Thursday, 3 July 2014

Paddy Power destroys amazon rain forest! Of course it did'nt

Over the last few years’ bookmaker Paddy Power, has made a name for itself using controversial stunts for self-promotion. It started this in 2010 when it erected the largest ever ad hoarding on Cleave Hill which conveniently faced the Cheltenham race course ready for the gold cup. Other stunts followed, from adding a jockey to the 3,000 year old Uffington White Horse to getting Arsenal’s Nicolas Bendtner to wear and display Paddy Power pants at Euro 2012. They even have a dedicated team coming up with these headed by “head of mischief”.

On the night of June 7th Paddy Power tweeted a picture of an aerial view of the Amazon rainforest with what seemed to say “C’MON ENGLAND - PP” carved out of the rainforest in enormous lettering. Within minutes this image had been spread around the world leading to worldwide condemnation for them seemingly chopping down trees to deliver an ad campaign.

Within 24 hours 160,000 people had visited their blog, stoked by comments from Paddy Power on its twitter account such as “we haven’t cut down that much” and “don’t get your hemp knickers in a twist”.  Then on Sunday evening they released the pinnacle of the campaign, another computer generated image of the same area, this time with the words “WE DIDN’T GIVE THE AMAZON A BRAZILIAN”. This was alongside a message on how they were trying to raise awareness of deforestation in the Amazon, starting even more media coverage and one very happy department of mischief at Paddy Power.

If the thousands of people who tweeted abuse to Paddy Power had bothered to take even 10 seconds to Google the company they would have seen its history of stunts. Instead they fell hook, line and copy of the Racing Post for another one of its clever marketing stunts. Would it work for every brand? Absolutely not. Will they do it again and even better, look at the money cannot buy coverage they gained and what do you think? If any marketing students of any age are reading this I urge you to look more closely at this and see a master class case study of modern disruptive marketing.

Tim Youngman is director of marketing for Archant  

Friday, 30 May 2014

Packaging - art and science and branding combined.

One of the things I love about marketing is that there are elements of it which to the outside world are an afterthought, but are actually a science and art form in their own right. Take packaging for example. You create a product and to keep it safe for transport you put it in a box and that’s it done, but actually that’s just the beginning.

The average supermarket has 25,000 products on its shelves so standing out from the others becomes paramount. Recent research also showed that 64% of shoppers have tried something new because the packaging caught their eye and 41% have made a repeat purchase because of packaging.

Basically we are all creatures of habit and so distinctive packaging helps us quickly identify our favourite brands among a sea of others. Whether it is colour, shape, fonts, logos, images or a complete design, we hunt out those that are familiar and will be drawn to those that stand out. Walk into any Aldi store and you will see that not only are the products inside the packaging very similar to their branded counterparts but the packaging and especially the logos, colours and imagery are extremely close too.

Unilver, whose brands range from Domestos to Marmite to Impulse, actually have a vice president of design who has a wonderful line about how design should be about creating an addiction. A packages ability to attract must not be done at the expense of the reason it exists in the first place however. Various packaging studies have shown that protecting the product and easy access are still the two most important factors for packaging. No matter how beautiful the box if, when opened, the product is damaged or you cannot open it easily, it puts you off the brand. I’m sure you can all think of examples of when that has happened to you and the effect it had on your desire for repeat purchase.

Packaging needs to do more than look good. It has to be able to transport, store, open and be easy to dispose. Next time you walk down a supermarket aisle though, think about the hours spent on the packaging of every single product you walk past.

Tim Youngman is director of marketing for Archant  

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Paper and paste has come a long long way

Once upon a time outdoor advertising was known as the “paper and paste” industry. It was just that, paper posters of different sizes pasted to walls and boards, mainly on roadsides. Like many others it was disrupted heavily by the rise of digital. Although digital has given it a new lease of life in some ways, good old fashioned creative thought has also shown how effective it can be if used well.

