Connection planning has some problems

A couple of years ago I did a presentation on connection planning and much of that thinking still has value. But some of the tenets of connection planning are now challenged by changes in marketing practice and strategy in the business to consumer space.

Connection planning process

The focus on user engagement has been affected by three things:

  • Social platforms have been moving their business model and interactions towards traditional brand advertising models. Social networks like Facebook and Twitter are structuring their algorithms and advertising closer towards the reach and repetition model of traditional broadcast advertising. TV advertising dollars are what social platforms are chasing, rather than going after Google
  • Consumer brands, particularly from publicly listed mature players are facing business pressures from the threat of private equity ownership that would look to sweat the assets at the expense of longer term brand performance.  No one is immune to this, not even Nestle that was thought to be protected due to Swiss regulations. This has led to a resurgence zero-based budgeting that is locked in focus on return on investment over a shorter time period. From a communications planning perspective there are no sacred cows, no guaranteed longer campaign story arcs or brand engagements as spend has to be justified from a clean slate each year
  • Most marketing spend tends to be around existing products, often in mature markets. New products run a high risk of failure. New products in new categories are generally the province of start-up graveyards – we remember the few successes rather than the legion of failures. Marketing thinking for mature brands in mature sectors (so most FMCG categories and established brands). This change has been driven by research financed by FMCG companies including Coca-Cola, Mars, Kraft and Kelloggs  at the Ehrensberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science. Ehrensberg-Bass’ Byron Sharp book ‘How brands grow‘ is the talisman for these marketers and their agency side media planners

The shorter focus of consumer marketers makes it much harder to build a brand culture that sticks like Red Bull has managed to do. Flow of storytelling becomes less important than reach and stream of repetition.

ICMYI | 万一你错过了| 당신이 그것을 놓친 경우에 대비해서

Narita Airport dumping squat toilets in restroom reform:The Asahi Shimbun – OMG makes Heathrow seem even more barbaric by comparison

As Amazon Pushes Forward With Robots, Workers Find New Roles – NYTimes.com – great example of what Kevin Kelly talked about in his book The Inevitable that we only preserve jobs by working with rather than against robots

Some thoughts on #SMWLDN – Matt Muir nails the ephemera that passes for thought leadership in social circles

There’s Blood In The Water In Silicon Valley | Buzzfeed – Tech is manifestly unready for this new era. They’ve been playing small-ball politics of regulation, and coasting on incredibly high approval ratings. But there are signs they feel the winds changing. You can usually detect a political figure’s problems from their overcompensation, and Zuckerberg’s Midwestern tour had all the hallmarks of a classic reaction to a specific political polling question: “Does he care about people like me?” The move was widely misinterpreted as some kind of beginning to Zuckerberg’s political career. But Zuckerberg is Facebook, and his image is his company’s. His mission was to fix the company’s image, and I’m just not sure this one is fixable.

You can see the shape of how this plays out in a recent exchange between Mark Halperin and Rep. Adam Schiff, in which Halperin asked of Facebook: “Did they put profits ahead of patriotism in their conduct during the campaign?”

Wall Street Journal Reports on SoftBank Offer for Uber….Yet No Other Press Outlet is Picking the Story Up | naked capitalism – at a lower than expected market value

The Smart Watch Market is Headed for a Boom | Park Associates – not so sure about the rationale on this, I often forget to wear my smart watch for the same reasons that they give for fitness bands

Oprah time: The Inevitable: understanding the 12 technological forces that will shape our future by Kevin Kelly

I re-read Kevin Kelly’s What Technology Wants and then decided to revisit The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future. The books make sense as ideal companions for each other, despite some overlap in terms of proof points.  On the face of it The Inevitable is a less ambitious book than What Technology Wants.

The inevitable

In the book Kevin Kelly touches on the kind of areas one would expect in  typical presentation given by an innovation team at an advertising agency. He is an unashamed techno-optimist and The key difference is two-fold:

Kelly pulls it together as a coherent idea rather than 12 slivers. He provides in-depth cogent arguments that bind the trends together. Kelly argues that transparency in governments will compensate for the erosion of privacy. I don’t agree with this particular viewpoint. If you are interested in how technology is shaping our world buy What Technology Wants; if you are still hungry for more follow it up with The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future.

