Twenty-one years ago, the iconoclastic ad agency Howell Henry Chaldecott Lury produced a wonderfully provocative, and ahead of its time, pamphlet called Marketing At A Point of Change. I remember getting hold of a copy when it came out and it had a huge impact on how I thought about brands and marketing. It's a remarkably prescient read, arguing that in a more marketing literate world, brands need to become providers of experience rather than pronouncement. It's arguably more timely now than it was on its publication.
One of the central tenets of their argument is that "marketing will be replaced by 3D marketing, an experience that actively links the customers, the media and the brand… communication in the new world will include advertising, but it will no longer occupy centre stage. 'Brand experience' will replace broadcasting." Over the past decade, we have undoubtedly made strides as an industry towards this goal (although, arguably, progress that has not been far or fast enough). The design of experiences, increasingly, is the currency by which we measure marketing.
But on this 21st anniversary, I wonder if we should take the time to reflect on whether we have really begun to develop three-dimensional experiences? My observation on most work is that it feels remarkably one- or two-dimensional, especially when compared with the best non-marketing experiences that people engage with in their day-to-day lives. More often than not, we are either designing experiences that are no more than glorified sugar-coated messages (the bulk of the ad industry's integrated case studies wheeled out every year at Cannes) or, at the other extreme, soulless and dry experiences offered up by UX practitioners. Usability may be great, but it can also feel soul-crushingly dull. I wonder if it's time we began to think about designing experiences that come to life across different dimensions. For example, some of the best user experiences around at the moment - from Mailchimp to Slack - understand that form and function alone is not enough. Great user experiences require careful design around the voice, tone and language the experiences use. In many cases, these experiences are producing far more compelling and interesting writing than the great majority of advertising that is around today. And, without a doubt, they are producing a magnetic user experience by injecting dimensions beyond usability into the design of the experience.
This post is by Chris Pinner, sponsorship analyst at Synergy Sponsorship.
It' now only a matter of months before Rugby World Cup 2015 kicks-off and sponsors start to see a significant return on investment … at least that' what they hope.
If you already know whether their event sponsorship endeavors will be likened to a World Cup win or group-stage knockout then you can stop reading now. Otherwise, this 5-step guide to sponsorship event measurement should help you understand how to deliver, measure and evaluate a high-ROI event sponsorship of any scale.
So, using Rugby World Cup 2015 as a case study, let' outline an approach which could help…
The Guardian have just released analysis into the performance of 300 brand campaigns that they have carried. Their conclusion, drawn from surveys amongst their 3,000 strong reader panel, is that making ads contextually relevant significantly boosts effectiveness.
The Guardian’s data shows that when ads run alongside relevant web editorial readers are nearly 20% more likely to feel positively about the advertiser and 23% more likely to think that the message was relevant to them. The impact of context was just as strong in print where ads are 20% more likely to be seen as relevant to the reader when alongside related content.
There are plenty of ways brands can be relevant beyond tailoring ads to editorial though; ads can be adapted according to mood, weather or timing for example. However, perhaps the most interesting form of contextualisation is regionalisation. Its value lies in its simplicity. Whilst obtaining accurate mood data is difficult, tailoring a message to a city is cheap and reliable.
Closing the Telegraph's Business of Sport article on 'The importance of social media in sport', Synergy CEO Tim Crow says rightsholders "need to focus less on selling price and impressions and much more on delivering engagement and value".
He's right – value metrics are the future. And with more words set to be published on Twitter in the next 2 years than in all books ever printed, the cost of getting social media measurement wrong – by using vanity metrics such as "likes" and "clicks" – is set to skyrocket. This blog aims to provide a quick guide to moving sponsorship towards better social media measurement.
The majority of data points available in off-the-shelf analytics packages are what author of The Lean Startup, Eric Reis, calls Vanity Metrics – they might make you feel good, but don't offer clear guidance on what actions to take. Put another way, they do not help make decisions on how to drive value. Since around 80% of companies use vanity metrics, it's clear that sponsorship must move from vanity to value in social media ASAP.
If you step back from the buzz of the day to day, there is a palpable sense of things 'tightening up' across China. The raging trade in property – the national obsession that has created more wealth in China than any other endeavour – is now bound by regulation. The much-publicised 'war on corruption' is an attempt to close up the back channels that have defined how China used to work.
And, more recently, we've seen that the welcome mat, once rolled out to multinational corporations in China, has been all but rolled up. The uneven application of anti-trust law is another hoop through which brands must jump. But until recently, amid the tightening of laws and adding of hoops, on the TV screens we were able to watch a TV ad that earnestly told women that with the ready application of a cream, their breasts would grow bigger.
