Archive | January 2009

If Carlsberg made jobs?

Sure as hell beats dealing with schoolkids...

Sure as hell beats dealing with schoolkids...

 

Is it possible to deploy a miniscule ad spend and deliver significant global reach? In short, yes.

It can be frustratingly hard; and does rely on you pulling all the right levers, creatively dramatising the right insight, and understanding how to navigate and manipulate consumer / journalistic behaviours across the digital landscape in order to help others spread the word on your behalf. To name but a few of the challenges.

Factor in a little luck (and a slow news day ALWAYS helps), but anything is indeed possible. So, how can one achieve such tall order? Just ask the marketing boys in Queensland…

With all the hype surrounding Baz Lurhman’s ‘epic’ film Australia (besides Jackman’s pecs and Kidman’s non-moving botoxed face and the cute kid, ain’t much else on offer, sorry Bazza get the back to a ballroom…), the Australian tourist board and their magnificently huge budgets supported the film launch, making significant noise across celeb interviews, cinema, TV, press, posters, PR, you name the channel, they no doubt used it.

But where did the real innovation come from? Where did we see the real Aussie magic*? Unbelievably, from Queensland tourist board, no doubt conscious they wanted their slice of all those extra in-bound visitors.

When faced with the question ‘where do I put my modest budget of circa AUS $250k, thank god the answer wasn’t a couple of banners and a lacklustre microsite. What the canny Aussies did will no doubt become a great digital case study (which will be working its way round the globe very shortly).

A simple recruitment ad was at the heart of their strategy to maximise their reach far beyond what the budget would traditionally deliver. A simple ad, advertising a meagre caretaker’s position?

But this wasn’t any caretaker job (cue M+S sexy voiceover). This was the ‘caretaker’ of the Hamilton Island, with such onerous duties as looking after the local wildlife, sending the odd email / video blog, and generally sunning oneself for the duration of the post; 6 months. Best job in the world a la Carlsberg? Probably…

The salary (and no doubt the lion’s share of the overall marketing budget), came in at a whopping $75,000!

Speaks for itself, doesn’t it?

Those simple recruitment ads placed just once in a few key markets, supported by a little PR, a small yet functional site (that interested parties can populate / review), and of course, the rather attractive salary. What next!?

Sit back, and watch it fly my pretties, watch it fly…

All of a sudden, that modest caretakers role  is suddenly dominating the blogosphere, journalists worldwide clamour to break the story, radio dj’s are giving countless hours of free airplay, the watercoolers globally are a-buzzing, tweets-a-tweeting, emails flying, the ‘and finally’ news bulletins the world over have also picked up the story and are very kingly advertising your  ‘situation vacant’.

All of which results in the number of applicants growing by the hour. Since launching on January 12th, there’ve been over 10,666 applications, over 2.3 million visitors, 41,000 referrals via facebook, applicants from Blighty, to the Vatican, even Kazakhstan, and massive worldwide media coverage.

And the closing date beckons…

In short, this is pure genius. And proof you don’t need millions of advertising dollars to stand out. Just an attractive product, a killer insight, and an understanding of how best to execute UGC / digital landscape / the media in order maximise your reach. A veritable master class in the potential of a small budget, the majority of which never went near paid media.

One assumes a fat pay rise for all involved. If not, maybe some consultancy work for other brands that ‘want a caretaker’…

Iain Morrison is a senior marketer in the British Tourism Industry. And hoping to retrain as a caretaker very shortly…

*and yes, no doubt we’ll be seeing some more Aussie magic on the cricket field in the very near future.

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Going cold turkey

My lifeline

My lifeline

So, Starbucks are to cut some 6,700 jobs, two thirds of which are in the USA. Another bad news story that sees yet more good, hard-working people suffering as the global economy continues to shrink.

It’s sad.

I use to start every day with my skinny, wet, venti latte (extra hot with an extra shot). But when it comes to the painstaking decision on where to economise, as with most others, its life’s little luxuries that are always the first to go. It was a painful goodbye…

For the first few weeks, I did feel as though I was coming off heroin. But if I can do it, the most ardent coffee addict can.

I just hope those companies who specialise in life’s little luxuries have the foresight to bed down, innovate, and come through the other side of this recession leaner, meaner and with a stronger focus on what the customer wants.

Fortune generally favours the bold, so Starbucks, don’t lose faith. And let’s face it.

Instant coffee sucks…

Iain Morrison is a senior marketer in the British Tourism Industry. And an ardent coffee lover…

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Chocolate anyone???

Children and animals...

 Well, the Cadbury / Fallon entertainment wagon rolls onto our screens (be that computer or TV), yet again.

Hot on the success of the outstanding gorilla and trucks TVC’s, we now have eyebrows. And I’m sorry to knock an ad I’m sure many of you love dearly, but I have this nagging feeling that the pressure is now on….