ICMYI | 万一你错过了| 당신이 그것을 놓친 경우에 대비해서

Oxford’s Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism latest Digital News Report findings discussed by Dr. Rasmus Kleiss Nielsen. This report is based on a survey of more than 70,000 people across 36 countries.

comScore Opens Global Access to Free Viewability Measurement – comScore, Inc – only for global advertisers, publishers, agencies and ad networks?

P&G’s Pritchard Calls for Next Generation of Digital Ads | Special: Dmexco – AdAge – I kind of agree with him from a an overall sentiment point of view, but viewability is also a function of how much of the viewable area it fills? I realise that it would be hard to measure but it would be a function of ad size, scrolling speed and display size. In the real world think about the ads on the tube escalators.

WeWork accuses Chinese competitor UrWork of stealing its name and style: Shanghaiist – wait I thought WeWork’s style was stolen from the hipster catalogue?

The US gender wage gap is closing because women are making more and men are making less — Quartz – I wonder how this then fits into a feminist, social and larger economic agendas? Will there be a tension between all these? Is there a floor where aggregate male earnings will hit?

China May Own More Artificial Intelligence Patents Than US By Year-End – China Money Network – interesting speculation. I could understand it given that IBM is one of the largest filers of patents in the US and its machine learning efforts are overhyped

On the Equifax Data Breach – Schneier on Security – Surveillance capitalism fuels the Internet, and sometimes it seems that everyone is spying on you. You’re secretly tracked on pretty much every commercial website you visit. Facebook is the largest surveillance organization mankind has created; collecting data on you is its business model. I don’t have a Facebook account, but Facebook still keeps a surprisingly complete dossier on me and my associations — just in case I ever decide to join.

I also don’t have a Gmail account, because I don’t want Google storing my e-mail. But my guess is that it has about half of my e-mail anyway, because so many people I correspond with have accounts. I can’t even avoid it by choosing not to write to gmail.com addresses, because I have no way of knowing if newperson@company.com is hosted at Gmail.

Edward Snowden Interview: ‘There Is Still Hope’ – SPIEGEL ONLINE

P&G Asia brand director: ‘We were clickbaiters – and a giant duck still got more likes than we did’“I’ve been through generations of training in how to make a good Facebook ad, which has gone around 360 degrees and come back to the simple principles of marketing. We went through lots of complications in how to get clicks – we were clickbaiters. We honestly were. And yet that duck in Hong Kong Harbour got more likes than any of pure branded messaging, and we thought that’s maybe a good thing. But it’s not and it doesn’t help brands or businesses. It’s taken us time to get to where we are and the simplicity of those core marketing principles.”

How Nike Sneakers Made a Billionaire of Park Yen-cha | BoF – interesting profile

Five for Friday | 五日(星期五)

Things that made my day this week:

In terms of the news agenda, the iPhone launch dominated the news. I wrote about it here and here.  This image from the Chinese internet summed everything about the launch up for me.

Chinese reaction to iPhone X

We’re in a place of innovation stuckness at the moment – we’re celebrating incremental improvements in user experiences on smartphones as transformational, they aren’t. This is a category challenge, not a vendor-specific one. Even infrastructure and component vendor Qualcomm is struggling to envision ways to move things on.

I have been mostly listening to this playlist from this years Love International Festival

And FIP Radio

Japanese group meforyouforme combining traditional Japanese culture and dance with modern tap dancing FTW


Hong Kong stars Donnie Yen and Andy Lau go back to the 1970s with Chasing the Dragon – a thriller based on real characters involved in drug smuggling and organised crime in the turbulent go-go economic boom of Hong Kong – Lee Rock (Lui Lok) was a corrupt policeman nicknamed 500 million dollar Inspector, who avoided corruption charges by moving to Canada and then Hong Kong. Crippled (or Limpy) Ho was a triad called Ng Sek-ho who rivalled the 14K triad group.  It is against the backdrop of the post-1967 riots economic boom which saw Hong Kong blow up in manufacturing and financial services. This brought rich pickings in corruption which led to the formation of the ICAC – the Independent Commission Against Corruption.