This has, in the spectacular fashion of China, now changed. In one fell swoop, a whole raft of unchecked advertising practices will, by 1 September, be outlawed. The country with 300 million smokers has banned cigarette advertising. Advertising in and around schools is out and functional claims now need to reach a higher standard of proof. That probably spells the end of the breast enlargement cream business.
Here are the results of the latest assignment from A[P]SOTW – Advertising [Planning] School On The Web.
This initiative is run by a team of senior planners from across the world. They post challenges for up-and-coming planners and marketers – or, in fact, anyone with an interest in smart ideas and communications – and have the entries judged by a heavyweight group of marketers and strategy experts.
Read the original challenge, set by Rob Campbell of Wieden + Kennedy Shanghai and visit his blog for feedback on individual papers.
Now here's Rob with the general feedback, followed by the winning entry by Rob Martyn-Wilde:
When we started in advertising in the late 1980s, the 'Grey Consumer' was a hot topic. The proportion of older people in the population had begun to rise, and many were surprisingly affluent. These trends were forecast to accelerate as the Baby Boomers turned into 'Empty Nesters'. Soon we would all be chasing the 'Grey Pound'.
But fast-forward 35 years, and we seem more obsessed with youth and Millennials than ever. Those demographic forecasters weren't wrong. The proportion of young people has indeed fallen and the proportion of older people has increased in most developed markets: in the UK, the over-45s outnumber 16-24-year-olds by 4 to 1.
These over-45s are more affluent too – accounting for some 50% of consumer spending and an even larger share of wealth, with these proportions climbing steadily, even throughout the recession. Young people, however, are having a tougher time. Debt, soaring housing costs and high unemployment mean young people in developed economies have less money to spend nowadays – and the recession hit them particularly hard.
In the picture, there's a woman on a yellow background. She's young. She's blonde. She's in a bikini. And she asks, in large bold type, "Are you beach body ready?" At the bottom of the poster someone has scrawled "**** off. I'm describing one of the now-infamous defaced Protein World ads. A couple of months ago, in London, the ads were graffittied, parodied, and finally removed after people protested about them online. Detractors called the ads sexist, inappropriate, and body shaming.
It became a big news story. Not one that Protein World necessarily set out to create. And, in my view, the image and messages were no different from what you'll see on every high street and newsstand this summer. But nevertheless, once outrage ensued, the brand knew what to do. The CEO gave interviews saying he'd take the 'terrorists' seriously (yes, he used that headline-friendly word) if their online petition reached one million signatures. It was all obviously a great success. The company has just recycled the same ad creative into a giant billboard in Times Square.
As a former PR, I cringe at chasing negative column inches. But maybe it's time for me to accept that we live in the era of outrage advertising. Here's the formula: brand creates controversial campaign; outrage ensues; brand withdraws or stands behind campaign. Either way, campaign goes big and lives online forever.
This post is by Gail Marie, brand journalist at McKinney.
Call them stories, narratives or yarns, science has proven that they can "change our attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors." So says Paul J. Zak in the Harvard Business Review and many chief creative officers every day. Specifically, by measuring oxytocin levels, Zak found that our brains are most attracted to visual stories of characters who try to overcome adversity, and that our attention is most concentrated when the outcome is uncertain.
The world's most successful podcast, Serial, proved the same effect is possible with stories we can only hear, so much so that the phrase "the Serial Effect" was coined and the entire podcast platform benefited. A McKinney survey of Serial's newsletter subscribers showed 23% had never listened to a podcast before Serial, and nearly half of them are now listening to other podcasts at least once a week.
McKinney's Chief Creative Officer Jonathan Cude met with the creators of Serial on stage at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity last month to talk about how these storytelling heroes did it and what marketers can learn from them. This is what I took from their conversation.
This post is by Ben Essen, head of planning at iris.
Question. What percentage of Volvo drivers are regular cyclists?
What fraction of Always $3.4 billion worldwide sales are made by 13 year-old girls? How many of Burger King's customers are gay?
Mainstream brands constantly seek Big Ideas powered by Universal Insights. As Byron Sharp tells us, brand penetration requires advertising at scale – and an ability to appeal to as many people as possible. The accepted wisdom is therefore that we must create inclusive ideas that alienate as few people as possible. Research is used to overcome objections and find the common ground acceptable to the average consumer. When our target is everyone and our media is the globe there's no time to pander to the long-tail of niche interests and demographics.
It's interesting, then, to look at some of the big Cannes winners.