The Warc Blog

The Warc Blog

The path to digital transformation
Posted by: Guest blog
Guest blog

This post is by Matt Green, senior manager – global marketing procurement at the WFA.

Every now and then a new development comes along that changes everything. That was the case with wind, steam, the internal combustion engine and electricity. Now digital is radically reshaping the way we communicate, behave and do business.

We can already see that the emerging digital economy looks quite different to what existed before.

We now live in a world where Uber, the world's largest taxi company, owns no vehicles. Facebook, the world's most popular media owner, creates no content. Alibaba, the most valuable retailer, has no inventory. And Airbnb, the world's largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate.


Subjects: Digital, Marketing

24 August 2015 16:06

Marketing's eternal obsession with youth
Posted by: Richard Shotton, Head of Insight, ZenithOptimedia
Richard Shotton

One of the longest-standing criticisms of advertising is its unhealthy fascination with youth. The majority of campaigns target the under 55s and a disproportionate number of brands focus on the under 35s.

Why are marketers so obsessed with targeting the young when older groups tend to be wealthier? According to the Daily Telegraph the over 50s account for 40% of the population but hold 80% of the wealth. Not only are older groups wealthier but they are also growing in number: data from nVision shows that there are 11m over 65s, an increase of 17% versus 2003.  

Bob Hoffman, one of the most insightful advertising commentators, is scathing: "There is only one type of person confused enough [to ignore the over 50 market] – a marketing person".


Subjects: Marketing, Consumers

20 August 2015 15:43

Retail marketing: When it comes to building loyalty, it's the brand product manufacturers that have the edge
Posted by: Guest blog
Guest blog

This post is by José Carlos González-Hurtado, President of IRI International.

Even the most price-focused brands have come to understand the importance of customer loyalty in recent years. Michael O'Leary, CEO of Ryanair – once famous for its stark approach to customer service – recently credited its 25% profit increase to the "enhanced customer experience" it now offers. Discount supermarkets such as Aldi and Lidl have also realised that low prices are no longer enough to keep customers returning.

Many FMCG retailers still have a long way to go when it comes to making customer loyalty a priority, however. As margins are eroded, price wars break out and online retailers and discounters rise, growing sales by building and sustaining a base of loyal customers is critical. Yet retailers are failing to make use of the rich consumer data they have ready access to, applying it primarily to inform short-term price and promotions activities.

FMCG product manufacturers, on the other hand, have spent years building strategic, analytical and consumer-focused organisations, with the aim of long-term retention of their hard-won customers.


Subjects: Consumers, Marketing

18 August 2015 10:37

What marketers can learn from the world's most incompetent bank robber
Posted by: Richard Shotton, Head of Insight, ZenithOptimedia
Richard Shotton

McArthur Wheeler’s infamous career as a bank robber was short-lived. He robbed two Pittsburgh banks on single day in 1995 – but didn’t keep the money for long. Rather than using a mask, as tradition dictates, he had the misguided idea of rubbing lemon juice on his face. He mistakenly believed that since it was used in invisible ink it would prevent security cameras from recording him. The police caught Wheeler on the day of the robbery and he was soon sentenced to 24 years in prison.

The story of the failed robbery is of interest to marketers as it inspired two Cornell psychologists, David Dunning and Justin Kruger, to come up with an important insight into human behaviour.

Illusory self-belief

The psychologists wondered how such an inept criminal could think that he had the necessary skill to successfully evade capture? More importantly they decided to test whether this lack of self-knowledge was widespread. They recruited students to take a series of maths and grammar tests and then asked them to predict how well they would do compared to their peers.


Subjects: Advertising, Marketing, Consumers

14 August 2015 16:03

ATTICUS AWARDS! Learn about brand migration, the global luxury market and effective mobile advertising
Posted by: Lena Roland, Knowledge Officer, Warc
Lena Roland

The Atticus Awards went live on today. They are a selection of winning papers which are open exclusively to professionals working in WPP companies. They honour original marketing thinking.

I've surfaced a selection that I think deserve a special mention. Themes explored include best practices on successful brand migration across Western and Eastern markets, the cultural dynamics driving change in the global luxury market and a guide to effective mobile advertising.


Subjects: Awards, Marketing, Advertising

13 August 2015 11:21

How marketers can use gamification to engage consumers
Posted by: Guest blog
Guest blog

This post is by Juha Koski, founder and MD of

With the UK eCommerce sales reaching £38bn last year, there's stiff competition to find new ways to attract customers to a website or app, keep them engaged while there and ultimately to encourage their return.

To achieve this goal, increasing numbers of companies are turning to gamification as a way of creating a more entertaining and fun shopping experience than that offered by traditional eCommerce sites such as Amazon and eBay. The end goal is to better engage with and reward customers – and drive sales.

By contrast standard loyalty programs tend to focus on the very last stage of the consumer decision journey (i.e. the purchase) but crucially leave out and ignore everything that occurs beforehand.


Subjects: Digital, Marketing, Consumers

10 August 2015 14:38

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

The new Big Bang theory: Where the worlds of data, creativity and tech collide
Posted by: Guest blog
Guest blog

This post is by Karl Weaver, CEO of Data2Decisions.

Change is a good thing. It forces us to think differently and re-establish the norms we take for granted. For the creative industry, data and technology has been an explosive catalyst for change, forcing the uncomfortable debate about whether data and creativity can work together to produce not only more effective, but more emotionally engaging creative work. There were early distractions as the data ‘geeks’ and creatives were pitted against each other, but thankfully the debate about whether data helps or hinders creativity is nearing completion. The two worlds have well and truly collided and we are finally ‘doing’ the collaboration we’ve been talking about for so long. The results so far have been very promising.

Take artificial intelligence for example, one of the most exciting, if not frightening collisions of data, creativity and technology we’ve seen yet. The technology has advanced in leaps and bounds throughout the past decade, with investors pouring millions into robotics companies now bringing interactive and emotionally intelligent robots to consumers on masse. Earlier this year, Robot Pepper, a humanoid robot with the emotional capacity to understand and communicate with humans went on sale in Japan. Creators Aldebaran Robotics sold out 1,000 units priced at £1,107 each in less than a minute. The demand is real and the possibilities endless.


Subjects: Marketing, Advertising, Data

06 August 2015 09:25

3D experiences
Posted by: Gareth Kay, Co-founder, Chapter SF
Gareth Kay

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.


Subjects: Marketing, Digital

04 August 2015 16:36

Valuing Rugby World Cup 2015 Sponsorship: A 5-step guide to sponsorship event measurement
Posted by: Guest blog
Guest blog

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…


Subjects: Marketing, Consumers

03 August 2015 17:24


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