ICMYI | 万一你错过了| 당신이 그것을 놓친 경우에 대비해서

Fab equipment spending breaking industry records | Electroiq – foundries are anticipating continuing electronics demand rather than a flattening or a slow down

Qualcomm demonstrates their Sleaziness by Posting a Press Release Downplaying any possible iPhone X Advancements – Patently Apple – guessing Qualcomm thinks that it won’t be settling its law suits with Apple then

With direct flights to Dublin, Cathay takes big bet on Ireland | HKEJ Insight – huge for Ireland, expect more long haul flights in there

Dapper Dan, the original tailor to hip-hop royalty, now has a deal with Gucci | Quartz – it was only a matter of time, really happy for Dan – if 30 years too late

Apple Special Event and Security

@ WWDC

Apple’s facial recognition has spurred a number of discussions about the privacy trade-offs in the iPhone X.

Experts Weigh Pros, Cons of FaceID Authentication in iPhone X | Dark ReadingOne concern about FaceID is in its current implementation, only one face can be used per device, says Pepijn Bruienne, senior R&D engineer at Duo Security. TouchID lets users register up to five fingerprints. If a third party obtains a user’s fingerprint and reproduces it, and the user is aware, they could register a different unique fingerprint.

Can Cops Force You to Unlock Your Phone With Your Face? | The Atlantic – Even if Face ID is advanced enough to keep pranksters out, many wondered Tuesday if it would actually make it easier for police to get in. Could officers force someone they’ve arrested to look into their phone to unlock it?

How Secure Is The iPhone X’s FaceID? Here’s What We Know | Wired – Marc Rogers, a security researcher at Cloudflare who was one of the first to demonstrate spoofing a fake fingerprint to defeat TouchID. Rogers says he has no doubt that he—or at least someone—will crack FaceID. In an interview ahead of Apple’s FaceID announcement, Rogers suggested that 3-D printing a target victim’s head and showing it to their phone might be all it takes. “The moment someone can reproduce your face in a way that can be played back to the computer, you’ve got a problem,” Roger says. “I’d love to start by 3-D-printing my own head and seeing if I can use that to unlock it.” 

Now lets talk about the Apple Watch, which I consider to present more serious issues.
 
The Apple Watch 3 is interesting from a legislative point-of-view. The software SIM in the Apple Watch clones the number of your iPhone. The security services of the major powers generally don’t broadcast their capabilities. Politicians are generally untroubled by knowledge of what is possible. Giving politicians an inkling is likely to result in broad sweeping authoritarian power. 
Imagine what will happen when Amber Rudd goes into parliament looking for real-time access to everyone’s phones. She now can point to the Apple Watch 3 as evidence that LTE and 3G connections can be cloned. What kind of legislation will her special advisers start cooking up then?

Secondly, it will only be a matter of time before criminals either work out how to do it themselves, or co-opt mobile carrier staff. Two factor authentication that depends on SMS is already compromised. This allows it to be compromised and undetectable.

The Apple Watch 3 may have royally screwed us all.

Apple Special Event – key outtakes

Key takeouts from the Apple special event with a little bit of analysis
 
Retail
First presentation by Angela Ahrendts. There is a question of why she hadn’t presented at previous keynotes.  My read on it is that that the revenue per square foot metric beloved of retail analysts will tumble. Apple seems to be taking the mall companies idea of shopping as entertainment and doing it for their individual stores.
Town hall – what they call the stores internally, bigger focus on engagement rather than transactions – is this an effort to try and recapture cool?
Store features
  • Plaza – public private spaces outside the store if possible, interesting implications on future store placements – probably less in malls
  • Forum – open plan internal space
  • Boardroom – private space focused on developer relations, was probably the most interesting push. Stores are being given a stronger push as embassies for developer relations. 
  • Creative Pro – Apple genius for the creative apps, probable mix of amateur and professional audiences addressed
  • Today at Apple – driven by Creative Pro staff to focus on creating more usuage of key offerings i.e. photo walks – think Nike Running Club. Also includes teacher outreach
  • Genius grove – the genius bar but with plants presumably to try and break up the overall store noise
  • Avenues  – wider aisles that products are on
Continued retail expansion in the US including Chicago – interesting that international expansion wasn’t mentioned. 
 
