The Warc Blog

The Warc Blog

We need to talk about Edward
Posted by: Neil Dawson, Chief Strategy Officer, Europe, SapientNitro
Neil Dawson

In the wake of Edward Snowden's revelations, the debate about mass surveillance, government secrecy and the appropriate balance between national security and information privacy raged on at South By Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, Texas.

"Hiding In Plain Sight: Anonymizing the Internet" was one such discussion – and the alluring title, combined with promotional imagery featuring the iconic "V for Vendetta" mask, attracted a full house.

The conversation was both lively and wide-ranging. Everybody has opinions and nobody has answers, making it a perfect intellectual storm. Host Ian MacDowell, a creative technologist at argodesign – and, more intriguingly, a former bouncer – began by wondering whether proposing this topic could make him the subject of unwanted NSA attention.


Subjects: Digital, Consumers

20 March 2015 20:08

Nine, that's a magic number
Posted by: Guest blog
Guest blog

This post is by Richard Shotton, Head of Insight at ZenithOptimedia.

"Nine, that's a magic number" or so De La Soul might have sang if they were marketers rather than a New York hip-hop trio. An increasing body of marketing evidence shows that consumers, rather than being rational decision makers, are prey to a number of biases. One of the most interesting biases revolves around the positive impact of prices ending in nine, known as charm prices. For retailers this should be a reason to be cheerful as it means sales can be encouraged with less need for margin destroying price cuts.

At ZenithOptimedia we have run experiments amongst 650 consumers across 6 products, from TVs to bread. For each product we asked about value perceptions. The twist was that we had discrete cells of consumers. Some consumers saw prices ending in 99p, the other groups saw the same good as just one or two pence more expensive. Despite the minor variations in price consumers were 9% more likely to think a brand was good value when the price ended in 9p – this occurred even though the difference in prices was c1%.


Subjects: Marketing, Consumers

17 March 2015 12:28

The science behind customer behaviour
Posted by: Guest blog
Guest blog

This post is by Brian Taylor, Digital MD at Jaywing.

What is the tipping point in the customer purchase decision journey? While marketers can use data and analysis to target customers with relevant products and services, sometimes it can take a little more to tip them over the edge into clicking the buy button.

Along the path to purchase there are specific points where a customer is more likely to buy. By marrying behavioural economics with the expertise of both data and creative specialists, brands can pinpoint the perfect moment to deliver the right creative that drives the customer to make that purchase.

The challenge of influencing purchase decisions today is not purely a creative one; it's one that needs to be underpinned by science. Encouraging customers to make that leap in the online world requires greater integration between creative specialists and data experts. Only when these two parts come together in the marketing process can brands create great customer communications that are built and delivered with both the customer and the brand in mind.


Subjects: Consumers

02 March 2015 16:02

Happy New Year!
Posted by: Lena Roland, Knowledge Officer, Warc
Lena Roland

Tomorrow marks the start of Chinese New Year (CNY) celebrations when people all over Asia, and Chinese communities throughout the world, will be welcoming in the year of the sheep/goat. CNY is considered an auspicious occasion - a time to celebrate with family and friends, a time of giving and wishing prosperity to others. It is perhaps the most important event in the Chinese calendar.

It is also a time when brands are most eager to speak to their Asian target audience. This creates a highly competitive and highly cluttered advertising environment which means brands must do something extra special if they are to stand out from the noisy crowd. Smart brands use the New Year festivities to recognise and appreciate Chinese culture and traditions. So which brands are succeeding in this space?

HSBC Australia used Chinese New Year to target Asian consumers in Australia and to reinforce the message that HSBC is a trustworthy bank. The brand affirmed its valued association with the Chinese community through a fully integrated campaign that featured e-DM and sponsorship of New Year festivals. HSBC also said ‘thank-you’ to its customers with a culturally relevant gift – a form of 'guanxi' – which would resonate with the target audience. This achieved a 463% YOY growth in term deposits, eclipsing the campaign target by 290%.


Subjects: Marketing, Advertising, Consumers

18 February 2015 14:39

Brands should harness the power of social proof
Posted by: Guest blog
Guest blog

This post is by Richard Shotton, Head of Insight at ZenithOptimedia.