Cadbury are clearly loving the work /Fallon (their agency) are bringing them and I’d surmise after the gamble they all took on gorilla, Cadbury are willing to trust their agency and work very closely with them in order to get the best possible work out the door. An eye on the awards cabinet, as well as the engagement barometer…

Cadbury made it clear that if the job of advertising was to inform or to entertain; they were firmly opting for the latter. And what a storming start, gorilla and trucks were massive blog / YouTube hits (a useful and swift barometer when looking to chart the ripple effect), as I am sure eyebrows will be too.

But this one just has that slight nagging rumble of the difficult album; the one where the band just didn’t quite agree at every turn. The one where the really great riff that could have lifted the song to the number one spot for 8 weeks instead of 1 got slightly lost somewhere between the mixing desk and the coked up lead singers diva-ish hissy fits…

Don’t get me wrong, it’s far better than the vast majority of ads out there. But I’m just not quite sure this one lives up to the hype of its predecessors; this watercooler moment will be a lot more fleeting than those which came before…
The balloon is its saving grace. She rocks, we need MUCH more of her. In fact, I reckon she could carry an ad on her own next time (Fallon, feel free to give me a call).

Big things will be expected in the next chapter of the glass and a half full productions.

And I for one hope the next one is a stormer. With or without the balloon…

Iain Morrison is a senior marketer in the British Tourism Industry. And is learning the fine art of eyebrow dancing…

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Tinkering with the formula: Skins 2.0

Skins as it was, and as it should be...

Skins as it was, and as it should be...

 

 

 

Greed…

At its core, a very human behaviour which can easily be exploited by astute marketing managers, and ad agencies alike.
That said, the stay at home moms of the 50’s who dutifully trotted out and bought what the good men of Madison told them to, are (sadly!), long gone. Perhaps not such a bad thing (if they ever really existed), but it does mean us ad-landers must constantly strive to keep at least one step ahead of the ever increasingly empowered consumers.

The adults are switched on enough, but the kids? They are growing up in a digital world from day one, almost leaving the womb clutching the latest app ridden i-phone. With TV schedules virtually consigned to the dustbin, it’s ‘whatever I want, wherever I want it, now, now, and now!’. Tough in a land where the networks have had it easy for so long…

But as media brands go, the UK’s channel 4 ‘gets’ the power of digital. It gets the youth audience. It gets the directors, writers, producers and actors it needs to generate engaging, charming, witty programming, that generally resonates with the youth audience. It gets making them available on every single platform yoof could wish for. A beacon of hope in an industry grappling with the opportunities (and threats) a digital future presents.

So with all that in mind, how do we explain series 3 of Skins? Well, I’m coming back to greed.

It’s akin to the board of any large car manufacturer that knows it’s giving the entire range an extensive overhaul in 2 years time (and launching a blistering new range of cars that will kill the competition). But it finds the current range tired, and they’ve two years of sales figures to meet in a toughening market until they kill the competition with that big re-launch…
So what do they do?

Why, they give a few of the top-selling models a minor cosmetic facelift in order to make them more attractive to consumers in the short term. Just to tide them over and help this year’s sales figures (and maybe help them with their bonus, although unlikely in 2009…)

They flog the brand (just a little), full of hope that the Holy Grail is just around the corner. Crossing their fingers that their most loyal customers will forgive them the interim model they bought just 18 months ago that now looks sadly tired in comparison to the stunning new car that turns Mr Jones next door just bought. The one that all the neighbours heads turn at…

But alas, the Skins ‘facelift’ disappoints on almost every level. A minor facelift its loyal fans could have lived with, but have we been left with? But it’s like VW / Skoda reverting to the unreliable cars of old…

Gone is the wit, the charm, the intelligence, the raw emotion, the feeling of being part of an exclusive club. A club where the window to the soul is on display for the viewer to feel, touch, to own…

Gone are our close group of young kid-ults finding their way in the world. And what are we left with?
Still a storming soundtrack, pretty much the only strain of consistency from Skins 1.0 (besides a couple of actors promoted from the sidelines).

Instead, its 90210’esque good looking characters (who find themselves just a little too preened for their own good). The witty banter, the real heart and soul of the last series appears to have been surgically removed, replaced with tits and arse gags. We see nobody with the potential to be ‘the next big thing’ a la Slumdog Millionaire. And I’ll sound old for saying it, but just a little too much in the way of gratuitous flesh shots.

Skins 1.0 will be turning in its grave. A real lesson in how NOT to reinvigorate the brand.

