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Archive for the ‘Planning’ Category

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 I’m quite late to comment on Marilyn Manson, he’s been around for years and everyone has mentioned that he’s a marketing genius but I quite fancied a brain dump on him. I’ve been watching his videos of late and using some of them as stimulus in certain briefings as they really capture the dark side of surrealism, which I’m, quite a fan of anyway.

Manson kicked off his concept of ‘shock’ around 1994/95 and has made quite a good effort at distributing it as a cultural idea which converges across a number of mediums – T shirts, music, music videos, live gigs, books,  interviews, films, documentaries, websites etc. What’s also great is that he gives credit to his content by using as many opportunities as he can to reveal he has intelligible reasoning and logic for it to exist, that and like it or not his look is quite cool. It therefore has the very makings of a successful brand – distribution channels and mediums along with a level of kudos. I guess what I’m trying to address is the use of convergence and transmedia strategies effectively to deliver a cultural idea into the heart of contemporary society. Some may argue that shock has always been there, Ozzy snorting ants is rock n roll story that’s used WOM to be told countless times. Sure. But in terms of a contemporary cultural movement and contemporary mediums that has been kicked off by a rock star I think Marilyn Manson proves quite a good case study. I guess the band brand of Marilyn Manson could therefore teach a few of the commercial brands a trick or two about getting into popular culture.

On a similar vein, I’ve noticed a few other ideas (using the word ideas to mean films, games, music) breaking out of their traditional platform. The franchise that is the Alien films looks to return Alien War to London in April 2008.

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his was at one point the only film experience of its kind and saw 2 million visitors running and screaming through it between 1993 and 1996. Essentially bringing a very atmospheric film to life to be experienced – branded entertainment, branded content, convergence or transmedia? Probably all. Then I recently learnt that the Resident Evil games (which are known for their atmosphere and deep dark plot lines look to make the whole game experience a certain twist of reality by opening…..A Resident Evil House….but in Japan.

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It’s only because I’m a geeky fan of the above (which usually have OTT fan bases) that I’ve started to notice them break out of their original launched platforms. It’s great for the business of content but also for taking a brand experience into a whole new dimension. Nintendo World, The Terminator Experience, Nike Land (which I would imagine could be fitness clubs) the possibilities are quite endless and can stretch as far as the imagination can.

It’ll be interesting to discuss other cultural ideas which have broken out of their original conception to become a much wider and involving entity if you know of any.

 

Anton xxx

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Firstly, is it boring to talk about how agencies need to change, how the structure put in place in the 1950s might not be the best way to handle such a fragmented 2007 and that possible conspiracy theory that if agencies were honest the whole industry would crack at the top due to the severe profits of large agencies being through traditional TV (whilst it still has an important place it has to fundamentally change in terms of creative and media format i.e. Gorilla and IPTV). 

Still boring? Yeah well, I know but still I think I’ll have a go at Brand Image vs Brand Innovation as we still seem to be far off it. Inspired by the legend that is John Grant I can’t help but feel, WTF are we doing? We spend so much time, resource and money in producing a glossy frame when we don’t think about the actual picture at all. What I mean by this  is that we strive to make polished advertising messages however when we get brand/product facing we are let down by shoddy service or poor product and therefore this makes any ‘image’ we have tried to create totally null and void.

An example was today when I went to pay in a cheque at my local NatWest branch, whilst I understand that they say they open at 9.30am they could clearly see that there was a queue gathering outside and almost out of spite a member of staff stood inside until the clock hit directly 9.30am. I then approached the cash desk, two people were sat there, I approached one directly only to be told, ‘nah mate’…..well why the FUCK are you sat at the cash desk alluding that you might for a second be up for doing your job? Count the pennies either behind a screen or away from where people will believe that you’re sat there for a reason. This experience really clashed strongly with their current advertising – all about how they are human centric, customer caring and service based. So a total waste of money building an image that is utterly false and transparent to a marketing bull shit savvy public. 

So where then? Well surely seeing as we claim to be king of consumer knowledge we should be advising our clients on innovation rather than false motivation. If we are meant to be advising our clients to the best of our ability surely we should be telling them where they are faltering on their delivery or how to innovate in order to gain market share? But that’s for brand consultancies I hear you cry? Is it? If it is then how are there so many brands (big brands) which are failing to deliver on their promise? If it is then surely they can’t be very good at it?  

