The Warc Blog

A Not So Scary Halloween

Posted by: Robert Passikoff, President, Brand Keys, Inc

Blog author Consumers will be getting into the spirit of the holiday this year, and it won’t only be jack o’ lanterns and trick-or-treaters who’ll be smiling. Retailers will have a lot less to be afraid of because according our annual Halloween Survey, consumers intend to spend 15% more than last year – a really chilling year for retailers – or nearly $70.00 to celebrate.

This year Halloween falls on a Sunday, which means celebrations will start Friday night and run through the weekend. Sixty-three percent of the 6,000 respondents polled indicated that they were going to host or attend a party, and for 18 to 24 year olds the top-10 favored costumes-of-choice are:

1. Jersey Shore cast member
2. Lady Gaga
3. Avatar character
4. Snooki
5. President Obama
6. Iron Man
7. Buzz Lightyear/Woody
8. Pirate
9. Alice In Wonderland/Mad Hatter
10. Batman

Those not partying are going to celebrate the old-fashioned way: traditional, neighborhood trick-or-treating. If you want to keep the witches, pirates, princesses, and superheroes happy this year, the top-10 most-coveted candies are:

1. Hershey Chocolate Kisses
2. Snickers
3. Nerds/3 Musketeers
4. M&Ms
5. Gummies
6. Nestlé Crunch/MARS bar
7. Candy Corn/Twix
8. Reese’s Pieces
9. Tootsie Roll/Pops
10. Hot Tamales/Kit Kats

Based on this year’s survey results it’s fair to say that you don’t need to be a witch or warlock or have access to a crystal ball to divine that this is going to be a boo-tiful Halloween for retailers.
28 October 2010, 15:40
Off On the Road to . . .

Posted by: Robert Passikoff, President, Brand Keys, Inc

Blog author Brand Keys will be doing some traveling over the next couple of months. We just returned from the Motivation Show in Chicago. Amy Shea, our EVP Global Brand Development, will be talking about measuring the value of advertising at the Brand Finance Forum in London, and Robert Passikoff and Leigh Benatar (our EVP of Loyalty and Engagement) will be giving a Keynote at the Brand Summit in Dubai. Then we’re off to India. We’re working on the theory that a journey is best measured in knowledge than in miles, and counting on online travel sites to help facilitate trip planning.

We measure Online Travel Sites in our Customer Loyalty Engagement Index and right now the traditional default sites rank as follows:

1. Expedia/Kayak
2. Cheap Tickets/Orbitz
3. Priceline/Travelocity/Hotwire
4. Fodors/

You don’t need a map to see that differentiation among the online travel sites isn’t vast. The reality is, though, that expectations for the category are pretty high and that sites that were able to take advantage of the gap between rational delivery and emotional delight would be able to count on engagement and loyalty to drive traffic rather than just depend upon habit and routine.

Differentiation has never come easily for brands that rely on traditional Q&A inquiry, satisfaction studies, or likelihood to recommend estimates. But leading-indicator loyalty assessments suggest online travel sites consider borrowing some values from social media. Despite a commodity-like delivery on the very rational primacy of service side of the equation, an online travel site could foster real emotional relationships with its clients and turn an “exchange” into a true “conversation.” If they did that, navigation to a more profitable latitude would be a far easier journey.

We predict greater explorations into the frontiers of social media for travel sites in the very near future. As Marcel Proust observed, “the real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” New values too.
28 October 2010, 15:39
Eyeballs and the end of the creative agency?

Posted by: Judie Lannon, Editor, Market Leader

Blog author

A speaker at the recent CMO conference in Zurich performed a witty experiment on his audience.  Telling us to cover our (analogue) watch faces, the task was to describe the 6: was it a Roman or Arabic numeral, a dot or a mark or something else? 

Faces uncovered, he then asked who got it correct.  Only a small clutch of hands went up from this senior and surprisingly honest audience. 

26 October 2010, 09:35
2011 Awards Calendar now online

Posted by: Joseph Clift, Product Manager, Warc

Blog author

We've been keeping our Warc Awards Calendar updated throughout the year, and, as you can see, the majority of 2010's prizes have now been handed out.