It's not often that marketers turn to the Bible for brand insight. However, this quote from Matthew reflects an interesting occurrence. When consumers know that a product, or even a behaviour, is popular its appeal tends to increase.

Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. Matthew 13 : 12

The leading academic exploring this bias, known as "social proof", is Professor Cialdini of Arizona State University. In a classic experiment he worked with an American hotel chain to understand what would motivate guests to re-use their towels. He persuaded the chain to randomise the messages in their rooms encouraging re-use. His control message, which reminded guests of the environmental benefits, encouraged 35% of people to re-use their towels. The social proof message in contrast simply stated that most people re-used their towels. This version, shorn of any rational message, boosted up-take to 44%. This is not a one-off finding. The results from this experiment, have been duplicated in environments ranging from restaurants to iTunes, from weight gain to tax returns.


Subjects: Marketing, Consumers

10 February 2015 13:05

Do you eat your own dog food?
Posted by: Darika Ahrens Grapevine Consulting
Darika Ahrens

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.


Subjects: Consumers, Brands

09 February 2015 10:59

Have you specialised yourself out of leadership?
Posted by: Brand Learning
Brand Learning

An article caught my eye recently, lamenting the high number of marketers in the APAC region who were on the move, looking for new opportunities. The reasons cited were pay, but also poor professional development and too few opportunities for marketers to become CEOs.

We’ve long said that the job of marketing is to drive customer-centered growth – and to do this, marketing leaders need to be able to lead across and through the organisation. This gives marketers a particular leadership challenge, rooted in being insightful about customer behaviour, and getting the organisation to act on this by engaging with customers, across touchpoints, in the best way...


Subjects: Marketing, Consumers

05 February 2015 17:56

Don't interrupt people, involve them: Why marketing needs to become more democratic
Posted by: Guest blog
Guest blog

This post is part of the WFA's Project Reconnect, and is written by Simon Kemp, Regional Managing Partner for We Are Social in Asia

The more people are involved in something, the more they engage with it.

This is true in marketing too, and the organisations that succeed in actively involving their audiences and consumers in the creation and development of their brands are best placed to succeed in the long term.

It's perhaps little surprise, then, that 'participation' was one of the 'New 4Ps' that we discovered in our recent research for Project Reconnect (the other Ps were People, Purpose, and Principles).

So what does Participation mean for your brand?


Subjects: Marketing, Consumers

22 January 2015 16:42

IJMR Landmark Paper: ‘Messages from the spiral of silence’
Posted by: Peter Mouncey, Editor-In-Chief, IJMR
Peter Mouncey

As we enter 2015, electioneering in the UK has already started, up front of May's general election. Is this going to be a difficult time for the pollsters, especially following on from their perceived performance in predicting the outcome of last September's referendum in Scotland on independence?

All the signs point to a complex situation, with the possible annihilation of the Liberals; the rise of UKIP; the increasing support for the SNP in Scotland, possibly causing Labour a lot of grief; the role of the Green vote. Forecasting the likely outcome looks to be more problematic than has been the case for many years.

One issue that was discussed in the context of the polls conducted leading up to the referendum vote in Scotland last autumn was the impact of the 'spiral of silence' which may have contributed towards the 'no' vote having been understated in the polls. So, what exactly is the 'spiral of silence' effect, and are there ways in which pollsters can try to account for its influence when predicting voting intentions?


Subjects: Consumers, Data

21 January 2015 12:03

Sex, Lies and Survey Data
Posted by: Guest blog
Guest blog

This post is by Richard Shotton, Head of Insight at ZenithOptimedia.

Much of advertising research is based on listening to what consumers say and then adapting campaigns accordingly. It seems a logical enough approach. However, it's based on the premise that what consumers say and what they do are aligned. Unfortunately there's a growing body of evidence that shows that the two things are often at odds.

Take sex. When heterosexual men and women are asked about the number of partners they have slept with the numbers vary dramatically. A 2013 Lancet study of 15,000 adults found that UK women admit to sleeping with an average of eight partners compared to twelve for men. The scale of the difference is not logically consistent. The most plausible explanation is that men feel a cultural pressure to exaggerate their exploits whilst women feel a corresponding pressure to play it down. Surveys, therefore, tell us more about what people feel they should say than the absolute truth.


Subjects: Consumers, Data

21 January 2015 10:36


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