Thursday, 30 July 2009

Brew Dog Tokyo beer

The biggest marketing event of last week so the announcement of the launch of the "UK's Strongest beer" from Scottish independent brewery Bew Dog. It has relaunched its Tokyo beer at a new high of 18.2% ABV. They saw it celebrates success but the launch as gained a back lash from many alcohol charities calling the launch irresponsible and wrong. The charities have of course missed the point. This launch has nothing to do with selling a few bottles of beer and everything to do with gaining profile for Brew Dog.

As a small independent brewery they operate in a market dominated by massive drinks conglomerates. These guys have marketing budgets in the multi millions which they happily spend on high profile tv campaigns, pub promos and supermarket promotions. So how do you compete with that if you are a small producer working on a small budget in Scotland. In the case of Brew Dog you think smart.

I first became aware of the brand when the two blokes who run it were on the BBC series Oz and James drink Britain. Rather than meeting Oz Clarke and James May in their brewery they met them in a Glasgow park and drank their beer out of brown paper bags as it was illegal to drink their in public. All very cool, all very publicity stunt. With the launch of Tokyo they have done it again. No millions spent but acres of publicity in national and trade press.

This is a great example that you don't have to have a lot of money to create a buzz you do however have to think creatively and that's no bad thing.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Politics and the art of direct mail

Today i shall be taking my constitutional right and voting in the Norwich North by-election. Although i know i could have already done this through the power of the postal vote, i actually enjoy the ceremony of going to a polling station standing in a box in a school hall and dropping my vote into a box. In my own mind it helps me believe that my vote counts, although that's probably just me.

This by-election, forced by the resignation of the previous mp Ian Gibson, has gained a lot of media coverage due to it being used as a gauge for the next general election that will happen within the next year. Lucky me, two trips to the booth in the space of 12 months! This has meant nice glossy shots of Norwich on the national news and the parties throwing the big wigs into the fray in an attempt to pick up votes. Last night i even had the surprise of having Theresa May and David Cameron himself at my house which is not your average Wednesday night. They did not seem to mind the fact that i had muddy knees as i had been planting Kale a few minutes before they turned up.

What has surprised me in this by-election is the vast quantity of direct mail that has been pushed through my door. In one day alone this week i had 12 pieces of mail including 5 from labour and all of dubious quality. To their credit Anglia TV has picked up on this and and had interviews last night with local postmen who are looking forward to the campaign finishing so they can stop delivering all this stuff, and that excludes all the leaflets that volunteers are wandering around posting through peoples doors.

This must have been a bonanza for the local printers and my pick of the worst has to be the half page in one labour leaflet headed "Chris and Kate are a lovely couple" and the postcard featuring a picture of the Conservative candidate thanking me even if she does not get in????

I am hoping that this deluge is due to the viewed importance of the by-election and is not a sign of things to come. I hope this country does not start to slip down the route of American politics where millions of dollars are spent on television campaigns by all slides slurring each other. Talking to colleagues the mountain of mail has had the opposite effect it intended and has actually stopped people reading. The recent live debate on BBC with the candidates gave much more of an insight into the people who could represent us in parliament, their personalities and views. America has always done that well as seen in the Obamah/McCain debates which i thought were compulsive viewing. Direct mail is an art and done well is a proven marketing tool, this by-election has shown me that all parties have had no artists on their teams.

Friday, 17 July 2009

Extending the o2 brand

So far, and with a little help from Michael Jackson, the mobile operator O2 has done well with its branding exercises. Lets face it, the spend of many millions to brand the millennium stadium to the O2 was seen by many, apart from the sponsorship head of AEG, to be a potential bum deal. However since it opened its doors the venue has attracted the biggest names in music and hence gained worldwide branding for O2. Jackson would have been the icing on the cake so far, but it was not to be.

O2 has now decide to extend its brand into a new sector and one which made me double take. The operator has now announced that as well as being able to offer you an iPhone they are now moving into the finance sector with pre-paid Visa cards. This new move is in conjunction with NatWest and in essence comes in the form of two pre paid visa cards. The cash manager is aimed at adults who want to keep a close eye on what they spend. The second offering is called Load and Go and is targeted at teenagers from 13 up. The cards are set to be launched with a huge marketing spend including a partnership with Hollyoaks.

Although this may seem a strange move you have to put this into context. This is the first of a range of mobile banking services and they are not the only operator looking at this. Despite the corporate messaging about customer trust and loyalty what this really about it controlling how we spend money. Using our mobiles to pay for things, a common practice in Japan, is not widespread in the UK due to operator concern about bill size. Imagine your mobile bill coming in with the cost of a fridge on it. However imagine if you could link your phone with a pre-paid card which you could use like an Oyster card. You can already see this wireless activity in the Barclaycard ad with the guy going home in the waterslide. This summer will see wireless VISA cards launched in the UK and readers appearing in high street retailers.