In the case of digital the move from static paper and paste board to digital displays has happened quickly and is now not an uncommon sight. Tube stations now have electronic display boards, you see them in toilets, on bus stops - even the good old fashioned advertising hoardings at football grounds are slowly but surely being replaced with digital boards.

What people do with this technology has also changed. Video ads and moving images are no longer clever enough to attract the ad sodden consumers eyes. They need to be themed and stand out. Giant billboards such as the 5 platform length board at Waterloo Station will always scream a message at the 300,000 people a day who see it. Brands have now started to think about how to utilise the technology better with smaller boards.

A great example of this is a recent campaign by Tate Britain in the London Underground on its digital boards. They ran a campaign where underground commuters were updated on the weather through different artworks. On any particular day the weather summary for London was shown and also a related piece of artwork. So when it was cold and snowy the boards showed The Pond by L.S. Lowry.  

This clever thinking has been extended to non-digital outdoor media. Ikea recently branded hundreds of student’s cars in Newcastle and Durham for the same price as placing it in two or three bus stops. Google image “clever outdoor advertising” and you can see great examples from across the world, including my favourite from the Hot Wheels toy car brand who put a branded fake loop the loop on a motorway flyover.

As with all advertising, stand out design, great copy, image quality and understanding ROI are always utmost. However creative thinking and doing something different, as you can see, can truly allow a brand to stand out from the crowd.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Happy Brands - are you happy enough?

I read of lot of marketing research and papers on brand and branding as part of my job which are often very dull. However this week I read a recent survey from ad agency Isobel which ranked UK brands based on a number of “happy” criteria. That might seem the agency equivalent of one of those bizarre academic studies such as Why does a cookie crumble (that’s a real study by the academics at Loughborough Uni btw and it's because humidity disrupts the biscuit's internal forces which cause it to self destruct!). However the point is an interesting one, if a brand is perceived as being happy does that make you more likely to purchase or interact with it, and what makes a “happy” brand anyway?

The agency identified five core characteristics that identify a “happy” brand, those being playful, happy, trustworthy, generous and optimistic. They shortlisted 100 UK brands and then asked 1250 people to rank them against those criteria. The final list makes interesting reading. Top of the list was Cadbury followed by Andrex at number 2 and Google at number 3. The full top ten is packed with FMCG brands Fairy (4), Nivea (5), Youtube (6), amazon (7), Mars (8), Walkers (9) and Heinz (10).

It’s not that surprising that the three service brands in the top ten - Google, YouTube and Amazon - are all digital and entertainment based. The rest fulfil the rules of brand that it should facilitate short term gratification and long term identify, you buy them because you are consciously or unconsciously choosing them over another similar offering because you identify with that brand and what it says about you and your views of the world.

What these brands have in common is a consistency of approach and messaging and a human tone of voice in that messaging. Most of the brands in the top ten have a clear brand promise that they deliver to consumers and stick to. What this survey also highlights is that emotional attributes are as important to consumers as rational reasons to buy as consumers are human after all, a fact that businesses often forget.

Tim Youngman is Director of Marketing for Archant

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Never too old to be a gamer - just look at the stats

I have recently suffered a great loss as my beloved trusty Xbox 360 games console died. Now you might think that at 42 I am too old to play video games but the stats would disagree. Today games players cannot be defined by a particular age, sex or social group.

The Internet Advertising Bureau has estimated that there are 33 million regular gamers in the UK alone and worldwide that equates to more that 1.2 billion. That’s a lot of people spending a lot of money. In fact a recent report from PWC estimates that by 2017 the worldwide market will be worth $89.7 billion up from $63.4 billion in 2012.

That vast audience has not escaped the attention of major brands. The last few years has seen a rise in brands trying to use “gamification” to various success. Some have even created games as a brand marketing exercise, most notably the successful Barclays waterslide app for the iPad. Other brands have embraced placing ads in actual games and not who you would expect.

It’s not the “yoof” brands that are pushing the boundaries of this type of advertising. Insurer Swiftcover, part of AXA Insurance, has placed ads in games including Pro Evolution Soccer, Guitar Hero and Tiger Woods PGA tour. They have now taken this learning to another level creating mini games inside Facebook apps.