Awards season never really ends, and many of the awards to be handed out next year have already been opened for entries. So we've begun to fill in our 2011 Awards Calendar with all the available dates, which you can look up by clicking here, then clicking on the 2011 tab at the bottom of the screen.

25 October 2010, 12:02
Brand Blowout

Posted by: Robert Passikoff, President, Brand Keys, Inc

Blog author
The down economy is being felt in all sorts of places, and one of those appears to be the feel of silky—and straight—hair. As the price tag attached to the Brazilian blowout becomes increasingly gag-worthy, women are looking for at-home ways to try to achieve that salon result in a DIY kind of way.

For the uninitiated—or those lucky few that fear neither rain, sleep nor humidity—the Brazilian blowout is a process women claim de-shackles them from their blow dryers, giving them back hours a week of precious time. This comes with a $300-$500 price-tag, however, and now also some possible risk, as reports spread of the presence of serious amounts of formaldehyde in the chemical process.

“Box” hair colors, readily available in drug stores, have long been the go-to source for women not willing to spend the money and time to create a new look through color. And now, L’Oreal and Garnier have both introduced box shine products that they hope will be snatched up by women who want that Keratin gloss of Brazilian fame, without cutting into their styling budget.

In our 2010 Customer Loyalty Engagement Index, here’s how consumers ranked the top hair color brands:

Clairol/L'Oreal (tie)

So far, there have been less than stellar reviews for the gloss-in-a-box products: a sure sign of today’s social-media ecology, where consumers are talking each other, not the brand. While it may turn them off the products, hair color brands will do well to recognize that this will not dull women’s desire for gleaming locks. Whoever does it right, at a good price, will offer the kind of value that will add a shine to any brand.
21 October 2010, 15:56
Behind Singapore's digital spend data

Posted by: David Tiltman, Head of Content, Warc

Blog author

It's not often you get some reliable data on Asia's digital advertising industry, so the latest set of data from IAB Singapore is to be applauded.

The data is from a survey by the IAB and PricewaterhouseCoopers – several of the IABs around the world have studies set up with PwC, and generally they're held to be the most reliable measures of digital advertising spend (they tend to avoid ratecard data). IAB Singapore was set up last year, and has only recently begun issuing data, making Singapore the first digital market to have figures of this quality.

20 October 2010, 10:30
Duplicating Brand Success

Posted by: Robert Passikoff, President, Brand Keys, Inc

Blog author As seen in many categories out there, copier brands find themselves in a state of flux. To begin with, there is the more accurate description of what today’s copiers actually are—however, that remains a mouthful; “multi-functional product office copier” doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. And that’s just the copier side of the business. Brands that built their company on the ability to replicate are now attempting to carve out unique turf when it comes to performing document management services for companies.

Xerox, one of those few brands whose name was in the enviable position of being used as a verb by those of us who can remember “xeroxing” our expense reports, is doing much more than copying these days, and wants to tell you about it. A recent ad, linking them to one of the sexiest motorcycle brands on earth, Ducati, is both funny and metaphorically sound, if a little far-fetched. Why a test-driver in a wind tunnel is also responsible for translating documents into Portuguese is not really the point, however. The point, and a well-made one, is that businesses should keep their eye on the prize—mainly, who they are and why their products are bought. In Ducati’s case, it’s kicking bikes that ignite consumers, not their exemplary translation skills.

