Cheesy ad of the year so far has to be this 'Dolca Vita' offer from Longines: all-star cast, one celeb per continent, nothing story, plonky product placement ... but does it matter? You decide. We can't.
Cheesy ad of the year so far has to be this 'Dolca Vita' offer from Longines: all-star cast, one celeb per continent, nothing story, plonky product placement ... but does it matter? You decide. We can't.
Another year starts, time to consider the cream of last year's crop of UK advertising. Is it more creative, innovative and mould-breaking than ever before? Not judging by Neilsen's list of the 5 most popular ad campaigns of last year:
1. CompareTheMarket.com: meerkats fighting an army of mongooses in a snowy landscape
2. Magner's Irish Cider: Clonmel home of Magners Cider; lorry over golf course; through brick wall
3. Maltesers: Two couples watch a movie; girlfriends position boyfriends so that they are cuddling
4. Santander: Family driving in car; boy falls asleep with red legos; featuring Lewis Hamilton
5. Snickers: Mr. T doing pushups; listen up, suckers; get tough, one-fingered push-ups
THE hit of last year was of course Aleksandre the meerkat. We had the lo-ong prequels to the original ads (Aleksandre's story); then the book was a massive Christmas hit and now there are out-takes from the prequel of the spin-off of the ads.
So there is a lot of talk about creativity at all costs and innovation and breaking the mould and we've had great ads like drumming gorillas and dancing flashmobs and the like. Meanwhile this poster has just appeared up the road from us.
Happy new year!
My image of Moscow came from Spitting Image, James Bond and current affairs (Litvinenko, corruption allegations, FIFA). What is it really like? It was my first visit and I had only 29 hours to find out.
Domodedovo airport, at 4.45am is minus 15 degrees C. Business as usual. It reaches minus 20 to minus 25C. They can do cold here. I take a coach to avoid airport taxi hounds and reach the Metro by 6am, joining drab half asleep commuters. It seems like it is snowing inside the carriage (did I imagine it?). I miss Paveletsky station, due to unfamiliar writing and general lack of signage (and sleep).
Above ground, lots of people scurrying around, hunched over. Is it just the cold, or is everyone here in a bit of a hurry? Workers sweep away the ice and frost with long reed brushes - surprisingly effective.
More by luck than judgement I find my hotel (highly recommended btw). The windows are triple glazed.
Off to groups via (overpriced) taxi. So much traffic! It takes nearly an hour on an 8-lane highway, going not that far. Cab weaves in an out, driver mutters as blue-sirened darkened-glass 4x4s sweep through. Every so often we crawl past an amazing building or vista.
Over dinner I learn that Russians like Brits and Italians more than Poles, that vodka is in fact very drinkable, that Moscow's population is nearer 12.5m than 10.5m (Wikipedia), due to migrants. Angry demo against non-Slavs the day before. Foreign Office advises non-white Brits to be vigilant here. Not a place for the faint-hearted.
The next morning, again stuck in traffic, only half an hour in Red Square, strange clash of Soviet era and commercialism, too cold to take many pictures. Back to Domodedovo on the express train.
A fleeting visit, some of my stereotypes persisted. Moscow is vast, fast, hard-working and rather surly. They can certainly cope with snow and cold. They have embraced capitalism wholesale. The traffic's appalling, the Metro's very good.
I'd love to come back and have a proper look.
Preferably in the summer.
We’ve been working with a High St bank and with a large charity. There is an ‘interest dimension’ operating, from those companies felt to act exclusively in their own interests, to the detriment of others (eg debt collectors?) to those who act exclusively in others’ interests (eg a church mission?).
Of course most organisations operate in the middle, acting in their own interests (necessary for survival, of course) and in the interests of key stakeholders, such as consumers. Our theory is that the perceived 'interest balance' of organisations, the extent to which they are seen to value and to act in our (consumers') interests, is increasingly important. Brands must get the symbiotic balance right.
There are perceptual degrees of difference which echo those of biology. In a parasitic relationship, one member of the association benefits while the other is harmed. Then there are different kinds of symbiotic relationships, which ‘lean’ one way or the other. Amensalism is a relationship where one species is inhibited while the other gains. Commensalism is where one benefits and the other is not significantly harmed or helped. Mutualism is the relationship where both parties derive a benefit.
In nature and in the commercial world there are no examples of a species acting in the interests of another species to its own detriment, but the middle area is the key battle ground for hearts and minds. The clear message from our work is that people are happy for an organisation to benefit from their custom as long as (a) the benefit to the organisation is reasonable and visible and (b) they personally benefit at least as much.
Just noticed a stunning new campaign from AMV.BBDO, one of our favourite ad agencies. It’s big, it’s modern, it’s bang on the money. And it’s yellow.
Aviva is projecting giant portraits of its customers on to landmark buildings in six cites around the world – seen here on South Bank in London.
The activity supports a press campaign that tells stories of how customers were helped by Aviva. People can upload their own photograph.
For the first 250,000 photos uploaded by the public, Aviva will donate £1 per image to Save the Children.
A short film is then generated for each user uploading their picture, they can then download or share their personalised film.
IMHO it is a genius idea because it is very noticeable but very unobjectionable, and because:
- it is co-creative, genuinely involves real people
- it humanises a large multinational company
- it translates well across borders – a very international idea
- works across media, TV, online and (especially) outdoor, very much advertising in the real world
- insurance is not the most inherently fascinating subject, but people are
Well done to all those concerned!
