The Warc Blog

The Warc Blog

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

Are marketers just too timid to embrace System1?
Posted by: David Penn, Managing Director, Conquest
David Penn

Are the traditional tools of market research – surveys with explicit, direct questions – still up to the job of measuring brands in the new era? The explosion of new understanding about how the mind works could not have been foreseen by the founders of market research, back in the 50s, but modern practitioners have less excuse for still using more or less the same approaches. Traditional (System 2) methods still dominate: researchers still ask direct questions (and people still answer them), but any marketer or MR professional with even a smattering of knowledge of recent developments in mind science would surely ask: Is that all there is?


Subjects: Marketing, Brands, Data

23 April 2015 10:49

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

Lessons brands can learn from the phenomenon of the superstar DJ: The four strategies behind their success
Posted by: Guest blog
Guest blog

this post is by Matthew Kershaw, Group Marketing Director at Ministry of Sound.

Those of us who lived through the 90s will know that the electronic dance music scene was once a far cry from what it is today. Back then, around the time that the Ministry of Sound opened its doors, DJs had a relatively small following of discerning ravers.

But today, DJs are superseding even pop stars; they dominate charts and festival line-ups, gossip magazines and radio playlists. They are hard to ignore.

During Advertising Week Europe (AWE) panel, In the Mix: What Brands Can Learn from Superstar DJs, Reggae legend David Rodigan noted that, in the past, the DJs main role was to fill the gap before the band got on stage. However, success stories such as Calvin Harris have utterly revolutionized this role; he reportedly earned $66 million in 2014. But how exactly have this new breed of celebrity made its way to the top? And what can brands learn from DJs' rise to fame?


Subjects: Marketing, Brands

10 April 2015 11:04

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

Welcome to the Age of Big
Posted by: Waqar Riaz, Cheil Worldwide
Waqar Riaz

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.


Subjects: Brands, Marketing, Data

26 March 2015 16:06

The art of not selling
Posted by: James Hurman, Founder, Previously Unavailable
James Hurman

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.


Subjects: Marketing, Brands

12 March 2015 09:56

Pointless product development
Posted by: Mythbuster, Les Binet and Sarah Carter, DDB

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.


Subjects: Brands

09 March 2015 09:44


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