Sunday, December 31, 2006

Wine on a Plane

How many times have you enjoyed a new brand of wine and then never drank it again 'cos you've forgotten what it was?

I was on a Qantas flight the other day, drinking some luke warm wine from a lovely plastic cup. Yet somehow it still tasted pretty good.

Mawsons have come up with a nice little idea which let's people rip off a small tag from the label so they can remember what brand it is next time they're in the bottle shop.

There doesn't seem to be a huge amount of innovation in the wine industry. There was a lot of resistance to the screw top cap by the wine makers, but it's been pretty quickly embraced by consumers.

So whilst this idea by Mawson's doesn't have much 'wine snobbiness' about it, it will probably sell a lot more bottles of plonk for them.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Pricelessness has it's Price

Mastercard did a great job with their first tactical ad when we won the Ashes.

Then things started to do downhill when this appeared a couple of days later. And somehow the agency managed to convince them that because the idea is so ordinary, that it will take not one, but two full page ads in the SMH to work!

Then it got even worse. In this one, they haven't even used the glue that that whole idea is built around.

And it just looks crap. If you're gonna advertise a premium card, at least make it look like a premium ad. This just ain't attractive.

And is it really gonna make me change my credit card?

There must be something in the research that says it's ok to bag the living crap out of the poms when we're kicking their arse.

I reckon there's a difference between doing it to your pommy mates down the pub and having some corporate third party shoving it in their face.

They might want to remember that there's an awful lot of them living here, and a lot travelling around buying the paper every day (there's not a whole lot of choice here in Sydney, remember).

So whilst these ads might get Mastercard another 100 new users, they're probably pissing off another 10,000 current users.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Bootscooting Dennis

Take one of Australia's greatest fast bowlers. A man who struck fear into opposing batsmen.

A man who thundered in with long hair, the crowd behind him.... chanting...."Lillleeeeee, Lillleeeee....."

It was 1977, a golden age of cricket, almost 30 years ago.

So what more logical choice for an endorser could there be for Steel Blue, the most comfortable boot you can buy.

Boots you can walk around in.

Maybe dig for coal.

Walk nex to a mountain stream. Chop wood.

Because when it comes to being comfortable in the outback, it's good to know that Dennis Lillee was paid a sum of money to promote a boot he has absolutely nothing to do with....

Steel Blue's first choice of Zoolander doing Blue Steel was unavailable

Monday, December 25, 2006

This is Australia

Part of the reason The Snowman, from my last post, seems so mystical is because Christmas time in Australia has nothing to do with snow. I don't think I've ever seen a snowman.

For me, it's all about firing up the barbie in 40 degree heat and drinking beers.

There's been no better ad that typifies how different things are in Australia at Christmas time versus Europe than the Coke one from 1998. Features Gangjagang, incidently the very first CD I ever bought (it was either that or Genesis, Abacab).

I know this ad's not a Christmas ad, but it captures that feeling of heat and thirst and being with mates as you kick back over Christmas (even though I just spent Christmas Day in sub-zero temperatures in Melbourne yesterday!).

It's a classic problem/solution ad that also delivers the emotional benefit so well.

If they ran that ad today, straight off the rack, Coke might even go some way to delivering a relevant message for once to anyone of the age of 30. Like they do in Africa.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

More Barry Dawson - The Cougar

Like Warney to the MCG, Barry Dawson is by far the biggest bringer of people to The Jason Recliner. My post on these ads a month ago is still bringin' em in.

I had a link to all the ads on YouTube, but they got taken down. But at least you can see now them at the Barry Dawson web site.

It's a great site, too bad you can't find the bloody thing. When you type in "Barry Dawson Cougar" into Google, The Jason Recliner comes up fourth. The official site is nowhere to be seen. It's clearly adopted Barry Dawson's ancient art of invisibleness.

Even when you type "Cougar Bourbon" into Google, the art of invisibleness is again mastered.

There's also a Myspace site

Surely whoever did this, assuming it was George Patts Y&R, can get the thing up near the top of Google somehow. It looks like they've got a winner on their hands.

And if anyone from Fosters reads this, they can thank me for sending all this traffic to their sites by sending me a Boony doll.

Barry Dawson kicks back in his own version of The Jason Recliner

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Cazaly & The Snowman

Sometimes you hear a piece of music that just blows you away. And then you get some visuals which take it to a new level.

Kinda like hearing "Up There Cazly" for the first time and watching Jezza take that screamer in the film clip.

I'd never seen The Snowman before until I saw it over at Doug's. Thanks Doug. The first song in this is just amazing.

Merry Christmas from The Jason Recliner

Thursday, December 21, 2006

One More Moment of Pricelessness

Another Ashes celebration, from Tuesday's Sydney Morning Herald.

Not sure if Mastercard ripped off the bit of homemade viral that popped up a few days ago, but it was an ad waiting to happen.

They wimped out on not using the word 'pom' though, which was given the all clear today by the Advertising Standards Board.

It would nice to have the budget to blow on a full page newspaper ad for what's a one-off. Suppose that's what you can do when you've got a long term campaignable idea.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Thunderbird 5

Apparently I have been tagged. Thank you Katie for this privilege. This means I have to reveal 5 things about me which most people don't know about.

I've already read through the lists of Seb, Gavin, and an Angry Man.

Given this is a marketing blog I've tried to at least keep some of it somehow related, but I must warn you that it might not all be pretty.....

1. I have never been with a man
In my 16 years of marketing and countless companies, I have never once worked on a product where the primary target market has been male.

2. I don't want to know about women
When I started at J&J working on feminine hygiene, the first qual research report I read was all about discharge (I told you this might not be pretty). I had to leave that job after a year. The woman's body was losing all of it's wonderful mystery and becoming some kind of machine!

3. I know how to get the dirt
I can reveal that there is no difference between the formula of Cold Power and Dynamo except for the fragrance.

4. I am a rock god
I have an albums worth of material, including the classic hits 'Nude Nude Nude' and 'Come to the Middle'. Anyone who grew up near Fern Tree Gully will understand this song. You can listen to them (and again I warn you in advance) here.....

5. I have felt like the England Cricket Team
Years ago, I played cricket against both Rodney Hogg and Graham Yallop, who played for a couple of different teams in the Ringwood District Cricket Association in Melbourne. They were both about 40 at the time. Hoggy nearly knocked my head off and Yallop made a ton.

Apparently I now have to select 5 people to pass this same request onto. I'm not even sure I know 5 other bloggers. So....

Stan Lee at Brand DNA. An astute observer of the world but the world of Stan remains a secret to us all.

