The Warc Blog

What worries 'Google' - Really?

Posted by: Waqar Riaz, , Cheil Worldwide

Blog author

It’s not Yahoo, Facebook or Bing which worries the world’s no.1 brand “Google” but a strong local Chinese brand ‘Baidu’. Yes – the brand which kicked Google out from China. According to BrandZ top 100 brands of the world Baidu stands at No.2 in top 10 risers with 62% rise rate and also part of the top 10 list in terms of total brand value. If you look at the Architecture of Baidu, it is, if not similar, exactly the same as Google – in fact, replace the logos and it’s Google. It works around the same technology and offers results in the same fashion as ‘Google’, plus, it focuses on the local culture and give high priority to local search terms.

Baidu.bmp

30 April 2010, 16:26
Saying IS Doing

Posted by: CHALLENGER PROJECT, eatbigfish

Blog author

We help organisations use language strategically by enabling them see and hear their own habits again, just like you can today, on your first day. We might, for example, uncover an all-pervasive organising metaphor, or a hidden narrative, or another distinctive and consistent structure. One of our clients operated constantly in relation to their users with a ‘war’ metaphor. It felt totally normal – they didn’t notice it at all until we showed to them – but they immediately recognised it was deeply unhelpful to the culture change and business objectives they were trying to achieve.

Why should this matter to you? It matters because language makes ephemeral things solid and real – and in organisations it makes things happen, and it stops things from happening. It’s hard to think the unsayable – so innovation can be constrained by existing language. You also can’t hear the unthinkable – you may not really hear what consumers are telling you in research, because it’s hard to fit it in with the implicit frameworks and narratives you are all working with internally. It’s also highly likely (we see this again and again) that your internal language leaks out subtly into your external communications. It’s not a question of letting expert talk or jargon cross into consumer-facing materials; it’s leakage of more subtle, embedded assumptions that matters, often about customers and the way you see your relationship with them.

30 April 2010, 15:49
Strong leaders drive brand success

Posted by: Peter Walshe, Global Account Director, Millward Brown

Blog author

No one is surprised when the success of a movie is attributed to the Director. His or her vision is literally the point of difference and the defining element. The reality is of course a dedicated team pulling together to deliver that creative direction as a great product that lives up to the promise. But without a strong and focussed leader, success can be elusive.

In many ways we were not surprised to see that many of the BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Brands (Millward Brown Optimor 2010) have strong leaders. Some are well known and are the face of the company - Howard SchultZ at Starbucks, Steve Jobs at Apple and Bernard Arnault at LVMH. Others have inherited and developed the vision from the original founder, such as Sam Palmisano with 'Smarter Planet' for IBM or Chanda Khochar breaking down barriers in bringing banking to the masses in India at ICICI. The common factor is continued investment in the brand to enrich it with a clearly expressed unique vision. That belief from the top is then translated throughout the company, its employees, suppliers, investors and ultimately gives the end customer a reason to return.

30 April 2010, 15:36
The Death and Life of Bling

Posted by: Eugene Yiga, Knowledge Manager, Synovate Laboratories

Blog author “Right now, conspicuous consumption is out of fashion. The logo-driven excess of the past decade is being looked upon – at least in the Western world – with distaste. And so luxury is showing us a gentler, more discreet face. Quality has become a watchword again. Authenticity is all the rage. A rehabilitation process has begun.” These words, written by Mark Tungate in his Market Leader article, echo yet another sentiment du jour. Times are a-changing, but are we really changing too?

The Apple of My i

“He who covets is a poor man, because he wants what he cannot get; but he who has nothing and covets nothing is rich, though you may think him no more than a peasant.” – Geoffrey Chaucer

Everyone keeps talking about fundamental shifts in human consciousness and behaviour that have come from being broke. And everyone’s convinced we’ve learned our lessons and will never repeat them ever again. As Joe Staton writes in his Admap article: “From market to market – groceries, clothes and fashion, travel and tourism, home entertainment – households have begun to try ever more accurately to balance what is actually procured to what is actually consumed. It is unimaginable that such feelings could ever weaken to the point where openly wasteful consumerism could ever become fashionable again.”

Isn’t that a little much? Even space travel was unimaginable not too long ago. Perhaps bling is taking a breather and will come roaring back to life as soon as we can afford to fuel its fire. Apple is a great example. So many people were sucked into the iPhone frenzy a few years ago that the thought of waiting a few months for the price to come down didn’t cross their minds. They lined the streets and camped outside for days on end just to get in on the action. It’s been even crazier with the iPad, which has sold over 1 million units after just three weeks. I can’t help but wonder how many of those buyers are still happy with their purchase (assuming they ever were) or if they’re now obsessing over something else.

