Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Tone Diversity vs Media Diversity

Why don't we diversify our style of message rather than diversity our choice of media?

When planning a campaign, diversity of media is front of mind. The whole media environment has changed. So a campaign is built around the core idea and leveraged across multiple media options. Or a TV ad is pooled out into other media and often cheekily post rationalised as 360 degree planning.

What I don't see a lot of is the same message being delivered in different ways in the same medium.

Here's an example.

Years ago I launched Finish Tablets onto the Australian market. We launched with a global ad that had the pièce de résistance - a Lionel Ritchie song - a surefire winner coming from our Dutch head office.

Finish was always advertised with a tonality of being the technical expert, with a strong product demo always centrepiece. It had a harder, efficacious edge and drew upon it's innovation credentials.

This was great for launch. We quickly got 12% of the market. But then sales plateaued. The message wasn't getting through to non-triallists. They were either falling asleep or turning off the TV and boogying the rest of the night away to Dancing on the Ceiling.

From research, we knew once people tried the Tablets, they became loyalists. They worked as good, if not better than the powder, and the convenience benefit became obvious. (although that was never made the core proposition as we could never own it).

We also knew from research that the launch ad attracted the early adopters. The housewife equaivalent of the first iPod users. Consumers who really got into the technical details and the product demo. Or Lionel.

Other consumers didn't care. They just wanted to know that it cleaned dishes better than anything else. Don't tell me about the V8 engine, just let me know that the car drives super smooth.

In other words, we went to the trouble of understanding how consumers were responding to the tone and manner of advertising

So we then made this ad, which delivers the same message. Yes, it's contrived, but it's tone is more approachable, warmer and more human.

The result? Finish Tablets share went from 12% to 20%. We resonated with a lot more non-users

It was the same message, just delivered in a different way.

What if we took it one step further and did another ad where the same message was delivered in a really creative way. Even though they worked their socks off, neither of the ads above are very creative ('Stuck on You' clearly the obvious exception). Perhaps that was another option.

So if you have a clear understanding of how the target market is likely to respond to different styles of advertising a similar message, is this as valid an option as leveraging the same style of message across many mediums?

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Barry Dawson - The Legend Continues

No commentary needed. Barry speaks for himself.

More Barry here

and here

Monday, January 29, 2007

The National Anthem

Given we've just celebrated Australia Day, it's worth noting that our national anthem works perfectly when sung to the tune of Gilligan's Island.

I remembered this as I was re-reading one of my favourite books - Confessions of a Thirteenth Man - by John Harms. A great read about a bloke who follows the 1998/99 Ashes tour around Australian in his 1982 Holden Camira (incredibly voted car of the year in 1982).

Go on, give it a go......

Australians all let us rejoice, for we are young and free

With golden soil and wealth for toil, our home is girt by sea

Our land abounds in nature's gifts of beauty rich and rare

In history's page let every stage advance Australia fair (Advance Australia fair)

Spot the difference

Sunday, January 28, 2007

XXXXing Beach Cricket

It seems Peter Roebuck is not too keen on XXXX Gold's Beach Cricket program.

He slams it in his SMH article. "Beach cricket is silly", he says.

Well Robes, it probably is in Somerset, but not out here.

He says it's just wrong because after laying the boot into Warney's personal life again, he says 'Cricket needs all the dignity it can muster".

Is this the same Peter Roebuck who was found guilty of common assault by teaching three schoolboys some cricket discipline by getting them to bend over and paddle them with a cane. Now that's dignity!

Worse still, he has the nerve to call bloody legends like Allan Border and Richie Richardson ' cavorting pensioners'. Steady on Robes, no-one is getting any younger. Plus everyone has this thing called rent to pay.

Cricket legends with airbrushed anti-beer guts

So whilst Peter is busy pontificating his way through another pompous SMH cricket article, other people are out there earning a living including those marketers who are trying to sell some XXXX.

All my mates and I have tuned in at some stage and given it a look. We all love cricket, the beach, the past legends. It's a talking point for sure.

What Roebuck probably doesn't realise, or care about, is that the actual beach cricket event probably only provides about 1/3 of the campaign's total impact.

The rest of it came in the lead up - the TV ads, the print ads, the leverage the Lion Nathan field force had with the liquor outlets leading up to the event etc. New news for the brand, with a clear point of difference, in peak sales time. Nice work.

Beach cricket is good. Now beach volleyball.....that's a silly sport.

XXX have clearly looked at my Male Planners Guide before coming up with this

Is This the Truth?

Further to my post about whether ad agencies, deep down, really gave a rats about making ads that sold lots of product, I came across a really interesting question over at a cool blog called Scamp.