Kirsty.... Spreading a little aussie sunshine from a Parisian winter.

Doug.... Planning for fun. As is should be. There's a lot of seriousness going around in this online planning world.

Track n Kern...the first blog to link to the Jason Recliner!

Rach from Syd-a-nee....I liked Angry Man's idea of randomness, so picked a random blog from the Australian Index

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Tonk a Pom

As Australia continues to thump England in the Ashes, it's impressive how the Aussie players always maintain such a diplomatic stance in interviews.

They've clearly been coached well in media relations - nothing of any interest is ever said and the players somehow manage to find nice things to say about England (excluding Fletcher) straight after kicking their butts on the park. It's cliche heaven.

So it's surprising that the players agents have allowed them to feature in Ford's Tonk a Pom. The Aussies are coached so hard not to gloat in the media, and next thing there's Michael Hussey tonking a pom. Sticking the boot in.

Something about it is just wrong.

Personally I would just prefer to thump them, say all the right things, and then party like there's no tomorrow. But maybe that's just my way of winning. And from what I've seen it's the way Ponting and his players think as well.

Australians love winners. We love beating England. We love it no matter what the sport is. But when the players start gloating about how good they are it generally doesn't sit too comfortably with the Aussie public.

Perhaps Ford have researched their target market and found out that the Tonk a Pom attitude is exactly the way to act. And after seeing lots of brainless yobbo's carrying on at the cricket it wouldn't surprise me.

It's possibly the same target market as Bundaberg Rum. Years ago I went for a job as a Brand Manager on Bundy Rum. When the recruiter said I would have to spend a lot of time drinking with the target market in places like Gympie and Rockhampton, I breathed a giant sigh of relief when I didn't get the job.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Bloody Australia

I can't think of a more lovely person to stand on one of our beaches and swear at me than Lara Bingle...

Apparently it was a bit of a dud when the Japanese didn't quite understand the bloody tagline. Luckily the Chaser team came up with a couple of decent alternatives which they researched around Sydney.....

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Bouncing Balls Resurrection

I found this guy on YouTube who had all these great ads which I've linked from my site, including ones for Barry "The Cougar" Dawson (who is far and away the biggest drawcard to this website via Google).

Anyway, my YouTube buddy has taken all his ads down, so case anyone missed it..... I'm going to have to re-post this ad....

Monday, December 11, 2006

I Feel Pretty

I've been talking about sponsorship lately.

The use of celebrities isn't really sponsorship - it's more endorsement - but it kinda falls under the same roof. Ultimately it's about using the vehicle of a celebrity or an event to drive the equity and the sales of a brand.

I like this ad for Nike, featuring supergrunter Maria Sharapova. It really captures the whole "Just Do It" positioning, probably better than any other Nike ad I've seen.

I'm looking for an ad which uses an endorser but has missed the mark somewhat. Can't find one...that will have to wait for another day.

In the meantime, this sketch involving turtles from Shaun Micallef will have to do.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Out of the Bix FMCG

There's some smart marketers at Sanitarium. They don't sponsor sports teams and big events, and spend all the big bucks that go with it.

They go for the strategy of sponsoring individual athletes rather than the team.

It looks like they individually sponsor Brett Lee and Tim Cahill. Brett Lee is a major spokesperson for the brand and does heaps of ad hoc stuff at events, online, and of course stars in quite a few TV ads.

Then on top of this, they provide the 'Official Breakfast Cereal of the Australian cricket team'.

Same goes for the Australian football (soccer) team.

So as a punter, it all just blends in. It looks like Weetbix and Sanitarium is an official sponsor of the Australian cricket team.

Fact is they're probably only paying a fraction of the cost versus the mob who are.

Anyway, here's a nice bit of viral from YouTube. Probably done for about $5k on a handycam.....

Not forgetting a few years ago when every sixth pack of Weetbix became Brett-bix. This is out of the bix, oops - box, thinking for FMCG. These guys are good!

Sanitarium is toying with the idea of MontyBix for the English market

Monday, December 04, 2006

4 Losers in a Room

Pretty crap prize if you ask me.

Anyway, I thought everyone else gets to have it as well?

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Kodak's Road to Nowhere

Everyone knows Kodak are really struggling, and they're not doing themselves any favours.

I saw this ad in the latest Marketing Magazine. The visual actually got my attention. Going up Kilimanjaro on an escalator makes a lot of sense to me.

Then the ad just gets into drivel mode. Lots of useless words that don't offer me any reason to use Kodak in a business environment.

Then at the end of it, they've got the cheek (or stupidity) to ask people to call them. It's pretty easy to see with this kind of attitude why they're on a road to nowhere.

David Ogilvy said it best in 1963 in Confessions of an Adman.....

"The consumer isn't a moron. She is your wife. You insult her intelligence if you assume that a mere slogan and a few vapid adjectives will persuade her to buy anything."

Friday, December 01, 2006

A Healthe Sponsorship

I am thrilled the A-League is up and running, and football is finally building some kind of currency in this country up against the rugby boofheads.

And I finally have a team to support in sydney - Sydney FC, who now appear to running a lot more smoothly over the last month. Not sure how much of this has to do with the fact that an ex-adman - Tim Parker - stepped aside as head honcho, has to do with it.

From what I've seen, leaders of ad agencies often aren't the best equipped people to be running businesses, but that's another story. Not that running an ad agency would be easy I reckon, but I digress.

I've been to about 10 games over the last 18 months. I watch Sydney games on TV. I'm probably what you'd call a pretty decent supporter, without being fanatical. The type of person a sponsor of Sydney FC would probably expect to have an impact on.

Anyway, Sydney FC's main sponsor is a company called Healthe. Good on 'em....they took a punt on being key sponsor of a new club in a new league.

But to be honest, I still don't know what Healthe actually do or offer. All I've seen is their logo on the shirts and some signs around the ground.

When I go to their web site, I still don't really know what they're trying to sell.

When I go to the ground, there's a whole of activation activities from a lot of brands. But not Healthe.

When I go to the Sydney FC web site, there's not even a link to the Healthe web site.

To me it looks like Healthe had the money to cover the sponsorship, but not the money to do the over and above stuff which gets the punters involved in the brand over the course of the season.

Key point: Budget not just for Sponsorship, but for proper activation of the sponsorship.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Sunday, November 26, 2006

And Now a Word From Our Sponsor

I think I'm going to focus on sponsorship for a little while. It's an interesting arena and I see a lot of examples of how it should and shouldn't be done. In my eyes anyway.

