In two minutes


short bursts on things I thunk.

Joe Masseria on Account Planning

Having some spare time this week I’ve been able to think a little more on what we do for brands beyond the mainstays of agency output.

Whether or not we can truly say we contribute value or impact on culture in a meaningful way.

As an industry we can be fabulously vain about our role in culture.

We talk “ecosystems of value”, “fan engagement” and we “put people first”.

We ‘Write The Future’, tell consumers to ‘Think Different’ and now ask daily ‘how does product x complete your life?’

But while the brands we work with mostly occupy a very temporary place in the cultural landscape (hey, we had to pay for it mostly right?) the people who care deeply about culture, about music or food or streetwear live it 24/7.

For many people it is their life.

There’s a pretty telling POV on this subject in this short piece on music and ‘banded content’. Watch from 8:49 if you don’t have the full ten minutes.

A friend of mine recently said she had watched 119 TV series last year. 119!

That’s dedication and fandom.

She’s most definitely built her universe and it’s a wonderful place so far as I can tell.

As an example of how far people will go to curate their passion and define their own world take a quick look at this meticulous post on The Cure by Chris Ott (the man behind the video series above).

I was lost in it for about three hours.

It was not just a love letter to the band over several pages but videos, photos, crafted playlists, links to other reference points that mattered, critical points of view etc etc.

It was fascination street.

What this tells me is that any brand looking to have a meaningful exchange with a specific culture or community has a lot of homework to do and can’t afford to be anything but committed. That’s the price of entry.

You may have watched Boardwalk Empire as I have.

I think Joe Masseria might have been a great Account Planner. He understands the importance of respect.

[check the classic Account Man at 0:11]

Joe understood that the locals set the running.

That you can’t drive in from out of town with some muscle and be accepted.

Looking back a couple of years to Cannes 2011 there were two presentations that are (arguably) opposite sides of the same coin.

Both recognised at the time that brands had left the building and were co-owned by the people that buy or speak of them.

Coca-Cola famously put it’s long-term strategy on the line with it’s Content 2020 presentation.

It speaks of “[spreadable] .. dynamic story-telling’ – how they need to move to “Ideas so compelling they take on a life force of their own”.


Heady stuff.

Two years on I’m not sure how close Coke are to realising this vision.

Leo Burnett however, in a much more dour display of thinking, made this point:

People that choose to be part of a culture or community create much more, and with much more care, than those that are paid to be there.

To me that suggests an excellent understanding of the relationship between people, brand and content creation.

It’s something we can all bear in mind when asked for a creative response on a tight budget in line with the grand ambitions of the brand.

Are we all really committed to the people we are trying to reach?

Do we all really know what time it is?


Filed under: Advertising, Branded Content, Culture, Planning

Keep Walking…

Beyonce at the Superbowl. Hot dawg…

It’s a big day for advertising.

As halftime in Superbowl XLVII draws in it feels right to use a famous tagline to express my current thoughts on how brands play online here in Australia.

Beyonce is coming up at halftime so I have to keep this quick! Five thoughts in five paras…

1. Display advertising is stopping you from getting where you need to go.

You can’t create a meaningful brand experience in a banner. It’s that simple. Banner ads are the mall spruiker of teh internetz. I understand it’s a safe bet for conservative brands but when you look at the CPC for most of the display networks in Australia it makes your mouth go dry. Expensive wallpaper IMO. Stick with video, search and social display but think hard about the rest.

2. Content Marketing is for the best brands only.

I loved – LOVED – spots like Uncle Drew for Pepsi or the Space Jump for Red Bull last year. But when you look at the content that gets spread online you really need to be a brand that people want to hear from or one that can afford great creative and distribution. Even simple content pieces like the Dollar Shave Club or Maru’s hard work with Uniqlo required poise and bravery. If you don’t have something special, and a large online community to seed it with, you are best sticking with the basics.

3. Social Media can provide a false sense of security.

There seems to be a lot of Aussie brands investing in social media as part of their acquisition activity. Chasing likes and followers through competitions and crazy deals it’s easy to equate community growth with success but  it’s been my experience social media works much better deeper into the customer journey – to enthuse and retain existing customers – than it does for customer acquisition. Brands who are established e-commerce players are the exception to this where the connection between investment in social media and sales is easier to make.

