Saturday, May 31, 2008

Leo Burnett quote

"I am one who believes that one of the greatest dangers of advertising is not that of misleading people, but that of boring them to death." - Leo Burnett

Read this today on a comment on an advertising blog. So true.

Direct Marketing Tip

"Even if small is less beautiful, it is more efficient" - Graeme McCorkell

One of the great things about direct marketers is they test all sorts of stuff. They test offers, lists, formats, creative, media and lots more. So we have loads of learnings available.

Graeme McCorkell is a highly regarded direct marketing professional and author. The above quote refers to press advertising sizes. Tests show that smaller ads are more (cost) efficient than larger ads.

Sure, you will get higher responses if you make the ad bigger, but the additional responses will not be in proportion to the size increase. So for example, if you double the size of your ad, you won't double the number of responses.

A good rule of thumb is to expect 40% more responses if you double your ad size. But good to test for yourself.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Mini Summer

More great Mini.

I attended a Mini brand induction earlier this year. They understand that Mini owners have a strong sense of 'fun' and 'adventure' and they really execute beautifully on these.

Found via picarad

Thursday, May 29, 2008

More great Mini outdoor

Another clever use of outdoor media. Not sure if this is CP&B but looks like their work.

Image courtesy of blankstrider

Channel 4 live TV ad

I missed it by minutes.

Honda were performing a TV ad live tonight on Channel 4 - a first for British TV. The ad was due to feature a team of skydivers leaping out of a plane over Madrid, as part of their latest "Difficult is worth doing" campaign.

Great idea. I wonder how they got on. I couldn't find it on youtube but I maybe I'll give them an hour or two to upload it.

More info at - where I also stole this picture above from.

Is 'The Farm' a premium restaurant?

Is 'The Farm' a premium restaurant?

I haven't been there yet but given that it is located on Dawson st, it specialises in organic food and its authentic-sounding name - I'd have said yes. I'd take a stab and say they are positioning themselves to sell high quality lunches at a slight premium?

Which is why this picture feels wrong.

There is nothing wrong with hiring somebody to stand with a street sign...but it is not the kind of advertising you expect from a premium brand.

Granted, it's a small thing. But brands are complex and it's funny how small things can affect our perceptions of a brand, even on some sort of subconscious level. You want your brand to feel premium at all touchpoints.

So what could they do different?

Given their focus on food and the earthly 'homemade' feel to their brand, perhaps instead they could hire some folks to give away small food samples? This would get more people to stop, try their food and give them an opportunity to talk up their menu.

I plan to drop in and check out the place soon.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

We just need loyal customers

'Customer loyalty' is often quoted as a goal for many company execs. Loyal customers = lots of profits. Even if this is the real goal, this is the wrong starting point.

Our starting point should be this:

"Customer loyalty is not about how customers demonstrate their loyalty to us, it is about how we demonstrate our loyalty to them"

- Sir Ian MacLaurin, ex-Chairman of Tesco

Simple concept. Apparently very difficult to execute.

"There is too much copy there. Nobody will read all that"

When working on ads, I often hear comments like "There is too much copy there. Nobody will read all that".

And while this is often a valid argument, I thought it would be useful to quote Claude C Hopkins, one of the most respected advertisers ever:

"Some say 'Be very brief. People will read but little'. Would you say that to a salesman? With a prospect standing before him, would you confine him to any certain number of words? That would be an unthinkable handicap."

My own view is the amount of copy depends on the challenge. If they are online, you can say less. They can click. If it is outdoor - less is definitely more.

But in press or direct mail, as long as the copy is focused and works well with the design, long copy can work just fine. If your readers are not interested, they won't read beyond the headline, so it doesn't matter how much copy you have. But if they read the headline and are still interested, you should give them as many reasons to buy as possible.

This then becomes a question on how to balance the copy and design so they are not crowding out each other.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Bloody outdoor ads

Kill Bill billboard sprays blood onto the street...and a few cars. Lovely use of outdoor / ambient. Nice. Nice.

Found via Adland

Pepsi Light

Most brands would just stick their logo on their trucks. Nice to see this.

Found via The AdBlog again.

"You make me want to be a better...brand"

It's easy to get caught up in the web 2.0 technologies. Flickr, Youtube, Facebook, twitter etc are all intriguing and exciting. I suspect many brand managers are interested because their customers are online - so they want to be there too. And we're slowing coming around to understand that this is not about online advertising.

