Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The power of the link - Social Media 101

You're building your brand new company or corporate website.
Should you have a resources/links page? Absolutely. But how you display it depends on the type of business you have. Financial/business sites are much more conducive to having a resources and links page.
Here's an example of a financial services site that has designed for content, appearance and optimizing. True

Companies more about looks and artistic impression don't wish to have the "feel" cluttered up with all of those lines of text.

What to do? You can still have your "feel good" branding elements at the top of the page, and shuttle your articles and blog material down to the bottom.
Look at the Maclaren advertising page. Maclaren They have all the warm and fuzzy's right at the top, and as you absorb the wow factor you scroll down and slowly breathe in the text heavy SEO elements.

Remember, tailor your customer experience for the kind of customer you want.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Pepsi moving away from big brand marketing

As social media continues to change the landscape of traditional marketing, huge players like Pepsi are taking notice. Here is a recent release from Hufflington Post talking about some of the changes at Pepsi international

PepsiCo moves away from "big brand" marketing

NEW YORK: PepsiCo, the soft drinks giant, is seeking to move away from marketing based on a "big brand" philosophy and towards an approach that connects with its target audience in a more direct way.

Frank Cooper III, chief consumer engagement officer for PepsiCo's US beverage arm, argued that changing preferences and habits mean many traditional methods of advertising now seem outdated.

"We want to become a catalyst in the culture rather than act like a big brand announcing something," he said.

As part of this process, the owner of Gatorade and Tropicana is trying to build stronger bonds with its dedicated customers, who can often be ignored in favour of attracting new buyers.

"One of the most valuable – yet underrated – assets any company has is the wisdom and passion of its most loyal consumers," said Cooper III.

Stimulating online and offline conversations with, and between, brand advocates can help encourage positive word of mouth, a currency that is always at a premium in the FMCG sector.

PepsiCo estimates that 90% of shoppers place the most trust in recommendations from sources like friends and family, while 70% have a similar confidence in user-generated reviews on the web.

"We found that our consumers' social relationships serve as the foundation for our most effective marketing," said Cooper III.

One recent such effort was the DEWmocracy platform developed for Mountain Dew, which gave netizens the chance to pick between three potential brand extensions.

"This campaign resulted in Mountain Dew Voltage, one of the most successful product launches in PepsiCo beverage history, new consumers being brought into the Dew franchise and massive amounts of earned media," said Cooper III.

PepsiCo recently rolled out a second phase of this co-creation drive, which empowered internet users to an even greater degree by involving them in every stage of the innovation cycle.

In doing so, it has leveraged sites like Twitter, Facebook – where Mountain Dew's number of fans has grown from 150,000 to 800,000 – and a private online community, DEW Labs, which has 4,000 members.

In January, PepsiCo also unveiled the Pepsi Refresh Project, through which it pledged to give $20m (€16.2m; £13.7m) in grants to schemes conceived by individuals or groups aiming to rejuvenate local communities.

Social media has been the primary marketing channel for this initiative, which has seen three million unique visitors log on to thus far, casting 16 million votes for 3,500 ideas.

"Rather than focusing on how to sell the product attributes to our consumers, we looked to add value to a community or a real-life social network," said Cooper III.

"While DEWmocracy focused, in a sense, on the ‘wisdom of crowds' the Pepsi Refresh Project celebrated the power of the individual."

A major benefit of this strategy is starting a two-way conversation with shoppers, who are also able to take "ownership" of Pepsi in a way that was not previously possible.

Moreover, it has "expanded" the perceptions people had about the Pepsi brand, which has long been associated with pop culture and youth but now carries an extra "sense of purpose".

In terms of the corporation's long-running rivalry with Coca-Cola, Cooper further suggested that the rise of digital media has enabled Pepsi to take advantage of its status as a challenger brand.

More specifically, he argued that while Coke's online programmes have pushed through "a clear message about what their brand stands for," Pepsi has looked to exploit a "bottom up" model.

Data sourced from Huffington Post/Econsultancy; additional content by Warc staff, 31 May 2010

Monday, June 28, 2010

Apple is a company of corporate contrasts

On one hand they are making it easier for you to zap commercials from your page views through the new Safari browser, on the other hand they have invited a new online serve up medium.

