In two minutes


short bursts on things I thunk.

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,

Retailing and the death of mainstream culture


Doing some window shopping today it occurred to me that retail is struggling because it sells the artifacts of a culture that is in it’s death throes.

It used to be that the only way you could be involved in popular culture and wear it on your sleeve was to buy it in a store.

Now we just make it ourselves. WE make the culture and we make it online. Popular culture no longer drives consumption.

There is almost nothing new to be found in store that holds up a mirror to a traditional media culture in it’s last days.

Everything that is new is to be found through a screen or device that takes you to the most vibrant, enlightened and diverse macro-climate with millions of microclimates.

What you find, create and pass on is only limited by your imagination.

The sooner old business realises that not only has the internet brought fundamental shifts in how they do business but in what they do business the sooner they can find a role in the new culture and economy. But there might not even be a role for many of them anymore.

Filed under: Culture

Quantity Over Quality: It’s The Sub Way

I saw a Subway Facebook promotion on the side of a bus yesterday.

‘Share Your Summer to Win!’ it grinned at me.

The basic premise is you share a photo of “Your Summer” and they send you some sandwiches. Maybe.


Let’s have a photo competition

Gee I thought, not much in that really. I’m not doing much for Subway, and you probably wouldn’t even do anything for me. A pretty low value exchange.

Sure photos are a large part of the currency of Facebook, they haven’t depreciated over time but they were never worth much to begin with.

We all do it every day. It’s just not that special unless something amazing or important is being shared.

In fact 200 million photos are being uploaded every day according to Facebook.

In Australia (as a rough guide) we upload 2.5m photos every day (there are 10m of us on Facebook)

So far Subway says they have received 12,000 photos for the promotion. For the Summer so far.

And strangely, they haven’t insisted that people upload the photos to the Subway wall to get the most exposure on Facebook for the activity. They have actually split the response three ways -you can upload from their website or even just sling ’em an email.

Which goes against the whole principle of aiming to collect and curate user-generated content on Facebook for your brand. Really, what’s the point if we aren’t all collectively marveling at our Summer and the important supporting role Subway has played in the good times?

If you actually go and take a look at their wall I can’t even see any wall posts from people. And that’s the rub. If they insisted people can ONLY enter with a wall post they would clog up their own wall with an endless Summer (:D) of photos. Not too smart as it turns out.

Let’s make it hard to enter

I had a look at how easy it was to submit a photo.

Not very as it turns out.

There’s the app to connect to of course. I also got a pop-up message to say I haven’t ‘registered’ my Facebook page with Subway. And finally the sort of form you fill out to take out a bank loan or emigrate to another country.
















Must be some tasty sandwiches hey?

Anyway. Not exactly an easy entry to the competition.

What’s in it for Subway?

A simple truth about Facebook is that the most common reason to like a page is to get free stuff.

I’m not entirely sure why this is the case but I suspect when marketers realised they could do their sampling promotions and sweepstakes on Facebook at a huge time/cost saving the floodgates opened. And we just played along.

I’m actually pretty sad about it.

A direct channel to people was not used with intelligence and wit but like a spruiker uses a PA system in the local mall.

<insert cuss>

So Subway will give away a fraction of the cost of the low value brand exposure they have worked to create, the majority of people who entered will forget they did in no time and the massive tide of photos on Facebook will sweep over this promotion like a bucket sandcastle at the waterline.

What could they have done better?

I can only imagine the brief (if there was one – I suspect this was an idea tossed on the table by the agency or internal team)

Maybe ‘Connect Subway with the the Australian Summer and good times between friends’.

The brief to consumers to share your Summer is just so broad as to be indistinguishable from any other photo on activity on Facebook.

It doesn’t stand out

It doesn’t show your commitment to Subway

It doesn’t create a volume of content on Facebook that spreads through networks

etc etc

And also…

It’s a tenuous connection to make between Australian Summers and a New York sandwich chain. I’m not sure we’ll make that connection in our minds from this activity.

