UK snow

UK snow

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ICYMI | 万一你错过了| 당신이 그것을 놓친 경우

Why the iPhone Is Losing Out to Chinese Devices in Asia – WSJ  – Xiaomi has an edge in many markets because it can customize for each country while Apple creates the same products for everyone, said Jai Mani, Xiaomi’s product manager for India. – they are also picking up the kind of clients that Apple doesn’t want

In an Era of ‘Smart’ Things, Sometimes Dumb Stuff Is Better – The New York Times – nails the need for divergent design and use cases

How This Guy Lied His Way Into MSNBC, ABC News, The New York Times and More – old news, many PRs have been case studies in newspapers and magazine articles – Janet or Jim who worked in marketing and had a medical condition or an embarrassing thing happen to them – chances are they’re a PR

Secret HSBC memo turns heat on Topshop boss Philip Green | News | The Sunday Times – this makes a lot of sense, even more so than when Green started discussions two years ago. From a historic point of view HSBC helped KS Li and his counterparts buy out many of the then British owned conglomerates in colonial Hong Kong of the 1970s. It seems natural to have them help find Chinese buyers for his British interests. Hong Kong’s Hutchison owns mobile network (including shops) 3. It also owns Super Drug through its Watson’s subsidiary. House of Fraser also has a Chinese owner. Topshop trades on the UK being cool and trendy a la Rimmel’s iconic “Get the London look” – Brexit diminishes it with its xenophobic inward look. Domestic sales still outweigh overseas sales, I can understand why he wants out, especially if the business is leveraged

China’s cutthroat smartphone market is coming down to a handful of major brands | South China Morning Post  – Huawei Technologies, Oppo, Vivo, Xiaomi and Apple – with a 77 per cent share of the market, up from 67 per cent in 2016, according to Counterpoint. – Quite why Oppo and Vivo aren’t viewed in aggregate rather like Huawei and Honor is beyond me due to their close ties to BBK

Instagram is killing the way we experience art | Quartz – fine art gets the kind of screen intermediation problem that live music has had for years

Dropbox saved almost $75 million over two years by building its own tech infrastructure – GeekWire – this makes total sense when you get that to that size and scale

Assembly of ‘Aibo’ Robot Dog (1) | NIKKEI XTECH – Nikkei have a unique take on the teardown; working with a Sony engineer to document the process of assembling the latest generation of Aibo robotic dog. It quickly comes across where your money goes as it is fiendishly complicated to build

Young Japanese are surprisingly content – Seventh heaven at 7-Eleven | Economist – but concerned about the future

From the Name to the Box Logo: The War Over Supreme — The Fashion Law

Why Chengdu Spends More on Luxury Than Wealthier Cities | Jing Daily

Hidden information design

I’ve stared at UK mainline railway station departure boards at many times over the years. I am usually fixated on the platform number and whether it will leave on time. So it was only this week that I picked up on the little train ideogram as a footnote at the bottom of each destination on Euston station’s display.


The diagram flips, this was the dominant image.  It shows:

  • How many carriages are on the train
  • How full of reserved passengers each carriage is (A, B, E and J are very full).
  • Which coaches are first class (KJHG)
  • A cup periodically flashed over coach C to show that was where the shop / takeaway cafe was

It would be interesting to see if this data was available in API form for apps or web service usage and what could be done with it.


That Trivago poster

If you’re a Londoner, the end of summer is marked by two things; the Notting Hill Carnival and Trivago’s annual advertising blitz on public transport. In media land there has been some complaints. We need to talk about the Trivago ad – a triumph of media planning over creative execution according to an op-ed written by a creative in Campaign. The article is timely, it taps into a wider existential crisis about the death of creativity as advertising is swallowed up and pooped all over by Google and Facebook.


Her shirt changes. In some placements she wears a light blue shirt, she also wears one in red plaid. The logo moves placement too from top right to bottom right in the posters.

A few things about the campaign, some more obvious to marketers than others:

  • Despite Trivago featuring various destinations in a search box, they don’t seem to have done any paid or organic search work around the destination names at all. They are putting advertising behind brand searches through
  • The ads seem to be all about reach and repetition. Using OOH ads as closure and amplify the TV ads. I haven’t noticed this being replicated online

Why going hard and often? Travel is a mature sector with strong players. If Trivago isn’t top of mind, it isn’t competing. Engagement just doesn’t matter that much in this scenario, hence why the company backed off press releases at the end of May this year for the UK market.

The absence from online brand advertising is likely down to the comparatively high cost of running this kind of saturation campaign on the likes of Facebook advertising. This is why TV, radio and out of home media haven’t depreciated in the same way as traditional print advertising media.

The choice of campaign timing is more interesting. Traditional travel companies usually try and target a bit later in the year over the Christmas season in influence holiday shopping decisions.


Takeaways: In2 Innovation Summit

I got invited to The Holmes Report‘s innovation summit. This happened earlier in the day than The Sabre EMEA awards. 


Here were my takeouts in no particular order:
  • Brad Staples presentation on reputation in a fake news environment gave me deja vu. It reminded me of corporate communications thinking when social media came to prominence. In many respects the symptoms are the same. The agenda running out-of-control like a force of nature. Yet, it is only the momentum has changed, core principles to address reputation are the same. There was an increased emphasis on monitoring. Monitoring and response became even more important than with social media’s rise
  • The age-old tension between specialist and generalist continues to roll onwards. Alan Vandermolen saw medium-sized agencies as sitting in a ‘Goldilocks’ position. Small enough for your business to matter and being able to move fast. Large enough to have the right expertise and scale in place. The challenge to his argument is global agencies consolidating a one-stop shop offering. Vandermolen didn’t address the move away from being a ‘PR agency’. The Holmes Report had highlighted their concern in a recent opinion piece. Vandermolen was also concerned with the disappearance of PR professionals on the client side. He cited United Airways customer problems from broken guitars to dragging passengers off planes. The discussion didn’t cover how the airline’s focus on shareholder value had corrupted customer-centricity
  • Matt Battersby and Dan Berry looked at public relations and behavioural economics. What I found interesting is how this provided a direct linkage to return on investment. Yet the audience didn’t pick up on this in questions. It also represented a content challenge to agencies. It flips the typical messages that they would look deliver (driven by what’s news)
  • There was a tension between what agencies could do and what clients wanted. Abby Guthkelch wanted a more agile approach to content that was also more cost effective. This meant that she often worked with inhouse staff and content development agencies. There was a strong sense that creative ideas and concepts were not worth paying for. This puts little value in communications agencies. Content marketing poses an existential threat to PR agencies margins. It was interesting that marketing automation didn’t come up in discussions. Inhouse panelists preferred to move capability inhouse rather than relying on offshoring work
  • Finally, there was the evergreen theme of marketers and PRs speaking different languages. PRs need to get comfortable with data and charts. They need to think about testing. This needs to happen whilst budgets are static or in decline. A way forward is to move down the marketing funnel to be closer to the sale in e-commerce and via social channels. I found the continued faith in influencers of interest. I was surprised at the lack of concern shown on the agency side for zero-based budgeting at clients
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