Everytime I go to a big sporting ground and see signage around the ground which has a brand on it, I cringe. Especially when over the course of the game, that's all I ever see of the brand. A sign around the ground does bugger all.

If all you can afford to do is put some signage around the ground and drink cocktails in the box, then you can't really afford to sponsor.

The other part of successful sponsorship - relevant branding and engaging with the audience - are the most critical elements of a sponsorship program. Red Bull has done it brilliantly with their crazy plane flying lunatics.

Mount Franklin is one of many sponsors of the National Breast Cancer Foundation, and has whacked pink caps on it's water bottle for three months. Whether that's driven more loyalty from women (and from the women I've spoken to, it has) versus turning the brand into a gay brand for blokes (and from the blokes I've spoken to, it has), remains to be seen.

I remember reading a book by Sergio Zyman a few years in The End of Advertising as We Know It, and he was putting forth that everything is advertising. Not just the traditional stuff, but PR, customer service, sponsorship, the delivery trucks etc, are all forms of advertising where there is a consumer touchpoint involved.

That book came out 4 years ago and since then 360 degree planning and engaging the consumer at all touchpoints etc has become the norm (in theory anyway).

Within a company however, I wonder how much of sponsorship is viewed as advertising. I'm sure there are a number of aspects the team will work through in terms of what they want it to deliver. For instance:

* Build and drive brand values through a positive association
* Drive commercial return
* Engage staff
* Connect with the Community

For me, if you're investing $2 million behind a sponsorship, then it should deliver some kind of sales return.

Because ultimately, if you can't show your sponsorship investment to be having some impact on your bottom line sales, then there's a risk that that money could end up back behind stock standard brand advertising.

That's the challenge I guess. What are the right measurement tools to gauge success?

Anyway, this is my preamble. I'm now on the sponsorship hunt!

RSVP Online Dating knew they had made a mistake when they started sponsoring Shane Warne

Friday, November 24, 2006

Sorry We're Dead

How many times have you seen this....

.....and ended up getting this...

It's all a matter of setting expectations up front with these beaut door signs....

From the Cereal Art website

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Comedy Magic From Idris Karom

Bold text provided by the Jason Recliner. Enjoy.......


Dear Friend,

Please read carefully, This is secret and confidential.

I hope that you are well today. I am the Manager of Audit and account dept of our bank, with due respect i decided to contact you over this business financial transaction worth the sum of FIFTEEN MILLION, TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS ( 15.2Million usd ) in other to entrust this fund into your bank account.

This is an abandoned fund that belongs to the one of our bank customers who died along with his entire family on 25th July,2001 in a plane crash disaster. I was very fortune to meet the deceased file when i was arranging the old and abandoned customers files of 2000-2001 in other to submit to the bank managements accordingly for documentation purposes.

Following our banking financial policy, it was obviously indicated and signed law fully that if such money remains unclaimed after five years without somebody been a foreigner apply and claim the fund as the next of kin , the money will be transferred into the Bank Treasury as an unclaimed fund. So the request of you as a foreigner is necessarily needed for the claim because a citizen of Burkina Faso cannot come forward to claim the fund since the law does not permit an indigene to claim such fund Since the real beneficary of the fund is died , the bank are expecting the next of kin to apply for the release of the fund for him or her without delay but unfortunately i learnt through the investigations which I carried out that there is nobody behind who can come and claim the fund.

Therefore I want you to apply to the bank with your reliable bank account details where our bank will transfer the fund into and immediately the fund is transferred into your account ,i will share the fund according to the percentage indicated below. SIXTY PERCENT (60%) of the total fund will be for me.THIRTY PERCENT( 30%) for you in provision of the Bank account.FIVE PERCENT(5%) will be for unexpected expenses which may occur during the transfer.FIVE PERCENT(5%) will be preserved for helping the helpless people, like charity organization and motherless babies.

Thereafter you will help me to visit your country for sharing the money according to the percentage indicated above. And for the immediate transfer of this fund into your bank account as arranged, you must apply first to the bank as the only existing next of kin to the deceased customer and after approval which will take place immediately as you applied, the transfer of the fund into your nominated bank account will proceed. Please note that you should keep this business secret until you confirm the transfer into the bank account which you will provide. And there is NO RISK in this business if you can follow my instructions because am still working with the bank.

The bank will forward to you all necessary documents related to the transfer and which will prove that you make a legal claim of inheritance. It is true that i pray to GOD before i was pushed forward to contact you for this business but i want you to assure me solemnly that you are trsutwothy,reliable,honest and capable to avoid cheating me in this business.If you are really sure of your integerity, Reply immediatelly you receive this mail. This is my privert e-mail address ( and call me on 00226-7650 7383 for more detailed information on how the process to transfer the fund into your account will be.

Yours faithfully,

Mr Idris Karom

Monday, November 20, 2006

Deadly Party Hats

300,000 people turned out in Perth to watch madmen fly around in their magnificant flying machines on the weekend. Not bad, for a city of 1 million people.

And not bad either for Red Bull, who are the naming rights sponsor of the event. They pretty much own it all....The Red Bull Air Race. There's some awesome footage on this site as these blokes fly through giant party hats at breakneck speed.

This is a top example of how a brand which has values of excitement, energy, bravery, risk taking and possibly a good dose of mindless party-type loonyness has found an event to match.

Whilst so much sponsorship money falls through the cracks in an over cluttered environment, Red Bull has pulled off a winner here.

It will be interesting to see what kind of impact there is on the brand after someone gets killed. Somehow I don't think it won't make too much difference.

Great news in Perth though. The only casualty was a kid who got kicked in the head by a police horse.

Joe was flummoxed when he came into land and was confronted by not one, but two giant Mr Squiggles.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

A Fantastic English Voiceover

I made the comment in my last post about how many english voiceovers you hear in Oz, which does surprise me a little.

Of course, some ads work brilliantly with an english voice.

Then again, this is an ad from the UK so that's what you would expect.

And to be honest, I'm just trying to find an excuse to put this ad on my blog.

Friday, November 17, 2006

The Cougar

I love looking at advertising for alcohol. There's obviously so much insight work that goes on behind the scenes and it's fun to try and pick which ones I think are working well and which ones aren't.

I reckon the current campaign for Cougar bourbon is a cracker. Barry Dawson is The Cougar! He's a king-fu hack and a real tragic. But I like him! And I think a lot of other aussies would like him as well.

Like Flashbeer, it pokes a bit of fun at the characters we warm to in our lives. Tragic dags with good hearts, who still have the confidence to take charge. Not too dissimilar from my favourite campaign of all time....Real Men of Genius.

Great voiceover too.

Pity I don't drink bourbon.