Brands can engage, talk with customers and become less 'faceless' as Rohit Bhargava talks about in his recent book "Personality not included".

These things are good in their own right and can only be good for customers. But from talking to colleagues and other marketers, I believe there is something bigger and far more important that results from using these new technologies...

'They make us want to be better...brands'.

All brands mess up at some stage. Remember that a brand messing up is usually the result of a person within the walls of the brand messing up. Yep, a human. And I think most of us understand this and are willing to forgive as long as the brand genuinely apologies, quickly fixes the problem and makes sure it doesn't happen again.

However in the past, many brands have gotten away with less-than-perfect service by hiding behind company walls. The reality is if they refund everybody, they lose a fortune. Sure they'll handle the most outspoken complaints, but for god's sake, keep it quiet.

Once a brand decides to embrace these new web 2.0 technologies, it needs to treat each and every online query or complaint quickly and fairly - while knowing that it might start an avalanche of similar requests for refunds or rebates.

This means new policies, new procedures and a new mindset. It means employees must be empowered to make the right decisions. And these are not always easy decisions. This is scary but is a good thing. And brands will become better for it.

There are lots of stories of how web 2.0 technologies have forced companies to become better brands. I'll post about them over the following weeks.

P.S. Even if a brand doesn't embrace these technologies, as long as its customers are using them, it will still need to become a better brand...

Monday, May 26, 2008

I love quotes

I love quotes.

I often waste many hours searching online and through books for an appropriate quote to kick off a presentation or document. If I'm honest, I suspect that some insightful words from somebody wiser than me will somehow make me look intelligent and somewhat academic. This probably stems from my Dad - who is wise and an academic. He always used quotes at the beginning of any chapter or paper he published.

So I've decided to start adding quotes to my blog.

If nothing else, it will be a place for me to collate them, but hopefully they will be useful to you when putting presentations or pitches together. I'm planning to keep to marketing or business-related quotes for the most part. Please feel free to send me any.

I'll kick off with this, one which very relevant to marketing:

"Those who defend everything, defend nothing" - Ferdinand Foch, Marshal of France, Principles of War.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Mini Vending Machine

I mentioned yesterday that I was a big fan of Crispin Porter & Bogusky. They've done some lovely creative work for Mini. I'll dig up some more.

Found this via The AdBlog

Closing Down Sale for past 4 years...

I've walked past this shop in Dublin's city centre almost every weekend for the past three or four years - and always see these posters.

I'm convinced that "Closing Down Sale" is actually the name of the shop.

People will only spread your virus if there's something in it for them

As marketers, we sometimes forget this in our desire to make stuff go viral.

Why will they send it on to their friends? "My mates will like this, and think this is very cool / clever / funny / interesting - and in some way, I get kudos for telling them about it first"

Isn't this one reason why we share on blogs?

Found via Hugh MacLeod.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Possibly the best ad I've seen this year

Mr. W

This is beautiful. Possibly the best ad I've seen this year (only saw it this week for the first time).

Nike + Crispin split after just 13 months

"Need Movitation?" - only tv ad to come from Crispin's time with Nike.

Just read on Advertising Age that Nike and the very talented agency Crispin Porter & Bogusky are ending their relationship after just 13 months. Nike are re-igniting their relationship with their long-term agency Wieden & Kennedy.

I'm a big fan of CP+B, although not overly impressed with this ad.

Chevrolet dress sexy mag in real leather

Chevrolet dressed up Soho, "the sexiest magazine in Columbia" in the black and red leather used in the interior of their SUV cars.

Via ads of the world.

Twitter in plain english

I mentioned the other day that colleagues in work have asked me about Twitter. Here's an explanation in plain english. Common Craft make these videos using paper. They have others on blogs, RSS and podcasting.

I found Common Craft through psfk. Worth checking them out.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Mastercard's "You're Fired" ad

Mastercard's You're Fired ad.

Clearly cashing in on The Apprentice, with the twist that we really work for our kids and family. Nice thought but when watching, I can't help but agree with the Gavan Newsham of the Guardian - what spoilt little kids.

Gary Hamel: The Future of Management

Gary Hamel was recently ranked world's top business guru. See Gary Hamel is a genius. Official.

