Tag: branding

bring it on, rio.

The Olympics season is upon us and although Team GB have just started to bag the ultimate prize, Adworld didn’t fail to unload the usual stack of commercials from our favourite sponsors, ambushers and opportunists alike. You could be forgiven to think it will be hard to find great work this year. After all, a brief that has both the words Olympics and Rio in it doesn’t give much space to creative ingenuity. A maxi quadrennial year also means investments had to be prioritised between the Euros, the Olympics and, of course, Zlatan already being a living god in the Premierleague.

I’ll start with one that rarely disappoint – the swoosh. After the Make it Count campaign, our friends from Portland did it again, this time with Unlimited You, their latest positioning building on their tagline (which they shatter in the spot). A clip that is as inclusive (genders and sports alike) as the Olympics are meant to be, and one that still has that edge of personality they’ve recently introduced in their work. Start with the teaser and see it for yourself.

But it wasn’t about personality for everyone, as most broadcasters thought it would be tears of joy that would drive us to the aisles. That was the case for P&G who continued their Thank You Mum franchise ; Always who brought an Olympics twist to #likeagirl ; and Dick’s who gave us a lesson in biology and human nature with Gold in US.

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The greatest show on Earth is also the occasion to offer world-class storytelling, celebrating those athletes and their inspiring stories. Gillette tells us what happens behind the scenes of an athlete’s life in Perfect isn’t Pretty (although I find the link to the brand quite disappointing), Powerade went for the story of a kid overcoming obstacles in his personal life to make it to the big stage with a new instalment of Just a Kid. But one story that was worth telling this year was the one of the first ever Refugees team, the Olympics being the perfect playground for them to prove the world they’re more than what people think. Obviously a powerful story will attract lots of opportunists and Visa really missed the plot here, having such an incredible story to tell but failing to even scratch the surface, or to execute it the right way. Grey London, on the other hand, did UNHCR proud with this clip to celebrate the team’s participation to Rio.

I left my favourite for the end. There were lots of expectations on C4 after they’ve raised the bar quite high with their Superhumans clip 4 years ago. Well guess what, they’re back, moving from strength to unlimited ability (yes Nike, they can). Here’s a clip celebrating those who overcome their disability well beyond the Olympics stage. And don’t miss the short clips telling the stories and skills of the cast in the film. Hats off.

PS: Since I’ve skipped through most of the noise out there, feel free to check Adage and Campaign for a full list.

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by the way, how’s the apple watch doing?

This week was probably the most important one of the year for many early adopters out there (probably because Star Wars will only be out at the end of the year). Tim Cook – first disciple of Saint Steve – unveiled a whole bunch of new Apple gadgets, including a new iPhone, iPad, 3D Touch, and pencil (because “nobody wants a stylus”, right Steve?)

But what about the Watch, Tim? So far the Watch is slowly taking off with about 4M devices shipped. Good but still some way to go before they can replace something that’s been on our wrists for so long.

The recent announcement of an Hermes partnership (and a less “gadgety” look) is going to give it more credibility as a fashion accessory, a key step to reach before competing in the watch market (and not the smartwatch one). You could see the foundation of that strategy when they launched a high end Edition range. Let’s face it, no advertising will do more than showing off its features and how it could benefit our lives, but I doubt the millions of Apple users need convincing on that front. The real challenge to me is to convince people it can replace their watch – something that is everything BUT a gadget in most people’s minds.

One shouldn’t undermine how important that product line is to them. They are building on their new status of luxury brand (especially in Asia and according to Brandz) and will have to gain full credibility within the category.

Screen Shot 2015-09-13 at 19.47.49

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the renaissance of lego.

For a recent client meeting, we had to prepare by presenting our favourite brand. In the shadow of Apple and Coke, few would have chosen Lego. I remember spending hours mixing the content of Lego boxes collected Christmas after Christmas to build my own creations, just like, today, some commissioned artists amaze my eyes in the isles of our department stores. Lego might be one of the longest ideas ever created. They come back from nowhere and I have noticed 3 key factors to their success.

Staying true to themselves – the father and son story. In a time of recession, most brands have shifted their messages towards their heritage, going back to their brand’s roots, product classics or local heritage. Lego will forgive you for not knowing they are a Danish brand, as long as you remember their rectangle bricks, and the countless edifices you have been crafting and building with your dad. That story has even been the focus of their recent ad.

lego dad and sson

Innovating and diversifying – They went beyond their category to build a strong, all round brand. Not many toy brands count a theme park, a fashion range (that I surprisingly spotted in Copenhagen airport) and a blockbuster film to their name. From a product perspective, they’ve also diversified through new product lines to reach girls with the successful launch of Lego Friends.