It seems that given the right resources (or the magic of Steve Jobs) and it’s out with all the good intentions in the world. Perhaps all the promises consumers made to be more disciplined in their spending were as empty as drunken New Year resolutions to use the gym. Fundamentally, we’re still driven by the same basic needs and wants. Western culture is still dominated by the idea of scarcity, competition, and fear. And it’s our insatiable desire to fill our lives with stuff that makes us act in crazy ways. It’s why a Wal-Mart employee was crushed to death by a horde of rabid shoppers at a Christmas sale a few years ago and why a South African pensioner recently died after waiting in a World Cup ticket queue.

When Enough Isn’t Enough


“He who is not contented with what he has, would not be contented with what he would like to have.” – Socrates


Caroline Brethenoux blames luxury: “With the arrival of the recession, luxury has been identified as the immoral and unacceptable side of greed, excess and the conspicuous consumption that created the economic problems.” But there’s nothing wrong with splurging nor should we feel the need to have our designer goods delivered in brown paper bags. We simply need to realise that money and its flashy friends are simply tools to help us live more enjoyable lives. We need to continue the slow shift away from meaningless clutter to meaningful experiences as we embrace simplicity and return to the values we forgot. That’s a lot more powerful than bragging about your bargains and blatant benevolence, which is pretty shallow too.

The best gift I ever received was a handmade birthday card from my best friend. Even though it was just a folded blank white page with quirky drawings on the front, it really meant a lot that someone had taken the time to create something special. That’s when I finally understood that products don’t define us. And yet so many of us continue to buy stuff hoping it will make us happy. I’m guessing that feeling doesn’t last long. How could it? At the end of the day, you can accumulate as much stuff as your closet, garage, or storage unit can accommodate and it probably won’t make a difference. It really doesn’t matter. The colours will fade and the technology will change. All that will remain is you. Now that’s something worth buying into.

(For more, see Need for Speed and The Gift of Gratitude on Varsity Blah.)
27 April 2010, 12:17
Selling the Seductiveness of Luxury In-Store

Posted by: Bob Deutsch, President, Brain Sells

Blog author

A person's sense of time and its relation to one's sensitivity to sensual experience are critical to their appreciation of luxury. This being the case, the major focus of luxury marketers should be the in-store experience.  This is where luxury products and their presentation can best be admired.  The implications are three-fold: 

1. The store's interior layout and product displays must be designed to slow the perception of time, to increase a customer's intensity and persistence of focus, and to excite the imagination.

26 April 2010, 16:36
'Best Job' impresses International AME Awards jury

Posted by: Joseph Clift, Product Manager, Warc

Blog author

The Best Job in the World campaign for Tourism Queensland has won digital marketing consultancy SapientNitro the international grand prize at the 2010 AME Awards.

The campaign - structured around an attention-grabbing contest to live and work on the Australian state's picturesque Hamilton Island - also scooped a platinum trophy in the tourism and travel category at the event, held in New York last week.

26 April 2010, 10:33
BOOM! Act One.

Posted by: CHALLENGER PROJECT, eatbigfish

Blog author

A few weeks ago I went to see Tom Ford speak about his first film, A Single Man. The critic of The Times was on stage with him, asking him about the making of the film, and his vision for it, and at the end they turned it over to the audience for questions. So I stuck my hand up.

I had read that he described his sense of his catwalk shows as ‘filmic’, and asked him what he meant by this – what he has taken from the world of film into the world of fashion. Until then he had been leaning back in his seat - witty, engaging, poised. But now his body language changed, and he leant forward. His voice became rather more urgent, more compelled, less reflective, as if rising to the challenge of that catwalk – and as if the challenge of that temporary theatre, that small catwalk performed to a tiny audience for just one afternoon, was a steeper and more demanding challenge than that of making a film that will be viewable by anyone in the world, and will last forever.

23 April 2010, 16:12
Admap Roundtable: The Future of Research

Posted by: Colin Grimshaw, Editor, Admap

Blog author

Last night saw the staging of a hugely important and stimulating debate - no, not Round Two of The Three Stooges in Bristol - but the Admap Roundtable on The Future of Research.