Last Oct, he published 'The Future of Management', where he challenges the way management run their businesses. He basically believes that they are out-dated and lacking in any real innovation since....well, since forever.

Mr Hamel points to three companies that are doing things differently - Whole Foods, W.L Gore and Google. Some of the stuff they do is so refreshing. He writes about teams, (not managers), who get to hire new staff members, employees that are given full information on everybody's salaries and about incentives that really do motivate.

This will make you think.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

VW Shadow Billboard

Haven't seen this before. Volkswagen's billboard throws a shadow onto the ground reading "Perfect day for a test drive".

Nice, although would be a bit risky to try here in Ireland given our weather.

Via Adsoftheworld.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Want to use your creativity for a good cause?

This was done by the Nobel Foundation, an organisation that matches charities with creatives. Unfortunately the Noble Foundation's site is not in english but the video is good. Nearly 3 minutes long but worth the wait.

This video was produced to get the attention of creatives.

I found this via Viralblog

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Southwest Airlines is following me

Image courtesy of duesentrieb

Southwest Airlines is now following me on twitter.

I'll explain...

While I don't really use twitter much, I set up an account out of curiosity and picked a few random people or brands to follow. Southwest was one of them.

Several colleagues have asked me recently about twitter - what's it all about? The idea of following the musings of a celebrity, an industry expert or journalist makes sense to me.

But a brand following me? Now this is interesting.

So what is going on here? Southwest have 1,212 followers (like me) on twitter. While I've never actually flown with them, I suspect most of these people are Southwest customers. The interesting bit is they follow anybody that follows them. Yes, they follow the daily thoughts, ramblings and rants of these individuals - most of which have nothing to do with Southwest.

This sounds like a lot of effort, so why do it? Well, firstly it is a commitment to their customers. They are essentially saying "You are interested enough to follow us, then we are interested in you". But this is also an excellent way to get under the skin of their customers and of course have a dialogue with them.

Does it work? I'd say so. I read a post (tweet) today from one of their followers which simply said "I hate Southwest". They responded within a day on their page with the following "I'm sorry to hear that! What did we do, and how can we make it better?"

This is a extremely customer-centric brand that is using technology to get closer to customers and helping them serve them better.

Can you imagine an Irish bank, retailer or airline doing something like this?

I can.

BMW Drivers wash their cars more

Image courtesy of A.H. 1987

I was lucky enough to experience one of BMW's brand workshops last month. They take this seriously and try to get as many BMW employees as possible through their full-day, off-site induction.

And it is not fluffy stuff.

They equip sales staff to answer hard questions on trade offs. For example, if a customer queries why a particular model has less boot space than a competing brand, they can explain that BMW value the driving experience more and given a budget restriction, leg room is where the resources go.

Clearly BMW believe in the investment of their brand. A full-day induction for everybody is not cheap. But it pays off. BMW drivers are emotionally attached to their cars.

This emotional engagement is nicely demonstrated in the book Trading Up. The authors quote Dr. Michael Ganal, a BMW board member - "BMW owners wash their cars more frequently than owner of other cars do. They park them on the street and then turn back to gaze lovingly at them as they walk away".

Friday, May 16, 2008

HP demonstrate the quality of their printing

I posted a while ago about HP and their great campaign last year that demonstrated the quality of their prints.

Here is their latest. Found via adrants.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Great bebo online ad

I clicked on this ad. Couldn't resist. And this is just the beginning. They persuaded me to click about 11 times.

Technically this is very simple, but bang-on in terms of understanding the people on their site and understanding their frame of mind when on bebo. I'd love to see the click-thru stats on this campaign.

Very funny. Best online ad I've seen in a while. I bet it will even go viral.

If you have a couple minutes spare, do check it out at

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Drench Water ad

My mate Elaine loves this. It reminds me of a cross between the Lynx Pulse ad and Hugh Grant's dancing scene from Love Actually.

Great track.

Scamp and Paul Isakson both posted it already, but worth sharing.

Gary Hamel is a genius. Official

It's official. Gary Hamel is a genius.

I posted just the other day about one of his best-known books "Competing for the future". I'll post soon about his most recent 2007 book "The future of management" which challenges management as we know it today. It's a great read.

That aside, according to the Wall Street Journal - based on Google hits, media mentions and academic citations - Mr Hamel is ranked business guru No. 1.

Ranked higher than Michael Porter, Tom Peters and Bill Gates....