Staying relevant by celebrating popular culture – the partnerships with strong equities such as Star Wars to even create a collector piece, once retailing at $500 (and probably more on e-Bay), the hype around the launch of a Simpsons range or the celebration of Breaking Bad. They have followed a strategy of brand association, which could prove successful (Angry Bird with Rio and Star Wars edition) or disastrous (Cover Girl Hunger Games edition). Not only did they broaden their audience, from fathers and sons to nerds saving to buy their collectors, but they have also managed to respond to a growing competition in the bricks building market by keeping their name at the top of consumers’ mind. To the point that porn star Christy Mack chose Lego when challenging her audience for an interesting reward (mind you, I’m not interested). Or even Cern’s competition by hiding Legos in Google Street View. Speaking about nerds, what about some new ideas for your Halloween costumes?

Lego came from nowhere indeed but – having experienced with innovation – they managed to find the right balance between keeping their heritage and embracing the Now. And that’s just clever marketing. The challenge will be to remain focused and not overwhelmed by spreading around with no clear direction or brand vision. But we shouldn’t worry too much about that since they probably learnt from their past mistakes.

lego man

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is apple getting tired?

Apple’s slick product development strategy consists of permanently avoiding the maturity phase of its products by spreading the deployment of their existing innovations over time. This ensures consumers will keep upgrading their devices and flourish the company’s cash flow with minimum R&D. Perhaps what they didn’t realise is that this strategy is, today, leading the company itself to its maturity phase, as they are seen as lacking innovation as a whole.

Is Apple getting tired? The fact that this happened when Steve Jobs left the Earth is a mere coincidence to me. This trend had already started before he left. Maybe the answer simply relies in the fact that competition managed to catch up. Apple’s current trial with Samsung – the company behind the development of the iPhone’s nemesis – unveiled an interesting letter that says it all about Samsung’s threat on Apple.

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These two companies are differentiated by a key aspect of their marketing. Samsung never really had a strong brand equity, nor vision. If they have one, it is nowhere near the one of Apple (I wouldn’t wear a Samsung T-shirt – would you?). But they embraced Android like no other and managed to create a simple yet innovative and powerful product line in the name of the Galaxy range, which has quickly matched the appeal of the iPhone. Apple on the other hand, have established one of the strongest brands ever and have been challenging the status quo since releasing the first Mac with an ad to remember in 1984. That said, the recent releases of their products have been disappointing to say the least, with some little evolution that has been beaten by Samsung and other players in the market. A focus on a strong brand vs. a focus on a strong product.

What did go wrong for a company that was seen untouchable 5 years ago? Any new technologies they proudly launched have been matched by the competition, be it Siri or Face Time. They released a new iOS, which, to me, seems to take some hints from both Windows Mobile (design) and Android (functionality). Just like they seem to align on their competitors, with the rumoured launch of a bigger screen size after resisting it with the argument that you could reach the whole of your iPhone 5 screen with your thumb. And their anticipated attempt to release a cheaper version of the iPhone – the iPhone 5c, which is basically the iPhone 5 with a plastic colour cover reminiscent of the relaunch of the iPod Nano range – failed to deliver with a hefty price of around £450.

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Maybe that last point is the beginning of the answer. When Apple released what everyone expected as an entry-level iPhone, they were actually never going to trade off their premiumness which is what their brand stands for and simply released a colour range rather than compromising on who they are. Can focusing on their brand keep them out of the water for long? The launch of the iPhone 6 at the end of this year is still fuelling conversations and will definitely be a turning point should they fail to deliver ground-breaking innovation. Their activeness on the patent front might be reassuring. There are also new battlefields this year, such as the wearable tech, with Google and Samsung being key players. So let’s not list them as dead just yet. After all, maybe that mind-blowing ad (and the way it was launched at the back of the Super Bowl storm) is reminding everyone of who they are. The question, though, is not about who they are but about what they will do.

 

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video cv and other ways to market yourself.

Bleustein Blanchet – one of the late fathers of advertising – once said that the Communications Industry was all about difference. I could not be more in agreement with him and have even extended this statement to Marketing and our every day’s life. Having a look at the employment market, the release of the “Doyoubuzz” website highlights this quest for differentiation: job applicants are now more than ever looking at ways to differentiate themselves from the crowd. That’s right, this is individuals marketing themselves on the job market.