There used to be another video here but it was taken down from YouTube. Bugger

Compare the Cougar to this bloke here for a new Boags beer. Yep, it's got all the premium cues, but I'm not sure men are going to feel very much for this guy. It's all presented in a very removed kind of way. We're watching from afar, wheras with the Cougar we feel like part of the story. Also, from what I've seen, not many guys like to be seen chasing a woman that hard. The product itself looks great, but it comes across as someone in a shiny new suit trying too hard to impress a girl in the bar.

On a separate note, it still surprises me how many English voiceovers we still hear in this country. I'm not sure the English would be so tolerant of every second ad in the UK having an Aussie voiceover. Some of my best mates are English, but crikey....that's half a world away. And with the Ashes about to start and the country filling up with the Barmy Army, I'm not sure how receptive aussie beer drinkers will be a badge of english gallantry on their beer label.

Well, there used to be an ad on YouTube but the guy has taken them down

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Google Minded Propositions

How do you make an ad watchable and entertaining when the client gives you a brief with 47 different things that need to be said?

Monday, November 13, 2006

What's Your Problem?

There was some discussion on another site about whether you needed to have a proposition or not as part of the creative brief.'s my humble opinion.

Ad strategy normally starts with working out the brand problem. Once that's sorted, you work out what you want to do to solve the problem.

That's normally a course of action that means getting consumers to think and then behave differently. On all the products I've ever worked on it means an outcome that sells more units.

For me, a proposition is what you propose to say to the consumer. This proposal should be based around a functional benefit &/or how you want them to feel. And it's designed to get people to think and act differently to overcome the problem.

So if you don't have a problem, then you don't have to say anything.

And if you don't have to say anything, you don't need to advertise.

Brand problems that require a communication solution need a proposal.

Otherwise you risk a piece of communication which might resemble something like this....

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Meat Boy

Sometimes no matter how much you research a new initiative, results can often be heavily impacted by unexpected market forces......

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Transmedia II - the Sequel

OK, now that I have made myself appear all smart and stuff by talking about transmedia planning in my last post, I reckon it's worthwhile delving into the practicalities of all this.

In my (mostly) FMCG client side experience, I think that agencies are struggling to come up with the stock standard cohesive 360 degree/media neutral campaigns based around one idea.

I'm talking the big agencies here, not the assorted hot shops in town.

This is what usually happens....

The planner focuses on getting words right on the brief, and not much more. I'm wondering when all this interesting thinking I've been seeing over the net in the last couple of months is going to filter through to specific actions by big agency planners.

At the creative meeting a 30 second ad gets presented (with perhaps a bonus print ad). The TVC is usually the biggest spend item in the budget, so the agency is (understandably) reluctant to do the whole 360 degree planning outlook until the client signs off on that creative idea. And how often does that happen after showing the first ad?

Then when the TV is finally signed off, the comms idea gets half heartedly presented across some further channels. Some of it is good, some isn't. But it's not some integrated approach. It's ultimately force fitted around the TV ad.

I don't know whether they're harder for FMCG brands to achieve, whether agencies are giving the client what they want to see, whether it's a lack of understanding on the clients behalf about the potential of this new comms world outside a 30 second TVC. I suspect it's often a combination.

This isn't being cynical. It just generally happens this way. And some of the campaigns have been quite successful, I should add.

All based on my experience, and I'm sure there are plenty of other examples to suggest otherwise, but ultimately, I'd be happy if agencies could crack the common 360 degree comms model before they start talking about stuff like Transmedia planning.

Unless of course it's all one and the same thing.

Transmedia Planning is already being labeled as old news in the wake of the newest advertising model - Transvestite Planning.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Transmedia & Brand Communities - 1

Here's a couple of random thoughts about the interesting thinking on Transmedia Planning and Brand Communities, currently taking place around the traps.

First it came from Faris at Naked, and then expanded upon by Jason at Burnetts Toronto.

Jason has mentioned a couple of examples where brands have successfully adopted this approach. Dove and Lynx/Axe being two great ones.

This is the stock standard media neutral model where one idea is expressed in different ways. Faris outlined the broad model which looks like this...

Transmedia Planning

Transmedia planning is (and I'll just quote Jason here)....

"The gist of it is that rather than using different media channels to communicate the same idea, you can use each channel to communicate different things. Everything is still tied together by the same brand strategy or narrative, but each channel does what it does best, rather than bending to fit an idea that's not really built with any particular channel in mind."

The model builds in the fact that different media is better at different things, and that people are social beings.

OK, so that's all the background. Now.....

What About FMCG?

This all makes sense for an iPod, or Playstation, or an aspirational car brand.

But I've been thinking about how the transmedia model works in relation to FMCG brands. What about toilet paper? Or laundry detergent? Or Chicken Tonight?

The key question is whether you feel a brand will sell more by engaging a brand community versus another comms approach. I was going to say 'smaller brand community' there but Dove has proved that theory wrong.

If it's agreed that it's the right approach, I think there's a way in for all brands - it's just a matter of understanding the key insights and an appreciation (and knowledge) of new media and a desire to go there.

The key is coming up with the insights which ultimately will help engage the brand community (or create one).

To quote Jason again, "perhaps Dove and Axe started by looking at what are some interesting, provocative, topical cultural issues that are linked with using those products, and played with them. So they've started by asking "what's interesting about this brand/category" rather than "what's our USP/message?" Maybe that's the way in."

Another I've heard is 'How can we spark their curiosity?'.

Russell Davies talks about listing a number of key insights rather than focussing on one proposition.

But ultimately where there's a will, and a valid reason to go there, there's a way.

I'll talk about some of the key barriers facing FMCG companies in another post. This one is already too long. For now, it's time to look at.....

Some FMCG brands giving it a red hot tilt

I've already talked about Sanitarium's Up & Go Energize targeting male youth through an integrated campaign featuring supercross star Chad Reed.

It's the same proposition against this thrillseeking, high adrenalin, motorcross loving community as it is against Gym Junkies. Yet the product has found a relevant voice amongst both targets. The only thing missing in the Chad Reed campaign is a blog.

Another one, fairly obviously, is Johnson's Baby's sponsorship and involvement in the popular BabyCenter online community.

Not so obvious is toilet paper.

Kleenex engaged the community of those with an interest in short films. In Australia we have a massive event every year called Tropfest- the world's largest short film festival. It features 16 short films (from 1000's of entries) and shown to massive open-air audiences.

Kleenex collaborated with a comedian and former Tropfest winner, Gary Eck, to create a short film featuring their new Flushable Wipes. It premiered at the Tropfest event and filtered through the Tropfest and short film community as a talking point.