Mrinal Desai of Ad Age started a great debate on this topic.

Apple Anti-Ad

Friday, June 18, 2010

Creative Excellence Fridays - In the News

Welcome to Creative Excellence Fridays - Our weekly salute to great creative. This week in Toronto, the city is pretty much in lock down mode with the G20 summit arriving.
A friend working in the "lock down zone" showed me the instructions from head office on proper protocol and safety. Tips included "not standing in front of open windows" and having photo id on you at all times.

With all the restricted movement downtown we wondered how it will effect courier companies.

With all the added security downtown, it makes you wonder if the authorities have heard of the new added benefits of drinking Bud Light.

And finally, staying with the theme, "In the News", I came across a commercial for a new mobile tv device featuring dozens of clips from the cold war era to current day. It's beautifully edited.

Creative Excellence Fridays returns 2 weeks from today. Thanks for all your comments and suggestions. Have a great weekend.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Hottest brands -Timmys and more

Did you know Tim Horton's controls 40% of Canada's quick-service market? It was noted recently in Advertising Age's recent coverage on the hottest brands.
Included in the article were the hot growth areas for business. With the World Cup ongoing the world's business minds have also been looking at Africa as a huge opportunity. Remote areas formerly cut off from the world, are now part of the grid through expanded mobile technology. Technology = communications = knowledge = desire. Markets will continue to look at opportunities in Africa as well as already exploding China.

The complete article is here Hottest brands

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Ad news - Apples Ipod ads too American?

Mike Hughes of Ad Age is in Cannes judging the International ad awards. He contends international ad competitions don't work any more because in this segregated age of ultra targeting, it's difficult to choose a winner when the ads all have such different focus and purpose. It's not an all things being equal quotient any longer.

Here's Mike's article.

Apple's Ipod too American

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Design - "Let it breathe"

Yesterday we talked about simplicity and clarity of message. Today, the same applies to the design.

Imagine yourself at a busy venue. You're looking for your friend. But the place is completely packed with people, pushing and shoving. Your friend is literally 15 feet away. But you can't see her because you're distracted by all the people and activity. You try to look around but can't focus on where to look.

Our approach to design in advertising is similar. Don't make your viewer "work" to see what you want them to see. Allow your primary message to be the star of the stage having all other elements pay homage to it. Slightly larger type size, perhaps a different font, the flow lines from top to bottom guiding your eye where it needs to go.
Another approach that is being used a lot these days (subtle as a freight train) is having the ad all in black and white, except for the product.

There are many different techniques for drawing focus where it is intended. But never make the mistake of cluttering an ad with unnecessary sales points. Sell the sizzle, not the steak, and allow your ad the chance to not only survive, but be the most clear communication out there.

Ad news - We urge you to read this posting from AdAge today. Innovation in outdoor and digital signage. Have a great day.
Outdoor and digital

Monday, June 14, 2010

Brand building "the cliff"

In a world of limited attention span, we hear this again and again from prospective clients. I want you to put as much communication into this website, print ad, radio spot as you possibly can. Our message is important.

Our reply is always, "which message?" Before we even come to the table and talk with clients about whether we're a good fit, we ask the client to run through a brief questionnaire. This enables us to know where the company is at in their brand evolution, and their level of sophistication. And more importantly, whether they have the mindset it takes to allow us to help them. This may sound self-aggrandizing but we believe in our ability to help a new client, as long as the client opens up to us and keeps their mind wide open. It's not about the size of the client's current business. It's about the size of their imagination, and ability to dream.

Rigidity is the key to extinction. When the dodo birds refused to change their habit of walking up to, and falling off a cliff, it didn't take a brand expert to predict their species wasn't long for this world.

Similarly a client who refuses to acknowledge that social media should now be an integral part of their brand will also be not far behind the dodo at the cliff's edge.

Tomorrow, design corner. Let it breathe.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Creative Excellence Fridays - World Cup Fever

World Cup Soccer begins today. Even if you're not a sports fan, or a soccer fan for that matter, you can't help but get caught up in the event.

Some World Cup facts:

It's been played 18 times since it started in 1930 (only missing twice due to the 2nd world war).

