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Things that caught my eye this week

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Stussy soundtrack to work to. Stüssy and music have always been a blend. Shawn Stüssy has talked about the soundtrack to his work. Soon after Stussy customers in punk, hip hop and beyond provided a Stussy soundtrack of sorts.

Stussy stay at home

The International Stüssy Tribe made up of people who Shawn Stüssy had met as the business grew included Mike Jones of The Clash and Big Audio Dynamite and Alex ‘Baby’ Turnbull of 23Skidoo and Ronin Records. There was also Nigo and Hiroshi Fujiwara in Japan. At the time Fujiwara-san was famous for the Major Force record label. There was even at least one International Stüssy Tribe record.

1st Vinyl Tribal Gathering of The International Stüssy Tribe
From my record collection. I suspect that this was done by Alex and John Turnbull of Ronin Records. At least two of their artists at the time (Force & KZEE) feature on the vinyl, and it was pressed in at the same plant that their records were. Lastly, Alex was a member of Shawn Stüssy’s International Stüssy Tribe.

Now Stüssy has been the soundtrack breaking up a seemingly endless cycle of Zoom calls. You can find all of them here. My personal favourite is Stones Throw records stalwart DāM FUNK.

Really interesting product design. Russian designers have reached back into technological history to use vacuum tubes (valves) rather than digital or solid state (transistor) electronics that Bob Moog would have used to build his first instruments. You can find out more at APPARATUS Tube Synthesizer by Eternal Engine EMI 

Interesting presentation on how behavioural science (nudge theory) is used for patient engagement. It is obvious that these techniques could be adapted across product and service design.

International Jazz Day saw an amazing array of talent performing online.

A great video about the Barbican complex that was shot in 1969.It is a London that is both familiar and alien to me. The city is now dominated by office tower blocks. The buildings for the Barbican complex of old and new building cheek by jowl. There is some beautiful B-roll shot at different times of the day across the Barbican area. That alone would make this interesting, even before it gets into the history.

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Throwback gadget Bush TR 82

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Whilst you might not know the Bush TR 82, if you were from western Europe you’ll recognise its style immediately.

Post-war Britain

In the post-war era Bush Radio Limited tried to fill consumers demands for entertainment.

There were radios that would sit on a sideboard and would have the presence of a TV set. Many of these have fitted out with Bluetooth to create a better sounding sound system. It certainly sounds better than an Amazon Echo. My parents inherited one of these, a Bush VHT 61, which served them well for many years.

There was also radiograms, which is were a cross between a sideboard and a hifi system.

The secret of their warm sound was valve circuits. Before chips with millions of components, were transistors. And before transistors were delicate lightbulb-like valves.

Bush TR 82
Bush TR 82

David Ogle’s iconic design

Over time manufacturers like Bush managed to make valves small enough to make portable devices. In 1957 the Bush MB60 was launched. This was a portable valve radio designed by David Ogle of Ogle Design. The MB60 didn’t last as even minature valve radios were power hungry and delicate. But David Ogle’s case design lived on.

TR 82

Ogle’s product design was mated to a seven transistor circuit to create the TR 82.The TR 82 was big enough to have a decent sound and small enough to be portable. Alkaline batteries like Duracell were only starting to reach the market about the same same as the TR 82. So a high powered long lasting battery would be a 9 volt lantern style battery. This meant that you got months of use out of one battery, but each battery was expensive. (Similar batteries were still commonly used up until recently in the flashing lanterns used to mark road works currently in progress).

The TR 82 received long wave and medium wave so didn’t need an external aerial. VHF or FM radio wasn’t popular yet. In common with cars from the 1950s the Bush TR 82 had chrome plated brightwork. This was around the front panel around the edge of the circular reception dial. Despite this ornamentation you ended up with a very intuitive radio design, with a simplicity that Dieter Rams would appreciate. There was a large tuning wheel on the front of the radio.

On top, there were two rotating controls:

  • Volume
  • A combined tone and on / off switch

Selection between medium wave and long wave reception was done with two large buttons.