The two things we keep closest to us is our wallets and our mobiles. This seemingly strange tie up is just the first of many that will see banks, handset manufacturers and mobile operators trying different ways of creating simple ways for us to spend money. Not only will these pre-paid cards give O2 a new business in a profitable sector it will also allow them to trial new payment methods and give them a head start on the trail for the holy grail of mobile payment systems - one that works.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Take an offline holiday

Today i have had one of the most interesting days i have had for a long time at a mobile working party meeting in London. I came away buzzing with lots of thoughts and theories that unfortunately stopped me from catching some sleep on the train on the way back to Norwich but one point of discussion keeps coming back to me.

On the train on the way back i sat reading emails from work on my Blackberry and then checking my personal email on my iPhone while checking out the linkedin profiles of some of my fellow working party members. The concept of "always on" is of course nothing new and the curse of the "crackberry" is well known. However how far will this go with the huge expected growth in the sales and use of smartphones. When everyone is permanently connected to the web by a device in their pocket how do we as a society switch off so to speak.

One potential outcome could be a move in holidays where people pay to to go somewhere where they cannot get access to the web. Where Centre Parcs has made a reputation for banning cars and high end hotel chains run TV campaigns pushing the fact that they are adults only how long will it be before one promotes itself as a blackberry free zone. Although many business people would think this will never happen, if they ask their partners i suspect they would get a very different response.......

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

loose your job with twitter

As we have already seen in the press this week, posting things online can get you in trouble. So in the week the world has seen the incoming head of MI5 in his Speedo's courtesy of his wife posting pictures all over Facebook we also have the problem with Twitter. It seems that no matter how many examples of personal information accessed by people who shouldn't see it, in this digital age people still don't get it. Eight years ago it was all about people writing emails that then get forwarded onto people who pass them on and suddenly the whole office and world know what you have been upto. Then came Myspace and then Facebook and once again the world has seen no end of examples of embarrassing photos being shared around. So now its Twitter's turn and especially people sending Tweets about their own job and bosses - a dangerous combination.

It seems that the technology changes but the lessons are just not learnt. In simple terms if you would not want your mother or boss to read or see it, don't put it in the digital world as its very easy to get around as the link below proves.

So for 30 ways to loose your job using Twitter use the link below and enjoy:

Monday, 6 July 2009

Wimbledon and the art of sponsorship

Yesterday i, like many millions across the world, sat watching the mens finals at Wimbledon. The game itself was far better than most imagined although at the end i noticed the weirdest thing.

Those with sharp eyes may also have noticed this, but having just lost the final, Roddick moved to his chair, sat down and held his face in his hands as you would expect a man whose dreams had just been shattered would do. However the very next thing he did was put his expensive looking watch on. He then got up and acknowledged the crowd, waving his watch wearing arm aloft. Now if i had just lost the final after over 4 hours of exhausting tennis the last thing i would think of would be to slip my watch on straight after the game. In fact i would not have brought the watch out to court with me, i probably would have left it in the locker.

The difference between Roddick and i, apart from the £430k he earned yesterday, is that i am not sponsored by a watch company. Roddick had to make sure that shots of me waving to the crowd had to include my sponsors watch. As the camera panned back to Federer who had changed ready for the presentation, he too had miraculously slipped his watch on ready for the coming photo opps.

This was an oh so subtle yet very clear reminder of the power of sponsorship in modern sport.

Friday, 3 July 2009

McDonalds goes quality (again)

Having spent a few months watching ads of happy families grow a garden McDonalds is now launching a new campaign to push its good food message. The latest version is to tell us all how McDonalds burgers are made from 100% beef from British and Irish farms.

This is all part of the ongoing campaign from McDonalds as it tries to persuade us all that they make healthy food. Everyone has their own view on the pros and cons of fast food. I myself have always been in the everything in moderation camp and so have no particular axe to grind. I do find myself through feeling more and more empathy with the poor marketing head having to come up with more and more cute campaigns to show the general public how good McDonalds actually are.

Its not an easy job but at least they are making a better job of it than KFC with its terrible latest ad trying to prove a similar point. I have yet to see a KFC that even closely resembles one seen in the latest ad but would be happy to have my mind changed. Mind you i would put a good bet there is a dartboard somewhere in McDonalds head office with Morgan Spurlock's picture on it

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

mobile growth and mobile ad revenue

The delay in posting is due to a long needed break in the wilderness of the beaches of Northumberland. Since my return however i have spending time looking at the growth of the mobile market and here are some interesting facts.

There are now 4 billion mobile phones in the world today. Compare that with the total number of televisions (1.5 billion) and personal computers (1.1 billion) and you can see why the mobile internet will be the next big digital boom.

In the worldwide emerging markets the mobile phone is often the first way individuals access not only voice calls but also the internet, news and personal music compared with computers, papers and walkmans in the West.

Mobile advertising revenue in the Euro market is forecast to be a staggering 1.3 billion euros by 2012.

Finally recent research has shown that those with smartphones now use them to access the Internet in their leisure time rather then PC's particularly while watching tv. This is caused by the immediacy of always having the phone with you and convenience of not having to boot up and log in etc.

All this starts to point at how we will use mobile technology to access the internet more and more. This will bring and increasing number of both challenges and opportunities to content providers and marketeers alike.