The long incomprehensible ramblings I’m trying to get to is that our current business model is quite literally screwed. We provide pictures whether it be on TV or on a computer or on a billboard making a promise that simply isn’t true. I’m not trying to be all sanctimonious, I love what we do, I just think we’re working back to front. The ability for us to add value is getting less (based on the consumer facing service failing) and we try and justify that value through (if we’re honest) dubious measurement methods.

So I’d like to change, getting closer to client’s business, bringing innovation to the table and using consumer knowledge to create real and tangible change (as opposed to suitable tone of voice) and then a true and honest brand image which in turn generates the good stuff. I’m aware that certain agencies have worked towards this, having a say in packaging, tone of voice, events, customer services but they’re case studies of inspiration as opposed to the norm right now. Anton xxx 

p.s. AHHH, it’s just happened again, I go into the Bagel Factory as I’m quite a fan, buy a bagel, hand over my loyalty card to be stamped and then told, ‘we don’t do that anymore’ ‘so what do you do?’ ‘nothing’ Had I not paid I would have spun on my heel. This is the kind of arrogance that brands think they can still wield,  with Tesco Express, Pret and Eat on nearly every corner should Mr Bagel Factory be somewhat a bit wiser? I can see the next ‘honest’ print campaign: ‘Really tasty bagels from a really unappreciative company’ or ‘Fuck you very much for your loyal custom’.

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A little while back, Will noted us as one of the blogs that makes him think. So as is the custom, we’re going to tell you about the blogs that we read, and suggest you read them as well.

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Adliterate: Richard Huntington always comes at things from an angle that make you think ‘Why didn’t I think of that?’. If there was ever a blog to take notes to while reading, this is it.

Amelia: One of our most visited blogs, Amelia writes superbly on life in London and in digital, two things which are converging faster than you think.

Crackunit: Iain blogs in a very visual way and is a standard bearer for the digital world. Read often.

Dead Insect: Anthony writes really well and is super cool to hang out with. He’s just gone freelance, so I’d expect a ton of really good stuff up on his blog as he navigates adland sans agency.

Faris: No introduction needed. The crown prince of Naked.

Make Marketing History: John has a superb way of cutting through the crap and getting straight to the heart of a matter. And he’s one of the funniest guys you will meet.

Nicola Davies: A fresh perspective on all things communications related, with a particular focus on digital. And she went to Aston. So you know she’s awesome at what she does.

Punk Planning: THE man. Simple. You can talk to him about anything, and I always learn something from talking to Charles.

Russell Davies: For many of us, a major influence in starting a blog. Always thought provoking.

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I really enjoyed Interesting2007, like really really. It was great to go someplace and just chill out and enjoy the day and not have to worry about taking notes. It was a totally different experience to the PSFK London conference. Not necessarily better, but different. PSFK was a day of education, Interesting was a day of chilling out and listening. I was flanked in the audience by Will and Charles (who by all accounts was the sharpest looking cat present, check this out), and had an awesome day, drinking too many smoothies (read this and this and know I wasn’t the only one drinking them), being very American and having an all round good time. And I got up on stage as well.

It was great hearing people talk about themselves (y’all know that everyone is really good at talking about themselves), if for no other reason but to sense the passion everyone has in their interests. And my one over-riding impression from the day was the forgiving nature of the audience. I don’t say this because any of the presenters were bad, far from it. But the sense that even if you weren’t remotely interested in what someone was saying, the enthusiasm that spilled across from the stage was something you couldn’t deny. So you loved it that they were loving it. Get it? Good. The Flickr pool will give you a better (picture?, sorry..) idea of how things went down.

Afterwards a number of us congregated at a house that happened to be public, and I got to meet a number of bloggers who I read, including Beeker, Collyn, Corentin aka Organic Frog, Emily, John Dodds, Rob and Paul (not to mention those of blogland I already know, like Faris, Mark and Lauren and my main man Ricardo). Then Lauren, I and the lovely Gemma (Lauren is lovely also, just I already knew that before Saturday) went and had a Chinese (dinner not person) while discussing a number of things, ranging from food hygiene ratings to traffic in urban conurbations, before heading our separate ways as Saturday wound to a close.

The only thing that was less than awesome on the day was I didn’t get a chance to engage in verbalosities with some people I’d have liked to, like Iain and the legendary Grant McCracken. All in all though, a great day.

