Year 2009

•December 24, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Image From The Guardian website

From amazing new ads to new technology, so much has changed and so much has been reinvented in the world of communications. Recession forced every agency and every client to go back to questioning the bottom line in their communications strategy – which not only brought out some exciting experimental marketing but also a truly inspiring creativity that challenged even the best thinkers. It’s like low-budgets reinvented the meaning of ‘think outside the box‘ – something social, something engaging, something conversational, something cheap, if not free….

Twitter, which has been the main talk of 2009 has been criticised, documented, reviewed over and over, and been used by many agencies and clients. Dell rings up $6million sales from Twitter which was enough to prove credibility of Twitter-marketing. Now Google embeds twitter-feed in its search results…

I can’t possibly fit all of what has been happening this year in one post, especially as this year has been one of the most exciting and challenging years for our industry. Studying, watching and analysing this industry at its one of the most challenging years have been inspirational beyond words – it only proved this industry can only evolve, not regress. Advertising industry is the key solution for clients in an economic crisis. And I respect it even more.

Now, going back to celebrating 2009, every channel has started paying their contribution to the year now that it is almost NY! And I wanted to share a few of those which I thought was very nicely done!

Guardian Technology has found the essential 100 websites of 2009 which is a really nice summary of all things digital.
Time has rounded up the year in pictures with a great slideshow.
Brand Republic could fit the best stories of 2009 into one post.
I wish everyone a Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year!

In the world of digital, let’s not forget the basics

•September 16, 2009 • 2 Comments

Banners, micro-sites, aumented reality, phone applications, mobile web, interactivity, anything you want on demand, targeted ads, user experience… These are all some examples that digital offers which gives endless invaluable opportunities for brands. And when it comes to shopping every store now has an online existence; online magazines, catalogues, offers, games, micro-sites, forums, interactivity, advice, on-demand queries….. But seeing the streets busy every single day I know our digital population is still involved in in-store experiences, and this is what I want to talk about. We can’t forget this basic, but fundamental, interaction with our consumers.

In cosmetic stores, we are greeted with girls who look fab and will jump on us to make us try the latest lipstick. They are waiting ready with their make-up brushes in-hand! Clothing stores, gaming stores, department stores are full of sale advisers who stand and wait to help if we ever do ask for one. Boutiques and designer stores greet us with a smile and asks us if we are just browsing or searching for something.. and then they leave us alone if we want.

But my visit to The Body Shop in Somerset area changed my point of view on their brand. Not only did I get to learn a lot about their products, I didn’t feel I was being interrupted or being sold to. The sale-girl helped me look through the things I wanted, suggested things that I might like (just like recommendations on!), pointed out the special sales on/coming-up, offered me a hand cream which smelt great, and then waved goodbye to me with a huge smile. Now I know I will go back there again.

In digital, user experience is the key. We want the consumer to have a smooth and simple journey from the point they are at to the point where they reach our site. This is exactly how we do it in our offline existence, let it be in-stores, branded events or experiential marketing. It is all about making it easy, enjoyable and relevant for them so they come back. We can’t ask them to visit us again (online or offline), they will make that choice themselves once they had their first experience. No offer or funky ads will change that (It can, but not as easy as if they had a great first-experience!).

Viva to user experience! Let it be online or offline….

Microsoft’s BIG mistake

•September 4, 2009 • Leave a Comment

I could not not blog about this. I am sure everyone heard of Microsoft’s latest ad campaign that raised a lot of issues on racism and got strong criticism – deservedly. They used one image for America and another for Poland. The difference between the creative execution of these two ads? The head of one of the people in the ad was photoshopped to be a white man instead. Yes, just the head. Literally cut and paste a head onto the body. Not a different photo shoot, not a different execution all together. Just cut and paste.

Poland’s population is 97% white. Microsoft reacted to this reality with its ad campaign. That is a whole other issue, the racism and portrayal of a brand according to the people it is talking to. However, how disgraceful and ridiculous it is to use the same image but cut the black guy out? I mean what kind of an agency was in charge of this? And what kind of a client approved of this? They didn’t even bother to change the colour of the guys hands when putting a white face to him…

Here is some advice from a junior. Microsoft, at least respect your brand, as well as your consumer, enough to at least pull together a different photo-shoot to portray different nations/culture/context of public. That is to say if you are OK with disregarding your brand’s values (or not even having one) so all you want is a quick sale.