The activity was also based on a solid strategic insight, as intensive quantitative research showed that 100% of these short film lovers do a poo every day.

Design my Record Profit

The ANZ has come up with a nice Customer Made idea.

The idea is that you can upload a photo of your choice onto your ANZ credit card. It's called Design My Card and it seems like a good way to establish a stronger the connection between the brand and the customer. It might even attract a couple of new users.

The only question mark is the cost of $15. Last thursday, the ANZ announced record profits of $3.7 billion.


Sometimes brands can get a lot of mileage out of offering something up a little unexpected. Especially like this when there's a level of emotion and engagement that works in the consumer's favour. This might have been an opportunity missed here I suspect.

You'd hate to think that 'Design My Card' could be construed by some consumers as 'Design my Record Profit'.

But then again, aren't all banks bastards?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Making Clients Less Stupid - 3

As I've discovered, some agency folk think clients are stupid.

So here's another idea (alongside this one, and this one) which this agency chief might like to propose to his clients to help them better appreciate the role of creativity in driving the brand forward. Rather than banging them over the head telling them they're a bit stupid.

Why not set up a blog that can be accessed only by the agency and client. Probably not too dissimilar to The Jason Recliner.

The opportunity to make advertising for brands in my career was a really strong reason to study marketing at Uni all those years ago. It's the pointy, fun end. Most marketers just don't have that much time to devote to it once they're in the bump and grind of brand management.

But the blog might provide the stimulus to do it. I only set this blog up so I could record examples of marketing and advertising that I see. Now, everyday I'm keeping an eye out for things of interest. The marketer in me is working overtime. And it's amazing the amount I've learnt in the short time I've had the blog running.

And I've seen some pretty creative stuff that I'd wish I'd done for my brand.

So given that the best learning comes from within, the agency should get clients to start thinking about what they see as good/bad/creative/effective advertising. Because too often this conversation is a one way street.

Could be a nice little job for the agency Strat Planner.

The Hilux equivalent of Dove's 'Campaign for Real Beauty'

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


I've discovered another brand which has reverted to, and I'd like to apply my own Trendwatching term here....Yobbo-ism.

Yobbo-ism is the marketing act of taking a premium brand in the marketplace and tailoring it to yobbo's.

First it was Galliano. Now Lion Nathan have adopted it.

Tooheys Extra Dry has always been a more premium beer and reasonably cool. Not Asahi uber-cool, but cool enough to distinguish it from the good old staple Tooheys New.

Now they've launched Tooheys Extra Dry Platinum. It has more alcohol in it (6.5% vs 5%). But instead of making the brand cooler, it seems the message is that it just makes you drunker and more yobbo-like.

Flicking through a street press mag I came across this double page spread....

Attached to it was a plastic bag. It asks you to send in a bodily sample for DNA testing (at your own expense)....

Then you go to this rather boring site and wander around aimlessly with no sign of a brand whatseover. I know it's not meant to clunk you over the head, but at some point you want to get some brand exposure for the investment.

It all just seems like too good a brand to apply Yobbo-ism to.

Who knows - the positioning might be spot on. Lion Nathan have a bunch of serious european premium beers which they probably don't want to overlap with.

And there's probably a market for down-to-earth working types who are looking to trade up on image from VB and New but see Heineken as a wanker's beer.

But is the comms idea a good one when it's based around sending a scab through the mail? The first impression you get of the brand is pretty banal.

And it makes less sense when the last ad we all saw (and loved) for Tooheys Extra Dry was this.....

Monday, November 06, 2006

The Evil Despot

There is something quite alluring about this fine bit of headline copy on todays Telegraph.

I think it's because it contains the words 'Evil Despot'.

Multimedia is the New LSD

Sometimes I wonder why marketers get paid 3 times more than school teachers and all I do is make toilet water blue.

Al is a school teacher in South Australia who has introduced the world of blogging to his Year 3 and 4 students.

Al Upton and the Mini Legends is his class project. The kids all have their personal blogs, and they contribute frequently to Al's interactive blog posts throughout the year.

Al has had the passion and the foresight to base a whole learning and value system around blogs. And pretty soon this method of learning will be the rule, not the exception.

So what happens?
Students connect with each other.
They share learnings and knowledge.
They're 'making it personal'.

What does this mean?
Trendwatching talked about the Customer Made opportunity for brands some time ago, and it's a generational time bomb for brands slow on the uptake. Especially youth oriented brands. Today's kids are tomorrows big spenders (OK, they're big spenders now, just via their parents).

It means brands that embrace the philosophy of co-created goods, services and experiences will ultimately win.

This ain't new news to bloggers, but perhaps it is news to other marketers I talk to who don't know what a blog is.

Kids today are 'making it personal'. They have a need/want to share these experiences and learnings over blogs, MySpace sites, YouTube etc. It means they're operating in an environment where public give and take, often on a highly emotional level, are part and parcel of human behaviour.

In the words of Paul McCartney, "and in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make".

Only this time youth is doing it using the drug of multimedia rather than LSD.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Misc Planning Quotes 1

Recorded here so I can reference them from time to time.

Thanks Richard Huntington.....

The planner's job is to devise a brand’s sales promise to the consumer and to prove the brands delivery against this promise. It is the planner’s role to be the salesperson. The planner is tasked with effectiveness.

This frees creatives up to present the promise and the proof in the most compelling way possible.

The role that creativity plays is as the media multiplier that converts £X of ad spend into £Y of effect through attention, engagement, transference of meaning, memorability and desire to disseminate. In this world the creative is tasked with efficiency – getting more effect out of limited budget.

Planners sell, creatives multiply.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Wonder Jocks

With some talk in blog posts recently about winning strategies for pitches, an Australian company has come up with a secret weapon which will help agencies downunder.

The new Patriot wonderjock is the male equivalent of the Wonderbra, which super-sizes blokes packages. "It basically lifts, separates and extends," said founder Sean Ashby.

The new wonderjock is heralded as a breakthough for agencies during the pitch process. As one agency exec explained, "It helps show the client we're bigger and better in all departments".

Another remarked, "The client wants to know we'd be really excited about working on their account, and that we're not afraid to tackle the meaty issues."

Not all ad folk are convinced though. One leading Creative Director remarked, "We're an integrated through the line agency and I see the wonderjock as purely being a below the line activity".

And a report suggests that one agency is rubbing up staff the wrong way by demanding that all personnel working on the pitch process, men AND women, wear the wonderjock.