Let’s not forget this was all Russell’s brainchild. So a big thanks to him and all that spent inordinate amounts of time and effort to make the day an unqualified success. Charles and I have decided we will speak next year. For that reason alone, you should all make sure you get Interesting in ’08.

My ‘insight’ from the day? Simple.

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For other views on Interesting2007, click here and keep checking the wiki for updates to video/audio et al.

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(This is a continuation from my post yesterday about my musings from the PSFK conference in London)

Jeremy Ettinghausen – Penguin Books
Marketing now is at the heart of the publishing process, saying the product is too linear has been proven wrong.
The internet is more than just a sales channel.
Your product can do the marketing, if you open up opportunities for it do so.
Penguin are about enabling conversations about books, authors and stories.

(It was a real eye opener for me to hear about how Penguin have almost completely rebuilt their communications strategy to embrace all that the Internet and web 2.0 is about – really refreshing and inspiring for an admitted book junkie).

Dan Hon – Mind Candy
Humans are intrinsically a social species, we crave regular interaction.
Never underestimate or demean the power of good narrative.
Immersion breeds passion – narrative builds ties…
People yearn for a feeling of togetherness, an identity that binds them to others yet still lets them express themselves individually.

(How amazing and mind boggling is the reach of alternate reality games? Breathtakingly ipic and terrifying at the same time).

Iain TaitPoke
Iain’s post on the 10 reasons why digital is better than advertising can be found on his blog, it’s better you hear it straight from him rather than have me make a mess of his excellent talk. The 10 main points he made are below.

1. You don’t have to do ‘Advertising’
2. You can just do things
3. A ‘just do it’ culture fosters entrepreneurialism – you can fail fast and cheap
4. Egos are (marginally) smaller in digital
5. Online audiences are great – they get ‘it’
6. You can be an inventor
7. There’s less to lose
8. You don’t have to work at a place with 4 middle aged guys’ names on the door
9. You get to work with people who live digital everyday
10. The rules change everyday

Panel: Are Planners the New Creatives? – Jessica Greenwood, Flo Heiss, Liz Sivell, Amelia Torode, Harry Fowler
Be useful to people.
Intelligent ideas are key, regardless of their origin.
Consumers don’t see online and offline as two worlds, they see the world.
We are all creating things, refining them to make them relevant is key.
Think about where your ideas are going, and where they are needed.
An idea is not always a good idea.
Share. Always.

(I felt sorry for Amelia on this panel, she was the only planner and held her own but the discussion often retreated into labels and making boxes to fit people into, rather than people defining their own roles. An unexpected surprise was running into Laurence Parkes when he was asked for his opinion by Jessica – I did work experience at BBH last year and did some work with Laurence, a great guy who’s always willing to listen).

Hugh MacLeod – Gaping Void
A brand should be seen as a social object.
If you wanna have a cool product, you gotta do cool shit.
Smarter conversations = better products.
Harness the power of Viral Mojo.

(Make sure you check out Gaping Void, Hugh’s cartoons are rockin’).

Martin Cole – WPP
Society is profoundly visual and always has been.
We spend more and more time in front of screens, but never really look at them, we scan.
Become a visual expert, make everything you do simple and elegant.
Beauty is key in everything, we gravitate towards beauty in all its forms.

Panel: Change The World – Piers Fawkes, George Parker, Stan Stalnaker, Johnny Vulkan, Russell Davies
The traditional buy/sell model is dead.
Marketing is a failed science.
Middle management at clients use agencies as a crutch.
Consume less, contribute more.
The internet has made the world a greenhouse, be genuine and don’t be a dick.
Creativity, by and large is not applied to business, when it is, everyone knows it.
After the next nuclear holocaust there’ll be cockroaches and ad people.
90% of agencies were always crap. It’s not like something has been changed by the arrival of the Internet.
Working faster is working smarter.
Believe in what you do. Always.
Be honest with yourself. Always.
Take responsibility for what you do. Always.

So there you have it, that’s the words from my notebook typed onto my notebook. Big thanks to Piers for inviting Anton and I to come and blog about the day, we definitely got the better end of the deal and met a bunch of great people and heard some great stuff. If you didn’t make it on the day, I hope this gives you a little flavor of what it was like. And make sure you go whenever the PSFK roadshow rolls into your town next. As the immortal words go, thank you and goodnight.

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My scrawls..