4. There is no substitute for knowing your customer.

It surprises me to hear how often digital work is done locally without any thought to what people really want from the brand. Creative or media driven activity really requires careful thought to provide value to those customers that interact with you online. Having said this, there are some local examples of work starting with analytics and data analysis that push up into above the line ideas that are brave.

5. Branding was great for the 20th century, but it’s holding us back now.

I’ve spoken to a lot of planners and brands about this. The channels open to us as marketers are now so diverse and complex that the reductionist approach taken in branding is causing a disconnect with the market. Your customer is often a sophisticated consumer of media and traverses the online space skilfully. If you are to keep pace with them it is less important that you are differentiated and more important you are distinctive. If your brand has stagnated you should be making an effort to get closer to your customers and finding out what interests them in 2013, where they really are online and what motivates them to buy with you. Martin Weigel at W+K has written great pieces on the importance of being interesting.

As Beyonce belts it out at halftime (still got it!) in 2013 I suggest you be nimble, review your methods, insights and assumptions regularly and keep walking – there is always something new to learn and test just up ahead.

Filed under: Advertising, Branded Content, Culture, Media, Planning, Social Media

The relevance of ‘big ideas’ to consumers

I have nothing against big advertising ideas per se.

I see heaps of great ones every year that resonate with people and can change markets.

Big stories on a big scale with big budgets to drive home the point.

But if a big idea is the context in the relationship between brand (or advertiser) and consumer – where’s the love?

There’s a notorious brand book out there with a cloying notion that “big ideas make you fall in love”.

But love is rarely instant and that superficial.

Love is the sum of many small deeds and moments that build to a climax and realisation that you/this/that are for me. I love this.

Looking at a few sites and small, simple ideas over the past weeks I’m more and more convinced that the future of brand equity (or love) is the sum of the small things you can do for your people.

Pimkie Color Forecast monitors colors worn in a given city and lets users check the ‘color forecast’ for that city on a given day. If wearing THE hue matters to you, this idea is fantastic. Smart fashion brands will provide more of this stuff…

The Nike Runners Mexico Auction by JWT is another simple idea that oozes charisma and is another in a long line of phygital ideas for Nike that get the brand so much love.

I couldn’t name one tagline from a Nike campaign in recent years, I have no idea what the big idea #makeitcount is supposed to mean to all of us in tangible terms but I reckon I’ve seen 4-5 of these types of ideas for Nike in the past couple of years that are a perfect partnership of product, person and promotion.

As the internet of things becomes more pervasive this decade I think we’ll see far more call for interesting and relevant ways to connect products and people that dispense with the need for large scale media campaigns and the big creative idea.

This is not the end for creative mind you, just an evolution in the application of creative thinking.

Pretty exciting if you ask me.

Filed under: Advertising, Campaigns,

They will smile and steal your ideas

The bad dudes are out there.

I learnt a hard lesson this week.

I’m no smarter than the next person but I’ve always been generous with my ideas. I like figuring things out and I like to talk them through with people who are interested (even those that aren’t – sorry).

A couple of years ago I got some advice which made a lot of sense to me:

“Give away everything you have.”

And this has worked well for me.

(Most) people like new ideas and like including people who will contribute. I have been involved with more people and work than if I had clutched everything I have to my chest and gave away little.

In advertising they say for every good idea you’ll need twenty or more. There’s plenty of demand for ideas of course.

But this week it it cut me hard.

Offering to help someone near to someone I know well I was more than free with advice, ideas and enthusiasm. They encouraged it. They asked for more. They gathered ideas and advice far and wide from many people.

I didn’t mind.

And despite being ready to work with someone else they wrung me dry one more time and took my ideas elsewhere. They may not even realise what they’ve done. I think they do.

But despite their appalling behaviour, their callous disregard for IP and effort and mutual connections I’ll still be putting my ideas out there.

For every cowboy operation with utter bastards at the helm there’s a great person, business or organisation that needs all the help they can get. And I’d love to help them out.

I’ll just be more careful who I’m sharing my ideas with.

Filed under: Advertising

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