Take these results with a grain of's probably a bit of harmless fun.

But deep down, is this what creatives would rather achieve with their ads?

In my time, I've never met a single marketer who would vote for option 1.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Planners Cheat Guide for Blokes

Working on that new campaign for a power drill, car or beer and can't quite crack the insight?

Need some help getting into the mind of your blokey target?

Well then, just use this handy cheat guide to understanding blokes, and blow your clients away...

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

More Tonk a Pom

It's getting boring Tonking Poms. People are now expecting tonks and tonkability is losing it's impact.

Or maybe not. Barry "The Dawson" Cougar has now been overtaken by Tonk a Pom as the biggest drawcard to the Jason Recliner.

I was talking about the whole Tonk a Pom thing to a colleague the other day, and we both agreed the same thing. As popular as Tonk a Pom is, it's probably doing an ordinary job for Ford's brand image.

Think about it. The whole 1970's backyard cricket thing roots Ford in the good old days - a relic of the past. The whole tonality of Tonk a Pom is one of yesteryear. Is that the optimal positioning for Ford? Maybe the research says it is, but when you're paying $30-40k for a new car, I seriously doubt it.

Or maybe it just seemed like a good idea at the time 'cos they sponsor the cricket and needed a cricket idea. A perfect case of the execution driving the strategy.

Secondly, car advertising only becomes relevant once you're in the market for a car. So if Tonk a Pom gets awareness for Ford over the summer period against new car buyers, then good job. But in my experience, all car advertising suddenly becomes relevant. So tone and manner have a big role to play in whittling the choice down to a select few.

So if you're heading off to lawn bowls, Ford might be starting to get pretty relevant.

Lastly, if the goal of the campaign was to drive people to the web site via Tonk a Pom, well....that's worked a treat. But then that's a hell of a lot of money to spend to drive people to a web site. Why not just give people a voucher for $1000 off a car...they'd probably sell more of them and it would cost less.

So whilst Tonk a Pom might be doing well with cricket punters who like playing a video game that sticks it up the poms, my guess is that European cars might be playing their own version of Tonk an Aussie on their sales spreadsheets.

The England slips fieldsmen poised for a catch

Monday, January 15, 2007

Do Agencies Give a Shit?

I sometimes wonder whether ad agencies really give a shit about producing advertising that really sells.

Now that I'm firmly entrenched back in the client side after a couple of years working for small agencies, it's starting to become a lot clearer.

Here's my story: I've got 16 years of marketing experience at a high level with some of the biggest companies in the world. I love advertising and communication. I reckon I'm pretty good at what I do, and my strategic skills are one of my strengths.

So one day I decided to start my own consultancy and become a freelance planner/marketer. I'd always wanted to work as a planner on the agency side and spoke to a lot of people in the industry who assured me that the ad game was crying out for strong, strategic client side experience.

I didn't disagree.

That was two years ago. I reckon I did some great planning work (and so did my clients and the agencies who I helped win a lot of new business for). True 360 degree planning - the way the top planners and articles in B&T and AdNews talk about how it should be done. With great results for the brands I worked on.

The only 'problem' was that it was all for smaller agencies (ad/design/promo).

I thought I had the skills for a bigger agency, but none of the bigger agencies were interested in me. I got nowhere with a lot of agencies and definitely nowhere with recruiters for the ad industry.

Through my own contacts though, I got so, so close to planning roles at Y&R, DDB and JWT. Even to the point of being offered a job (which changed dynamics somewhat when they changed the rate at the last minute to a 100% bonus system based on the amount of new business I brought in. But sorry, I don't work for free).

The real irony was that for all three agencies, not one of them had the guts to call me and tell me I didn't get the job. They just crawled back under the creative rock and went quiet. That's ok, I guess...I just find it strange given that their job is to communicate.

My problem? I was seen as a client, through and through. One of those people who doesn't really appreciate the power of great creative. Someone who makes life difficult for agency people because we're so narrow minded. Someone who might even think...horror, horror....that a Brand Power ad might actually be the best advertising outcome. And even though I hate Brand Power, sometimes it probably is the best option.

Sure, I love creative work and believe in the power of a great creative idea, but it's not always the best way to sell more product. When has an agency ever recommended that the problem is not advertising, but pack graphics or PR or sampling?

Meanwhile, every planner jumping off the plane from the UK seems to have no trouble picking up a guernsey. English accents go a long way here in Sydney. Fair enough - that's my competition. That's life.