After a week of procrastination followed by one of steadily increasing hayfever, I’m finally getting down to giving you the goods on the superb PSFK conference in London Friday before last (June 1st). Before I launch into my notes, I have to let y’all know that there were many, many, fantastically intelligent people present on the day and I would advise that as a starter, you read Amelia’s, Charles’, George’s, Helen’s, I-Boy’s, NP’s, Peter’s, The Pirate Geek’s and Will’s (for a fantastic shot of the wannabe ad man in the flesh, check out my pictures from PSFK, he’s the one in the camera’s headlights) posts on the day before commencing takeoff here.

Having taken my sweet time, and having read everyone’s excellent recaps of the day, I don’t think it would be best if I set off on long stretches of prose about every session for a number of reasons mainly because a) You’d get bored, b) Others have written about it better than I will and c) I’ve had way too much to eat due to the homemade authentically Texan burgers (whatever that means) I had with friends over lunch. So I’ve decided to take every session and distill it down to what I thought was cool / important / relevant / most worth remembering. Hopefully some of you will agree. So let’s get this partay started.

Timo Veikkola, Futures Specialist at Nokia
Nothing technology can produce will ever compare to the intimacy of face to face communication.
Trends are manifestations of values, attitudes and behaviors.
Can the human mind master what it has made?
Ubiquitous connections are the ones that we must strive for, but also the ones most difficult to pinpoint.
The future will be utterly fantastic.

(Timo had without question, the coolest job title, if Doc Brown from Back To The Future ever had an official job title it would definitely be Futures Specialist).

Regine Debatty – We Make Money Not Art
Science can make the impossible and distasteful palatable with time.
Artists are crazy people.
Technology doesn’t always deliver.
Perfect can be borne from the imperfect.

I’d take Regine’s statement that all artists are crazy a little further and say that everyone is crazy on some level, it’s embracing your inner insanity that is the key.

Panel: The Marketing Gap In Green – Karen Fraser, Tamara Giltsoff, John Grant, Diana Verde Niet
We need to embrace sustainability.
Every client/product/brand wants to be seen to be doing something green, but most don’t know what to do.
We live in an era where the macro-economical environment dictates changes that are almost being thrust upon advertisers.
To be successful in communicating the message of green, the product must use itself to communicate a bigger issue, and please, please don’t patronize me.
Being green can be broadly seen as a 3 step process, set new standards, collaborate with the consumer and help them live and feel better.

Niku Banaie – Naked Communications
We all have the needs to Love, to learn, to give back, for simplicity, to play. Our ideas in particular and our lives in general should try to embrace as many of these as possible.
Ideas should Shrink, Hide and Embody (Maeda’s law of simplicity).
Promote the spirit of curiosity, it’s that same spirit that allows us to grow into the adults we do.
Take open source to everyone.
Grow your own future.

Mike Butcher – Journalist
Digital media is a smaller, cheaper competitor to traditional media and can undermine it.
Digital media is the pamphlet from the Pentrich Revolution of our era.
Media owners must change their practices in the face of cheaper digital startups and user-centric publishers.

Panel: Turning Trends Into Ideas – Steven Overman, Beeker Northam, Simon Sinek, Faris Yakob
Jumping at trends is a dangerous game.
If something is not interesting or useful, it has no value
Inspiration is the most powerful tool in the history of humankind. You can either inspire or manipulate, if you manipulate, eventually the effect will wear off. If you inspire, your message will multiply exponentially.
The majority of marketing communication attempts to manipulate and is intrinsically destined to fail.
Words are dangerous because of their power.
Belief, inspiration and the truth create a cult of belief that is the most powerful tool a brand can have (I think one of my favorite TV ads ever, Apple’s Think Different is a great example of this).
Challenge the status quo, and use humor to take the edge of contentious issues.
Tell the truth. Always.

Part two is on the way, come back Thursday, June 14th for the goods.

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of the dot com boom (and then by definition maybe a burst?) seems to be underway. But this time it’s all about social networking and making connections, I think. Last.FM got picked up by American media giant CBS (story here and reaction here) a few days back and it seems there’s a feeling in large corporate media land that social media, in all it’s forms is where the cash cow is grazing.

Please please please don’t go overboard and brand it to hell. And don’t try to funnel users down a specific path because it will make you a little bit more money. That will wreck it for us. That would not be cool.

(In what I hope is not a blind coincidence, BigShinyThing have written a piece about this in much greater detail and quality here – I hope it’s not a coincidence because I’d like think that I’m clever just like them).

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