I loved Big Brother when it started, so I couldn't wait to see the first episode of Channel 4's new reality show Seven Days before going on holiday.
I was very impressed (technically superb, fantastic concept) but, I'm sorry to say, not that interested or intrigued.
C4 call it "a docu-soap ... a new kind of documentary series in which viewers can follow the lives of a variety of compelling characters as they actually happen."
Maybe I just wasn't interested enough in the characters (compelling??), who seemed too interested in themselves to be interesting to anyone else (eg models Laura and Samantha, as opposed to Javan and Moktar). I had the nagging feeling that it was closer to Richard Curtis' vision of Notting Hill than the real Notting Hill. Couldn't it have been set in Dalston or Camberwell? And how 'real' is it meant to be, anyway?
I read some media comments as I contemplated catching up on 4oD. It seems I'm not the only one with misgivings. Viewing figures have apparently dropped from around 1.2 million for the first programme, to 646,200 in week 3, according to the Independent.
One viewer commented "the only guy who gets any credit in my eyes is Moktar and I wish him well in his legal studies. Channel 4 stop wasting our money! Times are tough and we can do without this".
C4 does have some public service broadcasting commitments but is commercially funded. Its Director of Sales described it recently as being about "irreverence, the new and fun; self deprecating and challenging the status quo. Inspiring change and being maverick". None of which seem to me to apply to Seven Days from a content point of view (as opposed to the concept/format), although it's early days.
Having researched the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and with the Commonwealth Games now on TV, I am far more intrigued in the lives and efforts of athletes than I ever was.
C4 launched its Paralympic coverage recently with 'Freaks of Nature' and is planning more documentaries including 'Inside Incredible Athletes', profiling seven athletes and a 10-part documentary series, 'Hidden Heroes'.
I feel more interested in watching someone I probably have far less in common with than a Notting Hill resident suffering from 'fashion stress'. Whether this makes me traditional or edgy, I'm not sure.
Research-Live.com recently reviewed 'Consumer.ology' by one Philip Graves. It's a balanced review, considering the line advanced by Graves (ex client-side researcher) is about as dumb and unoriginal as Rambo 12. The 'argument' is, because what people say does not correspond to what they do (hold the front page of Research, Marc) there's no point talking or even listening to them. Just watch what they do.
This blinding insight apparently happened after the author finished bombarding some poor sods in Leeds with questions in a focus group. After he turned his tape recorder off they started having a proper conversation and talked about doing something different to what they'd told their interrogator. He used this as evidence that talk was deceptive, rather than that he might be a shit moderator.
Unhindered by any such doubts, he went on to discover that people do psychoanalysis but still can't get to the bottom of their own thoughts and that our emotions shape our decisions, therefore we cannot identify what we want and don't want. (I can however identify with 100% accuracy one recently published book I will not buy.)
He says it is an illusion that we can ask people what they think and learn from it. I re-read that particular gem a couple of times to check I wasn't mistaken, but that is what it says. There goes journalism, then.
Tags: Anthropology, brands, co-discovery interview, Consumer.ology, ethnography, Focus Groups, Group Discussions, interpretation, interviewing, market research, observation, Philip Graves, psychology, qualitative market research, Research-Live, respondents, talking, Wardle McLean
Steve Henry this week bemoaned the lack of creativity in Budweiser’s latest poster: “a corporate-guideliney visual” which demostrates that "‘selling’ doesn't sell. You have to stand out and you have to entertain.”
Creative it's not. But it does convey that it's a new beer that's 4% and less fizzy. Beer drinkers probably like the idea of a smoother lager (doesn't 'bag you up') and maybe know that 4 is the new 5 in ABV terms.
If you want creativity and entertainment, you might think Guinness was unbeatable. They have a new campaign out. It's such a shame.
Guinness ads used to be the best anywhere; creative, impactful and (surely) helping sales. Now they seem to have disappeared up their own black stuff. Their current ‘bring it to life’ campaign includes yet another epic, budget-busting production described as a ‘good point lost in lavish invention’. Wonderful to watch, but oddly forgettable and disconnected to anything.
Guinness ads used to tell terrific, watchable, enrolling stories, like Jonathan Glazer's Swim Black and of course the award-winning Surfer. But maybe these awards went to their head because then they abandoned narrative in favour of symbolism and spectacle. Which would be all very irrelevant had UK sales of Guinness not fallen by seven million pints in the last year or so.
We market researchers spend many hours exploring and analysing brands. We fill in Brand Pyramids, Brand Keys and Brand Onions until our eyes water. We appreciate the value of a memorable, evocative brand name.
So if you look down a list of market research companies you would expect to be impressed. In fact there is a real mix. There are the big companies with Anonymous Initials like GfK, TNS etc; there are Corporate Speak names (eg Synovate) which presumably sound reassuring. Then there are the more creative options, like animals and food (Flamingo, Aardvark, Spinach, Sherbert) and the more attention-seeking (Voodoo, Firefish, Captain Crikey, Ftang Ftang Biscuit Barrel and so on).
Then there is the smaller company that uses founders' surnames AND an animal logo - genius!
What can you tell about a research company from its name? Is it like fashion, the more interesting the clothes the less interesting the person? Big Anonymous Initials and Corporate Speak must reflect caution, protecting the value of your reputation. Others maybe learnt from the internet gold rush, aiming to attract attention and names like Google and Yahoo! got you noticed.