The handle ran the length of the case and swivelled at the points at which it was secured. This provided even easier access to the top controls of the radio.

The rear cover was removed by a single central screw. This could be undone with a edge of a coin. Inside the case was a battery compartment at the bottom. The rest of the radio was held on a metal subframe. This rigidity was essential for the tuning mechanism to work seamlessly and for the speaker to provide a good sound.

My personal memories of the TR 82

My own personal memories of a well-used and obsolete Bush TR 82 stem from my time on the family farm in Ireland. The radio lived in the kitchen and provided news at lunch and dinner time. It was also turned on to listen to the latest livestock market prices. This would then affect if, or when livestock and wool were sent to market. It provided live music on a Saturday evening. In essence, it filled many of the tasks that an internet enabled PC would do – if my Uncle and Grandmother had been online.

Radio was the primary media. Ireland had been an early adopter of radio, but a relative latecomer to television. So even into the early 1980s the radio had a pre-eminence in consumer behaviour that was only slowly eroded by the TV.

Television was something only broadcast from after lunch until late evening, apart from the weekends. When the second TV channel launched it only during the evening. By comparison at the time radio broadcast from before 6am in the morning until shutdown just after midnight.

TR 82 and the rise of Sony

The timing of the Bush TR 82 was a high point. The same year Tokyo Tsuskin Kogyo launched the first pocket sized transistor radio – the TR-63. It was the first ‘Sony’ product to be sold in the US. Sony was originally a product line brand for their nascent transistor radio busness. The product was so successful that the founders changed their company name to Sony Corporation. This idea of portable pocket entertainment begat personal stereos, iPods and the smartphone. (You can find more on Sony here.)

By comparison the TR 82 marked the point for Bush Radio as well. Bush Radio had been acquired by Rank in 1945. In 1962, the company was merged with Murphy Radio as Rank Bush Murphy. This was sold to Great Universal Stores in 1978. In 1986, the Bush name was sold to the Alba Group. In 2008 the former Alba Group sold the name for use outside Australasia on to Home Retail Group. Sainsburys acquired Home Retail Group in 2016.

But the iconic Bush TR 82 shape lived on, in more modern, yet poorer quality replicas. Most noticeably the Bush TR 82 DAB which had digital radio, FM, medium wave and long wave. Unfortunately the modern radio didn’t feature the same quality of speaker or internal frame. This meant that the sound suffered from lower power and a muddy sound caused by vibrations in the case. A brief feature on the Bush TR82 by the BBC and the British Museum here.

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Influencer marketing – what does the future hold

Reading Time: 5 minutes

What does the future hold for influencer marketing was an event organised by PR Week that I got to attend last week.  Below are some of the thoughts and key points that came out of the event.

The Competition and Markets Authority

They are responsible for enforcing The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Act (2008) (paywall) which governs transparency and claims across all marketing including social media influence campaigns.

In terms of jurisdiction they have a reciprocal relationship with the FTC to enforce the law on campaigns that are being run out of the US that would affect the UK and vice versa. Geography can no longer be considered a defence.

In terms of compliance, there is an emphasis on brands needing to monitor influencer campaigns and enforce disclosure. The legal responsibility falls equally across brands, agencies and influencers. All three are obliged to go through content and retroactively apply the act if the content is likely to be resurfaced in the future. So you are less like to have to alter tweets and Facebook posts than say YouTube videos and blog posts.

In general they felt that brands (and their agencies) were too naive and trusting with regards influencers.

False and misleading claims at the corporate brand level (a hypothetical example would be gold mine claiming its a green sustainable company) aren’t something that they would deal with, but they acknowledged that this kind of incident would likely breach the law.

At the moment the Competition and Markets Authority is considering the role of platforms as agents of influence, but isn’t looking at items like Amazon’s recent algorithmic change.

Unsurprisingly the Competitions and Markets Authority have no desire to get involved in regulating political campaigns on social. The whole area is radioactive. Whilst there would be societal benefit, it would call into question the independence of the civil service and a host legal / constitutional issues.