Found via John Moore

How would facebook sound off-line?

Facebook demonstrated off-line, in real life. As featured on BBC Three show 'The Wall'

Via SMS Text News

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Competing for the Future

I've been meaning to do more posts on books I like. This is one.

It is not actually a marketing book. 'Competing for the Future' is about strategy - how companies need to focus more on building core competences for the future.

They cite many examples of companies that have done a good job on this, as well as others that have not.

One company that under-invested in the late 1980's was Porsche. While they continued to raise prices, their engineering skills fell behind those of their Japanese competitors. By the early 1990's, sports cars such as the Nissan 300ZX, Honda NSX and Toyota Supra were considerably cheaper than the Porsche 911 and were often considered superior in performance too.

Consumers realised that the Porsche brand was not backed up by a competence-based performance advantage.

The result? US Porsche sales plummeted from 30,741 in 1986 to just 3,728 in 1993.

Definitely worth a read.

Matrix style flipbook animation.

This is very cool.

By an agency called Sugarcube, for LG.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Positioning - the battle for your mind

My last post reminded me of this book. Written in 1986, 'Positioning - the battle for your mind' still holds true today.

The authors' argument is that we are all very busy and over exposed to so many messages. So brand managers need to focus and stay focused on the 'position' that their brand holds in consumers' minds. If you deviate away from this position, you dilute your brand.

Al Ries and Jack Trout are well regarded authors and have both written several other books. This is easy reading, and while they can be extreme at times with their views, they have some good examples, and they make a lot of sense.

Brand Tags

This is interesting.

Clearly, brands are complex and managing a brand is not getting easier. The basic idea of this Brand Tags site "is that a brand exists entirely in people's heads". With the site, you are shown a brand and asked to input any word that comes into your head.

More interesting is the tag cloud of words that others have used to describe various brands.

Check it out here.

Found this via Faris

Levi's Jeans viral ad.

I stumbled onto Guys backflip into jeans on Youtube this morning. It is one of the top videos in the 'featured videos' on the homepage and had racked up 1.7m views in the past 5 days. I wondered whether they used camera tricks but I honestly didn't realise it was a Levi's ad.

Gawker did though and investigates the similarities between this and last year's Ray Ban viral. More here.

18% of online users in South Korea write blogs

Josh Bernoff, co-author of Groundswell, posted this table from his book. Over half of online users in Japan read blogs - compared to just 10% in the UK.

Interesting to see the ratio of reading blogs to commenting on them or writing them. Is it odd that 18% of online consumers in South Korea write a blog while only 5% watch User Generated videos? More info here.

Wonder what Ireland stats are?

Turning a billboard into a coupon

Another creative use of media. Found via Ads of the World.

Promoting their STIHL chainsaw sale, they attached a real chainsaw to the bottom right corner of the billboard. A few days later, a guy turned up, and cut out the coupon using the chainsaw, leaving the billboard with a hole in it.

Very nice.

Friday, May 9, 2008

We don't trust online bloggers

Interesting post from Jeremiah Owyang highlighting some forrester research that we (well, americans) don't trust reviews from online bloggers - compared to other review sources.

I'm sure this depends on the integrity of the specific bloggers. But I was surprised all the same.

Bloggers aside, Jeremiah makes some great points about how marketers can use these various trust sources to build trust with consumers.

More here.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Radiohead - All I need

I was talking with a mate at work recently about how people tend to switch off when looking at ads, yet a movie trailer can keep them completely engaged. I think it has to do with content, story telling and entertainment in general.

Which is why Radiohead's latest video is interesting. Their new music video is an advertisement. I don't think this has been done before?

I've written recently about how brands need to think like Radiohead. Once again, they prove themselves to be both an interesting and an innovative brand.

Via Adverblog.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Toyota Prius - respect the environment

Nice use of media to demonstrate "respect the environment".

Found this via Ads of the World

Opportunity for aircoach?

I remember recently reading somewhere the question "What brands would you miss if they disappeared tomorrow?"

I'd miss the aircoach. I always take it when arriving home from the airport.

Last week, I noticed some advertising for Nivea Men products on the back of one of their buses. I wondered if aircoach could do other interesting stuff with brands, beyond advertising, that might be useful to consumers?

