The Warc Blog

The Warc Blog

Why some ideas are so hard to resist
Posted by: David Penn, Managing Director, Conquest
David Penn

I recently read The Evolution of Everything: How Ideas Emerge, by Matt Ridley, and was struck by the following passage:

"Evolution is far more common and far more influential than most people recognise. It is not confined to genetic systems, but explains the way that virtually all of human culture changes…The ways in which these streams of human culture flow is … undirected, emergent and driven by natural selection among competing ideas" (my italics)

Over the past few years, my company has been trying to identify factors which fuel the spread of ideas, and why some succeed, while others fail. Here are some of the insights and hypotheses we want to share:


Subjects: Marketing, Advertising, Brands

01 October 2015 14:29

Social listening, geo-targeting, virtual reality and crowdsourced data: Highlights from MMA Smarties 2015
Posted by: Lena Roland, Knowledge Officer, Warc
Lena Roland

The MMA Smarties went live on this week. The Mobile Marketing Association Smarties Global Awards are presented to campaigns that use innovation and creativity to successfully push the boundaries of mobile marketing.

Mobile marketing is still relatively new, and so effectiveness is hard to achieve. But the following case studies showcase some interesting techniques and emerging innovations. Here's a very brief run down of the campaigns that I thought were noteworthy, and why.


Subjects: Awards, Marketing, Advertising

01 October 2015 11:01

Asian marketers need to be mobile first
Posted by: Guest blog
Guest blog

This post is by Reynold D'Silva, ‎group head, FMCG / CPG, Tech, Telco, Auto, Media / Entertainment at Facebook Singapore.

When cities in Asia start creating separate pedestrian lanes for people who walk looking down at their mobile screens, we know we are truly in the age of the mobile-first generation.

By 2020, 80% of consumers in Asia will own mobile phones, the majority of which will be smartphones. All these devices can and will be connected to the internet and for the majority of people they will be the main channel of internet access and digital media consumption.

Mobile-first consumers already spend from 37% to 90% more time on their mobile screens than they do watching TV screens. But with this increase in time spent comes a reduction in attention spans and a desire for instant gratification.


Subjects: Digital, Marketing, Consumers

01 October 2015 10:56

UX: The missing ingredient
Posted by: Guest blog
Guest blog

This post is by Sam Smith, Head of UX at Potato .

If campaign planning were a party (and when is it not?), you could say that User Experience (UX) specialists are the Cinderellas at the ball. Their expertise may not always be at the top of marketers' campaign checklists, but considered UX and well-crafted design input can nevertheless prove transformative to the success of a digital marketing project. At Potato we design and build complex webapps for a range of clients, including Google, with diverse user-bases to consider for each one. UX has frequently been at the heart of those builds' successes.

UX designers come from a variety of backgrounds and areas of expertise, including such diverse specialisms as interface and interaction design, data visualisation, information design or writing micro-copy. This depth of knowledge is essential when you consider the many components that comprise a good user experience. For instance, if an app offers the user many services, good UX will ensure that those options are obvious, simple to understand, and that they will do what the user expects. These types of relatively subtle executional points are crucial to creating user engagement with your brand that can spell the difference between retaining users and creating advocates, or turning your audience off the brand altogether.


Subjects: Digital, Media

30 September 2015 17:16

Switch 'nice to have' for 'unthinkable not to have'
Posted by: Rory Sutherland, Vice Chairman, OgilvyOne London
Rory Sutherland

I once met someone from an IT company who had been present at several advertising pitches. By and large he was impressed. In countless ways - the pitch theatre, the audio-visual displays, the presentation skills - he had found what the agencies did extraordinarily impressive; much more exotic and polished than anything he had seen before.

"But," he went on, "every agency made the same terrible mistake."

"Go on then..."

"You all sold what you had to offer as an improvement - a bonus; a nice thing to do which would be good for business."

"What's wrong with that?"

"Well, in the IT business, only in the direst cases would we ever attempt to sell positives. It's a really difficult sell. Every business has plenty of ideas for 'nice things to do' already, and you're just competing with them in offering what they see as a cute optional extra; a 'nice to have' - a flagpole, a fountain in reception. In IT we don't sell positives - we sell the absence of negatives. We don't say 'if you do this it will be nice'. We simply say 'if you don't do this it will be bad - or even catastrophic'. Once you can see the horror in their eyes, the sale is already made."


Subjects: Marketing, Advertising, Brands

29 September 2015 16:23

Time to be less human
Posted by: Gareth Kay, Co-founder, Chapter SF
Gareth Kay

Craig Mod is a product designer (best known for his work on Flipboard) and one of my heroes. Recently, I rediscovered a brilliant article he wrote a few years ago called 'Subcompact Publishing'. It's a rather wonderful rant about the stupidity of digital magazines.

