Thursday, 29 August 2013

Marmite and Advertising - you either love it or hate it

Advertising, you either love it or hate it, well that’s the idea anyway. Advertising is supposed to create some sort of emotional reaction. The Christmas John Lewis ads are great examples of this. Whatever it does, it is supposed to do something, especially sell you the thing the ad is about.

Occasionally ads provoke such a strong response that people feel that they need to complain. The all time favourite case studies of this are the Benetton campaigns of the 90s. However right now a new campaign from Unilever for Marmite is doing exactly what the team there and at its ad agency hoped.

If you have not seen the TV ad or posters, the current Marmite “cruelty” ad spoofs the work of animal rescue workers. In the TV ad Marmite rescue workers go into houses and rescue unloved jars of Marmite left at the back of cupboards and take them to a Marmite rescue centre to be re-housed.

However not everyone understands the definition of irony, and the ad has received hundred of complaints that it “trivialises” the work of animal charities. This though has had the opposite effect to what the complainers wanted and exactly what the Unilever brand team dreamt of. Lots of industry praise and more importantly a “significant” uplift in the YouGov Brand Index recall survey.

Now let me tell you I unashamedly both love this campaign for its sheer amusing genius almost as much as I love eating Marmite on toast. The creative concept is brilliantly clever and funny. It’s like no other campaign right now and continues the “love it or hate it” theme of recent campaigns. It’s a brand statement that no-one else is prepared to try, helped by the nature of the product. They are even so strong in keeping on message that the final image is of a small boy eating marmite with a face that shows he clearly is a marmite hater. Can you imagine a chocolate ad where the person spits out the chocolate in disgust at the end?  Neither can I this campaign is aimed straight at its loyal target market who love the brand and what it stands for and that’s why it’s a “love it” from me.

Tim Youngman is director of marketing for Archant 

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Facial Recognition Advertising - a privacy step too far?

A couple of columns ago I wrote about temperature controlled ad boards that displayed advertisements depending on what the ambient temperature is. That is a clever use of technology but what happens when the lines between technology, advertising and privacy are blurred?

Most people are now all too familiar with online behavioural advertising where you visit a site and miraculously ads from that site seem to follow you around the web. It is of course impossible to drop a little piece of computer code onto a human being to get the same effect. However now thanks to Sir Alan and one of his subsidiary companies, Amscreen, we are getting close to that.

Amscreen has 5,000 digital advertising boards across Europe and they are now fitting facial recognition cameras to billboards. This will show whether the people looking at the billboard are male or female and potentially even approximate age allowing the boards to deliver more targeted advertising.

It does not stop there. Students at the European Institute of Technology are currently exploring the ability to link Facebook accounts to the computer chips in store loyalty cards. These would then link to in-store ad boards that would flash up ads based on a person’s Facebook likes.

At this point you then get into the big question of privacy. In America the upscale retailer Nordstrom ran a trial of a system that tracked individuals’ movements through their smart phones’ in-store Wi-Fi connections. Sensors within the store collected information from customer smartphones as they attempt to connect to Wi-Fi service. The sensors monitored which departments were visited and how much time was spent in them. When this was released in the media the consumer backlash about privacy quickly ended the trial.

The reality is as technology gets smarter, so will advertising and its ability to engage but potentially also annoy and invade. A marketer’s dream, but how much consumers will be prepared to put up with remains to be seen.

Tim Youngman is Director of Marketing for Archant