I think new research companies could learn a lot from yacht names. One adman famously called his yacht Severence after how he paid for it. Yacht names would make good research company names: Serendipity, Integrity etc. There is a yacht-y belief that vowels in yacht names bring good luck (because vowels float but consonants sink?) So choose the right name for your research company and you'll stay afloat. Worth knowing, that.
TfL’s new bicycle hire scheme for London launched today, endorsed by Mayor Boris, proclaiming:
Londoners have awoken to a new dawn for the bicycle in the capital … racks have been filled with thousands of gleaming machines that will transform our streets … My crusade for the capital to become the greatest cycling city in the world has taken a gigantic pedal-powered push forwards.
No pressure on the scheme, then.
Our local bike rack – sorry, Barclays bike rack – had one bike on it yesterday, 12 bikes this morning and 6 today. More than 12,450 keys have been handed out to Londoners enabling them to unlock bikes left at 315 docking points across the city. The cost of using the cycles varies from £1 for an hour to £50 for 24 hours. The bikes have no locks, which is said by TfL to be to deter people keeping them for long periods. I’d have thought 50 quid was disincentive enough.
Barclays has apparently paid £25m to sponsor the scheme and the Barclays cycle superhighway, a network of 12 cycle lanes, which is much more than some existing cycle lanes painted Barclays blue. Sounds like a good deal for them. And research has shown that (blue) is a good colour which stands out, says a TfL spokeswoman.
Some people are upset that Barclays is too prominent as a sponsor and has encroached too much on to the civic/public domain. Cyclists as a group are not naturally big corporation lovers and there has of course been some creative ‘re-branding’.
At first sight there does seem to be a 'brand mash' of TfL, Oyster, Barclays, Boris (all blue), so it is hard to see who is doing what.
It will be interesting to follow the uptake and emerging views of the scheme.
I certainly hope it will be a great success and that lots more people will cycle in London as a result - even if comes to riding bikes 60 foot long. Not just on big, Barclays branded bikes. Bravo, Boris. Next up, Boris and the bendy bike?
This ad has been on posters and in the press everywhere (pic courtesy of Xtreme Information), part of a £30m campaign by BT to promote BT Vision carrying SS1 and SS2 from this Sunday. Apparently.
OR, is it
a covert ‘ambush’ campaign orchestrated by BSkyB to make BT look cheap and
tacky? A much more successful ambush than Robbie Earl & Co’s World Cup Bavaria beer
BSkyB have chosen four footballers with the least possible charisma, ordered
their waxwork figures from Madame Tussauds, then photographed them to make them
look like Star Trek extras who had just beamed down? The way they are staring
off into space and those dodgy strips just give the game away.
would have been aiming to make BT look like amateurs and make their package seem like a pale imitation of the real thing.
surprising is how they must have managed to get AMV.BBDO involved. Clearly, a dastardly
plan hatched at the highest level. Probably by a Chelsea fan.
Hopefully Wes and Michael will get their comeuppance on August 8.
It was David Ogilvy in Confessions of an Advertising Man who (roughly) said when on holiday read; but read something that's unrelated to work. Reading will keep the mind ticking over and give it space to de-clutter.
Asking round the office, we've pulled together some beach reads we will be taking with us this summer to depressurise to some near and some far-flung climes.
If you're looking for American urban grit and a fan of The Wire (as quite a few of us are) then David Simon's Homicide and the Corner have come highly recommended. Although looking out to a sunbright sea may be more therapeutic.
Wolf Hall, Man Booker Prize for 2009, has received mixed reviews by those who have already read it here. Although giving us a pretty vivid picture of the early 16th Century England some have found it confusing to follow at times. Compared to Joyce's Ulysees though, it's a doddle.
Tags: 'The Raw Shark Texts', beach, Cloud Appreciation Society, Cloudspotter's Guide, Confessions of an Advertising Man, Cumulus Humilis, David Ogilvy, David Simon, Earnest Hemingway, For Whom the Bell Tolls, Homicide, Man Booker Prize, market research, qualitative research, reading, the Corne, the Wave Watcher's Companion, the Wire, Ulysees, Wolf Hall
Without wanting to sound too downbeat, being a 'green' consumer at the moment is inconvenient. It just doesn't pay. Our 'default' behaviour is to buy what we are used to, what is easy and affordable and what benefits us - in spite of our good intentions. As Jane Austen wrote, "I have been selfish all my life, in practice, though not in principle".
And most companies of course are geared to deliver profit first and foremost, sustainability coming a distant second or third or lower down the list. And we are not mandated to behave differently by legislation, apart from a bit of recycling, perhaps. It is still just too convenient for us not to be 'green'. What will it take for our lifestyles to change?
These thoughts hit home having bought the Green Living Guide. Great efforts have been made in making 'green' actions more accessible and the guide itself is certainly praiseworthy if wanting to be 'green' is your thing.
But there is some way to go for sustainable, low-carbon living to become more widespread in the UK . Perhaps because there are so many variables and imponderables, people just don't know what to do and are not motivated to take the lead.
I think the key issue with communicating 'green' (without 'greenwashing') is there isn't enough 'in it' for the UK consumer, especially in the short-term. Solar panels, for example, require thousands of pounds and grant applications and just sound cumbersome and off-putting.
Theodore Zeldin, our hero and the author of 'An Intimate History of Humanity' and 'Conversation: how talk can change our lives', was interviewed on the Today programme on Friday to discuss his 'Feast of Conversation', held on July 3 at the Olympics site in a venue made from old shipping containers.
Attendees chose from a menu of 25 conversation topics, and talked about what they find interesting. "It is for people who want to have two hours to think about what is important to them".
