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