Derek could finally start wearing his socks on his feet

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Action Standards Standards

One man walks into a bar and talks to 5 women. He gets rejected by them all and walks home in the doldrums.

Another man walks into a bar and talks to 5 women and gets rejected by all of them. He looks at this as a positive outcome and approaches the sixth girl with confidence. He knows that with every girl he approaches the likelihood of success increases with each introduction.

If he's successful 9 out of 10 times on average, then every knockback is one step closer to success.

So what is the measure of success?

I've found that this is a critical question which has major implications on the brand strategy. For instance, some companies regard new product launches which only last a year in the trade to be raging failures. The direct competitor might define these as a success.

I've worked in an FMCG company where the lead times for new innovations were really long. Conversely, their competitor was swift and had the ability to introduce new lines quickly. Not all of them worked and they were deleted in a year, but they always had a new product to take it's place. And some of them were stayers.

As a result, the competitor commanded critical shelf space with the trade. They had new news to talk to their consumer about. They created power brands within segments and the new innovations were strong fits with the brand proposition, so they helped drive total brand equity. And overall, they were showing massive growth whilst the company I worked for was in concerning decline.

A lot of it was to do with the nature of that particular category, where consumers had proven over time that they were very willing to try new things. New products on the shelf were welcomed and accepted.

Interestingly, the company I worked in defined the one year launches by the competitor as being failures. Given the dynamics of the market, I argued that they were in fact incredibly successful. The business results were the ultimate proof.

This measure of success had critical consequences on the entire performance of the business.

I traced the problem back to the action standards applied by the Market Research Dept. They had one action standard (eg one top box number) in place for all products across all categories across the entire company. If the result missed by 1 (out of 100), it wasn't launched.

Each new launch was treated the same, whether it was the launch of a major new brand, or a line extension which kids would love but be tired of in 12 months time. The action standards were in no way tied to the optimal strategy for a particular market.

The solution? Brand and category strategy needs to be determined and agreed up front. When this is agreed, only then should the right research action standards be put in place. Not the other way around.

Not every new launch is going to be the new U2 or Madonna. Whilst that's what we should strive for, we live in a disposable and fast changing world, and there's often benefit in balancing these up with an Arctic Monkeys or Franz Ferdinand (only 'cos I think these guys will never have another hit).

Bert had had enough of women's rejection in bars and decided to hit back

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Banks are Bastards

Banks are bastards and nothing they can ever do in advertising will change that opinion.

Most advertising which is meant to make us feel better about a bank tends to have the opposite effect. The Commonwealth Bank's "Which bank is changing?" campaign two years ago springs to mind. If ever there was a campaign which made their employees look like fools, this wins it hands down.

Westpac however, have made a pretty good fist of it in their latest campaign.

In 2003, ten banks in the world signed the Equator Principles, agreeing not to fund projects that endanger the communities or the environment. Westpac was the only Australian bank to do so.

The strapline of "Every generation should live longer than the last" appears to be backed up with a wide reaching set of principles and brand assets.

I've sat in so many focus groups where the consumer talks about how they buy products which are good for the environment. It's transparent qual research talk, of course. Scan data shows products with environmentally driven propositions in the supermarket are niche products which get deleted after 12 months.

But are the times changing? Al Gore and "An Inconvenient Truth" has kick started a valid conversation about how well we seem to be treating the world like a disposable Britney Spears song.

Global warming has credibility. Brands that can help find a solution may find a larger audience.

Westpac may well have come up with a campaign which actually makes people think they're a bit less bastard-like, and that's a pretty amazing thing in the banking world.

View the ad here

Otto was satisfied he was ready for the next Woodchopping competition in town next week after an intensive training routine

Monday, October 30, 2006

Making Clients Less Stupid - 2

I know quite a few people who have worked for Lisa Miles, who at one point was Marketing Director at Goodman Fielder. This was back in the day when the company was investing behind the Uncle Toby's brand and putting a really cohesive communication strategy in place that sold products but continued to deposit into the Uncle Toby's 'brand equity bank'.

These marketers felt that Lisa really understood marketing, brand strategy and creative. Not only that, she invested a lot of time with her team to help them become better thinkers.

One simple exercise she did was to sit down with a couple of her marketers, look at other brand advertising and discuss it. What was the insight? What is the ad trying to say? How powerfully do you think the ad is working? What could make it better? How does it stack up creatively? And so on.

Marketers become obsessed with their own world. They think people give a damn about the new seasoning they're about to launch. So sometimes it's good to look at how advertising is working outside of the company walls.

The point teams become better marketers and better at dealing with creative solutions when they're exposed to it and taught it. So when it's driven down from the Marketing Director (or maybe even the agency), the marketing team is going to be better equipped at evaluating advertising and media solutions. Including the more creative ones.

Top down teaching on the client side helps agencies sell more creative ideas.

Should agencies consider putting together some kind of ad/brand discussion toolkit that the Marketing Director can take and use with their team?

PS I don't think clients are stupid, but I think this man does.

The team agreed that the new Radiant ad was built around two key insights

Friday, October 27, 2006

Not Invented Here Syndrome?

What I thought was a one off tactical campaign for Guinness actually goes well beyond that. It looks like they've really thought about this for some time and think it's strategically sound. I just think it's a lame campaign.

When there's such a strong and ownable story in 'Good things come to those who wait', why go with a campaign which could be for any old beer brand?

Are the Australian marketers on Guinness suffering from the NIHS (Not Invented Here Syndrome)?

It's beer. Special beer. From Ireland. It's traditional. It's cool. It's almost mystical. It's wait. It's something.

Whatever it is, surely the magic in this brand doesn't revolve around bad sporting puns.

Like this....

or this.....

or this.....

But the magic quite possibly exists in something like this (which I haven't seen run in this country)......

Oh well, at least someone in Australia has adopted the 'Waiting for Guinness' approach.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

A Gut Full of Business

I'm thinking of smuggling one of these secret beer belly's into the next finance meeting.

It must be good. Crikey, look at how damn happy that bloke is!

With each passing sip, Ernie felt more comfortable about his new launch of Edible Mobile Phones.

Making Clients Less Stupid - 1

Some people in advertising think clients are stupid.

Clearly that's rubbish, but I think there is an opportunity to help some clients better understand the role of creativity.

So what can agencies do to help clients feel more comfortable about creative ideas?

How can agencies encourage clients to write better briefs which open up the door to better creative solutions?

Here's one idea to start with (with a few more to come). There's no doubt lots more and I'd welcome any ideas.