Professor Zeldin claimed that "we live in an age where we don't know what to talk about" hence his idea to "have a new kind of conversation where we are trying to discover what we think and to discover other people ... [which is] the most exciting adventure of our time ... to discover who inhabits the world".
The professor bridled at the suggestion that his event was like speed dating. He felt it was the opposite of the inane babble of speed dating or something like Twitter (ahem) "...It is about thinking, not jabbering".
We look forward to reading the reviews.
Not on Twitter, though.
Here we are hard at work, setting up yesterday morning.
We're presenting two case studies under the title of 'Seeing is Believing, Latest Developments in Ethnographic Research', on Wednesday at noon in the Henley Suite.
The first study was with Virgin Trains who reveal the strategy behind their new ‘modal shift’ campaign. We demonstrate how filmed ‘co-discovery’ interviews deliver unique insight into the Virgin Trains passenger experience.
The edl APP is a brand new mobile phone application (iPhone and Blackberry), an innovative capture tool and a means of editing and collating real life events via video, pictures, audio and text. We discuss how it works in practice and why Coca-Cola are rolling it out globally as an in-house tool.
Both talks will be put on the Insight Show website some time soon, we shall link to this as and when.
In the meantime, if you can, do drop by stand D410 to say 'hello' and see what insights (and some surprises) we have on show.
The World Cup kicks off today (in case you hadn’t noticed). The advertising stakes are high, with Nestle courting controversy with Mars.
How did the sportswear brands do? Adidas bagged the official sponsorship, Nike is the outsider (again). So, who won the advertising penalty shoot-out?
First up is Nike:
The creative idea of sportsmen taking (or not taking) their chances may not be original (think Guinness, Believe) but that is a minor gripe. This 3-minute extravaganza took up the whole ad break and is breathless and highly re-watchable. It must have cost as much as its heroes' combined monthly salaries. So confident, such swagger, an amazing piece of film.
A shame that ITV managed to cut the ending the first time it aired. What a Nikemare.
Our verdict: spectacular goal. Back of the onion bag.
Then there's Adidas' effort:
It is contemporary, eye-grabbing, in a Sin City style. But as Rooney Carruthers writes in Campaign: "I've watched this ten times now and I still don't get it. Zinedine Zidane bombs about in a retro car. Lionel Messi and David Villa do some great foot tricks and that is it"
Verdict: Fluffed it. Stuttering run-up, tried to be too clever then bobbled it straight at the keeper.
So Nike is the clear winner and deserves to be - hang on a minute, a fan in an England shirt has just run on to the pitch and is about to take their own penalty...
It is not competing with Nike and Adidas in budget but we suspect it has every bit as much impact. As Jon Howard says, there's not an overpaid football star in sight. It's about us, not them. It uses the national anthem but it is not portentous or grandstanding. (It's possibly not as re-watchable, either.) It's a penalty taken in slow motion. We watch, spellbound. The ball trickles over the line.
Verdict: an ad for the Age of Austerity. The excessive creative brilliance and money-no-object arrogance of Nike is going the way of Britpop or Lehman Brothers. The trouble with creative excess is for every Nike hit there are seven adidas flops. Or worse still, you get something like those Olympic mascots.
This is toned down, scaled back, ever so Umbro.
And it gets our vote (some of us at least).
It’s a way
of forcing your mind to go beyond reportage
thinking used to be incorporated into research
presentation charts as an output. The research findings would typically be in the top part of
extension of ‘So what?’ thinking is to put the conclusion in the headline. So
a busy executive looking through the presentation on a screen can just read the
headlines, the bottom line - now at the top.
Can you spot
the flaw in this process?
is that the researcher might leave out the more interesting implications. We may sacrifice quality and texture in the drive for answers and simplicity.
The researcher is now serving up 'convenience food' instead of a gourmet meal where you can taste the individual
The risk is that the client pays lip service to ‘consulting the consumer’ instead of actually listening and taking the feedback into account.
is also the name of one of the most famous jazz tracks ever recorded on the ‘Kind of
Blue’ album by Miles Davis. It’s brilliant
I know what you’re thinking: ‘So What?’
Innocent's three founders have been called hippies but they're too sussed for that. Plus, did you ever meet a hippie who played tennis, or worked for Bain and Co?
Mind you, innocent is quite beardy, especially the blokes - not only Dan, but Joe the good-looking one (tests prove it). Even Richard seemed a bit wispy on the day.
They say never trust a man with a beard but innocent admit to their mistakes. Like making a veg pot which was not suitable for vegetarians. Or sending supermarket buyers fermented fruit juice which exploded. Or getting into trouble for joking that one of their smoothies contained ‘two plump nuns’ when it didn’t.
Or forgetting in 2008/9 to ‘keep the main thing the main thing’, as sales dipped dramatically. Not helped by a global financial meltdown.
In 2006 I went to South Africa to raise money for SOS Childrens Villages, the world's largest orphan charity. I'd just bought a Nikon D50 and hoped to sell some prints and donate any proceeds.
I took pictures of children in an SOS orphanages and in nearby townships, including these ones:
I was struck by how incredibly resilient and seemingly content the children were. Extreme poverty and hardship was usually portrayed as so downbeat, resigned, hopeless. I called the exhibition Child's Play. Original post here.
Then, nothing much happened. Except that my wife gave birth to a child of our own (nearly two-and-a-half now).
Until last week, out of the blue, I got a mail from someone representing a very large, global company who wanted to buy the rights to these images, for cash. All uses, in perpetuity.
