Imagine someone persuaded Ferdinand Magellan and his crew to abandon the Great Big Victoria in exchange for 271 canoes to help them successfully cross the Pacific. Without a doubt, the agent selling the canoes would have made a very profitable deal, however, it is almost guaranteed that Mr Magellan and his crew would never ever be in the list of those who crossed the Pacific (though probably the first ones to successfully accomplish mass sinking of 271 canoes).
In this new richer and bigger world the words selling, persuading and advocating small ideas sound no different to me.
When I hear that Big Ideas are dead and small ideas are ‘in’, I feel genuinely depressed.
A few years ago, at Colenso BBDO in Auckland, we got a call from Levi's. It was the head of marketing in San Francisco. He introduced himself to our receptionist. She was having a busy moment, heard him say 'Levi's', and put him through to Levi, one of our creatives. Levi came running into the office where I was sitting with our MD and ECD and told us there was a guy from Levi's on the phone wanting to talk to us. He handed us the phone.
The guy from Levi's said he'd seen our work, he loved it, and that he wanted us to make an online film for his new women's product line. He didn't have much money, but he wanted something amazing. And he said that we could do anything we wanted. Excepting doing something illegal or grossly offensive, we would have the decision on what work we made. He wanted our judgment on what was great and what would be seen and shared by his customers.
Les Binet and Sarah Carter get a little bit angry about some of the nonsense they hear around them… like pointless new product development
Have you tried to buy mouthwash recently? We have, and it's a daunting task. The brand leader alone comes in 15 different variants, all available in a number of different sizes. Faced with such a baffling array of choices, the natural response is either to pick one at random or to move on to a less troublesome purchase. But other categories are equally confusing. Try buying shampoo, or pet food, or fruit juice.
Why do brand owners do this? Why bombard their customers with so many different options? The respectable argument is that product innovation and consumer choice are inherently good things. I might not want a tooth-whitening mouthwash, but someone, somewhere might. By constantly tweaking and expanding their range of products, brands are helping us to satisfy our needs.
One of the most powerful insights from cognitive science is the System 1/System 2 dichotomy, coined by Stanovich and West as shorthand for two types of thinking - one fast, resource-efficient and automatic (System 1); the other slow, deliberative and effortful (System 2) . Many in marketing and MR now accept that, because consumer decision making is dominated by System 1, many of our buying decisions are fast, flawed and emotional, rather than slow, logical and consistent. So far so good, but I’m worried that a sheep-like acceptance that System 1 is somehow ‘good’ for marketing, whereas System 2 is ‘bad’ might lead us into some ‘woolly’ thinking about how to measure consumer response.
Human beings rarely say exactly what they mean. One of the unspoken rules of being English, as identified by anthropologist Kate Fox, is the 'rule of not being earnest'. The English are constitutionally uncomfortable with too direct an assertion. This is why we love and use irony.
But even our more direct American cousins never say exactly what they mean. No one does. There are so many social and contextual determinants that impact the words we use. What we say, moreover, is accompanied by all kinds of secondary communication which can change its meaning. Irony is an obvious example where the secondary communication completely subverts the nominal meaning. When meta-communication isn't correctly parsed, you get the confusion that sometimes happens to English people in the US. (Or vice versa.)
These secondary communications are called meta-communication and they are an essential part of human interactions. They may be congruent with, or contradictory of, the content. What does a brand's meta-communication say and how does it impact the messages and content so lovingly crafted by its agencies?
A couple of weeks ago I discussed how partnerships can be a powerful strategy in a marketer’s toolkit. This week I’m putting the spotlight on occasion marketing.
Major sporting events such as the FIFA World Cup and the Olympic Games are an obvious opportunity for brands to make the most of special occasions. But today, the ever-increasing number of events, awareness days, niche interest days, religious and music festivals, provide brands with more opportunities to engage with consumers in new and interesting ways. By optimising on occasions smart brands can engage with consumers on a variety of levels - through emotion, humour, passion or patriotism, for example. Here are a selection of occasion marketing campaigns that stood out for me in 2014:
The DBA Awards were published on warc.com earlier this month. These awards recognise design projects that are creatively and commercially effective. There are 63 case studies in total, which Warc subscribers can view here. I've dug deep to showcase a handful of campaigns that I think deserve a special mention.
Vivid: Think Vivid!
How did Vivid, a brand of matcha green tea, successfully enter the highly competitive market of grab and go health-focused drinks in the UK? Aimed at young professionals and keen coffee drinkers Vivid was positioned as a lifestyle brand with personality. The design communicated the benefits of matcha - energy, clarity and mental focus. Clever positioning and a clear target audience helped Vivid achieve £0 to an estimated £600K retail sales value in its first year of trading and helped the brand get listed in a broad range of the biggest healthy living retailers.
These are challenging and interesting times to be in Marketing. The twin forces of technology and a more empowered consumer are making it increasingly necessary for Marketers to lead in a complex and dynamic environment.
Brand Learning’s Singapore leadership seminar, attended by senior marketers across industries spanning FMCG, technology, banking, paints, sportswear and lubricants, discussed the opportunity and challenges for marketing leadership going forward. In a lively and engaging conversation, they shared the issues they face, and how Brand Learning’s new customer-centred leadership framework can help address these.
The Twitter account @middleclassprob is having a moment. The account retweets Twitter users overreacting to what we now call #FirstWorldProblems. Problems such as when Waitrose runs out of lemongrass. Or your artisanal coffee shop makes your latte wrong.
It's funny and it gives us all some muchneeded perspective. After all, Twitter moaning is indulgent when there are things like Ebola in the world. Yet, if you're reading this, I hope you'll forgive me because I'm going to indulge in some moaning.
I assume that most people reading this work in an agency or business that trades in solving First World problems. Problems such as 'How can I get a closer shave?' and 'Do I need a new phone?' So, not life threatening by any means, yet important to your job.
As Warc’s Knowledge Officer I’ve observed some notable trends that stood out in the marcomms industry in 2014 and that will continue to play an important role in brand communications in 2015. I’ll be publishing a series of blogs covering these hot topics over the next few weeks. The first looks at powerful partnerships.
Partnerships are hot! The right collaboration can have a powerful effect on marketing strategy. Aligning with experts can enhance a brand's credibility; the right collaboration can expose a brand to new audiences; what's more, a clever partnership can support that all-important shopper-marketing strategy.
I've dug deep into the Warc archive to showcase a selection of case studies from 2014 that have implemented such strategies to great effect.