Judging by the reaction of the audience, more of them were up to speed and complying with GDPR than The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Act – not for profits seemed shocked to find out that they weren’t exempt

Content crowdsourcing platform Tribe

Tribe talked about how Logitech used Instagramers to create photos for their paid media campaign to drive direct sales.

Ad creative was lasting a week and a half on Facebook (Facebook & Instagram) before ‘ad fatigue’ set in. From my own personal experience, traditional creative lasted appreciably longer. Tribe didn’t indicate whether they had an opinion on the cause of this premature ad fatigue. Factors that might be responsible include context collapse (lower usage, with less time per session on the platform by consumers) that has been afflicted the Facebook platform for a few years

Logitech internal division of labour on social influencer marketing campaigns

One of the perennial questions that is asked is where does PR stop and (digital) marketing teams start with regards social media influencers. Logitech’s approach was a common sense approach to this question. High follower number influencers were dealt with by the PR team just like members of the press or celebrities. Micro and nano influencers were co-opted by marketers as part of the process to drive sales. It makes sense, but it was the first time I had heard it broken down explicitly by a brand in public.

MSL research on the future of influencer marketing

They had wanted to explore both consumer and influencer attitudes to extrapolate insights; given the codependent nature of influencers on agencies and brands.

The research involved surveying 1,000 consumers and 100 influencers. So take the insights with a pinch of salt. The slides weren’t shared but I’ve reconstructed the data from photos I took at the event.

  • 1,000 consumers were asked about their thoughts on the influencer landscape
  • 100 influencers were asked on their views on brand partnerships

Slide4

Slide5

Slide6

Slide7

Influencers don’t like to be pigeonholed as influencers, according to consumers the title has become a dirty word

This conclusion is counter intuitive. The common wisdom is that:

  • Gen-y and gen-z are happy to ‘sell out’
  • Professional v-logger (YouTube, Twitch, TikTok etc) are desired professions in the same way that DJ, rock musician or celebrity were previously

Yet the influencers surveyed think that they are changing the world for the better. For instance some of them are dealing with fans who share their suicidal thoughts. But the label of ‘influencer’ was considered to have lost its currency.

Influencers that other influencers respect. People who have demonstrated resilience; they have gone through trials and tribulations and triumphed. Zoella and Lilly Singh were among the most popular cited.

Influencers feel that they are being treated like a channel and the process has got too transactional. Yet one of their key motivations to stay in their career as influencers is to pay the bills.

Panel discussion

If you’d have ran this event ten years ago. The panel discussion would still have been very similar. Measurement was considered very immature, but then the panel bifurcated. Measurement is much easier when you are using advertising and tracking through to a purchase. The discussion got muddled as paid and non-paid measurement strategies were discussed side-by-side without differentiation or explanation.

Social agency Goat made an interesting disclosure. They’ve worked with about 100,000 influencers and found that the vast majority did not work in delivering sales. But there are no data or heuristics about which influencer is likely to work, or the reasons why?

What was missing in influencer marketing discussion?

The main item that I felt the discussion missed was the role of social platform algorithms in creating social bubbles and reducing campaign reach. OgilvyOne’s paper on considering life after the demise of organic reach doesn’t seem to have factored into PR agencies (publicly expressed) thinking some five years after it has been published.

Secondly, I was surprised at the lack of progress. Whilst the platforms have changed over the past ten years. The issues don’t seem to have altered at all for communications agencies. Whilst some agencies like Edelman (and 90TEN where I am currently working) realise that a blended PESO* media mix is required – there was a large faction of earned media only practitioners in attendance. Ten years later, advertising and creative agencies have learned many of the techniques that PR agencies considered to be their domain in order to improve ‘talkability’.

This is out of step with clients requirements for two reasons:

  • Clients want to effectively measure their success and the tools available to paid media are more complete
  • As OgilvyOne proved in their research a number of years ago, we’re heading to a demise in organic reach

Brand marketing is in a resurgence after marketers had fetishised technology-based performance marketing for at least the last decade and a half. Influencer marketing may now be too important to be left to the the PR team…

*PESO (paid, earned, shared, owned) – different media types.