AWARD School for Clients

Award School (Australasian Writers and Art Directors Association) is a 12 week course about ideas, creative thinking and the processes involved in coming up with great ideas (and ultimately great ads). It's primarily aimed at people wanting to be art directors and copywriters in the ad industry. Anyone can apply.

Lecturers from the ad industry talk every week about how to spark ideas, or great creative within a particular medium, or some other creative principle.

Groups of students are also allocated to agencies, where students work on a brief evey week. These are evaluated (quite ruthlessly!) by agency creative teams.

I did it four years ago when I was a Marketing Manger. It was one of the best pieces of training I have ever done in my career. The key benefit was that it taught me how to write simpler, clearer, more powerful briefs.

It also exposed me to creative ideas across all mediums. It helped me understand what the creative team has to go through. It helped me appreciate the power of a creative idea.

Whilst some marketers might always revert back to the comfort of a formula ad, it can only help when marketers better understand creativity and embrace it, so they can at least make a balanced decision when it's time to approve creative.

Now that I've written this and searched for the Award link for this post, I see that there actually is an Award for Clients! Great news.

What might make it even better is to replicate the AWARD School course designed for future creatives. Make it an 8 or 12 week commitment. That's probably unrealistic, but even a 4 week commitment would be more beneficial than another 2 day training course.

If clients don't know about it (like I didn't), it might be worth a mention.

Advertising approved by someone who didn't do Award School

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Borat and 57 Varieties

I recently wrote a post about how FMCG marketing is getting harder due to excess innovation and private label growth.

Rather than being a barrier, I think this represents a fantastic opportunity for marketers to ensure consumers connect emotionally with their brand. And do it better than their competitors.

I'm combining a couple of things from some interesting blogs around the traps. Firstly a comment from Ben Mason's blog, summarising an APG gig in the UK....

Greg Nugent of Eurostar said that FMCG goods are not moving half as fast as consumers and quoted, 'I'm feeling 57 varieties of I don't give a fuck.'

Secondly is a clip from Doug's Planning for Fun, which features Borat and some cheese. Say no more......

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Flat Packed Freedom Fighter

Someone has taken the observation that little kids enjoy playing with the box more than the toy and then made something which, like McDonalds, appeals to our inner child.

Although unlike McDonalds, it won't give you Type 2 diabetes.

I came across this thing called Cardboy. I took me a while to work out what it was, but it's basically a cool collectable cardboard crimefighting art toy where the cardboard packaging is an integral part of his body.

The web site describes it as 'The Flat Packed Freedom Fighter. Fighting Crime in Cardboard City*'

* Except when it's raining.

I had the thought the other day that some brands have the opportunity to really drive a point of brand differentiaion with their packaging.

One of the latest Cardboy offerings is a sneaker series. I reckon this would be pretty cool to buy a new pair of runners, and then when you take the shoes out, you can turn the sneaker box into a Cardboy.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Real World Ad Testing

Just a random What If moment......

What if a company said to it's agency that it wants to make lots of ads?

Perhaps in the past, the company has worked on making one ad a year which cost $400k on production and $100k on pre-testing. That's $500k spent before the ad's gone on air, and it better damn work otherwise they'll never get their bonus.

Now the company says it wants ads which cost $50k to make. Lots of them. And test market them. And over time build up a bank of ads which work which can be run all around the country.

Let's say you made an a TV for $50k. You ran 600 TARPS in Adelaide over 4 weeks. This might cost another $50k or so. You measured scan data (2-3 week lag), and did some on-line brand tracking research (costs you would incur anyway).

Within 8 weeks you'll know pretty quickly what the ad did for your brand and it's sales. All for about the same cost as a Link test.

You might do something similar in Perth. And Brisbane.

Over time, you'll have a nice bank of ads, backed up with a robust understanding of how each of them works.

The contentious issue of ad testing is replaced with actual in market testing. The key challenge is the agency needs to come to the party and deliver strong creative on small budgets, and on a regular basis.

The upside is that they can sell more creative ideas more readily, because the risk suddenly becomes a lot less.

This approach won't work for all products, but it might work for some, especially those where the product offering doesn't change over time. Insurance firms, soft drinks, wine etc.

The creative teams were thrilled at the new "make an ad for $50k" policy

Friday, October 20, 2006

Coke's Cold Comfort

Coke invest a lot of money supplying fridges to customers in the route trade. But over time they have the problem of keeping the competition out of their fridges.

This is a nice little visual device which at least gives Coke some ownership and provides a bit of last minute advertising before the brand choice.

You wonder what other brands could look at a unique and innovative pack shape that's different to the rest of the category which they could take ownership of over time. Cigarettes? Tomato sauces? Shoe boxes? Milk? Politics? (Kim Beazley gave it a go and failed but has since relaunched)

Kim Beazley's new Super-Sized pack shape. Free toddler with every purchase.

Six Degrees of Kung Fu

A few days ago I posted what I thought was a brilliant ad for Volkswagen's Jetta. Clearly European (haven't seen it here in Oz).

Then I came across another ad for the same car, from the US by the looks of it.

Kung Fu doesn't do it for me. If it had have started with an emotion (eg a priceless Mastercard moment), at least the car would have related back to some kind of emotional grounding. But Kung Fu?

Making a stand and going with my gut instincts? Well the European ad's starting to talk to me a whole lot better.

I know that there's some clear cultural differences between Europe and the US, but is the gap that wide for a German car which probably has a consistent set of global brand values?

Anyway, I'm glad I'm not the Regional VW guy trying to get some cohesiveness for brand advertising worldwide.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Creative See, Creative Bitch

As a freelance planner, over the last couple of years I've worked with a lot of great smalller agencies around town (ad/promo/design agencies). These guys tend to operate under the radar and are just focussed on doing a great job for their client and their clients brand. They don't get caught up in all the gossip and spear throwing that seems to proliferate in ad agency world.

Stuff like this.....

DDB's ad (Children See, Children Do) to address prevention of child abuse and the comments from creatives that follow it

I hope not too many clients read this kind of stuff, because it just doesn't look good. The bitchiness and random thoughts based on purely subjective opinions only appear to illustrate that the definition of a good ad will vary wildly according to the creative team working on it. Everyone's got a different opinion. So if it's a purely subjective opinion, then the Assistant Brand Manager can be just as right as anyone else in the room.

It's stuff like this that makes me think the ad industry is pretty bad at advertising itself. Confusing uber-flash web sites are another example.

The opportunity as I see it as that ad agencies need to take ownership of being the advertising experts. Take out as much random opinion as possible and back up major presentations with the reasons why a particular piece of creative will work. I understant the blog on Campaign Brief is not the vehicle for this, but I make my comment based on most creative work presented to me over 15 years.