But it made me think, what is the right thing to do? Take whatever money is offered and give it to the charity? Drive a hard bargain, negotiate on the rights and the cash offered, then pay the charity? Or should I try to ensure the individuals in the photos be recompensed financially? Or again, would they be thrilled just to know that they could become slightly famous and appear in the world's media?The people who want to buy the images know that any payment would not go to me. But not having release forms is a bit of a problem for them. The kids could sue. The chance has probably passed.
Just a little story. Notice that I spared you the thousand words.
According to Tim Montgomerie's analysis of the Tory campaign:
'For a period
Hmmm, the Big Society, also described by adliterate as an 'overcomplicated planning thought', seems to have been less than popular with the Tory faithful. They were probably asking the sort of questions people ask in groups such as 'What does it mean?' From David Cameron, the heir to Blair, it sounded like a Big Promise, to go in the Big Promise section of the manifesto, and to Sound Good, but without meaning anything that costs money. However as Kate Fox rightly pointed out in Watching the English, the national catchphrase is 'Come off it', so trying to put one over on the British is tricky at the best of times never mind at an election.
But I digress, this post is really about the use of focus groups in politics. Here is a respected right wing commentator complaining that policies were being put forward at an election without first being 'tested' in focus groups and without an impartial approach to research, which respects challenging findings. Halleluiah ! We researchers have come a long way since the dark days of Tony Blair when focus groups were seen as a left wing plot akin to witchcraft. One can argue with the word 'tested' but that's just a quibble really, the point is that politicians of whatever party now openly acknowledge that policy can be clarified and even improved by consulting 'real' people. Now, that is a step forward.
The day after the General Election and the overall winner was the exit polls, which predicted the outcome with uncanny accuracy. Evidence of the enduring value of asking the right people the right question.
But if you’d gone to the annual research industry’s conference, Research2010, you’d have thought that asking people things was an outdated and frankly useless idea.
Trending strongly were co-creation, ethnography, online communities … and ‘brain stuff’. The first three of these approaches build on what people say and are essentially generative or productive approaches. All good stuff. You try to learn from people-as-people, holistically. There are no easy answers, interpretation is everything.
But using fMRI scanners to show parts of people’s brains light up as they perform various tasks, is trying to replace what people say and is entirely reductive. It treats people not as people, nor even as consumers, but just as lumps of grey matter.
Presumably, brain scan advocates would exit poll by wiring up voters’ heads, to overcome the ‘limitations’ of verbal research techniques. Ethnographers would watch people while they queued then went into the private booth to vote. And co-creationists would invite voters to take part in a workshop, do some collage work and write about their experiences on a blog.
rivals GfK NOP / Ipsos MORI talked to people. (17,607 of them, working
collaboratively with each other and with the broadcasters).
I was woken at 6:15 this morning with my letterbox snapping loudly. Mistaking it for a knock on the door, I went to answer it only to find an election party leaflet asking me to vote for their party today.
Mildly incensed to be awake so early, I added the leaflet to the ever-growing stack of political leaflets in my recycling bin and returned to bed.
Living in the Lewisham East constituency, this election has proven a battleground between Labour and the Lib Dems. Having predominantly been a Labour constituency since its formation in 1974, the current Labour MP, Bridget Prentice, is standing down. With no incumbent candidate, this has meant the Lib Dems believe they have a real chance of getting a seat and both parties have been going hammer and tongs to get votes.
Unfortunately, this has resulted in relentless leafleting (even at anti-social hours). And often they are the same leaflets as the week (or even day) before and end up being binned.
Arguably, this does create excitement. There is a feeling of the political rumblings of 'change' happening on your doorstep. And from the parties' perspective, they will want to be getting clear, consistent and sustained messages to potential voters over the course of a campaign.
But the effect of repetitious (and somewhat intrusive) leafleting may be opposite to the one desired. For the overwhelmed electorate, feeling saturated by information and pestered by parties may discourage political engagement.
At the next General Election, my vote would be for fewer, better timed communications, a more creative, considerate and voter-centered approach that encouraged a better conversation between party and electorate. And, hopefully, I'd then get a better sleep.
P.S. some votes just in ...
What's your poison? A Cwoffee or a Tipple?
Well, if you're looking for either, and for it to be related to work, then there are two events running that may be of interest.
'Cwoffee' at Lantana, Charlotte Place (just off Charlotte Street in AdLand) runs alternate Fridays. It is a meeting of Planners and Researchers over an early morning, piping cup of coffee. It's a chance to meet informally with other like-minded people, chat about ideas on projects / initiatives; exchange blog IPs, Twitter IDs and business cards etc etc. Started by planner Will Humphrey, it has been running for a year or so and attendees can drop in at any time between 8am until 10am.
If early morning coffees don't suit, then an alternative event is happening during the evening. Aimed at mid-level and junior researchers (from all qualitative agencies), the aim is to share a drink (or more), but also to have a research focus on bettering qualitative thinking by sharing / discussing examples of 'good qualitative thinking' (e.g. from articles, papers or personal experience).
The first meeting is in Roxy Bar, 6:30pm-8pm in London Bridge on Monday 10th May. It will be a kick-off social event, whereby we get to know each other over a tipple and chat about what we want to get in detail from the following events. And that includes a name. Perhaps 'Tipple Tattle'...
So, drop me an email if you would like to come along to either at email@example.com (or just leave a comment below).
Would be pleased to see you.
We've been impressed by the current Magners ad campaign, 'There's Method in the Magners'.