Rule number one (for all those that are still interested); don’t ever let greed get in the way of your core brand values. As soon as you do, cross your fingers that your loyal audience can forgive the tits and arse gags / slightly comfier leather seats when you roll out the next rebrand which is no doubt just around the corner…

Skins writers, please take note…

Iain Morrison is a senior marketer in the British Tourism Industry. And can forgive the occasional arse gag…

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Calling in sick…

full of flu?

full of flu?

Occasionally (whether clients or agencies choose to admit it), part of the brief  is ‘get my brand / product in the papers. Extend the campaign however you can, get journalists writing about us, get us on the news… Anything,  just make something magical happen that takes the campaign beyond what we can actually afford…’.

Often, this can transform a modest campaign budget into something that becomes not just tomorrow’s water-cooler moment, but rumbles on for days, weeks if you are really, really lucky. Charities often deploy this tactic to maximum effect, anyone remember the baby shooting up, or with a cockroach crawling out of it’s mouth? A killer combination (well done BBH / NSPCC).

The latest storm in a tea-cup, is Benilyn’s new campaign, encouraging (shock horror), people who are unwell with cold / flu type symptoms to call in sick. Business leaders are up in arms, complaining about sickness costing the economy some £13 billion a year (I wonder how much poor management costs the economy), and the Daily Mail brigade have yet another reason to give an unapproving sniff to the biggest threat to their well-being since the last biggest threat to their well-being..

Yet, the agency that created the ad (and no doubt stage managed the timely release of certain snippets to the press), claim that many managers would rather ill people stay at home, get well, and not martyr into work.

When they soldier on, they are generally markedly less productive than normal, and run the risk infecting those around them. (For those of us in London, an hour home on the underground should always see to that irrespective of who has what bug in the office).

The campaign line, ‘Take a Benilyn day’ didn’t cause the majority of the furore however. That came from the very simple, engaging website (takeabenilynday.co.uk), which offers ideas on what to do on your bed ridden sick day, and (cue Daily Mail shock), how to make the all important call to the boss. Sadly, the head under the duvet technique is not recommended, or even cited. Have a look at the site. It’s worth the 5 minute investment, if nothing else to chuckle at those that have a ‘formal boss’. Poor dears…

All in all, this showcases an exercise in a well briefed agency (that understands its client, their product, their limits, the consumer all combined with a killer insight and a keen team of people who understand how to stage manage the campaign to the wider media in order to make that small budget go that bit further.

One would presume a promotion for the marketing manager is in the offing, the relationship is further embedded with the agency, and that all parties understood EXACTLY what they were doing, risks and all, as these projects are prone to failure, or backfire.

Kudos to you all, but I’ll still be sticking with lemsip…

Iain Morrison is a senior marketer in the British Tourism Industry. And will not be in work next time he has a stinking cold…

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A Virgin sponsored time warp…

A year  that didn’t quite live up to Orwell’s predictions, but what a year none the less…

One brand just launched an ad to celebrate 25 years in business. Consumers rarely care about anniversary advertising, it has the self-congratulatory smack of the fat-cats in company HQ slapping themselves on the back for having reached a yet another milestone and awarding themselves another ridiculously large bonus in the process.

Not at Virgin Atlantic it would seem…

Virgin’s Atlantic’s 25th anniversary ad is nothing short of a corker. For anyone that remembers the 80’s*, this ad transports them back there in a flash, no Tardis required…

For a brand that’s on the face of it lost it’s raison d’etre of late, there was a real danger that this ad would leave consumers with nothing more than a feeling of ‘so what, you’re 25?’. However, this ad ticks all the boxes that in my mind, will make it nothing short of a classic in years to come.

Virgin celebrates the year of their birth by seamlessly transporting us back to 1984 and in the process, remind consumers what the brand stands for (then and now);  the way it shook the airline industry to its core, brought serious glamour back to international long-haul travel (whilst taking a stand against the ‘stuffy’ competition), everyone in the 80’s wanted to fly Virgin…

In carefully constructing this walk down memory lane, Virgin have seamlessly re-invigorated the modern day brand, simply by reminding the consumer that travelling Virgin was (and still is) that little bit extra special…

An anniversary ad that definetly doesn’t fall into the ‘so what’ category.

Awards beckon, and consumers (I would hope) will be left with a smile, and maybe dig out their old vinyl for some more 80’s related memories…

*Fingerless gloves optional

Iain Morrison is a senior marketer in the British Tourism Industry. And would love to wake up in 1984. Just for the day…

p.s. I had a really interesting chat with a creative director in one of London’s finest agencies on this ad after he read my blog.

Our combined view, was that this ad excited us to the point we wish we’d both worked on it. And that it was the first outstanding TV ad either of us had seen in quite some time, harking back to the days of the classic Cinzano Bianco ads. Worth a re-visit if you aren’t familiar.

Joan Collins at her best…

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