to see this aired in Germany - its just so different they wouldn’t have a clue.
4. MOST TALKED ABOUT: Google, clearly a grown up ad going for the “mega brand”/”epic “ ad – that would elevate their brand as market leader.
- I felt I knew where the story was going and where it was going to end – so the question for me is authenticity Was it really authentic ?
5. MOST EFFECTIVE PLACEMENT: Doritos (Gym) 30 sec ad after a Saints Interception you deserve that piece of luck if you go after so many spots.
Your comments please.

Monday 1 February 2010

The Blanket with sleeves

Justify Full
If there is ever a case of gaining attention you have to respect what Snuggie is achieving. Snuggie has clearly captured hearts and minds, even if it wasn't the first its gained the most attention. Cozy Blanket needs a much more compelling proposition because claiming "the original" won't influence consumers.

Saturday 23 January 2010

Pepsi Throwback

Pepsi are on to a great idea with their Throwback launch.

1. Give people a piece of nostalgia, but in a way that piques curiosity and creates excitement.
2. Keep it simple and find a claim that is truly distinctive "Made with real sugar", in the face of the healthy eating mindset - the perfect 'disruptive' claim !
3. Keep it limited - lasts til Feb 22nd 2010. Check out more below.

Saturday 2 January 2010

You can call me Al

I welcomed in the new year with my wife and 4 friends at a restaurant. Music was provided by a 3 piece band.

Unfortunately a lot of the music they played wasn't to my taste and the vocalist wasn't exactly the best singer, especially during a rather painful (yet entertaining) rendition of Paul Simon's 'You can call me Al' (I have truly never heard a trumpet played that badly in my life).

Don't get me wrong I'm not complaining, because I had a great time, and I get the sense that the band did as well. They played with enthusiasm and with a feel for the crowd. They played stuff that filled the dance floor, and emptied the dance floor, stuff that people liked, and stuff that people didn't know. But they kept playing and they kept trying.

Were they remarkable ? Not necessarily in the way that will take them to the top of the Billboard 100, but enough for me to enter 2010 with joy and anticipation, because they played with passion, and that is priceless.