Brazil has won the cup a record 5 times.

It is the most popular sporting event in the world. 715 million people will watch.

Nike has always been a huge supporter of soccer, for obvious reasons. The 3 minute commercial below, is being called the finest Nike commercial ever produced. You be the judge.

In the true spirit of competition, Reebok has their entry this week. This commercial definitely wins for celebrity cameos. The Nike spot leaves goosebumps. Reebok leaves a smile. Difficult to choose, but as always, with great creative everyone wins.

Thank you for your comments and suggestions from last week for this weekly celebration of excellence; they're most appreciated. Have a great weekend.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Sports equal Life

Watching the final game of the Stanley cup finals last night made me realize how much sports mirrors life.
The final goal was scored 4 minutes into overtime but the puck slipped in and got trapped under the bottom of the net on the inside. No one knew it had gone in. All the exhilaration of ultimate triumph was gone. Spreading the emotion of winning the Stanley Cup out amongst thousands of confused faces took all of the energy away from the moment. The instant element of surprise and delight, or defeat, was gone.

Consider the parallel. A woman dates a man for 3 years. She has an inkling he is going to pop the question. Instead of surprising her, and putting great thought into a proposal he instead says "My mom thinks I need to grow up and stop being so irresponsible. She thinks I should settle down." And then he says nothing more about it for a month or two. Then when she finally gets tired of waiting says "So are we getting married or what?" And he replies "Umm okay I guess."

That, is how I felt after the game last night. That is also the recipe for a disastrous ad concept. When you take out the element of surprise and the immediate delivery of solution or gratification, you take out all emotion.

And emotion is the reason we are on this planet, and what separates us from trees. It's just that simple.

Coming up tomorrow, Creative Excellence Fridays and a celebration of what Mohamed Ali called "beautiful game".

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Pepsi creating the next Foursquare?

If you're not aware of Foursquare, it's a mobile application that helps you find new ways to explore your city. foursquare helps you meet up with your friends and lets you earn points and unlock badges for discovering new places, doing new things and meeting new people. The company was founded by Dennis Crowley and Naveen Selvadurai and is based in New York City.

It's being reported this morning that Pepsi's committment to social media is going into overdrive. They have partnered with VC firm Highland Capital Partners and Mashable to search out the best and brightest new ideas in social media. It's being called an "innovation-incubator program," PepsiCo10 will isolate as many as 10 promising entrepreneurial groups, assign them an industry mentor, and attach them to pilot programs with various PepsiCo brands.

No doubt we'll see more of these major players taking more of a create your own, command your own approach to social media real estate.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Iphone IV Will it live up to the hype?

The most important feature for ad practitioners is the new mobile ad component.

IAd. IAds go live July 1 with commitments from Nissan, Citi, Unilever, AT&T, General Electric, Sears, Target, JC Penney and Best Buy. So far, Apple has $60 million in ad commitments. EMarketer projects the mobile ad market will hit $166 million in 2010. Developers will collect 60% of iAd revenue, with Apple pocketing the remainder. (NYTimes Bits Blog)

As far as features go, the phone is red carpet sexy. The Facetime video chat feature is getting a lot of buzz, as well as high definition video and even a gyroscope to make gaming more interesting.

CEO Steve Jobs also revealed that Apple expects to control 48% of the mobile ad display market in the later part of this year. Courtesy of AdAge, here is a run down of the new features that will make this a sweet contender

Video calling. The new iPhone has a front-facing camera and will be able to make video calls via WiFi through a service called FaceTime. Because of WiFi, these calls are free and won't count against AT&T's monthly data plans (AT&T is the exclusive wireless carrier for the iPhone). How big is this? Well, how popular is Skype? The smartphone has already become less about voice and more about data usage, and Apple just launched a service that supports talk without buying minutes from a carrier. Good timing, too: Last week HTC released Evo, a new phone on Sprint's first high-speed data network that supports video chat, too. (Engadget)

Video capture. Sure, the iPhone 3GS shoots video, but the new iPhone will shoot in HD, or close to it, and has the promise of video editing capability with the coming iMovie app for the iPhone. (Gizmodo)

More battery, more power. Battery life is up to seven hours of talk from five on the old phone, which runs on an A4 chip, the same as iPad. Also, it has a gyroscope, opening up more big possibilities for gaming.