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If the CV and the covering letter are evolving, one would be mistaken to think they are disappearing. The CV is, to me, the ultimate way to give the employer what he wants (on top of its administrative purposes). It needs to be simple and almost standardised – imagine everyone using the same template for their CVs just like most corporations are now asking us to fill in these lengthy questionnaires that literally re-organise the information already presented on your CV. With this in mind, the only way to differentiate yourself will be to do anything around the CV that will be clever enough to 1) make your voice heard, and 2) sell yourself.

A (very) basic way to understand the message in Marketing Communications could be to split it between the What and the How. The How could be a ATL comms, raising awareness whilst driving engagement through emotional cues, and the What that could be a retail leaflet or a company website, providing your audience with detailed info about the product in a convenient format. Back to our employment market, the How will be your covering letter (showing your personality and getting your reader to consider your CV), and the What will be that very CV. Again, agreeing that all CVs should be standardised, your only opportunity of differentiation will be your covering letter or whatever this is. Let’s look at an interesting example: the video CV.

Typing “video CV” on YouTube will give you a broad range of good, bad and even ugly executions. I have given myself a try at this risky exercise (risky as, if it will undoubtedly give you fame, that fame can easily turn into bad publicity) after graduating, and therefore having a fairly “light” CV in terms of experience. Here are my advices to any fellow ambitious risk-takers:

  1. Have a clear goal. This will narrow your ambitions, making your video to the point and relevant. There is a huge difference between “I want a great marketing job with great money” and “I want to be a successful advertising account executive in London”.
  2. The idea. This is not a CV but an inspiring deliverable with sole goal to inspire your employer to read your CV. Ideally, the end frame will actually call the viewer to download your actual CV.
  3. Relevance. I have seen some fairly bad examples that were so famous they probably destroyed these guys’ careers. Why? Because you don’t make a video of yourself if you don’t have that minimum of charisma, creativity or if you have nothing better to say than reading your CV in front of a camera for 5 minutes. Relevance also covers the Industry you are after. You wouldn’t do a video CV to land a part time job at McDonalds would you?
  4. The execution. Remember that the execution supports the idea, and not the other way around. You could simply post it on YouTube and wait for the buzz to take off, or send it directly to employers with a catchy line, or you could combine both into a clever activation plan whereby you will start broadcasting it (online and auto-generated buzz) to then narrowcast (direct emails)

The video CV is just one of the ways to market yourself on the employment market, just like putting yourself on eBay for auction. Remember to always stay true to yourself, to showcase your personality instead of replicating your CV in audio, and to execute it as part of a well-thought activation plan. Here’s mine open to critics… I would steer away from Barney Stinson’s execution!

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imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

The word “inventing” comes from a lot of meanings. Whilst an “invention” refers to something new, an “inventory” refers to something existing. I find that quite interesting as it can be a way to understand the concept of innovation. Going back to its Latin roots, innovare means renewing or changing an existing concept/ process/ product or what have you. One might therefore be mistaken to believe that innovating is bringing something totally new to the world. Sit down Steve J, I’m only starting.

immitation

Innovation tends to be massively used in dynamic Industries such as the high technology sector. This is logical since differentiation in this sector is driven by the novelty of its products, even though the brand can still play an important role e.g. in Apple’s case. But innovation means patents, industrial spying, many (many) lawsuits and other childishness. Which brings us to the question: can imitation be considered as a form of flattery?

I have been using an HTC Desire HD for the past couple of months and I must admit that some of its hardware and software features clearly come from the iPhone’s famous innovations. One day, I have shared my new purchase on my Facebook profile and most of the underlying comments were quite disrespectful to HTC, stating that they had “cheated” on the iPhone to make a break on this market. Yes, HTC wasn’t the first to use multi-touch and other – once groundbreaking – features that today became a standard in smartphones. However, they have – alongside the Android OS – brought a lot of new innovations such as its processor for an improved speed, a revisited interface and the ability to customise your device the way you want. They have done what is standard practice in open source software: “study how the program works, and evolve it to make it do what you wish”. This trend isn’t specific to an Industry either: new advertising techniques are also imitated, then improved and so on.

Competitors tend to rely on what one has created to improve their own products and services. While some might see this as cheating and disrespect, others will see it as a recognition of the initial innovation as well as taking part to the ongoing improvement of the product, and in turn, to the dynamism of the market. The trick is then to ensure consumers remember you were the first one to introduce that novelty.

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Apple v.2.0.

