The Warc Blog

The Warc Blog

Stand Up for Creativity
Posted by: Waqar Riaz, Cheil Worldwide
Waqar Riaz

“Our customers want to know who is Apple and what is it that we stand for - where do we fit in this world. 
…and what we are about isn’t making boxes for people to get their jobs done - although we do that well, better than anybody in some cases.
But Apple is about something more than that. Apple at the core - its core value is that we believe that people with passion can change the world for the better.” 

The words above were used in a speech given by Steve Jobs to his employees after his 1997 return to Apple.

Mr. Jobs carefully selected words suggest he wasn’t trying to reinvent Apple, he was simply pushing it back to its core. And the history demonstrates how Apple forever changed the way people communicate, entertain themselves, even the way they absorb information. The application of Steve Jobs belief moved Apple from $3 billion at the start of 1997 to $350 billion by 2011.

I suspect that our industry is going through the same confusion, as Apple was during 1985 to 1997 (the period Apple spent without Steve Jobs and the beliefs he practiced).
We have lost sense of direction and suffering from identity crisis.

Subjects: Advertising, Brands, Marketing

10 August 2015 12:40

Five tips on the future of strategic planning
Posted by: Guest blog
Guest blog

This post is by Antonio Nunez, an author, speaker and brand strategist with 25 years experience in the communication industry

Brand Planners. User Experience Planners. Shopper Planners. Digital Planners. Social media planners. Content Planners. Channel Planners. You-name-it planners. Many big agencies' strategic departments resemble a scary Tower of Babel: flooded with data, confronted by hyper specialized jargons and unable to create unifying brand metrics. They work at turtle pace and are fragmented by narrow discipline-oriented points of view.

Many creative teams complain about having to pay the toll in this situation. They are forced to spend more time trying to find an overarching theme for campaigns, which means less time to craft their storytelling productions. Many marketers too. They are left to build their brands relying almost solely on brand personality and tone of voice consistency. Their brands can't generate true meaningful conversations, relying on a collection of key visuals or on superficial anecdotes to influence consumers' perceptions. Those brands end-up lacking purpose and a distinctive point of view.


Subjects: Advertising, Brands

20 July 2015 16:24

Last word from the East: This girl can?
Posted by: Edward Bell, CEO, FCB Greater China
Edward Bell

If only young Chinese women had taken to sports with the same enthusiasm as they have for public square dancing, China's sport brands would have saved themselves a lot of heartache and been a lot more successful in inspiring participation. Given the success of Sport England's 'This Girl Can', the question has to be asked 'are China's girls really different from those of the West or are China's sports brands just not getting it?'

Somehow, China's girls have no problem in finding the right excuse to put off the idea of playing sport. They will tell you that they are still 'young and healthy' and 'don't need sport', or 'they are too busy', or, perhaps more honestly, that they just don't want to look like a sweaty rat.

Although it keeps fiddling with its global strategy, Adidas China has held the same line on sport and women for 10 years now. Its strategy has been to position sport for women as a social activity, as seen in recent campaigns – 'In the name of Sisterhood' and 'With sisters, nothing is impossible…'. In the eyes of Adidas, social connection trumps the person performance imperative – a 'sports light' experience that owes more to Sex and the City than a City Fun Run.


Subjects: Brands, Marketing

02 July 2015 16:49

Who runs the world… girls: Brands and the Women's World Cup
Posted by: Guest blog
Guest blog

This post is by Luca Massaro, managing director of WePlay.

It is no secret that sports events give brands a huge platform to advertise. We only have to look at the Superbowl back in February and the 2014 FIFA World Cup to see the vast amounts of money that sponsors and those brands wanting to 'ambush' spend on being a part of the conversation.

In a gap year between the men's FIFA World Cup and next year's UEFA European Cup, it may be assumed that there aren't many sporting talking points in between. However, the FIFA Women's World Cup in Canada has become something of a major point of engagement for fans and brands this summer.

With the recent success of campaigns such as Sport England's "This Girl Can" and the women's England football team claiming their place in the semi-finals, interest in women's sport is rapidly growing. According to FIFA, the Women's World Cup will reach around 30 million female football players and more than 300 million fans worldwide, while the BBC is broadcasting every game for the first time. The growing interest in women's football since the first FIFA Women's World Cup in 1991, is clearly presenting a big opportunity for brands. Here we look at some the brands already tapping into this growing trend.


Subjects: Advertising, Brands

29 June 2015 15:02

Don’t worry about your rough edges: Why brands need to be open about their imperfections
Posted by: Richard Shotton, Head of Insight, ZenithOptimedia
Richard Shotton

Which cookie would you rather eat?

If you're anything like the 626 people we asked you'll have plumped for the one on the left. An overwhelming 66% preferred it.

This cookie experiment was originally developed by Adam Ferrier of cummins&partners, who conducted it at Nudgestock with the same findings.

But why? The differences are minor. The cookie on the right is perfectly round whilst the other has a rough edge. Could it be that the small imperfections made the snack more appealing?

A series of academic studies suggests this is a widespread phenomenon. Eliot Aronson, from the University of California, was the first academic to investigate this bias, now known as the "pratfall effect".