But I've seen a lot of English planners struggle with planning disciplines taught in London put against briefs from volume driven FMCG clients where the goal is to sell 4 million loaves of bread to the average aussie living in Telopea, or Bayswater, or Woolawin. As a client, I haven't got time to wordsmith 3 words in a half day session, only to see them disappear in a puff of dust at the first creative presentation.

Am I pissed off? Yeah, a little.

I can count on two fingers the amount of planners who I think have really added strategic value to my brand. And none to those who have added strategic value to my non-brand related business (eg margin improvement, NPD, trade, internal comms etc). You know....the other stuff that makes money.

Most planners have been pretty rubbish. Sorry, let me rephrase....most planners are certainly not worth the value agencies charge for them over the course of a year. Bear in mind this is my experience, along with a couple of marketing directors I've talked to as well.

So back to my original point. Sometimes I wonder whether agencies really give a shit about producing advertising that really sells.

Because if they did, they would be more open minded about bringing in people who have a true open mind about the role of advertising. They'd be open to people from client side who can add so much insight to the way clients think and operate and add value from so many perspectives.

I think agencies are scared of people who don't see absolute creative work as being the God of Brands. It seems like it would almost be too threatening to have someone with client experience in the boiler room, diluting brilliant creative work with ridiculous client side ideas and insights and suggestions designed to increase sales.

Deep down, big agencies are creatively driven, not (client) sales driven. The end goal is advertising. The means is managing the client to deliver the most creative outcome.

In client land, the end goal is sales. Advertising is one means to deliver it. And I'm not sure things are changing in any hurry.

Is this blog topic inflamatory? Probably. Is there another argument here? Most certainly.

But I haven't seen the argument made too many times (eg never) and this blog entry and a glass of wine seemed like an interesting to do this time of the night.

Good night

Monday, January 08, 2007

How to Be a 30% Better Marketer

OK....enough of these twee nostalgia ads I've been churning out recently.
Let's get physical. Physical. I wanna get physical.

Why are some companies better marketers than others?

I've talked in the past about how good Sanitarium seem to be doing things smarter than the competition. From clever use of sponsorship, to good viral activity, to smart segmentation of product offerings.

But what if they had an upper hand? And I'm not talking about Jesus.

What if they could afford the best people in the industry by paying them 30% more?

What if they could buy their media 30% more effectively than their competition?

What if they made their ads 30% cheaper than everyone else?

What if they could bid 30% more than the competition for the services of Brett Lee and Tim Cahill?

What if they could promote their products 30% deeper than their competition in Coles and Woolworths?

Well, they can.

Because Sanitarium, a $330 milion dollar business, is wholly owned by the Seventh Day Adventist Church and is except from tax in Australia, according to this, and this, and this artice in BRW.

The Foo Fighters give me some kind of divine inspiration when I'm in the gym.

The lyrics and music of Josh Rouse have gotten me through some ordinary times.

I donate to charity and am even thinking of growing a mo' next November.

But I'm not expecting John Howard to give me a tax break any time soon. So why do Sanitarium get one?

The Foo Fighters tried 30% less equipment but just ended up sounding like the Beatles

Tab Cola. For Beautiful People

Now is it just me getting all nostalgic, as I plough through YouTube videos from the early 80's, or is there an opportunity for a 2007 version of TAB cola to be launched back onto the market with some kind of nostalgia positioning?

Whilst Coke and Pepsi and targeting 25 year old females and music festival goers, who's targeting the 40-55 market with a diet cola offering?

Barry Dawson, The Cougar, is a sure fire winner judging by the amount of traffic I get here because I've got a couple of posts on him. There is something very alluring and appealing in nostalgia combined with an element of taking the piss.

And whatever happened to the great TV jingle?

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Bigger, Better, Bigger & Better

"Bigger. Better. Brashs city store. Now bigger and better."

Not hard to imagine what the proposition might have been for that one. Right on Mr B!

Good old Brashs. Interesting to note that the TV for $776 in 1978 equates to $2360 today. Sounds about right for an entry level plasma.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

You Cannot be Serious!

Seriously Soccer?

I don't think so.

If they were really serious, it would be called Seriously Football, given that's what we call it nowdays.

Now this is serious.....

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Dennis Lillee Fixing a Joint

Fresh from hiking around the Nullabor in his Blue Steel hiking boots, DK Lillee is back in action.

This time it's a much more relevant product to the legendary fast bowler.

Bio-Organics has a fantastic new product that repairs damaged cartilage and eases the pain of joint damage.

Everyone knows DK had a lot of back and joint trouble midway through his career, so 25 years later this looks like it's exactly the type of product he needs. Especially when he's bushwalking, for instance.

It's clearly not doing him much good though. He's not even running...he's just holding the stopwatch for the bloke who can!