Having said all that, am I any different to those opinion makers on Campaign Brief? Just because I've got a blog and some nice pictures on it, I'm still expressing my opinion when frankly it's none of my damn business.

So for the record, I think this ad is excellent. The message couldn't be clearer or executed any more powerfully. I'm pretty sure this would have delivered the brief spot on. See it once and it resonates.

And I don't even have kids. But I think I'm acting a bit more grown up around my cat.

DDB's "Children See, Children Do" TVC

I Was Made For Smelling You

The Countdown Music revival seems to have worked, with 50 year old fans working the moshpit in their wheelchairs during the recent run of concerts.

So there's no reason why Gene Simmons (lizard tongued, blood spitting bass player from Kiss) shouldn't be mildly confident with his new range of fragrances - Kiss Him and Kiss Her.

"If people decide that a Kiss fragrance line makes sense," Simmons said, "who's to argue with America?"
Fair enough.

I wonder if this was his secret weapon for capturing women's hearts - 4,600+ notched on the bedpost apparently.

Gene Simmons points to the spot where Kiss Him should be placed for maximum effect

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Managing Your Private Parts

Apologies for the long post ahead. I wish I knew how to only display the first part of it.

It's just not as much fun as it used to be for marketers in FMCG companies.

First Coles and Woolworths got so big and powerful that the execution and success of brand plans had just as much to do with a buyer's KPI's than it's relevance to the end consumer.

And now that Coles and Woolworths have started their drive to increase private label share of category, the implications for FMCG brands are massive. And if that’s the case, then the ad agencies of those companies will be impacted as well.

Graham, the new Brand Manager, misread the brief and charged off to produce the new 'You'll Love Coles' product with dire consequences.

The key trends are evident:

* Shelf space for brands is becoming tighter as PL brands grow share of shelf

* Brand line extensions often mean one in, one out from that brands current range.

* Each category is getting more polluted with brand line extensions. Ski Yoghurt bars how compete with Kellogs K-Time bars in 'nutritional' snacks.

* New innovations being introduced generally cost more and whittle away at total brand margin.

* The trade is giving new lines little time to make an impact, with the threat of deletion raised at the first sign of slow unit sales.

So what does this mean?

It means the single biggest opportunity for marketers is to take control of the future of their company's profits. Outmarket the competition. Be a smarter marketer. Now that's exciting!

It means that we as marketers need to make brands as relevant and appealing as possible.

It means we need to leverage the power of the brand.

It means we need to unlock the insights and understand how our consumers are going to respond to our brand proposition better than anyone else in the market.

It means that we need to ensure our brand is always part of the consumers repertoire in the category.

It means the comms strategy needs to engage the consumer, tell a story about the brand and register an emotional bond. A Brand Power ad may sell some product, but when the dust has settled, what's left in the consumer's mind?

It means the brand growth needs to come from more than just line extensions. Rather, tactical activity and line extensions need to contribute strongly towards the brand values and positioning which will make consumers like it and want to keep buying it.

And it also means marketing has a strong role to play in how Private label is managed within their business. Marketers have to balance a mix of managing products, brands, categories, innovation and their own private label offerings within those categories.

This being the case, what does this mean for marketers?


Marketing must control Private Label, not the Sales Function
The problem in a lot of companies, especially those traditionally driven by volume, is that the Sales team have too much influence on Private Label. In some companies they even own the process. A very dangerous structure.

The Sales team have been smacked around the head for so long by the trade that when Coles or Woolies ask for a private label, the Sales team generally shout yes and do anything to make it happen. I've seen instances where they've said yes without anyone in the business knowing, and as a result the company is more or less committed when everyone else finds out.

If Sales own the Private Label function, or have too strong a say in it, the marketer risks getting ambushed.

If it's an issue, Marketing must wrest ownership back from Sales and set strong groundrules about the in-house process.

Employ a dedicated private label marketer (that's a Marketer, not a Salesperson who's been given a chance in marketing) who works closely with the marketing team and sales team.

And performance measurements that revolve just as much around delaying PL launches (see below) and managing the 'no' argument back to the trade should also be part of it.


Know when to release innovation into the PL arena
Innovation is the lifeblood of growth for FMCG. And innovation is not getting any easier either. Marketing teams are working harder to bring profitable and unique new products or line extensions into the market, working on time frames from 6 months to 2 years from concept to launch.

Coles and Woolworths will want all successful new innovations as soon as possible for their own brands. When should you give it to them? The answer is to delay as long as possible. If it's something you own, say a proprietary manufacturing process, you could argue to never give it to the trade.

This obviously increases the risk that you might lose the business. Don't worry, at the next dutch auction you can win it back with a lower price. Because that's often all it takes to win the business. The trade are about as loyal as Hugh Hefner. Aldi excepted. They're more like Brad Pitt. Highly committed but you still know he'll move on at some point.

And if your business is absolutely reliant on a private label win to stay afloat, maybe the grass is greener in a more brand driven organisation.

Hugh Hefner has a rather large brand repertoire whenever he shops in the Blonde Bombshell category

Ensuring Private Label Growth Won’t Cut Your Brand Marketing Budget
Many MD’s see a Private Label win as an incremental profit boost. It helps fill the factories, the manufacturing team are happy, and the Sales team achieve their volume target bonuses. The Private Label balloon gets big.

Then what happens is that private label gets built into the company P&L’s. That’s the P&L for both PL and branded business. Some nice growth shows up and makes shareholders all happy. And the company needs to keep showing its shareholders that it will continue to grow versus the prior year.

The problem here is that private label business can be lost as easily as it can be won. All the balloon needs is a little prick and it’s gone. A competitor undercutting price by a few cents can be all it takes. And Hugh Hefner as a buyer.

Or some purchasing guy ordering the wrong caps resulting in a 6 week out of stock. Bang. Business switched.

Or the system goes down during the online Dutch auction that the vendors use to decide who wins the business (at the lowest price of course).

So when there’s a huge gap in the profit number to make up, where’s the first place the MD will look? Most likely at the Marketing budget. That’s the marketing budget of the brand, by the way – not the Private Label.

So what should a company ideally do?

1. Clearly separate Private Label from brand P&L’s. This sounds common sense but I've seen instances otherwise.

2. Redirect all incremental profit back into brand building activity. If not all of it, then 50% of it. Fight for this as a condition of the pitch process.

In this day and age of massive retailer power, manufacturers have their own weapon – the power of their brands. Because without a strong brand, the future’s not looking too bright.

These are a couple of initial thoughts and I'd be interested to hear any others on this particular issue.