Subjects: Brands, Consumers

24 June 2015 16:27

The customer experience engine: How to organize marketing for outstanding customer experience
Posted by: Brand Learning
Brand Learning

In this post, for The Economist Group Lean Back blog, Rich Bryson argues that marketing departments need to organise themselves differently to deliver the customer experience. For his full perspective read our white paper.The customer experience engine: How to organize marketing for outstanding customer experience

In our rapidly changing world, it’s the customer experience that matters above all else. It’s what builds relationships and drives growth. This customer experience is enhanced or impaired through every interaction a customer has with an organization. As Simon Lowden, CMO for PepsiCo North America, has said: “in today’s world, partnering cross-functionally is everything.”

Continuing to organize marketing in outdated structures while calling to break down silos will no longer suffice. We need a new approach that focuses also on marketing working with other functions as a “Customer Experience Engine,” shaping outstanding customer experiences that drive business growth. There is no one-size-fits-all, but there are principles for success.


Subjects: Consumers, Marketing, Brands

12 June 2015 15:23

How did the German discounters get so popular with the Brits?
Posted by: Guest blog
Guest blog

This post is by Hannah Campbell, Operations Director at The Work Perk.

A recent survey by The Grocer reveals that out of 11 supermarkets across Britain, Aldi and Lidl are not just winning the price war; both supermarket chains have also changed consumer perceptions by proving that a product can still be perceived as 'quality' without a brand's name or a large price tag attached to it.

The report also highlights that Aldi and Lidl are speeding ahead of the 'big four' supermarkets, and have more than five times the nine new store opening projects that have been put forth by Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury's and Morrisons combined for 2016. So how did these two discount supermarkets swoop in and take on the UK's most established food stores so successfully?

In short, Aldi and Lidl – in particular – proved to British consumers that they have been mistaken in their perceptions. They didn't attempt to get involved with the supermarket price wars; they simply showed the British consumer that better value for money does not have to equate to poor quality. Aldi and Lidl altered the public's perception of quality by challenging people to step outside of their comfort zone. They didn't pretend to be something they are not – they simply wanted the consumers to understand who they are, by trying their products out for themselves.


Subjects: Brands, Consumers

29 May 2015 14:39

Why politics is too much like football
Posted by: Richard Shotton, Head of Insight, ZenithOptimedia
Richard Shotton

Jay Leno said that "Politics is just show business for ugly people". But perhaps he was drawing a comparison with the wrong form of entertainment. According to our research the parallels between politics and football are far stronger. One of the most striking aspects of football is the loyalty of fans, with life-long allegiances being handed down from one generation to the next. Our research suggests this unswerving dedication is just as prevalent in politics.

ZenithOptimedia surveyed 1,004 nationally representative voters about their views on raising VAT by a penny to fund 10,000 extra nurses. The results were then split by political affiliation. The twist was that half the respondents were told it was a Conservative policy and half Labour.

When Labour supporters thought the policy came from Labour there was strong support: 14pc completely agreed. However, support plummeted to 3pc when it was described as a Conservative policy. Similarly, amongst Tories the policy was four times more popular when it was seen to come from their party.


Subjects: Consumers, Brands

19 May 2015 16:11

Ask a Silly Question: Why the UK Polls Got it Wrong
Posted by: David Penn, Managing Director, Conquest
David Penn

The UK polling industry is currently tearing itself apart over its failure to predict last week’s general election result. Basically, the (mainly online) polls showed both main parties – the Conservatives, led by David Cameron and Labour, led by Ed Miliband – polling at around 34%, yet it was Cameron who won by a margin (37% to 31%) too great to be explained by statistical error. There have already been plenty of theories advanced, including differential turnout figures, and ‘late swings’ (a convenient myth in my view). Instead I want to focus on an issue that has been a hot topic in the commercial MR world for at least a decade now: Are we asking the right questions?

Mark Earls (author of Herd and most recently, Copy Copy Copy) once challenged the market research industry to ‘stop asking silly questions of unreliable witnesses…or at least stop listening to the answers’. Ouch! I thought this harsh because some of us in MR twigged some time ago that people do not always answer the question we think we’re asking them.

People don’t usually ‘lie’ in surveys (why should they?), but often they don’t know their own minds, and sometimes they’re really answering a different question to the one we’re asking. Thus some may interpret a purchase intent question as a kind of ‘brand liking’ scale – I’ll say I’ll buy it because I like it, but I don’t really know if I will. Often we think we’re measuring behaviour when what we’re really measuring is attitude, or a vague disposition.


Subjects: Marketing, Brands, Data

11 May 2015 14:55

Give your brand The Psychopath Test
Posted by: Faris Yakob, Co-founder, Genius Steals
Faris Yakob

Corporate personhood has a long-standing basis in law. Indeed, the idea that the corporation is a separate legal entity from the people who own it and work there is the foundation of corporate law. Companies don't automatically get the same rights as people (because they aren't people), but it starts them along a metaphorical pathway.

The idea became very divisive following a Supreme Court ruling, ironically called Citizens United, which sought to remove caps on individual political contributions, and corporations argued similar protections.

The idea that corporations are 'people' is the core idea of modern branding, based on an insight Stephen King gleaned during focus groups for detergents. Humans anthropomorphise everything, including brands, appending personality traits to inanimate objects. King leveraged this observation into one of the great insights in advertising: the brand construct can function like a personality construct; people like different constructs for arbitrary reasons, and; this is malleable through advertising. So psychological attributes were built into brands and briefs.


Subjects: Brands

05 May 2015 14:06


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