We track Xerox in our Customer Loyalty Engagement Index, an annual ranking of hundreds of brands by how close they come to what consumers really want in the category in which they participate. This year, the MFP Copier brands ranked as follows:

Konica Minolta/ Canon (tie)

As Xerox races to first, they could find a worse partner than Ducati to carry the message of speed. But this ad can serve as a reminder to all brands that process, while important, is not the kind of emotional driver that wins fans. Knowing what matters most to consumers is the strategy every brand needs to copy.
19 October 2010, 15:04
Through the Greatest Age

Posted by: Waqar Riaz, , Cheil Worldwide

Blog author

Network Modelling: Planner agencies

(This is first of the  series of articles introducing and modelling planner agencies and network  brands. This piece is an attempt to introduce the concept of planner agencies)

Around this time last year, I was  developing the ‘Grand Strategist’ model as part of my MA in account planning. Then, I finished my thesis at Rapp London (they thought it would be nice to do  things together). Afterwards, we agreed to stay with each other and I began to apply  my thinking in a different world of wonders; a world where ideas are powered by  media, technology, data and creativity. 

Grand Model.jpg

Nevertheless, I am still very  much living in a world between questions and answers, whilst working as  strategist and developing my PhD in communications planning.
After all the years I have  spent working in advertising and understanding planning (in different parts of the world, across diversified disciplines and different agencies i.e. Traditional, Direct, Digital), I still believe that the core of our industry  remains the same, as it was decades ago ‘ideas’.    And yes, it’s ideas we need in  what we deliver and how we deliver it. However, it’s not about developing and designing any ideas, but ideas that are  integrated with business thinking and deliver value for everyone. 

The Changing Challenge: 

In my earlier notes, I vaguely  touched on the changing communication landscape, discussing how brand, direct  and digital agencies are desperate to own it. However, unfortunately, most  advertising agencies are trying to own the ‘new communication landscape’, whilst living in the ‘old landscape’.    There’s  not much debate about not having a new landscape model to answer the changing  landscape challenge.    Now, I  am interested in discovering one.

The Glories of the Greatest Age:

In recent years, we have  experienced some very strange and unexpected things, as Professor Brian Cox, author and presenter of the wonders of the solar system series puts it, ‘I  think we are living through the greatest age of discovery our civilization has  ever known’. His analysis is based on the fundamental laws of physics. And  the beauty of physics is the implication of its laws on a universal scale.     

In my opinion, one of the major  factors causing the ‘greatest age’ is a united approach from all disciplines, communities and industries to unearth the unknown. This approach affects not  only specialised areas such as biology, physics, mathematics and  communications; but it is also influencing our society in general. Within our society  the impact of unification is twofold; it’s awarding us with a better control over things in life, and it’s consistently expanding the scale of control. We  are now experiencing amazing new things, like brands with hundreds of millions  of users, utilising the same platforms irrespective of race, age, gender or location – this is fascinating! 

The Collaborative Big Bang:

The world's digital content is equivalent to a   stack  of books   stretching from Earth to Pluto 10 times.’ BBC Click. 

Where brands are benefiting  from the unplanned and unexpected wave of change, they are also facing danger at the same time. Without a doubt, brands are known by the ideas they own. In the past, brands used to own ideas by communicating them at a mass level on a  selected scale. In  the past, the channels used to deliver ideas were not as  advanced as today so, traditionally, brands delivered ideas capitalizing on  emotional participation techniques. Then, came better technology offering  enormous scale and immense participation; people started to take control of how  they consumed everything. On top of that, they started to express their ‘controlled choices’ with everyone. This gave birth to functional participation (on a mass scale) and higher expectations. Ultimately, these mega shifts in how people used to receive and share information, content and thoughts changed the overall behaviour of the society,   resulting in a changed world, revealing a new type of  communications  landscape . 

Today, people living in the ‘greatest age’ have developed an incredibly loyal attitude towards New Brands (brands borne during the digital era, IPA). Mad Men say brands are losing loyal  audience. However, I disagree. Without a doubt, people have changed their  definition of loyalty, but on a grand level they are more loyal than ever before. Their demand is simple ‘Transparent Value Exchange’ so there's no wonder why we only have one book shop (Amazon), one music store (iTunes), one wikitionary (Wikipedia), one market (eBay), one help desk (Google) and one community centre (Facebook). 

The Ideas Crisis: 

With an increasingly evolving definition of  scale and participation, it’s becoming more and more difficult to deliver brand  ideas. Today, what we really need is the strategy to create relevant and meaningful ideas, and an understanding to deliver them consistently across all  environments / channels. 