This follows a similar event that Admap held recently on The Future of Planning, and which was summarised in the February issue of Admap.

23 April 2010, 13:26
MPG Mexico recognised at Festival of Media awards

Posted by: Joseph Clift, Product Manager, Warc

Blog author

MPG Mexico and MediaCom were named Agency of the Year and Media Agency Network of the Year respectively at a ceremony in Valencia, Spain, last night as the three-day Festival of Media drew to a close.

On the client side, Mars won Advertiser of the Year and UK business daily the Financial Times was Media Owner of the Year.

21 April 2010, 11:29
In Search of the Corporate Soul

Posted by: Eugene Yiga, Knowledge Manager, Synovate Laboratories

Blog author “When I do good, I feel good and when I do bad, I feel bad. That is my religion.” – Abraham Lincoln

“We live in fractured and distrustful times and if institutions are failing us, company leaders need not do the same. Control over the products, services and behaviour of companies is in the hands of individuals and it is possible and profitable to do the right thing.” These words, written by Judie Lannon in the editorial of this quarter’s Market Leader, echo a growing sentiment.

David Pearson shares this view: “We need to use our marketing skills to develop new sustainable businesses. There will be new forms of renewable energy and also practices to reduce our usage. Marketers will need to persuade people to live and work in new ways… What I am calling for is a revolution of business practice and consumer behaviour. I have lived through several revolutions and am confident that there will be at least one more.”

Yes, trust has been broken and brands need to search for their souls (even though thinking of them as humans has complications of its own) so it can be restored. But why are we suddenly so pedantic about imbuing brands with personality and considering them as our friends? A few years ago, nobody really cared. It didn’t matter that your bank was a big unfriendly giant ruled by highly paid higher-ups when they were giving out loans to anything that moved. So is trust (much like masculine looks) only important when times are tough? Does it matter what goes on behind closed doors as long as we’re getting what we want?

In any case, companies are responding. If they’re lucky, these processes coincide with their original goal to maximise shareholder value so there’s no need to “sacrifice”. That’s because doing good is seen as a differentiator that positively affects the bottom line. An example I noticed at a mall nearby was a month of trade-ins. Customers came away satisfied from bringing in their old merchandise to qualify for discounts on computer equipment or designer jeans (and the companies got to enjoy the tax deductions when these were donated, which unsurprisingly happened right at the end of the fiscal year).

For Goodness Sake!


What about the other side? How likely is it that we as consumers will do the “right” thing when money is tight and we need to think of ourselves? All this talk about green being the new black (we’ve been through so many colours already, you’d think black would be the new black by now) seems a little much. Much of it is based on surveys to determine purchase intention and willingness to pay premiums, even though this only correlates to actual behaviour 30% of the time (see reference below). It’s as though we’ll say whatever we think sounds right in an interview and then do something else entirely when the time comes.

Dr Anne Sharp and Kate Newstead capture it well in Green Brand Fatigue: “Many studies do show that most people value ‘buy local’ and ‘go green’ sentiments. But these attitudes correlate poorly with actual in-store behaviour. This isn’t to say that consumers don’t care about green benefits at all. It’s just that the average shopper is a cognitive miser who purchases quickly and automatically. And despite the best of intentions to prioritise green products, what ends up in the shopping trolley is usually based on habit and unconscious processing, rather than on rational decisions.”

Like with brands, the ideal situation is when what benefits the environment happens to benefits the individual (e.g. installing efficient lighting to save on your electric bill) or doesn’t cost the individual anything (e.g. having a company make a donation if you tweet their message). The ideal situation is to have products from good companies that deliver sustainable benefits at fair prices. But would consumers really choose to save the planet over saving what little money they have if it came to making a choice?

For example, if two laundry detergents cost the same, would you opt for the eco-friendly one if the other works better? What if they worked equally well but the regular one cost substantially less? This is similar to the principle in finance of choosing the stock with the higher return (performance) if both have the same risk (cost) and choosing the stock with the lower risk if both have the same return.

As the article continues: “Stamping ‘green’ on the side of the box is no get-out-of-jail-free card. Who wants to buy an Apple computer just because it’s shipped in a smaller box? But, if it still delivers on speed, software and aesthetics, and is shipped in a smaller box, then this can be the added value for the consumer that encourages them to choose that brand.” That’s where the gold lies.

(For more, see ‘Do Intentions Really Predict Behaviour?’, Journal of Marketing, 2005)
20 April 2010, 13:29
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