He poses a simple question: physical magazines and books are simple to use. So why are most digital magazines and books so complicated that you need a set of instructions? Why do they take forever to download? Why are they full of motion graphics and video that get in the way of the experience rather than enhancing it?

Craig thinks the answer is down to a tendency that can be seen in Homer Simpson's car, The Homer. Given the chance to design his dream car, Homer just adds more and more layers of stuff on top of everything cars have ever offered. More horns, more cup holders, more soundproof bubbles for children and sisters-in-law.


Subjects: Marketing, Consumers

24 September 2015 10:13

Demystifying attribution: The importance of attribution models in measuring campaign impact
Posted by: Guest blog
Guest blog

This post is by Jon Buss, Managing Director EMEA at Criteo.

Anyone working in the marketing industry knows all too well the necessity of proving the worth of corporate communications to those at the top. With competition increasing in all market sectors, businesses are starting to bring all activities down to the bottom line and qualitative measures of impact are no longer enough for the c-suite.

Attribution modelling appears at first to be a simple solution to the problem; introducing a method of measuring the financial impact of communications in terms of business objectives, such as revenue, profits, customer retention and new business. However, the process of measuring the effects of advertising, marketing and corporate messaging on the bottom line is not a simple task, and requires multiple tools and techniques in order to establish a quantitative representation.

Communications have traditionally been measured by qualitative means; including variables like the business' share of voice within the industry, the number of visits to the corporate website, click through rates and impressions. Whilst these are legitimate aspects of the marketer's toolbox, their importance rarely translates to the c-suite where executives speak in terms of financial return on investment (ROI). Therefore, attribution models provide marketers with a tool to assist in justifying their activities and budget in terms that can be clearly understood and appreciated by the decision makers of the organisation.


Subjects: Digital, Marketing, Data

23 September 2015 12:03

The 'new normal'
Posted by: Edward Bell, CEO, FCB Greater China
Edward Bell

There's a lot of talk about the 'new normal' in China. And with the slowdown now percolating every corner of Chinese life, one is left with a palpable sense that, from consumers, the 'new normal' calls for 'more value'.

There was a time, several years ago amid the double-digit growth era, when the deep frugality of Chineseness almost gave way to financial flippancy. People were so confident of the future that the cost of things was rendered not unimportant, but less relevant. When everything is going up, what matters is what it will be worth, not what it costs now.

With steadily declining GDP growth rates and two severe down-jolts in the Shanghai share market, the value 'reflex' is back in the forefront of the Chinese mind. And in the context of the highly anticipated 'rerise' of China, it makes for unusual headlines.


Subjects: Consumers, Brands

22 September 2015 08:59

Windows of opportunity: How Konrad Lorenz's Nobel winning work can be applied to advertising
Posted by: Richard Shotton, Head of Insight, ZenithOptimedia
Richard Shotton

Advertising has benefited significantly from the application of Daniel Kahneman's research into behavioural economics. However, Kahneman is not the only Nobel Laureate that advertising should look to for inspiration. Konrad Lorenz's work, for which he was awarded the Noble Prize in 1973, deserves more attention than it currently receives as it has direct relevance to marketing.

In Lorenz's most famous experiment he split a batch of Greylag geese eggs into two. One set, the control, was raised by their mother while the experimental set was exposed to no-one else but Lorenz. The goslings in the experimental set became deeply attached to Lorenz; to all intents and purpose he became their mother figure. They followed him wherever he went and mimicked his behaviour. When, after a few days, they were introduced to their mother they showed no sign of recognition.

From this experiment, and others like it, Lorenz developed the theory of imprinting. He hypothesised that there was a short window of open-ness, roughly 32 hours for geese, in which basic characteristics and behaviours could be shaped. Outside of that window habits became solidified and no amount of hectoring could change them.

In many ways consumers are like those geese. There are short windows of opportunity in which brands have a good chance of influencing behaviour.


Subjects: Advertising, Consumers, Marketing

17 September 2015 11:52

Over-aggressive marketing
Posted by: Mythbuster, Les Binet and Sarah Carter, DDB

The recent death of 92-year-old Olive Cooke, Britain's oldest British Legion charity poppy seller, highlighted a dark side of our business we rarely confront. Following allegations that Mrs Cooke was 'hounded to death' by charities begging for money, the press has raged about unscrupulous fundraisers, with the British Prime Minister promising tough action to protect the vulnerable.

Regardless of the actual circumstances surrounding Mrs Cooke's tragic death, public hostility to some companies' more strident activity is clearly very real. Everyone has a favourite story about annoying fundraising techniques. Mumsnet has over 6,000 threads devoted to them. According to the Fundraising Standards Board (FRSB), complaints about fundraising have increased by 55% over the past two years alone.


Subjects: Marketing

15 September 2015 14:46


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