Apple Watch
  • 50% yearly growth – the series 2 fixed many of the hygiene factors wrong with the first version
  • 97% customer satisfaction – health seems to be driving this
Health features: focus on heart rate monitor and getting proactive about flagging elevated heart rate. Also focusing on heart rhythm changes as well.
 
watchOS 4 out September 19 available to all customers. Interesting that they didn’t drill into some of interesting features on watchOS 4 using Siri
 
Series 3 Apple Watch with cellular built in. Your Dick Tracy fantasies are alive. Apple thinks that people will leave their phones at home and bring their Apple Watch. They also see it as killing the iPod Nano with wireless music playback. I am yet to be convinced.
Apple added a barometric sensor; usage example was focused on health and fitness rather then locative apps. Not a great surprise given that these sensors have been in premium G-Shocks for a good while. 
 
Apple used specially designed lower power wifi and Bluetooth silicon. But no news about who is making the cellular modem. The SIM is embedded on the motherboard and presumably a software update? These changes could have interesting implications for future phones?
 
Interesting carrier partnerships, in particular all three of China’s mobile carriers, but only EE in the UK?
 
Apple TV
 
  • Apple TV now supports 4K, unsurprising hardware upgrade and includes high dynamic range – Apple is following the TV set industry’s lead
  • More interesting is the amount of content deals Apple has done with studios, in particular keeping the price point of 4K HDR content the same as was previously charged for HD content.
  • Interesting TV partnerships but no major UK TV stations only Mubi
  • Emphasis on easy access to sports on the Apple TV would wind up cable companies further
  • Apple TV was also positioned as the control interface for HomeKit smarthome products. There was no further  update on HomeKit in the presentation 
iPhone 8 incremental changes
 
  • Wireless charging with glass back. The steel and copper reinforcement of the glass is probably to help with the induction charging
  • Incremental improvements in picture quality. Bigger focus on AR including new sensors.
iPhone X
 
  • Positioned as future direction for iPhones. Biometric face ID is clever but has issues. I wonder how it will work with facial hair or weight gain – Apple claims that it will adapt. Apple also claims to be able to detect photos and masks. It’s also used for face tracking in AR applications with some SnapChat lens demos.
  • As with Touch ID, there is a PIN code if your face doesn’t work. I have found that Touch ID doesn’t work all the time so you need that PIN back up.
  • The notch at the top poses some UX / design issues and the industrial design implies case free usage which will be a step away from usual iPhone usage.
  • What isn’t immediately apparent to me is the user case for the iPhone X versus the iPhone 8 plus?
What was lacking in the iPhone presentation was a celebration of all in the changes in iOS 11 under the hood.
A11 – Bionic chip in the iPhone 8 and X
  • Includes new integrated GPU for machine learning and graphics. This explains why Imagination Technologies are in trouble
  • New image sensor processingThe A11 processor has a hardware neural network on the chip for the iPhone X – unsure if its also usable on the 8
Apple’s moves to embrace, co-opt Qi wireless charging and build a super-standard on top of it will likely wind up members like Qualcomm and Huawei. How much of this is down to user experience and how much is down to the desire to get Apple IP in the technology stack?
Apple is left with a large product line of iPhones: SE, 6 series, 7 series, 8 series and the X

ICMYI | 万一你错过了| 당신이 그것을 놓친 경우에 대비해서

Autonomous Cars: The Level 5 Fallacy – Monday Note – A two-to-three year engineering timeline isn’t unusual; five years is considered longterm. Beyond the five-year horizon? No thanks, I’ll switch to a more spiritually and financially rewarding pursuit. We’ll leave the worthy but nebulous commitments to Carnegie Mellon and Stanford. In other words: No Level 5 in the foreseeable, bankable future. Instead of the soothing vision of a saloon on wheels on the road tomorrow… That’s Uber’s autonomous aspirations fucked then and probably explains why Apple has scaled back its car ambitions for the time being. It also shows the corporate aversion to hard innovation now, compared to 50 years ago