Netflix. The movie service's CEO, Reed Hastings, joined Mr. Jobs on stage and introduced Netflix for iPhone. The free app will stream movies via AT&T's network or over a WiFi connection. Just make sure your data plan can handle it. (AllThingsD)

Bing. This is no zinger for Google because its search engine will remain the default in the new Apple operation system. But Microsoft's search engine Bing will now be an option, joining Yahoo. Mobile search ads will account for $143 million in ad spending in 2010, according to eMarketer.

AT&T could cash in. Activities such as streaming movies or uploading videos edited with the new iMovie app require a lot of data and could mean greater costs for iPhone users, especially as AT&T just changed its fees for data last week. AT&T introduced a new fee structure last week that got rid of the $30 all-you-can-eat data plan, replacing it with two metered plans at $15 for 200 megabytes and $25 for 2 gigabytes. Today, 98% of smartphone users will save money with the new structure since they use less than 2G, according to company numbers, but that could change if users up their data use with the new features announced today. Analysts say AT&T changed data charges to lure just-minutes users to data plans, and will reap the benefits from existing customers later once data consumption increases.

How well will this do in the marketplace? Let me put it this way. This morning I saw my Blackberry quivering in the fetal position.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Brand confusion - cleaning your brand house

We all know that companies tend to specialize. You want a really good submarine sandwich you go to Subway. You want great chicken you go to Church's Chicken etc.

When it comes to business to business, we tend to hire our suppliers the same way. A company that has the word "production" in its' title, or "radio" in its' title specializes in those areas.

However, in consumer rollout, what about a company like Virgin, that has a myriad of products? Airlines, music, cell phones. They created a cache around the "master brand" and marketed spin off companies that all work off the master brand.

Virgin radio, Virgin mobile, Virgin air. It's a simple way of leveraging the mystique of founder Richard Branson and his modern day Howard Hughes pioneer spirit. People love a winner, and Branson comes off being one. He's a rugged, intelligent, successful family man who isn't afraid to take risks.

Having said all that, it's still necessary to create visual separation.
Note how all the brands carry into the master brand logo, but still have their own individual colour and font sets. Although Virgin Red is the prevailing colour.

Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Mobile

Virgin Radio

Trump Enterprises operates under the same premise. Coming up tomorrow - broadcast and social media hi-lights of the week.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Creative Excellence Fridays - What's that tune?

Welcome to our Friday morning celebration of creative excellence. How many times have you seen a commercial on tv, web or at the movies and thought, "that's a great song. Who does that?" A while back we stumbled across a forum site called What's That Called. It's a great resource site when you see a commercial and wonder who the artist is behind it.

Remember one of the original Ipod commercials featured Canadian artist Feist. She made the commercial. The commercial made her.

For the longest time Bruce Springsteen would not allow his music to be attached to commercial ventures. But now, some brands, Mac being one of them, actually enhance an artist's stature. Or in some cases launch the artist into a new realm.

Earlier this year, Cadillac launched a rebrand to show younger demo's Cadillac was not just your father's car.
The music is punchy, with retro touches but still very hip. The song used is
"Love Sick" by Lindstrom & Christabelle

Car ads have always been great sources of music. The Sorento commercials, through David and Goliath advertising, have made some stellar choices in music for the brand. This song is by The Heavy.

As always your theme suggestions or comments are most welcome. Have a great weekend.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Facebook #1

It seems all the hype about privacy concerns was just that, hype.

Canada passed the 16 million users mark in May, according to research firm Inside Network.

More than 912,000 Canadians signed up for the site last month, a 6% increase in membership.

Inside Network says an estimated 47.9% of Canadians are on Facebook, making Canada one of the most plugged-in countries in the world.

Overall, Canada is the fourth largest market on Facebook, on a per capita basis, behind Iceland, Norway and Hong Kong. About 59.6% of Iceland's population has a Facebook profile.

But among larger countries with at least 10 million citizens, Canada is No. 1.