I think perhaps a better idea would have been to go after the hardcore Subway customers.

I’m sure they are out there, eating Subway almost every lunchtime.

Maybe there’s even a few thousand of them in Australia.

If they created an idea that these people could have engaged with, that inspired them to spectacular online and offline deeds I think that would have made a bigger impact on the individual friend networks on Facebook to create interest, new likes and PR or whatever Subway deems success to be.

The Xers out there will remember Triple J’s Beat the Drum activity from the 90s.







If you don’t, the basic idea was to drum up support for Triple J by running your own campaign to get Triple J exposure in your community (or beyond).

There were some pretty spectacular entries over the years from true Triple J fans.

Here are some entries from 2004 when the campaign was still in the market


Put that in your pipe Subway Australia.

That’s what committed fans will do if you create them and activate them.

Even if you just took 500 of the biggest Subway fans and asked them to do something special with the chain – extreme deeds of loyalty for extreme rewards for these select few – that would get much better cut through on Facebook than a few photos here and there.

If young adults have 237 Facebook friends on average and they are over-represented as a demographic in Subway’s top fans, your top 500 Subway fans likely have a network to reach of over 100,000 Australians.

Subway would you rather have 12,000 (less than – split response remember) photos of little value sprinkled into the 240m photos Australia has uploaded so far this Summer on Facebook or 500 hardcore fans going to great lengths over Summer witnessed by a combined network of 100,000+

It’s a question of volume vs quality.

So then…

If there are any social media marketers reading this, please take one thing from this post.

Aim for quality to achieve cut through. It’s that simple.

If social media is to be worth a damn today and tomorrow it has to be more than test ground for hackneyed promotions, product dumps and giveaways.

If you keep on with this you’ll be cutting your own throats. Really.

Let’s progress.

We are creating digital exhaust in staggering volumes. Forget GB of data and get used to PB, ZB and YB.

Trying to create ripples that spread through large networks is only going to get harder in a growing ocean of data.

So pick a smaller target and make a bigger impact.

You’ll be glad you did.

Filed under: Campaigns, Social Media, , , , ,

Rape me, my friend: Do we really love the ones that titillate?


















I’ve been reading Mark Yarm’s excellent book Everybody Loves Our Town (A History of Grunge). If you have a passing interest in the music from that time you should grab a copy.

I’m heading into the tailspin Nirvana took in ’93 and ’94. It’s quite sad. A band that could capture everything a generation felt in a riff and a verse but could not deal with each other or the world outside their tour bus.

One thing about the Nirvana MTV Unplugged performance in November ’93 has always bothered be.

The more Kurt bared his tired and tortured soul, the louder the audience cheered.

By the final song, a Leadbelly cover on betrayal and murder the audience of MTV executives and their children are in raptures.

My girl, my girl, don’t lie to me,
Tell me where did you sleep last night.

In the pines, in the pines,
Where the sun don’t ever shine.
I would shiver the whole night through.

My girl, my girl, where will you go?
I’m going where the cold wind blows.

In the pines, in the pines,
Where the sun don’t ever shine.
I would shiver the whole night through

Her husband, was a hard working man,
Just about a mile from here.
His head was found in a driving wheel,
But his body never was found.

My girl, my girl, don’t lie to me,
Tell me where did you sleep last night.

In the pines, in the pines,
Where the sun don’t ever shine.
I would shiver the whole night through.

My girl, my girl, where will you go?
I’m going where the cold wind blows.

In the pines, in the pines,
Where the sun don’t ever shine.
I would shiver the whole night through.

My girl, my girl, don’t lie to me,
Tell me where did you sleep last night.

In the pines, in the pines,
Where the sun don’t ever shine.
I would shiver the whole night through.

My girl, my girl, where will you go?
I’m going where the cold wind blows.

In the pines, …the pines,
……… sun,
I shiver the whole, night through!

Why did they cheer?

Did they also feel Leadbelly’s anger like Kurt?