UK car sales and registrations down – Business Insider – British people have a close to zero household savings rate, and way too much debt, making further car purchases difficult. Consumers are afraid a recession might be coming and have reduced their spending on expensive items. The PCP car loan trend may have peaked, flooding the market with nearly new used cars. – two things about this, the UK is way over leveraged at a government and consumer level. Brexit is just going to make this a lot worse. Secondly, the auto finance model is broken and the UK could be the contagion that causes a sub-prime two crisis to ripple around the world. It also make the UK market less attractive for European exporters, which means a harder time trying to get a deal for BREXIT

Why RSS Still Beats Facebook and Twitter for Tracking News | Fieldguide – couldn’t agree more

Strange Bedfellows? Collaborations Help Young Brands Make Ends Meet — The Fashion Law

China to Shut Bitcoin Exchanges – WSJ – interesting that the article doesn’t cite sources. Caixin broke this story at the end of last week. Is this down to these currencies providing black economy payments and capital flight?

For Superpowers, Artificial Intelligence Fuels New Global Arms Race | WIRED – faster optimal approaches

WPP locks in minority stake in Gimlet Media podcast network | Mumbrella – podcasting as an advertising / sponsorship format seems to have got over its measurability barrier

Ecouter FIP | Radio Musicale Eclectique – very nice early morning listening

The Inspection Chamber – BBC R&D – really nice project with voice activated services

Uber’s “clean air” fund | FT Alphaville – its actually a passenger tax, yet another reason to go with Addison Lee who already have hybrids in their fleet

Spotify Web Player No Longer Compatible With Apple’s Safari Browser – Mac Rumors – interesting that Spotify uses a Google plug-in with security issues

LTE Apple Watch uses same phone number as iPhone, some carriers to offer free/cheaper trial plans | 9to5Mac – is it just me or does sounds like a waste of space? I am more interested in the longer term if experiments like this provide Apple with a way to improve power management and consumption on their smartphones

You are not a goldfish

I have grown tired of a ridiculous statistic being used so frequently that it becomes marketing truth. It’s regurgitated in articles, blog posts, social media and presentations. The problem with it is that affects the way marketers view the world and conduct both planning and strategy. The picture below is a goldfish, his name is Diego. If you’ve managed to read this you aren’t Diego.

Diego

I realise that sounds a little dramatic, but check out this piece by Mark Jackson, who leads the Hong Kong and Shenzhen offices of Racepoint Global. It’s a good piece on the different elements that represent a good story (predominantly within a PR setting). And it is right that attention in a fragmented media eco-system will be contested more fiercely. But it starts with:

Over the course of the last 20 years, the average attention span has fallen to around eight seconds; a goldfish has an attention span of nine! The challenge for companies – established and new – is to figure out how to get even a small slice of that attention span when so many other companies are competing for it.

This ‘truth’ is bollocks. Mark’s piece is just the latest of a long line of marketing ‘thought leadership’ pieces that repeat this as gospel.

It fails the common sense test. Given that binge watching of shows like Game of Thrones or sports matches is commonplace, book sales are still happening, they would have to be balanced out with millisecond experiences for this 8-second value to make any sense as an average. The goldfish claim is like something out of a vintage Brass Eye episode.

To quote DJ Neil ‘Doctor’ Fox:

Now that is a scientific fact! There’s no real evidence for it; but it is scientific fact

Let’s say your common sense gets the better of your desire for a pithy soundbite and you decide to delve into the goldfish claim a bit deeper.  If one took a little bit of time to Google around it would become apparent that the goldfish ‘fact’ is dubious. It originally came from research commissioned by Microsoft’s Advertising arm ‘How does digital affect Canadian attention spans?‘. The original link to the research now defaults to the home page of Microsoft Advertising. Once you start digging into it, the goldfish wasn’t actually part of the research, but was supporting desk research and thats when its provenance gets murky.

PolicyViz in a 2016 blog post The Attention Span Statistic Fallacy called it out and provided links to the research that they did into the the goldfish ‘fact’ in 2016 – go over and check their article out. The BBC did similar detective work a year later and even went and asked an expert:

“I don’t think that’s true at all,” says Dr Gemma Briggs, a psychology lecturer at the Open University.

“Simply because I don’t think that that’s something that psychologists or people interested in attention would try and measure and quantify in that way.”

