The Warc Blog

The Warc Blog

If it's not love, then it's the bomb that will bring us together
Posted by: Guest blog
Guest blog

This post is by Eaon Pritchard, a strategic planning consultant in Melbourne, Australia.

For a time during World War II, the chances of a member of US bomber crews actually making it back from any given mission were on the side of slim.

The nature of the work meant that bombers were out for a long time; they were massive cumbersome planes visible from a long way away, and their ability to do serious damage if successful meant they were the number one targets of both the guns on the ground and in the air.

For the bomber crews, each subsequent mission piled up the odds against them making it back this time.


Subjects: Consumers, Marketing

22 April 2015 12:31

You are not a number!
Posted by: Guest blog
Guest blog

This post is by Charlie Meredith, Managing Director at Time Inc. UK Advertising.

People – I mean real people – are all too easily forgotten. Advertisers and marketers spend so much time thinking about them that they forget who they really are. People are not consumers, target audiences or data segments that can be matched to a set of behaviours, interests, some medical records and an address.

Well okay, we all are. But that's not all we are.

We are individuals, uniquely shaped by our experiences, emotions and intuitions, and more than ever before we are determined to be 'the best we can be'. Self-actualisation is right at the top of the bucket list – in fact, all we hear now are the things that make us feel as though we're trying to catch up in life.


Subjects: Consumers, Brands

17 April 2015 18:02

Audience participation
Posted by: James Hurman, Founder, Previously Unavailable
James Hurman

Last April, Rob Campbell played a joke. On his blog, the Wieden+Kennedy Shanghai planning head wrote about 'Method Planning™'. This new research methodology was inspired by the notion of method acting, whereby actors literally spend 24/7 in character to more deeply assimilate the motives and psyche of the person they're playing. Rob wanted to explore whether this quest for authenticity would bear fruit for planners looking for more authentic consumer understanding.

"So much of what we 'learn' is second hand," he wrote. "So when we were recently given a project that required us to understand entry-level white collar employees, I couldn't help but take the opportunity to explore the method acting approach… which is why for the last five weeks, one of my planners has basically been living someone else's life."

Leon, a W+K planner, had been sent to Wuhan, a Chinese city, to assume a new undercover life as a clerk in a local bank. He'd had the perfect résumé dreamt up and a temp agency had landed him the job. He shared a flat with three unwitting housemates, eating the same food, living on the same low salary and experiencing the same highs and lows.


Subjects: Consumers

13 April 2015 12:01

It is all Play! – Exploring The Power of Lego Serious Play
Posted by: Guest blog
Guest blog

This post is by Anila Shrivastava, Founder of IdStats Research & Consultancy.

Today, study after study has proven that our brains are hard-wired to understand and retain stories, not to retain long lists of facts. This also holds true for stories vs. facts related to companies, brands and products. In this context, this post seeks to share the merits of using Lego Serious Play as a framework for understanding consumer experiences and narratives anchored in the conscious and the subconscious mind. Hence, if one can understand and learn the narratives that consumers are creating in reference to any brand, company or product, the results can be utilized to address a creativity challenge or a business problem on hand.


Subjects: Consumers, Brands

08 April 2015 09:34

Applauding sleight of hand
Posted by: Faris Yakob, Co-founder, Genius Steals
Faris Yakob

"The guy who invented poker was bright, but the guy who invented the chip was a genius." (Julius 'Big Julie' Weintraub)

The old saying that 'cash burns a hole in your pocket' needs updating, because cash is actually the thing we are least likely to spend. A study from 2001 called 'Always leave home without it' substantiated an idea that had been fomenting since the 1970s – that credit cards encourage spending. The study, involving actual transactions of value, showed that the 'willingness-to-pay' is increased when people use credit cards – and, in certain contexts, they are willing to pay more, in some cases up to 100% more, for the same goods. It's not dependent on liquidity either: the effect is the same whether or not you have the money.

This has been followed by various supporting studies that suggest the more abstract and frictionless the payment system, and thus the further removed the purchase is from actually handing over money, the higher the propensity to buy and the more we are willing to spend. Indeed, using credit changes how we even evaluate products. A 2011 study from the Journal of Consumer Research suggests that when using credit cards, a shopper tends to weigh the product benefits more highly, whereas cash shoppers weigh cost more highly.


Subjects: Consumers, Digital

02 April 2015 14:45

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: Richard Shotton, Head of Insight, ZenithOptimedia
Richard Shotton

"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: Richard Shotton, Head of Insight, ZenithOptimedia
Richard Shotton

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


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