Did they go home to the needle and a bottle of Jack? (Woah kids, easy.)

I always thought a more appropriate reaction would have been polite applause (i.e. respect). Even silence.

Not the “we just seen somethin” college whoops of an organisation that screwed Nirvana as much as the next place.

(In a prior performance not long after a Kurbain OD they insisted Nirvana play a set list of MTV’s choosing. They shouldn’t have even been playing).

To many people’s minds, the artist is there to hold a mirror to ourselves, to show us what we truly feel.

And of course that’s what got the MTV audience excited.

Kurt put into words and music what they could only feel.

Anger and sadness, betrayal and humiliation, hypocrisy and exploitation.

But do you think they would have had a beer with him? Would they have held his hair back as he vomited backstage?

Probably not. Too hard.

They were there to be entertained (most of them), not too understand or to think on the performance.

I was at ACMI last weekend to see Writer’s Bench.
















Melbourne became saturated with graffiti after the influence of New York subway art reached us in the early 80s.

Middle class Melbourne reacted with fear and a heavy hand but now street art and graffiti is feted and protected (half-heartedly) by the city.

Hosier Lane is now a tourist drawcard and one stop on an itinerary that might include The Zoo and The Penguin Parade at Phillip Island.

But I can’t imagine many tourists, or Melburnians for that matter taking the time to understand why people bomb trains or walls late at night or even talking to people brave enough to share their art and perspective without regard to convention.

For me, as an observer only, I sense that artists, and those who create culture on the fringe, are often looking for understanding and acceptance of a diversity of views. Perhaps they want to be recognised as tellers of important truths but not leered at or watched on like a curiosity or rebel.

Filed under: Culture, , , ,


Sharks hate it when you poke their eyes. Sometimes.

Filed under: Social Media, Uncategorized

Great post-it from Doug Savage at

My cat already gets this service from me. Just not on one 'tree'.

Filed under: Uncategorized,

Just do it says Baba: What Yoga has taught me about doing.

[sheesh. Embed disabled. Just click through]

If you know me you know I do a bit of a yoga.

It’s a great way to reset each week and clear out the stuff and nonsense that clings to us.

Both physically and mentally.

The bloke who runs our studio, Rob, has beens studying yoga, meditation and other Eastern practices since the early 70s. He’s seen a bit and learnt from some great masters.

The one that seems to have left the greatest impression is ‘Baba’ Muktananda.

Baba led an ‘interesting’ life but did much to spread the teachings of yoga to the west. Thanks Baba.

One of the great things about Yoga practice is reaching a state of ease where you can si back from your thoughts and just be. You are in the moment and in control. Not being influenced unduly. Just doing.

I think this a great way to approach activity once you have a measure of understanding. Don’t second guess yourself all the time. Learn, practice and trust yourself to do well. Take in feedback and respond. But always stay easy with yourself and the situation.

Marketing and the rapid flow of events, information, data, people, followers and the like can leave all of us rubbing our chin and wondering what to do next. I think the best approach, and one Baba would support, is to do. Do and learn.

The best plan or strategy or idea means nothing if you do not do.

Trust yourself and that you will get it mostly right.



Filed under: Planning

Amber Case Interview [part 2]

From a recent interview with tech visionary Amber Case for Byte Into It on Triple R. This part has lots of interesting points on the future of social services and ubiquitous computing.

The first 15 seconds are poor quality (some Skype to YouTube bug I have) but all good from there. Check it out.

Filed under: Social Media, Technology, UI, Websites, , , ,

Media Consumption Today

Some food for thought here from MBA Online on being timely with your marketing during the day. [Click to enlarge image]

For larger brands, you should be thinking about the best ways to connect radio w news sites/Facebook during the morning, news sites and Facebook during the day and then TV to Facebook in the evening.

Smaller brands might just consider how the more cost effective channels relate to other media and be aware of what your customers are consuming elsewhere to be more relevant.

Media Consumption - 2011
Created by: MBA Online

Filed under: Media, ,

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