She studies attention in drivers and witnesses to crime and says the idea of an “average attention span” is pretty meaningless. “It’s very much task-dependent. How much attention we apply to a task will vary depending on what the task demand is.”

There are some studies out there that look at specific tasks, like listening to a lecture.

But the idea that there’s a typical length of time for which people can pay attention to even that one task has also been debunked.

“How we apply our attention to different tasks depends very much about what the individual brings to that situation,” explains Dr Briggs.

“We’ve got a wealth of information in our heads about what normally happens in given situations, what we can expect. And those expectations and our experience directly mould what we see and how we process information in any given time.”

But don’t feel too bad, publications like Time and the Daily Telegraph were punked by this story back in 2015. The BBC use the ‘fact’ back in 2002, but don’t cite the source.  Fake news doesn’t just win elections, it also makes a fool of marketers.

This whole thing feels like some marketer (or PR) did as poor a job as many journalists in terms of sourcing claims and this ‘truth’ gradually became reinforcing. Let’s start taking the goldfish out of marketing.

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ICMYI | 万一你错过了| 당신이 그것을 놓친 경우에 대비해서

Planable – interesting social preview and scheduling tool, particularly for clients in highly regulated sectors such as pharma clients

As many stats as you could possibly want if you have a passing interest in the Chinese internet ecosystem

LVMH Buys Into South Korean Eyewear Brand, Gentle Monster — The Fashion Lawmedia speculation suggests that it could be worth about 60 billion won ($53.17 million). Per Thakran, the investment will serve to kick-start a strategy to grow the company into a billion-dollar business over the next six to eight years, up from the nearly $200 million it does now. “I believe that across Asia there are only about six to eight brands that can achieve this level of notoriety, with a unique image, that’s differentiated among lifestyle brands,”

The Fundamental Surplus by Lars Ljungqvist & Thomas J. Sargent – on why unemployment is hard to fix and why Phillips curves are BS (PDF)

Asian unit of Bell Pottinger separates from London parent | FT“This has been a difficult time for everyone — especially as so many good, talented and honest people have been caught up in it,” said Mr Turvey. “But I am pleased our offices in Asia now have control of their own destiny.” (paywall)

Russia’s Facebook Fake News Could Have Reached 70 Million Americans  – $100,000 on Facebook can go a surprisingly long way, if it’s used right. On average, Facebook ads run about $6 for 1,000 impressions. By that number, the Kremlin’s $100,000 buy would get its ads seen nearly 17 million times.
But that average hides a lot of complexity, and the actual rate can range from $1 to $100 for 1,000 impressions on an ad with pinpoint targeting. Virality matters too. Ads that get more shares, likes, and comments are far cheaper than boring ads that nobody likes, and ads that send users to Facebook posts instead of third-party websites enjoy an additional price break

There’s something wrong with video advertising and it’s hidden in plain site  – AdNews – too many trackers degrading ad player performance and viewability

Chinese Prefer the Sound of Silence When Getting Messages From Mom – WSJ – While users take nine seconds on average to read 100 characters, they need 22 seconds to listen to the same 100 characters, excluding pauses, says Liu Xingliang, head of research at Beijing-based analytics firm Data Center of the China Internet. (Paywall)

Facebook is (quietly) looking for an office in Shanghai | Timeout Shanghai – Facebook already sells a substantial amount of advertising to Chinese businesses looking to advertise abroad. Air China is already a marque customer for Facebook and there is a lot of direct e-commerce going on for gadgets and fast fashion

Seniors Realize Their Travel Dreams in This Intel Virtual Reality Project – Video – Creativity Online – it reminded me a bit of Total Recall

Advertisers bullish over ad budget | Shanghai Daily – bullish on Chinese media market prospects

City’s telecoms operators look to new iPhone to kick-start handset sales, in long absence of ‘hero’ model | SCMP – is the lack of a hero model an indication of category design maturity?