In recent years, whilst working  on various brands from all sorts of different sectors, I got the feeling that  we are moving away from owning and delivering our ideas consistently. That we  were becoming more excited by the stuff we didn’t know about and less  interested in keeping ideas intact. On various occasions, I experienced the same brand message being delivered with a different idea in one environment and  with different thoughts in all others (I believe that I am not alone). Even a  decade ago, this was alright as the scale that controlled ideas was mainly  limited to a handful of channels. It was manageable if an idea was delivered in one environment in one way, and with a different story in all others i.e. ATL, Direct, PR, BTL etc. Today, things are more connected. If an idea is  disconnected in one environment, it can easily be identified as being disparate  to what it should be. This eventually results in damaging the overall  communications investment. 

Like every other industry, in  advertising there are all sorts of brands: strong, good, bad, new, weak, boring  etc. There are brands that run on ideas and there are brands that work around functionality. However, if ideas are the most important element in the  communications business then we need strong advertising brands to take the  responsibility of securing the core of our industry (ideas) from the dangers of  the “greatest age”. 

From Gridlock Planning to  Collaborative thinking: 

To design and develop ‘ideas’ for the new landscape of the “greatest age”, we need grand and specialist  advertising agencies working together. The Enablement of this process requires a ‘planner agency’ i.e. Agencies that can bring everyone together (imagine if the advertising industry was one big advertising agency i.e. account  management, media, creative, technology) and help everyone understand the value of ‘enduring ideas’. And when this happens, it’s simply satisfying, allowing  better control over ideas and more confidence to the client (I recently had the  opportunity to experiment ‘Network Modelling’ on couple of briefs). 

planner agencies.jpg

To succeed in the new landscape, we need to encourage participation at all levels and maximise the  scale of our thinking from the ‘inside’ and outside of our industry. In this, lies the hope to have connected and consistent ideas, built for brands, designed around people; as an oasis of calm amongst the seasons of the “greatest age”.
14 October 2010, 09:49
2010 Jay Chiat Awards Winners Announced

Posted by: Joseph Clift, Product Manager, Warc

Blog author

Best Buy, LG and Toyota were among the big winners at the 2010 Jay Chiat Awards for Strategic Excellence, held in Miami last night.

The annual event, organised by the 4A's, recognises "brilliant strategic thinking" and covers ten categories ranging from the Best New Brand to Social Media Strategy and Research Innovation.

Overall, 11 Gold, 11 Silver and 11 Bronze Awards were handed out, alongside a total of 17 Honorable Mentions.

Selected winning papers are available to Warc subscribers here.

The Grand Prix will be announced later this week.

12 October 2010, 15:27
Mouldy carrots and re-cycling bins: adventures in Choice Architecture

Posted by: Judie Lannon, Editor, Market Leader

Blog author

I recently tried to explain to an elderly relative what my step-daughter’s interest in ‘sustainable fashion’ meant. Turning mouldy carrots into silk and banana skins into linen (or bottle tops into handbags as Mrs. Clegg demonstrates) to make clothes that Marks and Spencer believe would be bought by their customers was the most concrete I could make it. He pressed me to explain why girls wanted clothes made out of mouldy carrots or banana skins so I tried, probably unsuccessfully, to explain that the girls probably didn’t care. They just wanted clothes to be fashionable and affordable. But M&S did care because of (no) Plan B which promised that what they sold would be as environmentally friendly as possible and that’s all that mattered.

But it did get me thinking about the role of retailers and, more specifically the notion of Choice Architecture. About 6 months ago I was stirred into action by an article in the Evening Standard saying that London’s recycling record is right down at the bottom of the league table of European cities. Worse than Bucharest. Like most people I have an uneasy relationship with re-cycling and sustainability in general. I want to be good, I really do but re-cycling in small houses with small kitchens in a big city is hard work. (I read recently about a family who managed to recycle so much that they only threw out one bag of rubbish a year! Clearly lunatics.)

11 October 2010, 10:45

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