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

Best Friends for Rachel Antonoff clothing

For all the brouhaha about ‘content marketing’ you rarely see it done well.

Here it is – done well.

Filed under: Branded Content, Culture

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

Data visualisation for Nike+ by YesYesNo

Wow. Pretty sweet work from YesYesNo for Nike+

Nike+ City Runs from yesyesno on Vimeo.

Filed under: Branded Content, , ,

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