Developed by Red Brick Road, the campaign plays on the cider-making idiosyncrasies of the community of Clonmel, Tipperary, where founder 'Willie' Magner began making cider in 1935. The two TV ads, 'Straight' and 'Catch', are stories that have a 'quaint Gaelic charm' and a quirky odd-ball style. Kind of Father Ted meets Napoleon Dynamite meets Jack Daniel's. The campaign even brought one viewer to tears who left the following comment on YouTube:
"I just watched this on TV. Don't ask why but it made me cry. Such a beautiful ad ... and believe me, I don't go looking for adverts on YouTube just to compliment them"
This is a noticeable step from Magners 'Time Dedicated to You' advertising where the current campaign positions the brand as different and premium compared to its competitor ciders (e.g. Strongbow, or Blackthorn ). Interestingly, Scrumpy Jack have launched a campaign about Scrumpyshire in print and online, which also plays on setting, 'local-ness' and expertise - although arguably with less charm and humour.
Magners also seem to think about their customers online. We are told that Magners' master tasters, including Billy who has been with us for 35 years, keep constant check on the whole process to ensure each sip of Magners cider is as grand as the last.
Magners' recent tactical print ads sticks two fingers up to the Treasury and nobly informs its customers that Magners have taken the financial hit on the increased alcohol duty itself, instead of passing it on to the customers.
So a hearty thumbs up to cider-that-cares with an impressive campaign.
Magner-ifique. As they don't say in Clonmel.
If a group of people aim to get the same plane, they will arrive at the airport at different times. Some will be early and some will be on time; others will leave it until just before the check-in desk closes.
This doesn't just happen when catching flights, of course. The completion of the new Wembley Stadium was delayed by over a year, from a March 2006 opening date until May 2007 ready for the FA Cup Final. Even the Sydney Opera house was planned for a 1963 opening, but opened 10 years later.
Why is this? Why do things take longer than we want?
In Kate Fox's 'Watching the English', she calls this 'the Planning Fallacy": people underestimate the time it takes to complete a task. Fox suggests it is because we have an emotional bias that leads us to wish for a goal that in practice is unrealistic. We may want to please someone or be under pressure to meet somebody else's deadline. Or we may not take in (or want to take in) all the external factors (like staff holidays or traffic jams) that may delay our plans.
The launch of Kellogg's new cereal Krave has set me thinking. It looks delicious to me - mmm chocolate and hazelnut. But I was wondering whether people want to eat something so scrummy when they are blurry-eyed in the morning. Perhaps it's a cereal to be eaten during the day as a snack? Or back from the pub?
I was looking at some figures for breakfast cereals and the massive players are the bland ones - the ones that don't engage the 'this-is-yummy' bits of the brain but let the eater come to in their own time. Corn Flakes, the Kellogg's variety, has about 11% share and Weet
Market research militates against the bland, too. Tasting in groups favours the stronger, sweeter, saltier product variations, because respondents have such a short time to try and the product that makes the most impact tends to be the one that is preferred. Tasting drinks is a case in point. We are able to quaff great quantities of blander drinks, with the stronger and more indulgent flavours reserved for the rarer occasion. So cup of tea anyone? Or would you prefer a hot chocolate with marshmallows and swirls of cream?
It was an inspired opening. The first keynote speaker at this year’s annual Market Research Society Conference (Research 2010) was Armando Iannucci.
He was interviewed by Marc Brenner, who was at pains to avoid ‘doing an Alan Partridge’. (He saved this for the Big Thinkers session later.)
Armando has done lots of radio and TV series (eg On the Hour, The Day Today, The Thick Of It) and recently made an Oscar-nominated film, ‘In the Loop’.
He is also very funny. And thoughtful.
He told us about his (incomplete) PhD on Milton’s Paradise Lost, whose opening line matches the rhythm of the Flintstones theme tune. He took it as a sign that comedy may be his calling.
Although he also applied to join the civil service. And considered becoming a priest. I suspect he is a bit of a radical and dislikes being typecast.
So he probably would not much like the Daily Telegraph’s labelling him “the hard man of political satire”.Thinking about it, he is a bit like Michael Moore. Michael Moore in disguise. A very good disguise, admittedly. But the similarities are there for all who don’t see too well.
They both make films. They both nearly became priests. They are both smart and funny and maverick. They both probably hate fatuous comparisons like these.More to the point, Iannucci believes that playing films and clips to an audience is the best research you can do. The audience may be cruel and critical and fickle, but “if it doesn’t get any laughs, it hasn’t worked”.
His opening keynote address certainly worked and got the Conference off to a flying start.
Sylvester pointed out in his article Day of the Clones
The result is that brand
differentiation is becoming the main issue for brands
Part of the
problem is that everyone is doing the same research
We held a
seminar last week on new techniques in qual research. We called it panning for gold
The point is that to come up with new ideas and new ways of differentiating a brand it helps to open up your mind to some new research techniques. After all, as they say, if you always do what you've always done ...
Having just signed up to Ecotricity, this risks being tainted by a certain smugness, feeling a bit pleased about 'doing my bit' to reduce my carbon footprint. However, the intention is to praise a company worth its weight in ... um, carbon. If you haven't been put off by the Climategate email scandal and if you want to reduce your carbon footprint, check them out.
Firstly, it is easy to switch. You can either apply through the site OR (as I did) go to the Green Electricity Marketplace website. You can compare different tariffs, green-star ratings and ROCs. The switch is done between current provider and Ecotricity and all I've had to do is ask for my final bill and provide an up-to-date meter reading.