Source: Marketing Magazine

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Swearing on television

When I grew up watching television in the 60's, there was no swearing on television. The occasional darn and shucks on Andy Griffith, that was the extent of it. If you saw someone saying "damn" it was on late night television and your parents generally whisked you back up to bed with a red sheepish look on their faces.

It's 2010. The world has changed. Baby steps. We didn't wake up one day and see people cursing their heads off. But today is a new age in media. With the advent of Showtime and HBO (Cable) it was permission to come into people's homes with "real" television. And no one can argue that the Sopranos was not quality television. It was what it was. For what it was.

My personal opinion is we should worry less about cursing and more about creating quality television programming. If there was a law passed that reality television was banned from the screens, I think it should be proclaimed a national holiday.

The point of this blurb is to tie into the Adage article Swearing on television. The article talks about the use of profanity on a new show starring William Shatner, coming out this fall. It's based on the popular Twitter and Facebook page "Shit my dad says". CBS is said to be not actually using the word shit in the title, but instead inserting exclamation marks and cartoon cursing symbols. I think this is ridiculous. If you choose to make a show about a title, make the show. Anyone who hasn't used the word in regular conversation is probably too busy with meditation to be watching a sitcom. Know your target. Talk to your target, and cut out this shit. Well, actually leave it in. And stop making shitty reality based television shows. That's just my opinion. Shit Tim says.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Quitting Facebook without a 12 step plan

Two Toronto men formed a group called "QuitFacebook" and proclaimed this past Monday, QuitFacebook day. I think my sister summed it up best when she said "I'm not quitting facebook. How else will I keep tabs on my kids!"

Facebook currently has about 400 million users, and in spite of security issues being raised, people are becoming much more comfortable with the idea of living "public lives". They post pictures of private family functions and post display photos of embarrassing moments.

About 30,000 peoople said they would pledge "abstinence" from Facebook on Monday. However, without a suitable 12 step program, it's a difficult habit to break. Especially when your support group for quitting, are all on Facebook calling you back.

It would appear, Facebook has become the monster that won't die. At least until a better beast knocks it off its perch.

Below is the Canada Newswire article from Monday:

"Quit Facebook" was a trending topic on Twitter on Monday as tens of thousands of users claimed they were ready to abandon the popular social networking site over privacy concerns.

But plenty more of the site's more than 400 million users aren't going anywhere, even if they acknowledge the concerns being raised by the two Toronto men behind Quit Facebook Day.

Most of the "Quit Facebook" chatter on Twitter was about how users had no intention of participating in the campaign.

"It's Quit Facebook Day," tweeted the user ExpertParalegal. "Right. I'm not quitting coffee either."

"It might be 'Quit Facebook Day' but there's no way i'm quitting," wrote DanNSimms, "especially as I like seeing how fat everyone's got since they left school."

Co-creator Matthew Milan said he never expected the idea would go viral and put a dent in Facebook's membership numbers. But he feels the process was a success, since it got people talking about the site's privacy policies and the consequences of putting personal info online.

"I'm not really interested in getting people to quit every online service out there–I'm actually a very heavy consumer of social media myself–and I certainly don't think people should be hiding away in caves and not engaging," he said in an interview Monday, as the number of users pledging to opt-out of Facebook surpassed 30,000.

"I just think they should be asking for what they feel is fair and respectable from organizations they give their data to."

Among those who signed off for good was Johnny Hockin, a host and segment producer for MTV Canada. Or so he thought.

It turns out he made a common mistake and actually deactivated his account rather than deleting it. While the deactivate option is relatively easy to find in the account settings section, truly deleting an account is a bit trickier. The link to permanently remove an account from Facebook can be found in the help section of the site.

After realizing he only deactivated his account, Hockin said he would keep his Facebook profile in limbo for now, in case he changes his mind about going offline.

But he said it wasn't a rash decision to quit Facebook, and he'd been considering it for months.

"I've been getting more and more annoyed at Facebook and the fact that this event was here sort of pushed me over the edge, because I do support their cause," he said.

As for Milan, he happily deleted his account as planned and said he'll miss little about Facebook.

"I don't feel any pull to go back personally, but I realize that's not going to be what it's like for a lot of people."