For example, would Nivea consider giving away small promotional sample packs on the aircoach? Tighter flight restrictions means I find myself continuously buying small tubes of toothpastes and mini deodorants. In situations like this, I'd be delighted to sample their products and read their collateral.

Thinking of other brands that could benefit from this opportunity - I'd love if Barry's Tea got in on the action and threw a few tea bags my way while on the aircoach. I always forget to pack them and do honestly miss them when on holiday. A little gesture like that would probably secure my loyalty for another ten or twenty years.

I realise that advertising on the back of the bus is not targeting the people on the bus. That aside, there might be an opportunity for aircoach to build a service for brands who want to connect with us in the hours leading up to our flight or immediately after our flight home.

Good for us. Good for brands. And a bit of extra revenue for aircoach - so they don't disappear anytime soon.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Wall

Image courtesy of

danah boyd, the guru on online social networks, has uploaded a recent talk she gave, titled "Teen Socialization Practices in Networked Publics".

In particular I like her insights on what teenagers actually mean when they write on their friends' walls on sites like MySpace or Facebook. While it would appear that what they actually write is somewhat frivolous, irrelevant and random, there is method to their madness.

To quote danah directly:

"Often, the specific content is less relevant than the way in which that content helps teens maintain their relationships. In other words, "yo, wazzup" "not much, how you?" "goood" may seem pointless, but it has tremendous value.

That supposedly meaningless interaction was a re-affirmation of friendship, a tightening of social bonds, and a confirmation that there is no drama. Those meaningless interactions are what builds the social ties that we rely on.

In other words, what was really being said was: "I'm thinking of you and want validation that we are still friends and that you're willing to spend time talking to me." "Yes, of course we are friends. To prove it, I will say it publicly so that others know that we're still friends." "OK, cool. Thank you!!

You can read her full draft here. I highly recommend it.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Paddy Power looking for a financial blogger

Image courtesy of Wallyg

I read on Damien Mulley's blog that Paddy Power are looking for a financial blogger.

I'm impressed.

Anything to do with stock markets, spread betting, trades, stock prices etc is a massive source of conversation and opinions online. Like any betting brand, Paddy Power want to get close to these people online. With a brief like this, I'd guess many Irish brands would simply buy some advertising space on existing sites or on blogs and hope to get more than 3 clicks per 1,000 page impressions.

Assuming this is their plan, I'd say Paddy Power are going about it the right way - joining the conversation and investing some time in it. Fair play.

Other brands should take note and do similar. How expensive would it be for a travel brand to support some enthusiastic Irish travel bloggers? Or any entertainment brand to do similar with music or movie fanatics?

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Twitter helps get student out of prison

Two friends recently asked me to explain the value of Twitter.

My view is that Twitter is just a communication tool similar to blogs, SMS etc. It is up to people and companies to find ways to use it so that it adds value to their service. Some brands have done this already and I'll come back to this in a later post with a few examples.

But I wanted to highlight the recent example of how Twitter was used to help free a student from prison in Egypt...

Last April, James Buck, a Berkley student, was thrown into prison while in Egypt covering some anti-government protests. While on the way to the police station, James texted the word 'arrested' to his twitter network of friends - which led to very rapid action to get him out.

It's an interesting example of how Twitter added value. You could argue that a text to his best mate or dad might have also worked but interesting all the same.

Found the story via Fallon

James Buck's twitter network here.

Life's too short for the wrong job

Wish I'd done this.

Found via adrant where you'll find other good examples - ATM, photo booths etc.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

RSS in plain english

I posted recently about the potential benefits of RSS over email marketing.

At the time, I assumed that most internet-savvy people understand RSS - but while on holiday I discovered this wasn't the case. My mistake. Thanks AJ

If blogs are relatively new to you, you may not be familiar with RSS feeds. Here they are explained very simply. I found this via Videochart.

Here is my post on the benefits of RSS marketing over email marketing.

Insight behind Smart Cars

I'm away on holiday at the moment, with little access to internet, so haven't had chance to post much.

Been taking photos though and noticed a good few Smart cars while in Spain and Italy. I must admit, I didn't think much of Smart cars when they first appeared. What I didn't realise was that these cars were designed with the insight that some drivers really struggle with parallel parking.

Smart Car drivers can park on streets without having to parallel park. They are so small and box-shaped that you can literally park with front bumper to path and fit in a normal parking space.

Not that this driver seemed too worried about finding a space.