Well, this is my say on this…

Twitter bandwagon

•August 31, 2009 • Leave a Comment

The Twitter is becoming a real hype within the communications industry. Everyone from advertisers to editors to tv hosts and celebrities are hopping on this bandwagon. The figures show Twitter is not as popular as it claims to be, as 80% of tweets comes from only a 20% of its Twitterers. So why do we think it is such a great investment in the advertising and marketing industry?

Twitter enables brand owners, companies and any other authoritative figures to speak directly to the public, minute by minute if they choose to do so. And in these years of digital, where everyone is used to unfiltered information and trusts only raw data, it is inevitable that Twitter is the most simple and accurate way to do that. You don’t need to host all your content in your website, where to be honest most people won’t visit everyday or even remember to, but via Twitter it is on their on own page along with their other chosen and loved Twitterers. It not only provides the internet generation with a raw data feed from whomever they like, it lets companies to have that long-term engagement with their potential consumers, as well as giving the company a chance to hear what is being said about their brand; – this is such a gem.

The success of We-love-NHS twitter page, in which even Gordon Brown and his wife got involved, is one of the greatest examples of the great potential that Twitter has.

I would say it still has a couple of things to work on, such as targeting. One of the examples of a brand using Twitter for targeting pizza-lovers was a Pizza restaurant in USA. They automatically respond to any tweet that has the word ‘pizza’ in it. You can see where the fault is: me as a UK citizen, it is really not me who they should be responding to. Situations such as this shows the need for Twitter to collect and use its users’ data more efficiently.

I believe if Twitter continues to do as it is doing, keeping it simple, to the point and user-friendly, it has nothing to worry about and brands can benefit more and more from its platform. However a recent Twitter application really got me worried. The application, RichTweets, lets you tweet longer than the current 140 characters, using different fonts and colours, including videos etc. don’t we love Twitter for it’s 140 character word limit and simple communications that won’t annoy or ‘spam’ our homepage?

I am curious to find out how this one pans out now..

Meritocratic society, gentler definition of success and a great TED speech

•August 1, 2009 • Leave a Comment

These couple of weeks have been a real roller-coaster ride for me. Finishing my postgraduate, getting chance to do what I love doing at an amazing digital agency as a summer grad, getting the much anticipated interview opportunity at one of the most progressive agencies in the world, and having only a couple of days in front of me to find out where I may end up next month. Plus getting to meet many more successful people who have been nothing but amazingly influential and got me thinking outside the box.

So, here is a light-hearted speech that I want to post to celebrate these career-defining few weeks/months of mine. This is by Alain de Botton on definition of success. A gentler version.

Gone mad with geo-tagging

•July 31, 2009 • Leave a Comment

I have to say, I am absolutely loving all the new technologies that makes us all very ‘able’ to better our communications and reach. And one of these newly buzzed ideas is geo-tagging. Just like its name, you can tag places on interactive map. Completely interactive, user-generated and quite frankly a big opportunity for the communications industry. I believe this might just be bringing us that one step closer to greater mobile marketing use.

Well, like with most things, some brands use it well, and some don’t. I realized it is hard for some companies to not jump on a bandwagon and say “let’s just do it, it’s cool”. Well, it doesn’t work that way. With millions of iPhone apps, “let’s just do it” won’t cut it.

One bad example is the new MasterCard app called ‘Priceless Picks’, an application for their “Priceless” campaign. Once you sign in, you can see all the places which has special offers/sale. But because it is so price-led, it attracts the local shops and businesses rather than the users the brand intended to get.

I have a couple of problems with this idea;
1- MasterCard celebrates the priceless moments in people’s life with their ATL campaign. This application does the opposite. It doesn’t sing true to the brand.
2- This creates an ad-platform for all the retailers, soon it will be overwhelmed with ‘deals’ and won’t be any different than the annoying ‘untargeted’ sale ads we get through the post/email/leaflets.

Sorry MasterCard. I think using this technology to maybe do something only user-generated – such as letting your consumer tag the priceless moments they had around the city, the things money can’t buy, and let them share these with their friends – would be a lot more engaging.

‘Don’t drink and drive’ is not as serious in Belgium..

•July 23, 2009 • Leave a Comment

A brilliant ad from Belgium. Not sure it meets the objectives. In UK we don’t mix humour with serious issues, and it is VERY hard to take this ad seriously. It would get the attention, but I doubt that is enough. With brands, attention is an important part, however with issues such as this one we need more drastic reaction from the public. Like with most non-profit ads, you need to either hit people on the head with the risks, or emotionally overwhelm them with the reality (until that they complain to ASA), to really make it work.

Nevertheless though, this made me laugh!