Feel old? 1990 Sony Trinitron TV now considered ‘historical material’ in Japan | SCMP – it was a thing of beauty, my current TV set still doesn’t do blacks with the same inky depth as my old Trinitron set. Trinitron is also an emblem of how low Japanese consumer electronics have fallen from its pre-Internet highpoint

Daring Fireball: Samsung’s OLED Display Monopoly – bang goes the market

Nike is still the king of the sneaker industry, but even great empires can fall | Quartz – much of Nike’s problems are down to poor brand management and over exploitation of assets – just look at all the Air Jordan colour ways that pass through tier zero retailers

Apple Beats Samsung in Smartphone Sales in China and More Importantly in Repeat Sales by a Staggering Margin – Patently Apple – the problem you’ve got is the data, it can’t be trusted

Five for Friday | 五日(星期五)

Things that have made my day this week:

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory launched some really cool posters to celebrate 40 years of the Voyager programme. You can download them here.

voyager_modern_poster_27x39

Moneysupermarket nail it with this advert, I wonder if its any coincidence that Dirty Dancing has just arrived on Amazon Prime this month?

MoneySuperMarket – Dirty Dancing from Blink on Vimeo.

Who knew. Red Hot Chilli Pepper makes acid tracks, some of it is pretty darned good

Slipknot covered on banjos with a great video

I’d been listening to the sounds of Don Dayglow who specialises in post-disco remixes similar to Luxury but with a little more funk in the mix

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Links of the day as a title came from when I exported my daily bookmarks and notes from Yahoo! MyWeb and del.icio.us to Google’s Blogger in a scripted manner. They whole thing just happened. I decided to change the title because I’ve changed the approach over time and editorialised it a bit more.

iPhone 8 Purchase Intent could only be hindered by Price – Tech.pinions – research is limited by methodology

Amazon’s advertising pitch deck

 

People aren’t that excited for iPhone 8, Piper Jaffray says | CNBC – it makes sense, smartphones are a mature device now, the form factor is set (not sure this a good thing), the app market has peaked and the hardware commoditised. You’d buy a new iPhone when your old one is no longer fit for purpose

TalkTalk looks to hang up on its mobile business | FT – what does this mean in the broader landscape of telecoms triple play businesses? BT invested a lot buying EE and building up their media properties, Virgin Media still have a triple play offering and Sky has built up both broadband and an MVNO (paywall)

Smartphone prices to rise by 7% this year | total telecom – interesting development in higher end of the market

The Bell Pottinger Post

PR firm Bell Pottinger has got entangled in a mess of the South African government and the Gupta family.  More people have written about this in depth, so I will just link to them at the bottom of the post.

Here’s some thoughts on it all

There but for the grace of God go I – must have reverberated through the minds of at least some corporate communications and public affairs professionals. There is a tension between finding clients that have needs and are willing to pay for high-powered counsel versus the risk that the world may come down on you.

That’s the risk you take when you work with businesses that are involved in sensitive areas or at the edge of the law:

  • Businesses looking down the barrel of antitrust regulation like Google or Qualcomm
  • Businesses involved in the ‘carbon economy’ – Edelman had previously worked for coal producers and fracking projects until they came under sustained attack
  • Big food and big agri: McDonalds, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola are all targets. Monsanto has been of concern due to GM crops
  • Mining
  • Multinationals doing business in sensitive countries like Myanmar
  • Defence
  • Questionable regimes: Ketchum’s work with Russia is the stand out example or H+K Strategies arrangement of the deceptive ‘Nayirah’ testimony which played a big part in getting the US government behind the first Gulf War

Your business is at the mercy of pressure groups and the wider media agenda.

But that’s also the reason why I think that Bell Pottinger can survive IF they can hunker down and weather the storm. There will always be a demand for organisations and individuals who want to launder their reputation or argue the unpopular side of an argument.

Even if PR agencies aren’t doing it, organisations that sit at the nexus of business and security will likely step into the breach bringing the necessary PR skills on board.

As a PR person, is it the kind of work I would like to do? No, but then I am a brand marketer; corporate communications was something I could do, but didn’t particularly enjoy doing.  I could see the attraction of the work as it would be financially very lucrative and there would be the opportunity for business travel and ‘war stories’ from the office to talk about at dinner parties.

It’s magical thinking if you expect ‘unethical’ clients to suddenly be denied representation. This will be even more the case as the US multilateral world view is challenged by China’s more transactional approach. We’re currently living in a golden age for NGOs and NFPs – it would be unrealistic to think that it will continue this way.