Many people have anticipated The 2nd of March for a while now. Steve Jobs – or his future successor – is due to announce his latest “revolution” to the World, namely the iPad 2. The press has rumoured Cupertino’s latest baby to sport a slightly different design, a frontal camera for video calls as well as a higher resolution screen (probably that “retina display” they’ve introduced with the iPhone 4). They might also release more versions (screen size and internal memory) to reach a wider market. So sleeker design, more versions, and addition of technologies already used on their current portfolio (camera and “retina display”). Rings any bells? That’s exactly what they’ve done when releasing the 2nd version of the iPod Touch.

I’ve been trying to understand how does Apple succeed so well. Sure their branding and marketing gurus have made it a purely inspiring brand with a vision, but there is more to that. I have been on their website and listed all the products they were selling for their main product lines. You will be surprised to see that that brand’s simplicity that everyone is praising actually extends to its products portfolio:

Apple table

The above table shows that Apple sells 38 products (a number about to increase on the 2nd of March).  Now looking closer, Apple actually sells 13 products, from 4 product lines, each declined in multiple versions. Looking even closer, you will see the differences between all these products: camera or not, retina display or not, screen size, internal memory or processor’s power. Logistically speaking, it would be safe to say that Apple actually release one great total product, and then remove/ lighten a few of its features to “multiply ” it in other versions and allow for it to be released upgraded a year later. This assumption also applies when you analyse the above chart across all products. The iPad for example, is literally a bigger iPod Touch (earlier version) with a bigger on-board memory, a bigger screen, and uses the same OS than the iPhone and the iPod Touch – that’s a lesson in economies of scale. All that doesn’t apply to their “lower end” devices (iPod Shuffle and iPhone 3Gs) that are only available in one version, or the iPod Classic that has been here for ages, using brilliant marketing techniques to sustain like the famous bottle of Coke, or even Hugo Boss “Hugo Man” fragrance.

iconic design

So how does Apple succeed so well? Steve Jobs relies on a few core platforms – Mac and “i” ranges (iPod, iPad and iPhone) – to then play with technologies that can be applied to all them. The trick is then to know when and how he will release it. Therefore, anyone shouting that Apple is amazing as they have so many great products would be mistaken since they actually only have a couple. Now let’s open our marketing books to see what this technique allow them to do:

  1. Regularly refresh their products with features perceived as groundbreaking by their early innovators – eventually purchased by innovators and the rest of the gang
  2. Avoid the maturity phase of the Product Life Cycle (PLC)
  3. Reach a wider audience with products that are not significantly different but for which you are ready to pay a significantly higher price (up to £1k on Macbook Pro, £2k on Mac Pro)

So next time you see an ad stating – with their usual modesty – “this changes everything, again”, read it as “it changed everything a year ago on this so we ran it on that, thanks for your continuous custom”.

iphone4-changes-everything

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self-derision sells.

How many times how we laughed out loud in front of a humourist mocking himself on stage? If an ignorant might claim that the human race became massively masochist, the wise will see that most of these humourists became famous and loved by that same public laughing at their “misery”. Is it because we relate to these people in some way, thus are laughing at ourselves unconsciously? Or is it because we feel some kind of sympathy for these characters? In any case, I’m far to be the only one who saw underlying marketing opportunities in self-mockery.

The most obvious opportunity was in Politics. If a humourist can make himself famous nationwide by simply mocking himself, then why would a Politician with no clear programme not have a go at it? French President Jacques Chirac admitted in an interview that his success in the 1995 elections against Edouard Balladur was partly due to the derision given to his character in the 2.6M-audience French Muppet show Les Guignols de l’Info. The show presented him as a no-programme-man lazy moron, who only wished he’d finally be elected against Balladur, who betrayed him. This made him the most famous and liked Muppet in the show ahead of presenter PPDA for the 2 years ahead of the election.

LES GUIGNOLS DE L'INFO

It wasn’t long before smart and edgy ad agencies pitched to convince some of their clients to try themselves at this exercise. Kapferer found that VW “style of expression is one of humour as shown in its attitude of self-derision, false modesty and impertinence towards competitors as well as in the use of paradox”. Gillette latest spoof ad is a more recent example where the brand takes one of its consumer’s insights i.e. “one day they’ll be selling us 10-blade razors” and embraces that cynicism by humouring themselves, as well as creating some buzz over their brand equity.

So, smart or risky exercise? Since not many brands are risking themselves to such a niche practice, one could argue that differentiation could be a good motive to such positioning – bearing in mind the products (or people in the case of our politician) concerned usually hardly differ from their competitors. Rod A. Martin stated that ‘‘they are making use of the peripheral rather than the central route to persuasion”. That said, relevance is key and in most cases the antidote becomes the poison. Ask Chirac what he thought of his Muppet in Les Guignols de l’Info in the 2002 elections…

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