(Picture by Treehugger)
We did a project for think tank ippr last year, on post-identity politics in contemporary Britain (Discuss), as reported here. The report based on our research, amongst other sources, has recently been released.
In "You Can’t Put Me In A Box”, the report’s authors Simon Fanshawe and Dhananjayan Sriskandarajah argue that Britain is not only more diverse than ever before but that diversity itself is growing more diverse. Today, identities are more complex and fluid than they used to be, reflecting shifting interests and allegiances.The report explores how discrimination and disadvantage do not map easily on to orthodox ‘strand-based’ identity definitions and while it aims to provoke rather than answer questions, it concludes with some implications for policymakers and data collectors, amongst others.
"What kills a skunk is the publicity it gives itself" - Abraham Lincoln.
It is ironic that although Rover is not around, 'focus groups' are. There were many reasons for Rover's decline, poor product development and strategy, greedy board members and lack of state intervention (to name but a few). But it is a brave or a failing brand that boasts about not listening to the public.
We recently stumbled upon MyDavidCameron.com
It is a site using crowdsourcing to create their own online spoof advertisements, that then get posted onto the site (as long as they're decent).
The website spoofs the Tory's campaign endline 'Year for Change' and plays on criticism that Cameron's image was airbrushed for their campaign poster. It uses the politics-of-and, which is a form of political airbrushing: you can't cut the deficit and not cut the NHS; you can't cut taxes and have better services (apparently).
Alex has been developed in response to people's anxiety around computers: confusion about how to use them, fear of breaking down etc. Alex's founders hope to have found the simple answer to those looking for more reassurance in simpler performing technology.
Incidentally, Alex was named after Alexander Graham Bell who remarked the telephone's great feature was it could be used intuitively by anyone.
John Pilger, Michael Moore, Peter Tatchell, move aside. Our own campaign against questionable food service delivery van advertising, is really starting to bite.
One of our very first blog posts in 2006 (sexist or effective?) alerted the world to the strange case of the photos on Nila delivery vans.
Moving swiftly on, we then noticed that the Park Royal organisation had (possibly) responded to our blog and revised their whole art direction and creative strategy. Maybe they held a pitch and got a new agency in.
The new phase of the campaign saw bikinis and innuendo being replaced by a tasteful couple smiling very close to some beans on toast. Toasty!
I went on a brewery tour, organised by my neighbours in Greenwich, to a micro brewery on an industrial estate near Charlton, home of Meantime Brewing and learnt a whole new philosophy of beer. 8 out of 10 pints drunk in the UK are fizzy chemical piss, according to the owner, who is doing for beer what Green & Blacks did for chocolate. Having tasted the brew I have to agree with him. Like all quality products it takes some getting used to, but once you do so it's worth it. And they make light coloured beer as well as dark; true lagers because what is sold in pubs is not really lager at all.
The owner believes the beer industry has taken a wrong turn in putting all their investment into brands and advertising while cutting back on the maturation time of the beer.
Brands eh? Well if it's a crime then I'm guilty, but I have to admit he has a point. Let's hope we also have a culture of innovation where new brands offering superior quality can break through for the benefit of all.
Apple's launch of the iPad was announced earlier this week and here in the office, we've been wondering what to make of it.
The general consensus has been to wear our steady-Eddy hats until the next generation of the iPad comes out, when all the technical creases have been ironed out and the enthusiastic early-adopters have tried and tested it. And when, as our colleague Siamack has noted, they make one with a camera built in.
Expectations are high, of course. Apple have transformed certain products into must-have status symbols. Take what the iPod did for MP3 players, what the iPhone did for the Smartphone; will the iPad do the same for tablet laptops/e-Readers?
No doubt, we shall be blogging about it when it does (or doesn't!)
As British brands go, Cadbury's is/was one of Britain's most iconic. Reports in UK media have all been rather negative and admittedly it is hard to see the positives for Cadbury's. Trawling through articles, there is talk of threats to the product taste, to the manufacturing base, to ethical standards and to job security, while the government is powerless to intervene (not the case in America, perhaps).
Last night was the Annual AQR's 'Not the Christmas Party' at the prestigious 'Hospital Club', near Covent Garden. Between sipping beer, wine and champagne conversations flowed from early evening until near to midnight. An interesting conversation developed about the qualitative research culture: we are not so great in talking agency-to-agency and sharing our thinking.
Unlike planners and brand consultants (and so on), qualitative researchers aren't as forward in inter-agency conversing, either online (through blogs and Twitter etc) or face-to-face (like Will Humphrey's 'Cwoffee' meetings with planners/media strategists/brand consultants etc). The more we talked, the more we felt this a strange notion. This is because qual. researchers are in the unique position being the lifeline between client and the consumer and have a great deal to offer to the development of brands, communications and marketing as a whole - an area we felt should be capitalised on better.
Why are we not more forthcoming? Here are our hypotheses (at least those I can remember):
The snowy weather has meant too much time indoors. To stave off cabin fever, a glut of DVDs have been dusted off and played to divert attention from the jaw-chattering conditions. One of them, the latest 'Quantum of Solace' film, we see in no uncertain terms Bond's watch-of-choice is Omega, just as his car is an Aston Martin. Following such positive exposure in films, it came as no surprise in the news recently that product placement is certain to extend from films to UK TV, as a paid-for model (following our American cousins) and is estimated to be worth £140 million. Reading in the recent Campaign, advertisers and wider public bodies are voicing concern, and McDonalds are odds on as a 2/1 favourite to appear in Coronation Street, Emmerdale or Hollyoaks.
