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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Judging the IPA Effectiveness Awards Entry Papers

I spent a fair chunk of the last few weeks immersed in a very large box full of IPA Effectiveness Awards Entry Papers.

Aside from taking up a good working week or more of one’s life – the papers have been really interesting and there are undoubtedly some wonderful case histories which should be jewels in the industry crown.

The Judging Panel met up last week to review the papers which we’d all ‘marked’ individually. We screened in (or out!) what will certainly get a Bronze, and then based on the final Client judging panel, potentially a Silver, Gold or the Grand Prix.

This was a great experience. A room full of talented and incisive thinkers from a range of disciplines.

The debates were always interesting, provocative and questioning – but with a healthy bit of open-mindedness. We all agreed that there were some gems which we felt should be great examples of the potential quality of thinking, execution and measurement in the ad industry in these recession writhen times!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Cringeworthy, or daring brand engagement?

Here's an article we just had published on brand-e.biz
Asks Sabine Stork.* Durex has teamed up with a local youth TV station in a shoutout for teens to star in the upcoming reality show Virgin Diaires. Wannabes need to upload their audition videos to the LoveBox website ‘to document sensitively how you feel about this touchy subject’. The site kicks off with some cringeworthy questions "Have you ever done it? Yes, in Virgin Diaries we’re talking about the most obvious topic amongst teenagers – the famous first time… how do you feel, is it still ahead of you? Are you interested in documenting your thoughts, feelings… around the first time with a camera?" Well, it really makes you wonder what sort of exhibitionistic teen won’t be excruciatingly embarrassed by this exercise. And won’t they worry about being laughed at by their peers? Still, this is the third series and a quick scan of German youth blogs shows that Virgin Diaries certainly has talkability … some youngsters welcome the show in a spirit of openness, many seem to find the series entertaining but laughable and a bit trashy, others are mortified for the subjects, or simply question whether the footage is really real. Some also wonder if the show does not simply add to pressure on teens to have sex. So, possibly a bit exploitative and cringe-making, but quite canny of Durex – it’s there right at the beginning of its customers ’sector experience’ and puts itself into a somewhat ‘daring’ and slightly controversial context which seems spot on in terms of brand image.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Slovakia, football and sponsorship

In Slovakia this week where consumers have, of course, caught the World Cup fever and are more than determined to enjoy the event as much as they can. Kia Motors (Official FIFA partner) are helping them do so with matches screened live on large screens in locations such as Bratislava's new waterfront development - the Galleria Eurovea. Complete with DJs, table football and face painting to try and build the atmosphere. The crowd that gathered yesterday to watch the first Slovakian game seemed to really appreciate the efforts the brand had gone to - and when I asked gently what does this make you feel about Kia the emotional proximity gained was clear. "We love Kia, they bring us this and we can all enjoy the great game together" "We love Kia, we love Kia" - chanted repeatedly by a small band of friends! Caught up in the moment? Perhaps. But with a bit more gentle probing, more considered repsonses were also in evidence. "I think I would remember this sunny day and how Kia wanted to be here with me" "Kia do it to sell, but they also love football. You wouldn't do all this if you weren't a fan too" As Sabine says in the post below, if you ask simplistic questions about the impact of events sponsorship on your brand consumers will tell you that they are fair too savvy to be taken in by marketing in this way! If you get the context right and ask the right questions you learn much, much more. Oh, and the score? New Zealand 1 - Slovakia 1 Wishing you better luck on Sunday Slovakia!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Crash reputation can't be a good gift for mobile

Google's Android mobile operating system is marching steadily into consumers pockets, while its big rival in the PC world, Microsoft, is really suffering in the mobile stakes. In the latest Thinktank column in New Media Age, we wonder whether the Microsoft Windows brand might have helped or hindered its mobile efforts. It's certainly well known - but for some of us, at least, often for the wrong reasons! A lot of smartphones crash occasionally - they are, after all, mini-computers - but picking one with a system that is known for doing so on a PC might be a little bit less appealing.
According to industry analysts Gartner, Android also outsold Apple's iPhone OS in the first quarter this year. Not a big surprise, really, since there is a much wider range of Android devices - and they're getting increasingly attractive to consumers. It certainly means that anyone looking to use smartphones as an advertising or marketing platform must keep Android in mind.
Apple is predictably not too keen on letting competitors near its customers. It has decided to block mobile ad-networks from collecting certain kinds of information about iPhone users. Google, which now owns leading mobile ad network AdMob, isn't best pleased. The peculiarity in Apple's new iPhone rules is that it is happy to work with third parties, unless these are owned or affiliated with developers or distributors of handsets. Not being sore about the competition, then!

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Charging up brand presence...

If you've travelled from Heathrow recently then you will have noticed the Samsung charge points liberally scattered around the various departure lounges. What a fantastic idea! Samsung are offering a genuine service for free, and building a tangible real-world presence around it. I've got used to the idea of being able to juice up in the lounge, to squeeze that little bit more life out of my laptop over a long-haul journey. The consumer in me can't help but feel warm towards Samsung for giving me that opportunity. As time has passed though the service has lapsed somewhat, with powerpoints dropping out of service or becoming more temperamental. Last time I travelled was particulalrly bad with none of the power points in my lounge working. This obviously took the shine off the service, especially now that I had come to expect it, even rely on it. In all, hats off to Samsung for providing this useful service, a good example of how brands should be using their marketing to offer something that is genuinely of use to consumers. However, just like online, offline presences need an ongoing commitment to make them work. Without this brand owners risk appearing half-hearted and undermining the very real warmth that genuinely useful initiatives should be generating.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Unifying messaging by habit?

No matter what label you put on it, the idea that unified or converged messaging is something that's perfect for consumers has long been held as something of a mantra in the world of telecoms. The question is whether consumers are really on board with it. Currently, different types of messaging are often used for quite different types of conversations, so what does that mean for the integration idea and how it will ultimately take hold? Thinktank explores this in its latest column in New Media Age.