Another long standing in-game advertiser is GCHQ. The spy agency has for over 7 years used in-game advertising for its recruitment ads. They now use streaming video banners on the Xbox Live online gaming platform to try to recruit new spooks. The ads change as the player gets deeper and further into a game and so gives a guide to the spy chiefs to the skills and suitability of a player.

For every successful campaign though there have been many examples of failure. To make it work, the lessons from those that have benefited is that the experience cannot take away from the game and whatever it is; it must be as creative as the game they are trying to enjoy.

Tim Youngman is director of marketing for Archant 

The winter olympics and the delicate issue of sponsorship

Many of you reading this will have enjoyed the last few weeks watching people throw themselves off mountains on sticks or around slopes of sheet ice on tea trays. You may have even religiously tuned into watch people clean the ice in front of a casserole dish. I will admit that the recent winter games passed me by, apart from the furore around Russia’s anti-gay laws.

Sponsorship of any Olympic event is big money and comes with heavy policing. It is a high cost, high stakes business, undertaken by only the biggest global brands with the deepest pockets. They often have the most to loose and so the delicate issue of equality is a headache those brands do not need.

In response to the media and social backlash, IOC sponsors like Visa, Procter & Gamble, Samsung, Coca Cola and McDonalds released nice statements about the inclusiveness of the games without directly condemning the Russian stance.

Other brands that had no link to the games however went to town. We had Google’s logo changing on the opening day to include images of the games with the rainbow flag. Channel 4’s “Gay Mountain” ad and Chevrolet’s first same sex couple ad were other examples of brands wanting to demonstrate their own values.  

You have to feel sorry for the sponsor brands as they sponsor the games, not the host nation’s political or social beliefs. But that does not stop the pressure. Closer to home, we have seen examples of brands prepared to take a strong stand over things that they truly believe in. Zoopla’s dropping its sponsorship of West Brom over the Anelka quenelle issue for example. To me that demonstrates a business that truly stands by its values and fair play to them.

There are no winners or losers here. The lesson may be simply that all brands need to be satisfied that they are prepared to stand by their own values. Especially if their activities in some way mean they could be accused of being compromised. Or at least make sure you have a plan of how to approach any backlash. Planning will prevent pain in the long run. 

Personalised marketing - clever or creepy?

I have been working in marketing long enough to remember the first time I got a bulk email drop in my in-box with my actual name on it rather than “Dear customer”. Over the years personalisation in marketing has become something that is deemed standard. In fact, if you receive any form of marketing communication that is not highly personalised they are the ones that are binned electronically or physically first.

Product personalisation is the next evolution of this trend. Coca Cola’s “Share a Coke” campaign is the best known example of this. It was actually dreamed up by Coca Cola’s Australian marketing team in 2011 thinking about ways to re-connect with its customers. Although they couldn’t personalise each individual Coke bottle, they realised they could replace the Coke logo on it with a range of common Christian names. This drove a 4% sales uplift and the campaign has been rolling out worldwide ever since with the labels printed with the 150 most popular Christian names in each territory. It was launched in the UK this summer to great success both in sales and brand engagement.

Another great example of a brand being creative with personalisation comes from the household favourite Heinz. In America they have a website where anyone in the US (they don’t do this internationally unfortunately) can order personalised bottles of tomato ketchup or mustard with your own words and even photos, delivered to your door.

The UK division took this concept and created a social campaign where Facebook fans could send personalised “Get Well Soon” cans of Heinz Chicken or Tomato soup in a gift box for the princely sum of just £1.99. In the first phase of launch they sent out 4,000 cans and have since made it a regular winter social media promotion.

Consumers love personalisation, anything from having your name written on your Starbucks coffee cup to bigger concepts like the Heinz or Coke campaigns. Although you think it might be impossible for your own company, it might just take some creative thought to come up with an idea that will really help you engage with your customers.