So what will this mean for UK TV and how will this impact on consumers and research?
A happy new year and new decade (apparently dubbed 'The Teenies')!
Although it has been a short while since our last post, we thought we would begin our first 2010 post about an article we have written and had featured in this month's Research Magazine; it is on the subject of bravery in research and is based on a 2009 post 'Brave Research'.
Although the article is not yet online, we will post a link to the Research-Live website when it is. Until then, take a look at the January 2010 issue for the article "The guts to do the right thing".
Best wishes for the year ahead.
News this week that Marks & Spencer has shifted from its 50-year tradition of only selling own-label products to including 400 big name brands on its shelves. In a direct challenge to its closest rivals, such as Waitrose, M&S will sell famous brands like Kellogg's, Cadbury's and Jack Daniels for the same price as other supermarkets.
This move is a sign of the times - M&S has seen a decline in sales whilst other supermarkets have seen increases. It is also one of the 'next big things' M&S could expand into, in spite of the economic climate.
Will it also begin to reposition M&S more towards everyday food than just simply premium food, or will it harm perceptions of M&S's uniqueness and perceived premiumness?
At the same time, ironically, Waitrose has announced that it will be selling own-label products in Boots.
It seems like downturn has made even the most polite brands like Marks & Spencer bare its teeth, roll up its sleeves and slug it out.
All is fair in love and war. And retailing.
It has been in the pipeline for a while now and is creating extensive online buzz, despite a minimal commitment to a release date. It is, of course, Google Wave. The detail is fairly complex but the implications are huge.
If you are not fully aware of this new Wave, think of it as an online tool that allows multiple users to communicate together in real-time whilst exchanging video, image, text, audio and link-based (VITAL) information.Google Wave enthusiasts, who have been lucky enough to be invited to preview the application, have already crowd-sourced a Google Wave manual, (called the Complete Guide to Google Wave) using a Wiki open-source platform; Google themselves have released a 1 hour and 20 minute video(!) explaining how it works. Here is the 10-minute abridged version:
In August Unilever announced it was crowdsourcing its new Peperami advertising, ending its 16-year relationship with its agency, Lowe. Hearing recently that Unilever is looking to extend crowdsourcing to other brands is an even bigger surprise.
Is the reason for this 'creative abuse' purely budgetary? Or is it the case that, as far as Peperami is concerned, the brand is strong enough to appeal to the popular vote? The judges have been fired, now the public have to decide.
But how Unilever will sort through 1,185 entries? It will be interesting to see whether Joe Bloggs is the winner ,or an advertising freelancer pitching for the $10,000 prize. Like Doritos' user-generated 'Tribe' campaign, it's a cheap and engaging way of putting power to the people.
Although Unilever envisages crowdsourcing as the way forward for Peperami, when the brand's equity starts to run dry and Peperami could yet be knocking on agency doors asking for help once again.
Commissioned by FACT, Liverpool City council for BBC Big Screen Liverpool and the Live Sites Network, artist/designer Chris O'Shea created this impressive outdoor digital display called 'Hand from Above'. Its implications for outdoor digital advertising must be whetting Kevin Roberts's SISOMO-coated lips.
The idea is to have us question our daily routine by having a giant, intervening hand stop us in our tracks by being 'tickled, stretched, flicked or removed entirely in real time by a giant deity'.
Creative Review posted a brief excerpt from an interview with O'Shea plus accompanying diagram on the technicalities of how the display works.
Just as flash mobs stretched from social networking into T-Mobile adverts, perhaps it won't be too long till we see some branded hands from above.
The next display is in Cardiff at the BBC Big Screen, 22nd-24th October. If anyone is attending, we'd be interested to know how it goes.
"There has been an increase in the number of own brands trying to capitalise on the popularity of Kellogg's Cornflakes," claims Helen Lyons, Kellogg's lead food technologist. "'We want shoppers to be under absolutely no illusion that Kellogg's does not make cereal for anyone else.
Adliterate this week blames clients for advertising's creative stultification. Could a similar problem apply also to research? Are clients less open to less conventional research methods than they claim, given their frequent appeals for imaginative and newer research approaches?
Many people say that nowadays, for brands to find distinctive, differentiated propositions requires distinctive, differentiated processes in terms of research and planning.
The much-maligned group discussion can be the right tool. (Mr Huntington may not like to admit it but he seems to be a frequent 'groupista'). But so can online. And so can ethnography.
But there is pressure to fall back on 'tried and tested' methodologies to win projects, even if we feel that other approaches may be worth trying. Not because groups are more profitable, but because they represent a currency and a process that clients understand and are comfortable with.
Groups work when the the conditions are right and the conversation is honest. But even honest discourse and self-reflection cannot provide universal access into our motivations. Sometimes it helps to see for yourself what is going on, rather than to go by someone's account of this.
So one approach we have been developing through our ties with EverydayLives is the 'co-discovery'. First we watch and film someone doing what they do, then we go back and ask them to provide a commentary on what was happening. We 'co-discover' it with them.
Seeing their own behaviour encourages honest self-reflection and can add a new layer of insight and more texture. I doubt whether we would have understood this person's sense of their 'work/life balance' in anything like as much depth had we only interviewed him:
Clients have to be bolder, take a leap faith, if they want to make headway in an over-saturated, ever more competitive market. It is our duty to support and encourage them in this.