In the grand scheme of things, the PRCA censure won’t mean that much, its a bigger move for the UK PR industry; showing that it can muck out its own stables. From Bell Pottinger’s longer term perspective it won’t mean much because of the divided nature of PR industry representation. As individuals PRs can sign up to be members of the CIPR (Chartered Institute of Public Relations).  The PRCA primarily represents agencies (although it has started to offer individual consultant accreditation). The key benefit is an ISO-9000 type accreditation for agency management systems. It wouldn’t be that hard for a member agency to set-up and get ISO-9000 accreditation and maintain it.  If there are enough practitioners working at Bell Pottinger, they can highlight their staffs professional status as members of the CIPR.

That Tim Bell interview: if you haven’t seen it, have a good watch. I can see this being used in broadcast media training for a good while. It’s the first time I’d ever seen Sir Tim in anything more casual than formal business wear.

His mannerisms are odd in places, particularly at the beginning.  His answers are odd. For example, when asked what went wrong he quoted Sir Walter Scott, which made him look literate but arrogant. Given that he went on there for a reason, presumably to put as much distance between himself and the mess – it was an ideal opportunity to land his side of the story in a précis.

His phone rings, he declines the call and then shows the interviewer his phone screen. Why din’t he mute his phone or shut it down at this point and why did he want the journalist to see who had called? He then gets a message on his phone and a second call. Only on the second ring does he finally silences the phone.

Chris Geoghegan is the non-executive director of a number of prominent UK companies, an ex-BAE Systems executive and the father of Victoria Geoghegan. Whilst he wouldn’t be best pleased with the current situation, Bell doxes him on the UK’s most prominent news programme. Geoghegan had been mentioned in an op-ed of a South African publication, but had been largely ignored in most of the press coverage surrounding the Bell Pottinger scandal. Whilst it won’t be anything new to a board doing their due diligence it might drive sniggering down the country club. Bell didn’t need to volunteer the information, he chose to do so.

The smoking gun emails – after Henderson had resigned as CEO of Bell Pottinger, the BBC interviewer questions Bell about two (presumably new) emails that seems to be at odds with his own claim that he recommended they not take the work as Bell Pottinger had a client conflict.  You can see this after 1:15.

For a piece of business that’s a conflict of interest,  the January correspondence is a very odd email. I can understand him saying that the meeting was successful. But then he goes on to talk about the revenue opportunity and how he will personally oversee the project.

By April why would Lord Bell be still offering advice on the account if he believed it to be a conflict of interest? His excuse for this was getting back into business after having a stroke.

Bell puts the blame squarely at the door of James Henderson. UK media coverage implied that the schism between Bell and Henderson went beyond the Gupta business. So Bell might have a bigger axe to grind and Guptagate is just a handy vehicle.

Lord Bell then talks down the future prospects of Bell Pottinger, it might be an overly pessimistic view. Bell has a new rival business, its in his interest to make Bell Pottinger’s problems even worse.

Whilst Bell Pottinger have problems in their London office, they have successful branches in Hong Kong and Singapore where this won’t matter as much IF (and its a big IF) they can hunker down and weather the current storm. The business could retrench, rebrand and survive.

The Guptas needed to be introduced to a good PR agency, after this every dictator, unpopular mega corporation and shady mogul will know where to go. If Bell Pottinger is no longer about, then there are any number of large corporate agencies or boutiques who will take their business.

More information
Ketchum (Sort of, Not Really) Ends Its Relationship with Vladimir Putin | AdWeek
Deception on Capitol Hill – New York Times
Edelman and Media Zoo PR targeted by anti-fracking protestors | PR Week
Guptagate: Who Are The Family At The Center Of South Africa’s Political Storm? | Newsweek
Op-Ed: The Invasion of the Body Snatchers – a weekend edition | Daily Maverick
Christopher Vincent Geoghegan BA (Hons), FRAES | Bloomberg Research.
How China Aims to Limit the West’s Global Influence – NYTimes.com
PR industry reads last rites for scandal-hit Bell Pottinger | FT
Battle of the spin doctors: Bell Pottinger PR titan quits over race hate dirty tricks campaign despite saying it wasn’t his fault | Mail Online